Monday, June 30, 2014


Guam 1960s

There is a wonderful freedom we enjoy when it comes to Christian prayer.

As long as it is said from the heart, with due adoration, respect and humility, it's a good prayer!  And so it is with any prayer of thanksgiving before eating a meal.

But here's a traditional Chamorro version that has been around for many years :

Asaina, bendise este siha na nengkanno' ni para in kanno'

ni man måfåtto ginen i gineftao i kannai-mo, gi na'an i Tata,

yan i Lahi-ña, yan i Espiritu Santo.  Amen.

Loosely translated, you will recognize the standard Catholic grace before meals in English :

Asaina, bendise este siha na nengkanno'
(Lord, bless this food)

ni para in kanno'
(which we are to eat)

ni man måfåtto
(which come)

ginen i gineftao i kannai-mo
(from the generosity of your hand)

gi na'an i Tata, yan i Lahi-ña, yan i Espiritu Santo.  Amen.
(in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.)


A standard comment one hears at many Chamorro gatherings is :

Fanohge para i ma bendisen i lamasa!
(Stand for the blessing of the table!)

To which someone invariably responds :

Ti i lamasa para u ma bendise, na i nengkanno'!
(It's not the table to be blessed, but the food!)


If there is a priest present, it is the norm to ask him to bless.

Of course, a bishop outranks the priest and he would be asked first, but the bishop could cede this to a priest if, for example, it's the priest's occasion.

If no clergy are present, the honor of leading grace before meals goes to one of the mañaina (elders and/or people of stature) such as the nåna (grandmother) or techa (prayer leader) or matlina (godmother).  Yes, women usually get the spot, but sometimes also men.


As you can see in the pic above, clergy go first.  Then it was pretty much whoever else, since the very elderly didn't line up at all but were rather catered to.  The elderly sat at their tables and someone else fixed a plate for them (ma na'yåne).

Today, as the culture wanes, it's everybody for himself, which means the energetic and agile kids get to the line first and Påle' has to go by the law of the survival of the fittest, on many occasions.


  1. Pale Eric,

    My wife and I live in Arkansas and work in the same building. We often speak Chamorro as that was the first language we learned. The other day one of my colleagues told me to stop speaking a foreign language. I replied that Chamorro is not a foreign language as it is only spoken by Americans and on American territory pretty much the same way that neither Apache nor Cherokee is considered a foreign language. Is that the correct way to view Chamorro?

    Jim McDonald

  2. I would certainly ask : foreign to the US? If so, then Chamorro is not foreign. But I would further wonder on what grounds is s/he asking that a language other than English be spoken between 2 individuals in private conversation?

  3. I remember my Brigade Executive Officer was Ed Camacho and we would always speak Chamoru at our headquarters building. One day when we were having a conversation a Major Taylor came to speak to him. He said to me: Nangga un råtu ha'. He said to MAJ Taylor that he would speak to him after we finish our conversation. Then he asked MAJ Taylor if he minds that we were speaking in our language. MAJ Taylor said no. LTC Camacho then said great, Because we don't mind when you guys speak yours.

  4. Thank you for this, Pale!!! So helpful!!!