Monday, July 2, 2018


The wharf at Punta Piti 
Early 1900s

What major, life-changing event in the history of Guam happened at Piti?

Spanish rule over Guam ended at Piti on June 21, 1898.

Two hundred and thirty years of Spanish rule over Guam came to a screeching halt in a matter of hours that day, and it happened at Piti.

It didn't happen at Hagåtña, the capital city. It didn't happen in Apra Harbor or at Sumay. It happened in Piti. Specifically, not far from the dock that made Punta Piti (Piti Point) important in those days.

Apra Harbor, of course, was where almost all ships anchored when coming to Guam. Sumay was an important village for that reason. One could get on a smaller boat and head into Sumay. But, if one wanted to go to the capital, Hagåtña, people in their smaller boats headed towards Punta Piti. It was faster for them to get a ride into Hagåtña from Piti, rather than take a bull, karabao or horse-driven carriage from Sumay.

So when the American Captain Glass came into Apra Harbor on June 20, 1898 with orders to capture the Spanish officials on Guam, Piti was drawn into historic events.

Glass was in his own ship, the USS Charleston, but he was accompanied by three transport ships. These American ships had been spotted sailing down the western coast of Guam, past Hagåtña, and some Spanish military officers and other private citizens went down to Piti to observe the arrival. In time, they got on boats and went out to meet the Charleston and found out, for the first time, that war existed between the US and Spain. The Spanish officers were ordered to deliver a letter to Spanish Governor Juan Marina, in which the surrender of the island to Captain Glass was demanded. Much later that day, as the day was coming to a close, a letter from Marina arrived, declining the order to come on board the Charleston, and requesting Glass to come ashore to meet Marina.

Spanish Governor of the Marianas Juan Marina y Vega
In 1897 while in Cavite, the Philippines

The following day, on June 21, an American contingent under the command of Lieutenant William Braunersreuther went ashore at Piti. There, Braunersreuther met Governor Marina and gave him thirty minutes to surrender himself to the American forces. Marina was placed under US custody and transported to one of the American ships. The Spanish and Chamorro soldiers were ordered to appear at Piti not later than 4 o'clock that afternoon.

In compliance with this order, the 54 Spanish and 52 Chamorro soldiers gathered at Piti on the afternoon of June 21 and were relieved of their weapons. The Spanish soldiers were transported to the American ships, and the Chamorro soldiers were told to return home to their families. The next day, June 22, the four American ships left Guam with all the Spanish military officers and soldiers to be taken to Manila. Spanish rule over Guam had come to an end on the shores of Piti.

Spanish rule ended over Guam. But Spanish rule would not end in the Northern Marianas till the following year, in 1899, since the US wanted only Guam. Spain held on to the Northern Marianas for another year till Spain sold them to Germany.


If you look at old maps of the dock at Punta Piti, it was located right across Cabras Island, which was separated, at the time, from the main island. This map below is from before World War II.

Here is an even older map, showing Piti's older location.

And here is an even older map, showing the location of the pantalán, or pier, at Punta Piti.

If we look at a modern, aerial view of this same area seen in the two old maps above, here's what we find :

So the older location of Piti, and the location of the dock in which area the surrender of Spanish power to the Americans in 1898 took place, was in the area of Atlantis, in the area circled above.

Here's what the place looks like today.

It was somewhere in this vicinity, near today's Atlantis tourist office in Piti, that Spanish rule over Guam came to an end. One hundred and twenty years ago.

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