Friday, June 26, 2015


Manuel shares the story how he used to hunt for edible birds before the war, using his slingshot.

The word he used for "slingshot" was pakin goma, literally meaning "rubber gun." But other Chamorros might use the word flecha, which is Spanish and usually means "arrow" but can also mean a slingshot.

To make his pakin goma, Manuel would first go into the jungle and look for a tree with Y shaped branches. The wood couldn't be too thick or two thin. Once he found the right dimensions of branches shaped into a Y, he would cut it off to the desired length.

He would then use rubber bands (goma) to tie around the two branches of the Y and use leather (kuero) as the nest for the projectile.

The best things to use as ammunition are round objects with a smooth surface. They fly much better than rough stones. He would use biyåt (marbles) or bålan plomo (lead balls).

Quietly he would go into the jungles or forests in northern Guam, just before sunset if he could, when birds often came back to rest in the trees. He would then aim and shoot. If he hit a bird correctly, it would drop to the earth. His eye had to be quick to follow the falling bird, because sometimes it was hard to find the dead bird, hidden under the fallen foliage of the dense jungle.

Hunting birds to eat was mostly a past time for Manuel. The meat on the birds was hardly enough to fill the stomach. But he was taught never to kill an animal just for sport. "An un puno' debe de un kånno'," he said. "If you kill it, you have to eat it."

"Mås i tettot hu sodda' gi halom tåno'." "It was mostly the tottot bird that I found in the jungle."

"Pues hu na' estufao pat guaha na biåhe na hu na' kåddun pika."

"Then I made it into an estufao or sometimes I would make it into a kåddun pika."


The slingshot that Manuel used was not the same as the pre-Spanish åcho' atupat used by our ancestors. The åcho' atupat was swung and thrown from the slingshot, not shot by pulling back an elastic band.

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