Wednesday, October 29, 2014



One clan named Santos is better-known-as the Bali Tres family.

According to an 80-year-old member of that family, the nickname came from his grandmother, Andrea Santos, who was so industrious that her work was worth the work of three people.

He told me, "An man macho’cho’, åntes gi gualo', un taotao ha cho’gue bålen tres na taotao chumocho’gue che’cho’-ña."

"When they worked, in the past on the farm, one person did the work of three people doing her work."

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Spanish uniforms in the Philippines in the late 1700s

In 1786, the list of soldiers on Guam was still described as the Compañía de Infantería Española y de la Pampanga; the Spanish Infantry Company and that of Pampanga, a province in the Philippines.

But the soldiers who made up these two companies were, for the most part, not born in Spain or the Philippines. They were born on Guam, specifically Hagåtña, of ancestors who had come from Spain, Latin America and the Philippines and who had (again, in large part but not necessarily all) married Chamorro women. Even those who had just a little pre-contact Chamorro blood were Chamorro by culture and language if they were born and grew up on Guam. Of course, it was a culture and language strongly influenced by both Spanish and Catholic cultures. Still, this new culture and the language spoken in the home was not Spanish nor Filipino.

There are a few indigenous surnames (Taitano, Achuga, Anungui, Materne). Some are Filipino in origin (Manibusan, Pangelinan, Demapan). We see that San Nicolas is already a surname here. The Augustinian missionaries arrived 17 years prior to this list and were probably the ones who began naming some babies San Nicolas, as evidenced by baptismal records as late as the 1850s and 60s.

So a good many of these men would have been born and baptized during the Jesuit era. We can see Jesuit names of saints, such as Juan (John) Regis, a Jesuit saint, and many Ignacios (Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits).

Most of the surnames we see in this list of soldiers are recognizable. Some never took root here or vanished after a while for lack of male descendants.

Many names on the list were unintelligible due to ink smudges and/or tears in the paper. I have also given them the modern, recognizable spelling though some names were spelled in old, obsolete ways.

ACHUGA, Rafael

ANUNGUI, Francisco

ARCEO, Félix

BAZA, Remigio

BORJA, Enrique de


CAMACHO, Francisco

CÁRDENAS, (first name unintelligible)

CASTRO, Ignacio
CASTRO, Nicolás de


CRUZ, Félix de la
CRUZ, Francisco de la

DEMAPÁN, Ignacio (some of the Demapan family later moved to Saipan where they grew in number, whereas the Demapan on Guam grew smaller)

DÍAZ, Pedro

DUEÑAS, (first name unintelligible)
DUEÑAS, Feliciano

FLORES, Juan Crisóstomo (Crisóstomo here is not a last name, but the full name of John Chrysostom, a saint)
FLORES, Rosario (yes, Rosario could be used as a man's name, though not as often as a woman's. The name simply refers to the Rosary.)

FRÁNQUEZ, Florentino

GARRIDO, Manuel Tiburcio (he became a government clerk whose name appears in a good number of Spanish era documents)

LEÓN, Luís de

LIMA, Joaquín de (some people on Guam in the 1800s had, as their middle name, de Lima)

LIZAMA, Nicolás




PABLO, Juan Regis (again, the complete name of John Regis, a Jesuit saint)

PALOMO, Antonio


PASCUAL, Andrés (there was still a Pascual family on Guam in the 1800s)
PASCUAL, Francisco


RIVERA, Marcos de


ROSA, Domingo de la

ROSARIO, Remigio del

SABLÁN, Agustin Roque (interesting, because Sablan does not appear in the 1759 Census. So this Sablan may be of the first generation of Sablans on Guam since this list is from 1786.)

SAN NICOLÁS, Dámaso de

SANTOS, Antonio de los
SANTOS, Mariano de los




TELLO JIMÉNEZ, Andrés (the Tello family lasted on Guam into the late 1800s)

VEGA, Antonio de la

Thursday, October 23, 2014



Someone who is buskaplaito is the kind of person who goes looking for a fight.

He or she starts trouble.

It's as if they enjoy conflict.

They see peace and quiet, and don't like it.

So they'll pick on someone, hoping to start a fight.

They'll make a problem where none exists.

Sometimes, it's not for the mere enjoyment of it. Sometimes there's a real gain. For example, making two people who don't have a fight start fighting, so one can gain the advantage over both of them.

~ Håfa na ti ya-mo si Maria? (Why don't you like Maria?)
~ Buskaplaito na taotao! (She's a trouble maker!)

~ Suhåye i buskaplaito na taotao. (Avoid the trouble maker.)

The word comes from Spanish buscapleito.

It can be broken down into two words :

Busca, which means "he or she looks for," and

pleito, which means "quarrel or argument."

But we don't like the ei sound, and we change it to ai.

Like Spanish reina (queen) becomes Chamorro raina.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


For a short time on Guam, it was a crime to whistle in the vicinity of Hagåtña.

One could, apparently, whistle all one wanted in Talofofo or Yigo. But not in the capital.

You see, whistling got on the nerves of one man. But that one man was the Naval Governor, and that's all that mattered.

Governor Gilmer said, "Whistling is an entirely unnecessary and irritating noise that must be discontinued."

If you were caught whistling, you had to cough up five dollars.

Governor Gilmer

Well, Gilmer's edict did not ring right in the ears of many, including those in Washington. Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, removed Gilmer as Govenror of Guam in 1920. Daniels said the whistling prohibition had nothing to do with it. One has to wonder.

With the removal of Gilmer, the ban on whistling disappeared. Under the Navy, the Governor was the law.

It was this sort of thing that got Chamorros, and some Americans, moving on making the change towards a government by, of and for the people. It is a process many think is still incomplete.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Gotgot i deffe'.

A toothless person is loose-lipped.

Someone who is gotgot says more than s/he should. S/he can't keep secrets. The gotgot person is very free with his or her information. S/he will tell on you and get you in trouble. Gotgot people make good informants.


But why should someone missing a tooth, someone doffe', be necessarily gotgot?

The reasoning of the elders is :

"Yanggen guaha fåtta gi kellat, man malågo ha' siempre todo i ga'ga'."

"If there is an opening in the fence, all the animals will surely run off."

Therefore, if there is an opening in the teeth, words will surely escape!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


A branch of the Garrido family is better-known-as Pindan.

I ran into an older member of the family and asked her where the name comes from.

She said it comes from an ancestor (she doesn't know who) who was at a party and asked for some meat, saying, "Pendan fan guennao diddide' kåtne ya bai chagi." "Cut a little meat there and I will try it."

There is no such word pendan, either in Chamorro nor Spanish. People took it to mean the guy was asking that a piece of meat be cut for him to eat. Because the word was unheard of, people thought it was cute and used it to label the man himself, except that pendan became pindan.

The word pendan does exist in Spanish, but as a conjugation of the verb pender, which means "to hang, to be pending." Was the man asking for meat misusing the verb?

Many family nicknames are explained by family stories passed from generation to generation. Some of these stories have no basis in history. Sometimes the same family can have more than one story explaining the origin of their family nickname. So there could be other theories how this group of Garridos got the nickname Pindan.

The elderly lady who shared this story is the daughter of Jose Mendiola Garrido, the son of Juan Garrido and Dolores Mendiola. Juan and Dolores would have been young adults by the 1880s.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


Corpus Christi in 1894 was not observed with full solemnity.

The Governor, Emilio Galisteo, was erecting a new building for the principal school in all the Marianas, the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán, founded by Sanvitores more than 200 years before.

In order to get the building project done, the people of Hagåtña were tasked with providing the manual labor. In those days, Chamorros had to put in a certain number of days working on public projects in place of paying taxes. But, because this was happening very close to the feast of Corpus Christi, when Chamorros build Lånchon Kotpus (outdoor altars) for the Corpus Christi procession, the people could not attend to that religious project. Corpus Christi came, but no låncho. For us, it would be like Christmas without a tree, or New Year's without fireworks - but worse! A Christmas tree and annual fireworks are not obligations to God, but a låncho on Kotpus is!

Perhaps due to the rush job, the lime used for the walls of the new colegio was improperly made and, when an earthquake and heavy rains afterwards combined to put pressure on those walls, they came tumbling down.

The Chamorros saw it as an act of divine retribution for the failure to observe the feast of Corpus Christi with the complete attention it deserved.

What's also interesting is that some anonymous critic wrote words to that effect and posted it on the front door of the Hagåtña church.

Friday, October 3, 2014


A most scandalous incident, leading to a bitter divorce, involved a Chamorro mestizo by the name of V. E. (Ben) Pangelinan and his wife Amy.

Ben was probably the son of Vicente Pangelinan, also known as Ben, who left Guam and settled in the Big Island. Ben senior died in 1903.

Ben junior worked for the inter-island transport the W. G. Hall.  This work took Ben away from his home, where his wife Amy was quite alone. Or so he thought.

Between 10 and 11 o'clock on the night of September 30, 1896, Ben came home, much to the surprise of Amy and her male friend, sleeping in the spot where Ben should have been.

Finding the door of the bedroom locked, Ben kicked it open. Ben had had his suspicions for some time, and planned this unexpected return for just this purpose.

Jumping out of bed, without a stitch of clothing on him, the man, later to be identified as one Arthur Jones, a clerk at a shoe store, tried to escape through the bedroom door. But Ben punched him hard enough to stun him into immobility. Ben then put Jones in a neck hold and proceeded to beat his head till it was bloody. Ben then forced Jones to sit, as naked as the day he was born, on a chair till the police came.

Jones was charged with unlawful entry onto private property. His hearing the next day had to be postponed, as he entered the court room with one eye covered with a leather patch.

Amy was also arrested, back in the day when one could get arrested for something called adultery.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


Our mañaina who lived under the Spanish incorporated numerous Spanish sayings and expressions into their Chamorro speech; expressions that were never translated to Chamorro as they borrowed them. Our mañaina didn't need to translate them because, for the most part, they understood what the Spanish expression meant.

But we, today, lost our familiarity with Spanish quite awhile ago. I would say that mañaina born after 1910 or so probably did not understand the literal meaning of these Spanish expressions, though they used these phrases a lot. Growing up with mañaina born from 1899 to 1917, I heard these expressions all the time. I mean that. ALL the time.

Our mañaina didn't change the Spanish words, but they did, when necessary, change the pronunciation to fit Chamorro sounds.

In this post, I will focus just on the Spanish expressions referring to God (Dios).


The expression means "GOD FREE US." It can also mean "God save us," as in Saint Teresa's quote, "God save us from gloomy saints."  So it doesn't mean "God free us" as in we're enslaved and need that kind of freedom, but rather freedom from harm.

Sometimes people would change it to "Dios te libre," meaning "God free you."

Rarely, I have heard older people say, "Dios nos libre de todo måt," in Spanish it's "de todo mal." It means, "God save us from all evil."  In Chamorro, we have the L sound, but not at the end of a syllable. So Spanish mal becomes Chamorro måt.


The Spanish say "Dios nos guarde," but, in Chamorro, we don't have the R sound. It changes to an L (guitarra becomes gitåla) or a T when at the end of a syllable (tambor becomes tåmbot and guarde becomes guåtde).

The phrase means, "God keep us," as in "keep you safe and sound."

Again, the expression can be changed to "Dios te guåtde," "God keep you."


The phrase means "God protect you."

It can also be changed to "Dios nos ampåre," but I can't recall ever hearing that.

It's interesting because for every rule there is an exception, and this is one. We don't like the R and we changed it to an L or a T, but not in this case.

Dios te ayude

All this should remind us of a Spanish expression we hear frequently, which is the response given to someone who fannginge' the elder or the saina : Dios te ayude.

Dios te ayude is also Spanish, meaning "God help/assist you."

We pronounce the Y in ayude the Chamorro way, as in Yigo or Yoña.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


The tale of a strong boy jumping from the northern tip of Guam to Luta is one of the better-known Guam legends.  It can be found at

But I find it doubly rewarding to know the story in one Chamorro-language version :

Un taotao gai patgon un låhe.
(A man had a male child.)

På'go annai lumamoddong esta,
(Now when he was grown already,)

metgot-ña yan matatngå-ña ke si tatå-ña.
(he was stronger and braver than his father.)

Annai ha li'e na metgot-ña ke guiya,
(When he saw that he was stronger than he,)

dinilalak asta i puntan i tano',
(he chased him away till the end of the land,)

ya man goppe desde ayo na punta asta Luta.
(and he jumped from that point over to Rota.)

Tånto ke man råstro guihe na punta yan Luta gi acho,
(Such that there was left a foot print at that point and in Luta on the rock,)

ya ma fa'na'an Puntan Påtgon desde ayo.
(and it was named Child's Point since then.)