Monday, August 20, 2018


From many parts on Saipan, one can clearly see its highest point - Mount Takpochao - which rises to 1555 feet. That is around 400 feet higher than Guam's Mount Lamlam.

But surrounding Takpochao are other high points slightly below it. The second highest peak on Saipan is to the west of Takpochao and it rises to 1000 feet. It is called Okso' Tipo' Påle'.

It's an interesting name.

Okso' is hill or mount.

Tipo' comes from tupo' which means a well, as in a water well. When one places the definite article "i," meaning "the," tupo' becomes i tipo'.

Påle' means "priest."

So, perhaps, the place was named after a priest who dug a well there. Why a priest would dig a well on a hill 1000 feet high is anybody's guess. Perhaps a priest found a well there. Maybe it was named for a priest for other reasons.


The Americans, when taking over Saipan in 1944, wanted Mount Takpochao very badly. From this high ground, the Americans could do much to take control from the Japanese. But, on the way up to Takpochao, the Americans had to first lay their hands on Tipo' Påle'.

Tipo' Påle' (encircled) was a main objective in the American invasion

American soldiers survey Garapan (right) and the western shore of Saipan from Tipo' Påle'

A similar view today


The modern name for Saipan's highest peak is Tapochau (or Tapochao) but the original Chamorro name is Takpochau (or Takpochao).

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