Thursday, October 18, 2018


Nations have often used far-off possessions as a place of exile for criminal and political prisoners. The Marianas were no exception under Spain.

Many times, the convicts sent here were given much freedom. They often lived among the people, finding girlfriends and sometimes wives. A few even ended up working for the very government tasked to detain them.

At other times, they lived under some restrictions and were made to work on public projects. Many times they found it easy to run away into the hills, but in time they'd be caught and they were often found hungry, thankful to be back under custody if at least for a steady meal, simple as they were.

In 1821 we find lists of these presidiarios or prisoners on Guam. The lists do not say they were Filipinos, but the lists do state the place of origin of these prisoners, and the vast majority are clearly from the Philippines. I put a question mark on the few whose home towns are unclear to me.

It is doubtful that the Filipino convicts sent here in 1821 were political prisoners. There were no revolts against the Spanish in the Philippines at that point in time. The last uprising was in 1807 and the next one would not be till 1823. Still, it's entirely possible some or many of these prisoners were indeed political exiles.

This list is interesting because we find some recognizable surnames among the prisoners : Sarmiento, Candaso, Matías. But we can be sure that the Matías on this list has nothing to do with the Leonardo Matías who came to Guam much later than 1821 and married a Tanaka. As for Candaso and Sarmiento, we cannot say one way or the other, for now, if they have any connection with today's families by those names.

The Santiagos of Malesso' and Humåtak do indeed come from a Filipino by the last name Santiago, but his first name was José, not the Mateo in this list.

There is clearly one Mexican prisoner by the name of Esparza. Chamorros would have pronounced that name ESPÅTSA and indeed there is a branch of the Camachos known as the familian Espåtsa. I wonder if there is any connection between them and this Mexican Esparza.

A Mexican prisoner sent to Guam isn't surprising since Mexico was indeed fighting for independence from Spain in 1821, but Guam seems an awfully far place to send a Mexican political exile, especially since the Acapulco galleon ships had stopped coming to Guam by 1815 due to the Mexican war of independence. Maybe Esparza was a Mexican who just happened to be living in the Philippines and was arrested there for something other than rebelling against Spain.


LORCAS, José Antonio

Guadalajara (Cebu or Mexico?)


Guadalajara (Cebu or Mexico?)

URRUTIA, Vicente

Ermita (Manila)

BRIONES, Antonio

Tanlag (?)

GUERRERO, Alejandro

Quiapo (Manila)

DURÁN, Francisco

Malabon (Manila)

DURÁN, Pedro

Calumpit (Bulacan)


Aklan (Panay)


Calarcar (?)


Aparri (Cagayan)

CANDASO, Teodoro

San Mateo (Rizal)

MALDONADO, Alejandro

Calumpit (Bulacan)

ESPARZA, Juan de Dios

San Luís Potosí (Mexico)

DÍAZ, Pedro

San Luís (Pampanga)

RAFAEL, Lorenzo

Morong (Bataan)


Malolos (Bulacan)

SARMIENTO, Fulgencio

Tagui (Zambales?)
*or is this really Taguig (Manila)?

MATÍAS , Felipe

Malate (Manila)

NAGUIO, Francisco

Macabebe (Pampanga)

CRUZ, Salvador

Masicog (?)

EGUILUZ, Ángel Domingo

Sampaloc (Manila)

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