Tuesday, September 26, 2023



Humålom gi konfesionårio si Rita ya ha sangåne si Påle' na mañåkke gue' la'uya.
(Rita went into the confessional and told the priest that she had stolen a pot.)

Ayo ha' na momento, malingo maigo'-ña si Påle' ya ha tutuhon maigo'. Pot i tåya' håfa ilelek-ña si Påle', må'pos ha' si Rita ya humålom otro na palao'an gi konfesionårio.
(At that very moment, Father fell asleep. Because the priest wasn't saying anything, Rita left and another woman came into the confessional.)

Gigon dumimo i nuebo na palao'an, gotpe ha' makmåta si Påle' ya ilek-ña, "Ya håfa ta'lo pot i la'uya ni un såkke."
(As soon as the new woman knelt down, Father suddenly awoke and said, "And tell me more about the pot you stole.")

Manoppe i palao'an, "Tåya' na mañåkke yo' la'uya Påle'! Fana'an mamaigo' hao gi durånten i konfesion!"
(The woman replied, "I have never stolen a pot, Father! I think you're sleeping during confession!")

Ilek-ña si Påle', "Pues empas hit! Sa' guaha na mamaigo' hao gi durånten setmon-ho!"
(The priest said, "Then we're even! Because sometimes you sleep during my sermon!")

Tuesday, September 19, 2023



Sung by Alfred Saures


På’go i ha’ånen kumpleaños-ho
(Today is my birthday)
Siempre bai hu magof
(I surely will be happy)
Lao sen ti månnge’ nene
(But baby it's surely not pleasant)
Sa’ taigue hao gi fi’on-ho.
(because you're not by my side.)

I regålo malago’-ho
(The gift that I want)
Nai i chiku-mo yan hågo.
(which is you and your kiss.)
En lugåt hu ågang hao ya ilek-ho
(Instead I called you and said)
Biba Kumpleåños para guåho.
(Happy Birthday to myself.)

Humånao yo’ na maisa para i gima’
(I went home by myself)
Ya hu songgiye un danges ya hu desea.
(and I lit a candle and made a wish.)
Hu baba un dikkike’ na pakete
(I opened a small package)
Ni hu fahånen maisa yo’
(which I bought for myself)
Ya ilek-ho Biba Kumpleåños para guåho.
(and said Happy Birthday to myself.)


Wednesday, September 13, 2023



You won't find a street sign calling it PICK-A-NAIL ROAD.

You won't find a street sign calling it anything. No street sign survived the last typhoon.

And although officially it is GUERRERO ROAD (some say DRIVE), a lot of people still call it by its old name : PICK-A-NAIL ROAD (some say STREET).

How did this street get such an unusual name?


As you can see from the satellite map of Pick-A-Nail Road, it lies in the middle of heavily built-up, commercial Tamuning.

That particular area of Tamuning has always been the site of warehouses, industrial and mechanical supply stores, dredging companies, automobile services, roofing companies....you get the idea.

So the road back in the day was a bit messy, with nails, screws, bolts....you name it.....strewn about.

Joe Murphy, a columnist for the Guam Daily News (and later the Pacific Daily News), wrote in 1968 that someone decided to name the street himself and put up a sign saying PICK UP A NAIL STREET.

In other words, the street was so cluttered you could go and pick up a nail there anytime. Or maybe, help clean up the street by picking up a nail!

Sometime in the 1990s the street was officially named GUERRERO ROAD (or DRIVE). But a lot of people still call it by its old name.

Modern maps even put both names down, the old and the new.


For those who may not be familiar at all with Pick-A-Nail Road, just remember that it lies in between AK and Denny's on Marine Corps Drive.

So, is Pick-A-Nail Road still so messy? Nope. I guess the Guerrero name has some magic to it, because, as the recent pic shows, the street isn't more messy than your typical Guam street in a commercial area. The street is so clean now, you can't even pick up a nail there anymore.


Wednesday, September 6, 2023




I was having breakfast one morning with two Santa Rita ladies at a neighborhood restaurant in Hågat, at the intersection of Route 1 and the road that leads up to Santa Rita.

One of the ladies said to me in Chamorro, "Påle', have you ever noticed that there are fewer families in Santa Rita with Filipino fathers compared to Hågat?"

I knew that just up the road from where we were was the old Camp Roxas, built right after the war when hundreds of Filipino workers, a great many from Iloilo, were recruited to work for the many military projects that built up Guam into an important Naval base. Many of these workers stayed on working for the military, and quite a number married Chamorro wives. 

I also knew that Hågat had a good number of families with Filipino dads. Some of their children were my classmates in high school, or whom I knew in other ways. One of my Hågat classmates whose dad was Filipino became well-known as the bet collector (the Cristo) at the local gayera (cockfight, sabong in Filipino).

The lady went on to explain, "But in Santa Rita, you can count on just a few fingers the Filipinos who married Santa Rita girls. Langas, Calip, Claveria, Grecia.....and Viernes but he came by way of Hawaii."

She looked over her left shoulder which faced the window, and said, "You know where Inn on the Bay is? In the old days there was a store there with a pool table. The store was called Para Luchan and was owned by the Bordallos. The Camp Roxas men would go there and hang out in that area, and the Hågat girls would also go there and socialize with the Camp Roxas workers. But the Santa Rita girls couldn't go there. Our parents were so strict. That's why less Santa Rita girls married Filipino men. It was harder for them to meet. That's why there are fewer Santa Rita women married to Camp Roxas men."

Tuesday, August 29, 2023




Atkins Kroll, most known as a car dealership, used to be in Aniguåk up until October 1969 when the company moved to its present building in Tamuning which it built that year.

The company found its Aniguåk location, which it took up after the war, to be too confined and the building too outdated for the growing business it was enjoying in the late 1960s. Rather than improve the Aniguåk location, the company decided to start from scratch at a new location in Tamuning.

While AK has been Guam's Toyota dealer for many decades now, it was selling General Motors cars in the 1950s and 60s on Guam.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023




The first recorded Indian in the Marianas was a Christian named Lorenzo, who was shipwrecked off the southern coast of Saipan in 1638 aboard the Spanish galleon Concepción. He stayed in the Marianas after surviving the shipwreck. When Sanvitores and his missionaries came in 1668, Lorenzo was there to render assistance, being an interpreter for the missionaries (having lived thirty years already with the Chamorros).

Sanvitores sent Lorenzo to help with the Christianization of Anatahan, where he was killed by Chamorro opponents to the mission in 1669, the FIRST of the Christian martyrs of the Marianas.

A very early missionary account of Sanvitores (written by Jesuit Francisco García in 1683, just eleven years after Sanvitores' death) clearly states that Lorenzo was a Malabar; it wasn't his "last name," which many people all over the world still did not use, yet. Other early books (e.g. Morales) are also clear that Lorenzo was from the Malabar Coast, which is in India.

The Malabars were from the southwest coast of India (now Kerala) who had become Christians through the preaching of Saint Thomas the Apostle, who is said to have reached India in the year 52AD. They are thus also called "Saint Thomas Christians." From those ancient times till now, the Malabar or Saint Thomas Christians have remained Christians. The blood of one of them wetted the soil of Anatahan in 1669.


Three hundred and thirty-three years later, yet another Malabar Christian came to the Marianas; specifically Guam.

His name was Father Thomas Vengayil, from the Syro-Malabar Diocese of Palai (a city in Kerala, India).

Father Vengayil heard about Guam through a classmate in London, where he was studying economics, who had lived on Guam, by the name of John Gillam. Father wrote to Bishop Flores offering his services, and Flores accepted, bringing Father to Guam in 1971. He served in various places such as Niño Perdido parish in Asan, Santa Teresita parish in Mangilao and Santa Barbara parish in Dededo where he was pastor in both places for a time.


Due to his interest in economics and social issues, Father Vengayil also headed the Campaign for Human Development on Guam, a social advocacy agency of the Catholic Church.

He left Guam to serve in other dioceses sometime in the 1980s.


Since Fr Vengayil left Guam, there have been a few Indian Capuchin priests who have helped on Guam for very brief periods, usually one to three months.

But in 2021, two Indian Capuchins came to Guam to assist for a longer time.

Fathers Claud Mascarenhas and Silvano Fernandes come from Karnataka in India, a different state from that of Kerala, where Father Vengayil and Lorenzo Malabar came from.

Nonetheless, Fathers Claud and Silvano are the latest Catholic Indian priests to come to Guam, specifically to minister at Saint Fidelis Friary.



But the story gets better.

Not only have Indian Catholics ministered on Guam; in the 1950s and 60s, a Chamorro Sister ministered in India!

Maria LG Camacho (familian Zoilo) wanted to be a Catholic Sister when she was a young woman. But there were no Sisters on Guam before the war. So she went to Manila to join the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. She was given the religious name of Sister Eanswida.

She was sent to college and then to Stella Maris College in Chennai, India (Madras in the old days). There she founded the Social Welfare Center and did so much to develop the Social Welfare program of the school that, to this day, there is an Endowment Fund named in her honor.

Feeling her work as a missionary was over, and wanting to return to Guam to be with her aging parents, Sister Eanswida changed Orders and became a Mercy Sister upon returning to Guam. She also got a new religious name, Sister Thecla.

She died on Guam in January of 2017 at the age of 99 years. Had she lived till September, she would have reached her 100th birthday.

Monday, August 14, 2023



There is only one Diego clan on Guam and its håle' (roots) are in Inalåhan.

But they are almost certainly descended from a Filipino soldier of the Pampanga Company whose name was AGUSTÍN DIEGO. He is the only adult person with the surname Diego on Guam in the 1758 Census. He does not appear in the earlier 1727 Census. Pampanga is a province in the Philippines with its own language, different from Tagalog.

DIEGO is the Spanish form of the Latin name DIDACUS. The name can also come from a variation of the name James, which in Latin is Jacobus, which turns into Santiago (Sant + Iago).

Spanish personal, or first, names sometimes became family names or surnames. Think of Pablo (Paul), Blas (Blaise) or the famous Ferdinand Marcos (Mark).

Agustín married Juana Cabangis. Two Cabangis soldiers, also of the Pampanga Company, are in the 1727 Census so Juana could be the daughter of one of them. One of those soldiers married a Chamorro woman, so Juana could already be the beginning of the Chamorro link in the family. Agustín and family lived in the capital city, Hagåtña, but some Spanish, Mexican and Filipino soldiers were sent to the villages to serve as officials. This is probably how one of the Diegos went to Inalåhan.

By 1758, Agustín Diego had two sons but more could have come later. At any rate the Diegos start appearing in Inalåhan by the 1800s. 

As far back as 1847, there was an Eduardo Diego who was the warden or alguacil of Inalåhan.

By 1878, or 31 years later, a new figure by the name of José Meyao Diego appears in the records in various civic capacities in Inalåhan, sometimes as warden and other times as Justice of the Peace.

It is this José Meyao Diego, married to Francisca Chargualaf, who is the founder of the clan that continues to this day.


José's middle name, which was his mother's maiden name, has been spelled in various ways : Miyao and Mellao are just some examples. It doesn't seem to be a Spanish name. It is probably an indigenous Chamorro name, as there are records of Inalåhan people with the name during Spanish times. If it is Chamorro, it could come from the prefix MI, which means "abundant," with the root word YAO or IYAO unknown. It could also be that MEYAO has nothing at all to do with MI (abundant). It remains a mystery.

José was born around 1837. Without an actual baptismal certificate, it's hard to be exact about his date of birth. People were always guessing their ages in those days, and would have different answers every so often.

José and Francisca had numerous children. They had four sons, but only one of the four produced enough male heirs to keep the Diego name going. One son never married. Another son had no children, though married, and another married son had one daughter.

ROMUALDO CHARGUALAF DIEGO married Dolores León Guerrero San Nicolás, the daughter of Gerónimo San Nicolás and Antonia León Guerrero. It is Romualdo who produced enough male heirs to keep the Diego name going. His sons were Joaquín, Enemesio, Juan, Vicente, Jesús and José.

JOAQUIN CHARGUALAF DIEGO married Victorina Meno Mantanoña. Apparently they had no children.

JUAN JOSÉ CHARGUALAF DIEGO married Ignacia León Guerrero, the daughter of Vicenta León Guerrero and an unknown father. They had a daughter Catalina, who later married.


Then there were José and Francisca's daughters, who were :

MARÍA CHARGUALAF DIEGO who married Francisco Castro.

CLARA CHARGUALAF DIEGO married Joaquín Crisóstomo, the son of Ana Crisóstomo and an unknown father.

VICENTA CHARGUALAF DIEGO married Lucas Taitague Naputi, the son of Mariano Naputi and Antonia Taitague.

Former Commissioner (Mayor) of Inalåhan

Former Commissioner of Inalåhan before the war

signature in 1904


ROMUALDO CHARGUALAF DIEGO, born 1863, father of

VICENTE SAN NICOLÁS DIEGO, born 1908, father of

FRANK PAULINO DIEGO, born 1938, father of

FRANK TAITAGUE DIEGO, born 1969, father of

GAVIN DIEGO, born 1987, father of


Tuesday, August 8, 2023



Humålom si Ana gi konfesionårio.
(Ana went into the confessional.)

Mampos takpapa' i bos-ña si Ana ya chatta hohongga i håfa ha konfesatñañaihon.
(She was speaking too low and one could barely hear what she was confessing.)

Ilek-ña si Påle' annai monhåyan si Ana kumonfesat, "Iha, hånao pot fabot para i otro bånda ya bai hungok hao gi maolek na talanga-ho."
(When Ana finished confessing, the priest said, "My daughter, please go to the other side and let me hear you with my good ear.")

Wednesday, August 2, 2023



It's interesting how, even in the days when formal, higher schooling was not possible in our islands, ambitious young people found a way to work themselves into a skilled profession.

Take the case of José Díaz Torres, who was born on Saipan on June 1, 1895 during Spanish times.

He was the son of Félix Atoigue Torres and Vicenta de León Guerrero Díaz. He married Asunción Martínez Ada, one of the familian Bodik clan which spans both Saipan and Guam. She is sometimes called Ascensión.


During German times, he came to the notice of the German officials as being a bright young man, and he went with one of the German governors for a short time to Yap and Ponape. He also visited Nauru and New Guinea during the German period. In 1914, just before the Japanese took over the Northern Marianas from the Germans, he became a medical assistant.

Then the Japanese gave him formal medical classes for just a year. What he lacked in longer years of book study he made up for by assisting Japanese doctors in their practice, even during surgeries. The people of Saipan considered José a doctor and called him so.

When the Americans attacked Saipan in 1944, Dr. Torres offered his services to the Americans as soon as he was able to, to tend to the wounded and anyone else needing attention, even when mortar fire was whizzing by him. The US military later gave Dr Torres a commendation for his contribution. Many nights Dr Torres got no sleep as many people awakened him with medical emergencies. He never turned anyone away.

In 1962, the Trust Territory Government built a new hospital in Saipan, costing (in 1962 values) $700,000. They named it in honor of Dr. Torres.

In construction 1962

He retired in 1972 at the age of 77, but in the first weeks of his retirement, he still woke up and got dressed in his white medical uniform. His wife had to ask government officials to remind her husband that he was retired. She wanted him to avoid overdoing it in his older years.

But Dr Torres lived a healthy lifestyle. He didn't smoke, barely drank any alcohol and was partial to local, home grown foods like taro and yams. He learned to speak German with the Germans, Japanese with the Japanese and English with the Americans.

Dr Torres died in 1976 in his "own" hospital, meaning the hospital named after him. He lived till he was 80, just two and half months shy of his 81st birthday.

In November of 1986, the Northern Marianas Commonwealth Government completed the construction of a new hospital for Saipan, calling it the Commonwealth Health Center. It did not carry over Dr Torres' name for the new hospital. So I hope this blog post helps to keep the memory of Dr Torres alive.

Many of the buildings that make up the present Northern Marianas College at its main campus in As Terlaje, Saipan were once the buildings of Dr Torres Hospital. Some believe that there are haunted areas of the College buildings because they used to house the dead who passed away at the old hospital.

Youtube : ChatRoger Cadua

the former Dr Torres Hospital

Friday, May 19, 2023



in Santa Rita Church, Guam

Saint Rita of Cascia (the town in Italy where she lived in the 1400s) is the patron saint of the village of Santa Rita in Guam.

Her feast day is May 22 and the public celebration of that feast is usually held on the weekend closest to that date.

The Chamorro hymn to Santa Rita speaks about her life, so unless you know some details about her life you may not understand the hymn.


When Santa Rita was born, bees gathered around her mouth, even entering and leaving, laying honey on her lips without harming the little baby. A man who observed this, who had a wounded arm, tried to gather the bees and his wound was healed instantly. The bees were taken as a good omen that the baby would grow into someone important. Later, long after Santa Rita died, white bees would gather in the walls of her monastery up until her feast day.


Saint Rita had always wanted to be a nun, but her parents pressured her to marry a man she didn't love. He was a womanizer and an abuser. She consented and suffered much on his account. Her husband was murdered and later her only two children, sons, died. But, in all three cases, Santa Rita helped the three repent of their sins before their deaths. Now independent, she finally entered the Augustinian monastery and became a nun.


Wanting to share in the sufferings of Jesus, Santa Rita asked to feel in her body the pains the Lord endured. Jesus allowed her to receive a wound on her forehead and the marks of the Crown of Thorns. This wound began to stink horribly and all the other nuns had to avoid being near her. But on the day she died the wound was replaced by a mark in the shape of a rose and colored like ruby. It now gave off a beautiful fragrance.

Santa Rita is the patroness of impossible cases and of abused women.

Fina’tinas Santa Rita meggai siha na milågro;
tayuyute ham Santa Rita todos i mangilisyåno.
(Saint Rita made many miracles;
pray for us, Saint Rita, for all Christians.)

Linangitan minamisan i masåmai na na’ån-mo / ninatungo nu anghet na sinantos na na’ån-mo / sa u maolek yan tagåhlo i hinanao-mo gi tano’…
(Your beautiful name is a heavenly sweetness, the holiness of your name was made known by an angel, because your journey on earth would be good and exalted...)

Annai på’go ma takpånge i pachot-mo nai man annok / i abehas låhyan siha / si Yuus ma na’ fan måtto / ya ma tungo magin ayo i minames i bidå-mo...
(When you were baptized a swarm of bees appeared on your mouth, sent there by God and because of that we know the sweetness of your life...)

I man silok na mañaina achok ha ti malago / ma naassagua hao guihe yan i ti ya-mo na taotao / lao un sungon i finakai si Yuus långet nu hågo…
(Your overbearing parents, even though you didn't want to, made you marry a man you didn't love, but you endured what the God of heaven marked out for you...)

Annai måtai i asagua na pinino’ nu i taotao / ya man måtai i dos lokkue na lahi-mo na man gåtbo / un hasuye gi anti-mo na un gunos hao gi tåno’...
(When your husband died, killed by someone, and your two handsome sons also died, you thought in your soul to separate yourself from the world...)

Umetmåna agustina ya un setbe i Saina-mo / korason ånte mumagof mesngon kalåmya såntos / un gofli’e’ i guinaiyan i anti-mo un nahåspok...
(You became an Augustinian nun and served your Lord, your heart and soul rejoiced, perseveringly you became holy, you loved the love of your soul and became satisfied...)

Si Yuus ha nadinilok i hai-mo nu i laktos / ya sumåga mandochon i dilok-ña giya hågo / O gai tituka’ na sånta ma asi’e’ i taotao-mo...
(God pierced your forehead with a thorn and its gash remained fixed in you. O saint with a thorn forgive your people...)

Tuesday, May 16, 2023



Some older people hesitate to admit that karabao was eaten before the war.

Perhaps some think it is embarrassing to admit that, seeing the karabao as a beast of burden, or buried in mud when not working.

A man born in 1928 told me that, yes, some people did eat karabao now and then before the war.

For some, karabao meat was tough to chew on. But, if a karabao just happened to die (from disease being an exception), why waste the meat and let it rot?

Secondly, depending on the family, there may have been a huge surplus of karabao in the herd. More than needed for farming. So, some were butchered.

In fact, even in the 1950s, stray karabao (and cattle) were sometimes rounded up by the government and slaughtered, with the meat being sold at public auction.


Another man told me years ago that, during the Japanese Occupation, he would sell karabao meat to the Japanese and sample some himself.

If a family had a sizeable herd of karabao, they might even slaughter a young calf because its meat was more tender.

Even into the 1970s, some karabao owners slaughtered karabao in order to sell the meat. One rancher in Inalåhan had to laugh when he saw kelaguen karabao at a fiesta, because chances were the karabao had been stolen from his large herd. But he let it go.

Then there's the hide of the karabao that can be used once it is butchered. Karabao hide is impermeable to water.

Karabao milk was prized as being more flavorful and creamy than cow's milk. Of course that meant the female karabao was kept alive for that reason.

In all my years I've never come across karabao served at any party on Guam, unless it was karabao but nobody said anything. But, especially before the war, it was not uncommon for people to eat kåtnen karabao.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023


Going to elementary school at Saint Francis School in Yoña from 1968 to 1974 meant that I passed through Chalan Pago five days a week riding the bus to school from my home in Sinajaña.

One of my memories of traveling Route 4 in those days was seeing the remnants of the HOLIDAY INN on the right side of the highway as one headed to Yoña.

I remember the building being somewhat elevated from the road, the building looking abandoned but the HOLIDAY INN sign still intact.

Don't think Holiday Inn as in the hotel.

This Holiday Inn had nothing to do with that hotel chain. It was independently owned and ran as a restaurant and dancing venue. Various civic club affairs and even political social events were held at Chalan Pago's Holiday Inn.

One of its owners was Bill Garrison, whose wife was Chamorro. Some treated lumber that had been ordered for a project in Saipan that fell through sat idle at Commercial Port and Garrison picked it up to build the Holiday Inn.

The dancing was meant to improve business. The Holiday Inn went one step further and was the first establishment on Guam to introduce go-go dancers. Garrison said in an interview that they weren't strippers, but they were "exotic" dancers.

Guam's first indecent exposure fine was levied against one dancer at the Holiday Inn in 1967. The priest of Chalan Pago preached against the dancing and the police weren't too happy either. They tried bringing in Japanese girl bands to attract more customers, but there just wasn't enough money being made to keep the business going. By 1969 it was no longer in operation.

Because the wooden walls had been treated, they lasted a bit but Typhoon Pamela in 1976 damaged the roof and the wood started to rot. In December of 1990, Typhoon Russ gave the final blow. People pass by now on Route 4 every day and see no sign of the Holiday Inn, although the cement foundation is still there.


Monday, May 1, 2023




Around midnight on Tuesday, November 18, 1980, going into Wednesday, Marine Corporal Steven R. Thompson was beaten and left for dead by three, young Humåtak men after a night of drinking and bickering.

All four men, and some others, had been drinking outside one of the men's homes. When Thompson entered the home without asking, a resident of the home felt disrespected. Some people say that Thompson was making advances on a lady in the house. Heated verbal exchanges ensued between Thompson and some of the men. Someone suggested they beat up Thompson to teach him a lesson.

They invited him to walk the sandy shore of Humåtak Bay, but the men felt it was too open and visible so they lead Thompson to the overgrown bushes and bamboo grove by the river near the Mayor's Office. There they beat him so bad that the back of his head was lacerated. Then they left him in the thick vegetation for the night.

The next morning, Wednesday, they checked on him. Thompson was alive and moaning, but the three men left him alone one more time, too afraid to tell anyone. 

A whole day passed and now it was Thursday. Two Humåtak men were taking advantage of the bright moon light that night and went to the area to hunt for crabs. They found a human body, instead. There was no ID on the man, but when word circulated around the island that a dead Caucasian was found, someone from the Marines told civilian authorities that a Marine had been missing for two days. Eventually authorities concluded that the dead body was Thompson's.



It didn't take a murder for Humåtak people to feel uneasy about the river banks in Humåtak. To this day, people in Humåtak call it "the Bamboo," even though the Mayor's staff cut down the bamboo long ago. The sound of wind blowing through the bamboo, and the creaking of the long stalks of bamboo, gave the area an eerie feel.

A woman in her 60s told me, "Growing up, my parents always told me not to play in that area. They never said exactly why. Just that it's a bad area. So hardly any kids played there. It always was a lonely place."

She also said that there used to be a wood and tin-roof house nearby, which is now long gone, which everyone considered scary. There was a family living there, with two children, but they rarely went outside the house. Even the two children stayed indoors. This cast a creepy shadow over the house, which was already in the area of the spooky bamboo marshland. Kids, especially, felt weird passing by the house.

About the only story I heard from Humåtak people about "the Bamboo" is that voices will be heard, but there is no one there. Most people are not sure what language was being spoken; the voices were heard but the words were not clear.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023


Hagåtña in the early 1900s

By the 1890s, Japan started to take an increased economic interest in the Pacific, both in wanting to get things from the islands and nations of the Pacific Rim, and also to sell to them. Copra, the dried meat of coconuts, was one Pacific commodity in demand. The oil obtained from it could be used in many commercial products, and the meat used as a food product for both man and beast. 

The islands of Micronesia could supply that copra, but the Japanese could also supply the islands. Japan was closer to the islands than the US or other Western countries to sell Western products. Merchandise did make it to the Marianas from both east and west; goods could be bought in Manila and shipped to the Marianas, but ship transportation was not steady nor frequent. American and other goods did come from Hawaii and the US, but usually on whaling ships and the occasional commercial ship, but again these were not consistent nor frequent. But the Japanese could ship merchandise to the Marianas on a regular basis if the market proved successful.

The Japanese started to "open shop," as it were, in Micronesia in the 1890s. In 1899, Spain was no longer on the scene, having sold Guam to the US and the rest of Micronesia to the Germans. The Germans were initially not very pleased with the many Japanese merchants coming in and out of Micronesia, but the Americans on Guam were more accommodating. By 1899, Japanese merchant ships were already providing passenger transportation to and from Guam. By the early 1900s, the Japanese merchant presence on Guam was so strong that people claimed that the Japanese had a monopoly on trade on the island. While other races did operate stores, the Japanese were undeniably the strongest commercial force on island at the time.

One of the Japanese companies doing business on Guam in the early 1900s was the Hiki Trading Company.

Haniu was appointed Manager of the Guam branch in 1902

The full name of the company was the Nanyo Boeki Hiki Kabushiki Kaisha, which meant the Hiki South Seas Corporation, though it was called by slightly different names in English. Established in Japan in the 1890s, by the end of that decade the company had four boats that sailed around Micronesia selling various things then sailed back to Japan carrying products from the tropics.

The Hiki Company's schooners would also transport passengers up and down the Marianas. In the period 1900 to 1914 many Chamorros from Guam migrated to Saipan. The Hiki schooner was one way to get there. José Shimizu also transported passengers up and down the Marianas. Most of that migration ended in late 1914 when the Japanese took over the Northern Marianas from Germany.

Around 1900, the Guam branch of Hiki was managed by José T. Shibata, from Nagasaki. He had married a Chamorro, Vicenta Cruz Herrero. By 1902, the company had appointed a man from Tokyo, Hikoshiro Haniu, as manager of the Guam store. Haniu later married a Chamorro, Maria Deza Blaz, and was baptized a Catholic to do so, taking the Christian name José. His descendants, many of whom are better-known as the familian Desa, remain.