Thursday, March 31, 2011

                       Ilek-ña i kato : "Na' gimen yo' leche, pot fabot!"

POT FABOT :  Please

OK, so it's not a word but a phrase.  And it's derived from the Spanish "por favor," or "as a favor."

Different cultures came up with different ways to make a request humbler and milder.  It is thought that "please" is a shortened version of "If you please," meaning "if it pleases you."

Italians say "per piacere," and the French, "s'il vous plait," both more or less meaning "if it pleases you."

One Japanese way of saying "please" is "onegai shimasu" which roughly means "I hope or pray that the thing is done."  Wow.  Very humble.

It's not known how pre-contact Chamorros expressed the concept of "please," or whatever concept came closest to it, or how they made requests milder and more polite. that I think of it.....I remember hearing often enough, and loving the expression entirely, when an older person would ask someone else to do something, s/he would say, "Na' magof hao ya un..." meaning "Make yourself happy and...take me to church or buy me pugua' or whatever the case may be."

I love the expression because the connotation, for me at least, is : Do this for me and be happy about it.  Love it!

Many Chamorros today pronounce it "put" rather than "pot," the way I heard it from my mañaina and man amko'.

The phrase "pot fabot," as in other languages, can carry with it different connotations, depending on the tone with which it is expressed.

Jose : Maria, na' ayao yo' fan mit pesos. (Maria, lend me a thousand dollars.)
Maria : Pot fabot! (Are you out of your mind???)

Lele' : Humålom si pendeha gi gima'yu'us yan i kaddada' na bestidu-ña!  Pot fabot adai agon!
(She entered the church with her short dress!  Of all things!)



Today we look at a family with an indigenous name.  A few Chamorro last names end in -ta.  Not to be confused with Spanish surnames that end in -ta (Evangelista, Acosta, Ballesta, etc), in names like Quinata, Ungacta, Taguacta, Nangauta and Maratita, the "ta" means "our."

So Babauta means "our babau."  The question is, "What is a babau?"

It's a Chamorro word that fell into eventual disuse (though it can be revived) and it means "banner" or "standard," as in "emblem, symbol or coat-of-arms." 

Writing in the early 1680s, Jesuit Father Garcia, in his biography of Blessed Diego Luís de Sanvitores, describes the "babao Dios" or the "standard of God."  We would say today "babao or babau Yu'us."
For the Jesuit missionaries, the "babao Dios" was the Holy Cross.

We can picture our ancestors using symbols or emblems, of whatever material, for warfare or ritual, called "babau."

The homeland of the Babauta surname is both Agat and Merizo (Hågat yan Malesso').  They seem to be two different families.  That they perhaps sprung from the same people in the far distance of time is anybody's guess.

The Hågat Babautas apparently come from two men named Raimundo and Jose.  What their connection is remains a mystery as no older baptismal records have been found to show us.  Raimundo and Jose would have been in their young adulthood in the 1840s.

Raimundo married Joaquina Taimanglo, and Jose married Ana Hokkok (also spelled Hocog, Jocog).  All four of these ancestors have indigenous Chamorro names (Babauta; Taimanglo or "without wind;" and Hokkok or "depleted").  There is a large Hocog family in Rota (Luta), and only one Hokkok family in Hågat, so there may or may not be a connection.

From these two men grew the numerous Hågat Babautas, some of whom moved to Sumay, Umatac (Humåtak) and Saipan during Spanish times and who are now all over the world.

The Malesso' Babautas have several ancestors, whose possible connections cannot be determined as of now.  The following ancestors would have lived around the 1840s and 1850s.  One Francisco Babauta, who married Alejandra Ugua.  One Dámaso Babauta, who married Dominga Espinosa.  One Vicente Babauta, who married Dorotea San Nicolas.  One Mariano Babauta, better-known-as Budo, who married Simona Chargualaf.  There is also one Silverio Charguane Babauta, a widower and older man in his 60s in 1898.  We do not know the name of his deceased wife so we cannot tell who his children were, assuming he had any.  The Malesso Babautas also can be found all over the world today.

There was one Babauta family living in Hagåtña in 1898.  Their father, Manuel Babauta, deceased by then, was better-known-as "Chabok."  He was married to Cipriana de Leon Guerrero Dueñas.  It isn't known if he was originally from Hågat or Malesso' or anywhere else.

P.S. Don't confuse babao with baobao, the latter meaning "hollow."
P.P.S. There was also another Hågat family named Babauña.  The name died out.

                      SOME WELL-KNOWN BABAUTAS

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His mañaina moved from Hågat to Saipan in the late 1800s

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Guam Benådo
As much as it is legal, moral and cultural, it breaks my heart to look at the picture above and to imagine it being shot or killed. I eat fish and an occasional chicken, but the creature above just pulls at my heart strings.  But, I am told that hunting during legal times is necessary to keep the benådo population manageable on our small island. 

The Department of Agriculture announced recently that hunting season for benådo begins April 15 and runs through September 30.  Did you know that you can be as young as 13 years old and get a hunting license on Guam?

Benådo were brought to Guam from the Philippines by Spanish Governor Mariano Tobias, who was Governor from 1771 till 1774.  Our word "benådo" is borrowed from the Spanish "venado."


TÅNE' - to be busy/occupied with, to be distracted by.  It can also mean "to be entertained with/by" though it's getting rarer and rarer to hear it used with this meaning nowadays.

I famaguon tumåtåne' yo'.  The children are keeping me busy.

Tåya' tinane'-ña.  He has nothing to do/to keep him busy.

Guiya tåne'-mo.  He is the one keeping you busy/entertained/distracted.

Kao tinatane' hao?  Are you busy?

Ha tåne' yo' i che'cho'-ho gi eskuela.  My work at school is keeping me busy/occupied.

Taitai i lepblo pot para u guåha tåne'-mo.  Read the book so you'll have something to do.

Tinane' = work, occupation, entertainment.  Påle' Roman also says it can mean "relief," as in relief from hunger, boredom, idleness since "tåne'" can also mean "distraction."  "Tinane'" can be a relief from those things since food distracts one from hunger, sports from boredom, work from idleness and so on.

Guåha tinane'-ho gi gima'yu'us.  I have something to do at church.

Mi tinane' yo'.  I have a lot of responsibilities/work/obligations/errands.

Here's an interesting twist on the word "tåne'."

Used in the form "tuminane'," it means one is "occupied in answering the call of nature."

Jose : Mångge si Kiko? (Where is Kiko?)
Maria : Må'pos tuminane' gi halom tåno'.  (He's occupied in the jungle.)

I have seen a sign on Guam over a public restroom FANTINANIAN.

I wonder what some language experts might say if this ought to be FANTUMINANIAN, since the construct would be :


Påle' Roman says FANTANIAN is a "place of entertainment, relaxation, amusement, diversion."  That would make sense because the construct there would :


There is a difference between TÅNE' and TUMINANE'.

Anyway, I have to go, sa' bula tinane'-ho!


Guam Memorial Hospital
There is a letter to the editor in today's PDN calling for a change in the name of Guam's only civilian, and troubled, hospital.


The writer isn't sure what "Memorial" refers to, and thinks other names would be more "appropriate" and "meaningful."  I am not sure as to the intent of the writer, who goes on to suggest, as one option, renaming GMH the "Mona Lisa" hospital, taking the idea from the lyrics of that song "Many men have been brought to your door step; they just lie there, and they die there."

Years ago, Tun Frank "Goyo," who had owned the land where the old GMH sat, told me that the civilian hospital built after the war was named "Guam Memorial" to honor the local civilian casualties of World War II.  This was confirmed to me today by former senator Tony Palomo.

Understanding this, I think "Memorial" is very appropriate and full of meaning.

Monday, March 28, 2011

There's an interesting article in the op-ed section of today's PDN (  In it, author Elwin Champaco Quitano states that the Chamorro Language Program in our public schools has not accomplished its goal, and proposes a radically different alternative to it.

This differs from the idea proposed by newly-elected Senator Mana Silva Taijeron to increase the length of the program in public schools. (

I have always been of the opinion that perhaps the best classroom for learning a language is the home.  If parents speak to their children in the language, the children will learn that language.  It is not for quaint reasons that the term is "mother tongue."  I think the best teachers a child can have is his or her parent(s).  That means in everything : language, religion, manners, thinking, feeling.

There are others ways of learning a language, of course.  But being in an environment where that language is extensively spoken is usually the best way.  I lived in Saipan in the early 1990s and I had to improve in Chamorro.  I had no choice.  It was either improve or not connect with a whole lot of people.  The environment then was very fino' Chamorro.  I heard our language spoken beautifully, day in, day out.  That was my classroom. 

It's hard to be in a swimming pool and not get wet.  It's hard to be surrounded by people speaking Chamorro and not learn a word here or there; then a phrase; then a sentence.  Before you know it, you're writing novels in Chamorro.  You get the picture.

Fan fino' Chamorro gi halom guma'-miyo!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


MAGÅHET : true

Kao magåhet hao?  Are you telling the truth?  Are you for real?

Åhe', ti magåhet enao.  No, that isn't true.

Pinite yo' magåhet.  I am truly sorry.

I magåhet na estoria.  The true story.

Yomagåhet.  A truthful person, honest, veracious.

Bai hu hongge si Maria, sa' yomagåhet gue' na palao'an.  I will believe Mary, because she is a truthful woman.

Minagåhet.  The truth.

I minagåhet ha' hu espipia.  I am only looking for the truth.

Scripture : "Guåho i chalan, i minagåhet yan i lina'la'."  (Juan 14:6)


As I try to out-run the Grim Reaper, when I can, I cook as healthy as possible, using as many local ingredients as I can find (pesticide-free).

So here's a version of kåddu using the following ingredients :
  • gisa your seboyas, åhos and håsngot (onions, garlic, ginger) in olive oil
  • I put a dash of sesame seed oil to give it a hint of Asia
  • instead of asiga (salt) I use Braggs Amino Acids, which has all the essential amino acids
  • a touch of mirin, a sweet Japanese rice wine (make sure you use mirin and not Kirin, haha)
  • a touch of binaklen tuba (tuba vinegar)
  • throw in cubed tofu for protein
  • nå'ye todo klåsen gollai (throw in whatever veggies you have before they go bad)
  • I used shredded carrots and chopped mushroom
  • I cubed some kalamasa for the nutrients it has (especially betacarotene)
  • I added some garbanzo beans for more protein and for the high fiber it has to sweep out my gugat (arteries)
  • finally some puntan kalamasa (pumpkin tips) because I read it helps lower blood pressure (but I can't find that site now) and because it tastes so darned good
  • use low sodium broth, or water with vegetarian bouillon cubes or powder
Si Yu'us ma'åse' to all the kind people who drop off gollai for me at the Friary!

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Un puenge, eståba un taotao na mañuñugon gue' gi chalan.  Pot i esta gef painge, matuhok ya malingo maigo'-ña annai matto gue' gi kandet ya pumåra sa' agaga'.  Annai matulaika i kandet ya esta bebetde, ti humånao i kilisyåno sa' mamaigo'.  Måtto un polisia ya man dåkkot gi bentåna. 

Ilek-ña i polisia : "Estague' i tikket-mo.  Fitma, pot fabot."
Ilek-ña i mañuñugon : "Mungnga yo'"
Ilek-ña i polisia : "Hago la'mon, lao bai tuge' guine gi tikket gi fino' Englis : "refuse to sign.""

Sigiente dia, chumålek i taotao annai ha taitai i tikket sa' lachi tinige'-ña i polisia.  Ha tuge' "refuse to sing."


KÅNTA : to sing; it can also mean "song"

Taken from the Spanish word "cantar," or "to sing."

Kumånta yo'  I sang.

Kumåkånta yo'.  I am singing.

Bai hu kånta.  I will sing.

Ti man malago' mangånta.  They don't want to sing.

Kånta, pot fabot!  Please sing!

Bonito na kånta.  A beautiful song.

Kantåye.  To sing to, to sing for.

Bai hu kantåye hao.  I will sing to you.

Kantåye ham!  Sing for us!

Synonym : Lalai (an indigenous word)

"Kånta, kånta kompañero / kånta todo i tiningo'-mo / sa' anggen guåho hao kumantåye / hu na' milalak lago'-mo!"  (Kåntan Chamorrita)

"Sing, sing my friend;
sing all that you know;
because if I sing to you;
I will make your tears flow."


The Dueñas name appears in the earliest census of Guam for which we have copies.  In that census, taken in 1727, we find a bachelor soldier listed in the Spanish column named Fernando Lázaro Dueñas.  He must have been a young man, maybe even in his late teens, which in those days was not considered too young to do military service or even to marry.  I say this because Fernando Lázaro appears again in the 1758 Census, thirty-one years later, as a married man with his children living with him.

Who was Fernando Lázaro Dueñas?  I wish I knew.  He was a soldier and he is listed in the Spanish column and he was on Guam as early as 1727.  By the term "Spanish soldier," anyone from Spain itself, or one of the Latin American colonies (Mexico, Peru, etc.) or someone born in the Philippines but of Spanish blood could have been meant.  So, the possibilities are many. 

He married one Juana María de Salas.  So now we look at the Salas name.  In the 1727 Census, there is only one Salas, a soldier in the Spanish column named Ignacio de Salas.  Again, where Ignacio came from is anybody's guess. 

Ignacio was married to one Isabel Meriña.  You can look all over Spain and not find the last name Meriña.  Since many Chamorro last names end in -ña (e.g. Mangloña, Mantanoña, Laguaña) and since mainly foreign men moved to Guam, not as many women, I wouldn't be surprised if Isabel Meriña was Chamorro.

Ignacio and Isabel had several children, including one Maria and one Juana.  Fernando Lázaro Dueñas married a Juana María de Salas.  Isn't it interesting that the only Salas family had one daughter named María, and another named Juana.  It's possible that later Ignacio and Isabel had another daughter named Juana María, but it is also possible that Juana María is either the María or the Juana listed in the 1727 Census.  People are like that; they don't always use all the names they were given at birth.  They sometimes drop one, mix them up.

So, if this all holds true, one Fernando Lázaro Dueñas married a mestisa (mixed) Spanish-Chamorro girl named Juana María de Salas, the daughter of Ignacio de Salas and Isabel Meriña.  Fernando's and Juana María's children would be part Chamorro and would certainly have spoken Chamorro as a first language because mothers raise babies and speak to them in their "mother tongue."

The 1758 Census gives us a second Dueñas by the name of Rafael José, who is married to María Josefa Contreras.  But since the census does not give us ages, we can't tell if Rafael José is a son of Fernando Lázaro or not.  My suspicion is that he is, since in 1727 Fernando Lázaro is the only Dueñas.  But, we can't be totally sure.  I would say the likelihood is very high that the Dueñas family of the Marianas are the descendants of Fernando Lázaro Dueñas and Juana María de Salas.

The family spread from Hagåtña to Inalåhan to Saipan and elsewhere.  The family has produced many leaders, including the second Chamorro priest, Pale' Jesús Baza Dueñas, whose photo can be seen in an earlier post.

The surname DUEÑAS is Spanish.  It means "owners" in the feminine gender.  "Dueño" in Spanish means "owner," if the owner is male; "dueña" if female.  It is a common name in Spain.  There is also a town in Spain called Dueñas.

The town of Dueñas in Spain
The school named after Father Dueñas

Spanish actress LOLA DUEÑAS
She has relatives on Guam???


Give these brothers a chance in the first few seconds while they figure out where to start.  I think they give a catchy, harmonious rendition of Fanohge Chamorro.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Steak and Lobster : An Old-Time Guam No-No in Lent!

When I was a younger priest I visited a family, and the mother, a woman in her 50s, who offered me lunch.  It was Lent, but not a Friday in Lent.  She offered me meat and fish, but would not eat both herself.  When I asked why, she said she was taught by her mother not to eat meat and fish at the same meal during the whole of Lent.  It was an old custom, she said.  On Fridays in Lent, of course, it was just guihan, no meat at all.

Years later I discovered sermons written in Chamorro in the 1870s and one of them explained that it was actually church law, and it applied to the Spanish colonies such as the Philippines and the Marianas, where the church relaxed the laws on fasting and abstinence.  These laws were stricter in Europe.  In exchange for relaxing the laws, the church required that, if one could eat meat every day in Lent (except on Fridays), at least let the people refrain from mixing meat with guihan on those days.

Here's what the sermon actually said :

"I Sånto Påpa...ha señåla nuebe dias ha' gi todo et åño, na debe u fanayunat..."   The Holy Father...has indicated only nine days in the entire year that you must fast..."

"I ha'åne siha nai atotta ma na' danña' kåtne yan guihan, este siha : todo i ha'åne siha gi kuaresma..."   The days when it is forbidden to mix meat and fish are these : all the days in Lent..."

These laws were later done away with, but some people stuck to the custom, up to this day.

As the manåmko' say : Maña i hechura, asta la seputtura!  We take our habits to the grave.


GUIHAN : fish.  A good word for a Friday in Lent.  This is one of those words that show our links with the entire Austronesian family of peoples, from Indonesia, through the Philippines all the way to Hawai'i.  In Indonesian the word for "fish" is "ikan."  Notice the pattern : the vowel of the first syllable is "i," the vowel in the second syllable is "a."  That's the crucial part.  "Ikan" also ends in "n" like in "guihan," and the "k" is softened in Chamorro to an "h."  In Ilokano, "ikan" also means "fish."  In Chuukese, the word is shortened to "iik."  In Tonga, it is likewise shortend to "ika" and in Hawai'i even further shortened to "i'a."



Wednesday, March 23, 2011


One of our Chamorro Christmas songs is "Iya Belen."  The Chamorro lyrics go :

Iya Belen, tåno' Jesus / må'gas na songsong / iya Belen.
(At Bethlehem, land of Jesus / a great town / at Bethlehem.)

The original hymn was a Christmas carol from the Basque region of Spain called "Oi Betlehem."  It was written by a Capuchin priest and Pale' Roman de Vera translated it into Chamorro.  This performer is singing it in the Basque language, not in Spanish.  The Spanish version is "Dulce Belén."


Many of you will be familiar with the Chamorro folk song "Hågo i Inan i Langet" which then goes on to say "opulan, klåro yan gåtbo; un na' silensio na puenge; un alibia, un alibia pinite-ho."  It is a sweet melody.  It is based on this Spanish folk song from the Rioja region of Spain.  Many of the Spanish missionary priests on Guam in the 1800s came from that region and the provinces close to it.  I wonder if one them taught the melody to our great-great-grandparents?


O'SON : to be bored of, to be tired of, to be disinterrested in

O'son yo' umegga' TV.  I am tired of watching TV.

Kao man o'son hamyo esta?  Are you all bored yet?

Na' o'son.  Tedious, weary, draining.

Ti na' o'son gue' an kumuentos.  S/he isn't tedious when s/he speaks.

Na' o'son este na progråma.  This program is boring.

Tai o'son.  Unwearied.

Achok ha' anåkko' i setmon, tai o'son hao na taotao.  Although the sermon was long, you are unwearied.

Ha' o'son.  Frequently bored.



The beautiful handwriting of Spanish documents
The origin of the Perez family in the Marianas is still one of those mysteries yet to be solved.  The name does not appear in the earliest known census of Guam for which we have copies, taken in 1727.

In the next census which has been found, taken in 1758, there appears one Miguel Perez de Armenta.  He is listed as a soldier from Pampanga in the Philippines.  Nothing else is known about him.  Was he Pampangan?  Fully Pampangan?  With no Chinese or European or Latin American blood?  But since his name does not appear in the 1727 Census, he most likely came to Guam between 1727 and 1758.

He married a woman named Ines Nahong.  I suspect that she was Chamorro.  The Spanish (which included Latin Americans) and Filipino (Pampangan) soldiers who came to Guam often married Chamorro women.  "Nahong" in Chamorro means "sufficient, enough."

In the 1758 Census, no children of Miguel and Ines are listed.  That's where the mystery continues.  Was Miguel the ancestor of all the Perezes on Guam?  It's hard to say, without documentary evidence like the record seen above.

Then there is the mystery of Miguel's surname.  Perez de Armenta; clearly Spanish.  But many Filipinos (and Chamorros) also had Spanish surnames, getting them in several ways.  Some by intermarriage (Spanish father, Filipino or Chamorro mother) and some were simply given a Spanish name even though they had no Spanish blood.

"Perez" is a very common Spanish last name, the 8th most widespread last name in the country.  "Perez" is so common that it was often modified by attaching another name to it, like "de Armenta."  "Armenta" is a last name found mainly in the south of Spain and is not that common.  It is possible that this particular Perez family wanted to distinguish themselves from other Perezes and added "de Armenta," perhaps from the mother's last name.

In any case, we still have no documents that can connect Miguel Perez de Armenta, one of the Pampanga soldiers, and his probably Chamorro wife Ines Nahong, with the many Perezes who show up on Guam in the 1800s.

If Miguel and Ines are truly the founders of the Perez clan on Guam, what happened to "de Armenta?"  As there was just one Perez family on Guam, perhaps the "de Armenta" was dropped as there was no need to have such a long last name when only one family has that last name after all.

It is widely believed that all those many Perezes on Guam in the 1800s are descendants of, or at least connected to, one Venancio Perez, who served in the local militia in the early 1800s. 

The family branched out into the Goyo, Bonñao, Gongga families, and many other Perez families, all inter-connected.  The name "Perez" means "Son of Pedro," or Peter.  The Spaniards often took a father's first name, ended it with -ez and made it into a last name.  So Juan, the son of Rodrigo, became Juan Rodriguez; and Luis, the son of Gonzalo, became Luis Gonzalez.  There is also a Hebrew man named Perez in the Old Testament, but that's coincidence, unless some of the Jews in Spain who converted to Christianity took Perez as a last name to keep an Old Testament connection, while others obtained Perez as the last name the conventional way I described.

When it comes to our family histories, what we don't know is more than what we do know.  We lack many of the documents, which were lost or destroyed through wars, typhoons, humidity.  We need to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims and humbly add the words "maybe," "perhaps" and "possibly" to our historical conversations.  Guesses and speculations, honestly admitted, are better than presumptions that become erroneous dogma.  Let's all pray that some day soon someone will discover our baptismal records and censuses from the very beginning hiding in some archive in Spain, Mexico or the Philippines!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


CHOCHO : to eat.

This is a word where the glota ( ' ) makes a difference.  You don't want the glota in this one.  Putting a glota here after both syllables changes the meaning completely.  Cho'cho' means work, or to work.  You can cho'cho' when you've gotten the energy to do it after you chocho.

Kao malago' hao chumocho? Do you want to eat?
Åhe', esta monhåyan yo' chumocho.  No, I already ate.
Fañocho!  Eat! (to several or more people)

I checho.  The meal.
Kaiha' måkpo i checho.  The meal was barely finished.

Ga' chumocho.  Someone who loves to eat.  Perhaps a glutton.

Na' chocho. To give someone something to eat.
Na' chocho i patgon sa' ñålang.  Give the child something to eat because s/he's hungry.

Fañochuyan.  A place where people eat.  Fan+chocho+yan = fañochuyan.


Ha kattåye yo' un palao'an på'go na ha'åne ya ha na' chålek yo'.  Ilek-ña : Guåha na biåhe na finatottoigue' este na palao'an ni diferentes klåsen relihion ni ma na' keketulaika i relihion-ña i palao'an.  Lao åntes di ma tutuhon i kombetsasion, mamaisen i palao'an yan este na kuestion : "Kuånto na gå'ga si Moisés ha konne' guato gi halom i atka åntes di dilubio?"  Entre i man bisita, guåha ilek-ña "Singko mit."  Otro na bisita ilek-ña, "Dos mit na gå'ga'."  Kada uno ti man pareho i ineppen-ñiha.  En fin, ilek-ña i palao'an, "Ni uno giya hamyo dinanche. Ni uno na gå'ga' ha konne' si Moisés guato gi atka, sa' trabia ti mafañåñågo si Moisés gi tiempon dilubio.  Si Noé kumonne' i ga'ga' siha guato gi atka!"

THE MANNGINGE' : Defining the Relationship

"Hånao ya un fannginge'!"  How often did we hear this when we were kids?  We entered a room or a space, and we were told to fannginge'.  We weren't told exactly who.  We assumed it meant to fannginge' every adult person in the room, known to us or not.  That was a lot of mannginge', sometimes 10 minutes' worth.  The very, very old were safe bets.  The silver haired but still agile were usually dependable.  Those in their 40s and 50s were risky.  You might be scolded for trying to make them feel old.  Being scolded made the mannginge' a fearful exercise for us kids.

The custom is ancient and was not borrowed from the Spanish.  No Spaniard takes the hand of a senior man and puts his nose to it!  The early European explorers describe Chamorro signs of respect.  Venerating the hand of a higher status person is found in other cultures within our Austronesian family, such as the "mano po" of the Filipinos.

The ancient salutation, "Ati aring-mo," which meant "I kiss your feet," (aring is probably "addeng," the Chamorro word for feet), has been replaced by Spanish words and phrases.  We were scolded if we didn't say "Ñot" (short for Señot, or Sir) or "Ñora" (short for Señora, or Madam).  The higher status person blessed us with "Dios te ayude" which is Spanish for "God help you."  Of course we pronounced it the Chamorro way, with the Y in "ayude" sounding like DZ.

We had to fannginge' the priests, too, even if they looked fresh out of seminary. 

The fannginge' is also called "amen" but my mañaina never called it that.  I heard that term later from others.

And you had to take full possession of the person's hand.  Just bending forward a little and gesturing a little wasn't good enough.  There was no "air mannginge'."

When I was a baby priest, all of 29 years old, 80 year old women would fannginge' me.  It felt awkward.  But the fannginge' is not a sign of groveling subservience.  It is a way of starting off interaction with positive feelings.  I, who bend down and venerate the hand, show respect; I acknowledge someone's status; I define the relationship.  I, who am venerated, bestow a blessing.  We can now proceed.  We feel good about each other.  What favor do you want?

Neither is it a sign of affection.  The mannginge' has been replaced in modern times by kisses with the lips.  Much too intimate for old-time Chamorros, who rarely even held hands in public between husband and wife.  I remember almost having to provide a papal dispensation to some manåmko' to get them to hold hands for a brief moment when celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

Respect, not affection.  Nose, not lips.  Even the word is "nginge'" which means "to smell."  One doesn't really take a big whiff of the person's hand, but when Chamorros kiss (romance aside), they kiss with the nose.

Here on Guam, I see the custom still practiced to a large extent.  The other day, here at the friary, a young man reached for the hand of a visiting American priest.  The priest didn't know what was going on and jerked back his hand.  I told the priest, "Give him your hand.  It's what we do here." 

Among my close relatives, we practice what I call "mutual mannginge'."  They are older than me and are my mother's siblings or cousins, but many will fannginge' me.  Of my own volition, I reciprocate.  Sometimes we bump heads doing it simultaneously.

So younger people or you in the beneficiary class, fan mannginge'!  And you seniors (even if you're just 50) and you in the benefactor class, don't give them a hard time for rendering you respect.  The world could use a lot more of it.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Ilek-ho na siempre hipokrito yo' yanggen hu na' guåha este na blog pot para hu abånsa pat hu na' kahulo' i lengguåhi-ta, lao tat nai måmångge' yo' enteramente gi fino' Chamorro gi halom et mismo.

Pot i palåbra "dage:" guåha na hu hungok na ma sångan, yanggen lache i sinangån-ña i taotao an kumuentos, na ilek-ña, "Ai, dispensa, hu dadage hao!"  Ti kumekeilek-ña na mandadage gue' gi magåhet, ni sikiera ti ha hasngon dumage i otro taotao.  En lugåt, kumekeilek-ña na, masea ti intension-ña, lache i infotmasion ni ha sångan, ya måtto gi dinage.  Bonito, para guåho, este na klåsen kuentos.

Jose : Rosa, para ke ora i lisåyo la'mona?
Rosa : Para a las siette.
Jose : Ha?
Rosa : Ai!  Dispensa!  Hu dadage hao!  Kumekeilek-hu na para a las ocho!


(Try this : each day focus on one word and repeat it all day long.  Use the word in its different forms.  Even when you speak in English, use the Chamorro word in the English sentence.  Challenge family members to use the word all day long.  Using this method, I think the word will stick like cooked rice to the pot.)

DAGE : to lie (as in falsehood), to deceive.

Ha dage yo'.  S/he lied to me.

Cha'-mo dinadage nu enao. Don't be deceived by that.

Mandage yo'.  I lied.

I mandadage na minagof i tano' siha.  The false pleasures of the world.

Dinage.  Lie or lies.

Ha sångan todo klåsen dinage.  S/he told all kinds of lies.

Dagiyon.  Easily deceived.

Dagiyon hao na taotao.  You are easily deceived.


Well, not quite 100 years ago but close to it.  These photos were taken sometime in or around the 1920s in Inarajan.

Notice it's the men front and center at the feast of the patriarch, Saint Joseph, all in their white shirts.  They carry Saint Joseph on an åndas just as they did this year, almost a hundred years later.  The women follow behind with their white handkerchiefs for veils.

Inarajan Church around the same time, before the present one was built between 1939 and 1940.  That's the konbento (casa parroquial) on the right.  Did you know that while the patron saint of the village is San Jose, the patron of the church is Nuestra Señora de la Consolación (Our Lady of Consolation)?


Yanggen hågo para asaguå-ho / mås ke nungka yo', no kiero
sa' i tiba yan åguayente / dumesonra i sottero.

If you are to be my husband / not me!; I don't want to
because tuba and alcohol / dishonor the bachelor.

A Chamorro "Dear John" letter, although maybe these two were never a couple to begin with.  In any case. she was not going to marry a man attached to a bottle.  One day, he'd have to choose between her and the bottle and she wasn't going to make a wager on that question.

"Mås ke nungka" is based on archaic Spanish that is not even used in Spain anymore.  "Más que" meant "although" or "even if" but the form used now in Spain is "aunque."  "Más que nunca" means "not ever" or "never."

"No kiero" is straight out of the Spanish "no quiero," or "I don't want."  I've heard it said once, "Hu faisen gue', lao munukiero gue'."  "I asked him, but he didn't want."  Notice how we take the Spanish and adjust it to fit our indigenous grammar.

Åguayente is Chamorro homemade liquor.  As you know, almost any vegetative food source can be made into alcohol.  Chamorros made it from fruits, sugar cane or coconut; whatever was handy.  The word comes the Spanish "aguardiente."  "Agua"+"ardiente" or "fire water."

Chamorro moonshine was also called agi or årak.

Tuba is fermented coconut toddy and has alcoholic content, but is not distilled like åguayente and thus not as potent.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


One of the things I love about Guam is the kindness of people who drop off the fruits of the land for me to use in my cooking.  These are local fruits and veggies that have been given to me in the last few days. The papaya I slice and sprinkle whatever lemon I have on hand.  The pepino I eat very simply.  What about the kondot and the kalamasa?  Anyone out there have any ideas how I can cook them?  Let me know.  Si Yu'us ma'åse'!


There were just so many Jose Cruzes and Juan Santoses on Guam, I suppose, and so our forebears resorted to nicknames, in modern times referred to one's "better-known-as" and in the past called the "endeared name," "ma na' kaririño."  Funeral announcements in the newspaper, to this day, often include these family nicknames.  They came about through a variety of ways, and one of them was to simply identify the family by the name, or nickname, of a patriarch or matriarch.  Here are just a few :

GOYO = a well-known branch of the Perez family which has included many political, commercial and religious leaders of Guam.  Named after the patriarch Gregorio.  Chamorros had a hard time pronouncing the non-native Y sound and turned it into a DZ sound, represented by the Spaniards with a Y as in Yigo and Yo'ña.  So the last syllables of Gregorio - gorio - were transformed into Goyo.

KAILA = a branch of the Dueñas family today is named after a matriarch, Micaila, the feminine form of Miguel (Michael).  Micaila would be the Spanish form of the French Michelle.

SINDA = the famous bakers of the Eustaquio clan, named after their matriarch Reducinda.

SIKET = these descendants of the Castro family come from a patriarch named Ezequiel.  The last syllables were turned into Siket.  Remember that we have a hard time pronouncing final L's and R's.  They become T's.

SAURO = although all Unpingco's come from the same Chinese immigrant, people still referred to his descendants using the short-cut of his Christian name, Rosauro.

KASIMIRO = two Untalan brothers immigrated to Guam in the 1800s.  To distinguish their descendants, both branches were named after their respective patriarchs.  One brother was named Casimiro.

MÅTKOS = the other Untalan brother was named Marcos.

GÅBIT = some of the Pereda's are named after their patriarch, Gabriel.

NÅNDO = it's just a change of one letter from the Pereda's, but some Peredo's are descendants of a man named Fernando.

MIN = down in Agat, a branch of the Babauta's are called the familian Min, after their patriarch Benjamin.

Finally, my own small Chamorro family, the familian Kitå'an, was named after our matriarch Maria Perez Torres, whose nickname was Marikita = Kitå'an.


ÑÅLANG : hungry.  A good word for Lent, as we're supposed to be fasting (some) this time of year.

Ñålang yo'. I am hungry.

Kao ñålang hao?  Are you hungry?

Ñålang i patgon.  The child is hungry.

Måtai ñålang.  To die of hunger.

Niñalang.  Hunger.

Hañalang.  Frequently hungry.

Historical Use : In the old Chamorro hymn "O Señora Nånan-måme," there is a line "Chomma' Nånan mina'åse' i pakyo yan i niñalang."  Forbid, Mother of Mercy, typhoons and hunger.

Proverb : Puti ñålang, puti håspok.  It's painful to be hungry, it's painful to be full.  Especially the way many of us eat!  Perhaps this saying is a plea for moderation in eating.

Scripture : "Annai ñålang yo', en na' chocho yo'."  "When I was hungry, you fed me." (Matthew 25:35)

Antonym : Håspok (full, satiated)

Synonym : Ambiento, ambriento, hambiento, hambriento.  From the Spanish "hambriento," meaning "hungry."  The Chamorro word "ambiento" has come to mean more nowadays "greedy," "gluttonous" or "avaricious" rather than simply "hungry."


Tonight at the Saint Joseph fiesta in Inarajan, I learned from Tony Ramirez, a well-known historical and cultural resource person, that the flowers on the åndas were asusena flowers.  I know nothing about flowers and couldn't tell you the difference between the asusena, ilang-ilang and dama de noche, but Tony says all three are different.  To me, they're all mames and paopao.  Years ago at the original friary, Father Marcian used to say how much he liked the smell of the dama de noche that grew near his window.  Whenever I'd drive through Fonte (the lush valley below Naval Hospital on the way to Adelup) at dusk, I'd smell the captivating fragrance of ilang-ilang.  At least that's what everyone told me.


I think he's ready.  This little "friar" attends Latin Mass at the friary with his mom, dad and older brothers.  He wanted to dress like Saint Padre Pio for Halloween last year and, this morning, he just had to wear the robes again.


Only the façade of this church precariously stands as a testimony of the previous presence of a small community of Baptists in Inarajan.  A Chamorro Protestant family from Hagåtña, from the Flores family (better known as Kabesa), moved to Inarajan around the turn of the century, and began evangelical work in the village, creating quite a stir.  The air was tense for many years, with the Spanish Capuchins marking out Inarajan with special care because of the Protestant efforts there.  The church was eventually closed and, with the passage of time and typhoons, not much of the structure remains.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Way up towards the ceiling, on both sides of the nave of the church, are circular stained glass windows with the advocations from the Litany of Saint Joseph written in Chamorro.  You can just make out in this photo the words "Må'gas i Sagrada Familia," or "Head of the Holy Family."

The most significant historical feature of Inarajan's church is the tomb of Father Jesus Baza Dueñas, beheaded by the Japanese on July 12, 1944.  Pale' Dueñas had been pastor of Inarajan just before the war and remained there during the war.  Suspected of having information about American radio man George Tweed, he was apprehended by the Japanese, tortured and eventually killed.  He met his death in Tå'i, in the general vicinity where the school named in his honor stands today.  After the war, with the help of eye witnesses, Monsignor Oscar Lujan Calvo located the grave, identified the body and had the remains respectfully interred in the church he pastored.  You can see that he was buried in the sanctuary of the church, not far from the tabernacle.

The metal plaque marking his grave says the following :


"In pace et honore hic jacet Rev. Dns. Jesus B. Dueñas tempore bello occisus die 12 a Julii 1944 hic inter suos sepulturam invenit die 21 a Martii 1945." 

Which more or less means : In peace and honor here lies the Reverend Sir Jesus B. Dueñas, slain in time of war on July 12, 1944;  his grave was discovered on March 21, 1945. 

Secular or diocesan priests like Father Dueñas were given the honorable title, in Latin, "Dominus" which means "lord" or "master."  Perhaps the English word "Sir" would get closer to the intended meaning.  "Dominus" became "Don" in Spanish, to bestow honor on men of higher rank.

Father Dueñas died at the young age of 33, traditionally believed to be the same age when Christ died.  He had been a priest for just six years.

The church as seen right after World War II

The present church in Inarajan was built in 1940 by the Spanish Capuchin Pale' Bernabé de Cáseda.  It used to have the words "Ite ad Joseph" written above the main church doors.  That phrase means "Go to Joseph," because just as Saint Joseph was the protector of the Virgin and Child, we ought to seek him as our defender, the patron of the universal Church.


This year, the parish of Saint Joseph in Inarajan was able to celebrate its patronal feast on the actual feast day, March 19.  As usual, the festal Mass and procession were celebrated on Saturday afternoon, followed by dinner for all who attended, hosted by the parish.  This feast was very popular on Guam before World War II when many people from Hagåtña traveled to Inarajan to spend a few days and nights with friends and relatives for this feast.  Anticipation of this feast was generated seven Sundays prior to March 19 with the observance of the Siete na Damenggon San Jose (the Seven Sundays of Saint Joseph), a devotion prayed by the faithful.  The focus of this devotion was on the men, who took Saint Joseph as a role model.

On March 19, the Church looks specifically on Saint Joseph as the Patron Saint of the Universal Church; hence the Chamorro title Patrosinio for this particular feast.

The image of Saint Joseph is carried in procession on an åndas.  A karosa is another mode of carrying a statue, but on wheels.  If the statue is carried on a pallet on the shoulders of the bearers, it's an åndas.  Both terms were borrowed from the Spanish (andas; carroza).

Notice how our people need to touch and feel.  Hands instinctively reach out to make physical contact.  Children are raised to reach the statue.

I noticed many people from all over the island drive down south for the fiesta.  Before the war, travel to Inarajan was not a quick trip like ours was tonight, driving from the friary in Agaña Heights to Inarajan in just 40 minutes.  Back then, one really was a taotao tumano', a person journeying over the land (tåno').  The food served after the fiesta is the na' taotao tumano', the food for those journeying by land (pilgrims).

The carving station at the Inarajan fiesta.  Well, one of them anyway!  There were several.