Tuesday, June 27, 2017


What we call our village mayors today were our village commissioners in the 1950s and 60s.

In one of those village elections for commissioner in the late 1950s, a candidate in a southern village won by only three votes.

The daughter of the winning candidate tells me the story :

Påle', ginen Commissioner si tatå-ho. 
(Father, my father was once a Commissioner.)

I fine'nana na biåhe na mangånna, tres ha' na boto muna' fangånna si tatå-ho. 
(The first time he won, just three votes made my father win.)

Ilek-ña i kontrariu-ña despues de ma deklåra na si tatå-ho mangånna, 
(His opponent said, after my dad was declared the winner,)

"Hu tungo' håye siha i tres na boto ni muna' fangånna hao! 
("I know who those three votes were which made you win!)

I dos techan guma'yu'us yan si nanå-mo!" 
(The two church prayer leaders and your mother!")

Maolek ha' nai na ga' guma'yu'us si bihå-ho 
(Good that my grandmother was a church-goer)

ya ha kombensi i dos techa para u ma bota si tatå-ho!
(and she convinced those two prayer leaders to vote for my dad!)


Ga'. This prefix means "fond of, liking." Ga' kumuentos is someone who likes to talk. Ga' salåppe' is someone who likes money (avaricious). Ga' guma'yu'us is someone who likes church or religious events and things. A "churchy" type.

Techa. Prayer Leader. Usually a female, but can also be a male, in which case he is still the techa, not a techo. Techa is not borrowed from Spanish, which observes gender (masculine -o and feminine -a). Techa comes from the Chamorro verb tucha, which means to lead public prayers. The Chamorro language does not observe gender. A tall person is lokka', whether male or female. It isn't lokko' for a man and lokka' for a woman. There is no gender in the Chamorro language.

The techa is the one who leads the public recitation of the rosary before Mass every day at church. She also leads in novenas and other devotions at church. A techa also leads in prayers done at home. One becomes a techa simply by being recognized by others as being capable of leading the prayers. There are techa who lead prayers occasionally, such as for home devotions or a funeral now and then. And then there are techa who are "parish techa" who lead prayers on a daily basis at church. These parish techa are their own category and are considered something like "super Catholics" since they practically live in church.

It is this kind of techa who were credited with the victory of this political candidate! :)

The Power of the Techa

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