Saturday, March 30, 2013


Today's the day where we get the name many Chamorro women had in the past; Soledad.

It's easy to confuse Our Lady of Sorrows, La Dolorosa or Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, with Our Lady of Solitude, Nuestra Señora de la Soledad.

They're both sorrowful, and the images are very similar.

But, as the name suggests, with Soledad, we are thinking about how lonely Our Lady felt when her son Jesus was taken away from her.   This devotion is especially focused on Saturday, when the Lord was already buried.  She could not see Him.  All she could do was visit a tomb, sealed up by a large stone.

I find that many images of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad picture her in black (en luto), mourning the death of her son.  Other frequent features are the laced veil that borders her face and the handkerchief she clutches to dry her tears.

Many Chamorro women carried this name, Soledad.  Many times we didn't know it because they were never addressed as Soledad, but as Da or Daling.

Then, of course, there's one of Guam's best-known Spanish forts, Fort Soledad, built around 1810, overlooking Humatak.

Friday, March 29, 2013


The Siete Palabras is a Catholic devotion recalling the seven last words spoken by Jesus on the cross on Good Friday. 

Every Good Friday in the Marianas in the old days had a Siete Palabras devotion sometime after 12 noon and before 3 o'clock.

There was a hymn sang for each of the seven last words.

Refrain :

Atan isao na taotao / atan i Lahen Yu'us
(Look, sinner / look at the Son of God)
ma klåba gi kilu'us / måtai sa' umisao hao.
(nailed to the cross / He died because you sinned.)

The first verse went like this :

Tåta, asi'e, Tåta / na'tata i tiningo'-ña
(Father, have mercy, Father / his thoughts are slow)
ma'åse' ti ha gef taka / i tinaddong i isao-ña.
(mercy, he hasn't fathomed / the depth of his sin.)
Ha  na' ma puno' yo' guine / guåho ni Rai yan Yu'os-ña
(he has me killed here / me, his King and God)
Asi'e, Tåta, asi'e / ti baba i korason-ña.
(Mercy, Father, have mercy / his heart is not evil.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


The Almacén in Hagåtña 1918

What do you do when you want an American education in Guam in 1917 but are a working adult?

You scrape up a dollar and enroll in the Night School run by the Naval Government in the Almacén, an old Spanish building next to the Palåsyo.

That dollar was your tuition for the entire month.  Besides working adults who could not attend classes during working hours, the Night School was open to anyone who simply wanted more of an education, and who had the dollar to pay for it.

Jacques Schnabel, a Belgian who had married Concepcion Anderson Calvo, was Superintendent of Education at the time.

The Almacén, originally built as a warehouse, was later torn down.  All that remains are those famous three arches that were the entrance of the building.  You can see those arches at the bottom left corner of the photo above.  The Palåsyo, or Governor's Palace, is to the right. 

Can you match these arches with the ones in the picture above?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


After the war, there was not much in the way of high quality material for the builidng of new churches.  The idea was to build temporary and quick chapels and churches, and wait till funds could be raised and supplies were more available, to build a more lasting structure.

Here Father Alvin LaFeir, Capuchin, stands next to his simple altar.  The wooden platform underneath is not even painted nor surfaced with tiles or carpeting.   For the sanctuary wall, just some ecclesiastical fabric tacked onto a wooden wall.  The tabernacle is made of wood.

If someone can identify this church, please let me know. 

Monday, March 25, 2013


What do you call this in Chamorro?

It depends.

On Guam, this is a lisåyo.

On Saipan, this is a misterio.

On Saipan, lisåyo refers just to the prayer itself, not the beads.

On Guam, lisåyo refers to both the prayer form and the beads it is prayed on.

Misterio is Spanish for "mystery."  The rosary is a prayer form based on the meditation of certain mysteries.  Each set of ten beads form a decade of a mystery.  This is where the idea came from to call the beads "mysteries."

Lisåyo, by the way, is the Chamorro pronunciation of rosario, which is Spanish for "rosary."

Chamorro doesn't like the R sound and, when possible, replaces it with an L.

Chamorro also doesn't like the Y sound (the final part of rosario sounds like rosa - ryo) and replaces it with our own Y sound which is like a DZ.

So, in Saipan, people will look at you funny when you say, "Malingo i lisayu-ho,"  "My rosary is missing."

They would say, rather, "Malingo i misteriu-ho."

And if you said that on Guam, people would give you a mysterious look.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Good Friday Procession in Hagåtña in the 1920s

Our mañaina took Holy Week (Semåna Sånta) very seriously.

The main rule was : SILENCE.  The whole week long.

In order to keep Holy Week as quiet as possible, the following were forbidden :

-singing (except in church)
-playing games
-playing the phonograph or radio (what few had them)
-all manual labor
-going to the farm or ranch
-swimming in a river or the ocean
-all recreation

The most serious days were Holy Thursday (Huebes Sånto) and Good Friday (Bietnes Sånto).

All food to be eaten those two days was cooked already by Wednesday afternoon or evening, so that there'd be less noise in the kitchen and no manual labor like grating coconut and so on.  The foods cooked were therefore things can could last for two days without going bad.

Dishes were left unwashed for those two days.

Clothes, too, were not washed on those two days.

Many did not even shower or bathe on those two days, in order to participate in the discomforts of the Lord which He experienced.

Many Americans, who were not Catholic, complained that life came to a standstill on Guam in Holy Week.  No one socialized.  People were either at home or in church.  Many local businesses were closed.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


A Lenten hymn sung in the Northern Marianas.  It is based on the Latin hymn "Miserere Domine populo tuo" or "Have mercy Lord on your people."


Asie Asaina asie i sengsong-mo
(Have mercy, Lord, have mercy on your people)

ya u na' fan libre
(and free them)

nu i sen guaguan hagå’-mo.
(through Your most precious blood.)


O yo'ase Y'os-ho, gai ase' nu guåho.
(O my merciful God, have mercy on me)

I dangkulon kompasion-mo
(Your great compassion)

u funas i isao-ho.
(will wipe out my sin.)

Umisao yo’ Asaina, ya hågo hu isague.
(I sinned, Lord, and I offended You.)

Gi me’nan i inatan-mo,
(In Your sight)

i linachi-ho nai hu cho’gue.
(I committed my fault.)

Linguistic Note

Songsong usually means "village" or "town." 

Cultural Note

"Pardon your people, Lord" was a major Lenten theme in traditional Catholicism.  In Spain and in Spanish-speaking countries, one of the best known Lenten hymns was "Perdona tu pueblo, Señor," meaning "Pardon your people, Lord."  It isn't surprising then that there came to be a Chamorro equivalent, though sung to a different melody.

Friday, March 22, 2013


"Kalakas!" your mother says when you come home from school dirty and smelly.

"Kalakas!" when you tell a dirty joke.

"Kalakas!" when people think your attitude stinks.

Where did we get this expression?

For years it escaped me, because one doesn't find this word in a standard Spanish dictionary.

Then, last year, I was at a community center in San Diego showcasing various minority cultures, and I came across these familiar Mexican figures associated with the Day of the Dead on November 2.

But, was I surprised to find out that these skeletal figurines are called "calaca." 

What most people don't realize, which I stress time and again in my talks and in my writing, is how strong Mexican influence has been on Chamorro culture.  This is because Spain ruled the Marianas through Mexico for the first 150 years or so.  Many of the so-called "Spanish" soldiers on Guam were actually Mexicans, even beginning with Sanvitores' group.

Look at our Chamorro cuisine for more evidence of Mexican touches : corn, titiyas, chalakiles, atuli and so on.

So I can just imagine how skeletal remains, evincing a reaction of disgust, could be transformed by Chamorro minds into an expression of repulsion.  I have no proof for this theory.  And I doubt that we'll ever find proof.  We don't have a complete dictionary or lexicon of ancient Chamorro to show that it's indigenous.  And no one, as far as we know, was documenting all the changes of our Chamorro language over the years back then.

If our kalakas is a term borrowed from the Mexican word, it's just one more example how our ancestors not only borrowed but changed imported vocabulary.  In borrowing, we change things and make it our own, slightly (and sometimes hugely) different from the original usage.


And the Chamorro said, "Kalakas!"

Sunday, March 17, 2013


When you think of Nededog, you think of Hågat.

It is an indigenous, Chamorro name.

The Spanish were famous for spelling Chamorro names slightly different from what they sound like to us.  And it's also possible that there were differences in pronunciation among Chamorros, either because of different locations or different times.

But my suspicion is that Nededog might be na' didok.  Just as Naputi comes from na' putiNa' means "to make."  Didok means "deep."  In the Spanish record, Nededog was spelled in a variety of ways. 

It's not a very big clan, but there's been one senator in Guam history who was a Nededog, back in the days when they were called congressmen - Jose Charfauros Nededog of Hågat.  He was a member of the 4th Guam Legislature.  And there's been a Sister of Notre Dame and principal of Saint Francis School, Yoña - Sister Marsha Nededog.  They can all trace their roots to one of the following people found in the 1897 Census :

Ignacio Nededog, who married Ramona Taeñao.  Both last names are indigenous Chamorro, so this family has a lot of indigenous blood.

Maria Nededog, who wasn't married in 1897 but had children out of wedlock who carried the name Nededog.

Andres San Nicolas Nededog, who wasn't married in 1897 but perhaps married later and may have fathered children.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


......someone comes to your home to try to convert you to their religion, you have no intention of changing, but you still offer them food or drink.

Most of us are Roman Catholics, but in the 1970s we saw for the first time in great numbers the Roamin' Jehovah's and the Roamin' Mormons.  Especially in the smaller villages, where nothing goes unnoticed, the missionaries knocking unsolicited on people's doors was quite a topic of conversation.

But, being Chamorro means being hospitable. 

Some people answered the door and very stoically or curtly said "no" and closed the door, or did so after saying "Sorry, but I was born and I will die in my religion."

I know of only one person, my grandmother's sister, who tried to convert the missionaries.  They soon struck her name off their visitation list.  Poor auntie.  She'd wait and wait for the missionaries but they would just pass by her house.  Maybe she should have tried the food trick to get them to stop by.

But a good number of people would listen and listen, even buy some of their literature for a few dollars, just to be polite.  And some offered the missionaries a drink or a snack.

"Sorry, I don't want to convert.
But try my empanåda!"

Monday, March 11, 2013


You hear the most interesting things sometimes in the check-out line.

This time at Cost-U-Less.

A mom with her kids.  As they are waiting, the kids are eyeing the little goodies they stack by the cashier.  I don't even know what the one kid was wanting, but he says to mom, in English, "Mom, can I get?"

She says, in English,  "Which you like?"

Again, I think, a Chamorro-ism.  A direct translation of what she'd have said in Chamorro, "Måno ya-mo?"  "Which you like?"  Or she could have asked, "Which you want?" as in "Måno malago'-mo?"

Rather than, "Which one do you like, or want?"

Sunday, March 10, 2013


Sustiene i makaka'-mo!
(Hold your itch!)

Sustiene comes from the Spanish sostener, and means to "hold, maintain, support, sustain."

Makaka' means itch or itchy.

So "Sustiene i makaka'-mo!" means : even though you are itchy, don't even try to scratch!

In other words...

You are really hungry, but the food hasn't all been put on the table yet, or blessed, but you feel so tempted to just grab and eat, and your mother says, "Sustiene i makaka'-mo!"

You are in a meeting, or in church, or at a school play, and you're tired of it, and you are fidgeting in your seat, barely able to keep on your chair, and your spouse says, "Sustiene i makaka'-mo!"

The phrase has also been used in connection with romantic attractions.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Four graves.  That's it.

I know of individual graves, and also graves of two, perhaps three, individuals buried right next to a private residence.  But I wouldn't consider those cemeteries but rather private graves, instead.

But this site, not connected to any private residence, could be the smallest cemetery in all the Marianas.  Four graves.

It's found in Humåtak, just outside the large Catholic cemetery.  These four graves belong to four Baptists in Humåtak, who could not be buried in the Catholic cemetery for obvious reasons.

Juan Aguon Quinata, born in 1883, was baptized a Catholic, as they all were during Spanish times.  Later, during American times, he became a Baptist.  He died in 1953.  Two other graves are of people who died in 1925 and 1934.  So this small area was designated for the Humåtak Baptists in the 1920s.

I have to investigate further, but I think the Baptist connection came about through marriage with one of the Hagåtña Baptists.  These graves are basically of people within one family.

The gravestones all include at the bottom the opening lines of one of the most famous English Protestant hymns :  Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee!

It's amazing what you find hidden in some of the small villages and isolated locations in our islands - if you just look hard enough.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Her name was Isabel Rosario Rivera Santos.

But to us she was Tan Sabet Såra.

She was a sweet elderly lady who always wore the mestisa.  From time to time she would come to our house to be the techa at some devotion or novena.  My family had no shortage of techa; my grandmother's spinster sister could do them all.  But asking Tan Sabet to be the techa from time to time kept a friendship going.

These were the days when families would have frequent devotions in the home.  I noticed in mine that certain individuals would be invited for specific devotions, and others for other devotions.

I often wondered where the Såra came from.  As I grew up, it sounded more to me like the Spanish/Chamorro form of the name Sarah, which it is.  I am told the Såra refers to the Rosario side of the family, so I am guessing there was a Sara Rosario in the lineage.  Perhaps I'll find such a person in the research one day.

Tan Sabet and my grandmother would also talk on the phone, chirping away in Chamorro.  I could understand bits and pieces only at the time.  I was a mere ten or eleven years old.

And, for some inexplicable reason, my grandmother handed me the phone with no clue as to why, when she was speaking with Tan Sabet.  Maybe grandma just needed me to keep Tan Sabet on the line for a while till grandma came back.

But while I had her on the phone, I clearly remember Tan Sabet telling me, "Cha'-mo maleleffa fumino' Chamorro, sa' lengguahi-ta."  "Don't forget to speak Chamorro, because it's our language."

I managed to say "Hunggan" or "Si, señora," I forget which; but I said something in the affirmative.

It struck me that she was not berating me for hardly being able to speak Chamorro at the time.  And that she was speaking to me in full-blown Chamorro as if I knew every word she was saying.  Her approach was positive and encouraging.

Very sweet lady.  A generation that is pretty much gone.  Too bad for us.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


A skiff

So what happened?  When the Europeans and Chamorros meet for the first time, blood is spilled.  Why?

All our sources for what transpired are European.  We have nothing but silence from the Chamorros themselves, who had no means of writing things down.  No oral tradition has come down to us, either, from the viewpoint of our ancestors.

Apparently, on the first day when Magellan's flotilla arrived, Chamorros came on board, with the Spaniards' consent, if not encouragement.  But when the Chamorros started helping themselves to what they wanted, there was a definite clash of cultures.  For whatever reason, the Europeans thought it necessary to use their crossbows - not guns - against the Chamorros.  Perhaps it was due to the superior number of Chamorros, or the Europeans' bad physical condition.  Remember, they were reduced to sickly, starving men by the time they came to Guam.

At the same time, the Chamorros made off with a skiff from one of the ships.  Magellan waited till the next day, when it was light again, to take action.

The Spaniards came ashore, killed seven Chamorros, burnt down many homes and recovered the stolen skiff.  Then they sailed away two days later, leaving nothing behind but a name for the islands - Los Ladrones (The Thieves) - which would not be changed till Sanvitores renamed them the Marianas.

Small as it is, for the European sailors, a skiff was worth the trouble of extending their stay, sending in an armed party and taking punitive action against the Chamorros, even taking lives.  With a skiff, seamen could test shallow waters first and know for certain where a ship could venture without danger of hitting ground or meeting some other danger.

Re-enactment in Humåtak of the burning of Chamorro homes by Magellan's crew in 1521

So the first deadly encounter between the Europeans and Chamorros was over a ship's goods and a little boat; a skiff.  Who owned what.  Who could take what.

Blood spills to this very day, even Chamorro against Chamorro, over such things.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Taipingot, or the Wedding Cake, in Luta (Rota)

Where did Ferdinand Magellan land on March 6, 1521?

How could we know for sure, since Magellan did not have a map of the Pacific nor of the islands he could have come across as he sailed west?

We have this eye witness account from Antonio Pigafetta, an Italian member of Magellan's expedition.  Pigafetta says that on March 6 they saw "a small island to the northwest" and "two others towards the southwest."  That makes three islands.  Then he says one of the two islands to the south was larger and higher than the other two.

Now, if one looks at a map of the Marianas, one would be tempted to think Magellan saw Saipan, Tinian and Aguiguan - three islands neatly in a row, separated by merely several miles.

The problem with this explanation is that Pigafetta says that the largest and highest of the three was to the southwest, that is, south of Saipan.  Unfortunately, neither Tinian nor Aguiguan fit this description.  Tinian is just slightly smaller than Saipan but definitely flatter.  And Aguiguan is tiny compared to the other two.  If one were approaching from the east, as Magellan was, Saipan would definitely appear to be the highest and biggest, which is at odds with Pigafetta's account.

That leaves only two more islands in the southern Marianas, Guam and Luta (Rota).  The problem is that makes for only two islands, and Pigafetta says they saw three.

Ah, but maybe what they saw looked like three islands, but were in fact only two islands.  In Luta, there is a high point to the south called Taipingot, or the Wedding Cake, that is connected to the island proper by a shallow and narrow strip of land (an isthmus) that would not be seen from a distance.  The little strip of land connecting Taipingot and Luta would be invisible from afar, and would make one believe he was looking at two islands instead of one.

Taipingot is connected to Luta proper by a narrow and shallow strip of land, unseen from afar.

This seems like a good explanation.  The "three" islands were really Luta and its southern high point Taipingot, mistaken as a separate island, and then Guam.

As Pigafetta says, Magellan decided to stop by the largest island to get food for his starving crew.  They headed for the western side of that island, as that side would be less windy.

Again, Pigafetta cannot tell us what beach or bay they landed at.  They had no maps; knew no names.  It could have been Tumon Bay, or Agaña Bay.  Pigafetta lacks sufficient detail to give us better clues.  But to sail all the way down to Humåtak (Umatac), some believe, would put him there at nightfall, an unlikely and more dangerous time to make contact with the islanders.  It also means Magellan would have by-passed Apra Harbor, another unlikely occurence.

Still, tradition has it that Magellan landed at Humåtak.  This idea possibly comes from Legazpi's later landing at Humåtak in 1565.


Magellan Monument in Humåtak

We have no real evidence that Magellan landed at Humåtak in 1521, and compelling reasons to think he actually landed more to the north of Guam.  But I say let's keep the tradition that Magellan landed in Humåtak.

Since we'll never know for sure where he landed, any place will do to serve as a focal point for the historical fact that Magellan stopped at Guam in 1521.  We have no evidence what month and day Christ was born, but if any day of the year is as good as another to mark His birth, why not December 25th, which conveniently (for Christians) supplants a pagan feast and injects it with new meaning.

Tumon and Hagåtña, if Magellan in fact landed at either place, already has enough busy activity which we frequently see anyway, while having Discovery Day in Humåtak gives us a reason to visit that beautiful bay. 

The people of Humåtak certainly don't want it any other way.  Even when the narrator of the Magellan landing re-enactment talks about how those bad Spaniards killed Chamorros and burned down our huts, the narrator ends it all with a "Biba Magellan!  Biba Discovery Day!"

The Spaniards.  We attack them.  But we wouldn't be who we are today had they never come.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


The black volcanic rocks of Hawaii. 

Unlike the adventurous tales of the Chamorro whalers who braved the high seas, I heard the story of two elderly and modern Chamorro residents in Hawaii, who just moved there from the Marianas.

Having settled into their Oahu home for more than a year, it occurred to them to make a visit to the famed Big Island.

They arrived; checked into a hotel; rented a car.  The plan : visit the volcanoes.

But they found the driving distances too long.  They had never needed more than half an hour to get anywhere back home or even in Oahu.

The road was too winding, and the husband drove way under the speed limit.

The wife tells the story :

"Guaha gi tatten-måme, ya duru ma na' kåti i karetan-ñiha sa' pot mampos ham despåsio gi chalan!"
(There were people behind us, and they kept honking their horns because we were so slow.)

"Pues, manli'e ham man dångkulo yan man åttilong na åcho.  Hu sangåne i asaguå-ho, 'Mampos na' ma'ñao este siha na åcho.  Båsta!  Bira, bira!  Nihi!  Ta hånao tåtte gi hotel!"
(Then, we saw these big and black rocks.  I told my husband, 'These rocks are way too scary!  Enough! Turn, turn! Let's go! Let's go back to the hotel!"

So for the two days they planned on being on the Big Island, they mainly saw their hotel room. 

Some Chamorros are gadabouts , other Chamorros are homebodies.

Monday, March 4, 2013


When the German ship, the SMS Cormoran, was confined in Apra Harbor in 1914, it was not considered an enemy.  The U.S. was not at war with Germany yet.  But the U.S. also wanted to be free of accusations of taking sides in the war.  The Germans were happy to be sequestered in the safe harbor of a neutral country, rather than risk being sunk by the enemy Japanese in the open waters.

On a small island, with a small American community, the addition of European sailors and officers from Germany was at first welcomed on Guam with great glee.

Their presence added color and entertainment to the social happenings on island.

Dinner parties were a regular thing on board, hosted by German Captain Zuckschwerdt.  German officers would entertain by playing the piano and by singing solo pieces.  Christmas time was the most special, with the Germans going the extra yard with their German yuletide customs.

German sailors roamed freely around Guam at this time.  I wonder if any German-Chamorro babies were produced in 1915 and in the next few years.  All that came to an end in 1917 when the U.S. finally entered the war and the Cormoran sunk itself rather than fall into American hands.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


I had to pick myself off the floor when I checked the blog stats for January 2013.  Over 10,000 visits to this blog is one month.  When I first started the blog nearly 2 years ago, I would have been happy if there were 10,000 visits for the last two years!

In February, with fewer days, 9,000+ visits.

Thank you dear readers.  Si Yu'us ma'åse'!

Graph of Blogger page views


Before the Europeans settled the Marianas, the Chamorros didn't get drunk.

Why?  No tuba.  Or any intoxicating beverages for that matter.

It was the Filipinos who introduced tuba to the Chamorros.  Tuba even made its way from the Philippines to Mexico, an example of reverse cultural influence.  Usually it was the other way around; Mexico influencing the Philippines.

Collected from the sap that seeps from the cut flower of the coconut tree into a bamboo cylinder hung around the flower stump.  When the first cut heals and the sap no longer flows, the stump is sliced again and the stump bleeds more sap.  The sap is most productive at night, and tuba makers collect the sap in the morning and before sunset.

When the sap is first collected, it is very sweet and can be converted right away into a form of syrup or sugar by boiling.  If left alone for four hours, it has fermented enough to become intoxicating, but still sweet.

Unless it is refrigerated after this point, the tuba will ferment quickly and become an excellent vinegar, binaklen tuba.  In the two bottles above, the sweet, cold and clear tuba is to the right; the room temperature, darker vinegar is to the left.

In the old days before Payless supermarkets, Chamorros would use tuba as a leavening agent, like yeast, in breads.  One can always tell, for example, when tuba was used in making poto (rice cakes).

But there's nothing like drinking ice cold, sweet tuba on a warm day....

Ilek-ña i Amerikåno, "Ei na minannge'"

A statesider tries tuba for the first time - and likes it.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


The Jose Lujan House
Site of the Guam Institute
Guam's only private school before the war

In May, 1940, the following students graduated from Junior High level studies at the Guam Institute.  The ceremonies were held at the church hall next to the Cathedral.

Aflague, Joaquin
Aflague, Jesus T.
Bamba, Jesus M.
Benavente, Jose G.
Calvo, Angelina T.
Camacho, Carlos G.
Crisostomo, Pedro C.
Cruz, Jose M.
Diaz, Agustin T.
Flores, Jose LG
Iwatsu, Tomas S.
Leon Guerrero, Pedro M.
Lujan, Gregorio C.
Martinez, Carrie C.
Martinez, Rosa T.
Pangelinan, Emeterio
Quenga, Isabel S.
Rosa, Jose
Rosario, Lucille Marie

Recognize any names?  Many are immediately familiar.

One special one : Carlos G. Camacho.  First elected Governor of Guam (1970-1974).

Friday, March 1, 2013


We're used to the saying "Us versus Them."

But when village murals started going up some years ago, there was some discrepancy which Chamorro word for "us" to use.  Some villages used "hami," or "hame."

And others used the word "hita."

What's the difference.

In English, "us" is "us" and "we" is "we."  But, in conversation, we're not sure who is always included or excluded when those words are used.

For example, when someone tells you, "We are going to the movies," you need to know from what went before, or from what follows, whether YOU yourself are included in this trip to the movies.

But in Chamorro, as in some other languages, the vocabulary itself solves the problem.

"Hame" means "Us, but not you."  Exclusive.

"Hita" means "Us, including you."  Inclusive.

So, in the case of the village murals, either word, hame or hita, works fine.  It just depends who is talking to who.

If a Sumay person is talking to another Sumay person and wants to say "We, the people of Sumay," s/he would say, "Hita ni taotao Sumay."  Hita, because both speaker and listener are included; both are from Sumay.

If a Sumay person is talking to someone not from Sumay and wants to say, "We, the people of Sumay," then s/he would say, "Hame ni taotao Sumay."  Hame, because the listener is not included in the group "people from Sumay."  Exclusive.

But people of both classes, residents and non-residents, pass these village signs all day long.  The included and the excluded drive by and read these signs.  So which word do you use?  The inclusive, or the exclusive?  I suppose the speaker itself - the village - has to decide first who it is speaking to in these signs.  The resident?  Or the non-resident?  In Chamorro, it cannot be both.