Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Humåtak's Hidden Protestant Cemetery
located in West Ginahit, Humåtak

As far as most people are concerned, Humåtak has but one, solitary cemetery. You make a right turn immediately after the big, towered bridge, leaving Route 1 and entering the West Ginahit area and take the road all the way in and there you will find the Catholic cemetery at the dead end. No pun intended.

And most people would not be surprised that Humåtak (so it seems) has but one cemetery. The village is one of Guam's smallest, so one cemetery should suffice. And, no surprise, it's the parish or Catholic cemetery, since everyone in Humåtak is Catholic. Right?


Today, of course, many Chamorros are no longer Catholic but even in the 1930s, not everyone in Humåtak was Catholic.

There was one Baptist family there.

The head of the family was Juan Aguon Quinata, the son of Faustino Mendiola Quinata and Clara Infaña Aguon. He was born in Humåtak in 1883 and then married a Sumay woman, Elocracia Guzmán Dueñas. Her first name has been spelled in a variety of ways! Her headstone spells it Elocracia. One census spells it Elogracia. And the oldest census she is in, the 1897 one, renders her name Lucrecia. She was the daughter of José Quintanilla Dueñas and María Santos Guzmán.

The couple became Baptist. Till his death, Juan read a Spanish Bible every day and lead family prayers at night.

As Baptists, none of them could be buried in the Catholic cemetery in Humåtak, the only one existing in the 1930s. So when Juan's daughter Guadalupe died in 1934, land for a non-Catholic cemetery had to be found. I am not sure how this piece of land became the Protestant (or, at least, non-Catholic) cemetery. I'd have to research at Land Management who is the owner and who were the owners in the past. I wouldn't be surprised if this land was Juan's to begin with, but that's just a guess.

Either by design or by coincidence, the Protestant Cemetery is just a few yards away from the Catholic one. It is so small; the headstones so darkened with the passage of time and the effects of the weather, that it is easy to miss when driving by.

Guadalupe's grave

Of the headstones that still exist, the oldest belongs to Juan's daughter Guadalupe, who was born on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 12th in 1909. I have a suspicion, then, that Juan was still Catholic in 1909 since he named his daughter after the saint on whose feast the daughter was born. Our Lady of Guadalupe also happens to be the patroness of Sumay, the village where Elocracia came from.

Guadalupe had married Francisco T. Manalisay, a school teacher, but unfortunately she died a young woman, being only 24 years old at the time of death.

Sadly, just the following year, Juan's wife Elocracia also died, at the relatively young age of 55. Hers is the second oldest headstone in the cemetery.

Elocracia's weather-beaten headstone.
You can just barely make out the writing.

After the war, many of Juan's family became Seventh Day Adventists, but Juan remained a Baptist and played the organ at the Talofofo General Baptist Church. When he died in 1958 he was buried in this small cemetery along with his wife and daughter.

Juan's headstone is in better condition.

There is, finally, the grave of a stateside woman, Mary Violet Cathey (maiden name Bridges), born in Missouri. She died in Guam in 1966 and is buried in Humåtak. I do not know her story, nor her connection to the Quinatas, if any in fact exists.

For all we know, there may other graves in this cemetery, but the headstones are missing.

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