Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Malesso' seen from above

The transition from the small, limited Spanish schools on Guam to almost as small, limited American schools on Guam was not overnight.  The Americans took over in 1898, but it wasn't until Governor Dyer's time around 1904 that the government took more interest in organizing the public schools on a surer footing.

Take Malesso', for example.

When the American teacher went there in 1905 to relieve Pedro Cruz, the Chamorro teacher, he found a small building furnished with a desk and a stool.  Students had to sit right on the floor.  Under Cruz, the school basically taught the Catholic catechism.

Only two residents of Malesso' spoke some English, acquired when these two men spent some time sailing the seas and living in the U.S.   They were Felix Roberto, the gobernadorcillo (mayor) and Vicente D. Torres.

Even the American teachers weren't always professionals.  They were often recruited from the Navy and Marine units, or recently discharged servicemen and/or the wives of such.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


This year's St Jude fiesta had to have a special touch.  Fifty years ago, the present church was dedicated.  So one of the special features of this year's observance was a historical photo display of the village.

The church built after the war.

The public school in Sinajaña before the war.

Vice Mayor Robert Hofmann and Peter Onedera spearheaded much of the fiesta events, and William Paulino on the right took these photos for me.


The Chamorro community in San Diego celebrated the fiesta of St Jude last Saturday in El Cajon.  Sinajaña people, of course, were well-represented.


Saturday, October 27, 2012


October 1915. Hagåtña.

Ana Ulloa Aguon, living in the barrio of San Antonio in Hagåtña, discovers that "her" bull had been stolen during the darkness of night.

According to her, one Vicente Dydasco comes to her later and asks, "Do you know what happened to your bull?"  She replied that she didn't, but that she would go to Upi and ask Don Pascual Artero whose bull he slaughtered and salted. 

Artero not only raised his own cattle but slaughtered cattle and salted the meat for others, as well.  It was part of his business.  The salted meat was then sold by the owner of the slaughtered animal.

According to Aguon, Dydasco told her there was no need for her to ask Artero, as he was the one who took the bull to be slaughtered at Upi by Artero because it was rightfully his, not hers.

Aguon then took Dydasco to court and won.  Dydasco was ordered to pay the woman $30 (the market value of the bull) and another $75 in court fees.  Dydasco appealed the decision to the appellate court.

The higher court ruled that Aguon had indeed "bought" the bull from Dydasco, with deferred payment.  When she didn't come through with the payments, however, Dydasco simply took what was still his and made his money from the slaughter.  Dydasco won the appeal.  Aguon had the bull, but Dydasco never got his money.  It was legally, then, still his bull.

Round One : Aguon over Dydasco.
Round Two : Dydasco over Aguon.

Friday, October 26, 2012


A man named Jose was so dark-skinned, someone started calling him "Bu."

The reason?  He was so dark, he was scary.   Like bumping into a dark shadow in the night.


Before you know it, both he and his children were better-known-as Bu.  Josen Bu.  Juan Bu.  And so on.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


PODDONG : to fall

Poddong i taotao.  The man/woman fell.

Adahe na un poddong.  Be careful not to fall.

I peddong na hågon.  The fallen leaf.

Mamoddong siha gi halom fache'.  They fell into the mud.

Poddong gi isao.  Fallen into sin.

Poddong tåtte.  To fall backwards.

Poddong måtai.  To fall dead.

Pineddong.  Fall.  Can also mean "luck, fate."  As we say in English, "it befell him..."

Måno ha' pinedong-ta.  However it befalls us.  Whatever is our fate.

Pineddong can also mean "result, final effect."

Maulek pineddong i kuentos-ña.  His speaking had a good effect.

Poppodong.  Falling, tending to fall.

I peppedong na haligi.  The leaning pole or pillar.

Pipodong.  Habitually falling.

I Spell it as I hear It

You may notice sometimes I have a double D, or a double P, sometimes not.  Chamorro pronunciation of the same word changes depending on the changes in the word's use.

By itself, the word is poddong.  The tip of the tongue definitely rests a bit at the top of the upper teeth and the D is emphasized.  But when one says pinedong-mo, there is no rest at the D.

When one says poppodong, the rest is at the second P and the two lips stay together for a moment to give emphasis to the P.
Ayudo!  Poddong yo' ya ti siña yo' kahulo'!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Felisa A. San Nicolas from Malesso' could have been a helper, hired or not, of an American couple, Major and Mrs. Morse.  For they took her with them as they set out for the U.S., but by way of Europe through the Suez Canal (Egypt).

After Europe, it was across the Atlantic to the U.S.  San Nicolas parted ways with the Morses and went over land to the West Coast, and from there back to Guam, making a complete trip across the globe.  The year was 1925-1926. 

We know that a Chamorro woman accompanied her Spanish employer when he moved to Spain in the late 1800s.  But she stayed in Spain and died there, and probably did not make a full circle around the globe.  Felisa did; apparently the first Chamorro woman to do so.

More than likely Chamorro men had circled the globe earlier, when Chamorro men were joining the whaling ships in the early 1800s.  Many of them never returned to Guam.

Monday, October 22, 2012


US flag from the period of the US Consulate on Guam

There was a brief time, in the 1850s, that enough American whalers were stopping by Guam, and enough contact was going on between Guam and Hawaii, that an unofficial American "consulate" was set up on Guam.

Hawaii was then still an independent country, but American missionaries had a powerful influence over the Hawaiian monarchy in the early 1800s. Hawaii was a major Pacific destination for American whalers and proximity to California meant commercial ties to the US West Coast. From Hawaii, Americans made contact with the Marianas and the Bonin Islands north of us, too.

In March of 1855, nineteen American whaling captains wrote a letter to be published in various newspapers encouraging other American whaling ships to make visits to Guam. They said Guam was a convenient place to visit, among other reasons, to recruit new members for the crew. The captains also said that the Spanish government on Guam was good in getting runaway crew members back on board. But, the captains said, what made Guam even more advantageous to visit was the presence of an American Consul on the island. A newspaper in 1854 stated that a US Consul had been appointed and was waiting for an opportunity to sail for Guam.


The "American Consul" in Hagåtña was Samuel J. Masters, a New Yorker who had lived in Hawaii for some time.  At the time of his "appointment" as Consul, he was Police Justice (judge or magistrate) at Lahaina on Maui. One wonders if Masters was ever truly an official representative of the US government in the Spanish Marianas. A newspaper article in 1855 states that the Spaniards never allowed him to raise the US flag at his residence on Guam, because he had no official papers from the US government to show.

Masters was accompanied by Josiah Van Ingen, an American who had been operating a business in Maui in the past. Van Ingen was ostensibly Masters' secretary, but Van Ingen also tried to make money on Guam supplying whaling ships with various necessities and recruiting Chamorro crew members. He formed a partnership with Thomas Spencer, another American businessman in Maui at the same time. When things didn't work out on Guam and the whole enterprise died, Spencer ended his partnership with Van Ingen.

One cannot help but wonder what connection, if any at all, Masters may have had with his secretary's business venture on Guam. Was Masters quietly in on it, partly motivating his push to open a consulate on Guam? Or did Van Ingen's commercial activities create problems for Masters?


Edward A. Edgerton, a traveling man tired of life on the seas, stayed on Guam to work for Masters.  Of great interest to me is the fact that Edgerton was a daguerrotypist, working with an early form of photography.  He says he took photos of Guam in the 1850s.  If they still exist, they might be the earliest photographs of Guam.  But if they exist, where are they?

Edgerton enjoyed Guam and wanted to remain.  He had control of the old priest's house; two storeys with balconies, a grand staircase, high ceilings.  Perhaps the priests had moved to a newer or smaller house and Edgerton rented the bigger, older one.  But, his permission to stay denied by the Governor-General of the Philippines, Edgerton left Guam some years later.


Masters was a thorn in the side of the Spaniards on Guam the whole time, lodging complaints and protest against the Spanish government's dealing with Americans on Guam. It probably irritated the Spaniards even more when an American warship came into Apra Harbor in 1855 with its captain scolding de la Corte on the same score.

The final straw came about in late 1855. In August of that year, the US whaler the Jireh Perry came into Guam with a problem on its hands.

The Captain, a Mr Lawrence, was facing a mutiny of his crew. Masters asked Governor Felipe de la Corte to arrest the ring leaders and participants, which included an American by the name of William Martin.

But Martin was suffering from some illness that required him to move from the prison to the hospital. When some time later Martin was found freely moving about Hagåtña, de la Corte threw him in prison again. Masters objected, but de la Corte said he allowed Martin to move from the prison to the hospital on the condition that he not move from the hospital. Masters said no such condition was made. Even though Martin asked for and was granted a pardon, de la Corte used Masters' intervention in Martin's situation as a justification to send Masters away in April of 1856.

When Masters left the island, some fifteen American residents left with him, including an American doctor who, it seems, treated sick whalers a lot of the time. Thus was the closing of the "American Consulate" on Guam.

American newspapers used this incident to decry the way the Spanish government treated Americans in the Spanish colonies and urged the US to put pressure on Madrid to do something about it. I can already hear the sounds of Spanish-American tension over Cuba in 1898 forty years later. In the war that resulted from that, the US didn't simply open another Consulate on Guam in 1898; they kicked out the Spaniards and took the whole island for themselves!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


I heard this the other day speaking with a Chamorro lady about a couple that divorced within weeks of getting married.

She said, "Fino' i man åmko' : ti mayulang trabia i palapåla, esta umayute' i dos!"

"As the old folks say : the pålapåla wasn't even down and they were already divorced!"

A pålapåla is a temporary structure, usually just a roof and a wooden platform, for parties or meetings.

What's funny is it usually does take a week or two for most people to take down the pålapåla.  Hey, one has to rest after throwing a big party.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Seaton Schroeder Junior High School graduates in 1936


Lagrimas P. Leon Guerrero



Manuel U. Lujan



Cynthia J. Torres



Ignacio P. Quitugua



Teresa T. Sablan



Rosa F. Mesa*



Jane T. Gutierrez*



Asuncion H. Santos



William U. Lujan



Ana F. Dueñas



Jesus C. Barcinas



* Industrial teachers 

First year teachers were making as little as 70 cents a day!

Source : Guam Recorder

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Every year, Buddhist monks and Catholic clergy take turns praying for the dead and for peace at the same memorial service at Matåguak, Yigo, site of the last battle on Guam in World War II.

The man on the left fought on Guam during the war.  The man on the right was a civilian, still in school in fact, on Saipan and then was drafted into the service and sent to Guam for the war.

Buddhist monks preparing for prayer.

Sorry for the poor video quality in the beginning.  The focus kept auto-adjusting. 

The event was surreal.  Black clouds hung over us, with peels of thunder and flashes of lightning.  Then United States Air Force jets from the nearby base roared through the skies.

Friday, October 12, 2012


Ha estoriåye yo' este na palao'an na ginen kumuekuentos un biåhe gi telefon yan otro na palao'an ni dosse famagu'on-ña.

Bula buruka ha hungok gi telefon sa' manhugågåndo todo i famagu'on.

Ilek-ña i otro na palao'an, "Dispensa yo' un råto.  Hei!  Jose!  Sangåne eye siha na famagu'on i besino na u fan hånao tåtte gi gima'-ñiha!  Adda' tåya' familian-ñiha?"

Ilek-ña si Jose, "Iyo-ta ha', mom, todo este siha."

Ilek-ña i palao'an, "Pues tågo' i mañe'lu-mo siha ya u fan malak i besino sa' mampos burukento ya kumuekuentos yo' gi telefon!"

A woman told me the story of talking one time on the phone with another woman who had twelve children.

There was a lot of noise in the background because she heard a lot of kids playing.

The other woman said, "Excuse me a minute.  Hey!  Jose!  Tell those children of the neighbor to go back to their home.  Don't they have families?"

Jose said, "They're all ours, mom."

The woman said, "Then tell your brothers and sisters to go to the neighbors because they're too noisy and I'm talking on the phone!"

Thursday, October 11, 2012



I akague na kannai-ho alunån-ho sa' ti u yåfai;
ya i agapa' na kannai-ho un sinetbe asta ke un måtai.

My left hand is my pillow because it will never tire;
and my right hand will serve you until you die.

Many verses of the Kåntan Chamorrita make reference to parts of the body as the tools with which love is expressed in either concrete or symbolic action.

This man might be so poor, that he sleeps on his own left hand for a pillow.  But he is young and strong, and will use his right hand to serve the needs of his sweetheart, despite his apparent poverty.  Just as his left hand won't tire from being used as a pillow, his right hand will never tire of taking care of her.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Tanaka, Shimizu, Shinohara, Yamashita and many more.  These are names we all recognize on Guam and we consider members of these families our fellow Chamorros.  But we also acknowledge their Japanese background.

In the last few weeks, it has been announced in the media that the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the Japanese settlers who moved to Guam over 100 years ago are forming a society.  There had been a Guam Japanese Association in the 1930s before the war, made up of these Japanese settlers.  But after the war, there was actually a bit of a stigma associated with being part Japanese on Guam.  Some Japanese-Chamorros dropped their Japanese names, as a matter of fact, and went by their mother's Chamorro maiden names.

Yet most Japanese-Chamorro families proved their loyalty to the U.S., or at least to their fellow Chamorro countrymen, during the war; and, after the war, Chamorro voters routinely elected people with names like Tanaka and Ooka.  Even some full-blooded Japanese, like Mrs. Dejima, were seen as having kept a clean record during the war.

Samuel T. Shinohara was an early Japanese settler, marrying a Chamorro from the Torres family, and opening a restaurant.  He was one of the leaders of the Guam Japanese Association before the war.

Mr. Suzuki (top) was a tailor.  But J. K. Shimizu (below) had an even more prominent business.  Shimizu was early in the game, probably right at the turn of the century (1900) if not a few years earlier.  He had boats that would go up and down the Marianas, as well as onto Japan.  His descendants continue the family's strong commercial activities.  Shimizu also had married a Torres.

The Japanese had a strong commercial presence here in the Marianas certainly by the 1890s.  Even in the early American administration of Guam, there were comments by Americans that too many shops were owned by Japanese.  But the large part of these Japanese settlers married local women and planted deep roots.

So from the 1930s we come to the year 2012 where we see candidates with Japanese names, but Chamorro in identity.

Did you know.....?

That there were Japanese settlers on Guam as early as the 1860s?

During the term of Spanish Governor Francisco Moscoso y Lara (1866-1871), a private company, the Sociedad Agrícola, was founded to bring over Japanese farmers to hopefully exploit the agricultural potential of the Marianas.  The venture failed.  Some of the Japanese brought over died, and the rest all returned to Japan.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Måtto un taotao ni manbebende "typhoon shutters."

Ha sangåne i taotao guma', "Señot, bai hu ofrese hao kabåles yan man nuebo na 'shutter' pot para an påkyo.  Dies mit pesos ha'."

Ilek-ña i taotao guma', "Ai.  Demasiao guaguan sa' man nuebo.  Kao tåya' iyo-mo 'shutters' ni esta man ginen ginipu ni pakyo?"

A man selling typhoons shutters came by.

He told the man of the house, "Sir, I will offer you complete and brand new typhoon shutters.  Just ten thousand dollars."

The man said, "Wow.  They're too expensive as they're brand new.  Don't you have any shutters which have already been blown off by a typhoon?"

Monday, October 8, 2012



In early 1802, an American ship, the Lydia, contracted by the Spanish government to bring a new Spanish governor from Manila to Guam touched at Apra Harbor.  The ship had been in Manila and the Spanish Government was in need of a vessel to be sent to Guam for that purpose. Besides the new Governor and his family, some other officials and one friar were to be taken to Guam.

Although the Lydia was not the first American ship to visit the Marianas nor Guam, it was the first American visit that provided us with a good bit of information because on board the Lydia was the First Mate, William Haswell.  Lucky for us, Haswell liked noting down a lot of things in his chronicle. He eventually published a little book about his visit to Guam

Here are some things Haswell noted about Guam :

  • The homes of the Chamorros were small but clean.  Outside the house was another shelter for the fire.  People raised chicken near the house for the eggs.  They slept in hammocks or mats. (The people, not the chicken.)
  • People grew tobacco which had to be given to the Spanish Governor as payment for rent, who then sold them at enormously high prices.
  • The Spanish priests tried to be involved in daily government affairs, but the military governor didn't appreciate this and the two powers were often at odds.
  • The governor, priests and private individuals gave the crew so much food on their departure that much of the meat had to be thrown overboard when they slaughtered an animal.  They had no salt to preserve the meat.
  • Haswell had the best watermelon he ever tried in his life right here on Guam.
  • The jungle was so thick he was amazed the Chamorros could walk so easily in it.
  • Haswell talks about the fanihi, or fruit bat.
  • Many Chamorros went around naked in the fields, but as soon as a European was seen, they would cover themselves.
  • The troops that had been brought over from Manila many years before were now (1801) mixed in with the natives and indistinguishable from them.
  • These soldiers were paid $10 a year, who then used the money to buy clothing and household goods from the same governor who paid their salary, and he marked up the price 800%.  They weren't paid in U.S. dollars, of course, but what was really Mexican pesos in coinage.

Chamorro women often went topless and would run and cover themselves only when they saw Europeans coming.

Not only did the Spanish Governor grow his own tobacco using Chamorro workers, private growers had to give him what they grew as rent, who would then sell it for high prices.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

YOU KNOW YOU'RE CHAMORRO WHEN... think church wine is the BEST on the market!


The Catholic Church has some rules about the wine used for Mass.  It has to be made of grapes from the vine and not corrupt (for example, so old it's turning into vinegar).  It can be either red or white.

No additives are allowed, like adding sugar to sweeten the wine.

Thus, it is very dangerous for priests to go to Payless to buy wine for Mass.  For all they know, they could be using improper wine.  We get wine from companies making altar wine respecting Catholic guidelines.

However, since these Catholic altar wines are made for RELIGIOUS purposes (to become the Precious Blood of the Lord), and NOT for their quality as a drink, and also because they are made in vast quantities for Mass, so that priests need an affordable source of bulk orders, these altar wines generally are not, I repeat, not  TOP RANKING wines in terms of their vintage.

They generally sell for $5 a bottle, whereas good quality wines go for much more, from $10 to $50 a bottle.

But since we don't grow grapes on Guam, nor drink much (in the old days), we aren't familiar with these things, so I always hear from some old-times, "Eh Pale', you guys got the best wine at Mass, hah?  Hehehe."

If only they knew.

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Paterno S. Hocog and his family in Luta

It has been spelled over the years in a variety of ways, but Hocog is the Chamorro word hokkok, which means "depleted, exhausted, consumed" but it can also mean "total, complete, perfect" as in "hokkok minagof-ho," or "my joy is complete."  It can also mean "the last," as in "hokkok finatoigue-ña nu siha," or "it is his last visit to them."  The three meanings stem from the idea that one can go no further; when something runs out, when something cannot be any more complete than it already is and when something is ultimate and final.

Everyone knows that Hocog is a Rota (Luta) name, but there were Guam-born Hocogs, as in Hågat.  But this was in the 1850s and the name died out on Guam.

Some Humorous Stories

Because this last name is an actual word in Chamorro, some funny incidents and jokes have come from it.

An older gentleman, now deceased, told me many years ago that he was a government clerk after the war.  A man from Luta moved down to Guam and had to register with this clerk for some reason or another.  The clerk asked his name.  He gave his first name and his last name.  But the clerk also wanted his middle name.  The man said Hocog ("no more").  The clerk insisted, "Tell me your middle name!"  "Hocog!" the man from Luta repeated.  But the Guamanian clerk only understood him to mean hokkok; "That's all!  No more!"

And then there's the old joke about the man from Luta who died.  Why did he die?  Hocog Mangloña.  Hokkok manglo'-ña.  He ran out of wind (breath).  Both are Rotanese names that have meanings.