Monday, May 21, 2018


Under Spain, married people in the Marianas could not divorce.

In practice, some husbands and wives physically separated, some even taking on a new partner. But none of this was legal. There was no legal effect, and there were spiritual penalties imposed by the Church, in such cases.

In the first year of American rule on Guam, however, a tiny number of couples were already filing for divorce. By 1901, the Naval Governor confirmed these early divorces through an Executive Order. Though legal now, divorces remained rare in Guam until the modern era.

In 1902, a couple in Sumay divorced. The court awarded the woman custody of the two children born of the marriage, and the following goods which the couple had accrued during their marriage :

One spotted cow
One large frying pan (carajay)
One large clay jar (tinaja)
One small clay jar (tinaja)
One mirror
Two glass jars
One sewing machine
One flag
One processional image
Two statues (San José and La Dolorosa)
One urn
Two blankets
One metate
One small pot
One rosary
One carriage
One young cow
Two young pigs
One coconut grove in As Esteban (located in Hågat)

The court ordered that the man bring these items (except for the coconut grove, obviously!) to an in-between, Ignacio Mendiola Cruz, better known as Ignacio'n Tu'an, who lived in Sumay. From Ton Ignacio, the woman would retrieve these items. The woman also had moved to Hågat, probably to live with relatives.

Various tinåha

The tinåha (from Spanish tinaja) was a clay or earthenware jar, found in every Chamorro home. Large ones were put underneath the roof of the house to catch rain water (hånom sinaga).


A metåte was an indispensable part of a Chamorro kitchen back when our people are corn-based food on a daily basis. On the metåte, dried and cured corn was ground into a flour to make titiyas (tortilla) and other staple foods. The oblong stone used to crush the corn is called the måno (Spanish, for "hand"). The metåte was carefully treasured in the home, as they were not easy to replace if they accidentally cracked. Mothers passed them down to their daughters as if they were bequeathing gold jewelry to them!

No comments:

Post a Comment