Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Chamorro Officials in the early 1800s

The Spanish government in the Marianas employed Chamorros as village officials very early in its history. In the beginning, they were members of the local military company. In Hagåtña, these troops were originally Spanish, Latin American and Filipino soldiers, many of whom then married Chamorro women. Their offspring would have spoken Chamorro.

Out in the rural villages, there were fewer outsiders, sometimes none at all, except for the village priest.

In 1791, just about 100 years after the end of Chamorro-Spanish wars, these were the officials in the villages outside of the capital city of Hagåtña. Saipan and Tinian have no officials since these island no longer had a permanent population.

I really dislike interspersing my remarks within this list, but it would be easier for readers to follow my explanatory comments if I did.

Marcelino Achuga, Assistant to the Gobernadorcillo
Francisco Achuga, Sheriff

The Gobernadorcillo ("little governor") was like a mayor. Only the larger villages usually had one.

We can assume that Achuga is a Chamorro name. The prefix A means "together" or "each other." Chuga means "to calm someone or something down." Chuga i mimo. Calm the fight down.

The sheriff (alguacil) was the local law enforcer, more or less like a policeman or warden.

Tomas Montezuma *, Assistant

An interesting name, Montezuma. It appears on the very early lists of "Spanish" soldiers on Guam. But the name is Mexican, after the Aztec historic figure of Moctezuma. Many people in Mexico still have Montezuma or Moctezuma as their surname.

Baltazar Afaisen, Assistant

A Chamorro name now associated only with Inalåhan but, as you can see, was found elsewhere on Guam in the past. Aputguan (Apotguan) is where Dungca's Beach or Alupang is in Tamuning. The prefix A (together/each other) and the word faisen (to ask) put together mean "to ask each other."

Francisco Tinafña, Assistant
Mariano Materne, Sheriff

A good number of Chamorro names end with the suffix -ÑA, meaning either "his/her" or "more than." If only we knew what the first part of the name Tinåfña meant. Ostensibly the root word is tåf, which might be connected with the word tåftåf (early) or it could mean something we have no clue about.

Materne still exists today and old documents spell it Matetnge, so I believe that is sufficient evidence that the name comes from totnge, which means "to build or start a fire."

Antonio Chibog, Assistant

Chibog was a last name that survived in Asan all the way till the early 1900s. I knew a lady whose grandmother was named Chibog. But the name, now, has disappeared.

Nicolas Agangi, Assistant

Agångi means "to invite."

Tepungan is the area in between Asan and Piti. What is now the village of Piti used to be further north in what is called Tepungan.

Quintin Namnam, Gobernadorcillo
Julian Quitaofi, Sheriff

Namnam appears in other lost Chamorro surnames like Salucnamnam and Saguanamnam. Someone told me it appears in a list of Chamorro words written by an explorer and it means "expert."

The Qui in Quitaofi might be the same as the Qui in Quichocho or Quitugua, meaning ke or "try to." But taofi remains the mystery!

Pedro Nae, Gobernadorcillo
Gaspar Gofsagua, Assistant
Francisco Cheguiña, Sheriff

Nae could be the word nå'e (to give) but since the writing lacks diacritical marks, like the glota, it's hard to be sure if that is true or if the word is something else.

Sågua' means "port" as in Commercial Port. Gof means "very." Gofsagua is a very good port, or someone who is a good protector of others.

The root of Cheguiña is possibly chigi/chige, but we don't know what that means. There is a word chiget ("to clasp") but if that were the root, the name would be Chigetña, not Cheguiña.

Dionicio Afaii, Gobernadorcillo
Antonio Quinene, Sheriff

If we assume that the A in Afaii is the prefix meaning "together/each other," then there is a word form fai, which is a variation of fa' ("to make, to do"). The suffix -I means to do or make something for someone else. It's all very mysterious!

Francisco Hokokña, Gobernadorcillo
Pedro Mantanoña, Sheriff

Hokkok means "to the absolute limit" and can also mean "exhausted, depleted."

Tåno' ('land" or "to walk on land") seems to be the root in Mantanoña, and the MAN prefix could be the same as the MAN in Mansapit, which is a shortening of masåsåpet, in the same way that mansangan is a shortening of masåsångan

Felipe Quifaña, Gobernadorcillo
Senen Atoigue, Sheriff

Yes, there used to be a village at Pago Bay.

Again, I wish I knew what quifa meant, being the root, it seems of Quifaña. Perhaps it is KE + FA'. "To try to make/do."

Atoigue is a name that survives till today. The -GUE suffix means "to do or make for, to or on behalf of someone." So the root word would be ato', which means "to give or offer." Atoigue thus would mean "to give someone" or "for someone," in the same way that fåtto (to arrive) becomes fatoigue (to go to someone).

Francisco Borja Taimañao, Gobernadorcillo
Mariano Quikanai, Assistant
Jose Charpagon, Sheriff             

The Borja in the first man's name is not his mother's maiden name but rather his second baptismal name. There are many Franciscos among the saints and this one was Saint Francis Borgia, in Spanish Francisco de Borja, often shortened to just Francisco Borja.

Taimañao, a name that exists today, means "fearless."

Quikanai seems to be KE + KANNAI, but that meaning is curious. To attempt to hand? Perhaps the kanai is not kånnai ("hand") but something else we don't know anymore.

Charpagon seems to come from CHAT (badly) and PAGON but I can't find a meaning for pågon, or even pågong


This list shows very clearly that the blood of our ancestors did not evaporate or disappear.

Every single one of these men, with one exception, had what appears to be indigenous, Chamorro names. This means that Chamorro mothers and, in most cases, Chamorro fathers brought forth Chamorro children.

It is true that some of these men may have been illegitimate, the sons of foreign men. That did happen not infrequently. But illegitimate births were not overwhelming, and were not even the majority of cases.

Over time, people with "pure" Chamorro blood mated with people of foreign or mixed blood, and the so-called "pure" strain became mixed. But it didn't disappear entirely. Anyone descended from these people are descendants of a people who once lived in our islands long before the Europeans and others came ashore.

This is why Chamorros consider "Chamorro" to mean both those who lived here before 1668 (Sanvitores' arrival) and those descended from them, regardless how much foreign blood was added to them.

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