Monday, July 13, 2020



When the Japanese occupied Guam in World War II, they grabbed what they wanted and turned it into what they wanted. This they did with the prewar Elks Club in Hagåtña. Instead of a clubhouse for statesiders as was its original purpose, a local Japanese resident of Guam made it his own business - a clubhouse for Japanese military officers. Officers paid for their liquor, their main activity, but also for any meals they might order. It became known as the Ōmiya Kaikan; or the "Guam Hall."

Many Guam residents at least know of the Elks Club and its clubhouse located in Agaña Heights. Many a wedding reception, private party and bingo game has been held there. The original, before the war, was in downtown Hagåtña in a fine-looking, two storey, concrete building.

The Elks were founded in the US as a social club for white men, whose lodges were a place where they could socialize. They also have done a lot of charity work for all segments of the community. Among the several membership requirements, being white and a US citizen immediately disqualified nearly every Chamorro male on Guam from joining. The establishment of the Young Men's League of Guam was in reaction to such restrictions in American clubs. The Elks eliminated the racial qualification in 1973.

Members of the Elks Club who were living on Guam thanks to their military assignment began the process of petitioning for the establishment of a Guam lodge. This finally came about in 1914.

A clubhouse was essential to the Elks and they found one in a two storey, concrete building built by Jose K. Shimizu, a Japanese businessman on Guam.  The lodge bought the building from Shimizu and in time the building had three dining rooms, a hall, a bar, a club room and a reading room. By the 1930s, there were between 70 and 80 Guam members, all statesiders.


When the Japanese took over Guam on December 10, 1941 everything was at their disposal. Automobiles, generators, boats, machinery, homes and buildings were all fair game. The Japanese felt especially free to grab whatever was owned by Americans on Guam, since the US was the enemy. The Americans were all rounded up and sent to prison camp in Japan anyway, so why not use the cars and buildings they left behind.

So a local Japanese resident and businessman, who became tied to the highest level of the Japanese government on Guam, took possession of the now-empty Elks Club and made it his own business, which he called the Ōmiya Kaikan. Ōmiya was the Japanese name for Guam, and kaikan meant "meeting hall." The club was to function mainly as a bar for Japanese officers. Meals could be served, too, as there was a kitchen, but the focus was on drinking and socializing. Whiskey, beer and soda were available.

The common Japanese soldier was not allowed in, unless he was the driver for some officer. Japanese civilians also could not just walk in and be served. One employee of the Kohatsu, a Japanese corporation that controlled commerce during the Occupation, strolled down the street intoxicated, heading for the clubhouse hoping to get in. The Japanese Governor, who was at the clubhouse at the time, took a sign off its hinges and put it on the front steps of the club, sending the man away. It was believed the sign said "Officers Only" or something to that effect.

William Johnston left behind the bar

Oddly enough, Chamorros were allowed in, but only as guests of the Japanese officers, and there was no lack of Chamorro guests. The Chamorro guests usually fell into one of two categories. Either they were of the higher class, such as businessmen or property owners, who could provide resources to the Japanese or make things happen in society. Or they were Chamorro socialite women; the pretty faces whose company the Japanese officers enjoyed.

The ordinary Chamorro folk used to gather outside the Ōmiya Kaikan when it first opened, peering in to see what was going on inside. They would be shushed away, being told the club was not for the general public. After another week of that the curious, uninvited didn't come around anymore.

A Chamorro staff was hired to run the place, cook and serve as waitresses. Vicente M. Taimanglo worked for a time at the club as bartender. After the war he testified that he didn't always receive his pay! Besides Vicente, there were Chamorro waitresses and a young boy who did odd jobs. The waitresses also said they weren't always paid as promised.


Many parties were held there, such as the departure dinner for the first Japanese Governor of Guam, Commander Hiroshi Hayashi, who left the island in June of 1942. He was the only Japanese who didn't have to pay for anything when he patronized the club.


The next story is controversial. Some witnesses say one man did it, other witnesses say another man did it.

But they all say it happened! And what did happen? The second floor of the Elks clubhouse was where the hall was located. Although the clubhouse served meals, it wasn't really designed as a restaurant so the meals were served in that upstairs hall on the less frequent occasion when meals were ordered.

An evening party was to be held one night and as the hall was being prepared for that, some spillage was noticed on the floor. It could have been from a meal served earlier. Mops were looked for but instead an American flag, folded and stored away, was taken, spread over the spillage and used to mop the floor. The person doing so moved the flag with his foot.

The local Japanese who ran the club was accused after the war of being the guilty man. Several witnesses, including some Chamorro employees, claimed they saw him do it. But other witnesses, also including Chamorro employees, said it was a Japanese non-resident who did it.

Either way, the Elks Club members would have been outraged this had been done in their clubhouse. The Elks Club prides itself in having great devotion to the American flag. The Elks observe the national Flag Day observance and one cannot join the Elks if they are not willing to salute the flag.



The Elks Club building was destroyed by American bombs in June of 1944 as the Americans prepared for its invasion the following month. An Elks Club member who participated in the invasion took this picture of the remains of the Elks Club. The smoke stack of the power plant in Hagåtña can be seen in the background.

Friday, July 10, 2020


In 1943, Francisco received an unexpected visitor at his ranch in the Hågat district.

It was the interpreter from Saipan in charge of the Hågat district. The interpreter told Francisco he had to go with him to the taicho's house. The taicho was the local military commander, and his name was Takabana.

When they got to Takabana's house, he was told to do some sweeping while Takabana and the Saipanese interpreter conversed in Japanese. Then Takabana left and it was just Francisco and the interpreter.

"You took the gun at Fena, didn't you?" asked the interpreter. Another man from Hågat had informed the Japanese, even though it wasn't true.

Francisco denied it, because he truly hadn't taken any gun from anywhere.

The interpreter told Francisco to stand with his arms in the air, and took a piece of wood and started whacking Francisco's buttocks with the wood, sometimes as far down as the backside of his knees. He hit Francisco so many times, each time asking if Francisco took the gun.

Every time Francisco said "no," the interpreter whacked him again saying, "I'll keep doing this till you admit you took the gun."

In the Japanese system, the accused are guilty till proven innocent. What the Japanese try to do is extract a confession from the accused, even if the confession is made under duress. Thus, further evidence is not so needed and the case can be concluded more quickly.

Francisco still felt the interpreter would relent, but he didn't. Every time Francisco said he didn't take the gun, the interpreter struck him with the board. Unable to take any more of the pain, Francisco finally gave in and said he did take the gun, only so that the beating would stop.

The interpreter put away the board, itself being damaged from all the striking. "Let's go get the gun," he said. On the way to the location where the gun supposedly was, Francisco thought to himself, "He will be even more angry when we get there and I have no gun to turn in." So when he saw the opportunity, Francisco escaped. For two or three days, he wandered in the jungle. His wife got word to him urging him to turn himself in. He did.

He walked to the taicho's office, and the interpreter was there. He said he only told the interpreter that he took the gun so that the beating would stop, but that he had not, in fact, taken it. The taicho and interpreter told him it was okay and to go home.

Another man from Hågat named Román was interrogated on suspicion of stealing karabao. He claimed innocence, but the Japanese considered him guilty because karabao bones were found on his ranch property. He was beaten for several days in a row and was promised the beatings would stop if he confessed. Román said he couldn't confess because he hadn't stolen any karabao.

Takabana, the taicho, said, "Just admit you did it, even if you didn't do it."

Román said, "I admit I stole the karabao, even though I didn't do it."

The beating stopped but Román was then taken to the jail in Hagåtña and locked up for three months then released.

Monday, July 6, 2020



María Cruz Siguenza was just thirteen years old when it happened in November of 1942.

She was attending school in Asan under the supervision of Kyomon Miwa, a civilian school teacher. He had been a school teacher in Japan before the war. Coming to Guam, he was assigned to Humåtak, where he had no trouble from the children.

But then he was transferred to Asan school and he had a bit of trouble with the school children there this one day.

Just to show you what "education" was during the Japanese Occupation, the school children were out in the rice paddies in Asan. They were put to work in the fields, trying to get rid of parasites attacking the rice seedlings. More than one child was unruly; giggling, horsing around, eating. Miwa kept scolding them, but they wouldn't listen. María had the misfortune of standing closer to Miwa, and she was eating a mango. He hit her head with a club and asked, "Will that make you listen?" To his surprise, he saw blood dripping from her head.

He took her to the hospital in Hagåtña. Sometime later he reported it to the Minseibu, the Japanese civil administration. He was told by the Japanese civil officials not to do it again. More time elapsed and this time Miwa was summoned by the Japanese Army Medical Corps. They wanted more information about what happened. Then a Japanese soldier came up to Miwa, very angry, and told Miwa off. The soldier struck Miwa so hard that he needed four stitches and had to go to the hospital every day for a few weeks. He was then transferred from Asan to Hagåtña.

Miwa surrendered to the Americans in January of 1945, after five months trying to elude them in the jungles of Guam. Somehow the US officials found out about María's assault and Miwa was arrested. He plead guilty, but argued that his sentence be lightened because the Japanese themselves had already punished him by beating him so hard it required medical treatment.

Miwa served a very short sentence of less than a year.

María, better known as Buntai, lived a long life, passing away at the age of 80. May she rest in peace.

Friday, July 3, 2020


Japanese Wartime Caves and Tunnels

This story was shared with me by the man who experienced it.

It was spring of 1944 and the Japanese knew the Americans were on the way. The Japanese had already started building defenses against an American invasion, and they forced the Chamorros to provide the muscle for it.

This man, his father who was approaching 50 years old, and his brothers were made to dig bokkongngo' (caves) where the Japanese soldiers could hide. The Americans began bombing the island, and one day, while he and his family were digging, an American air raid broke out. The family went running for safety wherever they could find it.

Regrouping, the family wandered having lost their direction. They stumbled on a company of Japanese troops. A Saipanese interpreter was with them. The interpreter told them to go away, that they weren't allowed near there.

Off they went, but got lost again. To their surprise, they wound up right back at the same company of Japanese troops. The look on those Japanese faces made them nervous. The Japanese were not happy to see the same Chamorro men come upon them.

The Saipanese interpreter, too, was very angry. "Adda' ti hu sangåne hamyo para en retira hamyo? Ti man ma petmite hamyo guine mågi." "Didn't I tell you to stay away! You're not allowed here!"

The man explained that it was accidental. They didn't know the area well and were only there on Japanese orders to dig caves.

The interpreter believed them and explained it to the irate Japanese soldiers, who also accepted the explanation. The Saipanese interpreter told them, "Siña hu na' fanoka hamyo.* Lao fan hånao!" "I could get you men in trouble. But go." And he gave them indications where to go, and sure enough the family didn't make the same mistake.

The man told me, "I think they thought we were spying on them. But the Saipan interpreter believed us."

This is one case, among many, where it probably was better for the Guam Chamorro that a Saipan interpreter was there to intervene, rather than this Chamorro family face agitated Japanese soldiers on their own.

* Some may not recognize the Chamorro. Toka is what we say to someone in trouble for doing something wrong. "Siña hu na' toka hao" means "I can get you in trouble." The plural would be "Siña hu na' fanoka hamyo."

Monday, June 29, 2020


Ask anyone pretty much on Guam where Maite' is and they will tell you.

It's part of the Mongmong-Toto-Maite municipality and it's along the cliff overlooking East Agaña and Agaña Bay.

But very few people know that there is a second place on Guam also called Maite'. It's part of Inalåhan and many of the younger people of Inalåhan aren't aware of it either. They'd be surprised, frankly, that the area has its own name. Isn't that just Inalåhan? I mean it's literally across the street from Inalåhan church!

But remember that 100 years ago most people walked to where they wanted to go. Not only were there few automobiles, not everyone had a bull cart either. Our great grandparents were used to walking to where they needed to go, which is why you almost never see an obese person in photos of Chamorros long before the war.

When you drive nowadays from A to B, you can be there in 5 minutes. To walk it would take you half an hour. When driving the distance, you hardly notice the things you pass by. When you walk it, every ten minutes, with its somewhat different landscape, seems like a new place. Now we can understand why in the old days every thousand feet had a new place name.

Maite' in Inalåhan is to the east of the church. Before the war, the church was pretty much the end of the village. There were just a few homes beyond the church. That area is called Maite'.

Here's a closer look. And notice there is a street in Maite' called Maite' Street.

Here is old map from 1913 that indicates Maite' in Inalåhan :

So, from now on, when someone asks you to go to Maite', you can ask back, "Which one?"

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Preguntémosle a cualquiera en Guam dónde está Maite y nos lo dirán. Es parte del municipio de Mongmong-Toto-Maite y está a lo largo del acantilado que domina el este de Agaña y su bahía.

Pero muy pocas personas saben que hay un segundo lugar en Guam también llamado Maite. Es parte de Inaraján y muchas de las personas más jóvenes de Inaraján tampoco lo conocen. Se sorprenderían, francamente, de que ese lugar tiene su propio nombre. ¿No es eso también Inaraján? ¡Quiero decir que está, literalmente, al otro lado de la calle de la iglesia de Inaraján!

Pero recordemos que hace 100 años la mayoría de las personas caminaban hacia donde querían ir. No solo había  pocos automóviles, tampoco todos tenían un carro de bueyes. Nuestros bisabuelos estaban acostumbrados a caminar, por eso casi nunca se ve a una persona obesa en fotos de chamorros, antes de la guerra. Cuando hoy en día se conduce de A a B, podemos estar allí en 5 minutos. Caminar nos llevaría media hora. Cuando conducimos en una distancia, apenas notamos las cosas por las que pasamos. Cuando caminamos, cada diez minutos, con su paisaje diferente, parece un lugar nuevo.

Ahora podemos entender por qué en los viejos tiempos cada 300 metros teníamos un nuevo nombre de lugar. Maite en Inaraján está al este de la iglesia. Antes de la guerra, la iglesia era prácticamente el final del pueblo. Solo había unas pocas casas más allá de la iglesia. Ese lugar se llamaba y llama Maite.

En las fotos aéreas hay una visión más aproximada. Y notemos que hay una calle en Maite con el mismo nombre. También un viejo mapa de 1913 que indica Maite en Inaraján. Entonces, de ahora en adelante, cuando alguien nos pida que vayamos a Maite, puedes volver a preguntar: "¿A cuál Maite?"

Friday, June 26, 2020



In 1934, the French artist Paul Jacoulet sketched a young woman in Saipan by the name of Rita Díaz Sablan. The sketch then became a color portrait using the Japanese woodblock print method called ukiyo-e. Jacoulet's work has become popular in the last few decades and his prints, being limited in number, fetch a good price in the art market today.

As Saipan was not under American control till after the war, the Chamorros in Saipan still used the Spanish naming system in 1934, so she is identified as Rita Sablan Díaz in the portrait, her paternal surname coming first.

For some unknown reason, she is also identified as a young single lady (mademoiselle) from Guam, though in truth she was born and lived her whole life in Saipan, though her father was born in Guam.

Because Jacoulet identified her using her complete name, we know who she was. Rita was the daughter of Gregorio Sablan, better known as Ton Gregorio'n Kilili'. Gregorio was born on Guam but moved as a child to Saipan with his mother and siblings around 1899. Gregorio was a community leader, one of the lay pillars of the church in Saipan and first "mayor" of Saipan after the war. The US military still ruled Saipan so Gregorio was not a mayor in the full sense, but he was the link between the US military and the civilian community.

Rita's mother was Joaquina Torres Díaz, the daughter of Vicente Flores Díaz, a merchant and businessman born on Guam but who settled in Saipan. Vicente married a Saipan-born Chamorro lady, Rita Atoigue Torres. So the Rita in the portrait was named after her grandmother.


Jacoulet had been born in France but moved to Japan as a child where his father had work. He would spend the rest of his life in Japan, until his death in 1960.

As all of Micronesia, except Guam, was under the Japanese government, Jacoulet found it easy to travel to various islands in Micronesia, including the Marianas. He traveled beyond Micronesia as well, and always did portraits of people, especially clad in traditional attire. He did quite a number of portraits in the Marianas, both Chamorro and Carolinian. All the Chamorro women Jacoulet sketched, including Rita, are dressed in the mestisa, with its distinctive fiber blouse ideal for the hot tropical weather.

Here is Rita some 50 years later. She passed away in 1990. She had been married to Luís Camacho Tenorio since 1939.

I wonder if Rita ever saw her portrait. And, if she did, what did she think of being the subject of a French painter's art?

Rest in peace. Deskånsa gi minahgong.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


En 1934, el artista francés Paul Jacoulet pintó a una joven de Saipán cuyo nombre era Rita Díaz Sablan. El boceto se convirtió en un retrato en color usando el método japonés de impresión en madera llamado ukiyo-e. El trabajo de Jacoulet se ha vuelto popular en las últimas décadas y sus impresiones, que son limitadas en número, alcanzan un buen precio en el mercado de arte actual.

Como Saipán no llegó a estar bajo control estadounidense hasta después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, los chamorros de Saipán todavía usaban en 1934 el sistema español de apellidos, por lo que la joven se identifica en el retrato como Rita Sablan Díaz, su apellido paterno es el primero.

Por alguna razón desconocida, también se la identifica como una muchacha soltera (señorita) de Guam,  sin embargo había nacido y pasado toda su vida en Saipán, aunque su padre naciera en Guam.

Debido a que Jacoulet la identificó con su nombre completo, sabemos quién era esta joven. Rita era la hija de Gregorio Sablan, más conocido como Ton Gregorio'n Kilili '. Gregorio nació en Guam pero se mudó de niño a Saipán con su madre y sus hermanos, alrededor de 1899. Gregorio era un líder comunitario, uno de los pilares laicos de la iglesia en Saipán y primer "alcalde" de la isla después de la Guerra. El ejército de los Estados Unidos todavía gobernaba Saipán, por lo que Gregorio no era un alcalde en el sentido completo, pero sí era el vínculo entre el ejército de los Estados Unidos y la comunidad civil.

La madre de Rita era Joaquina Torres Díaz, hija de Vicente Flores Díaz, un comerciante y empresario nacido en Guam pero que se estableció en Saipán. Vicente se casó con una chamorra nacida en Saipán, Rita Atoigue Torres. Así que la Rita del retrato lleva el nombre de su abuela.

Jacoulet había nacido en Francia, pero se mudó a Japón cuando era niño, donde su padre tenía trabajo. Pasaría el resto de su vida en Japón, hasta su muerte en 1960.

Como toda Micronesia, excepto Guam, estaba bajo el dominio japonés, a Jacoulet le resultó fácil viajar a varias islas de la región, incluidas las Marianas. También viajó más allá, y siempre hizo retratos de personas, especialmente vestidas con atuendos tradicionales. Hizo bastantes retratos en las Marianas, tanto de chamorros como de carolinos. Todas las mujeres chamorras esbozadas por Jacoulet, incluida Rita, están vestidas con la “mestisa”, con su distintiva blusa de fibra, ideal para el clima tropical cálido.

En la foto vemos a Rita unos 50 años después. Falleció en 1990. Se había casado con Luís Camacho Tenorio en 1939.

Me pregunto si Rita alguna vez vio su retrato. Y, si lo hizo, ¿qué pensaría de ser la modelo de un pintor francés?

Descanse en paz.

Monday, June 22, 2020


The place has changed so much you would think, looking at these two photos, that they weren't the same place.

But underneath all that modern renovation (which is now itself in need of repair) is the original structure you see on the left. The old building was not entirely destroyed to build a new one. The exterior of the old was so renovated that the old is no longer recognizable.

It is a prewar structure, and thus of some importance, since 95% of prewar Hagåtña no longer exists thanks to American bombardment in 1944. The Americans felt that Japanese were so entrenched on Guam that they had to bomb the island to oblivion in order to weaken Japanese resistance. Major historic buildings in Hagåtña, not to mention people's homes, were the casualty. The capital city has not been the same since.


Guam Chapter of the American Red Cross

The Red Cross began on Guam in 1915 according to an official of the Guam chapter writing in 1937. The file on this building at the Historic Preservation Office of the Department of Parks and Recreation says it was built in 1911. If that is accurate, then the structure was built for something other than a Red Cross office. But, in time, this became the office for that organization.

American bombs missed this little structure so it remained standing even though everything else around it lay in ruins and was eventually bulldozed. Once the military cleaned up Hagåtña, they spruced up the Red Cross building and in time the Red Cross was back in action in it.


In 1969, the Red Cross moved to its new building near the courthouse. The old building was touched up and then housed the Public Defender and the Civil Service Commission. It became the Hagåtña Mayor's Office for a while and during that period it was renovated as you now see it. But when the Hagåtña mayor moved his office to its present location, the old Red Cross building was vacated and remains unoccupied to this day.

Next to the Court House since 1969


When the old Red Cross Building was renovated some 20 or more years ago, they put a wall up in front of the side of the building exposed to the public parking. This wall, its windows and doors, gave the outside a modern look.

But the rear of the building was not seen by the public because it came right up against the Academy cafeteria. In fact, the Academy's dumpsters are right next to the Red Cross Building. It's not very sightly, but at least on this rear side you can see the original structure.




The building is so small many people may not recall where it is

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Mirando esas dos fotos de arriba, el lugar ha cambiado tanto que uno podría pensar que no son el mismo sitio.

Pero debajo de toda esa renovación moderna (que ahora necesita reparación) está la estructura original que vemos a la izquierda. El antiguo edificio no fue completamente destruido para construir el nuevo. El exterior del viejo fue tan renovado que ya no es reconocible.

Es una estructura anterior a la guerra, y por lo tanto de cierta importancia, ya que el 95% de la ciudad de Agaña anterior a la guerra ya no existe debido al bombardeo estadounidense de 1944. Los estadounidenses sintieron que los japoneses estaban tan atrincherados en Guam que tendrían que bombardear la isla para poder debilitar su resistencia. Los principales edificios históricos en Agaña, sin mencionar los hogares de las personas, fueron víctimas. La ciudad no ha sido la misma desde entonces.

La Cruz Roja comenzó en Guam en 1915 según un funcionario de la Sección de Guam que lo dejó por escrito en 1937. El archivo de este edificio que se encuentra en la Oficina de Preservación Histórica del Departamento de Parques y Recreación dice que fue construido en 1911. Si eso es correcto, entonces la estructura fue construida antes para algo más que para una oficina de la Cruz Roja. Pero, con el tiempo, se convirtió en la oficina de esa organización.

Las bombas estadounidenses fallaron con esta pequeña estructura, por lo que permaneció en pie a pesar de que todo lo demás a su alrededor quedó en ruinas y finalmente arrasado. Una vez que los militares limpiaron Agaña, arreglaron el edificio de la Cruz Roja y con el tiempo la organización recobró su actividad.

En 1969, la Cruz Roja se mudó a su nuevo edificio cerca del Palacio de Justicia. El viejo edificio fue retocado y albergó al Defensor Público y Comisión de Servicio Civil. Se convirtió en la oficina del alcalde de Agaña por un tiempo y durante ese período fue renovado como lo vemos ahora. Pero cuando el alcalde de Agaña trasladó su oficina a su ubicación actual, el antiguo edificio de la Cruz Roja quedó vacante y sigue sin estar ocupado hasta el día de hoy.

Cuando el antiguo edificio de la Cruz Roja fue renovado hace unos 20 años, levantaron una pared pegada al lado del edificio expuesto al estacionamiento público. Este muro, sus ventanas y puertas, le dieron al exterior un aspecto moderno.

Pero la parte trasera del edificio no estaba a la vista porque estaba pegada a la cafetería de la Academia. De hecho, los contenedores de la Academia están justo al lado del edificio de la Cruz Roja. No es muy visible, pero al menos en esta parte trasera se puede ver la estructura original.

Friday, June 19, 2020


Our Chamorro family nicknames can often be humorous in and of themselves. Just ask any member of the Makaka' (Itchy) family, or the Pina'lek (Heartburn) family or the Båchet (Blind) family.

But sometimes it's when two different families combine that the nicknames become more interesting!

As did happen when Juan Torres Paulino married María Concepción San Nicolás.

Juan was better known as Juan Mames (Sweet).

María, on her mother's side, was from the familian Malaet (Bitter).

Juan's nickname appears even in his funeral announcement.

Many of the Concepcións of Guam are familian Malaet.

Our mañaina were great teasers and many times that's how someone acquired their nickname, and it was passed on to their children and grandchildren down to our day.

May Ton Juan Mames and Tan Maria'n Malaet rest in peace.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


A menudo, los apodos de nuestras familias chamorras pueden ser en sí mismo, humorísticos. Preguntémosle a cualquier miembro de la familia Makaka' (picazón), o la familia Pina'lek (acidez estomacal) o la familia Båchet (ciego).

Pero a veces cuando se combinan dos familias diferentes, ¡los apodos se vuelven más interesantes!

Como sucedió cuando Juan Torres Paulino se casó con María Concepción San Nicolás.

Juan era más conocido como Juan Mames (Dulce).

María, por parte de su madre, era de la familia Malaet (Amargo).

El apodo de Juan aparece incluso en el anuncio de su funeral.

Muchos de los Concepción de Guam pertenecen a la familia Malaet.

Nuestros ancianos eran grandes bromistas y muchas veces así era como alguien adquiría su apodo, y se lo transmitía a sus hijos y nietos hasta nuestros días.

Que Ton Juan Mames y Tan Maria'n Malaet descansen en paz.

Monday, June 15, 2020


Bullet or shrapnel hole, top left

In the konbento (rectory) of Saint Francis parish in Yoña sits a bell with a bullet hole in it.

That bullet hole was shot from an American plane, flying around Yoña in 1944 looking for Japanese ground troops.

Several chapels, starting with walls of wood and thatched roofing, were built in Yoña in the 1910s up to the 1930s as the ranching population there grew. Priests from Hagåtña would drive there a few times each month to say Mass. The village did not have a resident priest nor fully-functioning parish till after the war when the population swelled with people from Hagåtña who moved there, as the capital city was so ruined that the original residents couldn't return to their homes.

The last church built in Yoña before the war was made of concrete. A statue of Saint Francis was made by Father Marcian Pellett, OFM Cap and put in a niche above the main door. Above that was a small espadaña (a Spanish term meaning a vertical extension on a roof where bells can be hung) and this bell was placed there.

You can see the bell is still hanging in the espadaña in the small chapel.

A close up of the façade of the chapel, with bullet holes very visible.

After the war, a new and much larger church was built so the little chapel became a konbento, or priest's residence and office. No bell, therefore, was needed and it was taken down from the espadaña.

After Typhoon Paka (1997) destroyed the konbento, it was bulldozed and a modern rectory was built in the same exact location in 1999.

This is the same spot, the same walkway even, where Yoña's prewar church once stood.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


En el “konbento” o rectoría de la parroquia de San Francisco de Yoña encontramos una campana agujereada por una bala.

Esa bala fue disparada desde un avión estadounidense, que volaba alrededor de Yoña en 1944 buscando tropas de tierra japonesas.

Varias capillas, en un principio con paredes de madera y techos de paja, se construyeron en Yoña en la década de 1910 hasta la década de 1930, a medida que la población aumentaba. Los sacerdotes de Agaña se acercaban allí varias veces al mes para celebrar misa. La aldea no tuvo un sacerdote residente ni una parroquia en pleno funcionamiento hasta después de la guerra, cuando la población creció con gente llegada de Agaña que se mudó allí, ya que la ciudad capital resultó tan destruida que los residentes originarios no pudieron regresar a sus hogares.

La última iglesia construida en Yoña antes de la guerra fue de hormigón. Una estatua de San Francisco fue hecha por el padre Marcian Pellett, OFM Cap y colocada en un nicho encima de la puerta principal. Encima había una pequeña espadaña (un término español que significa una extensión vertical en un techo donde se pueden colgar campanas) y esta campana se colocó allí.

Después de la guerra, se construyó una iglesia nueva y mucho más grande para que la pequeña capilla se convirtiera en un “konbento”, o residencia oficina del sacerdote. No se necesitaba, por lo tanto, la campana y fue retirada de la espadaña.

Después de que el Tifón Paka (1997) destruyera el “konbento”, éste quedó arrasado y se construyó una rectoría moderna exactamente en el mismo lugar en el año 1999.

Friday, June 12, 2020


Luís Pangelinan Garrido was born in 1900, the son of Ignacio de León Garrido and Magdalena Dueñas Pangelinan. He was known as Ton Luis Dechi.

Though born in Hagåtña, his work, and often his residence, put him Sumay, where the cable company for which he worked was located. It was his exposure to worldwide communication, thanks to the underwater cables that connected Guam with the rest of the world, that got him interested in that field.


As radio technology progressed, communication all over the globe could happen through radio waves. A Navy officer gave Garrido and a friend a receiver and the two men built their own transmitter. Once all was in place, Garrido could communicate by radio to the rest of the world. A certain frequency was assigned to amateur operators who communicated for purely personal, and not commercial, reasons. "Ham radio" is the usual term for it.

But there were difficulties. Guam being under the US Navy, there were security concerns for the military. The Federal Communications Commission didn't want to give Garrido a license to operate, because natives of Guam were not US citizens. 


When the Japanese occupied Guam in December of 1941, the Japanese learned that Garrido was a "radio man." Fearing Garrido's ability to communicate with the enemy overseas, they arrested Garrido and kept him locked up for over a week then let him go. But the message was clear. Garrido had better behave and not give the Japanese a reason to arrest him again.

After the war, Garrido resumed his ham radio hobby. In time he had made contact with other ham operators all over the world, including the Soviet Union.

It wasn't just all for fun, either. Sometimes Garrido was the only way communication could be achieved during an emergency.

There was a time when Midway lost communication with the world during a typhoon. Because Hawaii was close enough to Midway for the bad weather to disrupt radio communication, California was able to reach Garrido on Guam and Garrido then acted as go-between for Hawaii and Midway ham operators exchanging needed information.

When the Northern Marianas or boats in distress around Guam waters needed messages to be heard, Garrido was there.

Garrido passed away in 1978. He was married to the former María Toves, an island educator. He served in the Guam Assembly and, after the war, on the Alcoholic Beverages Control Board. He was most proud of being a member of the Third Order of Saint Francis and the Young Men's League of Guam. RIP


(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Luís Pangelinan Garrido nació en el año 1900, hijo de Ignacio de León Garrido y Magdalena Dueñas Pangelinan. Era conocido como Ton Luis Dechi. "Ton" quiere decir "Don." El nombre "Dechi" fue apodo.

Aunque nació en Agaña, su trabajo, y a menudo su residencia, lo ubicaron en Sumay, donde se encontraba la compañía de cable para la que trabajaba. Fue el hecho de estar expuesto a la comunicación internacional, gracias a los cables submarinos que conectaban a Guam con el resto del mundo, lo que lo interesó en ese campo.


A medida que la tecnología de radio progresaba, la comunicación en todo el mundo podía realizarse a través de ondas de radio. Un oficial de la Marina le proporcionó
a Garrido y a un amigo un receptor y los dos hombres construyeron su propio transmisor. Una vez que todo estuvo en su lugar, Garrido pudo comunicarse por radio con el resto del mundo. Se les asignaba una determinada frecuencia a los operadores aficionados que se comunicaban por razones puramente personales y no comerciales. "Radioaficionado" es el término habitual para ello.

Pero hubo dificultades. Al estar Guam bajo la Marina de los EE. UU., había preocupaciones de seguridad para los militares. La Comisión Federal de Comunicaciones no quería otorgarle a Garrido una licencia para operar, porque los nativos de Guam no eran ciudadanos estadounidenses.


Cuando los japoneses ocuparon Guam en diciembre de 1941, supieron que Garrido era un "hombre de la radio". Temiendo la capacidad de Garrido de comunicarse con el enemigo en el extranjero, arrestaron a Garrido y lo mantuvieron encerrado durante más de una semana y luego lo liberaron. Pero el mensaje era claro. Garrido debería comportarse mejor y no dar a los japoneses una razón para arrestarlo nuevamente.

Después de la guerra, Garrido retomó su pasatiempo de radioaficionado. Con el tiempo se había puesto en contacto con otros radioaficionados de todo el mundo, incluida la Unión Soviética.

Tampoco era solo por diversión. A veces, para Garrido era la única forma en que se podía lograr la comunicación durante una emergencia.

Hubo una ocasión en que Midway perdió la comunicación con el mundo durante un tifón. Debido a que Hawai estaba lo suficientemente cerca de Midway como para que el mal tiempo interrumpiera la comunicación por radio, California pudo comunicarse con Garrido en Guam y Garrido actuó como intermediario para los operadores de Hawai y Midway que intercambiaban la información necesaria.

Cuando las Marianas del Norte o los barcos en peligro alrededor de las aguas de Guam necesitaban que sus mensajes fuesen escuchados, Garrido estaba allí.

Garrido falleció en 1978. Estaba casado con María Toves, una educadora de la isla. Sirvió en la Asamblea de Guam y, después de la guerra, en la Junta de Control de Bebidas Alcohólicas. Estaba muy orgulloso de ser miembro de la Tercera Orden de San Francisco y de la Liga de Hombres Jóvenes de Guam. D.E.P.

Monday, June 8, 2020


Saipan singer Daniel de León Guerrero did a remake, in Chamorro, of the famous Beatles' hit song, composed and written by Paul McCartney, Let it Be. In that song, the phrase "Mother Mary" is said. It actually refers to McCartney's mother, whose name was Mary, but McCartney himself said the listener can interpret it any way he or she wants, and many, including Daniel de León Guerrero, think of the Virgin Mary. Mary McCartney was Catholic, anyway, so it all works out.


An gof makkat i lina’lå’-ho
(When my life is very difficult)
ya ti hu hulat kumåtga kilu’os-ho
(and I am unable to carry my cross)
dumimo yo’ ya manaitai
(and kneel and pray)
as Sånta Maria un momento.
(to Blessed Mary for a moment.)

Hu faisen si Sånta Maria
(I ask Blessed Mary)
håfa na taiguine ai lina’lå’-ho.
(why is my life like this.)
Ha bira gue’ ya ha oppe yo’
(She turns and answers me)
ya ilek-ña “Sungon ha’ ai lahi-ho.”
(and says, "Just endure it, my son.")

“Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’ lina’lå’-mo
(Just endure your life)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria umadadahe hao på’go.
(because I, Blessed Mary, am protecting you now.)
Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’ mo’na i tiempo
(Just endure the times ahead)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria ai kumåkåtga kilu’os-mo.”
(because I, Blessed Mary, am carrying your cross.")

Pues annai monhåyan yo’ manaitai
(So when I am done praying)
hu saosao tengnga på’go i lago’-ho.
(I often then wipe away my tears.)
Ilek-ho as Sånta Maria,
(I say to Blessed Mary,)
“Gof makkat i tiempo.”
("The times are very hard.")

Ha oppe yo’ si Sånta Maria
(Blessed Mary answered me)
ya ilek-ña ai guihe na momento,
(and said to me at that moment,)
“Ai lokkue’ lahi-ho
(Oh dear, my son)
ai uma ha’ i kilu’os-mo.
(oh just carry your cross.)

Ya un sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’ i lina’lå’-mo
(And just endure your life)
sa’ mientras gagaige hao gi fi’on-ho
(because while you are by my side)
guåho umadadahe hao på’go.
(I am now protecting you.)
Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’ lina’lå’-mo
(Just endure your life)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria umadadahe hao på’go.
(because I, Blessed Mary, am now protecting you.)

Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’ i lina’lå’-mo
(Just endure your life)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria umadadahe hao på’go.
(because I, Blessed Mary, am now protecting you.)
Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, ai sungon ha’ mo’na i tiempo
(Just endure the times ahead)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria ai kumåkåtga kilu’os-mo.
(because I, Blessed Mary, am carrying your cross.)
Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’ i lina’lå’-mo
(Just endure your life)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria ti bai hu dingu i fi’on-mo.
(because I, Blessed Mary, won't leave your side.)
Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’ i lina’lå’-mo.
(Just endure your life)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria umadadahe hao på’go.”
(because I, Blessed Mary, am now protecting you.)


For 320 years, more or less, the Chamorro people of the Marianas have been mainly Catholic, and for a majority of those years, only Catholic, whether strong or weak. That faith has definitely made its mark on the people of those three centuries; in their thinking, feeling, speaking and doing.

I'll never forget observing a man who left Catholicism to join a Protestant church who, in conversation with someone, would say, "Sånta Maria!" every now and then. He couldn't shake that part off of his childhood roots in Catholicism.

The Blessed Mother has always been highly revered by Chamorros these past three hundred years. María had been the most widespread personal name for women for many years in the past. Almost half of Guam's churches are named for Mary : Lourdes (Yigo), Dulce Nombre (Hagåtña), Nuestra Señora de las Aguas (Mongmong), Immaculate Heart (Toto), Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (Chalan Pago), Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament (Agaña Heights), Our Lady of the Purification (Maina), Assumption (Piti), Mt Carmel (Hågat), and Guadalupe (Santa Rita). Keep in mind that the historical patroness of the churches in Malesso' (Our Lady of the Rosary) and Inalåhan (Nuestra Señora de la Consolación) are titles of Mary. Guam is proud of its Our Lady of Camarin, Saipan has its Lourdes Grotto in As Teo and Luta has an old and historical devotion to Sainan Ina (Our Lady of the Light).

She is, above all, a mother; mother of Jesus and ours as well. When a Chamorro goes to Mary, he or she is going to his or her mother.

Part of this is shown in more than one Chamorro song, and by that I mean secular song, not a church hymn. It can sometimes be just one or two lines in the song referring to the Blessed Mother.

But Daniel de León Guerrero's song Sungon Ha' (Just Endure) is entirely focused on the Blessed Mother. This is a strong example of how most Chamorros, raised in the traditional culture, see and value the Blessed Mother.


The singer Daniel, through his lyrics, reveals that he has the traditional Catholic understanding of suffering in life, and the religious answer to that suffering; an understanding that became very ingrained in the Chamorro psyche, especially among the women.

God, at times, does take away pain and suffering. But, for the many times that God allows the hardship to continue, there is no other remedy than to willingly accept it (sungon ha'). To endure it (sungon) is a kind of relief, because one no longer fights against the unchangeable. It takes a lot of effort to punch a wall. But when one realizes that one is only becoming fatigued and hurting his fists, and doing no harm to the wall, then accepting the wall brings some relief.

Secondly, relief is found in the fact that God and the Blessed Mother are there along with us in the midst of hardship. They, too, share in it. As the line goes, it is the Blessed Mother carrying our cross and, in another line, she will never leave us. She is also protecting us which means, although we experience hardship, worse suffering or permanent disaster will not happen under her motherly watch. Things will, somehow, work themselves out to our advantage in the end.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Daniel de León Guerrero, cantante de Saipán, hizo una nueva versión, en chamorro, de la famosa canción de los Beatles, compuesta y escrita por Paul McCartney, Let it Be. En esa canción, aparece la frase "Madre María". En realidad, se refiere a la madre de McCartney, cuyo nombre era Mary, pero el propio McCartney dijo que el oyente puede interpretarlo de la manera que quiera, y muchos, incluido Daniel de León Guerrero, piensan en la Virgen María. De todos modos, Mary McCartney era católica, así que todo encaja.


An gof makkat i lina’lå’-ho
(Cuando mi vida es muy difícil)
ya ti hu hulat kumåtga kilu’os-ho
(y no puedo cargar mi cruz)
dumimo yo' ya manaitai
(y me arrodillo y rezo)
as Sånta Maria un momento.
(a Santa María por un momento)
Hu faisen si Sånta Maria
(Le pregunto a Santa María)
håfa na taiguine ai lina’lå’-ho.
(¿Por qué mi vida es así?)
Ha bira gue' ya ha oppe yo'
(Ella se gira y me responde)
ya ilek-ña "Sungon ha’ ai lahi-ho ".
(y dice: "Solo aguanta, hijo mío")

"Sungon ha’, sungon ha ’, sungon ha’ lina’lå’-mo
(Solo aguanta tu vida)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria umadadahe hao på’go.
(porque yo, Santa María, te estoy protegiendo ahora).
Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’ mo’na i tiempo
(Solo aguanta los tiempos por venir)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria ai kumåkåtga kilu’os-mo".
(porque yo, Santa María, estoy cargando tu cruz ")

Pues annai monhåyan yo' manaitai
(Entonces cuando termino de orar)
hu saosao tengnga på’go i lago’-ho.
(A menudo me limpio las lágrimas).
Ilek-ho as Sånta Maria,
(Le digo a Santa María)
"Gof makkat i tiempo".
("Los tiempos son muy difíciles")

Ha oppe yo’ si Sånta Maria
(Santa María me respondió)
ya ilek-ña ai guihe na momento,
(y me dijo en ese momento)
"Ai lokkue' lahi-ho
(Oh querido, hijo mío)
ai uma ha’ i kilu’os-mo.
(oh, solo lleva tu cruz)
Ya un sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’ i lina’lå’-mo
(Y solo aguanta tu vida)
sa’ mientras gagaige hao gi fi’on-ho
(porque mientras estás a mi lado)
guåho umadadahe hao på’go.
(Ahora te estoy protegiendo).
Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’ lina’lå’-mo
(Solo aguanta tu vida)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria umadadahe hao på’go.
(porque yo, Santa María, ahora te estoy protegiendo).

Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’i lina’lå’-mo
(Solo aguanta tu vida)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria umadadahe hao på’go.
(porque yo, Santa María, ahora te estoy protegiendo).
Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, ai sungon ha ’mo’na i tiempo
(Solo aguanta los tiempos por venir)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria ai kumåkåtga kilu’os-mo.
(porque yo, Santa María, estoy cargando tu cruz).
Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha ’i lina’lå’-mo
(Solo aguanta tu vida)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria ti bai hu dingu i fi’on-mo.
(porque yo, Santa María, no me iré de tu lado).
Sungon ha’, sungon ha’, sungon ha’i lina’lå’-mo.
(Solo aguanta tu vida)
sa’ guåho as Sånta Maria umadadahe hao på’go".


Durante aproximadamente 320 años, el pueblo chamorro de las Islas Marianas ha sido principalmente católico, y durante la mayor parte de esos años, con mayor o menor intensidad, solo católico. Esa fe definitivamente ha dejado su huella en la gente de esos tres siglos; en su pensar, sentir, hablar y hacer.

Nunca olvidaré a un hombre que abandonó el catolicismo para unirse a una iglesia protestante que, en una conversación con alguien, decía de vez en cuando: "¡Sånta Maria!". No podía eliminar esa parte de sus raíces de la infancia en el catolicismo.

La Santísima Madre siempre ha sido muy venerada por los chamorros en los últimos trescientos años. María fue el nombre más extendido para las mujeres durante muchos años en el pasado. Casi la mitad de las iglesias de Guam llevan el nombre de María: Lourdes (Yigo), Dulce Nombre (Hagåtña), Nuestra Señora de las Aguas (Mongmong), Inmaculado Corazón (Toto), Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje (Chalan Pago), Nuestra Señora del Santísimo Sacramento (Altos de Agaña), Nuestra Señora de la Purificación (Maina), Asunción (Piti), Monte Carmelo (Hågat) y Guadalupe (Santa Rita). Tengamos en cuenta que la patrona histórica de las iglesias en Malesso '(Nuestra Señora del Rosario) e Inalåhan (Nuestra Señora de la Consolación) son títulos de María. En Guam estamos orgullosos de Nuestra Señora del Camarín, Saipán tiene su Gruta de Lourdes en As Teo y Rota tiene una antigua e histórica devoción a Sainan Ina (Nuestra Señora de la Luz).

Ella es, sobre todo, una madre; madre de Jesús y la nuestra también. Cuando un chamorro va con María, va con su madre.

Parte de esto se muestra en más de una canción chamorra, y con eso quiero decir una canción mundana, no un himno religioso de la iglesia. A veces pueden ser solo una o dos líneas en la canción que se refieren a la Santísima Madre.

Pero la canción de Daniel de León Guerrero, Sungon Ha (Solo Aguanta) está completamente enfocada en la Madre Bendita. Éste es un claro ejemplo de cómo la mayoría de los chamorros, criados en la cultura tradicional, ven y valoran a la Santísima Madre.


El cantante Daniel, a través de sus letras, revela que tiene la comprensión tradicional católica del sufrimiento en la vida, y la respuesta religiosa a ese sufrimiento; un entendimiento que se arraigó mucho en la psique de los chamorros, especialmente entre las mujeres.

Dios, a veces, quita el dolor y el sufrimiento. Pero, muchas veces que Dios permite que continúen las dificultades, no hay otro remedio que aceptarlas voluntariamente (sungon ha'). Soportarlo (sungon) es una especie de alivio, porque ya no se lucha contra lo inmutable. Se necesita mucho esfuerzo para golpear una pared. Pero cuando uno se da cuenta de que solo se está fatigando y lastimando sus puños, y no está haciendo daño a la pared, entonces aceptar la pared trae un poco de alivio.

En segundo lugar, el alivio se encuentra en el hecho de que Dios y la Santísima Madre están allí junto con nosotros en medio de las dificultades. Ellos también lo comparten. A medida que avanza la línea, es la Santísima Madre la que lleva nuestra cruz y, por otro lado, ella nunca nos abandonará. Ella también nos está protegiendo, lo que significa que, aunque experimentemos dificultades, no padeceremos un peor sufrimiento o un desastre permanente bajo su vigilancia materna. Las cosas al final, de alguna manera, se resolverán a nuestro favor.

Friday, June 5, 2020



"Trigger Fish Breathing"

The pulonnon is the trigger fish, of which there are nearly a dozen varieties.

Fishermen say when the pulonnon first comes out of the water when it is just caught, it breathes very deeply as it struggles to live, though naturally it soon dies.

So the expression came about, when a person is breathing deeply because they are having difficulty breathing, that they are breathing like the pulonnon.

"Atan ha' sa' humågong pulolonnon si tåtan biho!"

"Look because grandpa is breathing like the pulonnon!"

You won't learn these Chamorro ways of thinking and speaking from classes or books. Language is best learned from the people who speak it naturally.


(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


El pulonnon es el pez gatillo, del cual existen casi una docena de variedades.

Los pescadores comentan que cuando el pulonnon es capturado y sale del agua por primera vez, respira profundamente mientras lucha por vivir, aunque naturalmente muere pronto.

Entonces, la expresión “humågong pulonnon” surge, cuando una persona respira profundamente porque tiene dificultad para hacerlo, se dice que respira como el pulonnon.

"Atan ha 'sa' humågong pulolonnon si tåtan biho!"

"¡Da un vistazo, porque el abuelo respira como el pulonnon!"

No aprenderemos estas formas chamorras de pensar y hablar en clases o libros. El idioma se aprende mejor de las personas que lo hablan con naturalidad.