Tuesday, July 27, 2021



Francisco Martínez Santos, the son of Juan Borja Santos and Josefa Concepción Martínez was born in 1900.

Sometime during World War I (1917-1918 for the US), Santos started working for an American Navy dentist, Dr William S Thompson. In the 1920 Guam Census, Santos is described as being a dentist. In the record, the first entry states "App Dentist," the "App" probably meaning "apprentice." But then someone crossed out the "App," leaving "Dentist" by itself.

So impressed was Dr Thompson with Santos that when Thompson returned to the US in 1920, he brought Santos over in 1924 to continue learning dentistry under his tutelage at his dental clinic in Newman, California, not far from Modesto.

Santos returned to Guam and continued working as a dentist out of his home in Aniguak. After the war, when Hagåtña was destroyed and people moved elsewhere, Santos lived in Sinajaña, and practiced out of his home, where the photo at the top was taken

Long before the war he married the former Josephine Untalan Day and had one daughter, Juanita, who married David Ulloa. The little girl in the photo at the top has to be Juanita, as she was their only child and was born in 1938, making her around 7 years old in 1945 after the war, as the girl in the picture seems to be.

For weeks the Americans bombed and strafed Guam before they landed ashore. Many Chamorros were injured, and some died, as a result. Josephine's mother Juana was one of them, getting hit in the legs from American bullets. Santos used his dental tools to take out the bullets from her injured leg.

who trained Santos in dentistry

Like many Chamorro professionals and businessmen, Santos never refused to help a person in need of his services, even if they couldn't pay immediately.

According to the family, he was a jovial man who loved to play solitaire. When Juanita was being courted by her future husband David, the two would sit in the house chatting on the couch while Santos sat off to the side at a table by himself playing solitaire. That was "dating" in the strict days of the past.

When Urban Renewal got going in Sinajaña and new streets were laid out, many lots were lost to residents, to be given new lots in exchange. Even though Santos was given another lot in Sinajaña when his original one, where his house stood, was to be taken over by Urban Renewal, Santos moved his residence and dental practice to Tamuning. He passed away in 1970. U såga gi minahgong. Rest in peace.

Courtesy of Ed Ulloa

Tuesday, July 20, 2021


in 1918

Chamorros have been moving to California for a long, long time. Since Spanish times in the 1800s.

Although Antonio Mendiola may not have actually been a whaler, because whaling had died down very much by the time Antonio came along, I use the term BAYINERO (whaler) to describe all those young Chamorro men, some still teenagers, who began to leave Guam by the dozens in the 1800s because of the whaling ships.

The whaling ships were most numerous in the early 1800s, and by the 1870s they dropped in number. Still, young Chamorro men kept joining merchant and commercial ships that happened to stop on Guam. Antonio Mendiola was one of them.

Antonio ended up in California, where we have some documents telling us a little about who he was.

Although his grave stone says he was born in 1886, a seaman's document from 1918 states that he was born in 1875. He began life as a cook on commercial ships in 1894. He sometimes went by the name Anton.

He settled in San Francisco, living most of the rest of his life on Mason Street, just on the outer limits of Chinatown. By 1915 he was married to a Mexican lady, Esther Figueroa. This was very common. Many Chamorro men who ended up in California married Mexican or Latina women and we shouldn't be surprised. Those Chamorro men moving to the US in the 1800s and early 1900s saw themselves as being connected to Spain. They often put as their native country "Spain" and their native language "Spanish."

Even if the Chamorro man spoke very rough or incorrect Spanish, he felt an affinity toward Spanish-speaking people. With Mexicans, he would have found some of the food familiar, since Chamorros inherited many corn-based foods from the Mexican soldiers who lived, married and died on Guam (titiyas, tamales, atule). And, of course, there was the Catholic religion that bound them both.

With Esther, who had two sons from prior relationships, Antonio had two daughters but only one of them lived to adulthood.

Antonio never lost his connection to the sea. He worked as a cook on commercial vessels and was absent in the 1930 and 1940 US Census on account of, I believe, his serving on ships out at sea. He left the US in 1943 for Australia, for example, as a worker on a commercial ship, and didn't return to San Francisco till 1944.

Antonio went by the middle name Guerrero. But was it really Guerrero? Or was it Leon Guerrero, since some people shortened Leon Guerrero that way back then? He also states in a document that he has a brother named Ben Mendiola on Guam. Was that Vicente Mendiola? Vicente Guerrero (or Leon Guerrero) Mendiola?  Or was Ben really Benjamin? These clues are a start, but may not be strong enough to tell us what Mendiola family Antonio came from.

When Antonio died in 1952, he was buried in the Italian Cemetery for San Francisco located in the little town of Colma. Although established for Italians, people from all races were buried there. U såga gi minahgong. Rest in peace.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Los chamorros se han estado mudando a California desde hace mucho tiempo, desde la época española, en el siglo XIX. Aunque Antonio Mendiola puede que en realidad no fuera ballenero, porque la caza de ballenas había disminuido mucho cuando Antonio nació, uso el término BAYINERO (ballenero) para describir a todos aquellos jóvenes chamorros, algunos todavía adolescentes, que comenzaron a salir de Guam por docenas en el siglo XIX en los barcos balleneros. 

Los barcos balleneros eran más numerosos a principios del siglo XIX, y en la década de 1870 disminuyeron en número. Aun así, los jóvenes chamorros siguieron uniéndose a los barcos mercantes y comerciales que se detuvieron en Guam. Antonio Mendiola fue uno de ellos.Antonio terminó en California, donde tenemos documentos que nos cuentan quién era él.

Aunque su lápida dice que nació en 1886, un documento de marinero de 1918 dice que nació en 1875. Comenzó su vida como cocinero en barcos comerciales en 1894. A veces se llamaba Anton.

Se instaló en San Francisco, viviendo la mayor parte del resto de su vida en Mason Street, justo en los límites exteriores de Chinatown. En 1915 estaba casado con una mujer mexicana, Esther Figueroa. Esto era muy común. Muchos hombres chamorros que terminaron en California se casaron con mujeres mexicanas o hispanas y no debería sorprendernos. Aquellos hombres chamorros que se mudaron a los Estados Unidos en el siglo XIX y principios del XX se veían a sí mismos conectados con España. A menudo ponen como su país natal "España" y su lengua materna "español".

Incluso si el hombre chamorro hablaba un español muy rudo o incorrecto, sentía afinidad por las personas de habla hispana. Con los mexicanos, habría encontrado algo de la comida familiar, ya que los chamorros heredaron muchos alimentos a base de maíz de los soldados novohispanos que vivieron, se casaron y murieron en Guam (titiyas, tamales, atule). Y, por supuesto, estaba la religión católica que los unía aambos.

Con Esther, que había tenido dos hijos de relaciones anteriores, Antonio tuvo dos hijas, pero solo una de ellas vivió hasta la edad adulta.

Antonio nunca perdió su conexión con el mar. Trabajó como cocinero en embarcaciones comerciales y estuvo ausente en el censo estadounidense de 1930 y 1940 debido, creo, a su servicio en barcos en alta mar. Dejó los EE. UU. en 1943 rumbo a Australia, tal vez, como trabajador en un barco comercial, y no regresó a San Francisco hasta 1944.

Antonio tenía el segundo apellido de Guerrero. ¿Pero era realmente Guerrero? ¿O era León-Guerrero, ya que algunas personas acortaron el León-Guerrero? También declara en un documento que tiene un hermano llamado Ben Mendiola en Guam. ¿Era Vicente Mendiola? ¿Vicente Guerrero (o León-Guerrero) Mendiola? ¿O era Ben realmente Benjamín? Estas pistas son un comienzo, pero pueden no ser lo suficientemente contundentes como para decirnos de cuál familia Mendiola procedía Antonio.

Cuando Antonio falleció en 1952, fue enterrado en el Cementerio Italiano de San Francisco ubicado en el pequeño pueblo de Colma. Aunque establecido para los italianos, personas de todas las nacionalidades fueron enterradas allí. U såga gi minahgong. Descanse en paz.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


Just before US bombardment

For most of us, Piti is a small village we mainly pass by on our way north or south on Guam's western side. 

If you have friends or relatives there, you stop by, not pass by.

You may work at Cabras and pass through Piti on a daily basis, or when business requires you.

Fish Eye, Veterans Cemetery and the annual fiesta are some of the other reasons why most of us spend time in Piti now and then.

But at one time, before the war, Piti was a lot more active in Guam's island life, and the action was right in the village and not out on Cabras as much of it is today. Back when ocean travel was the only way to get to Guam, Piti was a key link in that chain of travel.


Even in the 1800s during Spanish times, Piti was an important site on Guam as the main landing point for arriving passengers from the sea.

Ships would anchor in Apra Harbor, but passengers would then get in little boats and land at a pier at Punta Piti (Piti Point). Landing at Piti rather than Sumay saved people a couple of hours' journey to Hagåtña. Even from Piti, it took over an hour for people to get to Hagåtña by horse-driven carriage on a gravel road. It took longer if by bull or karabao cart.

When the Spaniards surrendered to the Americans in 1898, the surrender took place at Punta Piti. That way the Spanish officers and soldiers could get on transport boats right away and go to the waiting ships to take them as prisoners of war to Manila.

The port's pilot, responsible for guiding vessels into Apra, lived in Piti and met arriving ships on his little boat. Enterprising men rented out boats and carriages at Piti for sea and land transport.

When the Americans took over Guam in 1898, they continued to use the pier at Piti for landings.


But greater things were in store for Piti. The Americans would build up Guam militarily more than the Spaniards had done in a long time. The Americans also had the benefit of  huge improvements in technology by the time they came along.

The landing facilities at Piti were to be expanded. There had already been a pier and boat houses, and maybe even a customs house, under Spain but under the US an actual Navy Yard was to be built and developed over time. The Navy Yard was able to handle small activities such as transporting passengers and cargo from ship to land. In time, to this was added minor and emergency ship repair facilities.

Right up to the war, two patrol boats were docked at the Piti Navy Yard.

All of this came with all the newest tools and supplies needed in modern transportation. Workshops and warehouses were built. In 1941, eight American Navy men staffed the Yard, separate from the patrol boats' crews, and 31 Chamorro Insular Guardsmen. The US could have done more, and some in Washington wanted to build up Guam more. But the 1922 Washington Treaty between the US and Japan limited any militarization that could provoke the other party.

Every time a ship pulled into Apra Harbor, many people from Hagåtña would go down to Piti to see who was coming on island. Some people described it as almost a holiday on Guam when a ship paid the island a visit.

The strong typhoon of November 1940 (typhoons weren't named back then) severely damaged the Piti Navy Yard. But the Navy rebuilt the Navy Yard just in time for the Japanese to take it over.




The Japanese knew of the importance of the Piti Navy Yard so they made it one of their targets when they attacked Guam on December 8, 1941.

But Japanese bombing of the Yard did little damage. The Japanese were able to make use of the Yard without needing to repair much.

Prior to the Japanese taking over the Yard, the Americans scuttled the two patrol boats.

When the Japanese gathered all the American Prisoners of War on Guam, they were brought down to the Piti Navy Yard to be taken out to the Argentina Maru and shipped off to the prison camp in Japan.

The Japanese did almost nothing to build on or improve the Yard in the short time they had it. They had too much fighting going on in the rest of the Pacific to devote any attention or resources to developing Guam.

The irony is that is was the Americans themselves who destroyed their own Navy Yard when the US returned to take back Guam in 1944. The US bombed everything on Guam they felt the Japanese were located or could use to their advantage. Sadly, a lot of historic and non-military assets on Guam were forever destroyed by those American bombs.

The US flag flown at yard was secretly hid for the entire Japanese Occupation in a pillow by Gaily Roberto Kamminga, one-time Commissioner of Piti.

Bomb craters dot the Piti landscape on right

After the war, the US military decided not to rebuild the Piti Navy Yard. Instead, Sumay and the whole Orote Peninsula would be turned into a modern naval base, many more times the size of a simple Navy Yard.

Today, the area where the Piti Navy Yard used to be, and the area where the Piti pier used to be, and the spot where the Spaniards surrendered to the US in 1898, and where the Americans in turn were sent away by the Japanese, is a fuel storage area by the power plants and where Atlantis docks its boats.


Wednesday, July 7, 2021




Bernard Punzalan over at chamorroroots.com shared some photos of busts molded of Chamorro men in 1839.

A French scientific expedition visited Guam that year and one of the academic team made these molds, and these photos were later taken of them and are now at the National Museum of Natural History in France. These busts, in my opinion, have an effect unlike photographs. It's almost as if the man is really there, just asleep with eyes closed.

Since the busts come with names, I thought it would be interesting to see if the men came up in old records and if we could see what eventually happened to them.

The man above is identified as FAUSTINO CHARGUALAF from Humåtak.

Chargualaf is not a surname that makes us think of Humåtak as quickly as the surnames Quinata or Topasña, but records show there were quite a bit of Chargualafs in Humåtak in the 1800s, though in time their number decreased and Chargualaf remained more prominent in Inalåhan and Malesso'.

For example, in 1897 there were NINE people in Humåtak named Chargualaf. By 1920, there was only ONE. But in the early and mid 1800s, there were many more Chargualafs in Humåtak and Faustino was one of them.

According to the Humåtak church records, Faustino married Salomé Quinata. 

From this marriage of Faustino and Salomé at least one son, Ignacio, died in 1837 and probably died in childhood or youth, which was much more common in the old days than now. 

But there could have been more children, as many burials do not give the parents' names. If all the children died young, that explains why we don't see anyone identified as descendants of Faustino and Salomé later on, and the Chargualaf surname slowly disappeared in Humåtak up to World War II.

Maybe there are some Chargualafs in Humåtak today, but they probably came from another branch of Chargualafs from another village and moved to Humåtak only recently.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021


But the Spanish government seal was still being used (upper left corner)

First, let's look at the numbers and then I'll share a few historical lessons we can learn from them. These numbers come from the German administrator of the Northern Marianas in the early 1900s, Georg Fritz.





























































The population of Guam at this time was 9676, around four times the population of all the other Mariana islands combined.

Saipan had only two villages, and there was a huge difference in population between them. Garapan was divided into separate Chamorro and Carolinian sections. Tanapag was more mixed.

The foreigners in Garapan were Germans, Japanese, Spaniards (the priests) and other Pacific islanders. The two single foreigners, one in Tanapag and the other in Luta, were Spanish priests.

The gap in numbers between Chamorros and Carolinians was widening. Just twenty years before this, there were more Carolinians on Saipan than Chamorros. But Chamorros from Guam (and a small number from Luta) kept moving north to Saipan in a steady stream from the 1880s onwards. Carolinians also moved to Saipan from Guam, Luta (Rota) and the Caroline Islands but in smaller numbers than the Chamorros. The gap would get even wider as time went on with the Chamorros being around 2/3 of the population by 1900. Chamorros from Guam kept moving to Saipan till the end of German times in 1914.

Take a look at the growth of the Chamorro population just in three years.





















Between 1901 and 1902, the Chamorro population increased by 175 people while the Carolinian numbers increased by 80. Chamorros from Guam were enticed to move to Saipan were land was plentiful and the government eager to have settlers farm that land.

But, if you notice in 1901, the Carolinian population jumped by 72, whereas the Chamorro population increased by just 28. The high numbers of additional Carolinians in 1901 can be explained by the relocation of Guam's Carolinians to Saipan on orders of the American Governor, which delighted the Germans. The Germans always wanted to increase the population of the Northern Marianas.

Tinian did not have a stable, permanent Chamorro community till after World War II. In German times, Chamorros and Carolinians from Saipan worked the farms and cattle ranches on Tinian, but they didn't put down permanent roots there. Some workers were single. Some were married but came to Tinian by themselves and went back to Saipan (close by) for periodic visits. Some brought their wives and children but the mothers took their newborns back to Saipan for baptism. Tinian at the time was a place to work, not to settle permanently. Men outnumbered the women on Tinian because of this; work was the motive for being on Tinian, not lifetime settlement.

Luta's small and dwindling Carolinian population were later encouraged by the Germans to move to Saipan and join their fellow Carolinians there, who were more numerous. Not long after this census, Luta had no more Carolinian residents.

Pagan was where the action was in the northern islands, with Agrigan a distant second. Pagan was considered the ideal northern island by the government and investors hoping to make money from copra. The inhabitants of the northern islands, Chamorro and Carolinian, were all from Saipan, Guam and a few from Luta.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


La población de Guam a principios del siglo XX era de 9676 personas, es decir casi cuatro veces la población de todas las demás Islas Marianas, que rondaba los 2401 habitantes.

SAIPÁN, con 1631 residentes, tenía solo dos aldeas y había una gran diferencia de población entre ellas. Garapan (1457) se dividía en secciones separadas de nativos chamorros e indígenas carolinos. Tanapag (174) estaba más entremezclada.

Los extranjeros en Garapan eran alemanes, japoneses, los sacerdotes españoles y otros isleños del Pacífico.

La brecha numérica entre chamorros y carolinos se estaba ampliando. Solo veinte años antes de esto, había más habitantes carolinos en Saipán que chamorros. Pero los chamorros de Guam (y un pequeño número de Rota) siguieron mudándose hacia el norte hacia Saipán en un flujo constante desde la década de 1880. Los carolinos también continuaron trasladándose a Saipán desde Guam, Rota y las Islas Carolinas, pero en menor número que los chamorros. La brecha se haría aún más amplia a medida que pasara el tiempo, ya que los chamorros llegarían a ser alrededor de 2/3 de la población en 1900. Los chamorros de Guam siguieron mudándose a Saipán hasta el final de la época alemana en 1914.

En 1902, la población de chamorros aumentó en 175 personas mientras que el número de carolinos aumentó en 80. Los chamorros de Guam fueron atraídos a mudarse a Saipán donde la tierra era abundante y el gobierno alemán estaba ansioso por que los colonos cultivaran aquellos terrenos.

Sin embargo, en 1901, la población de carolinos había aumentado en 72, mientras que la población de chamorros lo había hecho en solo 28. La gran cantidad de habitantes de Carolinas adicionales en 1901 puede explicarse por la reubicación de los habitantes carolinos de Guam en Saipán por orden del gobernador estadounidense que deleitó a los alemanes. Los alemanes siempre habían querido aumentar la población de las Marianas del Norte.

TINIAN, 95 habitantes, no tuvo una comunidad de chamorros estable y permanente hasta después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial. En la época alemana, los chamorros y carolinos de Saipán trabajaban en las granjas y ranchos ganaderos de Tinian, pero no echaron raíces permanentes allí. Algunos trabajadores estaban solteros. Algunos estaban casados pero iban a Tinian solos y regresaban a Saipán para visitas periódicas. Algunos llevaron a sus esposas e hijos, pero las madres trasladaban a sus recién nacidos a Saipán para el bautismo. Tinian en ese momento era un lugar para trabajar, no para establecerse permanentemente. Debido a esto, los hombres superaban en número a las mujeres en Tinian; el trabajo era el motivo para estar en Tinian, no un asentamiento vitalicio.

Más tarde, los alemanes alentaron a la pequeña y menguante población carolina de ROTA a mudarse a Saipán y unirse a sus compañeros carolinos allí, que eran más numerosos. No mucho después de este censo, con 490 moradores, Rota no tendría más residentes carolinos.

PAGAN, 137 personas, se encontraba donde estaba la acción en las islas del norte, con Agrigan en un distante segundo lugar. Pagan fue considerada la isla ideal del norte por el gobierno y los inversores que esperaban ganar dinero con la copra. Los habitantes de las islas del norte, chamorros y carolinos, eran todos de Saipán, Guam y algunos de Rota.

En la imagen de arriba vemos una carta enviada desde Saipán a Sachsenberg durante la época alemana. Aunque en aquellos años el sello del gobierno español todavía se seguía utilizando (esquina superior izquierda).


Wednesday, June 23, 2021




Two Chamorro men, Richard Borja Arriola and John Concepción Quan, wanted to fly to California in 1947, armed with "Guam passports" and certificates of "Guam citizenship." Guam was a US possession so no problem flying to the States, right? Wrong.

In 1947, Guam was still under Navy rule and the Chamorros of Guam were not US citizens (except for a few exceptions). The Governor of Guam in 1947 was still a Navy officer, at that time Rear Admiral Charles A. Pownall. Guam residents were considered "nationals" of the US. This meant they fell under the "protection" of the US and owed allegiance to the US, but did not have all the rights which a US citizen had.

US Immigration in Hawaii, where Arriola and Quan arrived separately, said that Pownall could determine, for Guam's purposes, who was a "citizen of Guam," but that being a "Guam citizen" did not automatically make the person a US national, for reasons which will soon be clear as the story continues. US Immigration wanted to make certain that Arriola and Quan were indeed US nationals.


Held for Proof of Status

The first red flag for US Immigration in Hawaii went up when it became known that Arriola was born in Saipan in 1926. In 1926, Saipan was under Japanese jurisdiction. Even though Arriola moved to Guam at the age of 6, before World War II, and lived with one of the Goyo families (Josefina Díaz Pérez, a widow, whose son Pedro served as senator), US Immigration did not count him an American national, being born on an island under Japan in 1926 and in 1947 a United Nations Trust Territory only entrusted to provisional US administration.

Pownall considered Arriola a US national, having lived on Guam for so long, but US Immigration said he could not be a US national if he was not born on Guam or Samoa.


"Board of Special Inquiry"

Quan was even more bewildered by his detention because US Immigration had no problem letting him travel to the US mainland earlier in 1946 where he stayed quite a long time. Furthermore, there was no question that Quan was born on Guam in 1923, long after Guam became a US possession.

But there was a technicality. Quan's father was Chinese, born in China. According to the rules in force between 1900 and 1940, in order to be considered a US national, both your parents had to be US nationals, which Quan's father was not.

A second problem was also found. The rules in force between 1907 and 1922 stated that any female who was a US national who married a non-national lost her status. Quan's Chamorro mother, Engracia Concepción, married Quan during those years, so she lost her status as a US national. John ended up being born in 1923 the son of two non-US nationals!

When Pownall heard what happened to Arriola and Quan, he demanded their release and freedom to travel, but US Immigration basically said Pownall's authority extended only as far as Guam's shoreline. The US Navy and US Immigration were thus at odds, something rare at the time.

Travel records show that Quan returned to Guam after this. I don't know what was the next step for Arriola.

All this became resolved for Quan in 1950 when the Organic Act conferred US citizenship on Quan, but not for Arriola who was born in pre-war Saipan, whose only resort was the naturalization process, or to wait till 1986 when US citizenship was extended to the Northern Marianas.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021




One of my favorite Candy Taman songs. On the surface you'd think it's all about different flowers, but he told me the heart of the song is, "Håfa taimano siña un konsuelan maisa hao, para un disimula i piniti-mo." "How you can comfort yourself, to cover your pain."

The melody is a traditional one from many years ago.


Flores de Dios ginen as adetfa.
(Flower of God, from the oleander)
Ya si hasmin triste gi kamå-ña.
(and jasmine, sad in her bed.) (1)
Tamantiget malåyo hagon-ña
(The petals of the tamantiget are wilted) (2)
Na sige de tumånges ya mumaleffa.
(as she weeps continuously and then forgets.) (3)

Hågo solo et mås bonita
(You alone are the most beautiful)
Na flores gi halom korason-ho.
(flower inside my heart.)
Ya petmanente guine sagå-mo
(And you have a permanent place here)
Ya ti un li’e’ nene ine’son-ho.
(and you will never see my fatigue.) (4)

Ai ai ai ai keridå-ho
(Oh my beloved)
Hågo flores gi halom korason-ho.
(You are a flower within my heart.)
Flores rosåt gi halom maseta
(Rose flower in a vase)
Sen bonita ya bai hu respeta.
(Very beautiful and I will respect it.)
Kada dia siempre bai hu rega
(Each day I will surely water it)
Ya ti bai desatiende ti bai maleffa.
(And I won't ignore nor forget about it.)

Ai ai ai ai keridå-ho
(Oh my beloved)
Hågo flores gi halom korason-ho.
(You are a flower within my heart.)
Ai ai ai ai todo i tempo
(Oh all the time)
Ya ti un li’e’ nene ine’son-ho.
(And you won't see my fatigue.)


(1) Bed, as in bed of flowers.

(2) Tamantiget. The name of a flower in Saipan.

(3) The sad flower weeps and by weeping forgets her sorrow and is consoled.

(4) Ine'son comes from the adjective o'son which means "weary or fatigued" but emotional and mental tiredness, not physical fatigue. When one sees a person too much, or has been watching TV to the point of boredom, one becomes o'son. Ine'son is the noun form (weariness, boredom, fatigue).

Tuesday, June 8, 2021


An American whaling captain once visited Pagan and took some kamute (sweet potato) growing there on board. Seven months later, still on the high seas, the Pagan kamute was still in fresh condition, which amazed the captain so much that he took the kamute to a scientist at UC Berkeley to be studied and hopefully be planted in the US.

James Alden Macomber was a veteran whaling captain, so well-known a whaler that he was called "Sperm Whale Jimmy."

In April of 1905, while whaling in the North Pacific, Macomber, commanding the Gotama schooner out of San Francisco, made a stop at Pagan. The Germans were in charge of the Northern Marianas at the time and there were people living on Pagan, especially engaged in copra production. One of the local products he tried there was the kamute. Liking the root, he took a good quantity with him as he sailed away.

He expected it to go bad after several weeks, like other root plants. But, to his amazement and pleasure, the kamute stayed fresh right up to his return to San Francisco in November. He decided to take a sample to Professor EJ Wickson at the University of California Berkeley, just across the bay from San Francisco.

Wickson succeeded in propagating seed from the Pagan kamute and made it available to growers. Sweet potato farming was big in Merced County, not far from San Francisco. Wickson called the Pagan kamute "Macomber's Sweet Potato." But, a quick search for "Macomber's Sweet Potato" turns up nothing. The kamute was white-fleshed, and the white sweet potatoes grown in California today go by other names, so who knows what became of the Pagan kamute that ended up at UC Berkeley!

The kamute, by the way, came to the Marianas by way of Mexico, where it is widely grown and eaten. From Mexico it also went to the Philippines. Our word kamute and the Spanish word camote are taken from the Nahuatl word camotli. Nahuatl is a native language of Mexico spoken by the Aztecs.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021



Because the first Respicio on Guam arrived less than 200 years ago, and we still have documents where his name appears, we can easily identify who he was. As late as 1901 we find him in a court transcript written in Spanish where he is named as one of the carpenters involved in the court case.

ROMANO MIGUEL RESPICIO was from the Philippines, but unfortunately I cannot say precisely where in the Philippines since I have not found any document stating where. Family members who might know can chime in in the comments section.

Miguel, by the way, is his mother's maiden name. Many people have a Christian, or personal, name as a last name. Think of the Pablo family or the Francisco family.

After coming to Guam, he married LUISA LIZAMA PÉREZ.

They had three daughters : Rosa, Carmen and María.

And one son, ANTONIO. Antonio married Ana Materne Dueñas, the daughter of José Tenorio Dueñas and Felisa Dueñas Materne of the familian Gaspåt.

Antonio and Ana had the following sons :

ROMÁN, who married María Borja Castro, the daughter of Luís Palomo Castro and Concepción Santos Borja.

JOSÉ, who married Isabel Agualo Rivera, the daughter of José Ulloa Rivera and Carmen Taitingfong Agualo.

AMBROSIO, who married Teresita Garrido San Nicolás, the daughter of Enrique Rosario San Nicolás and Ana Garrido.

They also had an adopted son ROMÁN who married Frances Pangelinan Aguon, the daughter of Juan Santos Aguon and Francisca Pangelinan.

Those who carry the Respicio last name on Guam today are descendants of any one of these four men.

Romano and Luisa's daughters :

Rosa, who married Juan Cruz Fejarang, the son of Lucas Santos Fejarang and Antonia Santos Cruz.

María, who married Jesús Cruz Aquiningoc, the son of Juan Aquiningoc and Juana Cruz.

Another daughter, Carmen, never married.

Even though there is only one Respicio family on Guam, they are sometimes known as the familian Romano. Family nicknames were helpful in distinguishing which branch of a big family you belonged to, but even small families could have their own "better known as."

Tuesday, May 25, 2021




Soft Hearted

The fåha is the soft, juicy kernel of a brown, fallen coconut that is considered to be a treat by many people. It can be eaten as it is, but many people like to freeze it and eat it like tropical ice cream.

Because the fåha is so soft, some elders use the word symbolically to describe a soft hearted person.

One lady talked about how her ten-year-old son would cry whenever he would see her kill a chicken for their lunch or dinner before the war when people raised or caught their own food.

"Pareho ha' nåna yan mamuno' hao taoato!" "It's the same as you killing a person, mother!"

She said, "Korason fåha ayo." "He has a heart of fåha."

Tuesday, May 18, 2021



It used to be a very common practice. But, today, even many devout Catholics in the Marianas don't do it.

And that is to make the sign of the cross whenever you pass


Like the lady in this video, who makes the sign of the cross inside a car, passing something, but something we cannot tell from the video.


The reason we were told to make the sign of the cross, or bless ourselves, when passing a Catholic Church is because "Jesus is there." What was specifically meant was that the True Body and Blood of Jesus, under the appearance of bread and wine, are in a Catholic Church, housed in the Tabernacle.

Ordinary bread and wine are consecrated by a priest, who has been empowered by a bishop, whose bishop's powers go all the way back 2000 years to the Last Supper where Jesus told His 12 Apostles, "Do this in memory of me." Once the priest consecrates the bread and wine at Mass, they are no longer bread and wine but rather the True Body and Blood of Jesus. "This is my Body, this is the cup of my Blood," Jesus said at the Last Supper.

When Mass is over and there are leftover Hosts, they are put in the Tabernacle. So, on account of this, we bless ourselves when passing a Catholic Church. As other Christian churches don't have this, we don't bless ourselves when passing those churches.


We bless ourselves when passing a cemetery on account of the people buried there. We pray for their souls, and we cross ourselves when we begin and end prayers.


When a hearse passes by, we bless ourselves as we pray for the deceased in that hearse. In the old days, if one were walking on the road when a funeral procession passed by, you stopped what you were doing till the procession finished passing by. If you were a man wearing a hat, you took off your hat.


In olden times, there were many large crosses planted all over the islands. One would make the sign of the cross when passing these or other noticeable religious images outdoors.


Many people blessed themselves when feeling a tremor, or when making a promise, or when talking about the sick or someone in need of something, or when an ambulance passes by (to pray for the patient), before entering the jungle, to ward off evil and when afraid.


To "make the sign of the cross" in Chamorro is gumina'an i Tata, from the first words of the prayer "Gi na'an i Tata," "In the name of the Father."

It ends with the thumb up to the nose because the full sign of the cross was accompanied by a cross made by crossing the thumb with the index finger. One wasn't kissing one's thumb; one was kissing the cross made by the crossing of the thumb and index finger, which made a cross.

Originally, this was the proper way to form the fingers of the right hand when signing yourself with the Cross. But, over time, people got lazy and lost the original way. I'll post on the traditional Sign of the Cross in a future blog post.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Era una práctica muy común. Pero hoy, incluso muchos católicos devotos de las Islas Marianas ya no lo hacen.

Consiste en santiguarse cada vez que se pasa por delante de una iglesia, un cementerio, un cortejo fúnebre o una imagen religiosa.


La razón por la que se hace la Señal de la Cruz, o nos bendecimos, al pasar por una iglesia, es porque "Jesús está allí". Lo que se quiere decir específicamente es que el Verdadero Cuerpo y Sangre de Jesús, bajo la apariencia de pan y vino, están en una iglesia, ubicados en el Sagrario.

El pan y el vino ordinarios son consagrados por un sacerdote, que ha recibido el poder de un obispo, cuyos poderes a su vez se remontan 2000 años hasta la Última Cena, donde Jesús les dijo a sus Doce Apóstoles: "Hagan esto en conmemoración mía". Una vez que el sacerdote consagra el pan y el vino en la Misa, ya no son pan y vino, sino el Verdadero Cuerpo y Sangre de Jesús. "Éste es mi Cuerpo, ésta es la Copa de mi Sangre", dijo Jesús en la Última Cena.

Cuando termina la Misa y quedan Hostias sobrantes, se colocan en el Sagrario. Entonces, por eso, nos bendecimos al pasar por una iglesia. Como otras iglesias cristianas no tienen esto, no nos bendecimos al pasar por esas iglesias.


Nos bendecimos al pasar por un cementerio por las personas enterradas allí. Oramos por sus almas y nos santiguamos cuando comenzamos y terminamos las oraciones.


Cuando pasa un coche fúnebre, nos bendecimos mientras oramos por los difuntos de ese coche. Antes, si uno caminaba por la carretera cuando pasaba una procesión fúnebre, dejaba lo que estaba haciendo hasta que la procesión terminaba de pasar. Si uno era un hombre que llevaba sombrero, se quitaba el sombrero.


En la antigüedad, se plantaron un montón de grandes cruces por todas las Islas Marianas. Uno haría la Señal de la Cruz al pasar por éstas u otras imágenes religiosas notables.


Mucha gente se bendecía al sentir un temblor, o al hacer una promesa, o al hablar de un enfermo o de alguien que necesitaba algo, o cuando pasaba una ambulancia (para rezar por el paciente), antes de entrar en la selva, para ahuyentar a alguien malvado o cuando se tenía miedo.


"Hacer la Señal de la Cruz" en el idioma chamorro se dice Gumina'an i Tata, de las primeras palabras de la oración "Gi na'an i Tata", "En el nombre del Padre".

Terminaba con el pulgar hacia la nariz porque la Señal de la Cruz completa iba acompañada de una cruz que se hacía cruzando el pulgar con el dedo índice. No se estaba besando el pulgar; uno besaba la cruz hecha por el cruce del pulgar y el índice, que formaban una cruz.

Originariamente, ésta era la forma correcta de poner los dedos de la mano derecha al hacer la Señal de la Cruz. Pero, con el tiempo, la gente se volvió perezosa y perdió la manera original. Publicaré sobre la Señal de la Cruz tradicional en una futura publicación.