Friday, May 31, 2013

OBSOLETE CHAMORRO : YEGON


Today's Catholic feast of the Visitation reminds me of a Chamorro word that no one uses any more.

The word is yegon.

Påle' Román is the only one that I know, so far, who uses the word.  It means "to visit."

Neither Ibáñez nor von Preissig have it in their dictionaries, which are older than Påle' Román's.

Today, we uniformly use the Spanish loan-word bisita.

So imagine if we said today,

"Håfa na un yeyegon ham?"  "Why are you visiting us?"

"Nihi ya ta yegon i sementeyo."  "Let's go visit the cemetery."

"In yegon meggai siha na lugåt." "We visited many places."

We could also say fatoigue, which means "to come to."

Or, less likely but still possibly, e'ga'ga', which means "to look for, to inspect, to verify" and so on.

Some people today want us to get rid of all Spanish loan-words and go back to purely Chamorro words, but it will take a long and arduous effort to do that.  Try getting some 50,000 or more, many of whom have been speaking Chamorro all their life, to drop a word they've been using for 60 or more years, to switch to a word they've never seen or heard before.

Påle' Román uses yegon in one of his devotional books, and several techa have come to me completely bewildered.  When I explain the meaning to them, they still balk at using the word.  We are creatures of habit.

God only know where Påle' Román learned the word.  He may have had notes written by Padre Palomo or other older missionaries, or he could have been able to speak with a very old Chamorro who hadn't died yet in the influenza epidemic of 1918 which killed many old-timers.

Finally, from what I know of the preferred sounds of Chamorro, I would wonder if the word should be spelled yeggon.  It 's still quite possible that the word was pronounced ye - gon.  Since Påle' Román did not use the glota ( ' ), it's also possible that the word was actually ye'gon.  That's the difficulty of reviving lost words.  How were they truly pronounced?  No one is alive to tell us!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

KING COPRA


Under the Spaniards, our Chamorro ancestors mainly grew just what they needed to feed their families.  Despite some attempts by some Spanish governors, the Marianas could not become an exporting community.  Why should it, when the Spanish governor was ensured to make the most money off of such trade?

Under the Americans, there was a feeling that the farmer could actually make a handsome living.  The Naval Government encouraged local planters to grow for export.  One of the main crops was copra. 

Copra is the dried meat of the coconut.  Out of that was extracted coconut oil, which was used in a wide variety of products, from soaps to cosmetics to home cooking.

Mariano Rivera Leon Guerrero in Inalåhan and Vicente Dueñas Torres in Malesso' were some of the promoters of copra production in the south. 

The main buyers were the United States and Japan.  From a mere $22,000 in copra sales made in 1920, Guam was selling $156,000 worth of copra to the U.S. and Japan by the year 1930. 

I remember Ton Enrique Chaco Reyes of Hågat telling me about Baltazar Bordallo's large copra plantation around Atantåno, where the turn-off is from Big Navy to Hågat and Santa Rita.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

CHETNOT MAIPE YAN SAN ROQUE



Told by a woman from Inalåhan.  July of 1944 during World War II :

Gi annai esta para u fan hålom i Amerikåno, ya ma tutuhon ma bomba i isla,
(When the Americans were ready to come in, and the bombing of the island started,)

Ha ågang ham todos si tatan-måme.
(Our dad called all of us.)

Lao ti ma sodda' i mås åmko' na che'lun-måme låhe.
(But our oldest brother wasn't found.)

Ma sokne si bihan-måme na guiya kumonne' i che'lun-måme para u ga'chong-ña.
(They supposed that our grandmother took him to be her companion.)

Lao ti in tingo' amåno na gaige i dos.
(But we didn't know where those two were.)

Pues hame man attok ham gi halom un liyang.
(So we hid inside a cave.)

Despues, annai esta man måtto i Amerikåno ya manhuyong todo i taotao,
(Later, when the Americans came and the people came out)

Man a'sodda' ham yan si bihan-måme yan i che'lun-måme,
(We met our grandmother and our brother,)

ya pokpopok atdet i patås-ña i che'lun-måme.
(and our brother's foot was really swollen.)

"Amåno na eståba hamyo na dos?" ilek-ña si tatå-ho.
(My father said, "Where have you two been?")

Man oppe si bihå-ho, "Hu konne' este ya umattok ham gi liyang giya Malojloj."
(My grandmother answered, "I took him and we hid in a cave in Malojloj.")

Ya in pe'lo na guaha håfa na taotaomo'na guihe na liyang ya nina'ye si che'lun-måme ni chetnot maipe.
(And we supposed that there was some ancient spirit there in that cave and our brother got sick from the spirit.)

Si bihan-måme ha konne' si che'lun-måme para as San Roque giya Barrigada ya ayo ha' na mumågong i chetnot-ña chetnot maipe.
(Our grandmother took our brother to San Roque in Barrigada and only then did his sickness abate.)

This short and simple story is full of cultural and linguistic tidbits :

Chetnot maipe - is the term used for a sickness caused by, so it is believed, the spirit of an ancestor.  Literally it means "hot sickness," meaning it causes inflammation of some kind, like a swollen foot, ankle or hand.  Western medicine cannot cure it.  From the gist of the story, Chamorros would assume that the boy did something inside the cave to upset a spirit, like urinating or disturbing the place or making noise. 

Bomba - the older meaning is "to pump."  There was no word for "bombing" since airplanes dropping bombs is a new reality.  But older Chamorros use the word also for the modern kind of bombing.  In Spanish, the bomb itself is called bomba; bombardear is the verb in Spanish "to bomb."

Che'lun-måme låhe - There is no separate Chamorro words for "sister" or "brother."  Che'lo means both brother or sister.  To distinguish them, we add "låhe" or "male" for "brother" and "palao'an" or "woman" for "sister."

Sokne - means "to accuse" but here it is not used in a derogatory way.  Here it means "to allege, purport, imply, suggest" as a way of explaining something.

Påtas - this shows this is a Guam Chamorro speaking, because originally the word for "foot" is addengPåtas was only an animal's foot, or the leg of a table or chair.  In the rest of the Marianas addeng is still used for the human foot.

Mågong - not to be confused with måhgong.  The latter means "peace" and the former means "to be cured of, relieved of a sickness."

San Roque - a healing saint.  His chapel was in Barrigada since before the war.  He himself had a sore on his leg, as can be seen in his statue.  Veneration for him was strong among Chamorros for relief from sickness, especially contagious diseases.


The story shows a combination of both ancient and Spanish-influenced thinking.  The cause of the sickness is the irritated spirit of an ancestor; the cure for the sickness is a Catholic saint!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

THE BURNING OF HINAPSAN CHURCH


Hinapsan (usually spelled Jinapsan) is in the north of Guam, east of Litekyan (Ritidian) Point.

Around 1680, the Spaniards gathered the Chamorros in the area and consolidated them in a large village at Hinapsan. 

The Chamorros themselves worked to build a church there, in honor of San Miguel (Saint Michael the Archangel).  A solemn dedication was planned for February of 1681.  But at midnight on February 3rd, someone set fire to it.  As the wood was dry (February is usually a dry and breezy month), the fire spread quickly and all was lost within the hour; the church, the images, the vestments.  Apparently the priest was not living there yet as he and a brother companion had to be called, and too late, for the fire had already engulfed the structure.

The Chamorros were afraid that the priest would abandon them, and they feared reprisals from the military, but the priest promised he would not leave them and sent the Jesuit brother instead to report the fire to the authorities in Hagåtña.

In the meantime, the Chamorros must have kept thinking what might happen, and fear overtook them.  They decided to all get in boats and sail for Luta (Rota), just forty miles away.


Luta (Rota) seen from northern Guam

When the Spaniards from Hagåtña finally reached Hinapsan, all they found there was the Jesuit priest and his few companions.  They all packed their bags and returned to Hagåtña with the soldiers to wait and see if the Hinapsan people would return from Luta.

Dedications for other new churches in the other parts of Guam went on as scheduled, to show the others that this one incident would not deter them.  The villagers of Pågo, for example, stationed guards at their own church to make sure no one burnt it down.

The Hinapsan people, despite promises of the Spaniards to treat them well, refused to return.  The Spaniards had tried to convince them that they were not considered guilty, since the people did not harm the priest when he arrived in Hinapsan.  But they wouldn't budge.

So in April, the Spaniards sailed to Luta and were met with resistance by both Luta and Hinapsan Chamorros.  In the fight, the Chamorros fled inland, and the Spaniards burnt down the village erected there for the Hinapsan Chamorros. 

But the Hinapsan Chamorros remained in Luta for a time.  A new church in Hinapsan was built, but, in time, the northernmost mission was closed and the Chamorros there moved to southern locations.  By the 1700s, all the mission activity - churches and schools - would be in the central and southern parts of Guam. The north became purely ranching country.


Latte Stones in Hinapsan
Reminders of the ancient Chamorro villages that dotted Guam's coastline

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

DANGEROUS WORDS : HÅGO LA'MON



Hågo la'mon means "It's up to you."

Very dangerous words to interpret when your nåna (mother, grandmother) is the one telling you this.

Hågo : Nang, kao debi de hu fanasiste gi lisåyon Auntie Chai la'mona?
(You : Mom/Granny, should I attend Auntie Chai's rosary tonight?)

Nang : Hågo la'mon.
(Mom/Granny : It's up to you.)

Later that night, after not attending the rosary, your nåna whacks you with her sangkletas (slipper) as you enter your house.

Hågo : Nang!  Håfa isao-ho?
(You : Mom!  What wrong did I do?)

Nang : Ti malak i lisåyo hao!
(Mom : You didn't go to the rosary!)

Hågo : Ilek-mo na guåho la'mon!
(You : You said it's up to me!)

This is followed by a second whack with her slippers.  End of story.

Monday, May 20, 2013

FAMILIA : SARMIENTO


Although there were three people who carried the name Sarmiento in Hagåtña in 1897, all three were women, so the name is mainly associated with Sumay / Santa Rita, where one male Sarmiento was able to keep the name alive through his son.

Prior to this, we see no trace of the Sarmientos in earlier censuses, so I suspect that one single Sarmiento came to Guam in the late 1700s, early 1800s; from where is anybody's guess, though the name is Spanish and he could have been Hispanic or Filipino.

The three women Sarmientos in Hagåtña all had Taitano for a middle name, whereas the one and only male Sarmiento, who lived in Sumay, had Salas for a middle name.  He was slightly older than the three women, who could have been his cousins or perhaps half-sisters, sharing the same father (Sarmiento) but different mothers (a second marriage).

The Sumay Sarmientos are better-known-as the Ñarak family, for reasons I don't know.

The Meaning of the Name

Sarmiento is a Spanish word meaning "shoot of the vine."

cmackay.cl
This is a sarmiento.

plusesmas.com

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

SAN ISIDRO DE GARAPAN


It's almost all but forgotten now, but San Isidro (whose feast is today) was once a "big shot" in Saipan.

We must remember that the Spanish priests had the custom of sometimes naming one patron saint for the town or village, and another for the church building itself.

The most prominent, but now forgotten, example is Hagåtña, the capital of the Marianas at one time.  The patron of the city is San Ignacio.  The patroness of the church is Dulce Nombre de Maria.

In Malesso', San Dimas for the village; Our Lady of the Rosary for the church.

In Inalåhan, San Jose for the village; Our Lady of Consolation for the church.  All but forgotten.

This custom did not occur in every case.  In Humåtak, San Dionisio is patron of both village and church.

In Saipan, the patron of the town of Garapan was, at one time, San Isidro.  Notice the parish seal above.  The parish was coterminous with the town.  It says, "Parroquia de S. Isidro de Garapan."  Or, "Parish of San Isidro of Garapan."

The seal, probably made in Manila, features a little image of the saint, with his plow and a stalk of some kind of crop behind.

At some point, Our Lady of Mount Carmel was made patroness of the church in Garapan and then in the 1920s this was changed to Kristo Rai (Christ the King).

But the devotion to San Isidro lived on, mainly because he is patron of farmers so he would be popular among Chamorros, anyway, for that reason alone, at least in the good old days of farming.

Today, San Isidro is remembered each year in Saipan as the patron of farmers, especially by the Carolinian community.


Saipan singer Candy Taman at the San Isidro fiesta

AN AMERICAN ON AMERICANIZATION


Chamorro attachment to the U.S. was sealed because of the experience of Japanese occupation

Life is not always black and white.

As this American missionary's writing shows, even some Americans did not like every aspect of Guam's rapid movement towards Americanization, much of it due to the Chamorros themselves.  Yet, this same American missionary was one agent of that very process.

Written in 1946, just two years after the Americans returned to Guam :

"It seems to me that many of the younger people are actually ashamed of their Chamorro ancestry, traditions and customs;  and all too eager to forget them in Americanizing Guam; but even in this short time I have become aware of the wealth of tradition and heritage which belongs by right to these people.  It would be indeed a shame if they lost their own identity in American customs...  The people of Guam have a heritage equally as valuable, and should be encouraged to hold on to each small part of it."

As these words were being jotted down, Chamorros on Guam started calling themselves "Guamanian," most newly-arrived American missionaries were not learning to speak Chamorro, Chamorro families with some money were sending off their children to the mainland for schooling and the thrust of all ambitious families and individuals was to become as Americanized as possible.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

ULLOA-MENDIOLA WEDDING



A wedding in 1952 at the Agaña Cathedral.

Probably the godfather (patlino) and godmother (matlina) next to the bride and groom.

In 1952, the Cathedral was not the huge concrete one we have today.  But the smaller one made of wood and woven material built after the war.

In those days, the exchange of vows came just before Mass.  Masses in those days were very early.  I wouldn't be surprised if this wedding took place at 6AM.

Monday, May 13, 2013

HÅGO HA' SOLO



Hågo ha' solo guinaiya-ko, tåya' mås ke hågo sa' hågo ha'.
(You are my only love, there is none but you because it is you alone.)

Åpmam tiempo de hu såså'pet yo', åpmam tiempo hu tattiye hao,
(I have suffered a long time, I have followed you a long time)

Sångan nene håfa malago'-mo, sa' hunggan yo'.
(Say baby what it is that you want, because I am willing.)

Puede un dia, puede un dia un merese i siniente-ko
(Perhaps one day, perhaps one day you will be worthy of my feelings)

ni hu gåsta para hågo ni ti un agradese.
(which I have spent on you which you don't appreciate.)

Ya bai sångan ha' taiguine, ya bai hu komprende
(And I will say it this way, and I will understand)

na i guinaiya-ko nu hågo nene ti u måfnas.
(that my love for you baby will never disappear.)

Friday, May 10, 2013

ILEK-ÑA SI PÅLE'


A Chamorro sermon from the 1950s.


Kåda uno guine guaha esta nai manli’e redio ni siña ma kilili'.  Este na dikkike’ redio siña ha tutuhon dumåndån masea måno na lugåt komo ha’ un chonnek i batunes pat un bira i “switch.”  I redion ma kilili' un bonito na inbension.  Ti bonito mohon yanggen i taotao u gai batunes para u siña ma bira ya u ma na’ påra yanggen esta mampos meggagai kuentos-ña. Guaha nai hu li’e man maulek siha na famalao’an ni man sesen meggai yan sesen chaddik kuentos-ñiha kalan mohon man sen maulek man peska gi papa’ tåse, sa’ man mesngon man liof ya siempre håssan nai u fangahulo’ para u fan hågong gi aire.  Ya håfa ma susesede?  Meggai siha na isao i hila’ man ma komemete sa’ i taotao siha ti ma hahasso fine’na håfa para u ma sångan.  Meggai siha na atboroto man ma tututuhon nu este siha na klåsen taotao ni buente ti måtto gi intension-ñiha i para u ma na’ guaha atboroto, lao nungka nai ma hasuye fine’na kao ti båba i para u ma sångan. 
 
I kumuentos un na’ magof na fotman rekreasion.  I man amigo siha man a’abisita unos yan otros ya ma gågåsta meggai siha na ora gi konbetsasion.  Maolek este.  I klåsen kuentos ni muna’ guaguaha meggai siha na atboroto gi lina’lå’-ta ayo na kuentos i sin ma hasuye.  Unos kuåntos segundo ha nesesita i para un fanhasso åntes de un kuentos.  Faisen maisa hao : Kao magåhet este?  Kao ti u dinesonra håye na taotao nu este?  Kao ti u nina’ låmen nu este i para hu kuentuse na taotao?  Kao hågo un taotao hao ni ti un hasusuye håfa para un sångan? 
 
Yanggen hunggan, pues debe de meggai na biåhe nai mumañotsot hao pot håfa na sinangån-mo, lao gi annai esta atrasao para un na’ ta’lo tåtte i palabrås-mo?  Sumen meggai na atboroto yan inaguaguat yan minimo siña ti ma susede komo ha’ manhasso hao uno pat dos segundo åntes de håfa un sangan.  Yanggen en che’gue ennao, siña meggai na isao ginen i hila’ ti u fan ma susede.  Siempre en fan mås man trankilo ya mås en fan ma respeta ya en fan ma gofli’e nu i pumalon taotao.  I kumuentos, i abilidåt-ña i taotao para u kuentos, guiya un regålon Yu’us nu hita.  Debe u ma usa maolek!          

(Tinige' Påle' Lee Friel, Kapuchino)

 
INTERLINEAR ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Kåda uno guine guaha esta nai manli’e redio ni siña ma kilili’.
(Each one here has already seen a portable radio.)

Notes : Since the radio only came to Guam during American times, we just adopted the English word.  Kilili’ means “to carry about.”

Este na dikkike’ redio siña ha tutuhon dumåndån masea måno na lugåt komo ha’ un chonnek i batunes pat un bira i “switch.”
(This small radio can start to play in whatever place if one just pushes the button or turns the switch.)

I redion ma kilili’ un bonito na inbension.
(The portable radio is a beautiful invention.)

Note : “Invention” is not a word frequently used in ordinary speech, and the writer just borrowed a Spanish form of the word.  One might also say “nuebo na fina’tinas ni på’go ha' ma na’ huyong” or “a new work/product just come out.”  But “inbension” is quicker! 

Ti bonito mohon yanggen i taotao u gai batunes para u siña ma bira ya u ma na’ påra yanggen esta mampos meggagai kuentos-ña.
(It wouldn’t be nice if a person had a button to turn and stop him if he already was talking a lot.)

Guaha nai hu li’e man maulek siha na famalao’an ni man sesen meggai yan sesen chaddik kuentos-ñiha kalan mohon man sen maulek man peska gi papa’ tåse, sa’ man mesngon man liof ya siempre håssan nai u fangahulo’ para u fan hågong gi aire. 
(I have seen good women who speak a lot and very quickly as if they are very good in fishing in the sea, because they can endure diving and will rarely come up to breathe in the air.)

Ya håfa ma susesede?  Meggai siha na isao i hila’ man ma komemete sa’ i taotao siha ti ma hahasso fine’na håfa para u ma sångan. 
(And what happens?  They commit many sins of the tongue because people do not think first what they will say.)

Meggai siha na atboroto man ma tututuhon nu este siha na klåsen taotao ni buente ti måtto gi intension-ñiha i para u ma na’ guaha atboroto, lao nungka nai ma hasuye fine’na kao ti båba i para u ma sångan. 
(Many disturbances start with this kind of people who perhaps never have in their intention to start problems, but who never think first if what they are going to say is bad.)

I kumuentos un na’ magof na fotman rekreasion. 
(Speaking is a pleasing form of recreation.)

I man amigo siha man a’abisita unos yan otros ya ma gågåsta meggai siha na ora gi konbetsasion. 
(Friends visit each other and spend much time in conversation.)

Maolek este.  I klåsen kuentos ni muna’ guaguaha meggai siha na atboroto gi lina’lå’-ta ayo na kuentos i sin ma hasuye. 
(This is good. The kind of speaking which creates many disturbances in our lives is that kind of speech that is thoughtless.)

Unos kuåntos segundo ha nesesita i para un fanhasso åntes de un kuentos.
(A few seconds are needed to think before you speak.)

Faisen maisa hao : Kao magåhet este?  Kao ti u dinesonra håye na taotao nu este? 
(Ask yourself : Is this true?  Will this dishonor someone?)

Kao ti u nina’ låmen nu este i para hu kuentuse na taotao? 
(Will the person I will speak to be injured by this?)

Kao hågo un taotao hao ni ti un hasusuye håfa para un sångan? 
(Are you a person who doesn’t think about what he is going to say?)

Yanggen hunggan, pues debe de meggai na biåhe nai mumañotsot hao pot håfa na sinangån-mo, lao gi annai esta atrasao para un na’ ta’lo tåtte i palabrås-mo? 
(If yes, then you should be frequently remorseful on account of your speech, but when it is already late to take back your words?)

Sumen meggai na atboroto yan inaguaguat yan minimo siña ti ma susede komo ha’ manhasso hao uno pat dos segundo åntes de håfa un sangan. 
(Many disturbances, oppositions and fights can be prevented if you think for a second or two before you speak.)

Yanggen en che’gue ennao, siña meggai na isao ginen i hila’ ti u fan ma susede. 
(If you do that, many sins of the tongue won’t happen.)

Siempre en fan mås man trankilo ya mås en fan ma respeta ya en fan ma gofli’e nu i pumalon taotao.
(You will surely be more at peace and more respected and more loved by other people.)

I kumuentos, i abilidåt-ña i taotao para u kuentos, guiya un regålon Yu’us nu hita.  Debe u ma usa maolek!
(Speech, the ability of a person to speak, is a gift from God to us.  It should be used well!)          

Thursday, May 9, 2013

KÅNTAN CHAMORRITA


Este i dos påtman kanai-ho / lamasa-mo an para un chocho
I kattre-mo an para un maigo' / este ta'lo i pecho-ko.
 
These two palms of my hands / is your table for when you eat
your bed for when you sleep / is also my chest.

A romantic verse, where the man professes to the woman of his dreams that he will provide for all her needs.

There may be the idea, too, that, though he is poor in material goods, he will use his very body to make up for what he cannot materially provide.

Thus, he is willing to sacrifice his own body for her.  Such is his strong love for her.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

FAMILY NICKNAMES : BUDOKI

 
Provinces in Spain where the surname Bodoque appears

A branch of the Camacho family on Guam are better-known-as the familian Budoki or Bodoki.

As is normal, we don't have any concrete evidence for the origin of this family nickname.  It isn't a current Chamorro word for something.

Many of our family nicknames come from the Spanish language, so that's always a good place to start looking.

Bodoque is a last name in Spain.  The map above shows you where the surname appears in the different Spanish provinces, and the number of families having it.  As you can see, there aren't many families with this last name.  In no province at all are there ever more than 20 families with the name.  So I doubt this is how the nickname came to Guam.  Because the last name is so rare, I don't think a Spaniard or Hispanic man with the name Bodoque came to Guam and some Chamorro got tagged with his surname for some reason.  But, you never know.

Instead, the word bodoque has many different meanings in Spanish.  Perhaps a Chamorro started being called bodoque for one of these reasons.

First of all, let's go to the oldest and original meaning of the word, which goes back to Spain.  A bodoque was a mud or clay ball thrown at a target.  Maybe someone on Guam liked to throw mud balls or something similar at a target and was nicknamed Bodoki.

Remember that Guam had a lot of Mexican influence and, in Mexico, a bodoque could be a ball made of anything light, like paper. 




Secondly, bodoque can also mean a kind of stitching.  This would have been more of a woman's thing to do.  But maybe a man sported some article of clothing using a bodoque stitch.  The possibilities are endless how this nickname came about.

Sticking with the Mexican angle,  bodoque can also mean a physical lump on someone's body; another possible origin of this nickname.  Some guy on Guam walking around with a lump; a bodoki.

In Mexico, it can also mean something done badly; a child; and it can also mean someone not too bright.  Because it can refer to a child, it can thus also be used for adults in an affectionate way, as in romance.  "Bésame, mi bodoque!"  "Kiss me, my baby!"

Because of all these meanings, especially referring to children, bodoque has been applied to certain fictitious persons.  In the Spanish version of the animated film Ice Age, Roshan is called Bodoque.



And in one Latin American country, a TV personality, a smart-mouthed rabbit, is named Bodoque.


Chamorros got their nicknames in many different ways.  How someone got to be nicknamed Budoki is, for the moment, anybody's guess.

But I believe he was nicknamed using the Spanish word bodoque, probably because of one of the meanings originating from Mexico.

And, to make matters a bit more obscure, was it really a Camacho who was first called Budoki?  Because some think that it was a Flores who first had that name, and that a Flores woman from the Budoki clan married a Camacho, and their children, with the last name Camacho, took the Budoki nickname from her.  This happened, at times.  People were sometimes known by their mother's family's nickname and not their father's.

We'll have a lot of questions answered in heaven when we meet our Chamorro ancestors and corner them with all the mysteries they left for us to figure out with no documentation.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

"I KNEW FATHER KOMATSU"



War is a very complicated experience.

It's not always black and white; good guys versus bad guys.

Take the two Japanese Catholic priests sent to Guam during the Japanese occupation.

One of them, Monsignor Dominic Fukahori, spent just a short time on Guam.  The other, Father Petero Komatsu, spent more time on Guam and got to know some people, like Carmen, interviewed in the video clip above.

Father Komatsu had also spent time in Saipan before the war.

As Carmen explains, Father Komatsu was a pleasant and friendly man.  She did not recall him preaching Japanese propaganda.

Another Chamorro family I know also remembers him as a mild-mannered, friendly man who said very little about politics or war.

While it is certain that Father Dueñas voiced his objections to the presence of Japanese priests who had no authority from the Vatican to be on Guam; and while it is certain that some Chamorros had their suspicions about them and kept some distance, it is also clear that some Chamorros found Father Komatsu a harmless and friendly priest who was able to say Mass for them at times and hear their confessions.


FR. PETERO KOMATSU
In civilian attire when he was detained by the Americans after the liberation

Monday, May 6, 2013

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

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Our wooden, tin-roofed house in Sinajaña in the 1960s did not have air conditioning.  Which meant we slept with the windows open.  Which meant that the ñåmo (mosquitoes) could come in at will.  We had screens on our windows, but mosquitoes could still come in somehow.

So, we had mosquito coils burning at night to keep them away.

Can I confess that I actually liked the smell of mosquito coil?


Before the Stores Sold Mosquito Coils

Our mañaina used oddo', fibrous parts of tree trunks, like niyok (coconut) to smolder, create smoke and chase the ñåmo away.
 
Sengko'

In Luta and Saipan before the war, the Japanese stores sold mosquito coils, which in Japanese is senko (incense stick).   So, the people of Luta and Saipan call it sengko'.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

SINANGAN I MAN ÅMKO'


DESDE I TIEMPON MAGALLANES!

Magallanes is the Spanish / Chamorro version of a name we all know well, Magellan.

Ferdinand poked his nose around the Marianas in the year 1521.

That's a long time ago.

So it was an expression in years past to say, "Desde i tiempon Magallanes!" to mean it's been a long, long time since whatever.

Literally, it means "Since the time of Magellan!"

I heard this expression just the other day when I was thanking some people for taking me and a friend to a swimming spot.  They, in turn, actually thanked me for asking them to escort us to that spot, for it had been a long time since they had gone there.  The lady said, "Desde i tiempon Magallanes!"

The double L in Magallanes is pronounced like a Y in Spanish, and like a DZ in Chamorro.  Like Acfalle and Quintanilla.  MA - GA - DZA - NES.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

TÅDDONG NA FINO' CHAMORRO : I PILAN SANTA MARIA


A Chamorro lady in her 70s called me up recently.

"Emergency! Emergency!"

She had started her May devotions, in Chamorro, I Pilan Santa Maria (The Month of Mary).  This devotion is not like a nobena, which lasts nine days or nights.  I Pilan Santa Maria has a different prayer for each of the thrity-one days of May.

And some of the Chamorro words are old and obsolete.  Words we almost never use anymore.

Luckily, the author of this devotion, Påle' Román María de Vera, also wrote a Chamorro dictionary.  So we can find out the meanings of these deep words.

Here are some of them, found in I Pilan Santa Maria :

YEGON.  It means "to visit."  We borrowed from the Spanish and now say bisita

MAFOKNA.  It means "to reduce, diminish."  One way we say that today is rebåha, again borrowed from the Spanish.

GUAICHONG HA'.  It means "indifferent, equal."  As in, "Either flavor of ice cream is good for me."  "One is as good, or as bad, as the other."  Today we would say, "Pareho ha'," borrowed from the Spanish, or "Achamaolek" or "Achababa" or what have you, using the Chamorro prefix "acha" which means "equally."

MAGGUAK.  It means "spacious."  A spacious room, for example.  Today we might say, "Gai kåmpo na kuåtto," "a spacious room."  Again, kåmpo is borrowed from the Spanish.

Påle' Román, though a Spanish citizen, always wanted to revert to the truly Chamorro word if he could find it, even though few if any Chamorros used the word anymore because they had adopted the Spanish term.

But history shows that his attempt to revive some obsolete words didn't succeed, as shown in the case of this 70-something old woman who had no clue what yegon meant.  Påle' Román could put it in his religious literature, which many Chamorros read time and time again, without changing the language of ordinary conversation.  It's a challenge to buck social trends.  Not impossible, but a challenge.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

WHEN THEY FIRST SAW A PLANE IN LUTA


It is said, not as a matter of history, but in jest, that when a man on Luta (Rota)  first saw an airplane flying in the air, he gazed in amazement and said,

Agila reåt
mundi kåña
sa' gai tekpung dagån-ña!

Agila reåt : Literally "royal eagle," from the Spanish águila (eagle) and real (royal).

Mundi kåña : my informant, fluent in Chamorro, has no idea what this means.  When making up songs or expressions, Chamorros often added nonsense phrases.  Or, this could be a Chamorro rephrasing of a line taken from a foreign song or expression the person heard.

Sa' : Because

Gai : It has

Tekpung : The root word is tokpung ("handle," as in a broom handle)

Dagån-ña : Its buttocks

So, the man was marveling that this bird's bottom had a handle on it!  Obviously he was looking at the tail end of the plane.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

ESTORIAN JUDIT

 
Si Judit annai ha utot i agagå'-ña si Holofernes

I taotao siha ni i mañåsaga giya Juda gusese’ man maleffa ta’lo as Yu’us.  Pot ayo na nina’ fan guatutuye as Yu’us un nuebo yan na’ luhan na desgråsia.  Si Holofernes, heneråt giya Asiria, yan i sendalu-ña siha, ha håtme i Rainon Juda.  Gi uno na siudå i man Hudios, ni Betulia na’ån-ña, ha po’luye si Holofernes pongle ya ha chochomma i taotao guennao na siudå nu i hanom.   Ha na’ fan sesen ñålang ha’, ya esta måtto gi hinasson-ñiha i man Hudios para u entrega i siudå guato gi as Holofernes yanggen ti manmañodda’ siha åtgun ayudo gi halom singko dias.

Un såntos na biuda, ni si Judit na’ån-ña, ha hungok todo este ya nina’ ma’åse’ i korason-ña nu i man masåså’pet na achataotao-ña siha.  Si Judit ha adotna gue’ ni man guaguan na alåhas ya ha palai gue’ ni paopao na låña.  Sumisiha yan i muchachå-ña, humånao si Judit guato gi kampamenton Holofernes.  Pine’lon-ña si Holofernes na si Judit ha abandona i taotao-ña siha, yan pot i bonitå-ña si Judit, sinedi si Judit as Holofernes para u såga ha’ gi kampamenton i enemigo.

Gi mina’ kuåttro dias, mannå’e si Holofernes dångkulo na gupot ya gumimen mampos na bino, tånto ke umå’åsson gi kamå-ña mumaigo’.  Annai måkpo’ i gipot gi annai esta ges painge, yan todo i taotao siha gi oriya man mamaigo’ man sen måffong, kahulo’ si Judit ya ha chule’ i espådan Holofernes, ni eståba ma kakana’ gi un halige, ya ha utot i ilu-ña si Holofernes!

Despues, humuyong gi kampamento, måtto gi siudå, ya ha agånge todo i taotao siha, ilelek-ña, “Tina hamyo si Yu’us, ni ti ha abandodona i sengsong-ña!”

Annai man makmåta i ehetsiton i taotao Asiria, ya ma sodda’ i tataotao Holofernes na ma utot i agagå’-ña, ma tutuhune man malågo.  Si Judit ma na’ må’gas giya Israel, ya ma alåba i palao’an gi taiguine siha na finiho : “Hågo i onran Jerusalen; hågo i minagof Israel!”

NOTES
  • The story uses a lot of proper names that begin with J. Since these are all borrowed from Spanish, we pronounce the J as an H, as in Juan and Jose. So Judit is pronounced HOO-DIT. Juda is pronounced HOO-DA. Jerusalen is HE-ROO-SA-LEN.
  • Other personal names I keep in the Spanish style of spelling, even though we will pronounce them in a Chamorro way. So it is spelled Holofernes, but Chamorros will say HO-LO-FET-NES. Israel is IS-RA-ET.
  • Achataotao-ña. Acha means “equal, same.” So, this term means “fellow men.”
  • Tina. The root word is tuna, which means “to praise.” But in this sentence Judith is commanding a group of people to praise God, so it becomes tina. If Judith were telling one person to praise God, she would have said tuna.
  • Sengsong. From songsong, which can mean city, but also people, as in a community or race or nation.