Sunday, May 8, 2016


José Camacho Farfán
Commissioner of Mongmong-Toto-Maite 1961-1973


There are not huge numbers of Chamorros with the surname Farfán, but the family has been on Guam since the early 1800s.

The name is absent on the earlier Guam censuses of 1727 and 1758. So the first Farfán to come to Guam must have arrived after 1758.

The name is Spanish, but this does not mean that the first Farfán to come to Guam had to have been a Spaniard from Spain. He could have been that, but he could have also been a Spaniard from Latin America or from the Philippines. It is also possible that he was of mixed blood from Latin America or a Filipino. Until we find more documents, that's as far as we can say.

But in the 1897 Census of Guam, we find people named Farfán who were born in the early 1800s. These must have been the 2nd or even 3rd generations of people named Farfán on Guam. The family was already part of the Chamorro community, therefore, since the early 1800s, regardless what race the first Farfán on Guam was.

1897 Census

In this census, we find three adult Farfáns living together with the family of Vicente de la Cruz and his wife Maria Ignacio de la Cruz. Maria's maiden name was Cruz. Following the Spanish custom, Chamorro women kept their original surnames even when they married.

The Farfáns living with the Cruzes had Cruz as a middle name. My guess is that the Farfáns were nephew and nieces of either Vicente or Maria. Perhaps the Farfáns (who were in their 20s and teens) had lost both mother and father, and moved in with an aunt and/or uncle.

The three are Ana, Vicente and Rita.

Vicente married Joaquina Sablan Camacho and these were the parents of Jose (pictured above), the former Commissioner (now called Mayor) of Mongmong-Toto-Maite, Ignacio (who died in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 while serving on the USS Oklahoma), Jesús and one daughter, Rosa.


Besides these three siblings, there is also an old widow, María Farfán, born in the 1830s.

There is finally another woman, Josefa Borja Farfán, born in the 1840s, who married Mariano Palomo Blas.

María and Josefa could have been sisters and, if they were, then María would have been a Borja Farfán.


The name is found in Spain, but its meaning has been lost.

Sevilla, in the south of Spain, seems to be the birthplace of the family, but it has since spread to many places. Only 1,300 people in all of Spain has this last name, found mainly in the south and in the capital city of Madrid.

Extension of the name Farfán in Spain. The darker the color, the more numerous the residents having the last name Farfán.

Keep in mind that the Spanish and Chamorro pronunciation of this last name stresses the second (and last) syllable : Far - FAN. Americanized speakers will probably stress the first syllable and say FAR - fan.


Go to this link at Dr Michael Bevacqua's blog about the writing of former Commissioner José Farfán. The man wrote critical notes about the American administration of Guam right after their return in 1944.

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