Tuesday, August 30, 2016


A branch of the Camacho family on Guam is called the familian Espåtsa.

You won't normally hear them say it that way. But originally, the nickname was Espåtsa, back when Chamorros had the same trait as the Spaniards in being unable to say an S followed by another consonant without putting a vowel in front of the S.

In other words, in Spanish and in old-style Chamorro pronunciation, you will never find combinations like SB, SP, ST, SM, SN, SG or SK without a vowel (A, E, I, O, U) in front of it.

So Chamorros used to say ESKOOL when saying school; or ESTUDIENT when saying student.

As people got more Americanized, this trait disappeared and the Espåtsa family became known as the Spåtsa family.

Even the spelling shows the strong mark of Americanization.

The nickname begins with Spåt, but we think like Americans and picture the word spot. So, Spotsa, like the street sign picture above.

The trouble is that the Chamorro O always sounds like O as in coat or vote. Ogo, Okada and Toves are examples using the Chamorro O. So Spotsa really ought to be Spåtsa.

This street sign uses the A but without the lonnat (Å) to show that it has the AW sound. It also uses a Z when in Chamorro, we do not have the Z unless it's a foreign proper name like Perez or Lizama. Espåtsa is not a proper name, it is a nickname formed by Chamorrofying the Spanish name.

Well, enough about spelling....

Why does this family have this nickname?

If you're a member of the Espåtsa family and know the reason, please do comment below and let us know. But the few members I have been able to contact do not know the reason.


When I first came across the nickname Espåtsa, in court and/or land records during Spanish times, it was spelled Esparza. This makes sense. Chamorros would have changed the R to a T, and would have pronounced the Z like an S. When older Chamorros say Perez, it sounds like Peres. When older Chamorros say Carlos, it sounds like Kåtlos.

Esparza became Espåtsa.

So Esparza happens to be a Spanish last name!

In fact, here's a pic of Felipe Esparza, a Mexican comedian. I don't know his comedy nor support it. I just use him as an example of how Esparza is a Spanish last name.

OK, so did some Spanish, Latin American or Filipino guy named Esparza come to Guam and got somehow connected with a branch of the Camacho family?

That would seem to be a good possibility.

I haven't come across an Esparza in the Marianas records during Spanish times. But there are all kinds of possibilities. Maybe an Esparza came here for such a short time that his name isn't in the records, but stayed long enough to get connected with the Camachos. Maybe the Camacho went to Manila and got connected somehow with an Esparza. Maybe there is an Esparza in the records but the record got lost, destroyed or we just haven't found it yet. There are so many possibilities, some not even thought of. We know that some Chamorro families got their nickname because someone in the family worked for someone named Logan, for example. So that family became known as the familian Logan. Maybe a Camacho worked for some guy named Esparza.

But how else to explain Espåtsa, especially when the Spanish records call this family by the nickname Esparza?

So the best, I think, we can say for now, unless we get reliable information from the family, is that

1. Espåtsa comes from Esparza
2. Esparza is a Spanish last name
3. The Camachos better-known-as the familian Espåtsa were so named because of some connection to a person named Esparza or some other connection to the name Esparza.


According to those Spanish-era land and court records, one Fermín Luján Camacho was identified as Esparza. Fermín was born around 1849.

Fermín was the son of Luís Camacho and Juana Luján.

He was married to Ignacia Acosta Arriola.

No comments:

Post a Comment