Saturday, March 31, 2012


I disipulo siha man hånao ya ma sodda' ayo i man sinangåne as Jesus, ya ma kokonne' guato i patgon buliko, ma po'lo gi hilo'-ña i bestidon Jesus ya ma na' fatå'chong gue' gi san hilo'.  Nai chåchågo' ha' trabia si Jesus giya Jerusalen, man etnon dångkulon linahyan taotao gi uriyå-ña, ma ågangñañaihon gue' yan man e'essalao en señåt de minagof.  Unos kuåntos ha yuyute' i bestidon-ñiha gi edda', para u maloffan si Jesus gi san hilo'-ñiha.  Palo siha man manuutut gi atbot siha påtmas yan råmos, ya i linahyan taotao man håhånao mamomokkat gi me'nå-ña yan i tatte-ña man ågang, "Hosåna nu i Lahen David!  Bendito i Rai Israel, na mamaila' gi na'an i Saina!"

Gi entalo' i linahyan, man eståba palo fariseos, na pot enbidia yan chinatli'e-ñiha as Jesus man mandaddalalak yan man manespipia nu todo i pasusu-ña siha.  Nai ma li'e este na minagof i sengsong, man nina' maipe ma agoddai-ñiha ya ilek-ñiha as Jesus, "Maestro, lalåtde i disipulu-mo siha."  Lao man ineppe as Jesus, "Hu sangåne hamyo, na gin siha ini u fan mamatkilo, i acho siha u fanågang."

UMA : to carry on one's shoulder

Ha uma i piao asta ke måtto gi lancho.  S/he shouldered the bamboo till s/he got to the ranch.

Uma fan para un råto.  Carry (it) please for a short while.

Inima.  What is being shouldered.

Meggai esta inimåmå-mo.  You are carrying a lot already.  You have enough burdens.

Håfa ennao i un u'uma?  What is that you are carrying?

Umåye.  To carry something for someone.

Kao malago' ya bai hu umåye hao?  Would you like me to carry it for you?

***Pale' Roman's 1932 dictionary says uma means "to carry," not exclusively on one's shoulders.  He gives an example of someone carrying something on one's tummy!  Our more recent Chamorro dictionaries limit uma  to carrying on one's shoulders.  Languages evolve.  On their own.  All the time.

Friday, March 30, 2012


In case the basulero (garbage man) doesn't speak Chamorro, we've graciously provided an English translation on the garbage cans, showing we are doing our part to keep betde (green) and separate our trash.

Hu'u nai!  Plastek!



Too much of anything is bad.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


For three years now, a Chamorro Cultural Fest has been held in the San Diego area, spearheaded by a group called CHE'LU : Chamorro Hands in Education Links Unity.  Every year it gets bigger and bigger.

Keep up with these happenings at



Påle' : Yanggen salåppe' ha na' falingo i taotao, ya humåhnanao ha' ti ha sodda', i Chamorro, guåha na biåhe na ilek-ñiñiha i Chamorro, "Po'lo, sa' i sumodda' buente guiya mås munesesita."
(If someone loses money, and as time goes on he doesn't find it, sometimes Chamorros say, "Let it be, because the one who found it probably needs it more.")

Tan Didang :  Hunggan, magåhet ennao guåha na biåhe nai na taiguennao ta sångan.  Sa' ombres hame guine gi halom guma', hu sangångåne ennao, guåha na biåhe nai na yanggen in sedda', nai, taiguihe esta singkuenta pesos, pues kumekeilek-ña eyo nai, famaisen sa' nu esta no kalan dångkulo nai na kantidå i singkuenta pesos para u pinedongguan i taotao.  Pues, sa' este ha' magåhet gi halacha ta'lo, nai humånao ham yan si Idung para i tenda, pues isao-hu ha' nai sa' ti ya-ho eye mangingili' purse, pues hu botsa, kalan si Tan Elisa yo' ni hu botsa ha', ya annai måtto 'u mågi para bai tulaika i magagu-ho, annai hu tataka' ya hu laknos taigue i fifty dollars.  Pues, duro magåhet in aligao lao humåhnanao ha' ti hu sodda'.  Ilek-ho, "Po'lo,  po'lo sa' yanggen håye sumodda', seguro para guiya."
(Yes, it's true that sometimes we say that.  Because even here in the house, I am saying that, sometimes if we find, like fifty dollars, well that means ask around because that's somewhat a big amount fifty dollars for someone to drop.  So, because recently only, I went with Idung to the store, and it's my own fault because I don't like to carry a purse, so I pocketed it, like Tan Elisa I pocketed it, and when I came here to change my clothes, when I reached for it and took it out, the fifty dollars was missing.  So, we kept looking for it but I never did find it.  I said, "Let it be, because if anyone found it, for sure it's for him/her.")


If you go to the KUAM link above, you'll read a story about how Mayor Ben Gumataotao responded to a break-in at the Piti Mayor's Office. It goes right in line with this idea among many older Chamorros that those who steal must be desperate and needy.

"They must  be desperate, they must be so poor, must be homeless. Section 8 is not giving them enough money. They are poor - they should have come to my office whatever they ask I normally give it to them," he promised.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


In the province of Huesca in the region of Aragón in the country of Spain, lies the little village of Luján.  So some people were named after this town.  People named Luján moved around Spain, then to the Spanish colonies in America, spreading the name.  Eventually, someone named Luján came to the Marianas.  The name does not appear in the 1727 nor in the 1758 censuses, so the first Luján came to Guam after 1758 and all the Lujáns probably come from this one and the same person, though we can't be certain about that as we lack documents.  And I cannot tell you if this first Luján on Guam was a Spaniard, Hispanic from Latin America or Filipino.
The tiny hamlet of Luján (population 15) sits in the Pyrenees Mountains in northern Spain

Luján used to have a bigger population, but, like many small rural villages, people left in the 60s and 70s for "a better life" in the bigger towns and cities.  Well, at least it's gone up from a population of 3 to that of 15.


The Lujans come from Hagåtña, although family members eventually moved south, which we'll get to soon.  The heads of Lujan families in Hagåtña in 1897 were :

Mariano Peredo Lujan married Luisa Perez Diaz.  He seems to be the founder of the Kapili clan of Lujans.  Joaquin Diaz Lujan, married to Ramona Ulloa Castro, may have been Mariano's son.

Salvador Diaz Lujan, by oral tradition, is the son of Mariano, but there is some question about his mother.  He is the founder of the Åtdot clan, which are the well-known Lujan of Aniguak.  Åtdot would be a Chamorro nickname of Salvador.

Virtud (Tainatongo?) Lujan.  He was a widower by the time of this census, and I don't know his deceased wife's name.  But he is the founder of the Bittut clan of Lujans.  Virtud=Bittut in Chamorro pronunciation.  I cannot confirm that Tainatongo was his middle name, but it must have appeared in some document if I made this notation.

Then we have some male Lujans on whom we have little information or who never married : Luis (whose mother was a Taitano), Matias, Jose, Silvestre, Vicente (the possible brother of Ana Rosario Lujan)

From the women, we comment on a few for various reasons.

Jose Lujan married Paz Santos, but those Lujan children became "better-known-as" Familian Paz because of her, the mother.

Paulina Lujan married Miguel Iglesias.  These two became the grandparents of Agueda Iglesias who married William Johnston and became known to us as Agueda Johnston of DOE fame.

Two Lujan sisters, Vicenta and Dolores, had as their middle name Tanoña (tano'-ña; his/her land).  One or both of them had several children out of wedlock, carrying on the Lujan name.


Jose Aguon Lujan (from Hagåtña) married a Malesso' girl, Manuela Espinosa, and settled in Malesso'.  The Malesso' baptismal records survived the war (lucky them) so we have much more data on them.  Jose Aguon Lujan was the son of Joaquin Watkins Lujan, a mestiso with English blood, and Magdalena Aguon.  Manuela was the illegitimate daughter of Barbara Eguiguan Espinosa of Malesso'.  Eguiguan is a truly Chamorro name.  The Malesso' Lujans come from Jose Aguon Lujan.


The Inalåhan Lujans come from Jose Baza Lujan (from Hagåtña), married to Maria Cepeda Benavente.  Jose's sister Martina married a San Nicolas from Inalåhan.


Some people think that the Lujans have a name that means luhan, Chamorro for "frightened."  But the two words are not pronounced the same.  Lujan has the stress on the second syllable; i.e. loo-HAN.  While the Chamorro word luhan has the stress on the first syllable, i.e. LOO-han.   It's pure coincidence that someone showed up on Guam having a Spanish last name that is similar in sound to a Chamorro word.


In Argentina is the city of Luján, where a famous statue of Our Lady is kept.  There she acquired the name Our Lady of Luján.

Argentinian boxer Sebastián Luján

Former US Senator from New Mexico Manuel Luján


This hymn, equally appropriate for either Lent (Kuaresma) or for the Sorrowful Mother (Dolorosa), is in the traditional Guam hymnal but is now forgotten.  The people in Saipan have preserved it and sing it often.  The recording is of the Kristo Rai choir in Garapan, Saipan from the 1990s and is taken from an old cassette tape, so pardon the glitches.  Some of my notes and observations follow, but here are the lyrics :

Ma kana' gi Kilu'us, ma så'pet fehman Gue'.
(He was hung on the cross, He suffered intensely.)

I maolek na Nanå-ña, tumatacho' guihe;
(His good Mother stood upright there;)
ilek-ña sen pinite, "Nanå-ho ennaogue'
(He said mournfully, "My mother, there is)
si Juan fina' lahi-mo, kuentå-ko konne' gue'."
(John your foster son, my proxy, take him.")

Linachai minalaet, i sen Nånan Yu'us
(Consumed by bitterness, the true Mother of God)
gi mappot sumagå-ña, umafana' i dos
(in her difficult presence, the two of them faced each other)
ma klåba gi tres lulok, gi halom kilu'us
(He was nailed with three nails, on the cross)
i mames na Lahi-ña, i maolek as Jesus.
(her sweet Son, the good Jesus.)

Umågang i Saina-ta, ilek-ña "Må'ho yo'."
(Our Lord cried out, saying "I thirst.")
I taihanom na Nåna, yinengyong takkalom
(the waterless Mother, shook intensely within)
mamichao gi matå-ña, dos lågo' dångkulo
(gushing from her eyes, two large tears)
ya ayo ha atue, i må'ho na påtgon.
(and that is what she offered, her thirsty child.)

O Bithen mipinite, ma'åse' pulan ham
(O Virgin full of sorrow, kindly watch over us)
taiguihe as Jesus-mo, annai un pupulan
(as you did your Jesus, when you watched over Him)
gef hasso i fino'-ña, na un gofli'e' ham
(remember well His words, that you would love us)
fa' Nånan-måme, Nåna, ya gef adahe ham.
(make yourself, Mother, our Mother, and protect us well.)


Nåna.  There is perhaps no stronger or more evocative word in Chamorro as the word Nåna.  Mother is source of life, sustainer, protector, provider, abundant font of love.  She always loves, always gives, always sacrifices.  So Chamorro women see in Mary an image of themselves, suffering for (and sometimes on account of) their husbands and children, or for single women, for their families.  Men see in Mary a replica of their earthly mothers, to whom they can run in time of trouble.

Fehman.  Rarely heard today.  It means "strongly, seriously, intensely."  Nihi ta fanmanåyuyut fehmaman!  Let us fervently pray!

Fina' lahi-moFa' means "to make."  Thus it connotes that the "thing made" is not original; we made it so.  Fina' denne' is donne' (chili pepper) made into something.  Fina' lahe is someone not your son (låhe) who has been made your son.  Look at the last stanza, as well.  Fa' Nånan-mame.  "Make yourself our Mother." Saint John the Beloved Disciple was given Mary to care for as his mother now that her only son Jesus would die; Mary became John's mother and ours as well.

Kuenta.  Borrowed from the Spanish cuenta.  It means a "substitute, representative, proxy."  Hånao kuenta-ko.  "Go as my representative."

I taihanom na Nåna.  Perhaps the most gut-wrenching part of this hymn :  a mother who is unable to relieve the sufferings of her son.  She is powerless, so she does the little she can.  She gives her son her tears to drink.

Mamichao.  Rooted in the word petchao, which means "to dart, spurt."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


There's a boy band named


And they're Canadian.


Hollywood director James Cameron is bringing some attention to our part of the world with his recent journey to the bottom of the Marianas Trench, the first since 1960. 

National Geographic
The Trench is the deepest part of the ocean floor.  How deep?  Seven miles.

If you put Mount Everest in the Trench, there would still be 5,000 feet of water over it.

You can stack the Empire State Building five times in the Trench.


But one if the neatest things about the Trench is that it's lubricated.  As we all know, earthquakes happen when two opposing plates of earth meet up and press on each other.  When one gives way and slips, the earth shakes.  The Trench is part of that dynamic.  Being so deep, why aren't there more earthquakes in our area, and severe ones at that?

Scientists say that the western plate is made up of softer material.  As that soil gets crushed as the two plates press on each other, the softer soil is mashed even more, providing a kind of lubricant between the two plates.  More lubrication; less energy needed to slip; less severe rattling of the earth.  Interesting.  And gråsias a Dios!


You pick a trait, often embarrassing, seen in someone else, and make it his or her nickname.

Like the poor guy who had larger-than-normal ears.  So guess what he was called?  Josen Talanga.  Talanga=ears.

Or feisty Tan Maria.  For all her fearlessness, the woman lost her eyesight in her old age.  Still, she walked with a cane all over the island and went on her business as if she had complete vision.  She was "better-known-as" Marian Båtchet.  Båtchet=blind.

Or up in Saipan, dear old Ton Jose used to work for the light company during Japanese times.  Denki is Japanese for electric light.  Never to his face, he was called Ton Josen Denki.

This is how some family nicknames got started.  The personal nickname gets applied to all of his or her descendants.


In Luta, you can get the best mahongang.  Lobster.

This was served at a small, impromptu dinner.  Just one of 20 other dishes served on the table.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Antonia does not believe in taotao mo'na, the spirits of our ancestors who many believe dwell in the jungle and who will physically hurt you if you disrespect them or their environment.  If they make you sick, it is called chetnot maipe, which literally means "heat sickness," because the usual sickness is some sort of inflammation : bruises, swelling, infection, sore, rash and the like.

More on her story follows below, but let me first get to Antonia's way of speaking Chamorro.

I believe that the accent (in Chamorro, tonåda, which means "tune" or "melody") most commonly associated with Luta, but which was also prominent in Humåtak, Malesso' and Inalåhan at one time, reflects the original, pre-contact accent of all Chamorros.  I have no evidence for this, as there were no recordings of people's speech and no written descriptions, as far as I know, about different accents at the time of western contact.  However, look at the facts.  The villages (and island, in the case of Luta) farthest away from Hagåtna, which was overwhelmingly mixed with outsiders marrying Chamorro wives, all have this in common : the sing-song accent.

Three Features

Intonation.  In the Luta (and southern Guam) accent, there is a marked rising of intonation, especially at the end of sentences, where others conclude speech by descending in intonation.

A versus Å.  In many words, what is said as an Å in Guam, Saipan and Tinian is said as an A in Luta.  The Å sound takes on the sound of "paw" or "saw."  In the rest of the Marianas, på'go ("today" or "now") is pronounced like "paw - go."  But in Luta, it sounds like the "pa" of "panic."

While many Chamorros of Luta no longer keep the sing-song accent, a dead giveaway that the person is from Luta is this flat A sound where other Chamorros say the rounded or open  Å sound, and many on Luta still keep this feature, even when they no longer keep the sing-song intonation.

Softer Consonants.  Another trait that stands out among many Chamorros from Luta is the way they soften consonants in some words.  As an example, whereas others will say sodda' (to find) or påddet (cement), extending and intensifying the D sound,  many in Luta soften the D and will say soda' and padet.

Word Usage.  Chamorros in Luta use words and phrases unknown or rarely used on the other islands in the Marianas.  Antonia talks about the man asaina, for example.  We understand what she means; asaina denotes someone of higher status.  But it's not a way of speaking heard outside of Luta.

She also uses the word palacha, a word known to all Chamorros in the past, but not used as much today by Chamorros on Guam.  It means to "to trick or swindle" but, in terms of one's behavior in the jungle in the midst of the spirits, it carries the connotation "to be disrespectful, to tease, to make trouble."

Back to Her Story

She says her nephew went looking for ayuyu (coconut crab) in the jungle, and finding only one, small ayuyu, complained to the taotao mo'na why they didn't allow him to find enough food (totche; main, animal or protein food).  In his anger, he threw his pack of cigarettes at the trongkon nunu (banyan tree), the supposed dwelling of the taotao mo'na, saying, "So take my cigarettes and smoke!"  Well, on his return home he got the chetnot maipe.  He was taken to the American doctors and, of course, they couldn't find anything or do anything.  So he was taken instead to a suruhåno (Chamorro herb doctor) on Saipan and was cured.

Although she doesn't believe and has never seen taotao mo'na, when she does go into the jungle, she explains to the taotao mo'na that she means no disrespect if she answers nature's call in the jungle as her house is too far and she won't get home in time.  Pot siakaso.  Just in case.


Cotton in the Marianas?


But not the kind grown in Alabama.  Spaniards imported a tropical variety of cotton that comes from these tall, slender trees with branches that normally shoot out horizontally.  I find them to be handsome trees.

Algodón is "cotton" in Spanish.  In Chamorro, it is atgidon, or atgodon.  So, the tree (trongko) is called Trongkon Atgidon.

The cotton from these trees (scientific name, Gossypium barbadense, after the Barbados Islands in the Caribbean) can be of excellent quality, commanding a higher price than regular cotton, and so silky in texture that it was sometimes blended with silk.

This particular tree is replete with bulbs opening up with white cotton.

But our mañaina didn't know how to spin and weave, so the cotton from these trees was used just for stuffing pillows and cushions, and as swabs I imagine. 

I'll have to check if suruhåno and suruhåna used any part of the tree for medicinal purposes.

Cotton, from trees growing wild in the Marianas

During Spanish times, there was an attempt to grow these Trongkon Atgidon commercially and make lots of money.  Japanese workers were brought to Guam to do this.  The project failed and the Japanese who didn't die on Guam sailed back to Japan.

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Spanish document from Rota in 1873


Many people have heard of the Kabesa branch of the Flores clan.  So many Chamorro leaders in government, education and religion come from the Kabesa family.

The Spanish word cabeza means "head."  It can mean the literal head of a person, or symbolically the head of a household or the head of a business or what have you.

In the Marianas during Spanish times, villages were divided into neighborhoods called barangay.  The head of each barangay was called the cabeza de barangay

In the Spanish document from Luta (Rota) seen above, you can see that two cabezas de barangay, Francisco Mangloña, and Benigno Mangloña, signed the document.  Francisco abbreviated his name in the usual manner;

It is possible that someone from the Kabesa family was so-called because he was a cabeza de barangay.

I also heard another version that the first man nicknamed Kabesa had a big head.  But I am less inclined to believe that story.

Excerpts from a sermon about death preached in Chamorro around 1873.  This Chamorro is old; it contains usages we don't hear anymore.

I kumomemetsio, gin lache una bes, umadaddahe para mungnga lalache gue' dos beses; ya muna' ennao umalulula para u remedia i hagas lachi-ña.  Lao i taotao sen u måtai una bes na maisa, un biåhe ha'.  Gin lalache i taotao ennao na bes ha' na måtai, yesta ti siña ma remedia i linachi-ña, sa' an mohon i taotao u måtai dos beses, åntes de i mina' dos na matai-ña, u remedia i fine'nana na linachi-ña.  Lao ti siña, sa' pine'lo as Yu'us na u måtai i taotao una bes ha', ya un biåhe ha' u måtai.  Dia ha', famagu'on-ho, håf mina' sen guailaye, håf mina' sumen kombiene ni i taotao fumunas på'go yan i gumefkonfesat todo i linachi-ña siha åntes de u måtai, sa' despues de i finatai-ña, ti u ma funas håf na isao ni i ma'gas.

The businessman, when he makes a mistake one time, he is careful not to make a mistake a second time; and because of that he hastens to rectify his prior mistake.  But man will surely die one time alone, only once.  If a man is in error that one time only he will die, and he cannot rectify his error, because if only man could die twice, before his second death, he would repair his first mistake.  But he cannot, because God has decreed that man die one time alone, and only once will he die.  There you see, my children, why it is so profitable, why it is so proper that man wipes away now by confessing well all his past sins before he dies, because after his death, no great sin whatsoever will be absolved.

Repåra!  Notice!

KumomemetsioKometsio comes from the Spanish comercio, which, you can guess, means "commerce."  Another word for "businessman" in Chamorro is kometsiånte, also coming from comercio.

Gin.  Means "when."  Our more familiar word yanggen is made up of yan (and) and gin (when).

Una bes.  "One time."  Taken straight from the Spanish una vez.  Today, we stick to un biåhe, which also comes from Spanish.

Un biåheBiåhe, from the Spanish viaje, means "trip" or "journey."  But, in Latin America, it can also mean "time," as in "one time, two times."  Goes to show how we were influenced by Latin America, not just by Spain.  Don't forget that Spain brought Mexican and other Latin American soldiers to live on Guam, who married Chamorro women.

Maisa.  "Alone."  It is related to the Ilocano word for the number "one."  The number "one" does indeed stand alone.

Yesta.  Apparently a now-obsolete contraction of "ya está" or "and now" or "and already."

Dia ha'.  An old phrase, rarely heard nowadays, meaning "You see?"

Håf.  An apocope of håfa.  An apocope is the dropping of an ending sound or vowel in a word.  It's really just a shortcut.  We see this in words like håftaimano (how), which is really håfa taimano.

Guailaye.  Worthwhile, profitable, useful.  Today we mainly hear the opposite, ti guailaye Ti guailaye na un sangåne gue'.  It's useless to tell him/her.