Friday, December 6, 2019



There are three main clans of Lizamas in Saipan, known by their nicknames :

Pilåkku'. Batittang. Pina'lek.


These are the earliest Lizamas to move from Guam to Saipan. Around 1893 or 1894, Vicente Cruz Lizama, from Hagåtña, Guam, and his wife Rosa Taisague Cabrera, also from Hagåtña, moved to Saipan. A son Antonio had already been born on Guam but Vicente and Rosa had many other children born on Saipan. These children in turn had many offspring and the Pilåkku' clan was well-established.

Vicente had a brother Antonio who also moved to Saipan but it seems he and his wife did not have children. Another brother of theirs, José, died in Saipan in 1895, apparently a bachelor.

Vicente was the son of Juan Mendiola Lizama, born around 1838 in Hagåtña (his father was Mariano and his mother was Margarita) and his wife Margarita Demapan Cruz, born around 1846 in Hagåtña, the daughter of Casimiro and Josefa.


This clan of Lizamas in Saipan was founded by Joaquín San Nicolás Lizama, pictured above. Joaquín was born in Guam, the son of José Lizama and María San Nicolás. At some point he moved to Saipan, where he got married in 1903 to Carmen Mendiola Mendiola, of the Damoa clan, which had both Guam and Luta (Rota) origins.

Joaquín and Carmen had almost a dozen children, so the Batittang clan spread.

I knew one of Joaquín's daughters who told me how her father was a kapitan in the sendålon Alemán (a captain among the German soldiers). What she meant was her father was one of the local men recruited by the Germans to be police officers in Saipan.

Joaquín also had two boats which he used for trade and fishing. His daughter said, "Ti in tingo' tenda," "We didn't know anything about stores, because my father always bought or traded things with the other boats."


The Pina'lek Lizama were the last of the three main clans to move to Saipan from Guam, making the move around 1915 or so. This was during the German administration of the Northern Marianas.

Two brothers, Luís de León Lizama and Juan de León Lizama, moved to Saipan. They were the sons of Mariano Lizama and Rosa Palomo de León. They were already called the Pina'lek clan in Guam, and not all of them moved to Saipan. Luís and Juan had siblings who remained on Guam.

Luís married a Naputi and Juan married a Crisóstomo, and their descendants continued the clan in Saipan.

Luís was an artillery man in the local insular force under the Americans in Guam in the early 1900s before he moved to Saipan.

The clan's nickname, Pina'lek, means "heartburn" in Chamorro. Why the clan is named that is something I have found no conclusive reasons for.


There was one other Lizama who moved from Guam and to Saipan, and she was actually there before the others.

Lucía Fausto Lizama, probably born in Guam and the daughter of Javier (also called Gabriel) and María was already in Saipan in the 1870s bearing children although she was not married. In time, she married the biological father of these children, José Acosta Arriola, and the children all became Arriolas.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019


The witness mentioned five people, but no last names!

As most of you know, nearly every Chamorro family has a nickname; a "better-known-as."

On an island where there was a José Cruz, Manuel Flores and Ana Dueñas around every corner, such nicknames were very helpful in specifying who you meant.

It seems that it was such a prevalent thing in the old days that, many times, people sometimes didn't even know the actual last names of the people they were talking about!

Take, for example, this court case in 1906 involving a land dispute.

A witness mentioned the names of five people who might be able to provide information on the case. He didn't use a single last name for any of the five. He called them all by their family, or perhaps, personal nicknames.

Let's see who they were.


This would have been Juan Muña Garrido, whose family was better known as the familian Humåtak. In those days of Spanish influence, J sounded like H as in Juan and José. The Spaniards didn't use a K in their alphabet (except a few times when using Greek words, for example), so they used a hard G to spell Jumatag (Humåtak).


This would have been Juan Concepción Garrido, a relative of Juan Muña Garrido, but whose family was better known as the familian Emmo', after their patriarch Anselmo Camacho Garrido. The -elmo in Anselmo became Emmo'.


I haven't been able to find a family better known as Ama, so it could be that this is Vicente's wife's nickname or his mother's nickname. Sometimes people were identified by their spouse's first name. Like José married to Ana would be called Josen Ana, and Ana would be called Anan José. Or, there could have been another explanation for Ama, but we don't know what it is.


There are families better known as familian Chåda', mostly with the last name Cruz.


Quico is the Spanish spelling of Kiko', since there is no K in Spanish. Kiko' is the nickname for Francisco. There are several families better known as familian Kostat, so it's hard to say which one. Kostat is the Chamorro word for bag.

So when this witness mentioned all five of these people by their nicknames only, I wonder if the Chamorros in the court room (the judge, clerks, advocates) nodded their heads, saying to themselves, "Yes, we know who they are."


The witness was asked to identify someone, and his answer was,

"Tio Joaquín, Bådo, ti hu tungo' i apeyidu-ña."

"Uncle Joaquín, Bådo', I don't know his last name."

Imagine! It's his "uncle"; he knows his personal name and his nickname. But not his last name.

That's how it was for a lot of people in the old days. Last names were sometimes not known, even of the people you personally knew.