Tuesday, June 16, 2015


A note, written in Chamorro in the 1930s, revealing Guam's link to the world via Pan Am's Clipper.

Beginning in November of 1935, the Clipper made stops at Sumay on Guam as the sea plane made its way in between Manila and San Francisco, stopping at Hawaii, Midway and Wake along the way. Mail could now come to Guam much faster and, in time, the Clipper was also transporting passengers, some of whom were famous celebrities.

A lady on Guam took advantage of an arriving Clipper to send a Chamorro living in California some Chamorro religious songs and prayers. Her note above says,

Lupe, al ultimos oras (1) na munanayan
(Lupe, at the last hour was finished)

este macopia dididi y (2) canta (3) yan
(copying this a little the song and)

novena (4) ya atrasao y clipper sa
(novena and the clipper was late because)

elegnia na ufato gui jueves ya y
(they said it would arrive on Thursday and)

viernes na mafato. Esta y otro biaje
(on Friday it arrived, Until the next time)

y palo, sa ajalang yu na utrasao. (5)
(the rest, because I fear I will be late.)


(1) Al ultimos oras. This is her version of the Spanish phrase "a las últimas horas" which means "at the last hour." More common in English is "at the last minute."

(2) She uses "y" whereas today we would use "i." In Spanish, the Y and the I have the same sound so it was normal in those days to use either letter.

(3) In "canta" and several other words, she uses the C whereas today we use the K. The use of the C shows Spanish influence, which lacks a K except in foreign words.

(4) She spells "novena," "jueves," and "viernes" in the Spanish way.

(5) Her writing here is a bit unclear. She writes "utrasao," and I am just guessing that she meant to write an S even though it can look like a C. But there is no Chamorro word "utracao." "Utrasao" is also not a word, but she may have meant "u atrasao" which would mean "it will be late" or she could have also meant "hu atrasao" which would mean "I will be late." If it were the plane that would be late in departing, she'd actually have more time, so I will go with the interpretation that she would be late in getting this note to the plane before it departs.

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