Monday, June 5, 2017


The area we call nowadays "East Agaña" obviously wasn't always called that.

Believe it or not, there was a time when English was not spoken on Guam! 😊

When I asked an old auntie of mine (born in 1900) what that area was called before the war, she said "Trinchera." I immediately thought of the word "trench," and "trinchera" is, in fact, a Spanish word meaning "trench" or "ditch."

I was actually driving this aunt of mine through the area, so I knew she understood precisely what area I was referring to.

I wondered why people, perhaps beginning with the Spaniards, would give this stretch of narrow land between the ocean and the cliffs such a name. Were there trenches in this area at one time?

I thought the name Trinchera was lost to modern generations but the name is still used by some. For example, the beach in Trinchera is called by some maps "Trinchera Beach."

The building where Crust Pizzeria is located is called Trinchera Plaza, after the name of the area.


I just came across something that might explain why this area was called Trinchera.

The Jesuit Father Francisco García, in his book about Sanvitores and the early Jesuit missionaries, written just ten years after the death of Sanvitores, based on missionary letters and reports, while many of the missionaries were still alive, speaks about trenches (trinchera) and a wall built by the Chamorro enemies of the missionaries.

García says that the opponents did this about half a mile from Hagåtña on roads leading to the villages, in order to prevent the missionaries from traveling to the villages. García doesn't say in what direction from Hagåtña this was, but his description of the area gives us clues. He says that the Chamorros dug these trenches and built the wall across the trail, taking advantage of the tight space between the ocean and the cliffs. This description fits well with East Agaña.

From García's own words,

"The indios....built a wall and trench (trinchera) on the beach to block the way to their villages. The wall was made of coral and rocks from the sea, where it was protected by a rocky hillside, at a distance of an eighth of a league from Agadña." "Indio" is a word that Spaniards used back then to describe natives of the American and Asian/Pacific island places they went to.

I can just imagine a trench (trinchera) and a wall across this narrow stretch of land between the water and the cliff

The cliffs of Trinchera (East Agaña) match the description of the terrain in García's book

This land document in 1901 shows the name of the place, Trinchera, then describes that the property registered here is bordered on the east by the trinchera (or ditch), on the west by the owner's other property, on the north by the ocean and on the south by the cliff. A perfect description of Trinchera or East Agaña.

1 comment:

  1. Walls made of coral....priceless now.
    Those were the days.
    I recall sand dollars and abalone washing up on the beaches south of Half Moon Bay. . . so many and they were free for the taking ...