Monday, September 25, 2017


The man blocked the road with tree trunks

Poddong Lisong

Imagine your surprise when you are heading to your ranch, where you have been farming for years, and suddenly you find that the trail has been blocked by tree trunks that weren't there the day before.

Far from a storm felling these trees, your neighbor purposely cut the trees and blocked the road.

This is what happened in 1901 at a place called Poddong Lisong, in the central part of Guam in the low-lying, swampy area between Sinajaña and Toto .

All of central Guam had ranches, mainly owned by people living in Hagåtña. When they found that the trail leading to their ranches was blocked, they also discovered that a land owner in the area named José was responsible for it.

José had a field in the area and he wanted the road closed. He claimed that the original road through the area, with public access, was around 120 feet away. The road he closed, he claimed, was private and not open to the public.

Four land owners who needed that road open took the matter to court. They called five senior citizens who knew the area well. One of the witnesses, Catalino de Borja, was 71 years old and said that since he was a young man, he knew no other trail going through the area except the one closed by José. Other witnesses saying the same thing were Vicente Roberto Herrero, Lorenzo Torres Aguon, José Castro Mendiola and Salvador Díaz Luján, the grandfather of Monsignor Oscar Luján Calvo.

Well, the court believed these old gentlemen and José was ordered to reopen the trail.

The Name Poddong Lisong

According to the 1901 court documents, the place is called Poddong Lisong. Poddong means "to fall" or "fallen," and lusong is a "stone mortar." The name could thus mean "Fallen Mortar," or refer to a place that descends down to an area where there used to be a lusong. It really is all guess work. For the names of many places in our islands, neither oral tradition nor written documentation explain why a place is so named.

Food, herbs and medicine could be ground up in a lusong.

In Chamorro, initial vowels (like the U in lusong) can easily change (to an I as in lisong), depending on the usage or on who is saying the word. Thus, later maps call the place Peddong Lisong and Poddong Lusong.

"Peddong Lisong"

"Poddong Lusong" on the Sinajaña village sign

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