Thursday, April 27, 2017


For any years I had read about how some taotaomo'na (manifestations of the ancient spirits) appeared with gaping holes on the sides of their torso, but only recently did I come across a pre-war story giving one of them a name.

Masongsong Kalaguåk-ña.

Apparently, in pre-war days, everyone knew him by that name.

Songsong can mean "village" but it can also mean "to stuff, to fill in a hole."

Kalaguak means the left and right sides of the torso, from the rib cage down to the waist.

So Masongsong Kalaguåk-ña means "stuffed his side."

According to the description, this taotaomo'na had a gaping hole on his side and he stuffed it with banana leaves or coconut husks. Then he covered the entire hole with a banana leaf.

All the children of Guam knew him by name because mothers and grandmothers would warn them that Masongsong Kalaguåk-ña went after misbehaving kids and put them in his hole and covered the hole with the banana leaf and went back to the jungle with the child.

Perhaps some families kept the memory of his name but, after asking around, no one I asked had ever heard of the name Masongsong Kalaguåk-ña. More people had heard that some taotaomo'na had holes on their sides, stuffed with leaves. Fewer people told me they knew about one who stole bad children by putting them in the hole. But no one that I talked to knew his name.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting article. My late maternal grandmother was said to have a toataomo'na friend.. The presence of that "friend" would be more prominent at certain times of the year. One of the stories I heard was that my grandma could tell he was coming because of the smell that came from this hole in his side and the things that the taotao would stuff in it. I always thought it was a weird story and specific to my grandma's friend. I guess it's a common thing? On another note, my parents (originally from Luta) were telling scary stories. They mentioned a name of a taotaomo'na/birak on Rota. It's called Tangulo/Tangulu (not sure of the spelling). Always a pleasure reading your blogs, Pale!