Friday, December 16, 2016


Guma' Redondo, Chalan Kanoa, Saipan

Måtso dia 21 gi 1947 na såkkan.
(March 21, 1947)

Chalan Kanoa, Saipan.

Gi a las 7 gi painge i Atkåtde ha anunsia gi åtta bos na 50 na pasaheros man måfåtto ginen Luta.
(At 7 o'clock last night the Chief Commissioner announced loudly that 50 passengers were arriving from Rota.)

Gi halom 5 minutos despues de i anunsio, kåsi 1000 na taotao man etnon gi Gima' Redondo
(Within 5 minutes after the announcement, around 1000 people gathered at the Round House)

para u fan ali'e' yan i pasaheros.
(to meet the passengers.)

Siha man mannangga kåsi 2 oras, ya annai måtto i bås siha, man parientes yan atungo' siha
(They waited around 2 hours, and when the buses came, relatives and friends)

man agu'ot kånnai, man aatoktok yan man aachiko unos yan otros
(grasped hands, were hugging and kissing each other one and all)

na'manman yan na'magof na okasion annai i man amigo yan man parientes
(a wonderful and joyful occasion where friends and relatives)

ti man ali'e' meggai na såkkan siha.
(hadn't seen each other for many years.)


Luta was isolated and cut off from the rest of the world from June of 1944 until September of 1945. For more than a year, even though Saipan, Tinian and Guam were in US hands, Luta was by-passed by the American military. The US felt that it could ignore Luta for now and focus on continuing the advance towards Japan and end the war as quickly as possible. The Japanese military left on Luta, for the time being, were powerless to stand in the way of the US assault on Japan.

Even when the Americans got around to landing on Luta in September of 1945, to inform the Japanese there that the war was over, travel and communication between Luta and the rest of the Marianas were limited.

I personally knew a Saipan family that was living in Luta during the war to work for the Japanese agricultural companies. When the Americans by-passed Luta, this family was stranded on Luta. Like everyone else on that island, Japanese and Chamorro, food was scarce and they suffered.

So this landing in March of 1947 of friends and relatives from Luta was indeed a joyful event. The 50 passengers were probably a mixed group. Some were Saipan Chamorros who were either in Luta permanently or who were trying to get back to Saipan. Some were Luta Chamorros needing to visit Saipan for various reasons or who had family in Saipan.


ATKÅTDE. The civilian head of the Saipan community at the time was called the Chief Commissioner. But in Chamorro this title was Atkåtde, from the Spanish word alcalde, which means "mayor." In Luta, they soften the word and say atkåde.

ÅTTA BOS. From the Spanish phrase alta voz, meaning "high" or "loud voice." When someone says something in alta voz, it can even mean screaming. Here, it seems the meaning is that the Chief Commissioner went around shouting to the homes that the passengers were arriving.

ONE THOUSAND PEOPLE. For an island that had a population of nearly 5000 people, that's a significant percentage of the whole community.
GUMA' REDONDO. Literally "round house," it was a kiosk (and was also called kiosko) in the middle of Chalan Kanoa which was used as a gathering place for the people. Usually, in Chamorro, "round" is aredondo. It no longer exists in Chalan Kanoa.

BÅS. The Japanese adopted the English word bus so the Saipan Chamorros were already familiar with the word basu in Japanese. The Luta passengers probably landed at the dock by Puerto Rico, just north of Garapan and needed to board buses to take them down to Chalan Kanoa several miles away.

(Pregonero, March 25, 1947)

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