Monday, February 12, 2018


Home of a Manakkilo' in Hagåtña
Early 1900s

In almost every human community, there are always the haves and the have-nots.

Long before the arrival of the Spanish, our ancient society was divided into three classes, as well. The lowest class, the mangachang, had fewer rights and fewer material goods.

Under Spain, how could an ambitious Chamorro advance?

Since there were very few opportunities to make money in trade and commerce, the best way to an improved economic life was the government and the salaries it paid. Government jobs were few. Teachers made a little money, and there weren't many teaching positions available. Soldiers made a handful of money, often paid in goods rather than cash. The better salaries were in clerking for the court and other government offices. This required a very good knowledge of the Spanish language. It was from government positions that some families then ventured into commerce and trade, limited as they were at the time.

These elite families took on more of a Spanish flavor, as well, having a good grasp of Spanish language and manners. The people called them the manakkilo', the high ones, from the word takkilo' (high).

An American writer in 1902 who visited Guam that year describes visiting the home of one of these elite Chamorros.

"They live in houses built of coral stone, having the necessities and a few of the luxuries of life. A prosperous merchant of Agana is educating his son in Manila, and his home is very inviting; stone steps leading from the hot, dusty street into a large, cool hall, paved with colored tiles, in which stand a long, cane-seated sofa and several chairs. At the end and to the right of the hall, broad stairs lead to the rooms above which are spacious and airy. Lace curtains before the windows, easy chairs, a piano, many ornaments and pictures and the highly-polished floor betoken his comfortable circumstances."

"Houses built of coral stone" means mampostería, a mixture of stone and mortar. "Highly-polished floors" probably meant wooden floors made with ifit wood, which were polished using coconut husks.

Chamorro ladies of the elite class

No comments:

Post a Comment