Monday, April 10, 2017


The Catholic Church in Luta (Rota) sometime between 1915 and 1920
San Francisco de Borja Church, Songsong

The Catholic mission on Luta, which was made up of one solitary church staffed by one solitary priest, was under the German Capuchins from 1908 until 1919. In fact, Luta had the same priest, a German Capuchin friar, all those years. His name was Father Corbinian. The Chamorros called him Påle' Corbiniano.

For ten years, Påle' Corbiniano loved being on Luta. He made a big impact on the people there. He was the only European on the island for some of the time, and ran the only school. The German Government never opened one on Luta.

When the Japanese took the Northern Marianas over from the Germans in 1914, they let the German Capuchins continue to work in Saipan and Luta (Tinian had no Chamorro population yet) for awhile. But by 1918, when World War I was ended and Japan had the secure possession of the Northern Marianas (as well as the rest of Micronesia, except Guam), the Japanese Government told the German Capuchins they had to leave.

The problem was that the Catholic Church didn't know who to send to Saipan and Luta to replace the departing German Capuchins. Ideally, Japanese priests would have come but Japan had few Japanese priests and what few there existed were needed in Japan.

So when Påle' Corbiniano packed his things to leave Luta for the rest of his life, he needed to appoint someone or some people to have official responsibility to make sure that the church of San Francisco de Borja, any other chapels, the priest's house and all church property were maintained and not totally abandoned. Not only would total abandonment lead to the decay of those buildings, the Japanese government may be tempted to use those buildings (or let others do so) in the absence of the missionaries.

So Påle' Corbiniano appointed a committee of leading Luta men to be responsible for church property until the Vatican finally decided what missionaries would be sent to Saipan and Luta.

The committee members appointed by Påle' Corbiniano were :

Pedro Mangloña
José Taitano
Juan Taisacan
Vicente Mangloña
Francisco Mendiola
Juan Ayuyu
José Atalig
Elías Atalig
Baldomero Mendiola
José Taitano II
José Songsong
Sixto Taimañao
José Mangloña

Interestingly, this group makes 13 members; the 12 Apostles and Jesus! An odd number, so there'd never be a tie if something needed to be voted on.


Since we have the Luta Census of 1897, we can speculate who some of these men are. In 1919, teenagers and young adults wouldn't have been chosen to be on the committee, so the members would appear in the 1897 Census. So it's just a matter of finding the same names in that Census.

There are three problems, though, The three Mangloñas in the committee all have common names (Pedro, Vicente and José) and there are more than one of all three names in the 1897 Census, so it is not clear which one it is, so I will leave these three names alone.

José Borja Atalig, married to María de León Guerrero Taimañao

Elías Masga Atalig, son of Benito Atalig and Brigida Masga. Married Ana Hocog.

Juan Matantaotao Ayuyu. Married to Isabel Atalig Songao.

Baldomero Mangloña Mendiola. Son of Felix Mendiola and Ana Mangloña. Married to Maria Cruz Camacho.

Francisco Mendiola. Son of Felix Mendiola and Ana Mangloña.

Vicente Mangloña. Married to Carmen Taimañao Mendiola.

Sixto Arriola Taimañao. Son of Francisco Taimañao and Maria Arriola.

José Hocog Songsong. Son of Carmelo Songsong and Rita Hocog.

Juan Masaii Taisacan. Married to María Masga. He was the sacristan (saklestan). His middle name is spelled in various ways and that family has died out.

José Mangloña Taitano. Son of Pedro Taitano and Joaquina Mangloña. Teacher. Known as "Maestron Taitano."

His son, José Taitano II.


In just two years, in 1921, a Spanish Jesuit priest was allowed by the Japanese Government to live and work in Luta, just as they allowed in Saipan.

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