Monday, August 29, 2016


Famaisen = to ask

Halom Tåno' = jungle; inland; literally "inside the land"

Almost three hundred years of Catholicism under Spanish missionaries were unable to completely stamp out the belief that the jungles of our islands are inhabited by spirits. It shouldn't surprise us. It's a trait of human nature found all over the world. Spain itself has its share of scary folklore and allegedly haunted places.

Many Chamorros believe that these spirits inhabiting the jungle can become angry with you and hurt you in some way, mainly by making you sick. Thus, custom says to ask permission when entering the jungle and other natural, uninhabited places of the islands. Taboos include making unnecessary noise, disturbing the natural environment such as tumbling rocks or breaking trees without reason, and going to the bathroom without asking permission.

Tan Maria, in the video below, gives her own description of this custom.

Eyi i hagan i haga...i lahi-ho, an humånao para i lancho
(My daughter' son's daughter....when she went to the ranch)

tinago' as nanå-ña na u famamaisen an para u me'me' pat masinek.
(was told by her mother to be asking if she was to urinate or defecate.)

Ilek-ña pa'go eyi i hagan i lahi-ho,
(My son's daughter said,)

"Håfa para bai famaisen yanggen tåya' taotao?"
("Grandma, I mean mom, why should I ask when there is no one?")

Ilek-ña tåya' nai taotao lao guaha. Famaisen ha'. Gaige ha' gi fi'on-mo.
(She said there is no one but there is. Just ask. He is by your side.)

Sa' guåho tåya' magåhet Påle' ti ma na' malalango yo' ni ennao
(Because as for myself, Father, truly I have never been made sick by that)

sa' måno hinanao-ho todo i tiempo mamamaisen yo' para bai ma asi'e' ya bai...
(because wherever I go, I always ask to be forgiven and...)

sa' åhe' ti para bai pala'cha'...
(because certainly I am not going to be mischievous.)


1. Tan Maria is from Luta so she pronounces malångo as malango. The å is absent.

2. Notice how the English words "grandma" and "mom" have entered the speech even of an elderly woman from Luta.

3. Pala'cha' means to be mischievous, or rascally or to be otherwise disrespectful. She seems to soften the word in her speech and omit the first glottal stop.

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