Monday, August 22, 2016


Just south of Garapan, and behind Guålo' Rai, as the terrain gently slopes upward towards the Mount Takpochao high ground, is a small area of Saipan called As Palomo.

The prefix "As" can be used as a name or place marker, roughly meaning, at times, "at."  "At my dad's" can be translated "as tatå-ho," for example.

So the place name "As Palomo" more or less means "at Palomo's" or "at Palomo's place." The area, thus, was named after someone with the last name Palomo. But which Palomo?

If we research the Saipan church records, there was no Palomo family that permanently settled the island. There is no Palomo family in Saipan today; at least not among the Chamorros.

But Padre José Palomo y Torres, the first Chamorro priest, did live in Saipan for many years. As a diocesan (or secular) priest, who do not take a vow of poverty, he was able to personally own land and he did, in fact, own land in Saipan as well as other places. When Guam and the Northern Marianas became politically separated, Palomo's land was confiscated by the German government because Palomo was living on Guam and could not develop his Saipan land. The Germans were much against idle land ownership and took it over.

Is it possible that the place is called As Palomo because Padre Palomo owned land there at one time? The best way to get to the bottom of this question is to look at old Saipan land records from the Spanish period, if they still exist, and see if Padre Palomo indeed owned land in the area known as As Palomo.

Don José Bernardo Palomo y Torres

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