Wednesday, May 29, 2013
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.