Tuesday, February 13, 2024




Don't show it if there's only one of it.


Because you're supposed to share.

So don't even SHOW it exists if there's not enough to share with whoever's in front of you, whether it be just one other person or ten or more.

HIDE it till everyone goes away and you can enjoy your one donut, one empanåda, one whatever.

If you're really starving and can't stand to wait till everyone's gone, take it to the rest room, close the door and munch away.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024



The PÅPA' SÅTGE is the open area under a raised house.

The phrase literally means "UNDER THE FLOOR." Many houses in the Marianas were raised on HALIGI (posts or stilts).

The idea was to let the air circulate around the house and keep it cool. Raising the house kept out flood waters and unwanted animals. The space underneath could be used for storage.

But the påpa' såtge did pose some problems.

For one, somebody could hide themselves in the påpa' såtge. This became a worse problem when the person could find a crack in the floor above, allowing him to peek and invade the family's privacy.

This is what happened one day in 1926 when Alfonso crept under the house of Lorenzo Aguero Sablan. More concerning was that Lorenzo had a teenage daughter living in the house, whose floor had cracks that could be peeked through.

As there were witnesses, and since Alfonso had been found guilty of similar offenses before, he thought it best to plead guilty when he was arrested and suffer the penalty.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024



The Chamorro penchant for giving people nicknames, and it sticking to his or her children and descendants, continues to this day. In olden days, nicknames came from the Chamorro or Spanish languages, but now even English can be used to give new nicknames.

Take for example the familian Camel.

Having been a priest in Malesso' in the 1990s, I remember a family there better-known-as familian Camel, and particularly the name "Ben Camel."

Some people thought they were named after the cigarette brand Camel. One person said that a family member was known for not drinking a lot, as he was never thirsty, like a camel. Close, but not quite.

I went to a son of the deceased Ben Camel to find out the story.

Vicente Reyes Cruz from Malesso', who was very close to the Church, took members of his family on a hike one day.

Naturally some started to get thirsty and they asked Vicente if they could drink from the canteen.

Vicente told them, "Nangga nåya," "Wait a while," probably to preserve as much drinking water as possible on the hike so they wouldn't run out.

So the thirsty ones retorted, "Dalai hao, kalan hao i camel," "My goodness, you're like a camel," because camels are well-known for being able to journey through arid deserts for days on end without the need to drink water, since they are able to store water in their bodies.

So, Vicente got identified with the nickname Camel and it was passed down to the next generation in his family.

This shows us a few things about Chamorro mentality.

First, we will notice something about you. Whether it be something about your body, appearance, mannerism, behavior or speech. Or something you did or that happened to you. You fell down. You hid under a table.

Second, that one little piece of your life we will make your entire identity. That's your nickname and claim to fame for the rest of your life. And it will probably be inherited by your children.

Rest in peace, Ben Camel. U såga gi minahgong.

Monday, January 22, 2024



with wife the former Rita Sablan Borja and children Rita and Otto
(courtesy of RoseMarie Siguenza)

The Siguenza family in the Marianas does not go a very long time ago. Of course, for you and me the year 1786 is a long time ago, but when other families appear earlier than that, in the 1727 and 1758 Censuses, while the Siguenzas do not, then the Siguenzas do arrive a bit later than many other families.

There was a soldier named Ignacio Siguenza on a list of soldiers serving the Spanish Government on Guam in 1786. He's one of the earliest Siguenzas documented in the Marianas. I cannot be sure if he has anything to do with the Siguenzas who came later, but there's more of a chance that he does than he does not. Who he was, where he was born and so on are questions I cannot answer for the moment. Was he Spanish, or Mexican, or Filipino, or a mixture or something else, we do not know for now.

Forty-three years later, there is another soldier named José Siguenza, who was the company drummer. For all we know, José could be Ignacio's son. Nine years later, there's a Miguel Siguenza listed as a soldier. José's brother? We cannot say anything more than that, since the documents just state first and last names and do not give us any more clues.

And we know from later records that there were a number of women named Siguenza who married, so the Siguenza name eventually got lost in the next generation.

But there were two men named Siguenza who became the patriarchs of all the Siguenzas who came later, many of them are people we know today.


Born around 1829, Luís Siguenza married Agustina Pangelinan.

According to the 1897 Census, there seems to have been two sons both named José.

An older JOSÉ was married to María Quichocho Taisipic.

A second JOSÉ was married twice; the first time to Ana Tenorio Taitingfong, the daughter of José and Joaquina, and then to Maria Sablan Camacho, the daughter of Roque and Ana. One of José and Ana's sons, Felipe, was better-known as Felipe'n Bombo.

There was also a daughter named ENCARNACIÓN whom I mention because she married Pedro Royos Quichocho and many Quichochos are descended from her. One branch of these Quichochos moved to Luta (Rota).


There was also a Vicente Siguenza from the early 1800s, whose relation to Luís Siguenza is unknown for the moment.

Vicente married Manuela Borja de los Santos.

They had the following sons :

JOAQUÍN, who first married Joaquina Pérez Cruz, the daughter of Pedro Reyes Cruz and María Cruz Pérez, then Emeteria de León Taitingfong, the daughter of Lorenzo Taitingfong and Juana de León.

From Joaquín's line come descendants like LORENZO TAITINGFONG SIGUENZA, who married Rita Sablan Borja; JOAQUÍN TAITINGFONG SIGUENZA, who married Ana Quitugua Borja and ANA TAITINGFONG SIGUENZA who, with Sharrock Brower Hannah, had a number of children.

Vicente and Manuela had at least two daughters. One was FILOMENA who married Vicente Tainatongo Castro.

The other daughter of Vicente and Manuela concerns us more because she had a number of children out of wedlock who carried the surname Siguenza, since their fathers were not known, or at least not official.

Her name was DOLORES

Allegedly with Joaquín Cruz Pérez, she had these two sons :

JESUS, who married Carmen Santos Mendiola, the daughter of Ignacio Reyes Mendiola and his wife María Fausto Santos.

And VICENTE, who married Dolores Manibusan Cruz, the daughter of Juan Ignacio Cruz and María de la Rosa Manibusan.

From another, unknown, father, Dolores had a son named JOSÉ, who married Consolación Cruz, the daughter of Juliana Cruz who was at some point married to Antonio Fejeran Mendiola.

So there are a number of people with the surname Siguenza who are all descended from Dolores Santos Siguenza who had at least three sons with "unknown" fathers.


Although not as numerous as many other families on Guam, the Siguenzas have produced a number of people very well-known on the island down through the years. Some of them were :


Lorenzo Taitingfong Siguenza, better known as Larry, was one of the earliest Siguenzas who became active in the island community. He was the son of Joaquín Santos Siguenza and his wife Emeteria de León Taitingfong, and so he comes from Vicente's line of Siguenzas.

His mainstay was the US Department of Agriculture before the war, working for them as an agricultural extension agent, whose job it was to promote island agriculture, especially among the youth through Boys' and Girls' Agricultural Clubs.

But that was just the beginning. Larry was involved in many civic activities before and after the war. Besides working for the Government of Guam, in various capacities such as the Department of Agriculture as Deputy Director and as the Parks chief for the Department of Land Management, Larry was involved in the Liberation Day Queen contest, the Lions Club, the Young Men's League of Guam, the Guam Civic Improvement League and the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's organization. He was a Boy Scout master since before the war. Larry was also involved in sports, particularly being a boxing referee and judge. He passed away in 1983.


Peter Charles Siguenza, born in 1920, was the son of José Siguenza and Consolación Cruz, and thus the grandchild of Dolores Santos Siguenza, the daughter of Vicente Siguenza and Manuela Borja Santos.

Pete was fortunate enough to go to Coronado High School in Coronado, California near San Diego before the war. He was still in California when World War II broke out in 1941. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps. But his potential was noticed by his superiors and he was sent to officer's school and became the first Chamorro officer in the Marine Corps. He saw action in several famous battles in the Pacific arena.

Two pioneer Chamorro Marines

He graduated from Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California and later obtained a Master's degree from the University of Southern California. He married the former Barbara Bordallo, daughter of BJ Bordallo and his wife Josefina Pangelinan Bordallo. Back on Guam, Pete Siguenza worked in various positions in the Government of Guam and for J&G Enterprises. He was also active in many civic groups and activities. He passed away in 2007.


The son of Peter Charles Siguenza and his wife Barbara Bordallo, and thus a descendant of Vicente Siguenza from the 1800s, Peter Siguenza, Jr rose through the legal profession to become a trial judge in the Superior Court of Guam and then Chief Justice of the Guam Supreme Court. He graduated from Father Dueñas Memorial School and did his college and law school studies in California. He passed away in 2020.


If you attended almost any social event on Guam in the 1970s pretty much until before he died in 2009, you saw Eddie Siguenza, the brother of Peter Charles Siguenza. More importantly, he saw you because he was a photographer by profession, one of the island's leading photographers. Chances are he took your picture. He was everywhere, camera in hand. He was often hired by government officials and corporate bosses to photograph the island's biggest affairs.


And the last Siguenza I will mention is one who had an air of holiness about her. She was a Notre Dame Sister, Sister Carmen Frances Siguenza, the daughter of Jesús Siguenza, the son of Dolores Santos Siguenza, and his wife Carmen Mendiola. Sister was a school teacher, so she touched the lives of hundreds of children, from elementary grades up to junior high school. She even worked in Yap as a missionary.

She always had an aura about her that was warm and accepting. In her older years, she began to suffer bad health involving a lot of pain, and had to wear a neck brace. She was never down about it, and she never complained. She stayed the same. She was constantly praying for people. People brought her many intentions, and she listed them down to remember them when she prayed. She passed away in 2015.


Although we don't know where the first Siguenza on Guam came from, we do know that the name is Spanish and is the name of a city in northern Spain in the Province of Guadalajara.


in 1902

If you notice the way the name SIGUENZA is spelled in the photo of the Spanish city, there are two dots above the U. 

The two dots are needed in Spanish to make the sound GWE in SIGWENZA. Without the two dots, the GUE would sound like GUERRERO - GERERO. No GWE.

Notice that the Chamorro man José Pangelinan Siguenza spells his last name the Spanish way, with the two dots above the U.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024



A family I was visiting told me a story that reminded me of something similar, dealing with the Niño (Infant Jesus) going around the village at Christmas time.

When they were teenagers, these siblings, who are now in the 70s and up, would be sent by the mother or grandmother with pans of empanåda (chicken pies) to sell to earn the family extra income.

They were told not to dare come home unless they had sold every single empanåda, but some days it was simply hard to. Knowing they would be scolded or spanked if they didn't sell everything, they wondered what to do.

They found the magic formula. They would look for a house where the family and maybe some friends were gathered in the carport or porch playing poker for money. A house playing poker was a sure way to sell every last empanåda.

This reminded me of what some people said who took the Niño house-to-house for veneration at Christmas time.

They said the houses that donated the most to the Niño were the houses where gambling was going on when the Niño arrived.

Many times those gamblers were not the most pious Catholics. Some hadn't even been to church in years. Perhaps in order to assuage their guilt, they'd drop a hundred-dollar bill into the donation box when the Niño came for them to kiss.

Oh the ways of human nature.

Thursday, January 4, 2024



Club Bamboo (also called the Bamboo Inn) was a restaurant bar on Marine (Corps) Drive in Hagåtña after the war up to the 1950s. It was owned by former statesider Adrian LaDeau, who went by the nickname Trader Ade. LaDeau came to Guam as a Seabee in 1944, fell in love with Adela San Nicolas, left the military, married her and stayed. 

LaDeau's wife's sister was married to local businessman Ambrosio Torres Shimizu of Ambros Enterprises. So Shimizu was also invested in the business. 

The Club was a popular place to eat, drink and dance, with live music. Besides being a meeting place for various civic groups, Club Bamboo was the scene of some colorful episodes in its short history.

Chamorro waitress JOSEFA M. was fined $100 in 1950 for serving a Marine an alcoholic beverage. The drink itself only cost 50 cents. The Club was designated a "civilian" club, so I am assuming military personnel were not allowed in.

Three Marines in 1950 got too tipsy at Club Bamboo and started causing a ruckus. Chamorro police man Ben Charfauros went to arrest the Marines, who gave him such a hard time that Charfauros lost his badge in the scuffle. "We got the Marines," he said, "but I lost my badge."

Merchant Marines, too, could get in trouble. In 1950, several Merchant Marines were arrested on various charges at Club Bamboo.

Even employees at Club Bamboo could get the business in trouble. One worker sold cases of beer to various merchants, not knowing that Club Bamboo had no license to sell wholesale. The government punished the club by closing its bar for one week, but the restaurant side of the business couldn't make money without the bar so even the restaurant closed for one week.

In 1953, somebody perhaps got lucky at Club Bamboo. A statesider returned home after a night at the Club and noticed he didn't have his wallet on him anymore. The wallet contained $1200, which in today's value is worth $13,800. Why was the man carrying the equivalent of half a year's salary around?

By 1955, there was hardly any news concerning Club Bamboo and by 1956 there was no sign of it in the news at all. LaDeau remained on Guam and went on to other things, including establishing a place called Pirate's Cove, which is still in existence but for the longest time now owned by Jeff Pleadwell.

Sunday, December 31, 2023



This is a Chamorro hymn to the Holy Family (Sagråda Familia), who are Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

This particular tune for it is sung in Inalåhan, and probably also Malojloj, but the words are the same as the version sung by the rest of the island.

In the past, when all transportation was either by animal-driven cart, boat or feet, villages were more isolated and local customs more easily developed, different from the next village. Often it was a new priest, musically-inclined, who might introduce a new melody for an old hymn. But others, musicians or organists or singers who learned it from elsewhere, could also have taught a new melody to their local choir. 

As far as the origin of this Inalåhan melody for this hymn sung to another melody in Hagåtña and elsewhere, I am not sure. Perhaps I can find out in the future.


Jesús, José an María; Jesús, José an María;
estague' i korason-ho yan i anti-ho.
(Jesus, Joseph and Mary; Jesus, Joseph and Mary;
here are my heart and my soul.)

Jesús, José an María; Jesús, José an María;
fa' maolek yo' an hokkok i ha'ani-ho.
(Jesus, Joseph and Mary; Jesus, Joseph and Mary;
assist me when my life is done.)

Jesús, José an María; Jesús, José an María;
na' måtai yo' pao såntos gi kannai-miyo; gi kannai-miyo.
(Jesus, Joseph and Mary; Jesus, Joseph and Mary;
make me die in the fragrance of holiness within your hands.)


The last two verses speak about a good death, a holy death, because the Holy Family includes Saint Joseph, who died before Jesus began His public ministry and was still unknown to people. So, Saint Joseph died surrounded by Jesus and the Blessed Mother - a nice way to pass from this earthly life!

That is why Saint Joseph is the Patron of a Holy and Happy Death, and why the hymn speaks of this. On our death bed, we want the Holy Family surrounding us.

*** Thanks to Lawrence Borja for the audio clip

Friday, December 1, 2023



Many of you know that Chamorro does not like ending words with the letters R or L. Final R or L become a T when said in Chamorro.



















This advertisement in the Guam Daily News in 1959 shows how our elders pronounced SINGER as in SINGER SEWING MACHINE.

They said SINGHET or SINGET.

Notice that "sewing machine" is MÅKINAN MAN LAKSE." Man låkse' means "to sew" and måkina is machine.

"Limited quantity" is rendered "ti meggai tetehnan" or "not many left."

"Monthly payments" is "Siña un apåse pot mes," or "You can pay by month."

Our elders had no trouble paraphrasing the English in Chamorro, rather than invent new words that are stranger than the paraphrase.


Apparently, there were Singer sewing machines on Guam even in the late Spanish period.

A book published in Manila in 1895 claimed that there was a Singer Sewing Company outlet in the Marianas, probably meaning Guam.

The above citation reads, in English,

The Singer Company has more than 2000 houses established in the principle population centers of the world and the Philippines agency, besides the outlets in Manila, Iloilo, Cebu and Tacloban, has agents in the principle population centers in the Archipelago and also in both the Carolines and Marianas.

Friday, November 24, 2023


The first American Governor of Guam, a Navy captain named Richard P. Leary, thought that Guam had too many holidays. That was because Guam had observed numerous religious holidays as public holidays under Spain. Not being a fan of the Spanish missionaries, Leary spelled out in an Executive Order in 1899 that religious holidays from now on were private affairs, and the only public holidays, besides Sundays, would be those "authorized by US Statute Law" and US presidential decree.

In 1870, US Congress made Independence Day, July 4, a Federal holiday. We can assume that this was observed even on Guam as soon as Leary set up the first American administration in August of 1899. Even if there were no parades or fireworks, it's very likely the Navy closed government offices on Independence Day.

Thanksgiving didn't become a Federal holiday till 1941, though it had been celebrated long before, sometimes on different Thursdays in November from state to state.

But the first public holiday that Leary proclaimed on his own authority was Thanksgiving Day.

On November 3, 1899 Leary declared that the last Thursday of November that year, November 30, would be set aside as a day of "thanksgiving and prayer." He recommended (not mandated) that people refrain from "unnecessary work" that day, so I'm not sure if the government closed their offices or not.

Leary could not mandate any religious services, but he urged people to observe their own rites in their own churches, Catholic or Protestant.

State and Church

But Leary knew his promotion of Thanksgiving wouldn't fly if he didn't have the cooperation of the Catholic Church, which commanded the hearts of 95% of the Chamorro people. And he succeeded. According to Leary, Palomo wholeheartedly agreed to hold a Thanksgiving prayer service in the Hagåtña church. It was a traditional thanksgiving prayer, chanted by the priest in Latin (Te Deum) which the Catholic Churched prayed all the time, all year long, but this time applied to the American holiday.

Leary said that the Navy band would play at this Te Deum service, and praised Palomo for his outstanding qualities. Leary reported a huge number of people attended the church service. Standing room only.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was no turkey served on that first Thanksgiving Day on Guam in 1899, but Leary made every effort to have the American holiday observed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023



Numerous Chamorro women were marrying American military men just as soon as the island came under the United States flag.

Not all of those marriages were successful.

A good number of those unions ended with the American sailor or Marine deserting his wife and children, as they were reassigned to another location or simply left island.

Here are some examples.


Rita married a Marine private in 1903 and had a son by him. In 1905, her husband was assigned to another post, and did not take Rita and his son with him.

Rita wrote to her husband and got three replies. His letters acknowledged his deserting her, and contained every excuse in the book, with plenty of promises to come back and resume his family commitments. He never did.

Rita filed for divorce in 1926 - twenty-years after last seeing her husband!


Yet another Rita had married a military man in 1905. They had four children. Quite possibly already a civilian, the man left Guam in 1910, supposedly to visit his mother. He was never seen again.

A few letters were exchanged, however. In one of them, the husband said he had met his wife's brother and the two of them were going to fish salmon in Alaska and both would return to Guam afterwards. The brother did return, but the husband did not.

Instead of filing for divorce, Rita petitioned the court to rule her husband deceased! This was granted. Almost sixteen years had passed since she last saw her husband.

This second Rita's move was more advantageous than the first Rita's decision to file for divorce.

Since both women had married according to Catholic rites, only death could end the bond. The first Rita, even if divorced, could not marry a second time in the Church until her husband had died. The second Rita obtained that freedom to marry again by having the Guam court declare her husband dead.

These two Ritas are but two examples of Chamorro women abandoned by the American husbands who left island and never returned. There were more.



In 1920, the American Naval Governor, Captain William Gilmer, issued a new law prohibiting marriages between American service men and Chamorro women.

His reason for this prohibition was his judgment that such marital unions were not good for either American husband nor Chamorro wife. He didn't, at least in print, get more specific than that.

Americans already married to Chamorro wives, and the Catholic bishop, Spanish Bishop Oláiz, opposed Gilmer's law, which was eventually overturned by the higher-ups in Washington.

But Spanish Påle' Román agreed with Gilmer. Too many American military and former military husbands had deserted their Chamorro wives, leaving them without financial support to raise the children, and unable to marry again in the Church.

was all for protecting Chamorro wives from deserting husbands

Tuesday, November 7, 2023




Besides the marshy area behind the Humåtak Mayor's Office by the river, associated with a murder scene from the 1980s, many people in Humåtak consider the area behind the church to be spooky.

The current San Dionisio Church was built in 1939 but, many decades before that, it had been the site of the Spanish governor's palåsyo (palace), along with other government buildings for soldiers, the sick, military defenses and storage rooms, since the bay was the major port of call for Guam at the time. The rock foundations for these government buildings are still there, hiding in the vegetation.

If the area behind the church is haunted, it is believed to be so because of the location's association with sick soldiers, ship's passengers and others who may have died in the port's hospital. Others believe the taotaomo'na (ancestral spirits) trail leads down from the hills behind the church to the bay through that area.



One Humåtak girl, in her teens, was playing behind the church one day with a few other teenage girls when she saw a man also behind the church. She was immediately frightened; it was hard for her to describe the man, but he was scary and she had never seen him before. She and the others ran away.

But not long after she saw the ugly man walking toward her, and off she went screaming.

Yet a third time she was in the bathroom and when she looked into the mirror, the ugly man was behind her. Out she went screaming. On and off, she would see the man. The man stopped appearing only after she had gotten married.


So the family of the teenage girl burnt some påtma bendita (blessed palm) to ashes, then had a boy in the family (some say it has to be the oldest boy) urinate into the ashes just enough to make the ashes into a paste, and that they applied to the forehead of the girl. The scary, ugly man would disappear for a while. But not permanently until she got married.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023



If you ever go into the jungle and see a spirit, here's a guide what to say, provided to us by Pedro, who was taught by his grandmother :

Sesso de humånao si Pedro gi halom tåno' manaliligao åmot pat håyo pat masea håfa, ya ti ma'å'ñao si Pedro achok ha' guiya ha' na maisa humånao.
(Pedro often went into the jungle looking for medicine or wood or whatever may be, and Pedro wasn't afraid even when he went by himself.)

Finaisen gue' as Kiko', i amigu-ña, "Kao tåya' na ma'å'ñao hao na siña hao manli'e' espiritu gi halom tåno'?"
(His friend Kiko' asked him, "Aren't you ever afraid that you might see a spirit in the jungle?")

Manoppe si Pedro, "Tåya', sa' ha fanå'gue yo' si nanå-ho biha håfa para bai ålok an siakåso na guaha håfa hu li'e'."
(Pedro answered, "Never, because my grandmother taught me what to say if I ever see something.")

Mamaisen si Kiko', "Håfa?"
("What?" Kiko' asked.)

Manoppe si Pedro, "Siempre bai ålok, 'Yanggen anite hao, pues hånao tåtte para sasalåguan!'
(Pedro replied, "I'll say, 'If you're a demon, then go back to hell!')

'Yanggen ånimas hao, bai tayuyute hao lao hånao tåtte para Putgatorio!'
('If you're a Poor Soul, I will pray for you, but go back to Purgatory!')

'Yanggen taotao hao, pues hånao tåtte para i gimå'-mo!'"
('If you're human, then go back to your house!')

Pues mamaisen si Kiko', "Lao håfa para un ålok yanggen ginen i langet na espiritu?"
(Then Kiko' asked, "But what will you say if it's a spirit from heaven?")

Ha hasso nåya si Pedro sa' tåya' håfa ilek-ña si nanå-ña biha pot ennao. Pues manoppe si Pedro, "Yanggen ginen i langet na espiritu, siempre bai ålok, 'Ayuda yo' sumodda' håfa hu aliligao!"
(Pedro thought a while because his grandmother said nothing about that. Then Pedro answered, "If it's a heavenly spirit, I'll say, 'Help me find what I'm looking for!'")

Tuesday, October 24, 2023


Socially elite Chamorro ladies with Americans in the 1910s

An American lady, the sister of the island's Governor at the time, Olga Dorn, wrote an article describing life as she saw it when she visited the island in 1909.

She described three classes of Chamorro women, all based on footwear!

The three classes, in her words, were the Shoestring Set, the Slipper Society and the Barefoot Brigade.

SHOESTRING SET. These were women of the socially elite class. Many of them had Spanish or other European blood. Their fathers occupied positions in the American government or in commerce. These ladies were very eager to adopt American fashions. They always wore shoes and stockings. These were the women often invited to American social events.

Some with shoes, some without

SLIPPER SOCIETY. These were a much larger group of Chamorro women who clung to the fashion of their mothers and grandmothers. Many of them also had Spanish or some European blood in them, but their preference was for the fashions of old. They mainly wore the mestiza dress and heelless, flat slippers with no stockings. These women were almost never invited to American social events. Among the Chamorros themselves, many of these women were considered elite and prestigious, but they occupied a different world than the Americans.

BAREFOOT BRIGADE. These women were of the poorer class who generally went around without any footwear at all. 

Today, everybody wears something on their feet. Usually.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023



Monsignor Zoilo LG Camacho was known for a few things.

Building round churches, for one. Like San Vicente in Barrigada and Santa Barbara in Dededo.

Farming. A good portion of almost every day was spent growing fruits and vegetables. Even I received a nice watermelon from him one time.

But what not a whole lot of people knew about him was his loathing of air travel. Monsignor avoided flying on a plane if he could. If it meant not attending some event off-island, so be it. He would not board the plane.

On July 14, 1960, Father (he was not Monsignor, yet) Zoilo was flying from Okinawa to Manila on a Northwest Orient plane. His intention was to proceed from Manila to India to visit his sister, a missionary nun, whom he had not seen in 22 years.

At 320AM in the dead of night, the pilot reported that one of his engines had "run away." This means the engine was getting extra fuel from an unintended source (often a fuel or oil leak), making the engine run faster. The lack of lubrication for a faster-running engine means the engine could catch fire, and if it doesn't catch fire it will most likely break anyway.

The pilot said he could do nothing about the runaway engine, so only time would tell. An hour after reporting the runaway engine, the engine caught on fire. Dawn had not come yet and it was still dark, but the pilot decided the best thing to do was land in the sea. He was near Polillo Island, around 85 miles from Manila.

The plane landed in the sea just as safely as it could. Everyone got wet, lost their footwear and luggage, but there were no serious injuries or loss of life except for one passenger. American amphibious planes based in the Philippines rescued the crew and passengers. The survivors had calmly gotten into four or five life rafts after deplaning. There was only one other passenger from Guam, a businessman named Alfred Minot.

(photo from the Macaraeg family)

Father Zoilo was taken to the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Manila for 24-hour observation, even though he had sustained no injuries. There he met a Guam resident, Mrs Bridget Macaraeg, wife of physician Dr Godofredo Macaraeg, who was in the Philippines for a visit. She reported that, besides losing his shoes, Father Zoilo had lost his eye glasses (as well as everything else he had on board).

Father Zoilo told Mrs Macaraeg that the pilot made all the necessary announcements and the passengers put on their life vests. Some people on the descending plane asked Fr Zoilo to hear their confessions, and he did. I wonder where?

The plane hit the water with just a strong jolt. Then it was a matter of life or death to exit the plane, now filling with smoke from the burning engine slowly going out from the ocean water. One female passenger, in a panic, clung to the plane but Father Zoilo managed to get her into a life raft.

The one passenger who died, an elderly woman, reportedly died of a heart attack. Her body was recovered.

The plane sank in less than ten minutes. The rescue operations took four hours to complete. Fortunately, the sun was up by then.

Despite the crash landing, Father Zoilo did proceed, by plane, to Hong Kong then India to meet his sister. Then back to Guam, all by plane.

But, after that, Monsignor Zoilo avoided flying on a plane as much as possible.

Thursday, October 12, 2023



Most Chamorro Catholics will start praying a rosary as a family, with friends and others joining, the day someone in the family passes away. It lasts for nine days or nights.

Why nine?

The devotion is Catholic and so the answer is to be found in the Catholic religion, and not in the Chamorro culture itself.


on the 10th day

When Jesus returned to Heaven, body and soul, on Ascension Thursday, He told the Apostles to return to the Upper Room and pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would come and remain with the Church, with the Apostles and with every believer until Jesus comes back again at the end of the world. The Holy Spirit would be the friend, the advocate, the consoler, the enlightener, the guide of the Church till the end of the world.

So the Holy Spirit would be a great grace, and Jesus told the Apostles to pray for the coming of that great grace, that great favor, the Holy Spirit.

So from Thursday, when they started praying, till the following day Friday, is one day. Count nine days of prayer and that takes you to Saturday. And the great grace, the great favor, came the following day, Pentecost Sunday. The Holy Spirit came down upon all the Apostles, the Blessed Mother and others on the 10th day. So, the favor asked for 9 days came on the 10th.

A period of NINE DAYS is called a NOVENA. It comes from the Latin word for NINE, which is NOVEM. The month of NOVEMBER used to be the NINTH month on the Roman calendar.

We pray novenas to some saints. In these novenas, we ask that saint to pray to God for us to grant us a favor, a grace, which we hope to receive at the end of the novena, just as the Apostles prayed for nine days and after that received the great grace of the Holy Spirit.

The 1st night not there because it started before this could be put in the newspaper

When we pray for the dead, we are asking God to have mercy on them, shorten their time in Purgatory and to take them to heaven as soon as possible. That is the request, the great favor or grace wanted.

And, like the Apostles and Mary, we pray for NINE DAYS (or nights) asking for this great favor and grace. It is a NOVENA (series of nine) of ROSARIES for the deceased. Jesus told us that God hears our prayers, so we believe and so we do!