Tuesday, June 18, 2024



Here's a song that, I believe, is not that old. At least I've never heard it before, and in my 62 years I have been around.

The song is sung on this recording by Kun Ka'ainoa and Nolas Kaliga.


Måtto un gå'ga' ni gumugupu tumohge gi hilo' apagå-ho;
(An animal came which flew, and stood on top of my shoulder;)
mañuñule' un kåtta gi piku-ña ginen as nåna i bendision.
(it was bringing a letter in its beak, a blessing from mother.)

Ai sumen chågo' tano'-ho, sumen chågo' yo' na gaige;
(Oh my place is far away, I am in a distant place;)
ya ninå'na' yo' ni kåtta sikiera un pe'lo gi lamasa.
(and the letter was hid from me, you didn't even place it on the table.)

Here is the video from MicroSongs

Tuesday, June 11, 2024




If a mother gets pregnant again, her child becomes more attached to her.

I was walking to a woman who was holding her baby daughter who was maybe a year-and-a-half old. The daughter is old enough to walk and frequently does so; she even runs a few steps now and then.

But the baby girl would not get down from her mother while I was talking to her.

Our chat was getting longer and the baby was getting heavier, so the mom tried to put the girl down more than once. But, each time she tried, the girl would grab onto her mother even more and make a fuss.

And it wasn't that the girl was afraid of me either. For a while the girl has been talking to me and has even come up to me while I'm sitting down and slaps my knees with her hands in a playful way.

Some of our mañaina (elders) believed that even a baby can sense when the mother is carrying a new child inside her womb.

There is no way a toddler aged 15 months can understand what pregnancy is, or that an unborn baby is inside the mother's womb. But the elders say the baby can feel it somehow. And thus the baby becomes clingy towards the mom.

Is it fear that the baby is being threatened by a sibling? It's hard to tell, isn't it, since babies cannot talk and explain their feelings.

And yes. The mother I was talking to, with the clingy baby, is actually expecting another child on the way.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024



The Peace Corps is an independent agency of the US Government which enlists volunteers who go out to developing countries to assist in their progress in many areas of life.

Since all of Micronesia, except Guam, was considered "foreign" in the sense that none of those islands were formally part of the United States at the time, Peace Corps volunteers could be found all over Micronesia. In the late 1960s and early 70s, that volunteerism often blended with the cultural revolution going on in the US. Many young people in those days wanted to break out of "old fashioned" cultural norms.

A number of Peace Corps volunteers, then, sought to adopt the various Micronesian cultures in which they worked. They wanted to live like the people they were working with, and even dress, or undress, like them.

Renowned Saipan singer Candy Taman told me the story of one such Peace Corps volunteer.

It was the early 1970s, when one could still watch passengers descend from the airplanes when they landed. Security was very lax in those days. There were no jetways. The airplane door opened and passengers went down the stairs onto the tarmac. Friends and family members coming to pick up arriving passengers got up very close to the plane, separated from the runway by a chain-link fence or sometimes just a concrete or wooden barrier.

Candy related to me,

"Påle', katna måtai yo' annai hu li'e' un palao'an Peace Corps annai humuyong gi batkonaire ya tåya' ni håfafa chininå-ña! Annok todo i sisu-ña. Ya blondie na Amerikåna! Sus te guåtde!"

"Father, I almost died when I saw a Peace Corps woman exit the plane and she had no blouse on at all! All her breasts were exposed. And she was a blonde American! Oh my gosh!"

It was one thing to see a Yapese, Ulithian or Outer Islander woman topless, but a blonde, blue-eyed American lady from Wisconsin or where-have-you? It was too much.

I don't think this thing happened much, but it did happen.

Usually the Peace Corps taught in schools or helped in community projects, among other things.

A Peace Corps volunteer assisting in a water supply project in Chuuk

Wednesday, May 22, 2024



It used to be that Guam, in the 1950s and 60s, was almost a one-party island.

The Popular Party, and then the Democratic Party, held onto 100% of the Guam Legislature between 1956 and 1970, with just a two-year break (1964 to 1966) when the Territorial Party won the majority.

By 1970, Guam had become a two-party island, with the newly-established Republican Party winning some seats in the Legislature and even eventually the majority of the Legislature for a time. The Republicans also did well in the Gubernatorial elections, starting with the first one in 1970 which they won.



Up until 1970, village Commissioners (what we now call Mayors) were not elected under a party banner.

In 1970, a law was passed giving some villages (Dededo, Hågat) an Assistant Commissioner. So an election was held that year for that position, and this time it was by party affiliation. No Commissioner was being elected in 1970, since the last election for that office was in 1968 for a four-year term.

It was not until the 1972 election that candidates for Commissioner were now placed on the ballot under a party, Democrat or Republican.

Even when the Commissioner's office was non-partisan, nearly all the Commissioners were known for their allegiance to one of the two parties. It's just that they didn't run under a political party till 1972.



But since the office of Commissioner (later Mayor) became partisan in 1972, three villages have never elected a Democrat as Commissioner or Mayor.

They are :


Nick Francisco, Nito Blas and Allan Ungacta have all been Republicans.


Greg Calvo, Sr., Al Dungca, Luís Herrero, Concepción Dueñas, Francisco Blas and Louise Rivera have all been Republicans.


For the record, in 1972, Hagåtña elected an Independent. Tomás Flores Mendiola ran as an Independent seeking the seat of the Republican incumbent at the time, Lucas San Nicolás.

Still, electing an Independent is not the same as electing a Democrat, and everyone knew that Mendiola was a Republican, and he identified as such in the 1976 election. But since he was after a sitting Republican's position in 1972, he ran as an Independent.

Those who came after Mendiola - Félix Ungacta and John Cruz - have both been Republicans.



On the other end of the political spectrum is my village - SINAJAÑA - which has never elected a Republican Commissioner or Mayor since the office became partisan in 1972. Sometimes the Republicans just didn't enter a candidate at all for the mayoral race in Sinajaña.

Every other village on Guam has elected Commissioners or Mayors from either party, even if it was only one time for one of the two parties.


Among all four villages which have never elected a Mayor from the opposing party, things will stay exactly the same for the next four years. This year, the voters will elect their Mayor for the next four years, but in three of these four villages, the current incumbent is running unopposed, securing their victory before a single ballot has been cast.

They are :






















Because these three incumbents have been automatically re-elected, their respective parties retain the Mayor's position.

But even in the fourth village, where there are more than one candidate for Mayor, both candidates are from the same party.

They are from Hagåtña and they are both Republicans.















Thus, no matter who wins the Mayor's position for Hagåtña in 2024, it will be a Republican, maintaining that party's exclusive claim on that office for now.


Only God knows if, one day in the future, a Democratic Mayor will be elected in Hagåtña, Mangilao or Tamuning, and a Republican Mayor in Sinajaña.

Most people would agree that, in the near future, the hardest would be Sinajaña, where the Democratic Party has been historically so strong that even the occasional Republican is dissuaded from running. "Don't even bother," some are told, if they are Republican. But fifty years from now? Who knows?

Mangilao might have the better chance for a Democrat to be elected. Its population is very mixed politically, and it all depends if the Democrats can present a strong candidate one day.

Hagåtña and Tamuning tend to be Republican, but the future depends on the attractiveness of the individual candidate and on weakening party loyalty. A Democrat may well win in those villages, but the future remains to be seen.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024



Before there were Democrats and Republicans on Guam, there were the Popular and the Territorial Parties.

If the Popular (later Democrats) were Goliath, then the Territorials were David. Except that, in this case, David hit Goliath in the forehead only one time, and Goliath got back up.

In all the 1950s and 60s, the Territorials won only one legislative election and that was in 1964. Two years later the Territorials lost the election and by that I mean they lost every single legislative seat. In 1956, 1958, 1960, 1962, 1966 and 1968 the Popular/Democrats won ALL 21 SEATS in the Legislature.

But that didn't mean the Territorials didn't try.

In the very spirited campaigns of those olden days, when people of both parties campaigned with great passion and commitment, music played a role in boosting morale. Jingles were very common in those days, sung in rallies and meetings and even played on loud speakers mounted on pickup trucks going around the village.

In the 50s and 60s, the Chamorro language was still going strong on Guam and many of the voters spoke best in Chamorro, and were best spoken to in Chamorro. In almost all the villages, everything was conducted in Chamorro except for a few villages where there were non-Chamorro voters and some of the speeches were given in English.

Here is a Territorial Party jingle in Chamorro from the 1960s which Ruby Aquiningoc Santos remembers to this day. Just goes to show how frequently this jingle was sung for her to remember it some 60 years later.

(Vote for the Territorials, brother/sister;)

(Vote Territorial and we'll beat the Democrats, brother/sister.)

The only election the Territorials ever won

Wednesday, May 8, 2024



Even as late as the early 1800s, that is, 120 years after Spanish colonization, our ancestors turned to some very unusual (for us) remedies for illnesses, using the things available to them at the time.

Unusual things such as diseased body parts and animal poo.

French visitors to Guam in 1819 wrote down their observations, describing some of these unusual cures. Some of these remedies used things that only came after Spanish colonization, such as some animals. But the principles probably went far back to pre-contact times.

Access to western medications was very limited, so one has to keep in mind that necessity is the mother of invention. When one is sick, one takes what one can get.


One Chamorro lady fried pig feces in oil and applied the paste to the part of her body that ached. She boasted how the pain went away. The French doctor remarked that it was simply the heat of the fried manure that did the trick.

The Frenchman only had to remember that the ancient Romans and Egyptians also used fecal matter, both human and animal, in various cures. The Romans, for example, considered that animal manure was good fertilizer. It made the land grow and produce. So perhaps it could also heal the human body. Cows and other ruminants ate herbs that were known for their healing properties, so the digested herbs in cow manure could possibly heal as well, so they thought.

Another Chamorro took canker sores that had come off and boiled them in water till half the liquid evaporated. In one gulp, she drank the brew and cured her stitches, which are cramps or aches around the abdomen or sides.


To cure indigestion, rice flour is grilled with spider's web (tararåñas or tiraråñas), and then the powder is added to water and the patient is given this to drink.

Perhaps less distasteful, to us, were other ingredients used in remedies such as grease, charcoal and the soot of burnt shells.

In addition to these, our ancestors had recourse to the many and varied plants that had curative benefits. Although some of these plants are very bitter to the taste, we wouldn't find them as strange to consume as tåke' babui or tararåñas.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024



He knew Guam well

The Marianas were not his only "playground," but he lived, worked and romped around the Marianas for a good portion of his sea-faring life.

William Mann was born in 1816 in Kirby-le-Soken, Essex, England. He was one of eleven children and did not get along with his father. He left his parental home to make a life for himself at age fourteen. He took to the sea, and traveled to the Americas.

In 1834, at age 18, he joined a whaling ship, the Falcon, and that was his first arrival to the Marianas, where for two years the ship went in search of whales in our part of the Pacific.


While sailing around the northwestern Pacific, the Falcon got short on wood and water and happened to meet up with another ship whose captain recommended the Falcon follow them to Pohnpei, then called Ascension Island, where the paramount chief of the island was friendly to this captain.

In two days at Pohnpei, the Falcon got all they needed but, in departing the island, the ship was forced into a rock by the wind, tearing a hole in her. The crew managed to get hundreds of sperm whale oil onshore and the chief agreed to take care of them till they were able to leave again. But the Pohnpeians got so interested in the iron hoops that wrapped around the oil barrels that the barrels broke open, spilling and wasting the oil, when the islanders took off the hoops to use for their own desires.

The captain of the Falcon argued with the chief and made the fatal mistake of slapping him. Not long after, the Pohnpeians attacked the crew of the Falcon, killing many. Mann was among those who survived the attack. An English ship came to Pohnpei later seeking to avenge the massacre of the crew, but Mann had no idea the ship was coming and was in another island when it arrived and left, leaving Mann in the islands. For two more years Mann lived in Pohnpei just like a native, with minimal clothing, but always fearing the islanders.

He had good reason to fear them, because he was attacked one day by two of them. He survived, but lost some fingers when he raised his hand to protect his head from a cut, and his mouth was also severely damaged. Two of his fellow crew members bandaged him best they could and protected themselves with their guns. Finally, an American whaling ship came around and took them to Guam.


Guam's Doctor in the mid 1800s

Paul William George was an Anglo-Irishman who left the seaman's life to settle on Guam for good. He had some medical knowledge and was something of the island doctor on Guam in the mid 1800s. This was the founder of the George family here on Guam.  George treated William Mann's injuries "very skillfully," said a news report. But in the photo of Mann above, you can see that the injury to his mouth was never fully corrected.

Mann continued to live in the Marianas for between thirty and forty years! But he used Guam as a base from which he traveled all over the Pacific, buying and selling. He eventually got tattooed all over his body.



Stories had been going around for many years that treasure had been buried on one of the northern islands in the Marianas. No one knew for sure which island, but Pagan was always a favorite. For two years Mann and some allies dug around Pagan, to no avail.


Mann eventually became captain of his own small schooner, which had been stolen from the British, and he got into the business of carrying cargo up and down the Marianas and other islands in the area.

One day, while anchored at an island, nine Spanish prisoners who had escaped from Guam boarded his schooner and took over. Mann had a small crew of three or four Chamorro so they were outnumbered. The escaped prisoners forced him to sail to Yap and there he met the American Crayton Philo Holcomb, "married" to the Chamorro Bartola Garrido. A German ship came by and directed Mann to Hong Kong where, unfortunately, the British discovered that Mann's schooner had been stolen.



Deprived of the schooner, Mann barely eked a living for eleven years in Hong Kong. An English chaplain to seamen in Hong Kong took an interest in Mann's plight and managed to send Mann back to his native town in England, which he had abandoned more than fifty years earlier. There back in England he died penniless, surviving on the charity of kind people.

One has to admire the man. He frequently lived on the edge of destruction, but lived into his 80s. He lived in some of the most remote places on earth for the longest time, and died right back where he started at the place he was born.

A bachelor living among us in the Marianas all those years....who's to say he never fathered Chamorro children without marrying, whose descendants are still with us today?

Tuesday, April 23, 2024




This is one of the better-known Chamorro hymns to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Alex Unpingco plays it in this video with parishioners joining in singing it.


I flechan Yu’us ha tokcha’ hit
(The arrow of God has pierced us)

I korason-ña ha guaiya hit.
(His heart has loved us.)


1. Håfa Jesus-ho i malago’-mo
(What, my Jesus, do you want)

Gi dinilok-mo nu i taotao?
(from your piercing of the people?) (1)

Yanggen i sensen pat i anti-ña
(If it be the flesh or its soul)

Yu’us Lahi-ña chuli’e’ hao.
(God the Son, take it for yourself.)


2. Guåho magåhet lånsan Longinos 
(I am truly the lance of Longinus) (2)

Kalåktos, inos flumecha hao.
(Sharp, easily fitting, which pierced you.) (3) (4)

Tåya’ dumulok i korason-mo
(No one pierced your heart)

Na i patgon-mo ni guåho ha’.
(Except your child which I am.)


3. Sahguan guinaiya, figan na hotno
(Vessel of love, fiery furnace)

I korason-mo, mames Jesus.
(Is your heart, sweet Jesus.)

Tåya’ taiguennao na ginefli’e’
(There is no love like that)

Ha na’ ma li’e’ na si Yu’us.
(made visible except for God's.)


(1) I interpret this to mean that our Lord pierces our hearts with His arrow of love in order to open our hearts to accept and be changed by His love. Love is repaid with love, as the Spanish saying goes. So we offer Jesus our bodies (sensen, which means flesh) and the soul (ånte) which gives life to the body.

(2) Longinus (in Spanish Longinos) was, according to tradition, the Roman soldier who pieced Jesus' side with a lance (spear), opening the Lord's heart from which flowed blood and water, representing the Eucharist and Baptism. Longinus left the Roman army and became a Christian and later died for the faith and is considered a saint.

Mary and Saint John at Calvary

(3) Flumecha means "to be arrowed." Although "arrowed" does exist in English, it isn't common.

(4) Inos means something that is able to slide into something else. Thus it can also mean slender. But a fat snake can still fit into a narrow crack, so even it is inos. When a hand can fit snuggly into a glove, or when a key can easily be inserted into a lock, those are all inos.


Many of our Chamorro hymns are based on Spanish hymns. I Flechan Yu'us is taken from the Spanish hymn "Con Flecha Ardiente," meaning "With a Fiery Arrow."

The Spanish version says :

Con flecha ardiente, dueño y Señor
(With a fiery arrow, master and Lord)
abre en mi pecho llaga de amor.
(open in my chest a wound of love.)

A lot of the Spanish original says the same thing, or contains the same images, as the Chamorro version. I won't give all of the Spanish lyrics, but here's some more which shows that the Chamorro version is based off the Spanish :

Tu amante pecho, no fue el soldado
fue mi pecado quien lo rasgó.

Your loving breast, it wasn't the soldier,
it was my sin which ripped it open.

The "soldier" mentioned is Longinus, as is named in the Chamorro version.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024



It was the most modern movie theater on Guam in its day.

The Cinema Theater opened on April 12, 1967 showing The Sound of Music, a huge hit musical that year. One of the last Hollywood blockbusters shown at the Cinema was the movie Titanic in 1997. That movie still ranks the third highest money-making film in cinematic history.

Besides having the latest equipment to show movies and a cinemascope screen 51 feet wide and 23 feet high, the entire theater was carpeted, air conditioned and filled with semi reclining, cushioned seats.

In the lobby, all the usual snacks could be bought at the concession stand.

There was enough space in the paved parking lot for 200 cars.

It cost over $500,000 to build. Today, that's around 4.7 million dollars.

Putting their money into the project as part-owners were Peter Sgro and Pedro Ada, Jr, among others.

Peter Sgro (far left) and Pedro Ada, Jr (2nd from right)
and others involved in the new theater


When Guam had far less venues that were fully air conditioned, the Cinema Theater made a great location for events in general. In 1971, the 125-plus graduates of the University of Guam received their diplomas at the Cinema Theater. The reception was right across the street at Hong Kong Gardens.

The theater was also used at times for fundraising events.

In time, the theater changed ownership over the years and closed for good sometime in the early 2000s.

Newer and larger movie theaters had come around and the movie-watching crowd went their way. Even halving the theater into two separate sections, A and B, showing different movies, was not enough to drum up business.


The building still stands, now a Vietnamese restaurant after being used in a number of ways after the movie house shut down. And it has this one remaining historical significance. World-renowned violinist Isaac Stern played in concert at the Cinema on November 15, 1967 at the invitation of the Insular Arts Council.



Wednesday, April 10, 2024




(It is better to be invaded by a thief than by fire or the ocean.)

A thief usually steals just some things; no thief can carry away everything. But fire and water can destroy everything.

Siña pine'luye hao ni lina'lå'-mo ni sakke. Lao i guafe ha lalachai todo, yan i tasi todo ha chuchule' huyong.

A thief can let you keep your life. But fire consumes everything and the ocean carries out everything.

Remember in life - bad as it might be, it can always be worse.

Wednesday, April 3, 2024



The Indalecio clan in the Marianas probably goes back to a single individual with this last name who came to Guam sometime in the early 1800s from who knows where. 

There are no Indalecios in the 1727 nor 1758 Guam Censuses, so the first Indalecio came later. The name is Spanish, so he could have come from Spain, Latin America or the Philippines. 

But the Portuguese also have the name Indalecio, and a few Portuguese seamen did come to Guam, so we have to allow for that possibility.


In the 1897 Census of Guam, there are only EIGHT individuals with the last name Indalecio, and the exact relationship of about half of them, one to the other, is not entirely clear.

One Pedro Indalecio is mentioned in a document from 1856, and his signature (seen above) is even included. He could be the ancestor of these eight Indalecios in the 1897 Census (one of whom is named Pedro, probably after this older Pedro) but I have no evidence showing how he might be their ancestor.

The fact that this older Pedro Indalecio could, first of all, sign his name and with a firm hand and even with the flourish at the end shows that he was educated more than the average person on Guam at the time.

Of the eight Indalecios in the 1897 Census, there are only three men, none of them with children of their own who would carry the Indalecio name. One is older and married but without children, and the other two men are younger and still bachelors.

It is mainly the women who will have children, albeit out of wedlock, who will produce many Indalecio children, these illegitimate children keeping their single mothers' last name. We can list them as follows :


Clara was born around 1863. Apparently she never married but was the mother of

Pedro Indalecio, born around 1872. Pedro married Rufina Díaz Camacho, the daughter of Juan Camacho and María Díaz. Pedro and Rufina had more than half a dozen children, one of whom was Emeteria, who married Donald Kidd, and was the grandmother of Father Richard Kidd.

Another child, Juan, permanently moved to California in 1929; one of the early immigrants to the US mainland. He died in Alameda in 1986. He was married for a time, but late in life and never had children.

Pedro and Rufina's son José married María Mesa Camacho, the daughter of Francisco Camacho and María Mesa, and they had children, keeping the Indalecio name moving to the next generation.

Pedro had a sister María Indalecio, daughter of Clara. María had some children out of wedlock but it seems this line died out.

There was one more sister, Ana Indalecio. Ana had many more children than Pedro or María, all out of wedlock. 

Ana's son Juan Indalecio married Ignacia Rojas Mafnas, the daughter of Antonio Mafnas and Lucía Rojas, and this line continued the Indalecio name.

Another son of Ana, Vicente Indalecio, married Rosario Rojas, the daughter of Ana Santos Rojas, and they had children, too, who in turn had their own children.

Interestingly, one of Ana's grandchildren went by the family nickname "Clara," who was his great-grandmother.


All we know for now is that there was another Indalecio woman named María de la Rosa Indalecio who was the mother of a daughter out of wedlock named ROSA INDALECIO.

Rosa in turn had many children out of wedlock, all of them daughters except for one son. There are many Indalecio grandchildren from Rosa's offspring.


Arnold Indalecio Palacios
a descendant of Mariano Reyes Indalecio of Guam

In 1897 there was a Mariano Indalecio living with the other Indalecios (Maria, who married de León, Clara and her children). He seems to have moved to Saipan at the turn of the century.

According to Saipan records, his full name was Mariano Reyes Indalecio, the son of Antonio Indalecio and Ana Reyes. We do not know yet what relationship Antonio had with the other Indalecios on Guam. He does not appear in any records at the time so he was presumably dead by 1897.

In Saipan, Mariano married María Muña Palacios, the daughter of José Palacios and Ana Muña. They had children who continued the Indalecio name in Saipan. The current Governor of the CNMI is a descendant.


Many others have Indalecio blood in them, but thanks to their mothers, so they carry their father's last names.

Some of these families who married Indalecio wives a long time ago were de León, Pérez, Salas and, more recently, Quichocho.

But if you're last name is Indalecio, you're either from CLARA's line or MARÍA's line, or MARIANO's line if you're an Indalecio from Saipan.


Even in Spanish times, Pedro Indalecio went by the nickname RÅNA, which is Spanish for frog (sapo is Spanish for toad). Other Indalecios also went by that same nickname.

The interesting thing is that there were no frogs or toads on Guam at that time. They came later. So how did Chamorros know the Spanish word for a critter that did not exist on Guam at the time? Of course it's possible they heard of it anyway, when stories are told or just from simple conversations.

Still, it's interesting (and a mystery) why someone should get that nickname.

So, some Indalecios go by Råna and sometimes by Clara. And the Quichochos who are also Indalecios often go by Råna.

Thursday, March 28, 2024



This Chamorro penitential hymn (a song of sorrow for one's sins) is sung in Saipan, Tinian and Luta (Rota) but is unknown on Guam. It's been sung in Saipan since before World War II. Many people, especially the older folks, can sing at least the first verse and chorus from memory.

The words are inspired by an old hymn in Latin called Miserere et Parce, which means "Have mercy and spare." This suggests that whoever wrote the Chamorro knew the Latin hymn and what it meant, so probably one of the missionary priests or perhaps a very educated Chamorro.

The recording was live at a Mass at Kristo Rai Church, Garapan, Saipan.


Asi'e' Asaina, asi'e' i sengsong-mo (1)
ya un na' fan libre nu i sen guaguan hagå'-mo.
(PardonLord, pardon your people
and free them through your most precious blood.)

1. O yo'ase' Yu'os-ho gai ase' nu guåho;
i dångkulon kompasion-mo u funas todo i isao-ho. (2)
(O my merciful God, have mercy on me;
your great compassion will erase all my sins.)

2. Un fa'gåse todo i chine'tan-ho,
pot todo i isao-ho; un nå'e yo' ginasgås-ho.
(You wash away all my defects,
on account of my sins; you give me purity.)

3. Sen mañotsot yo' ni linachi-ho;
ya i isao-ho gagaige ha' gi me'nå-mo.
(I truly repent of my errors,
and my sins are always before you.)

4. Umisao yo' Asaina ya hågo hu isague;
gi me'nan i inatan-mo i linachi-ho nai hu cho'gue.
(I have sinned Lord and offended you;
before your sight I have committed by sins.)

5. Nina' magof hao nu i sinsero korason-ho;
gi hinalom-ho un fanå'gue yo' tai ine'son.
(You are pleased with my sincere heart;
within me you have taught me tirelessly.)


(1) Songsong means a community, a village,  but by extension it means the people who make up that community or village.

(2) Kompasion is a Spanish loan word and is used and understood by older Chamorros, but not as much as yine'ase', meaning the same thing. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2024




No; the above Japanese marker is not in Japan. It was in Pigo' Catholic Cemetery in Guam.

It belonged to a Japanese resident of Guam who is so forgotten that his name does not appear in a list of Japanese settlers on Guam compiled by third-generation Japanese descendants on Guam.

But there's an understandable reason for this.

The man, José (Tetsuo) Shibata, left no descendants on Guam after he died very, very early under American rule. He does not appear in the 1920 Guam Census or thereafter, and court documents mention him only up to 1912.



Shibata is already on Guam by 1900. That's only two years after the United States took possession of Guam and only one year after the Americans sent an actual Governor for the island. He was on Guam ahead of many other Japanese who came a little later.

In 1900, he is employed as an agent of the HIKI TRADING COMPANY, a Japanese business that set up a store on Guam. Japanese and other goods were to be sold; and the Japanese were also interested in buying Guam-produced copra (dried coconut meat).

Court documents show that Shibata was a native of Shimabara, a small city close to Nagasaki. His father was Daichiro and his mother was Taki.

On Guam he married a Chamorro woman from a prestigious clan. The Herreros were the descendants of a former Spanish Governor of the Marianas, José Ganga Herrero. Vicenta Cruz Herrero was the governor's granddaughter. She had first married a man with the last name Rosendo, but he had died by the time Vicenta met Shibata.

Shibata was baptized a Roman Catholic in the Hagåtña Church in order to marry Vicenta. He took for his Christian name José María.

He was born around 1873, so he was in his late 20s when he came to Guam. Vicenta, however, was older, being born in the 1860s. She being in her 40s, perhaps she wasn't able to conceive and thus no children were born to them.


One thing is for sure and that was Shibata was a busy businessman. His constant movement in business brought him to court many times, and thus we have documented evidence of his activities.

Evidently he parted ways with the Hiki Company and went into business for himself.

In his short time on earth, dying sometime in the 1910s, Shibata ran a STORE, a SALOON or bar, and even an eatery which he called the SUNRISE CAFE.

He was frequently in court trying to recover his money from people who owed him.

Alas, he lived too short and left no children, leaving us only the memory of him in court documents and in one photograph of Pigo' Cemetery which just happens to include his grave marker.

Tuesday, March 12, 2024



In Santa Rita they sing a Lenten hymn that is in the Lepblon Kånta (Chamorro hymn book for all of Guam from before the war) but which I have never heard sung anywhere else.

It is called MAILA' GEF MAÑOTSOT and it is based on the Spanish Lenten hymn VEN A PENITENCIA (Come to Penance).


Maila' gef mañotsot gi guma'yu'us / maila' as Tatå-mo guine as Jesus.
(Come, truly repentant, to church / come to your Father here who is Jesus.)

Gutos i kadena / ni i geddede-mo / ya un ta'lo mågi gi inisague-mo;
(Break the chains / of your bondage / and come here again to the one you have offended;)
mampos i isao-mo / gi me'nan Yu'us.
(your sins overflow / before God.)

Hokkok i minaolek / i ginefli'e'-ña / hokkok i mineggai / i mina'ase'-ña;
(To the limit is the goodness / of His love / and the abundance / of His mercy;)
maila' as Tatå-mo / guiya si Jesus.
(come to your Father / He who is Jesus.)

Asaina hu tungo' / i tinailaye-ko / na hu isague hao / ni i minaolek-ho;
(Lord I know / my evil / that I have sinned against you / who are my good;)
gai ase' nu guåho / Asaina Yu'us.
(have mercy on me / Lord God.)


The Spanish starts this way with the refrain :

Ven a penitencia, ya no peques más; ven a penitencia y te salvarás.
Come to penance, and sin no more; come to penance, and you will save yourself.

So whoever translated the Spanish into the Chamorro version strayed a bit from the Spanish original in order to rhyme in Chamorro (Guma'yu'us / Jesus) and to keep within the number of notes.

But the next verse stays a bit closer to the Spanish original :

Rompe la cadena, que te tiene atado; ¡ay! que es grande pena ver a Dios airado;
llora tu pecado y te librarás.
Break the chain which has you tied; oh what a great sorrow to see God angry;
weep over your sins and you will free yourself.


1) Usually, the definite article "i" (the) would change guma'yu'us to gima'yu'us, but the song doesn't follow that rule for some reason, even though it does in godde (tie) which becomes "i geddede-mo."

2) People think hokkok means "finished, exhausted, used up." But it really means "the ultimate point or limit." When all the food is finished, depleted, used up, it has reached its final or ultimate limit. God is tai hinekkok, without limit. But our mañaina used to say things like, "Hokkok i minagof-ho!" or "Hokkok i piniti-ho!" not to express that they no longer had joy or sorrow but that their joy or sorrow has reached its ultimate point or limit; that they had so much joy (or sorrow) that they couldn't be any fuller of it.