Wednesday, February 22, 2017


BUENAS NOCHES MARIKITA is a Johnny Sablan original.

I grew up listening to this song since the early 70s.

1. Buenas noches Marikita / kao siña yo' un na' hålom
(Good evening Marikita / can you let me inside)

ya ta hihita man rega nu / i man fresko siha na hånom.
(and water together  / with fresh water.)

REFRAIN : Kao mungnga hao? Kao mungnga hao? Sa' hunggan yo', nene.
(Will you not? Will you not? Because I am willing, baby.)

2. Ti ya-mo åttilong na taotao / lao gof ya-mo i fanihi
(You don't like dark-skinned people / but you like the fruit bat)

ya hu desesea kerida na / un guaiya yo' taiguine.
(and I desire sweetheart that / you love me in the same way.)

3. Åttilong yo' nai na taotao / åttilong ti ma guaiya
(I am a dark-skinned person / dark-skinned persons aren't loved)

lao gef atan nu i dos matå-mo / sa' un dia un fina' baba.
(but look well at your two eyes / for one day they will deceive you.)

4. Ti pinite yo' as nåna / komo hågo yo' kumonne'
(I won't feel bad for mama / if you are the one to take me)

komo humihita chumochocho / ai masea linemmok donne'.
(if we eat together / oh, even if it's just crushed chili pepper.)

5. I famalau'an ni man dudus / man gof andi' i lalåhe
(The flirtatious women / the show-off guys)

an un pala'i labios-mo libistik / siempre ha' un ma essitane.
(if you smear your lips with lipstick / you will surely be mocked.)

6. Ti guåho na klåsen taotao / para hu tohge gi flores-mo
(I'm not the kind of person / to stand on your flowers)

lao måtto yo' para hu konsuela hao / annai hu hungok i tanges-mo.
(but I came to comfort you / when I heard your weeping.)


This is a wooing song. A man, who seems unlikely to win this girl's heart, is doing his best to convince her to take him as her sweetheart. The refrain shows the difference between the two. He knows who he wants ("Sa' hunggan yo'.) but he is not sure yet where she stands ("Kao mungnga hao?").

In verse 1, he uses the analogy of watering flowers, or plants, which makes them bloom and blossom. He asks her to do the same, with love and romance, to make their feelings grow.

In verse 2, he points out her contradiction. She doesn't like him because his skin is dark, but she loves fruit bat, which is black. If she can love to eat fanihi, why can't she love him, too?

In verse 3, again defending himself against his dark skin, he points out that his color is just skin deep. There is more to a man than the color of his appearance. Those deeper things escape the eyes, and her eyes can deceive (fina' baba) her, thinking that a light skinned man is a good man when in fact he is not, or that a dark skinned man is bad, when in fact he may just be a wonderful person.

In verse 4, he shifts gear and suggests that, if she accepts him, their romance will be wonderful. So wonderful that he will not even pity his mother, who sorrows that she lost her son to such a woman. So wonderful, that even if all they have to eat is crushed chili pepper, it will be great as long as they eat together.

In verse 5, he teases her, maybe to shame her, but not in a horrible way. He warns her in order to shake her up and bring her back to modesty. Lipstick was new and strange to Chamorros when it first came out in general use among the Chamorros. Women painting their lips and faces seemed ridiculous to some, and Chamorros mock what they find ridiculous. Lipstick and make-up were associated with affluent, westernized women, and even with loose women. Since the woman he loves values appearances, to the extent that a dark man won't do for her, he warns her that her made-up appearance, with lipstick, only opens her up to ridicule. Better, he implies, that she not make such a big thing of appearances, hers or his.

In verse 6, an allusion is made to a well-known Chamorrita verse which goes, "Båsta umuriyan guma', sa' un gatcha i tinanom. Yanggen maolek hao na taotao, guaha potta para un hålom." "Stop coming around, because you're stepping on the plants/flowers. If you're a decent person, there is a door you can enter."

Romantic liaisons were strictly regulated in traditional Chamorro culture. It wasn't easy for a man to interact with a lady whenever he wanted. So, men were tempted to sneak around the house at night and get as close as possible to the sweetheart's bedroom window. That meant he would often stomp on the plants and flowers around the house. The Chamorrita verse says that if the man is a decent one, he'd have no hesitation approaching the house through the main door, where he would have to pass through mom and dad first.

So the man in this song says he's not an indecent type of fellow to sneak around the house and step on the plants. But, he has heard his darling's tears, so he goes to comfort her. Another reason why she should take him as her sweetheart.


Marikita. Spelled Mariquita if using the Spanish style. It comes from the Spanish way of adding -ita or -illa to feminine names or words to make it more affectionate or to emphasize smallness. Maria is Mary and Mariquita is "little Mary" or "darling Mary." 

Lipstick. Chamorros had a hard time with the P, S and T all together so they added an I in between the P and S and said lipistik or libistik. Remember that, in the old days, Chamorros were like Spaniards who had a hard time saying an initial S followed by a consonant. School is es-kool and student is es-tudient. The stick in lipstick becomes istik.

Essitane. To mock or ridicule someone or something. It comes from the word o'sitan or e'sitan, which means to joke. But many Chamorros shorten essitane to estane as you can hear in the song when Johnny sings it.

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