Thursday, January 5, 2017


We don't need to fly to Israel anymore.

Kidding. But there is a place in Inalåhan called Belen.

Belen is Spanish for Bethlehem.

The original name of the area is Se'se', and that old name is retained for a part of the area. But the lower part, closer to the main road, is called Belen and the street name leading to that area is called Belen Avenue.

The back story is that this name is relatively new. It was only after World War II that someone decided to start calling this area Belen. If you look at any pre-war map of Guam, you won't find any place called Belen.

Juan Meno Paulino moved to this area from the main village with his parents and siblings after the war. He was young and fun-loving. It was Christmas time and he saw all the trees and bushes in the area and suggested to his father that they call the area Belen, after the manger scenes which people did not build just for the inside of the home, but many times also the outside of the home on the lawn.

These outdoor belens were often huge, needing leaves and wood from the surrounding jungle.

Here is Juan's brother Bill telling the story in Chamorro :

Life is never at a standstill; we are in constant motion.

So it is with culture. What we think is an old name for a place may well be something new.

The road leading up to Belen

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