Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Aniceto Street in Hagåtña

A very short side street in the Aniguak district of our capital city of Hagåtña carries the name Aniceto.

Unfortunately, the name is only half-correct.

The actual name is Padre Aniceto Street.

With the passage of time, as street signs get knocked down, as war moves the original location of streets and as new generations lose touch with history, the accurate names of many places become lost.

As one can see from this depiction of the streets of Hagåtña before the war, there was a Padre Aniceto Street (encircled) and it was in the barrio of San Ignacio - the city's heart - rather than in Aniguak.

But when the Americans bombed the city to smithereens in 1944, nearly every street was changed in the aftermath and a new Aniceto Street was paved west of the original location.


He was the priest of Hagåtña for many years. His full name was Aniceto Ibáñez and, in his religious order, they added a religious name, as well, and his was del Carmen, after Our Lady of Mount Carmel.

But more than simply being a priest, he was a very influential and powerful priest of Hagåtña.

He had a lot of say in the day to day affairs of the island, not just in religion.

He wrote five books in or about Chamorro, including a dictionary published in 1865.

He learned to speak the language of the Carolinian immigrants who settled on Guam (in Tamuning) as well as the northern Marianas, and was all set to be a missionary in the Carolines in 1885 before Spain made other plans for the mission there.

He first came to Guam in 1852 when there was still a village called Pågo. In fact, he was first stationed in Pågo that year and stayed for two years. Undoubtedly he was immersed in the Chamorro language in Pågo because that village was almost entirely populated by several hundred people with less outside blood, carrying indigenous last names like Atoigue, Mafnas and Quichocho. That village closed down in the 1856 smallpox epidemic and the small group of survivors moved mostly to Hagåtña.

In 1854, he began his long stay in Hagåtña, all the way till 1877 when he left Guam after 25 years! He went first to the Philippines and then to Spain. He returned to Hagåtña in 1887 and spent another five years or so in the one island where he lived most of his life!

He died in Hagåtña in 1892 and was buried in the center of Pigo' Cemetery, next to a popular governor, Vicente Gómez. A huge white marble grave marker made in Manila was placed there (as well as at Gómez's grave) as a tribute to him.

Then, in time, a street in Hagåtña was renamed in his honor and survives to this very day, though the street is now in a different location.

Padre Aniceto Ibáñez del Carmen, OAR

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