Thursday, June 15, 2017


Tubero, or tuba seller

In 1807, Elías Topasña was killed. He was stabbed by a tubero named Francisco Quitaoji.

A tubero is a maker and/or seller of tuba, an alcoholic drink made from coconut sap.

On October 5th, the body of a dead man was discovered in the Fu'uña area of Hågat. There was a stab wound below the left nipple. The blade went into the body in the direction of the heart. The body was soon identified as that of Elías Topasña, a bilånggo of Hågat. A bilånggo was a peace officer or constable.

A search party was organized, looking for the knife. It was found by Javier Quidagua and Domingo Laguaña on the roadside. Two knife experts, Mariano Luján and Vicente Muña, studied both the knife and the wound and declared that the knife was the instrument of death.

The next step was identifying the owner of the knife. Very quickly, fingers were pointed at a certain Francisco Quitaoji, also of the Fu'uña area of Hågat. The knife was used by Quitaoji for cutting tuba.

When questioned, Quitaoji admitted he had stabbed Topasña during a struggle when Topasña met Quitaoji on the road and attempted to confront Quitaoji with a garrote. A garrote was a strangling device, often made of cord or rope. This is where Chamorro gets the word galute.

Despite his apparent justification based on self-defense, Quitaoji was found guilty and imprisoned at the jail in Hagåtña.

Prior to this incident, Quitaoji had been punished by the government for having fled to the mountains.


People debate where Fu'uña was located.

A village by that name is mentioned as far back as 1682, the year García's book on Sanvitores was published, just ten years after Sanvitores' death. The vague descriptions of Fu'uña point to an area north of Humåtak and south of Hagåtña, on the western side of the island, but nothing more precise can be ascertained.

In this 1752 map of Guam, there is a small island called Fuña (a variation of Fu'uña?) off the coast of Hågat. Perhaps the area on shore facing this island was also called Fu'uña.

Others believe that Fu'uña is actually Fouha, a point further south, closer to Humåtak. In other words, Fouha and Fu'uña are the same place, according to this school of thought.

This list of Guam place names used by the US Navy in 1946 shows this belief that Funna (Fu'uña) is the same place as Fouha Point.

Personally, I would be very hesitant to come to the firm conclusion that Fouha Point is really Fu'uña and more so the Fu'uña involved in the killing of Elías Topasña.

The documents all point to Fu'uña being a location in Hågat, whereas Fouha is clearly within Humåtak's boundaries. It would be too far for the principal players in Topasña's death, all Hågat people, to be walking so far down south to Fouha and back up to Hågat where the Hågat village leadership resided. You would think that if the killing really happened at Fouha, just up the shore from Humåtak, that Humåtak's authorities would be the ones investigating Elías' death.

The Topasña surname today is principally found in Humåtak, but two hundred years ago it was also found in other villages, such as Hågat. The document is clear that Elías Topasña was born in Hågat.

The fact that old maps speak of an isle (or rock) called Fuña/Funna, located way north of Sella (Sydia) and Cetti (Aty) bays in the 1752 map, also point to a location in Hågat called Funna/Fu'uña.

In time, the location once called Fu'uña in Hågat district was no longer so called by the people. It no longer appears in more recent maps. In time, we get written evidence that people regarded Fu'uña and Fouha as the same place. But why? The answer to that still evades us.

We're at the mercy of old maps, often created by people not even living on Guam, passing on mistakes of older maps and making their own mistakes in spelling and location.

In many cases, history humbles us and we just have to say, at times, "We don't know for sure."

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