Tuesday, January 21, 2014


Being mostly Catholic, one would expect Chamorros would be OK with second cousins marrying, because the Church allows second cousins to marry, without any need to get special permission to do so.  The Church, however, will not allow first cousins to marry - unless they get permission from the local bishop.

But for many of our mañaina, not even third or fourth cousins should marry.

I asked one elderly Chamorro why our culture frowns upon even third or fourth cousins marrying.

"Mampos hihot i haga'!" the woman exclaimed immediately and vehemently.

"The blood is too close!"

"Siempre gai defekto i patgon-ñiha!"  "Their child will have some defect."

Then she started to tell me about her own relatives who were first cousins and got married.  Their children were fine, but, she said, the two spouses were always fighting.

"Demasiao hihot!"  "Too close," she said.

I told her then it must be hard in some places to find a future husband or wife. 

"Espia nai gi san lago pat gi Filipinas!"  "Look," she said, "in the States or the Philippines!"

Whenever first cousins married on Guam, it was duly noted and spoken about (quietly) by other people.  It was as if people were just waiting to see some mishap or misfortune befall the couple or their children, and credit it all on the fact that they were first cousins.

My brother, too, had married a distant relative.  Since we're not too clear about the family tree once we get back to the 1870s, we think he and his wife are 5th cousins or even further back.  Despite this distance, our two clans consider each other "close."  I was told as a child to fan nginge' (reverence the hand) of any elders in this clan whenever I met them.

Sometime after they were married, my sister-in-law introduced my brother to her grandmother.  When she asked, "Håye familia-mo?"  "Who is your family?" and found out, she had a look of concern on her face!  And these two were 5th cousins or even further back!

For more, check http://paleric.blogspot.com/2011/08/fino-i-man-amko-mas-prima-mas-arima.html

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