Thursday, July 20, 2017


José Díaz Wilson
(spelled Willson)

In the 1800s, there was a Wilson family in the Marianas.

James (in Spanish, Santiago) Wilson arrived in Guam around 1826, according to an 1831 document listing the names of foreigners living on the island.

Other records suggest that his full name was Robert James Wilson.

His main occupation, it seems, the whole time he lived on Guam was pilot at the port. This means he directed to shore the boats that would pick up passengers from the larger ships anchoring at Apra.

He seems to have married twice and had nine children, but we're not sure of all of their names, nor of the first wife's name.

But one of the older children seems to have been a María Wilson, born around 1827 and a 70-year-old widow by the time she is listed in the 1897 Census. It is quite possible that she had married a Díaz. In 1897 she is living with two grandchildren.

There seems to have also been a Juana Wilson, deceased by the 1897 Census but the first wife of Francisco Pangelinan, aged 76 years, listed in the 1897 Census.

Juana Wilson and Francisco Pangelinan could be the parents of one José Wilson Pangelinan, born around 1878 who moved to Saipan. He married twice. His first wife was Dolores San Nicolás Sablan and his second wife was María Cabrera San Nicolás. He was better known as Jose'n Obo.

This Juana Wilson, married to a Francisco Pangelinan, might explain why there is also mention of a man named Lorenzo Wilson Pangelinan, He is absent from the 1897 Census but there does appear there a widow named Valeria de la Cruz, who had been married to a Lorenzo Wilson Pangelinan, dead by 1897.

We are more certain about James' children from his second wife, Rufina Palomo Díaz.

One was a daughter named Eduviges, who married Antonio Pangelinan Martínez. Many of their children married into socially prominent families. Antonia married into the Goyo clan (José Flores Pérez); Emilia married the American William Notley; Ana married Carl Bergquist; Josefa married Julián Pérez Sáiz; Joaquín married Rita Anderson Millinchamp; and Ángel married Emilia Roberto Kamminga.

Another daughter, María, married into the Siket family of Castros. Her husband was Ezequiel León Guerrero Castro. From the Chamorro pronunciation of Ezequiel (E - se - kiet) is derived the family nickname Siket.

Thus it seems that James had two daughters named María; one from the first wife and the other from the second wife.

James had one son whose name appears frequently in the old documents. His name was José, and he followed in his father's footsteps and worked as a pilot at the port. In those days, the boat carrying passengers from the ships would land at the pier in Piti, which was part of the village of Tepungan. José was civic head of Tepungan a few years, too.

José married Encarnación de San Nicolás and had some daughters and a son Antonio, but we cannot find descendants from Antonio and so the Wilson name eventually died out on Guam.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


A View of Pågan

It is rare that I come across a song written about one of the northern islands, but I caught something on Facebook. It was a home recording of Tomasa Taman Ada, also known as Tan Båcha', singing about missing the island of Pågan. Tan Båcha' was born in Agrigan but spent part of her childhood on Pågan. Pågan was evacuated in 1981 when its northern volcano erupted but, since then, small groups of people have gone back and forth to Pågan and some live there to this day. Against vocal opposition from the local community, the U.S. military hopes to use Pågan for live-fire shooting practices.

In this homemade video, Tan Båcha' is asked by her daughter to sing the song. Without prior rehearsing, she needed some help in remembering some of the lines.

Later, I made the following recording of the song with the help of two talented musicians, Tony Treltas and John Perez.


I langet yan i chinago'-ña, hongga ha' hulo' i piniti-ho.
(Heaven and its distance, my sorrow is heard above.)

Kulan ha' mo'n para bai hu måtai, ya u dingo yo' i anti-ho.
(It's as if I am going to die, and my soul depart from me.)

I Faibus yan i chinago'-ña, hongga ha' påpa' i koron man ånghet.
(Faibus and its distance, the choir of angels is heard below.)

Olåra mo'n ya bai hu li'e' i tano'-ho iya Pågan.
(Oh that I would see my land of Pågan.)


Chinago'-ña. The sorrow of the singer is due, in part, to the distance that separates her from heaven and from Pågan.

Mo'n. Is a shortening of the word mohon, which indicates something hoped for or possible.

Anti-ho. The song is very theological. In Catholic theology, death is defined as the separation of body and soul. The body dies; the soul does not die. The body dies when the soul leaves it.

Faibus. Is the name of a location on Pågan. It is probably Carolinian in origin. Carolinians (as well as Chamorros) settled on Pågan. There is also a place called Faibus on Tinian, which at one time was settled by Carolinians.

Monday, July 17, 2017


Korean Peace Memorial
Marpi, Saipan
In memory of the Korean fallen in Saipan in World War II

Long before more recent Chamorro-Korean marriages, a few Chamorros in the Northern Marianas married Koreans in the 1920s and 30s.

Japan invaded Korea in 1910 and colonized it. In 1914, Japan occupied the Northern Marianas and the League of Nations later recognized Japanese rule in the Northern Marianas.

Over time, Japanese, Okinawan and Korean settlers moved to Saipan and vastly outnumbered the Chamorro and Carolinian population. During the war, Koreans in the Imperial Japanese Army were sent to defend the Northern Marianas from the oncoming American invasion.

Serafina King Nabors, a well-known resident of Tinian, is the child of one such Korean-Chamorro marriage. Serafina has served in elected office and has always been active in civic life. Here she tells of her discovery of her Korean paternal roots.

Serafina went to Korea and did some digging and found out that her father's last name was Kim, the most common Korean surname. It wasn't unusual for some last names to be changed by clerks and priests who recorded them. Kim became King.

Her father moved to Luta (Rota), working on a tapioca farm and the sugar cane fields. There he met a Chamorro lady from Saipan, whose mother came from Guam, from the del Rosario family. Serafina is related to the Ngånga' and Seboyas clans.

After the war, the Kings resettled in Tinian. All four main islands of the Marianas are involved in Serafina's family history!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Although our islands were a bit out of the way, we are so situated and so stretched out north to south that ships were bound to make stops in any one of the Marianas during the 17 and 1800s.

One such visit was made to Alamågan in 1799 by a ship in need of water.

The ship's visit was written up by a certain Captain Bass, who I can only assume was British since he had his story printed in a British magazine.

His ship was on its way to China, traveling in a westerly direction and running low on water. Without a fresh supply of it, they were sure to run out of water before they arrived in China. It was common knowledge among mariners who sailed in this area of the northwest Pacific that any one of the Mariana islands could supply food and water. Some, Bass said, preferred to by-pass the lower and larger islands in order to escape Spanish encounters. The northern islands were largely abandoned at the time and passing ships could enjoy perfect liberty in these islands.

Bass' ship decided to stop at Alamågan, which appeared before them one hazy morning. They found out soon enough that the haze was caused by plumes of smoke billowing out of Alamågan's volcano, active at the time. While on land, Bass got somewhat close to the volcano and heard rumbling deep from the earth.

Alamågan's crater, dormant at the time the photo was taken

Water was unfortunately not found so the men collected as many coconuts as possible, which were plentiful by the shore.

One lemmai tree (breadfruit) was found and some bananas, but also papaya, which came to the Marianas from abroad, so they must have passed through Guam before being brought up to the northern islands. The crew also feed themselves with the pånglao (land crabs) that were abundant and also some birds. But there was no sign of the Hawaiian pig and some chickens that were left on Alamågan by an earlier visiting British ship.

Alamågan would be settled then abandoned numerous times, under Spanish, German, Japanese and Trust Territory times, right up to Commonwealth times, all depending on the mood of the volcano.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017



In 1919, we find a Chamorro man living in New Orleans, Louisiana.

His name was Manuel San Nicolás, born in Hagåtña in 1878, the son of Mariano.

In 1893, Manuel came to the United States. More than likely, he joined the crew of a whaler or some commercial vessel stopping by Guam. That would have made him 15 years old, not unusual at that time period.

In the U.S., Manuel worked in various jobs,

Manuel is found in the 1920 US Census named "Manuel Nicolas." It's not unusual for names to change slightly, and sometimes completely, in documents of those days, especially with non-Anglo names. But we know from documents that Manuel lived at 1215 Royal Street in the year 1919, and the 1920 Census entry is for the residents at 1215 Royal Street.

The Census says that Manuel is from the Philippines, but we know that many Chamorros listed Spain or the Philippines as their place of origin in those days because the Marianas were not well-known by others back then, and because the Marianas were a province of the Philippines which was under Spain in the 1800s.

According to this Census, Manuel was married to a woman from New Orleans named Louise, who is of Portuguese and Mexican descent. Other records show that her maiden name was Laurence (sometimes spelled Lawrence) and that they had married in 1905. They had four children by 1920 :a daughter Manuella, aged 13, and two sons, Manuel, aged 4, and Peter, less than a year old.

Manuel and Louise reappear in the 1930 Census in New Orleans, still on Royal Street but now at house number 2237. Their older children, Manuella, Manuel and Peter are not living with them anymore but they have the following children living with them : Thomas (13), Raymond (6), Rita (3) and Calvin (4). If Thomas is truly 13 years old, he should have been listed in the 1920 Census, and maybe he is, but named Manuel. If people had two given names, records sometimes use the 1st and at other times the 2nd given name, which explains the discrepancy. In 1930, Manuella would have been 23 years old by then and possibly married. Peter could have died in infancy. Many did in those days.

Interestingly, the 1930 Census says that Manuel was from the Philippines but all the children's entries state that their father Manuel is from Guam! So much for human record keeping.

One of Manuel's seasonal jobs was to go to Cuba and work for the Hershey company. Needing a better source of sugar for his candies, Mr. Hershey bought acres and acres of sugar cane fields in Cuba in 1916. Manuel would go there to work as Centrifugal Foreman at the mill.

The Hershey Mill in Cuba at the time Manuel would have worked there

Another time, we find a document showing that Manuel went to Veracruz, Mexico on account of work. It seems the 15-year-old sailing boy never lost his love of travel.

What became of Manuel's Chamorro children? One of them, Raymond, moved to Kentucky where he died in 1984.

Despite numerous records simplifying San Nicolas to just Nicolas, Raymond signed his name using the full name San Nicolas

It would take some research to find out where Manuel's descendants are today and if they have any inkling of their Guam and Chamorro roots.

Thursday, July 6, 2017


There are many beliefs held by many Chamorros about what transpires among those about to die. For example, it is said that the dying see their dead relatives in the room, as if the dead relatives are beckoning their family member to join them in the afterlife.

But here is one story I was recently told about a dying woman which points to another kind of experience. Did this grandmother have an out-of-body experience, visiting grandchildren, thousands of miles away, to say goodbye before she passed away?

Diddide' åntes de u måtai si nånan-måme, annai esta kumåkama
(A little before our mother died, when she was already bed-ridden) 

ya ti siña gue' kahulo' ginen i kattre-ña, mangågao si nånan-måme paopao
(and couldn't get up from her bed, our mother asked for perfume)

sa' para u palai gue' paopao malago'-ña. 
(because she wanted to put some on her.)

Si nånan-måme tåya' na ha dingu i gima' sin ha nå'ye gue' paopao, 
(Our mother never left the house without putting on perfume,)

masea yanggen para i tenda ha' para u hanaogue. 
(even if she was just going to the store.)

Man manman ham ni mañe'lo sa' mangågao paopao ya ti siña kahulo'! 
(We siblings were surprised because she asked for perfume and couldn't get up!)

In faisen gue', "Nang? Para måno hao na para un nå'ye hao paopao?" 
(We asked her, "Mom? Where are you going that you're going to put on perfume?")

Chumålek sanhalom ha' i amko' lao tåya' håfa ilek-ña. 
(She just smiled and said nothing.)

Ha huchom matå-ña ya kalan ha tutuhon maigo' lao in li'e' na guaha ha hahasso, 
(She closed her eyes and it was as if she started to sleep, but we could see she was thinking about something)

lao umachigo' matå-ña. Despues, guaha entre i mañe'lo ilek-ñiha
(though her eyes were closed. Later, some among the siblings said)

na mangågao paopao si nånan-måme sa' para u bisita i famagu'on famagu'on-ña 
(that she asked for perfume because she was going to visit her grandchildren)

ni mañåsaga Amerika ya ti siña man måtto Guam 
(who were living in America and couldn't come to Guam)

para u atende i bihan-ñiha ni esta kumekematai.
(to attend to their dying grandmother.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017


There is a beach just south of Two Lovers Point that is very popular with people seeking the sun, sand and surf.

Now if we could only figure out its name!

It is called both Faifai and Fafai, depending on who you talk to or what map you consult.

I have looked through several pre-war maps of Guam, and they all say Fafai.

This map above is from 1901. It spells Fafai with a Y; Fafay.

This map is from 1914.

This map is from 1941.

Finally, this map is from 1954.

There may be old maps that say Faifai, but, so far, I haven't found them.

It is also true that spelling mistakes were made in older maps. But, in time, most of these were corrected. In the case of Fafai, all the maps spell it Fafai (or Fafay) but never Faifai.

From Peter Onedera's book, compiling the place names of Guam, we find this :

The National Register of Historic Places also lists the beach as Fafai.

But, the name Faifai has recently become equal to if not ahead of Fafai in popular speech.

I haven't found a meaning, either, for fafai nor of faifai.


Numerous reader feedback says that the name of the place is pronounced Fafa'i. In other words, three syllables. Fa - fa - i.

This would suggest a connection with få'i, which means "rice seedlings" at the planting stage. There are several speculations why this coastal area would be so named.

Monday, July 3, 2017


(Family Photo)
Juan Blas Blanco

He was perhaps Japan's greatest success in its effort to form some people from Saipan in the Japanese mold.

He was sent to Japan to be educated there, and was even given a Japanese name. Kamiyama Seiichi. His Japanese language skills were superb, as were his knowledge of Japanese customs and the Japanese mindset. He lived with Japanese host families, one of them getting so close to him that he considered them his Japanese "father and mother." Some noted that his Japanese accent was a proper Tokyo one.


Juan was born in Saipan in 1923. His parents, like so many Saipan families, were originally from Guam.

His father was Juan Taitano Blanco, the son of Domingo de León Guerrero Blanco from Hågat and his wife Juana Manahane Taitano. They moved to Saipan at the end of the 19th century.

(Family Photo)
Domingo de León Guerrero Blanco, seated, and his wife Juana Manahane Taitano
Juan Taitano Blanco is the tall man standing. The two ladies are his sisters and the young ones are their children.

His mother was the former Antonia Blas, from Hagåtña.

(Family Photo)
Juan's parents : Juan Taitano Blanco and Antonia Blas


In 1934, twenty years after the Japanese took over the Northern Marianas, four representatives from Japanese universities paid a visit to Saipan's schools.  These representatives believed that a few Saipan students should be sent to Japan to continue their education. Juan was class president in the third grade, and was selected.

He was first sent to a school in Tokyo and then to another school in Shimizu City in Shizuoka Prefecture. As already mentioned, he stayed with Japanese host families. In Shimizu City, he had the good fortune of having his older sister living with him as she was studying midwifery in the same city.

Juan Blanco stands in class in Japan

Juan's time in Japan had a big effect on him. His experience was generally a positive one. Most of his teachers were good to him and, as mentioned earlier, he got on so well with one hosting couple that they became surrogate parents to him.


But Juan's father started to get concerned about his son being in faraway Japan when signs of international war loomed on the horizon. Japan was already engaged in full warfare in China. What would happen if war broke out between Japan and America? How could his family keep in contact with Juan if war in the Pacific made such communication difficult, if not impossible. Juan's father thus decided to bring Juan back to Saipan.

With his mainland Japanese education, Juan wouldn't have profited much being enrolled in the school for Chamorros and Carolinians. He was allowed the rare privilege of entering a school in Saipan normally reserved for Japanese students alone. Eventually he became the only Chamorro graduate of the Saipan Industrial School.

After graduating, there were two possible job opportunities. One was to work for the Japanese military on Saipan, and the other was to work for the largest commercial interest in Saipan at the time, the sugar company or the Nanyo Kohatsu Kabushiki Kaisha or NKK for short. It was here that Japan's racial divide showed. The military would have paid him lower wages for being non-Japanese. The NKK was willing to pay him the same wages as a Japanese in the position he was to fill. Juan opted therefore to work for the sugar company.


Juan was picked up by the Americans and put in the same stockade with the Japanese, not believing he was Chamorro! After two weeks, with the help of an American officer who spoke good Japanese, he was able to convince them that he was Chamorro and he was transferred to the Chamorro camp.

Juan did many and sundry things after the war, and all pretty successfully. He worked for the U.S. military, served in the Saipan Municipal Council and other political offices, was first branch manager of the Bank of America in Saipan, and was involved in other business ventures which brought him also to Guam at times, where he had many friends.


According to one of Juan's sons, Juan had one misgiving about life under Japanese rule in those days. No islander was ever supposed to excel over a Japanese in anything. When Juan rose to the top of the class or made it to the honor roll, the parents of a Japanese or Okinawan classmate complained, and Juan was deprived of his honors. If Juan beat a Japanese or Okinawan classmate in wrestling, there would be trouble.

"At least the Americans made us citizens," Juan's son said, quoting his deceased dad.

Still, it could not be denied that all his Japanese experience, much of it very positive, left a permanent mark on him. He kept in contact with numerous Japanese friends and was present at many Japanese events held in Saipan.

(Family Photo)

Juan Blanco
before his passing in 2014

* A note of thanks to Juan's sons John and Harry for information and photos

Thursday, June 29, 2017


Just two days after swearing in as US Navy mess attendants, the newest bunch of Chamorro recruits assembled that morning on the deck of the USS Barnes in Apra Harbor to receive their first assignments. It was early 1940.

The American officer looked at one of them and said, "You are now the Captain of the Head."

The other Chamorro men kept quiet, of course, but they were stunned. How could this Chamorro guy be promoted to captain in just two days, and the head of something? Maybe this guy was smarter than they first thought.

A few days later they finally understood when they saw this "captain" cleaning toilets on the ship.

Only then did they learn that "head" was Navy slang for the toilet.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


What we call our village mayors today were our village commissioners in the 1950s and 60s.

In one of those village elections for commissioner in the late 1950s, a candidate in a southern village won by only three votes.

The daughter of the winning candidate tells me the story :

Påle', ginen Commissioner si tatå-ho. 
(Father, my father was once a Commissioner.)

I fine'nana na biåhe na mangånna, tres ha' na boto muna' fangånna si tatå-ho. 
(The first time he won, just three votes made my father win.)

Ilek-ña i kontrariu-ña despues de ma deklåra na si tatå-ho mangånna, 
(His opponent said, after my dad was declared the winner,)

"Hu tungo' håye siha i tres na boto ni muna' fangånna hao! 
("I know who those three votes were which made you win!)

I dos techan guma'yu'us yan si nanå-mo!" 
(The two church prayer leaders and your mother!")

Maolek ha' nai na ga' guma'yu'us si bihå-ho 
(Good that my grandmother was a church-goer)

ya ha kombensi i dos techa para u ma bota si tatå-ho!
(and she convinced those two prayer leaders to vote for my dad!)


Ga'. This prefix means "fond of, liking." Ga' kumuentos is someone who likes to talk. Ga' salåppe' is someone who likes money (avaricious). Ga' guma'yu'us is someone who likes church or religious events and things. A "churchy" type.

Techa. Prayer Leader. Usually a female, but can also be a male, in which case he is still the techa, not a techo. Techa is not borrowed from Spanish, which observes gender (masculine -o and feminine -a). Techa comes from the Chamorro verb tucha, which means to lead public prayers. The Chamorro language does not observe gender. A tall person is lokka', whether male or female. It isn't lokko' for a man and lokka' for a woman. There is no gender in the Chamorro language.

The techa is the one who leads the public recitation of the rosary before Mass every day at church. She also leads in novenas and other devotions at church. A techa also leads in prayers done at home. One becomes a techa simply by being recognized by others as being capable of leading the prayers. There are techa who lead prayers occasionally, such as for home devotions or a funeral now and then. And then there are techa who are "parish techa" who lead prayers on a daily basis at church. These parish techa are their own category and are considered something like "super Catholics" since they practically live in church.

It is this kind of techa who were credited with the victory of this political candidate! :)

The Power of the Techa

Monday, June 26, 2017


Frederick Vehling was something of a showman.

An immigrant from Germany to the U.S., he got some attention sailing his schooner, the Kussiloff, unaided, from Kodiak in Alaska to San Francisco. Then he decided to pursue an even more difficult long voyage, from San Francisco to Guam.

This time he brought along his whole family; a wife and seven children, including two boys, aged 14 and 12. And one black man, as well.

He also brought along items for trade once he arrived at Guam : two cases of clay pipes, one coil of rope, 24 pounds of tobacco, 5 barrels of flour and many other things.

He set sail from San Francisco on May 5, 1894. He made a brief stop at Honolulu after sailing for 28 days.

Vehling had been to Guam long before, during his seaman days, and dreamed of returning to settle on Guam permanently and grow coffee.

He was in Guam by the end of July or early August. The story of his voyage to Guam was carried in many newspapers all over the United States.

Despite a warm reception by the Spanish Governor, it seems Vehling did not stay long on Guam. He was never heard of again.

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
November 5, 1894

Thursday, June 22, 2017


This song was recorded by Sonny Flores and Joe Norita of Saipan back in the 1980s.

It's a love song, as many Chamorro songs are, with that familiar touch of male insecurity! He promises her true and undying love; he is not totally sure where her heart stands.


Mamaisen yo' keridå-hu nene
kao magåhet na manguaiya hao nu guåho.
(I asked, my beloved baby,
if it is true that you love me.)

Mungnga ma na' låstima i lago'-mo
sa' i tiempo-ko para hågo todo i ora.
(Don't waste your tears,
because my time for you is always.)

Bai hu sungon nene i kontråta,
puede ti manguaiya hao otro mås ke guåho.
(I will endure, baby, the agreement,
hopefully you don't love another more than me.)


Kerida. This is borrowed from the Spanish querida, from the verb querer (to love, to wish) and it means "beloved" but can also mean "darling, sweetheart" and every romantic epithet you can think of.

Tiempo-ko. Literally "my time" but he means that he is available to meet her needs at all times.

Todo i ora. Literally means "at all hours" but he means "always, at any and all times."

Sungon. It literally means "to endure" but here he means he will endure any hardship, make any sacrifice, to keep the understanding between him and her that they are a couple.

Kontråta. It sounds like "contract" and it can mean that, but also "agreement, understanding, plan."

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Many families on Guam practice the following custom after a baby is baptized.

When the baptism is over and the baptismal party leaves the church and goes to the house where the christening party will be celebrated, the patlino (godfather) gathers in front of the people, with the children usually standing or squatting right in front of him, and yells out "Biba!" three times in honor of the newly-baptized baby. The people reply with their own "Biba!" each time the patlino yells "Biba!"

Then, the patlino breaks open rolls of quarters and scatters them all over the place. As much as $20 worth of quarters are thrown out, but the amount is up to the patlino.

Anyone can pick up the quarters, but it's usually the children who do. They can keep whatever they catch.

This custom is simply a way that the family and guests can express joy that a baby in the family has been baptized into God's Church.

Here is how Cathy Ogo explains the custom in Chamorro :

One person from Saipan told me that this isn't done on that island. That usually means it isn't done on Tinian or Luta either. But, if someone can share if this custom is practiced on these other islands, please leave a comment.

A godfather about to throw out the quarters at a christening party.

Younger and older picking up the quarters.

Monday, June 19, 2017


The CNMI's first Senators are sworn into office, January 1978

When the Northern Mariana Islands were made a Commonwealth of the United States in 1977, a bicameral (two house) legislature was created. The House was made up of representatives based on population. Thus, Saipan got the bulk of representatives while Tinian and Luta got one representative each. The House would be headed by a Speaker.

The Senate, on the other hand, gave each of the three main islands (Saipan, Tinian and Luta) three senators each. The islands north of Saipan (Pagan, Alamagan, etc.) would be included under Saipan. The Senate would be headed by a Senate President.

The first elections for the new CNMI government, executive and legislative branches, were held in December of 1977.

In those days, there was a Democratic Party in the CNMI, but not a Republican Party yet. The alternative party then was the Territorial Party. The Territorials proved victorious in the legislative race of 1977, while the Democratic candidates won the Governor and Lieutenant Governor positions.


Territorial (8)
Oscar Rasa (Speaker) - Saipan
Pedro Nakatsukasa - Saipan
Alonso Igisomar - Saipan
Miguel Kileleman - Saipan
Jose Lifoifoi - Saipan
Felicidad Ogumoro - Saipan
Placido Tagabuel - Saipan
Misael Ogo - Luta

Democrat (6)
Manases Borja - Saipan
Antonio Guerrero - Saipan
Jesus Guerrero - Saipan
Jesus Sonoda - Saipan
Joaquin Villanueva - Saipan
Serafina King - Tinian


Territorial (5)
Lorenzo Guerrero (President) - Saipan
Pedro Tenorio - Saipan
Julian Calvo - Luta
Joseph Inos - Luta
Benjamin Manglona - Luta

Democrat (4)
Serafin de la Cruz - Tinian
Hilario Diaz - Tinian
John Hofschneider - Tinian
Herman Guerrero - Saipan


  • The 1977 election gave the Carolinians a significant amount of representation in the House; 5 out of 14 seats (over a third). Because the Carolinians heavily voted Territorial, that boosted the Territorial Party's ability to capture the majority in the House.
  • Because 2/3 of the Senate was made up of the Luta and Tinian delegations, where there is no historical Carolinian community, Carolinian members of the Senate could be expected to be few.
  • Luta was strongly Territorial at the time; Tinian was strongly Democrat.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Hagåtña in the 1920s

Our mañaina really did it up in the past when it came to religious celebrations.

A news article in the Guam News Letter from June, 1915 talks about the Corpus Christi procession that year.

"The feast of Corpus Christi was celebrated on June 6, 1915 by a solemn procession which was attended by a very large number of people. The Blessed Sacrament was borne by His Lordship the Right Reverend Bishop of Guam, preceded by (the) volunteer Band, who played hymns which were sung by all the people. The houses on both sides of the streets through which the procession passed were adorned with embroideries and colored curtains; and lighted candles were placed in the windows and on the varandahs."

"Along the route of the procession, there were erected four pretty little chapels, constructed of bamboo and palms, and adorned with flowers and religious images. At each of these chapels, the Bishop stopped and the people knelt down while the Blessed Sacrament was incensed."

"The good order of the procession and the fervor with which the Church Hymns were sung, were especially noticeable. This was a source of pleasure and satisfaction to the Very Rev. Bishop, who after the procession expressed his appreciation of this religious enthusiasm."

Pre-War Lånchon Kotpus

Some things to take note of....
  • a marching band accompanied the procession
  • people sang the hymns from memory (there were no printed hymnals for wide public distribution yet)
  • the people sang with fervor
  • the houses along the route were decorated, not just the lånchon kotpus (little chapels)
  • the people knelt (on the bare earth; streets were not paved yet)
  • look at the lånchon kotpus above. No K Mart, no Home Depot. Yet look how elaborately decorated it is.
Our mañaina really had faith back then and knew how to express it. Puts us to shame.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Tubero, or tuba seller

In 1807, Elías Topasña was killed. He was stabbed by a tubero named Francisco Quitaoji.

A tubero is a maker and/or seller of tuba, an alcoholic drink made from coconut sap.

On October 5th, the body of a dead man was discovered in the Fu'uña area of Hågat. There was a stab wound below the left nipple. The blade went into the body in the direction of the heart. The body was soon identified as that of Elías Topasña, a bilånggo of Hågat. A bilånggo was a peace officer or constable.

A search party was organized, looking for the knife. It was found by Javier Quidagua and Domingo Laguaña on the roadside. Two knife experts, Mariano Luján and Vicente Muña, studied both the knife and the wound and declared that the knife was the instrument of death.

The next step was identifying the owner of the knife. Very quickly, fingers were pointed at a certain Francisco Quitaoji, also of the Fu'uña area of Hågat. The knife was used by Quitaoji for cutting tuba.

When questioned, Quitaoji admitted he had stabbed Topasña during a struggle when Topasña met Quitaoji on the road and attempted to confront Quitaoji with a garrote. A garrote was a strangling device, often made of cord or rope. This is where Chamorro gets the word galute.

Despite his apparent justification based on self-defense, Quitaoji was found guilty and imprisoned at the jail in Hagåtña.

Prior to this incident, Quitaoji had been punished by the government for having fled to the mountains.


People debate where Fu'uña was located.

A village by that name is mentioned as far back as 1682, the year García's book on Sanvitores was published, just ten years after Sanvitores' death. The vague descriptions of Fu'uña point to an area north of Humåtak and south of Hagåtña, on the western side of the island, but nothing more precise can be ascertained.

In this 1752 map of Guam, there is a small island called Funna (possibly Fu'uña) off the coast of Hågat. Perhaps the area on shore facing this island was also called Funna/Fu'uña.

Others believe that Fu'uña is actually Fouha, a point further south, closer to Humåtak. In other words, Fouha and Fu'uña are the same place, according to this school of thought.

This list of Guam place names used by the US Navy in 1946 shows this belief that Funna (Fu'uña) is the same place as Fouha Point.

Personally, I would be very hesitant to come to the firm conclusion that Fouha Point is really Fu'uña and more so the Fu'uña involved in the killing of Elías Topasña.

The documents all point to Fu'uña being a location in Hågat, whereas Fouha is clearly within Humåtak's boundaries. It would be too far for the principal players in Topasña's death, all Hågat people, to be walking so far down south to Fouha and back up to Hågat where the Hågat village leadership resided. You would think that if the killing really happened at Fouha, just up the shore from Humåtak, that Humåtak's authorities would be the ones investigating Elías' death.

The Topasña surname today is principally found in Humåtak, but two hundred years ago it was also found in other villages, such as Hågat. The document is clear that Elías Topasña was born in Hågat.

The fact that old maps speak of an isle (or rock) called Funna, located way north of Sella (Sydia) and Cetti (Aty) bays in the 1752 map, also point to a location in Hågat called Funna/Fu'uña.

In time, the location once called Fu'uña in Hågat district was no longer so called by the people. It no longer appears in more recent maps. In time, we get written evidence that people regarded Fu'uña and Fouha as the same place. But why? The answer to that still evades us.

We're at the mercy of old maps, often created by people not even living on Guam, passing on mistakes of older maps and making their own mistakes in spelling and location.

In many cases, history humbles us and we just have to say, at times, "We don't know for sure."

Monday, June 12, 2017


Mappot ma pångon i kadu' mamaigo'.

It's difficult to wake up someone pretending to be asleep.

I kadu' mamaigo' ti siña ma pångon sa' åhe' ti mamaigo'. Esta makmåta.
(The person pretending to sleep cannot be awoken because he isn't asleep. He is already awake.)

Some people choose to be ignorant. There is no educating them. Their ears and minds are closed by choice.

They are like those who pretend to be asleep. They cannot be awakened, because they already are. They are just pretending to be asleep. By their own choice, they can go on and on and on as if they were asleep.

Friday, June 9, 2017


Pablo Pérez was the Spanish Governor of the Marianas for a little less than seven years, from 1848 till 1855. He was a controversial figure, often at odds with the Spanish missionary priests in the Marianas.

In 1854, for example, Pérez took issue with Father Vicente Acosta. Acosta has erected a chapel at the beach in Tomhom (Tumon) where tradition says Father Sanvitores was martyred in 1672. The location was pointed out by some very old people who kept the memory of the site as they had learned from their parents.

The shrine had an altar, a large cross and a painting of Sanvitores.

Acosta then sang Mass at the chapel on May 3, 1854. Two principal ladies involved in this Mass were Matilde de Campos and her sister Luisa. Matilde had a strong devotion to Sanvitores and Father Acosta asked her to take care of decorating the altar. Her sister Luisa assisted her.

The Governor was very displeased with the priest's actions. Pérez maintained that Acosta needed the Governor's permission to build a chapel. He also took issue with the priest's omission of not even informing the Governor of the chapel nor of the Mass.

Pérez started official proceedings against Acosta, gathering oral testimony from witnesses. He sent all of these to the higher authority in Manila, which received these reports in early 1855.

The reports went nowhere as Manila had decided it was time for Pérez to be replaced as Governor of the Marianas. In May of 1855, a new Governor arrived on Guam and Pérez was put on board to leave island.

Acosta and Pérez
No love lost between them

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


My favorite beach in all the Marianas

I came across a Chamorro phrase the other day that I never heard of before.

Chopchop unai.

When I first saw it, I already knew what both words meant separately. But I didn't know what those two words were doing together.

Chopchop means "to suck, to absorb." As when you suck on an orange, or when the sponge sucks up (absorbs) whatever liquid has spilled.

Unai means "sand."

So I learned that chopchop unai means "beach."

Some say chopchop i inai. And if one started by saying "the beach" then it would be "i chepchop i inai" or "i chepchop unai."

I wonder how our ancestors came up with this phrase. A beach is covered in sand. Is it chopchop unai because it's as if the land soaked up (chopchop) the sand (unai).  

What other reason might there be?

A reader mentioned that it can be observed at times that the water filters through the sand. It is as if the sand is sucking up or absorbing the water. Thus, the name. 

The more common way of saying "beach" in Chamorro is kånton tåsi, meaning "sea side."

Some readers say that chopchop unai refers specifically to the area where the sea water reaches the sand, not the dry sand area.

You see how language is not just a long list of words for this or that. It shows the way a group of people (who speak that language) see the world.

Just make sure that you don't say the Chamorro word chopchop the same way you say the English word "chop." The Chamorro O is different at times from the English O, which has more than one sound. Have a listen :


Monday, June 5, 2017


The area we call nowadays "East Agaña" obviously wasn't always called that.

Believe it or not, there was a time when English was not spoken on Guam! 😊

When I asked an old auntie of mine (born in 1900) what that area was called before the war, she said "Trinchera." I immediately thought of the word "trench," and "trinchera" is, in fact, a Spanish word meaning "trench" or "ditch."

I was actually driving this aunt of mine through the area, so I knew she understood precisely what area I was referring to.

I wondered why people, perhaps beginning with the Spaniards, would give this stretch of narrow land between the ocean and the cliffs such a name. Were there trenches in this area at one time?

I thought the name Trinchera was lost to modern generations but the name is still used by some. For example, the beach in Trinchera is called by some maps "Trinchera Beach."

The building where Crust Pizzeria is located is called Trinchera Plaza, after the name of the area.


I just came across something that might explain why this area was called Trinchera.

The Jesuit Father Francisco García, in his book about Sanvitores and the early Jesuit missionaries, written just ten years after the death of Sanvitores, based on missionary letters and reports, while many of the missionaries were still alive, speaks about trenches (trinchera) and a wall built by the Chamorro enemies of the missionaries.

García says that the opponents did this about half a mile from Hagåtña on roads leading to the villages, in order to prevent the missionaries from traveling to the villages. García doesn't say in what direction from Hagåtña this was, but his description of the area gives us clues. He says that the Chamorros dug these trenches and built the wall across the trail, taking advantage of the tight space between the ocean and the cliffs. This description fits well with East Agaña.

From García's own words,

"The indios....built a wall and trench (trinchera) on the beach to block the way to their villages. The wall was made of coral and rocks from the sea, where it was protected by a rocky hillside, at a distance of an eighth of a league from Agadña." "Indio" is a word that Spaniards used back then to describe natives of the American and Asian/Pacific island places they went to.

I can just imagine a trench (trinchera) and a wall across this narrow stretch of land between the water and the cliff

The cliffs of Trinchera (East Agaña) match the description of the terrain in García's book

Thursday, June 1, 2017


In the village of Santa Rita lies a street named after the late Blas dela Cruz.

Most people are surprised that a man's first name is Blas, since Blas is a well-known family surname in the Marianas. But what is known in the Marianas as a last name is actually a first name. "Blas" is the Spanish version of the name Blaise. There was a saint by that name, and that is how his name got spread all over the Christian world. The saint was Armenian, and his Armenian name was Vlasi. Vlasi became Greek Vlasios and then Latin Blasius. After that, Latin Blasius became Spanish Blas.

Just as first names like Francisco, Pablo, Ignacio and Jesús became family, or last, names, so did Blas.

The Blas we are concerned with, for whom this street is named, was born in Hågat in 1895, the son of Antonio Hocog de la Cruz and Ana Aquiningoc.

Somehow, he enlisted in the US Navy and served during World War I, something that was not done by many Chamorro men at the time. While he was in the service, in California, he was naturalized a US citizen in 1919. Thus, Blas could claim, with only a tiny handful of other Chamorros, that he was made a US citizen long before the Organic Act made all the other Guam Chamorros US citizens in 1950.

Blas de la Cruz's headstone, along with his wife, at Agat Cemetery. It proudly states that he served in the US Navy in World War I.

Blas de la Cruz's petition for US Naturalization, showing his nationality as "Guam." 

Blas was still in the US Navy as the new decade dawned in 1920. He is missing from the Guam Census in 1920. He is also seen on a list of servicemen sailing on the USS Logan with Guam as its destination in 1921. At some point in the 1920s, Blas left the Navy and settled in Sumay, marrying a lady living in Hågat, Natividad Barcinas Reyes, around 1923 or so. Blas and Natividad had four children, two sons and two daughters. When Sumay was closed and the residents transferred by the Navy to Santa Rita, Blas and family moved with the others to the new village. Since his house was on this street, the street was named in time after him.

One thing that Blas did, when he returned to Guam in the early 1920s, was he kept the original Spanish version of his last name de la Cruz. Almost all other de la Cruzes on Guam dropped the "de la" and became known simply as Cruz.

Blas dela Cruz, and wife Natividad

On a personal note, I met Blas once or twice at Guam Memorial Hospital in the 1980s. I was visiting the sick and walked into his room and saw him in bed as a patient with his daughter Ana attending at his side.

He passed away in 1987. RIP