Monday, February 15, 2016


The Delgado Brothers made famous a song written during the Japanese Occupation called "Ramon San."

The song was composed by a member of a road crew to boost morale and lighten the dreariness of laying out dirt roads for the Japanese during the Occupation. The composer was Vicente San Agustin Benavente, later the Commissioner of Dededo.

The "Ramon" mentioned in the song is supposedly Ramon San Agustin, who was made crew supervisor. That would have made Ramon a relative of the composer, also a San Agustin on his maternal side.

Three other Chamorro men are mentioned, a Sococo, a Chiguiña (or Cheguiña, the name is spelled both ways) and a Gualåfon (nickname for some of the Chargualaf family). But first names are not mentioned and anyone who might know who they were are now probably dead.

The song is humorous, poking fun at people and circumstances. Humor was a way of coping with the otherwise unpleasant aspects of the work and the even bigger issues surrounding it : the Japanese and all the risks the Chamorro men faced under the Japanese. More than likely, the Chamorro road crew could not, or at least would not, sing this song with a Japanese guard present.


1. Dori koji nani pu / hame taotao i chalan / må'gas-måme si Ramon San;
ya ha laknos i relos / ya ha ågang ham todos / fan macho'cho' sa' esta ora.
Mungnga hit fan / ta fan haggan / sa' u lalålo' si Ramon San.

(Dori koji nani pu / we are the road crew / our boss is Ramon San;
he took out the watch / and called us all / get to work because it's time.
Let's not be / like turtles / because Ramon San will be angry.)

2. Si Sococo segundo-ña / sa' ha dåkngas ilu-ña / ayo mina' må'gas gue';
sa' i fanihi et mås ya-ña / sa' chinechebang hila'-ña / yanggen guaha fahåne gue'.
Ya u kånno' / ayo i pilu / ya u na' do'do' ni diruru.

(Sococo was his second-in-command / because he shaved his head bald / that's what made him a boss; because fruit bat is his favorite / because his tongue gets chipped / if someone buys it for him. And he will eat / the fur / and will pass gas a whole lot.)

3. Kada pa(ra) bai in fan hånao / para iya Machanånao / ma na' meggai na tengguang.
Ma titiyas måno i siña / asta katgådo si Chiguiña / si Gualåfon ichibang.
Guiya sen metgot / lao gof padok / må'gas-måme si Ramon San.

(Each time we will go / over to Machananao / the road food is made in abundance.
As many titiyas as possible is made / until Chiguiña is weighed down / Gualåfon is number one.
He's the very strong one / but also has a large appetite / our boss Ramon San.)

4. Kada esta monhåyan / ayo hulo' i chalan / måtto i diesel ya ha yulang.
Man ma ågang ham ta'lo / pa(ra) bai in na'ye kaskåho / ai Ramon sungon diåhlo.
Ta cho'gue ha' ni diruru / sa' i titiyas u famulu.

(Each time it's finished / the road up there / the diesel comes and breaks.
They call us again / to spread gravel / oh Ramon, just bear with it.
We do the work very energetically / because the titiyas will get moldy.)

5. Para esta tres dias / mahettok i titiyas / si si Ramon de lalålo'.
Ha apreta ham ni diru / sa' i titiyas u famulu / guiya ha' para u tutunu.
Ya (ha) gef ngångas / sa' mahettok / maila' i hanom / sa' ha ñukot yo' / guse' ombre / chule' mågi / i hanom pa(ra) atuli.

(When it was going to be three days already / the titiyas got hard / and Ramon got angry.
He pushed us very hard / because the titiyas would get moldy / he alone would put it on the fire.
And he really chewed it / because it was hard / bring water / because it's choking me / hurry up man / bring here / the water for corn porridge.)

6. Kada pa(ra) bai in fan hånao / para i chago' na lugåt / siempre såbe si "my sweetheart."
Ti hu logra yo' mañiko / ni i pala yan i piko / fåtta neni-ho gi tiempo.
Ya hu toktok ha' / kariño ha' / i alunan / sa' yan måtto yo' ichibang.

(Each time we're going to go / to a distant place / "my sweetheart" will surely know.
I didn't get to enjoy kissing / not even the shovel nor the pick / my baby wasn't there at the time.
And I only hugged / and gave affection / to the pillow / because when I arrive it will be number one.)


Dori koji nanu pu. This is a Chamorro's way of having fun with the Japanese language. Dori in Japanese means "street." And the song is about a road crew. The rest of this phrase may not be proper Japanese but just the composer's way of repeating or imitating what he heard among the Japanese.

Ramon or Raymond? The man's name was Ramon, but the singers pronounce it Raymond, the same name but the English version. Perhaps this is another way of teasing Ramon, by giving him an American name.

Fan haggan. Haggan is "turtle." It means, "Let's not be as slow as turtles."

Chinechebang hila'-ña. It's a way of poking fun at Sococo's great love for fruit bat, that, in eating it with enthusiasm, his tongue gets chipped (as if that were possible). It's the sarcasm of the statement that matters.

Gualåfon. This is a family nickname for some of the Chargualaf family.

Titiyas. When corn tortilla (titiyas mai'es) is a few days old, it will harden. The solution is to wet it with water and then put it on a fire to soften it. If left alone, the titiyas will also start to grow mold. Pulu means animal "hair" or "fur" and mold looks like fur.

Siempre såbe. Borrowed from Spanish. Saber means "to know." Sabe means he or she knows.

Sweetheart. The last verse of the song is a reference to the men's missing their girlfriends or wives. After having not seen their girls for some time, all they have, as it were, to hug and kiss are the handles of their shovels and picks, and they don't even get to enjoy that. They also hug their pillows in lieu of their sweethearts. But, when the men finally get to go home and see their ladies, it will be "number one."


Yet another oral tradition says that the Ramon of the song is Raymond Underwood, son of James and Ana Martinez Underwood, who was made head of the road crew.

The classic Delgado Brothers recording :

1 comment:

  1. A very dear CLASSIC. Thank you for sharing. We remembered our father doing this tune & others on the accordion accompanied by a harmonica and combs, some 65+ years ago.