Has it ever occurred to you that there are no bears on Guam?
So where did Bear Rock get its name? From Americans, who were reminded of a bear from the rock's shape. Although, in 1930 or so, Governor Bradley's daughter took film footage of the rcck and called it "Squirrel Rock." Many people would agree with the Governor's daughter.
In any case, our mañaina never called this rock Bear Rock nor Squirrel Rock. What is the Chamorro name for this rock?
The older people of Inalåhan tell me that it is called Laso' Giai. Not only is the rock called that; the area around it is also called Laso' Giai.
One old map, from 1915, points to this, although the non-Chamorro mapper did not quite get the spelling right. No surprise there; Europeans and Americans often spelled a Chamorro word or name in the way that sounded right to them. The map erroneously spells it Lasodiac, or Laso' Diac.
|From Dept of Parks & Recreation|
Courtesy of Joe Garrido
The laso' part of the name is believed by almost everybody to refer to the phallic shape of the rock. Laso' is a Chamorro slang word for the male penis. It is believed to be a shortened version of the word balaso', an elongated outgrowth from the tree that does not form into an actual fruit. It is called the "male flower" of the breadfruit tree. The female flower forms into the edible fruit.
Some Chamorros also refer to the inner core of the breadfruit as the balaso', because it often forms an elongated part similar to the male flower.
laso' was used for some of these rocks that, in some minds, resembled the male organ. Another rock on Guam named this way is Laso' Fuha (Fouha Rock).
The giai part of the name is more of a mystery. Several people have their own interpretations what the word means. The word is not found in any of the Chamorro dictionaries we have today.
Ben Meno from Inalåhan has an interesting explanation. He says that giai means "visible, seen." When boys would swim in the area of the rock, they would swim in the nude. Thus, their laso' was giai. Maybe the American should have called it Bare Rock.
Other people might be confusing the word gigao with giai. Gigao is a method of catching fish and shellfish.
Sorry to say, I haven't found yet an iron-clad explanation for the name, though some informants are dead set on the ones they gave me.
Ben had one final comment. Some people call the roch Åcho' Higånte. This literally means "giant rock." Higånte is from the Spanish word for "giant." Åcho' is Chamorro for "rock" or "stone." Ben says that older Chamorros called anything really big higånte.