Tuesday, July 5, 2022



This receipt for church funeral services was issued to prove that a member of the deceased's family shouldered that cost. It was needed in a court case in 1925 to settle a family dispute over the estate of the deceased.

For much of the Spanish period, the missionaries published a schedule of fees for many church services, and not just for spiritual services. This schedule of fees was called ARANCEL in Spanish.

Sacraments cannot be bought; it is against Church law to do so and any priest who tries to sell sacraments, blessings or blessed objects will be punished by the Church itself.

But churches and priests also had to pay bills, and a fee for a baptismal certificate, for example, meant the parish had to buy paper (rarely were blank certificates printed before-hand, another expense). A priest had to buy food and supplies and, on occasion, give monetary support to someone doing work or a service for the church. These fees met those expenses.

In those days, most people grew or caught their own food, made their own household tools or items, or traded goods for goods, that they had less reason than today to use what cash they had. That unused cash often went to their local church for Masses. American Navy officials sometimes "complained" about it.

The poor were never deprived of church services on account of their inability to pay fees. To do so was against Church rules. Fees were sometimes paid with a dozen eggs or a sack of corn meal. Many cashless people paid others in general this way.

The priest who wrote the receipt was Father Bernabé de Cáseda, a Capuchin friar from Spain. He was stationed in Inalåhan for a long time and built the church there that exists to this day. He was in Inalåhan so long that several baby boys in Inalåhan were named Bernabé after him. Bernabé is the Spanish way of saying Barnabas. Saint Barnabas was a companion of Saint Paul the Apostle.


In those days, no Spanish priest could be assigned to a village until he first learned enough Chamorro to be able to communicate with his people, and he had to pass a test given by Påle' Román, the Spanish priest considered the expert in the Chamorro language. In the 1920s and 30s, huge numbers of Chamorros on Guam could not speak English and spoke only Chamorro.

Let's look at the Chamorro used in the receipt :

Guåho Fr. Bernabé de Cáseda hu resibe ginen as Ignacio LG San Nicolas pot i entierron Dolores Castro Concepcion ini na limosna :
(I Friar Bernabé de Cáseda received from Ignacio LG San Nicolas for the funeral of Dolores Castro Concepcion this donation :)

Entierro Solemne yan Misa Cantada.....$14.00
(Solemn Funeral and Sung Mass.....$14.00)

Gi Noviembre na pulan pot responso....$0.75
(In the month of November for responso....$0.75)

Hu na' magåhet ini
(I certify this)

Fr. Bernabé de Cáseda

Inalåhan 22.II.1925

OK let's break it down :

1. The Fr in the receipt does not stand for "Father" but for the Spanish title "Fray" which means "Friar." Father Bernabé was a Capuchin Franciscan friar and, even though he was also a priest, his identity as a friar wasn't forgotten. Friars who were priests often titled themselves "Fray Padre," or "Friar Father."

2. You can tell the typewriter he used was probably manufactured in Spain since it had keys to type Spanish accent marks, like the dash over the E in Bernabé and over the A in Cáseda.

3. Father Bernabé uses the old word for "this" which is ini. More people used the Spanish word este.

4. Church services could be simple or solemn; recited or sung. If Mass was sung, this meant a choir had to sing at Mass and choir members had to take time out of their day to do that. So more fees were paid the more services were requested.

5. A responso is a prayer said for the dead. November is the month the Poor Souls in Purgatory are remembered in a special way, and one could request a priest to say a responso in November at the grave(s) of one's loved one(s).

6. The literal meaning of "I certify this" in the receipt is "I make this true."

7. The dating format is European, not American. First comes the day of the month (the 22nd), then the month in Roman numerals (II, or 2, which means February), then the year.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022



1922 to 1923

Angaur is one of the Palau islands, situated at the very southern part of the island chain.

When the Germans got control of the Caroline Islands in 1899, they got control over Palau. Around 1909, the Germans started to mine Angaur for phosphate, which makes excellent fertilizer in the production of plants. It can also be turned into phosphoric acid which is used for many things, from cosmetics to animal feed. Money could be made selling phosphorus, and the Germans wanted to make money.

But they needed workers. Angaur had a small population, so workers from all over those parts of the  Pacific where the Germans were in control were recruited to work in Angaur. Workers came from the other Caroline islands under the Germans, from China (the Germans controlled the port city of Tsingtao) and the Northern Marianas, also under the Germans.


When the Japanese took over all the German territory in Micronesia in 1914, they continued the mining of phosphorus in Angaur and the recruitment of workers from other areas.

So, Chamorros from Saipan, and a few from Luta, moved to Angaur.

One of them was Ramón Taisague Cabrera and his wife Consolación Campos Camacho. Ramón was born in Guam but moved to Saipan when he was a child when his parents, Antonio Garrido Cabrera and Agapita San Nicolás Taisague, moved to Saipan in the 1880s. One of their children, María, was born in Angaur in 1917 so the Cabreras were in Angaur at least by 1917.

If Cecilia, the deceased infant buried in Angaur, is indeed the child of Ramón and Consolación, as I suspect she was, then she, too, was born in Angaur but died in her first year of life. The Cabreras may have had other children born in Angaur who died there in infancy.


Some of the writing on the gravestone or lápida is no longer legible, but most of it can still be read and it's in Spanish. The Spanish had left Micronesia for twenty years already, but the Spanish language was still being used by older Chamorros who had been raised under Spain and by the Spanish missionaries. In 1923, when Cecilia died, all the Catholic missionaries in Micronesia (except for Kiribati and Nauru), including Guam, were Spanish.

After World War II, almost all the Chamorros on Palau went back to the Marianas, except for some Palauans who had Chamorro blood, the children of Chamorro men who had married Palauan women.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Angaur es una de las Islas Palaos, situada en la parte más meridional de la cadena insular.

Cuando en 1899, los alemanes obtuvieron de los españoles el control de las Islas Carolinas, se hicieron también con el control de Palaos. Alrededor de 1909, los alemanes comenzaron a extraer fosfato de Angaur, que es un excelente fertilizante para la producción de plantas. También se puede convertir en ácido fosfórico que se usa para muchas cosas, desde cosméticos hasta alimento para animales. Se podía ganar dinero vendiendo fósforo, y los alemanes querían ganar dinero.

Pero necesitaban trabajadores. Angaur tenía una población pequeña, por lo que se reclutaron trabajadores de otras partes del Pacífico donde los alemanes tenían el control. Los trabajadores llegaron de las otras Islas Carolinas bajo el poder de los alemanes, de China (los alemanes controlaban la ciudad portuaria de Tsingtao) y de las Islas Marianas del Norte, también bajo soberanía germana.

Cuando en 1914, los japoneses se apoderaron de todo el territorio alemán en Micronesia, continuaron con la extracción de fósforo en Angaur y la contratación de trabajadores de otras áreas del Pacífico.

Entonces, los chamorros de Saipán y algunos de Rota se mudaron a Angaur.

Uno de ellos fue Ramón Taisague Cabrera y su esposa Consolación Campos Camacho. Ramón nació en Guam pero se había mudado a Saipán cuando era un niño, cuando sus padres, Antonio Garrido Cabrera y Agapita San Nicolás Taisague, se mudaran a Saipán en la década de 1880. Uno de sus hijos, María, nació en Angaur en 1917 por lo que los Cabrera residían en Angaur al menos desde esa fecha.

Si Cecilia, la bebé fallecida y enterrada en Angaur, es efectivamente hija de Ramón y Consolación, como sospecho que lo era, entonces ella también nació en Angaur pero murió en su primer año de vida. Los Cabrera podrían haber tenido otros hijos nacidos en Angaur que murieron allí durante su infancia.


Parte de la escritura de la lápida ya no es legible, pero la mayor parte todavía se puede leer y está en español. Los españoles ya habían dejado Micronesia desde hacía unos veinte años, pero el idioma español todavía lo usaban los chamorros mayores que se habían criado bajo la soberanía y los misioneros españoles. En 1923, cuando falleció Cecilia, todos los misioneros católicos en Micronesia (excepto Kiribati y Nauru), incluido Guam, eran españoles.

Después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, casi todos los chamorros de Palaos regresaron a las Marianas, excepto algunos palauanos que tenían sangre chamorra, hijos de hombres chamorros que se habían casado con mujeres palauanas.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022



Three, young Chamorro women lost either a leg or a hand, thanks to World War II.

Two were sisters, entering their teens. Isabel Mendiola Iglesias was just ten years old when the war started, and her younger sister Magdalena Mendiola Iglesias was just nine.

Rosario Benavente Pablo was a bit older. She was nineteen when the war started. 

During the battle to retake Guam from the Japanese by the Americans, Isabel lost a leg and Magdalena lost a hand. Rosario lost a leg.

From Rosario's children we know the story. Rosario and her family were hiding up north on Guam when the Americans returned and severe fighting began between the Americans and the Japanese, who constantly moved north. Rosario's family started to move southward and spent the night in an abandoned structure in Liguan near Dededo. An American bomb hit the house; more than one family member was injured but Rosario's leg was severely damaged. They made it to the American lines and Rosario was taken to the American field hospital and her leg was amputated.



Right by Vallejo, California, not far from San Francisco, the US Navy operated a hospital with a special division; an Orthopedic Department opened to care for thousands of American soldiers who lost hands, arms, feet or legs in warfare.

Somehow Isabel, Magdalena and Rosario were able to receive the same kind of care at Mare Island, courtesy of the US Navy.

First, the three ladies had to be looked over to see what artificial limbs could be designed for them. Once made, the artificial limbs had to be fitted to the ladies' natural limbs. Then the ladies had to be trained how to use their artificial limbs, such as how to walk with an artificial leg to appear as natural as possible. Magdalena was taught how to use makeup on her artificial hand to match her natural skin tone.

The good news is that all three ladies lived long and happy lives. Isabel married Juan Crisóstomo Mafnas; Magdalena married Clemente León Guerrero Dueñas and Rosario married Terencio Lim Villaverde.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022




Bishop Miguel Ångel Olano was the Bishop of Guam from 1934 until 1945. He first arrived on Guam from his native Spain in 1919 and in time was assigned to the parish of Sumay, staying there all the way till he was made bishop.

The 1920s and 30s were a time when all Chamorros on Guam spoke Chamorro (imagine that!). For many of them, it was the only language they knew. Many couldn't speak English even if they wanted to, except for a few words like "yes" and "no."

Outsiders had to find translators, then, or better yet learn Chamorro themselves. This is what the Spanish Capuchin missionaries, as Olano was, did. A priest definitely had to learn Chamorro in those days, in order to hear confessions in Chamorro, preach in Chamorro and interact with his Chamorro flock.

Some missionaries did better in Chamorro than others. One, Påle' Román, was considered an authority in the language, many older people now deceased telling me he spoke better Chamorro than many Chamorros. Olano was also one of the better ones in Chamorro. He spoke it well, without the need to look up words in a dictionary.

One little piece of evidence showing his fluency in Chamorro is this letter he wrote in Chamorro in the year 1967. That was 22 years after he left Guam. For 22 years he had no one to speak Chamorro with, having moved to Manila in 1945 and then to Spain. On occasion, the Spanish missionaries who had lived on Guam, and were now living elsewhere, would speak Chamorro to each other now and then when they would meet up. But for the most part they had no occasion to use Chamorro, and yet they retained their knowledge of the language twenty or more years after they left Guam.

The event that occasioned this letter in Chamorro was the appointment of Sister Mary Mark Martínez as Superior of the Mercy Sisters on Guam in 1967. Olano had been very close to Sister's parents, Pedro and María Martínez, and knew Sister when she was a young girl before the war. Sister's appointment as Superior definitely swelled Olano's heart with pride and joy, first of all because of his connection with the Martínez family but secondly because the Spanish missionaries before the war tried so hard to get Catholic Sisters to come to Guam but couldn't. They found Sisters willing to come to Guam, but the US Navy stopped them from coming. Olano couldn't help but be happy and proud that, not only had Sisters finally come to Guam after the war; not only because Chamorros had become Sisters; but now because a Sister from a family he was close to had become Superior.

Writing on August 17, 1967 from San Sebastián, Spain, Olano says :

Sister Mary Mark Martínez, Superior :

Hu taitai gi Umatuna si Yu'us na hågo ma ayek para må'gas i etmånas guennao giya Guam. Este na "news" ha na' magof yo' dångkulo, sa' primet biåhe na una relihiosa taotao Guam ma ayek para este na dångkulo na puesto. Sister Mary Mark, "congratulations" nu hågo yan lokkue' todo i etmåna ni mañåsaga gi konbento. I bendision Yu'us nu hågo, ya siña mesngon, gai pasiensia, etc. Hu tungo' na i etmåna guennao man sen mesngon lokkue'. Ti hu tungo' na guaha åguaguat entre siha.

Adiós, ya todos hamyo en tayuyute i hagas Obispo.

+M.A. Olano

In English :

I read in the Umatuna si Yu'us that you were chosen to be the superior of the Sisters there in Guam. This news made me so happy, because it is the first time that a religious woman from Guam was chosen for this important office. Sister Mary Mark, congratulations to you and also to all the Sisters living in the convent. The blessing of God to you, that you may be enduring, patient, etc. I know that the Sisters there are also very forbearing. I do not know if there are any unruly ones among them.

Farewell, and all of you pray for the former Bishop.


1. The Umatuna si Yu'us is the weekly newspaper of the Catholic Church on Guam, published by the Archdiocese (Diocese, at the time). Someone was mailing him a copy in Spain. Who and how often, I do not know.

2. Olano is mistaken in saying that Sister Mary Mark was the first Chamorro Superior of the Mercy Sisters on Guam, but he had been away for many years already and news was not as easily obtained in those days before the internet. It was actually Sister Callista Camacho who was the first Chamorro Superior of the Mercy Sisters on Guam, being appointed in 1960 and serving till 1963. Sister Mary Mark was the second Chamorro Superior, appointed in 1967.

3. It's interesting that Olano uses two English words when he could have used the Spanish/Chamorro equivalents; notisia for "news" and enorabuena for "congratulations."

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Monseñor Miguel Ángel Olano fue obispo de Guam desde 1934 hasta 1945. Llegó por primera vez a la isla desde su España natal en 1919 y con el tiempo fue asignado a la parroquia de Sumay, permaneciendo allí hasta que fue nombrado obispo.

Las décadas de 1920 y 1930 fueron una época en la que todos los chamorros de Guam hablaban chamorro (¡imagínense eso!). Para muchos de ellos, era el único idioma que conocían. Muchos no podrían hablar inglés aunque quisieran, a excepción de algunas palabras como "sí" y "no".

Los forasteros tenían entonces que encontrar traductores, o mejor aún, aprender chamorro ellos mismos. Así lo hicieron los misioneros capuchinos españoles, como lo fue Olano. Un sacerdote definitivamente tenía que aprender chamorro durante aquellos tiempos, para poder escuchar confesiones en chamorro, predicar en chamorro e interactuar con su rebaño chamorro.

A algunos misioneros les fue mejor en chamorro que a otros. Uno, Påle' Román, era considerado una autoridad en el idioma, muchas personas mayores ya fallecidas me decían que hablaba mejor chamorro que muchos chamorros. Olano también fue uno de los mejores en idioma chamorro. Lo hablaba bien, sin necesidad de buscar palabras en un diccionario.

Una pequeña evidencia que muestra su fluidez en chamorro es esta carta que escribió en el año 1967. Eso fue 22 años después de que saliera de Guam. Durante 22 años no tuvo con quien hablar chamorro, habiéndose mudado a Manila en 1945 y luego a España. En ocasiones, los misioneros españoles que habían vivido en Guam y después vivían en otros lugares, a veces se hablaban en chamorro, cuando se reunían. Pero en su mayor parte no tuvieron ocasión de usar el chamorro y, sin embargo, conservaron su conocimiento de la lengua veinte o más años después de salir de Guam.

El evento que ocasionó esta carta en idioma chamorro fue el nombramiento de la Hermana Mary Mark Martínez como Superiora de las Hermanas de la Misericordia en Guam en 1967. Olano había estado muy cerca de los padres de la Hermana, Pedro y María Martínez, y la conoció cuando era una niña, antes de la guerra. El nombramiento de la Hermana como Superiora definitivamente infló el corazón de Olano con orgullo y alegría, en primer lugar por su conexión con la familia Martínez, pero en segundo lugar porque los misioneros españoles antes de la guerra se esforzaron mucho para que monjas católicas vinieran a Guam. Encontraron Hermanas dispuestas a venir a la isla, pero la Marina de los EE. UU. se lo impidió. Olano no pudo evitar sentirse feliz y orgulloso de que las Hermanas no solo habían llegado finalmente a Guam, después de la guerra; sino porque numerosas chamorras se habían convertido en religiosas; e incluso ahora una Hermana de una familia cercana a él se había convertido en Superiora.

Escribiendo el 17 de agosto de 1967 desde San Sebastián, España, Olano dice:

“Leí en el Umatuna si Yu'us que fuiste elegida para ser la Superiora de las Hermanas ahí en Guam. Esta noticia me alegró mucho, porque es la primera vez que una religiosa de Guam es elegida para este importante cargo. Hermana Mary Mark, felicidades para usted y también para todas las Hermanas que viven en el convento. La bendición de Dios para ustedes, para que sean perseverantes, pacientes, etc. Sé que las Hermanas ahí también son muy tolerantes. No sé si hay algunos rebeldes entre ellas.

Adiós y recen todos por el antiguo obispo”.


 1. El Umatuna si Yu'us es el periódico semanal de la Iglesia Católica en Guam, publicado por la Arquidiócesis (Diócesis, en ese momento). Alguien le enviaba una copia a España. Quién y con qué frecuencia, no lo sé.

 2. Olano se equivoca al decir que la Hermana Mary Mark fue la primera chamorra Superiora de las Hermanas de la Misericordia en Guam, pero Olano ya llevaba muchos años fuera y las noticias no eran tan fáciles de obtener en esos días antes de internet. En realidad, fue la Hermana Callista Camacho la primera Superiora chamorra de las Hermanas de la Misericordia en Guam, siendo nombrada en 1960 y sirviendo hasta 1963. La Hermana Mary Mark fue la segunda Superiora chamorra, nombrada en 1967.

 3. Es interesante que Olano en su carta en chamorro, use dos palabras en inglés cuando podría haber usado los equivalentes en español/chamorro; notisia para "noticia" y enorabuena para "felicidades".

Tuesday, June 7, 2022



It was the first day of school in 1935 and the American teacher came into the classroom and said,

"Now, students! As soon as class begins, I don't want to hear a single word in Chamorro coming out of your mouths! Not one single word! All English, you understand? All English!"

The children nodded their heads.

The American teacher then looked at a boy and said, "And you. What is your name?"

The boy replied, "SECOND ERASED LANDLESS!"

The American teacher was amazed! She said, "SECOND ERASED LANDLESS! What kind of a name is that?"

The boy replied, "My name is really SEGUNDO MAFNAS TAITANO but you said not a single word in Chamorro!"


To explain a joke is to kill a joke, but for those who need to know :

SEGUNDO means "second"

MAFNAS means "erased"

TAITANO means "landless"

The humor is found in the fact that all three words are real names used by Chamorros.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Era el primer día de clase en 1935 y la maestra americana entró en el aula y dijo:

"¡Ahora, estudiantes! ¡Tan pronto como comience la clase, no quiero oír ni una sola palabra en chamorro que salga de sus bocas! ¡Ni una sola palabra! Todo en inglés, ¿entienden? ¡Todo en inglés!"

Los niños asintieron con la cabeza.

La maestra americana miró entonces a un niño chamorro y le preguntó: "Y tú, ¿cómo te llamas?"

El niño respondió: "SECOND ERASED LANDLESS!"

¡La maestra estaba asombrada! Ella exclamó: "SECOND ERASED LANDLESS! ¿Qué clase de nombre es ése?"

El niño chamorro respondió: "Mi nombre en realidad es SEGUNDO MAFNAS TAITANO pero usted nos dijo que no quería oír ni una sola palabra en chamorro".


Tener que explicar un chiste es matar el chiste, pero para aquellos que no lo saben:

SEGUNDO significa "segundo". En inglés, “second”.

MAFNAS significa "borrado". En inglés, “erased”.

TAITANO significa "sin tierra". En inglés, “landless”.

El humor se encuentra en el hecho de que las tres palabras son nombres y apellidos reales usados ​​por los chamorros que el niño, advertido por su maestra, también tradujo al inglés.

Monday, May 30, 2022



In the Hågat civilian refugee camp in 1944

A simplistic view of life paints everything black and white. There are the good guys and the bad guys, and a bag guy is all bad and a good guy is all good.

The reality of life is a mixture of more colors than black and white.

Take the Japanese Occupation, for instance.

Many people who went through that Occupation have told me a story of mixed colors. Some Japanese were good people, hating the war and hoping for a quick end. Some Saipan interpreters actually saved some Guam Chamorro lives. Some Guam Chamorros got other Guam Chamorros in trouble with the Japanese. Colors mixed every which way.

Madeleine Bordallo shared with me an anecdote she learned from her late husband, former Governor Ricardo Bordallo, and from her Bordallo family.

When Josephine, wife of Baltazar Bordallo and mother to over a dozen Bordallo children, including Ricky, gave birth to a baby boy in 1942, right during the Japanese Occupation, mother and father showed their American patriotism right in the face of Japanese power by naming the baby Franklin Delano, the given names of the US President at the time, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Sadly, the baby died in infancy.




And yet Josephine befriended a Japanese soldier during the Occupation.

The soldier, who had one or two siblings, was amazed when he saw the BJ Bordallo family, with parents trying to manage over a dozen children, as old as twenty and as young as a newborn.

Sparking up a conversation with Josephine, the soldier took out his family photo and showed her his relatively small family of four or five total members.

Josephine was moved by the soldier's humanity and invited him to Bordallo family meals when it was possible for him to be there. In time, of course, with the Americans returning, the Japanese soldier went his way and was never heard from again.

BJ Bordallo told the story how he, being one of the island's leading businessmen and politicians, was sometimes "invited" to join the high-ranking Japanese officers at dinner parties. Such invitations were commands that couldn't be turned down.

Bordallo would be "asked" to rise and give a toast to the attending Japanese. "I used to do a lot of acting," he said, meaning that he would praise the Japanese with much ardor, but not mean a word of it. But, he said, the Japanese were easily fooled.

More stories could be told about BJ Bordallo's experience of the Japanese Occupation to show how real life is not so black and white, but the Bordallo's friendship with a Japanese soldier serves to make the same point. Other Chamorro families, including my own, had similar friendships with some Japanese soldiers who had no love for war.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022



Dededo Commissioner 1976

Popoy Zamora was a novelty on Guam in the 1970s. For those of us already around back then and active in politics, as I was even though I was still a teenager, Popoy stood out. He was a Filipino occupying a very "Chamorro" position - village Commissioner; what we call Mayor nowadays.

I say "Chamorro" position not because the law said Commissioners had to be Chamorro, but because the reality at the time was that village Commissioners were all Chamorros, leading villages that were Chamorro in the majority. But here we had a Filipino Commissioner! The first! He stood out.


But we have to be careful to be accurate in our claims about Popoy's public record.

One website claimed he was Guam's first Filipino elected to public office. This is not accurate. "Public office" means any government elected or appointed position, such as Senator, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Mayor/Commissioner and Judge. There were Filipino Senators elected long before Popoy was elected Assistant Commissioner of Dededo. Most people alive today just don't know about them.

A Guam newspaper also got it wrong, claiming that Popoy was the first Filipino on Guam elected Commissioner; but he was never elected Commissioner. He was elected Assistant Commissioner, and then served as Commissioner to complete the vacancy left by the Commissioner who stepped down from office.

One of our island TV news outlets stated that Popoy was elected Dededo Commissioner in 1973. He was elected Assistant Commissioner, not Commissioner.

So I am writing this blog article to correct the media inaccuracies concerning the record of a man who we remember fondly and who stood out in the public arena many years ago.


And I want to be clear what I mean by "Filipino." 

For the purpose of identifying the first Filipino Commissioner on Guam, I mean a person exclusively of Filipino heritage, and born in the Philippines. 

Chamorros with one Filipino parent

Someone like Adrian Cristóbal, elected Senator in 1952, long before Popoy's public service, had a Filipino father. Some might consider him to be Filipino. But he himself considered himself to be Chamorro because he had a Chamorro mother, and Chamorros also considered him to be Chamorro for that reason. For the Chamorro, as soon as you have one Chamorro ancestor, you're considered Chamorro.

Filipino by blood, but born on Guam

Then we have people who are Filipino by blood and who do not have any Chamorro ancestors, but they were born on Guam before the war, and grew up speaking Chamorro. Chamorros considered them "one of our own," perhaps we can say "adopted" Chamorros because Guam was all they knew and they took on Chamorro ways and language.

We can think of Simon Ángeles Sánchez, born on Guam and whose parents were both Filipino. A long-time educator, he served as Commissioner of Tamuning from 1946 to 1948.

León Dungca Flores was elected to the First Guam Legislature in 1950, long before Popoy served as Assistant Commissioner. Flores also didn't have a drop of Chamorro blood, as both his parents were of Filipino blood only, but he was born here, grew up speaking Chamorro and married a Chamorro, so he was considered one of our own.

Paul Dungca Palting was elected five times to the Guam Legislature, the first time in 1952, again long before Popoy served as Assistant Commissioner, and he, too, was Filipino by blood but born on Guam.

Sánchez, Flores and Palting did not have any Chamorro ancestors, but Chamorros considered them "one of our own," locals, adopted Chamorros....whichever description fits best.

So who was the first Filipino, whose parents were Filipino, and who was born in the Philippines, to be elected to public office on Guam after the war?


First Filipino Elected to a Guam Political Office

Alberto Tominez Lamorena was a Filipino, born in the Philippines, who married a Chamorro, Fe Untalan Cristóbal (whose father was Filipino and whose mother was Chamorro) in the Philippines. Fe was sent to school in Manila before World War II. After the war, she and her husband moved to Guam where he practiced law. He was elected to the Eighth Guam Legislature in 1964, eight years before Popoy was elected Assistant Commissioner of Dededo in 1972.

Senator in the 9th, 10th and 11th Legislatures

Lamorena was followed in the very next Legislature, the Ninth, by another Filipino born in the Philippines, Oscar Liboon Delfin, who was re-elected two more times to serve also in the Tenth and Eleventh Legislatures. His elected service pre-dates Popoy's.


1973 Campaign Ad

In 1973, there was a special election for Assistant Commissioner of Dededo. Popoy was the lone Republican candidate for that office and he won the election, beating his Democratic opponents. That special election was held on December 15, 1973.

In 1976, the Commissioner of Dededo, Vicente SA Benavente, decided to retire even before his term was due to expire later that year. Popoy, as Assistant, automatically became Commissioner of Dededo. But he was not elected Commissioner; he filled the vacancy created by Benavente's retirement.

This press release from the Mayors Council of Guam on the passing of Popoy explains it correctly. Popoy was elected Assistant Commissioner and became Commissioner by filling a vacancy. Only the election year was inaccurate in this press release.

Interestingly, the local newspaper that incorrectly stated that Popoy was elected Mayor/Commissioner included this memo in its news article. If only the newspaper had learned from the memo it included in the story!

Popoy decided to run for Senator at the end of 1976, but lost. Having run for a different office in 1976, his term as Commissioner of Dededo expired that year (actually, early January of 1977).

Popoy did win a seat as a delegate in Guam's Constitutional Convention in 1977.


First Filipino ELECTED Commissioner or Mayor? NOBODY

Popoy was elected Assistant Commissioner and then became Commissioner by filling the vacancy created by the sitting Commissioner's retirement.

We now have a second Filipino elected Vice Mayor, Loreto Leones of Yigo.

But, so far, no Filipino has ever been ELECTED Mayor of any village. It truly is a "Chamorro" position FOR NOW. 

As the record shows, Filipinos have been elected to even higher office (Senator) and some of these Filipinos were elected Senator in the 1960s when Filipino voters were a much smaller voting bloc.

So, from a numerical standpoint, there is no reason why a Filipino couldn't be elected Mayor of, let's say, villages with a sizeable Filipino population, such as Dededo, Yigo and Tamuning, if not due to his or her personal merits, then at least due in part to big help from a large Filipino voting base.

But there haven't been enough strong Filipino candidates so far, or they have been matched by equally strong (or stronger) Chamorro candidates.

The future will show us if that situation changes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022



"Ai i på'go na tiempo!" ilek-ña si nanå-ho. "Ti ma tungo' i famagu'on man månge'! Puro ha' "computer" yan "cell phone" nai man måmånge'!"
("Oh the times nowadays!" my mother said. "Children don't know how to write! It's all computers and cell phones when they write!")

"Hunggan, nåna. Chaddek yumayas kanai-ñiha yanggen man mango'te pluma," hu sangåne gue'.
("Yes, mom. Their hands get tired quickly when they hold pens," I told her.)

"Ti un tungo' i estorian tatå-ho bihu," ilek-ña si nanå-ho.
("You don't know my grandfather's story," my mom said.)

"Sångan," hu faisen gue'.
("Tell it," I asked her.)

"Guaha che'lu-ña låhe si bihu-ho ni må'pos para Amerika annai hohoben ha'. Lao kada dos pat tres meses ha kattåttåye si bihu-ho ya ha sångan todo håfa nuebo ma susede gi lina'lå'-ña."
("My grandpa had a brother who went off to America when he was still young. But every two or three months he would write to my grandpa and say everything new in his life.")

"Si tiu-ho maolek na estudiånte giya Hagåtña åntes de ha dingu Guam. Ya guiya mås bonito tinige'-ña gi eskuela. Todo i tiempo guiya gumånna i premio para månge'."
("My uncle was a good student in Hagåtña before he left Guam. And he had the best penmanship in school. He always won the prize for writing."

"Un dia humame yan si bihu-ho annai måtto i kåttan che'lu-ña. Ha baba ya ha taitai, ya kada nuebo ha taitai, chumålek halom si bihu-ho."
"One day I was with my grandpa when his brother's letter came. He opened and read it, and every time he read something new, my grandpa smiled.")

"Annai monhåyan ha taitai, hu faisen si bihu-ho, 'Håfa sinangån-ña si tiu-ho gi kåtta?'"
(When he was done reading it, I asked my grandpa, 'What did my uncle say in the letter?'")

Manoppe si bihu-ho, "Ilek-ña na måtai i asaguå-ña, kemason i gimå'-ña yan ma aresta i lahi-ña."
(My grandpa replied, 'He said his wife died, his house burned down and his son got arrested.'")

"Sus Maria!" ilek-ho. "Lao håfa na chumålek hahalom hao yanggen puro ha' båba na notisia?"
("Sus Maria!" I said. "But why did you smile when it's all bad news?")

Manoppe si bihu-ho, "Lao pot i sen bonito i tinige'-ña, na'magof ma taitai!"
(My grandpa replied, "But because his penmanship is so nice, it's a joy to read!")

Tuesday, May 10, 2022


He looked mean, and he was mean (jn some movies).

Charles Bronson, whose movie roles centered on crime dramas, thrillers, Westerns and war movies, enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1943. Prior to that, he dug coal in the Pennsylvania mines as his father and brothers did.

In early 1945, he was stationed on Guam, flying 25 missions on a B-29 bomber as a nose gunner (though some say a tail gunner). His job was to sit at the nose of the plane and fire at enemy aircraft. Being cooped up in a tiny gun turret was like being in a coal mine again, and he said he always felt claustrophobic in tight spaces.


Bronson's bombardment group bombed Maug, the northernmost island in the Marianas, which, as tiny as it is, had a Japanese weather station.

The group began bombing Japan itself in April of 1945. It took 14 to 16 hours to fly from Guam to Japan and back.

The bombers were based at Guam's new North Field, opened in early 1945. It later became Andersen Air Force Base. The area's Chamorro name is UPI.


From Guam, the B-29s would bomb city after city in Japan, targeting places of military value to the Japanese - airfields, plane factories, weapons factories and arsenals, industrial areas. When Japan surrendered to the US, the B-29s stopped dropping bombs and dropped food and supplies, instead, to allied prisoners of war in their camps.

Bronson was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in one of the B-29 missions, apparently taking a bullet in the shoulder (or arms, as some sources say).

Unlike actor Lee Marvin who served in Saipan and loved to tell his story of getting wounded there, Bronson did not share his wartime stories and was known for disliking interviews. This explains why we can't say more about Bronson's story on Guam, but he did live on Andersen Air Force Base when it was first known as North Field.

The Future Andersen Air Force Base

Tuesday, May 3, 2022



Percy Howell, a lad of just 15, had sailed into Apra Harbor that Thursday morning on March 4, 1841 aboard the British whaling barque, the Lady Beckwith.

Percy's captain, the Welshman Evan Jenkins, was mercilessly harsh, and Percy was willing to do anything to escape his cruel authority. As the Lady Beckwith had anchored at 2 in the morning, Percy took advantage of the night's darkness to hide himself in a boat sent from shore to collect articles of exchange with the ship. Percy threw himself into the small group of crew members transferring crates and boxes, and slipped a silver dollar into the boatman's palm.

When he got to Punta Piti, it was now nearly 3 o'clock, and there was no carriage man, as no passengers were anticipated. So he walked the road to Hagåtña, following the index finger of the boatman pointing in that direction.

When it almost five o'clock, he was in the middle of the city, having passed rows and rows of houses where little lamps flickered through the window cracks. The farther he walked, the more he noticed people, mostly women but a fair amount of men, coming out of their homes and walking silently in the same direction. He followed them, trying to remain inconspicuous. His measured steps were halted only by the unexpected pealing of bells. The ringing seemed to be in the direction this flow of people was heading.

The more Percy walked, the larger the number of people processing in the same direction became, one or two people at a time emerging from their homes to enter the stream of people. Most houses had thatched roofs; almost all were built on stilts except for the few stone houses. The men, even down to the smallest boys, universally wore white long-sleeved shirts and white trousers. Most wore sandals and all had hats on. The women wore two-piece outfits, with a long skirt and a short top. It was hard to discern more details as all the women wore shawls or kerchiefs snuggly held or pinned under their chins. He looked in vain to make eye contact with the people, but they all looked solemnly at the ground they were walking, not even whispering among themselves. Just a few small boys looked at Percy, who smiled at them, with the boys staring blankly back at him with no expression. "What a peculiar people!" Percy thought to himself. Only the crow of a rooster now and then broke the pre-dawn silence.

The narrow streets opened wide into a grassy square, bordered by official-looking, white-plastered Spanish buildings with red tiled roofs. But at the far end was an imposing, stone church; plain on the outside.  It would have been hard not to go into that church, as the current of people around him more or less pushed him in that direction. The men uncovered their heads, and so did Percy.

A bit nervous, Percy walked into the church, not knowing what to expect. He had heard on the voyage that Guam was a Spanish island, ruled by "Castillians" and the Catholic Church. Percy had never been inside a Catholic church before. There was none in his part of Protestant England, as far as he knew.

As Percy entered, he saw how dimly lit the entire church was. A few stands stood here and there with burning candles, but he could barely make out the figures of the people kneeling on the floor. At the far end of the church there were more lit candles around an altar with a wooden backdrop decorated with images and paintings. But those were just a few bright spots in a dark sea of partially-unseen worshippers.

There was no where to sit so Percy, eyeing the people, knelt on the hard floor. He saw some women near him kneel on their slippers, but Percy had no slippers, just hard shoes not ideal to kneel on.

A bell was rung, but the people did not rise. A priest and a boy in gowns came out. Percy strained his ear to hear what might be said, but he heard nothing. As his ears became attuned to the silence, he could make out some mumbling, which seemed to come from the boy and the priest.

Percy was confused. There was no singing, no organ, no movement by the congregation. Just a faint murmur, but the people knelt stoically, some fingering their beads. Percy's eyes grew heavy, and were it not for fear of losing his balance, he would have fallen forward as he lost consciousness. As he struggled to stay awake, he crept closer to the wall, and rested his drowsy head on it and everything disappeared.

Suddenly, he was jolted out of his slumber by the ringing of bells. Percy managed to squelch a screech from the shock. He looked around; no one moved. Why was a bell rung? Then it rung again. He looked. The priest was lifting something, he could not tell what. No more bells. Percy leaned on the wall again, and fell asleep

He was only awakened again by the heavy hand of a Spanish soldier shaking his right shoulder. "¡Ponte de pie! (Stand up!)" the Spaniard said strongly, but not loudly, as they were in church. Percy didn't speak a word of Spanish, but he intuited the meaning.

Percy stood up and then a gentleman came forward and muttered something in Spanish to the guard, then addressed himself to Percy. "English?" "Yes!" Percy said, relieved.

"I am Mr Lynch, at your service. I think you had better come with me." Lynch and Percy went across the Plaza, it was now daybreak, to the two-story building that looked official. Inside, Lynch spoke Spanish to everyone he met, and finally told Percy, "Stay here, and wait for me till I return."

Percy stood on the ground floor, studying quietly the architecture and decorations of the building. In no time, Lynch came back and said, "Listen, my young man. Your ship has been looking for you all morning. That Spanish soldier knew you had disembarked without permission. But I have just spoken to the Governor. You could get punished for this, but we will tell your captain that religious enthusiasm got the better of you, and you left your ship merely to worship Almighty God."

Percy looked puzzled, but understood the import of what had just transpired. Mr Lynch had saved his neck.

"But, sir," Percy said, "my captain is a scoundrel of a man."

"How many more years are you in his service?" Lynch asked.

"Two more years," replied Percy.

Lynch said, "I will buy you out from those two years. But, in return, you must be in my service for those two years." "Gladly!" Percy answered right away, sensing in Lynch an honorable man.

And so it passed. Lynch gave Jenkins money to pay for Percy's unfulfilled two years of service, and Lynch sailed off, with Percy in tow, for Manila, where Lynch did some trading. The two were never heard from again on Guam.

But, years later, when Percy returned to England, among the many stories he told of his adventures on a whaling ship, he amused his listeners with the tale how the first house he slept in on Guam was the House of God.

How fortunate Percy was to have followed the Chamorro crowd unsuspectingly to church, where he met Mr Lynch who saved him.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Percy Howell, un muchacho de solo 15 años, había llegado al puerto de Apra aquel jueves por la mañana, el 4 de marzo de 1841, a bordo del barco ballenero británico, Lady Beckwith.

El capitán de Percy, el galés Evan Jenkins, era despiadadamente duro y Percy estaba dispuesto a hacer cualquier cosa para escapar de su cruel autoridad. Como el Lady Beckwith había fondeado a las 2 de la mañana, Percy aprovechó la oscuridad de la noche para esconderse en un bote enviado desde la costa para recoger artículos de intercambio con el barco. Percy se arrojó al pequeño grupo de miembros de la tripulación que trasladaban cajones y cajas, y deslizó un dólar de plata en la palma del barquero.

Cuando llegó a Punta Piti, ya eran casi las 3 y no había transporte, pues no se esperaban pasajeros. Así que se dirigió por el camino hacia Agaña, siguiendo el dedo índice del barquero que le había señalado en esa dirección.

Cuando eran casi las cinco, ya se encontraba en el centro de la ciudad, habiendo pasado hileras e hileras de casas donde pequeñas lámparas parpadeaban a través de las rendijas de las ventanas. Cuanto más caminaba, más notaba a la gente, en su mayoría mujeres pero una buena cantidad de hombres, saliendo de sus casas y caminando en silencio en el mismo sentido. Los siguió, tratando de pasar desapercibido. Sus pasos medidos sólo fueron detenidos por el repique inesperado de las campanas. El sonido parecía estar en la dirección a la que se dirigía este flujo de personas.

Cuanto más caminaba Percy, mayor era la muchedumbre que avanzaba en la misma dirección, una o dos personas a la vez salían de sus casas para unirse a toda aquella gente.

La mayoría de las casas tenían techos de paja; casi todas habían sido construidas sobre pilotes a excepción de las pocas casas de piedra. Los hombres, incluso los niños más pequeños, vestían generalmente camisas blancas de manga larga y pantalones blancos. La mayoría usaba sandalias y todos tenían sombreros. Las mujeres vestían conjuntos de dos piezas, con falda larga y camisa corta. Era difícil discernir más detalles ya que todas las mujeres usaban chales o pañuelos ceñidos o sujetos debajo de la barbilla. Observó para hacer contacto visual con la gente, pero fue en vano pues todos miraban solemnemente al suelo por el que caminaban, sin siquiera susurrar entre ellos. Solo unos cuantos niños pequeños miraron a Percy, quien les sonrió, los niños lo miraban fijamente sin expresión. "¡Qué gente tan peculiar!" Percy pensó para sí mismo. Sólo el canto de un gallo de vez en cuando rompía el silencio de la madrugada.

Las estrechas calles se abrían de par en par en una plaza cubierta de hierba, bordeada por edificios españoles de aspecto oficial, enlucidos de blanco y techos de teja roja. Pero al fondo había una imponente iglesia de piedra; llano por fuera. Habría sido difícil no entrar en esa iglesia, ya que la corriente de gente a su alrededor lo empujaba más o menos en esa dirección. Los hombres se descubrieron la cabeza, al igual que Percy.

Un poco nervioso, Percy entró en la iglesia, sin saber qué hacer. Había oído en el viaje que Guam era una isla española, gobernada por "castellanos" y la Iglesia Católica. Percy nunca antes había estado dentro de una iglesia católica. No había ninguna en su parte de la Inglaterra protestante, al menos que él supiera.

Cuando Percy entró, vio lo tenuemente iluminada que estaba toda la iglesia. Había aquí y allá velas encendidas, pero apenas podía distinguir las figuras de las personas arrodilladas en el suelo. En el otro extremo de la iglesia había más velas alrededor de un altar con un fondo de madera decorado con imágenes y pinturas. Pero ésos eran solo algunos puntos brillantes en un mar oscuro de adoradores parcialmente invisibles.

No había dónde sentarse, así que Percy, mirando a la gente, se arrodilló en el suelo duro. Vio a algunas mujeres cerca de él arrodillarse en sus pantuflas, pero Percy no tenía pantuflas, solo zapatos duros que no eran muy adecuados para arrodillarse.

Sonó una campana, pero la gente no se levantó. Salieron un sacerdote y un niño vestidos con túnicas. Percy aguzó el oído para escuchar lo que podría decirse, pero no oyó nada. Cuando sus oídos se sintonizaron con el silencio, pudo distinguir algunos murmullos, que parecían provenir del niño y el sacerdote.

Percy estaba confundido. No hubo canto, ni órgano, ni movimiento por parte de la congregación. Solo un leve murmullo, pero la gente se arrodilló estoicamente. Los ojos de Percy se volvieron pesados, y si no fuera por miedo a perder el equilibrio, se habría inclinado hacia adelante. Mientras luchaba por mantenerse despierto, se acercó a la pared, apoyó su cabeza soñolienta en ella y todo desapareció.

De repente, fue sacado de su sueño por el sonido de las campanas. Percy logró silenciar un chillido por la sorpresa. Miró a su alrededor; nadie se movió. ¿Por qué sonó una campana? Luego volvió a sonar. Él miró. El sacerdote estaba levantando algo, no sabría decir qué. No se oyeron más campanas. Percy volvió a apoyarse en la pared y se durmió.

Sólo lo volvió a despertar la mano pesada de un guardia español que sacudía su hombro derecho. "¡Ponte de pie! ¡Levántate!", dijo el español con fuerza, pero no en voz alta, ya que estaban en la iglesia. Percy no hablaba una palabra de español, pero intuyó el significado.

Percy se puso de pie y luego un caballero se adelantó y murmuró algo en español al guardia, luego se dirigió a Percy. "¿Inglés?" "¡Sí!" Percy respondió, aliviado.

"Soy el señor Lynch, a su servicio. Creo que será mejor que me acompañe." Lynch y Percy cruzaron la Plaza, ya era de día, hacia el edificio de dos pisos que parecía oficial. En el interior, Lynch habló en español con todos los que conoció y finalmente le dijo a Percy: "Quédate aquí y espérame hasta que regrese".

Percy se quedó en la planta baja, estudiando en silencio la arquitectura y la decoración del edificio. Al poco tiempo, Lynch regresó y dijo: "Escucha, muchacho. Los de tu barco te han estado buscando toda la mañana. Ese guardia español sabía que habías desembarcado sin permiso. Pero acabo de hablar con el gobernador. Podrías ser castigado por esto, pero le diremos al capitán que el entusiasmo religioso se apoderó de ti, y abandonaste su barco simplemente para adorar a Dios Todopoderoso".

Percy parecía desconcertado, pero entendió la importancia de lo que acababa de ocurrir. Lynch le había salvado el cuello.

"Pero, señor", dijo Percy, "mi capitán es un sinvergüenza".

"¿Cuántos años más estarás a su servicio?" preguntó Lynch.

"Dos años más", respondió Percy.

Lynch dijo: "Te compraré esos dos años. Pero, a cambio, debes estar a mi servicio durante esos dos años". "¡Con alegría!" Percy respondió de inmediato, sintiendo que Lynch era un hombre honorable.

Y así pasó. Lynch le dio dinero a Jenkins para pagar los dos años de servicio incumplidos de Percy, y Lynch zarpó, con Percy hacia Manila, donde Lynch hizo algunos negocios. Nunca más se supo de ellos en Guam.

Pero, años más tarde, cuando Percy regresó a Inglaterra, entre las muchas historias que contó sobre sus aventuras en un barco ballenero, entretenía a sus oyentes con el relato de que la primera casa en la que durmió en Guam fue la Casa de Dios.

Qué afortunado fue Percy por haber seguido a la multitud de chamorros a la iglesia, donde conoció al Sr. Lynch, quien lo libró de un severo castigo.