Thursday, June 18, 2015


To this day, at least among older people, there are families better-known-as "Desa."

The name is actually Deza, and it was the name of their Spanish ancestor, Vicente Deza, whose signature appears above. Vicente was mentioned in many government documents as he was sometimes called on to act as interpreter.

In the Spanish spoken in the Marianas, Z and S have the same sound. The Z was not pronounced as it is in English, like a mosquito buzzing.

Vicente apparently married twice.

I suspect this because there is, in our records, a Nieves Luján Deza. All the other Dezas of the same era and who are said to have been Vicente's children have Baza as a middle name.

Thus, Vicente probably married a Luján woman who bore him a daughter, Nieves. I suppose this first wife died and Vicente married a second time. This second wife was one María Baza.


Nieves Luján Deza married Juan Leon Guerrero Blas (some of the descendants spell it Blaz).

Nieves was still alive when Påle' Román compiled a census in 1920. He states that her full name was María de las Nieves (Mary of the Snows).  According to him, Nieves was born around 1860.

They had a daughter María who married José Haniu, a Japanese settler on Guam. After the war, the sons opted to take their mother's surname. This branch of the clan has the distinction of sometimes being called "better-known-as Desa" or "better-known-as Haniu."

María Deza Blas Haniu
Granddaughter of the Spaniard Vicente Deza


Vicente and María had several children.

Isabel married José Ortiz Camacho. From this line, many descendants were born.

Then there was Josefa, who married Dionisio Cabrera. But he died and they had no children.

Finally, there was one son, Moisés. But Moisés never married nor had children. Thus, the Deza name died on Guam as a surname.

Still, don't be surprised if you hear some people mention "Familian Desa" when referring to a Blas, Blaz, Sgambelluri, Camacho and a few other people.


Deza is not a very common name in Spain.

Today, there are only 1,200 people in Spain who carry the last name Deza.

Various theories exist about where the name comes from or what it means, but no one is really sure.

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