Friday, September 30, 2011


During the 1800s, many whaling ships, mostly British and American, stopped by Guam to get food and to allow the crew to rest a bit.  According to one of the doctors on board a whaling ship that stopped on Guam in 1831, this is what the ship bought while docked on Guam :

Oranges (50 cents for 100)
Plantains (cooking bananas)

Sweet Potatoes
these roots sold for 3 or 4 reales for a 20 pound basket

Bulls ($12-$18 each)
Pigs ($3-$4 each)


Citrus nobilis

We've been getting BAGS and BAGS of lalanghita in the past couple of weeks.  This year they seem to be so much more juicy and tasty.

Safford says that the fruit was of recent introduction to Guam when he was writing in the early 1900s.  He said that several trees of it were growing in the garden of the home of Don José Herrero in the barrio of San Ramon in Hagåtña.

He also says that it was called "kåhet na dikkike'" (small orange) by the Chamorros.  Lalanghita comes from the Spanish naranjita, or "small orange," as naranja is Spanish for "orange."  The letter R was always a problem for our mañaina so they substituted it with an L.  And some Spanish words beginning with N were also changed in Chamorro to L.  For example, our word latiya comes from the Spanish natilla, which means "little cream" or "custard."  Filipinos also have their own modification of the Spanish name of this fruit, calling it dalanghita.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


September 29 is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel, Patron of Talofofo.  Well, I guess it is only fitting that God's Archangel be patron of God's Country.

"Michael" is Hebrew, derived from the question "Who is like God?"  The El in Micha-el is the Hebrew generic term for the deity or God.  Notice how -el pops up frequently in names like Daniel, Gabriel, Israel and so on.

This angel has that name because he did battle with Lucifer who claimed to be equal to God.  Michael opposes this hubris with the question : Who is like (equal to) God?  The answer : No one.

This theology is reflected in one of the Chamorro hymns to San Miget Atkånghet.

Håye si Yu'us?  Taichilong si Yu'us.
(Who is God? God is without equal.)

San Miget Atkånghet, hungok magogof
(Saint Michael the Archangel, be pleased to hear)

i in sangan på'go na tinayuyut.
(the prayers we now say.)

San Miget Atkånghet, chomma si Satán
(Saint Michael the Archangel, push back Satan)

sa' i manganite ti yan-ñiha ham.
(because the demons do not love us.)

Before the war, Talofofo was a mission chapel under Inarajan parish.  I'll have to dig more to verify or debunk, but if the first chapel was built after 1935 and if the devotion started only then, I wouldn't be surprised if Saint Michael was chosen to be the patron because the new bishop at the time was Bishop Olano, whose first name was Miguel Ángel, or Michael Angel.

Chamorro Prayer to San Miget Atkånghet
(this was said after every Low Mass back in the day and to this day in the traditional Latin Mass)

San Miget Atkånghet, goggue ham gi mimu, pattang ham gi tinailaye yan i ginadde' i manganite siha.  Si Yu'us u tinago' gue', in tatayuyut hao man umitde, ya hågo, må'gas i ehetsiton långet, dulalak nu i yiniusan minetgot-mo guato sasalåguan si Satanås yan i pumalo na man chatante ni i manailaye, na manlalayao gi tano' ha na' kekefanailaye i ante siha.  Taiguennao mohon.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.  Amen.

goggue = defend
gi mimu = mumu means "fight" or "battle"
pattang = to block or shield
ginadde' = gadde' means to "ensnare, trap"
manganite = anite means "demon." Man+anite = manganite = demons (plural)
ehetsiton = ehetsito means "army," borrowed from the Spanish ejército.  Stress is on the 2nd syllable : e-HET-si-to.
dulalak = chase away
yiniusan = divine.  From "Yu'us" or God.  Yiniusan = godlike
chatante = ånte means "spirit."  Chat means a defect in quality.  So, "bad spirits."
na' kekefanailaye = tailaye means "evil."  Ke means "to try to, to attempt." Na' ketailaye = trying to make evil.

One of our faithful readers points out where to hear the original Spanish version of this hymn :


This woman lost her sister almost a year ago.  She practices the old custom of the luto, wearing black to church for one whole year till the first death anniversary.  The custom is rarely practiced now, but some are keeping the tradition.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Ilek-ñiha i man åmko' : Åhe' ti i saina para u espia i patgon, na i patgon para u espia i saina.

The elder does not go looking for the younger; the younger has the obligation to look for the older.  If the nephew or grandson complains that the uncle, aunt or grandparent never visits him, his grievance is without merit in our eyes, because it is his obligation to visit the saina, not the other way around.

El viejo no busca al joven; es el joven que tiene la obligación de buscar al viejo.  Los sobrinos buscan al tío o a la tía; los nietos buscan al abuelo o a la abuela.  Pasan años y los viejos no van a buscar a los jóvenes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011



The following three words are somewhat close in pronunciation and are notoriously (mis)spelled in any number of ways.  Hearing closely what is said will help you enunciate them clearly and spell them more accurately to avoid miscommunication.


Separate the syllables.  MÅNG + GE
The Å is the open "a."
There is no glota ( ' ) after "ge."


Separate the syllables.  MÅN + NGE'
Pronounce both syllables separately.
Notice the glota.


Separate the syllables.  MÅN + GE'
It has the same first syllable as in månnge'.
It ends with a glota, as in månnge'.
But there is no "ng" sound as there is in månnge'.
You hear instead a hard "g."  Ge'.

It comes from the root word tuge'. Write.
But when you use tuge' as a general action, as in "to write a letter," you put "man" in front of tuge'.
Månge' yo' kåtta.  I wrote a letter.
"A letter" is not specific; it is indefinite and general.  We're not sure what letter.
Saying "the letter" is specific. Not "a" letter but "the" letter.  Here you switch to tuge'.
Hu tuge' i katta.  I wrote the letter.


The "tu" is dropped.  It becomes månge'.

PS - Many will spell some or all the above with an "i" at the end instead of an "e."  Månggi?  Månngi'!  Mångi'.


Jose : Juan, kuåttro na kosas masusesedi åntes de un "heart attack."  Håfa siha?

Juan : Uno, siempre bobongbong i korason-mo; pues, putititi i haof-mo; pues, chatsaga siempre i hinagong-mo; pues, siña puti i kanai-mo, pat apagå'-mo pat tatalo'-mo.
Jose : Åhe', Juan.  Lache hao.

Juan : Pues håfa siha nai?
Jose : Uno, chumochocho hao fritåda; pues, gumigimen hao setbesa; pues, chumuchupa hao; pues umåsson hao ya un maigo'!

Monday, September 26, 2011


Walking past this hole in a field near a beach the other day, I was reminded of this :
Which hides in holes in the sandy soil like the one above.

When I was a kid, it was all the rave to pick up the dukduk and say "dukdukdukdukdukdukdukduk" into it as close as you could get your lips to it.  Sometimes the crab would come out and tickle your lips with its legs.

This is a Chamorro word that should be pronounced with Chamorro vowels; as in dook dook, not duck duck.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

You know you're Chamorro when you take your shoes or slippers off before you enter a home.  It prevents bringing dust and mud into the home and, personally, I feel more comfortable walking around in socks.  I do it even in the States, and there's not a few mainland Chamorros who tell me not to do it, and I respond with a Chamorro "Ha?"

Guåha probechon-ña este na kostumbren Chamorro, i para ta pula' i sapatos-ta pat changkletås-ta åntes de ta fan hålom gi gima'.  Man applacha' i sapatos-ta, piot yanggen kafache pat potbos.  Mutcho mås yanggen ta gatcha' i take' ga'lågo pat otro na klåsen inapplacha' gi katsåda!

Åmbres gi san lago hu pupula' ha' i sapatos-ho åntes de hu hålom gi gima' yanggen iyon Chamorro na guma', sa' mannge'-ña para guåho mamokkat sumin sapåpåtos ke ni para bai usa i sapatos-ho gi halom guma'.  Meggai biåhe kontodo i gai gima' na Chamorro sumangångåne yo' "Påle'! Mungnga ma pula' i sapatos-mo!"  Lao siempre bai hu sangåne gue' "Ha?  Maipe i addeng-ho ya ga'o-ko hu pula'!"

This family is nice enough to provide a shoe horn for you and neatly stack your shoes on shelves!


I was taught to say "Åbe Maria Purisima" when calling at the door of any house.  It's a Spanish phrase meaning "Hail Mary most pure."  The person or persons inside would respond, "Sin pekådo konsebida," "conceived without sin."

Tan Esco greets me this traditional way in this clip, and signs herself, too.  Then she proceeds to tell me that she knew I would be visiting her that day because she saw me on the televised Mass that morning.

"Åbe Maria Purisima" is also the traditional Chamorro way of ending any prayers.  And it can also be used as an exclamation, as in "Oh my!"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Colegio de San Juan de Letrán

Blessed Diego Luís de Sanvitores established a school in Hagåtña, the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán (named after Saint John Lateran in Rome).  Colegio did not mean "college" in the modern, American sense (like a university).  A colegio in those days simply meant "school."  It was financed through a grant from the Spanish Queen María Ana de Austria, from whom we get the name Marianas for all our islands.

The colegio maintained two ranches at one time, to earn some income and to train students.  One ranch was at Agofan and the other at Toto.

As early as 1786, which is just 118 years after Sanvitores arrived, some of the colegio's officials were Chamorros.  The rector of the colegio was the Spanish priest of Hagåtña, but the mayordomo, teacher and ranch managers were all Chamorros, with mainly indigenous surnames.  The mayordomo was a kind of superintendent, looking after the daily affairs of the school.

From a salary list of 1786, we know who these officials were :

Basilio Taitiguang - Mayordomo
Pedro Ñauta - teacher
Francisco Quitugua - manager, Agofan ranch
Luciano Guerrero - manager, Toto ranch

LAMASA : table

This is a word we borrowed from the Spanish word for "table," mesa.  In Spanish, "the table" is "la mesa."  Our mañaina pronounced it "la masa" and that's where we got lamasa.   So, yes, the Mesa family has "table" for a family name.

To "set the table" is plånta i lamasa.

Pale' Roman de Vera, Capuchin, always trying to get back to an indigenous term, though he was a Spaniard himself, offers us the word fañahangan for "table."

Remember the FAN+WORD+AN formula?  It makes a word become the "place of" or the "time of" that word.  Sahang means "to place something above the floor."  A table does exactly that. 

FAN+SAHANG+AN = fañahangan.

It would be nice to find out if Pale' Roman got fañasahang from an older Chamorro or missionary who remembered it as another word for "table," or if he read it in an older book (less likely) or if he just used logic to come up with the word.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Umassaguan Tåtten Potta
To be Married behind the Door

Before the war, if parents discovered that their unmarried daughter was with child, they often looked for the father of the child.  Both sets of parents would talk.  As with many cultures, the two families felt that they had to "make things right" between the boy and girl, and for the baby on its way.

Since all of this was a huge embarrassment to both families, the priest usually agreed to marry the two of them in a quiet way, avoiding the use of the main church.  Since bride and groom can marry without Mass, the priest often took the bride and groom "behind the door," that is, inside his sacristy (the priest's dressing room behind the sanctuary) or sometimes inside his rectory (office) and performed the exchange of vows there.

The newlyweds would live under the same roof now, be seen publicly as husband and wife and, hopefully, no one would notice that the mother gave birth a little less than nine months after the quiet wedding.


Luta (Rota) under the Spanish had its own mayor (alcalde) as well as a district leader (gobernadorcillo, or "little governor").  Every two years (by the late 1800s) the principal men of the community (principales) would vote for a gobernadorcillo, but the vote was purely consultative.  The Governor of the Marianas selected the man.  The priest also put in his opinion, which was not always followed.

In 1893, the electors were Julian Borja Songao, Gregorio Jocog Mangloña, Mariano Inos Mangloña, Leocadio Jocog Taimañao, Vicente Jocog Mangloña, Benito Angoco Atalig, Mariano Maratita Ayuyu, Francisco Taisacan Mangloña, Braulio Songao Mangloña, Pedro Cruz Taitano, Domingo Maratita Ayuyu and Castulo Jocog Mangloña.  Jose Blas Mendiola was the outgoing gobernadorcillo.

Vicente Jocog Mangloña got the most votes and was also endorsed by the priest.  He was the one selected by the Governor.

If your name was Songao, Mangloña, Inos, Jocog, Taimañao, Atalig, Maratita, Ayuyu or Taisacan, you had roots in Luta.  If you were a Borja, Angoco, Taitano, Mendiola - you were either born on Guam or had a parent that was.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Here's what William Safford, Navy official on Guam in the early 1900s, said about the way we treated our parents in his day :

"On their part sons and daughters show the greatest respect and affection for their parents, recognizing their authority as long as they live.  It is not unusual for a man or woman of 40 or 50 years to ask permission of his parents before engaging in a business transaction, and the spectacle of old women, abandoned and forgotten by their children, acting as water carriers, etc., so common in Samoa and among our Indian tribes, is unknown in Guam.  Parents are tenderly cared for in their old age, treated with deference even when in their dotage, and depart this life accompanied by the prayers of all their family, all of whom leave their occupations and come from the most distant parts of the island to be with them during their last moments."

"Onra si tatå-mo yan si nanå-mo."  I mina' kuattro na Tinago' Yu'us.

It really is just 4 miles or so from Hagåtña to Pago Bay.  That's narrow!

According to legend, a really big fish started eating Guam, biting out big chunks of it.  Maybe that explains the perfect bite-sized shape of Pago Bay (if you had a big mouth).

The men couldn't do anything about the big fish, so the women came to the rescue!
The women used their long, flowing hair to weave a giant net to capture the big fish and Guam was saved.

Friday, September 16, 2011

HÅSPOK : full (satiated; full stomach)

Håspok yo'.  I am full.

Kao håspok hao?  Are you full?

Ei na hinåspok yo'!  Boy am I full!

Na' håspok.  Satisfying, capable of making one full.

Ti na' håspok i aga'.  Bananas don't make one full.

Håspok can, in fact, be used figuratively or poetically to denote emotional satisfaction.

Na' håspok yo' minagof!  Make me full of happiness!

Håspok yo' pinite.  I am more than full of pain.

Here's a saying that is true enough :

Puti ñålang; puti håspok.

The tummy hurts when it's hungry; it hurts when it's full.

An Extinct Species?
More than likely on Guam, at least.

The payesyes (Pacific sheath-tailed bat; emballonura semicaudata) is a smaller bat than the fanihi.

The last sighting of it on Guam was in 1972.  In 1984, they were discovered living on Aguiguan, whereas they had disappeared from the larger islands of the Commonwealth by then.

In the Malojlo area, there was an area called Liyang Payesyes (Payesyes Cave).  A Malojlo woman told me she was born there at the end of World War II where her family had taken refuge from the bombing during the American return in July 1944.

There is also a family that goes by Payesyes as it's "better-known-as."

Perhaps because they were too small to offer much in the way of eating, our mañaina didn't hunt payesyes.  They stayed in caves during the day and only came out in the dark to eat insects.  Habitat disturbance, and perhaps the brown tree snake, account for its disappearance.

South of Tinian, North of Rota
The last home of the payesyes

If the U.S. military still uses Aguiguan for bombing practice, what will become of the payesyes and other critters unique to the Marianas and otherwise?


Arekglådo kon champulådo!

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Guåha ga'-ho galagito / si Menggåno i na'ån-ña;
ti manlili'e sa' båtchet / ti manhuhungok sa' tangnga.

I have a pet puppy / Menggano is his name;
he doesn't see because he's blind / he doesn't hear because he's deaf.

Gof na'masi si Menggåno, no?

In Chamorro, you don't say "I have a dog" or "I have a cat."  You say "There is my animal dog" or "my animal cat" or whatever animal you may have.  Gå'ga' means "animal," but when it becomes someone's possession, gå'ga' becomes ga'Ga'-ho, "my animal."  Ga'-mo, "your animal."

Galagito.  A Chamorro word transformed in a Spanish way. Ga'lågo (literally, "animal from the direction of the sea" because dogs came with the European ships) takes on the Spanish diminutive -ito.  Any word changed to -ito makes it a smaller thing.  Galagito means "small ga'lågo" or "puppy."

Menggåno is also Spanish; it isn't a real name.  It is one way of calling someone "so-and-so," or "what's his name."


Dolor is Spanish for "pain" but has also been used to mean spiritual "sorrow."  Dolores means "sorrows."  Our Lady of Sorrows.  So many Chamorro girls were baptized with the name Dolores.  Why the plural?  Seven sorrows, nai.  Not just one.

Nicknames for Dolores are Lole', but that sounds too much like an elderly lady's nickname, so Loling was another favorite pet name for Dolores.  Then...just to complicate things...Loling sometimes becomes Ling.

Some ladies, following Americanized tastes, become Lolly rather than Lole' or Loling.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Not many years ago, Chamorros erected many roadside crosses all over the island

This wooden cross (Såntos Kilu'us) is fast approaching 100 years old.  It was made in 1918 by the present owner's grandfather.  The lady still keeps the family promesa, the novena to the Holy Cross (Nobenan Såntos Kilu'us, or Santa Cruz) every year.

In Spanish times and even into American times, Chamorros had the custom of erecting shrines of the Såntos Kilu'us all along the roads.  Only in the last twenty years did I see some of these shrines fall by the wayside.  Prior to this, I remember seeing a wooden or concrete cross on the roadside here and there.

I believe one of the reasons for this custom was to claim the land for God, and to abate the fear people had of the taotaomo'na.  People had a fear of the unpopulated areas because of the spirits, so to see the Holy Cross here and there along the quiet, dusty roads was re-assuring.


A crucifix is a cross with the figure of Jesus (called the corpus) on it.  If there's no corpus, it's called a cross.

This is a crucifix (krusifiho), not a cross, because it has the body (corpus) of Jesus on it.

is an example of the many roadside crosses that were erected on Guam




The word comes from the Spanish "hombre."  The H in Spanish is silent; it isn't said.  "Hombre" means "man" and is used just like we would say in English, "C'mon man!"

One could also spell it ÅMBRE, but not UMBRE, because, in Chamorro, U is pronounced like OO as in TamUning.  You young folks out there are so used to seeing everything through English lenses that, when you see U, you think UH as in UNderstand.

Ombre is often used in combination with other words, like :

Ombre, ga'chong!
Ombre, lai!
Ombre, pot fabot!
Ombre, iya'!

Or at the end of phrases, like :

Maila', ombre!
Båsta, ombre!
Nihi, ombre!

At times, ombre denotes a sign of exasperation.  "I'm tired of you kidding around, wasting my time, let's get on with it, man!"

From a 1913 court case

In 1913, a witness quotes someone speaking Chamorro, who starts off saying, "Ombre," but spelled in the original Spanish.

Three years after establishing the Catholic mission in the Marianas, Påle' Sanvitores decided to send three Catholic Chamorros to Manila so that they could grow stronger in their new convictions by seeing the larger picture of the Church.  They would come back to the Marianas, then, and tell the others what they saw in Manila.  I wonder, though, if Sanvitores also saw this as a way he could win more support for the Marianas mission from Spanish authorities in Manila by showing them the fruit of their labors.

The three Chamorros sent were all from the nobility.  Two were brothers, Pedro Guiran and Matías Yay.  The third was Ignacio Osi.  Two things to mention right away :

The pre-contact Chamorros, like everybody else in the beginning, had personal names only.  They did not have last (or family) names.  When they were baptized, they received a Christian name as well.  Their original Chamorro name then became like a last name.  So, a Chamorro named Taimañao, for example (meaning "fearless") might be given the name Jose at baptism.  He'd now be called Jose Taimañao.

That's how two brothers, Pedro and Matías, had two different "last" names, Guiran and Yay.

Secondly, I wonder if Guiran and Yay truly represent the Chamorro names, or if Spanish ears heard it their own way.  We're not totally sure but we think Chamorros did not have the R sound, so Guiran may not have been the actual sound of that name (was it Gilan?).  Chamorros also didn't have the Y sound, making Yay problematic.

The three men arrived in Manila in 1671 and, according to the Spanish historian, were very impressed.  Matías was so impressed he stayed longer than the other two, who after a year in Manila left for Mexico with Guam as the final destination.  Ignacio got stranded on an island when he missed the ship leaving for sea, but that proved providential since the ship got lost and Pedro was never heard of again.  Ignacio made it back to Manila, connected with Matías and both of them made it to Mexico.  But after Mexico, we lose all trace of them.

Just as many Chamorros in the Marianas have Mexican blood, I think there are a few people running around Mexico with Chamorro blood, thanks to Ignacio and Matías, if in fact they remained in Mexico and raised families.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Ai sa' fotgon i ga'lågo!

FOTGON : wet

Fotgon!  It's wet!

Kao fotgon i talåpos?  Is the rag wet?

Fotgon todo i magagu-ho!  My clothes are all wet!

Adahi, sa' un na' fofotgon yo'!  Watch out, you're making me wet!

Finetgon.  Humidity.

Metgot na finetgon guine mågi giya Guåm.  Guam has strong humidity.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


was the only person from Guam to die in the 9-11 attacks

She was my baptismal godmother.

Her mother, Auntie Beck, is from the Perez "Boñao" family, related to my branch of the Perez clan.

Here are some links to her story :|topnews|text|Frontpage

Na' måhgong na taihinekkok minahgong-ña Asaina;
ya i ti mamatai na mina'lak u inina;
ya u såga gi minahgong.
Taiguennao mohon.


An American that smells like smoke.

That is the literal meaning of Amerikånon pao asu.

Amerikåno is "American." Pao means "smell." Asu means "smoke."

Now, what is an Amerikånon pao asu?

He or she is a Chamorro who acts, whether well or not, like an American.

When a Chamorro sheds their Chamorro accent, even when speaking Chamorro. When a Chamorro can't speak Chamorro. When a Chamorro observes American standards of clothing or behavior. Those are all examples of Amerikånon pao asu. These Chamorros are judged as thinking themselves "too good" for island ways. 

It's just human nature, no matter the race or culture, to poke fun at the pretentious. Chamorros who are brown (in varying degrees) like everybody else but who act like they're not Chamorro will be targeted for ridicule or mockery.

So the description "smokey" or "smoke-smelling" is that dent in the armor, that poke in the balloon. For all their American ways, the Amerikånon pao asu still smells like smoke. Is that a reference to the brownness of their skin? Like smoked meat? Or is it a reference to being from the farm, as all Chamorros were at one time? Cooking over wood or coconut husks? Burning trash outdoors? Take your pick. Whoever invented the term didn't explain him or herself in writing.

The Amerikånon pao asu still smells like smoke (remains a Chamorro), despite their American airs, because they are still brown like a Chamorro and still have the facial features of a Chamorro and still descend from Chamorros.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Setmon Påle' Lee :

"Un dia eståba si Påle' na pumaseseo gi halom i sengsong-ña.  Umasodda' yan un biha na dikkiki'.  Pues si Påle' ha tungo' na este na åmko' palao'an era sumen yo'åse' kontra kuatkiera na taotao.  Finaisen i biha nu i Pale', 'Håfa mina' taiguennao atendidå-mo kontra kuatkiera?  Guåha nai un chagi umåguåguåt yan håye?'

Chumålek i biha, ya ilek-ña, 'Kåda umasodda' ham yan håye na taotao, tåya' nai ti hu hasso tres kosas : Si Yu'us muna' huyong este na taotao; si Yu'us ha gofli'e este na petsona; si Yu'us muna' låla'la' este na petsona.  Yanggen hu hasso este siha na kosas, ti mappot para guåho i hu fanatiende masea håye i asodda'-ho.  Este magåhet na guåha siha na taotao uminsutta yo'.  Guåha yuhe i ha bibira gue' yanggen umasodda' ham gi chalan.  Guåha siha na taotao asta ma såsångan ti man bonito siha na kosas pot guåho.  Lao pot i si Yu'us siha muna' fanhuyong, man ginefli'e as Yu'us, si Yu'us siha muna' fanlåla'la', siempre guåha håfa na minaolek gi sanhalom-ñiha na si Yu'us ha' lumili'e.'

Cha'-miyo fan mangondedena, ya hamyo siempre ti en fan makondena.  Si Yu'us ti u mahettok gue' para hamyo, yanggen ti en na' fan mahettok hamyo para i man achataotao-miyo."

Friday, September 9, 2011

DIKKIKE' : small

Nå'e yo' pot fabot ni dikkike' na båso.  Please give me the small glass.

Dikkike' na guma'!  Small house!

Ai si Jose yan i dinikike'-ña!  Oh Jose and his short stature!

Na' dikkike'.  To make small.

Na' dikkike' fan este na kopia.  Please make this copy small.



In the late 60s and early 70s, if you wanted to say that something was lousy among us kids on Guam, the word to use was suki.

Your new toy is suki.  Your bag is suki.  Your shoes are suki.

We said it all the time at Saint Francis School in Yoña, where I went to school from 1968-1974.  Among us kids, I mean.  Never in front of the teachers.

In the 3rd grade I asked my grandma or her sisters what suki meant.  They told me never, ever to say that again.  I found out later it's a genuine Chamorro word, for a certain type of venereal disease.  How kids in the 60s ever made that a slang word for lousy is beyond me.

Like a lot of slang from the 70s (brown, bogart, mullert), suki has disappeared from the mouths of the man hoben.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Wow.  Read this description of the power of women in pre-Spanish Marianas.  The author is Fr. Francisco Garcia, a Jesuit, who never set foot in the Marianas but based his writing on the letters and reports sent to Spain by the Jesuits who were here.  So, we keep that in mind when reading this, but I don't think it wise to dismiss it altogether.

"If a man leaves his wife, it costs him a great deal, for he loses his property and his children. But women can do this at no cost, and they do it often out of jealousy, because if they suspect some unfaithfulness, they can punish them in various ways. Sometimes the aggrieved woman summons the other women of the village. Wearing hats and carrying lances they all march to the adulterer's house. If he has crops growing, they destroy them; then they threaten to run him through with their lances. Finally they throw him out of his house. At other times the offended wife punishes her husband by leaving him. Then her relatives gather at his house, and they carry off everything of value, not even leaving a spear or a mat to sleep on. They leave no more than the shell of the house and sometimes they destroy even that, pulling it all down. If a woman is untrue to her husband, the latter may kill her lover, but the adulteress suffers no penalty.

In the home it is the mother who rules, and the husband does not dare give an order contrary to her wishes or punish the children, because if the woman feels offended, she will either beat the husband or leave him. Then, if the wife leaves the house, all the children follow her, knowing no other father than the next husband their mother may take."

This term is so old that, out of curiosity, I casually asked not one, not two but three Catholic Chamorro nuns born in the late 1920s and early 30s if they ever heard the term.  Not one of them did!

The åtba (taken from the Spanish word alba, meaning "daybreak") is the first church bell of the day. 

Before the war, it was more accurate to say, the first church bell of the still-dark, pre-dawn, because it was rung at 4AM!  The first Mass of the day was at 430AM.

One sister remembers the bells being rung at 4AM and she said you could hear the bell of the Cathedral in San Ignacio clear down to Santa Cruz.  Everybody heard it.

Then again, a lot of people were already awake by then.  The Spanish missionaries mention in their letters and reports that many Chamorros prided themselves in waking up early.  You can still see this trait if you are ever zesty enough to go to the 6AM Masses that still exist today.  The majority at Mass will be older Chamorros who learned this trait from their parents.

It makes sense.  Who wants to farm the fields at 12 noon?  So they headed for the ranch while still dark to work in the cool morning, get into the shade by mid-day and finish up when the sun was less unforgiving.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Juana Campos Pangelinan (sitting in front, with baby)
Saipan, early 1900s

The Pangelinans of the Marianas can trace their ancestry back to three soldiers in the Pampanga (Filipino) regiment on Guam in 1758.  It is not known if these three Pangelinans were brothers or somehow related, but it does raise that possibility.  There were no Pangelinans listed in the earlier, 1727 Census.

The three Pangelinan soldiers were :

Antonio Pangelinan - he married Petronia Arceo.  Petronia is listed in the 1727 Census as the daughter of a Filipino soldier (Pampanga troops) named Andres Arceo.  Andres was married to Juana Dama.  We don't know who Juana Dama was, whether she was Chamorro (the sound of the name allows for this possibility) or not.  But it is more probable is that Petronia was born on Guam.

Next comes Francisco de Borja Pangelinan.  The "Borja" in his name should not be confused with the last name Borja.  You can see my earlier post about the Borja family, but just remember that there was a saint with the last name Borja - Saint Francis Borgia (in the original Spanish, San Francisco de Borja, the patron of Rota's Songsong church) and Francisco de Borja was the full first name of this Pangelinan.  Francisco was married to Dominga de Leon Guerrero.  Now Dominga is also listed in the 1727 Census as the daughter of a Spanish soldier (from Spain? Latin America? Philippines?) named Antonio de Leon Guerrero, married to Petronila de los Rios.  Rios (meaning "rivers") is a Spanish surname and there were three men named Rios in the Spanish list of soldiers on Guam and she could be related to them, but we can't be sure.

But you can see in his case how a Filipino married a woman considered Spanish and their children are included in the Filipino list, yet they are mixed blood.  In time, separating people on Guam into races was useless, because in time almost everyone, especially in Hagåtña, had a touch of the three main races : the pre-contact Chamorro, some Filipino and some Hispanic of some kind (whether "pure" Spaniard straight from Spain or from a Spanish colony, or Spanish mixed with other bloods : Indian from Central and South America, African and other). 

Despite all this mixing, two things survived.  First, the identity.  Even people with mixed blood identified themselves as Chamorros.  Second, the language, even though many indigenous words were dropped and forgotten and many loan words adopted.  Still, a distinct language which neither Spaniard nor Filipino could understand fully until they learned it remained.

Finally there was Manuel Antonio Pangelinan, married to Maria Magdalena Taitiguan.  She was almost certainly Chamorro.  Many Chamorro names begin with tai, meaning "without" or "lacking."  Although lacking a final "g," the last part of her surname is very probably tiguang which means "neighbor" or "fellow man."  Spelling was very random and inconsistent in those days, even when a Spaniard was writing in Spanish, how much more in a language not their own like Chamorro. (See my earlier post about the difference between tiguang and tengguang.)

Manuel Antonio, in particular, had three sons (maybe more later on after the 1758 Census), and the Pangelinans married into other families and the mixing continued.

By 1897, the Pangelinans had became a numerous and widespread family.  Some of the better known clans were :

The descendants of Pedro Torre Pangelinan and Nieves Mendiola Taitano (sister of the founder of the Kueto clan).

The descendants of Juan Flores Pangelinan and Maria Mendiola Borja.

This is a huge clan, with ties to the Bordallos, Carbullidos and other families.

"Kotla" could be the Chamorro pronunciation of the Spanish word corlar when conjugated corla, which means to "put on gold varnish."  Many Chamorro family nicknames are taken from Spanish words (Kueto, Charot, Budoki).

One of the larger Saipan Pangelinan families are descendants of Lino Flores Pangelinan, born on Guam and supposed brother of Juan Flores Pangelinan (Kotla).  He married Joaquina Campos, also of Guam.  The couple moved to Saipan, bringing with them their children.  They are linked to some of the Tenorio and Villagomez families in Saipan.


We all know about a famous Filipino but long-time resident and businessman on Guam, Marciano V. Pangilinan, who married a Chamorro and whose children are Chamorro.  People wonder about the slight difference in spelling.

Remember that the name Pangelinan came to the Marianas from three Filipino soldiers.  The name is Filipino and probably has something to do with the FAN+WORD+AN formula I have explained in earlier posts.  This formula means "place of" or "time of," as in the rainy season fanuchånan (fan+uchan+an).  Well, being from the same linguistic family, Filipino dialects also use the fan+word+an formula, but using "pan" instead of "fan."  I have yet to come to the bottom of the question what does "pangelinan" mean but I'll bet my last two pennies it has something to do with "place of" or "time of."

For all it being a Filipino word, it was Spaniards who wrote it down, according to the way they heard it.  For the Spaniard, the sound we would spell in English "he" or "hi" could be written either with "gi" or "ge."  It made no difference to the Spaniard; they would both sound like "he" or "hi."  So, sometimes the Spaniard spelled it Pangilinan, sometimes Pangelinan.  Spaniards did the same with many other names (Sablan/Zablan, Rivera/Ribera) because many times two different letters give the same sound in Spanish, or the Latin American type of Spanish used by many Spanish-speaking people who came to Guam.


Senator Ben Pangelinan
of the Lino (Saipan) branch

Former Senator Toni Pangelinan Sanford
of the Kotla branch

Lou Pangelinan
former Chief of Staff of Governor Joseph Ada
and Director General of the Secretariat of the South Pacific Community
in New Caledonia

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This is the LAST thing you want to see pulling up to the church if you're one of these :
It's bad luck for a funeral and a wedding to meet each other at church.


This didn't happen when I was a priest, but when I was an altar boy (tanores).

As often happens in a bigger parish, both a wedding and a funeral have to be scheduled the same Saturday.  This one Saturday, the deceased was scheduled to arrive at the church at 1pm for the funeral Mass.  A wedding was scheduled for 11am and not earlier because the kids from Eskuelan Påle' needed to use the church from 9 to 10.  But if the wedding starts at 11, there should be no problem, right?

Well, the bride was late!  Very late.  She came to the church close to 12 noon.  The priest had to preach a short sermon.  Even with that, it was already 12:45 and communion was just finishing up.  There was still the floral presentation to Mary.  When all was done, it was 12:53.  The priest told me to run to the entrance of the church and, if I saw the hearse coming, to run to it and hold it back.

As it turned out, the hearse, too, was late, but just by minutes.  Bride and groom got in their white limousine, and when they pulled out from the curb to the street down to the intersection, the black hearse made its right turn onto the street in front of the church.  Talk about a close one!


Jose : Juan, håfa na uno ha' sapatos-mo un u'usa?

Juan : Ai che'lo.  Mamåhan yo' dos na sapåtos, lao annai hu atan gi san papa' gi sapåtos, ilek-ña "Tai wan."

Monday, September 5, 2011


Why is this street in Tamuning named after someone named Bradley?

The Bradley named here is former Governor of Guam Willis Bradley, a Commander in the U.S. Navy.  Bradley was Governor of Guam from 1929 till 1931, just about wo years.  But, in those short two years, he made a name for himself mainly by writing the so-called "First Bill of Rights" of the Chamorros on Guam, defining them as citizens of Guam (up till then, the Chamorros on Guam were considered by Americans and other foreigners as citizens of nowhere).  He also advocated granting U.S. citizenship to the Chamorros on Guam.

Bradley reorganized the consultative Guam Congress and allowed the first free elections (under the American Navy) of the members of the Guam Congress as well as the village commissioners. 

Since the U.S. Post Office would not make deliveries of mail to individual homes and businesses, Bradley created the Guam Guard Mail for the internal delivery of mail.  This lasted only a short while since the U.S. Post Office finally agreed to provide this service.

Bradley was a progressive, liberal-minded American who knew Guam before he was appointed Governor, having been commanding officer of the USS Gold Star which was based on Guam, from 1924 to 1926.

For these actions, Bradley was frowned on by his fellow Navy officials but was considered by leading Chamorros to be a friend of the native people; one who showed some respect for the people of the land.  I wouldn't be surprised if the late Frank Perez, the developer of Perezville where this street is located, knew Bradley when Ton Frank was a youngster and heard enough about him to consider him a friend of the Chamorro people and worthy of a street in Perezville.

Prior to World War II, a park (baseball field) in Aniguak was named Bradley Park by the local government in his honor.

Check out this silent video of Gov Bradley on Guam 1929-1931