Tuesday, June 30, 2015


(1885 ~ 1973)


(The bad of what you have is better than the good of what you don't have.)

The saying comes from a member of Guam's old prominent families.

María'n José'n Torres was a member of the Pérez and Calvo families by blood, and of the Torres family by marriage, with connections to the Martinez clan.

Her husband José Martínez Torres was a leading businessman and judicial official before the war. He passed away in 1950.

They came from the generation very influenced by Spanish culture. In fact, when they wanted to hide information from the children or grand children, husband and wife spoke in Spanish.

The Proverb

As to the proverb....

What you have, although it may not be perfect, exists. It is there. It's in your hands to benefit from and enjoy.

There is always something or someone "better" out there, but often only theoretically. Possibly. But the point is that this possibly better option isn't in your hands now....and may never be!

It is better to accept a less-than-perfect person, thing or situation, because the perfect often exists only in our imagination. Furthermore, though less-than-perfect, the person, thing or situation that exists brings his/her/its own assets. Whereas the imaginary, theoretical and merely possible good brings no benefit, unless imagining the possible has its benefits.

Of course, as with all proverbs, there is a grain of truth, but not all truth. One proverb's truth is balanced by another proverb's truth.

Example :

1) Look before you leap.

2) He who hesitates is lost.

These two proverbs contradict each other, yet both are true depending on the situation.

Friday, June 26, 2015



Manuel shares the story how he used to hunt for edible birds before the war, using his slingshot.

The word he used for "slingshot" was pakin goma, literally meaning "rubber gun." But other Chamorros might use the word flecha, which is Spanish and usually means "arrow" but can also mean a slingshot.

To make his pakin goma, Manuel would first go into the jungle and look for a tree with Y shaped branches. The wood couldn't be too thick or two thin. Once he found the right dimensions of branches shaped into a Y, he would cut it off to the desired length.

He would then use rubber bands (goma) to tie around the two branches of the Y and use leather (kuero) as the nest for the projectile.

The best things to use as ammunition are round objects with a smooth surface. They fly much better than rough stones. He would use biyåt (marbles) or bålan plomo (lead balls).

Quietly he would go into the jungles or forests in northern Guam, just before sunset if he could, when birds often came back to rest in the trees. He would then aim and shoot. If he hit a bird correctly, it would drop to the earth. His eye had to be quick to follow the falling bird, because sometimes it was hard to find the dead bird, hidden under the fallen foliage of the dense jungle.

Hunting birds to eat was mostly a past time for Manuel. The meat on the birds was hardly enough to fill the stomach. But he was taught never to kill an animal just for sport. "An un puno' debe de un kånno'," he said. "If you kill it, you have to eat it."

"Mås i tettot hu sodda' gi halom tåno'." "It was mostly the tottot bird that I found in the jungle."

"Pues hu na' estufao pat guaha na biåhe na hu na' kåddun pika."

"Then I made it into an estufao or sometimes I would make it into a kåddun pika."


The slingshot that Manuel used was not the same as the pre-Spanish åcho' atupat used by our ancestors. The åcho' atupat was swung and thrown from the slingshot, not shot by pulling back an elastic band.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


MARC collection

In a pre-war photo of Pigo Catholic Cemetery stands a large mausoleum.

The mausoleum itself is prominent, dwarfing the small lápida (grave stones) around it. But what also catches the eye on closer inspection are the Chinese characters written above the entrance of the mausoleum.

Japanese names are written in Chinese characters (kanji). The mausoleum shows that the owners had some money, and that they were Catholic, which usually meant a Japanese male married to a Chamorro female.

So I asked some people to take a look at the kanji. They said it meant No ("field") and Daka or Taka from takai ("high").

This only made me more mystified because there was no Japanese-Chamorro families names Nodaka.

But there was (is) a Japanese-Chamorro family named Takano, and they ran a store.

If you invert No and Daka/Taka, you get Takano.

Perhaps this was the Takano family mausoleum.

The family patriarch was a Japanese who settled Guam and who received the Christian name Vicente when he married Dolores Dydasco San Nicolas.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


To this day, at least among older people, there are families better-known-as "Desa."

The name is actually Deza, and it was the name of their Spanish ancestor, Vicente Deza, whose signature appears above. Vicente was mentioned in many government documents as he was sometimes called on to act as interpreter.

Vicente also appears in a baptismal record in Saipan, where his daughter gave birth. In that record, Vicente is described as a "Spaniard, born in Manila."

In the Spanish spoken in the Marianas, Z and S have the same sound. The Z was not pronounced as it is in English, like a mosquito buzzing. The Z sounds like an S.

Vicente apparently married twice.

I suspect this because there is, in our records, a Nieves Luján Deza. All the other Dezas of the same era and who are said to have been Vicente's children have Baza as a middle name.

Thus, Vicente probably married a Luján woman who bore him a daughter, Nieves. I suppose this first wife died and Vicente married a second time. This second wife was one María Baza.


Nieves Luján Deza married Juan Leon Guerrero Blas (some of the descendants spell it Blaz). Again, the Z and S sounded the same so people used either letter.

Nieves was still alive when Påle' Román compiled a census in 1920. He states that her full name was María de las Nieves (Mary of the Snows).  According to him, Nieves was born around 1860.

They had a daughter María who married José Haniu, a Japanese settler on Guam. After the war, the sons opted to take their mother's surname. This branch of the clan has the distinction of sometimes being called "better-known-as Desa" or "better-known-as Haniu."

María Deza Blas Haniu
Granddaughter of the Spaniard Vicente Deza


Vicente Deza and María Baza had several children.

Isabel married José Ortiz Camacho. From this line, many descendants were born.

Then there was Josefa, who married Dionisio Taisague Cabrera in Saipan.

There was also a María, who married José Terlaje Quidachay.

Finally, there was one son, Moisés. But Moisés never married nor had children. Thus, the Deza name died on Guam as a surname.

Still, don't be surprised if you hear some people mention "Familian Desa" when referring to a Blas, Blaz, Sgambelluri, Camacho and a few other people.


Deza is not a very common name in Spain.

Today, there are only 1,200 people in Spain who carry the last name Deza.

Various theories exist about where the name comes from or what it means, but no one is really sure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


MARC collection

Although the United States took over Guam on June 21, 1898, it did not install a permanent Governor of Guam until the following year when Navy Captain Richard P. Leary arrived on August 7 as formal Governor of Guam, appointed by the U.S. President.

During those 13 months, there was, for much of them, political uncertainty, if not chaos. The title "Governor" was claimed by some, imposed by others, and American naval officers passing through put in place one or two.

Coe was a Governor of this last kind. Louis Kaiser, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, was on Guam for some time and took issue with the Governor at the time, the Chamorro Don Joaquín Cruz Pérez (Gongga), who had been made Governor by a prior American officer passing through.

Pérez was supported by the Chamorro junta, or council, so Kaiser passed over the whole Chamorro leadership and appointed a non-Chamorro, William Pritchard Coe, sometime in July of 1899.


Coe was half-white, half-Samoan. His New York-born father had been rescued from a crashed whaling ship in Samoa and settled there, marrying a Samoan of high, chiefly status. William was born in Samoa and also married a Samoan.

Like his adventurer father, Coe traveled the Pacific and came to Guam, with his wife (and probably his children) just after the American capture of the island, according to Safford.


Coe didn't have the time to make a big impact on Guam as Governor, given that Leary arrived just two weeks later, in early August of 1899. Coe stepped down to give place to the first Governor of Guam appointed by the U.S. President.

Coe had bought land in Adelup and was postmaster of the island. He also acquired 24 acres in Tutuhan (modern-day Agaña Heights) where he ran a farm with many fruit trees. But his wife died while on Guam and he sold his land, packed his bags at some point and off he went. He died in 1909 in Davao, Philippines.

Here's a video about Coe's father and his descendants in Samoa, who are of high status due the Samoan mother's bloodline  :

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


A note, written in Chamorro in the 1930s, revealing Guam's link to the world via Pan Am's Clipper.

Beginning in November of 1935, the Clipper made stops at Sumay on Guam as the sea plane made its way in between Manila and San Francisco, stopping at Hawaii, Midway and Wake along the way. Mail could now come to Guam much faster and, in time, the Clipper was also transporting passengers, some of whom were famous celebrities.

A lady on Guam took advantage of an arriving Clipper to send a Chamorro living in California some Chamorro religious songs and prayers. Her note above says,

Lupe, al ultimos oras (1) na munanayan
(Lupe, at the last hour was finished)

este macopia dididi y (2) canta (3) yan
(copying this a little the song and)

novena (4) ya atrasao y clipper sa
(novena and the clipper was late because)

elegnia na ufato gui jueves ya y
(they said it would arrive on Thursday and)

viernes na mafato. Esta y otro biaje
(on Friday it arrived, Until the next time)

y palo, sa ajalang yu na utrasao. (5)
(the rest, because I fear I will be late.)


(1) Al ultimos oras. This is her version of the Spanish phrase "a las últimas horas" which means "at the last hour." More common in English is "at the last minute."

(2) She uses "y" whereas today we would use "i." In Spanish, the Y and the I have the same sound so it was normal in those days to use either letter.

(3) In "canta" and several other words, she uses the C whereas today we use the K. The use of the C shows Spanish influence, which lacks a K except in foreign words.

(4) She spells "novena," "jueves," and "viernes" in the Spanish way.

(5) Her writing here is a bit unclear. She writes "utrasao," and I am just guessing that she meant to write an S even though it can look like a C. But there is no Chamorro word "utracao." "Utrasao" is also not a word, but she may have meant "u atrasao" which would mean "it will be late" or she could have also meant "hu atrasao" which would mean "I will be late." If it were the plane that would be late in departing, she'd actually have more time, so I will go with the interpretation that she would be late in getting this note to the plane before it departs.

Monday, June 15, 2015


Naval Station Band in 1918
MARC collection

The feast of Saint Anthony of Padua, patron of the barrio of San Antonio in Hagåtña, fell on a Sunday in 1915.

Then, as we do today, the people celebrated the feast over the weekend.

On Saturday, the Navy band paraded through the streets of that district in the cooler evening hours, playing for the people.

On Sunday, a priest chanted the Te Deum, a hymn of thanksgiving to God. This was done in the San Antonio chapel. It was not a full-fledged church, nor even a parish. It was a chapel under the main Dulce Nombre de María church. A large crowd of faithful attended this service.

During the day, sports competitions were held, with prizes for the winners.

In the late afternoon, the procession. Along the route, the streets of San Antonio were adorned with the åtkos, wooden arches decorated with local fruits and vegetables and even the American flag. Once again, the Navy band played during the procession, but religious hymns this time, of course.

You can see where the district of San Antonio was in Hagåtña before the war, by looking at the upper right hand corner of this map. The area would be where Nissan Auto City, Meskla restaurant and Paradise Fitness are today.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


The Marianas, especially Guam, had been a penal colony for Filipinos for many years, but a terrible tragedy was to befall many of them in December of 1896.

In the last weeks of August in 1896, armed struggle between members of the Katipunan and the Spaniards broke out in the Philippines. The Katipunan was a movement seeking independence for the country. When the revolution broke out that month, many of the Katipunan fell into the hands of the Spaniards, while others continued the fighting in the field.

Spanish authorities in Manila decided to deport many of their Katipunero captives.  In December of 1896, the Saturnus transported 207 Filipino deportados (deportees) to Guam. Some among the exiled included deportados who had been on Guam in earlier years and knew the weaknesses of the roof and the small number of Chamorro guards at the prison. Some of these Katipunan talked among themselves and mentioned how easy it would be to escape. The conversation was overheard by some Chamorro guards, and it was reported, putting the guards on alert. One newspaper stated that a Chamorro sentinel obtained information that the Filipino insurgents intended to break out, kill the Spanish Governor and all who stood in their way, and take possession of the island.

It had been some time since Guam had to house such a large number of prisoners, so lodging and food became a problem.  Governor Jacobo Marina packed as many as he could into a crowded and dilapidated barracks, or cuartel, in the Plaza complex of government buildings in the heart of Hagåtña.

These unbearable conditions were obviously an added stimulus for rebellion by the prisoners.  On the night of December 19, a few of the prisoners decided to go through the roof and escape. They were caught, and the guards killed one and wounded five others.

But there was a second attempt the very next night, and this time it was by the entire mass of nearly 200 prisoners. Punishment for the prior night's escape was being prepared by the Spanish, punishment which could have included death, so perhaps the prisoners decided a successful escape was better than waiting for Spanish justice. One newspaper said that the rebels were thinking they could commandeer a Japanese schooner lying off of Guam if they could only escape and make it to the ship.

So, the prisoners made their move that night. Some went through the roof while others battered the door.

It seems the Chamorro guards panicked and opened fire, volley after volley. Alarmed by the noise, the people of the city woke up. The Chamorro men came to the cuartel with guns, machetes and clubs, offering their assistance to the Spanish Governor. Chamorros were placed at different areas surrounding the cuartel to prevent an escape of foot. When the shooting stopped, 80 prisoners had been killed and 45 others were wounded.* The site was described as gruesome.

The story made it to American newspapers, which described it as a "massacre."

In time, most of the survivors were shipped back to Manila.

This sad experience helped cement the negative stereotype many Chamorros had about Filipinos being dangerous rebels and troublemakers. The other side of the reality is that there is a lot of Filipino blood running in Chamorro veins, and many Chamorros were married to and continued to marry Filipinos, before and after this bloody incident.

One of the American papers that carried the story had an incredible version of it.

The Sun, a New York City paper, was considered a conservative, serious newspaper, nowhere near the yellow journalism of other papers that relied on exaggerated news to beef up circulation.

But it did try to appeal to the common reader and was the first newspaper in America to include a story about a suicide, something that would never have been included in newspapers before.

Its editor, Charles Dana, was a friend of José Martí, a Cuban independence advocate, and Dana was very much in support of Cuba's fight against Spain.

So The Sun's version of the killing of the Filipino exiles says that it was the Spaniards - not Chamorros - who killed the Filipinos. Who in America would want a war against Chamorros, if they had even heard of them? But many in America harbored strongly anti-Spanish sentiments.

According to The Sun, these "Spanish" guards began shooting at the cuartel housing the Filipinos merely for amusement. This was spread over three nights, not two, amounting in the end to 180 killed, not 80. The survivors saved themselves by using the corpses of the dead as a shield against the bullets. There is no mention in The Sun's story about the attempted escape of the prisoners.

The source of this information? Whaling ships arriving in the U.S. who had heard the story in Japan from ships that had been to Guam.

* Another source says there were 83 killed and 46 wounded.

But here is a note from the Spanish priest of Hagåtña, Father Francisco Resano, in a list of deceased for the year 1896. He says 98 "Tagalos" were shot and killed over two nights.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


There are several things about this partially Chamorro ad that seem awkward.

Before I proceed, let me say that the creator of the ad is not here to explain what s/he had in mind. I'm not even sure if this was even put out by Wendy's!

Secondly, I consulted a few mañaina whose first language is Chamorro.

So, what's awkward about this ad?

1. Is it the use of HÅGO, with an O, versus HÅGU?

I don't quibble about this. I prefer the O because that's how I pronounce it, because that's how I heard it growing up. Even today, you will hear some people retain the O, while the majority say U.

Keep in mind, though, that the lonnat (the open circle above the A) and the glota help us distinguish between hågo/hågu (the pronoun "you") and the verb hago'/hagu' ("to obtain/reach").

2. Is it the expression HÅGO LAO?

A bit. If the expression is supposed to be the equivalent of the English, "Up to you," which reminds me of the BK slogan "Have it your way," then HÅGO LA'MON is more common.

Nuances and subjective interpretation are a part of all communication, in whatever language. Even in English, "Have it your way" can sound dismissive and contrary, depending on the tone.

In discussing this with mañaina, some would say that HÅGO LAO goes more along with "Well, I don't really agree with you, but hågo lao. It's up to you. Do it if you want."

But other mañaina don't see a problem with HÅGO LAO if it means "In this restaurant, we serve you food the way you want it."

3. Is it the word GUAMANIANS?

Yes and no.

First off, I don't have a problem with the word "Guamanian" if you mean "people whose home is Guam." I don't think Wendy's wants to sell just to Chamorros. Money has no race.

But I do have discomfort starting off in Chamorro, then switching to English when a Chamorro word or term is available. I mean, why have a Chamorro ad at all if one is going to disregard some Chamorro words/terms in it?

"Taotao Guam" is a perfectly Chamorro equivalent to "Guamanians."

So I do have a problem with the word "Guamanians" IF your intent is to communicate in Chamorro.

4. Is it the phrase HÅGO LAO?

Yes and no.

Not in itself, but the speaker clarifies that s/he is speaking to a group of people, in the plural (i.e. Guamanians).

HÅGO is the singular, when speaking to only one person.

The correct pronoun, when speaking to more than one person, is HAMYO/HAMYU.


So perhaps we can redo this whole ad as :


*** There's also the alternative GUÅHAN for Guam

Monday, June 8, 2015


Hernán Cortés Street in Hagåtña

Guam's "Main Street" or "Broadway" in the 1920s and 30s was the street pictured above. On this street were many of the capital city's main business and the homes of many prominent citizens.

To the left of the photo is the Gaiety Theater and further down is Butler's store and ice cream parlor. Atkins Kroll, one of the biggest companies on Guam, had its main office on this street. Prestigious families like Pedro Martínez and William Johnston lived across these landmarks on the other side of the street.

The street was called HERNÁN CORTÉS street since Spanish times.

An old document from the Spanish court here on Guam shows the original spelling : Hernán Cortés

It was named after the famous, or infamous, depending on your viewpoint, Conquistador of Mexico, Hernán Cortés.

As the first of many conquistadors who won a whole nation over for Spain, it wasn't surprising that his name was found on many streets all over the Spanish Empire, including Hagåtña.

But the American rendering of his last name - Cortés - soon replaced the Spanish original.

Cortés became Cortez.

You can see here that Mrs. Dejima, a Japanese merchant on Guam, had one of her shops, store number 3, located on Hernan Cortez Street.

And here, in a prewar map of Hagåtña, we see the street is spelled Hernan Cortez (encircled above).


But after World War II, society on Guam became even more estranged from its Hispanic heritage. Familiarity with history and the Spanish language weakened considerably.

In time, not only was Cortés changed to Cortez, even Hernán was changed to Herman!

Luckily, the few buildings in modern Hagátña who identify the street have it right as far as Hernán is concerned.


Well, if you start by the San Antonio Bridge (Sirena Park) on the street closer to the cliff (not the sea), that's Hernán Cortez Street.

Following the street south, you will head towards Julale.

Approaching Eddie Terlaje's building on left.

Passing Julale (on left), Hernán Cortez takes you out to Kentucky Fried Chicken, where it joins Marine Corps Drive.

If you made a u-turn and went back in the opposite direction, Hernán Cortez Street will take you back to the San Antonio Bridge (Sirena) and the US Immigration office in the tall office building on the right, across from Mermaid Tavern.

One thing's for sure. Hernán Cortez Street is no longer the heartbeat of the capital city as it once was, just as the city itself is not the lively nerve center for the island as it once was.


Nowadays, parades go down Marine Corps Drive. Before the war, they went down Hernán Cortés Street.

Friday, June 5, 2015


The Road from Hagåtña to Sumay

My grandmother had a cousin whom we all called Auntie Måmmi'. Her name was Carmen Cruz, married to a Guzmán from Sumay. She was second cousins with my grandmother but for some reason they were more like sisters. Maybe it's because they were only one year apart in age. Grandma was born  in 1899 and Auntie Måmmi' in 1900.

Part of this closeness between them was that Auntie Måmmi' would spend a lot of time at our house. I mean she would spend 2 or 3 weeks at our house; the house that grandma and her sisters and I lived in. There was no extra bed. Auntie Måmmi' would share the same bed with one of the sisters.

Auntie Måmmi' couldn't speak English very well. She spoke broken English to me, but it was good enough for me to get what she was saying. She would also interject some Chamorro, which was great because that's partially how I got my start learning a little Chamorro.

I always enjoyed her long-term visits. She did interesting and cool things, like chew massive amounts of betel nut, with the works : pugua', pupulu, åfok and amåska (betel nut, pepper leaf, lime rock paste and chewing tobacco). She would spit this blood red juice into a Foremost milk carton stuffed with paper towels. She would drink water out of a låtan dudu. She wore enough gold bracelets to open her own store. Though her ear lobes sagged with age and gravity, she wore earrings and put lipstick on. Dudus biha. (Flirty old lady.)

But she was so interesting because of her stories. She loved to tell me her encounters with the taotaomo'na. Here are some.


I guess she was a socialite of some sort, being a dudus lady. So when she told me that the Governor of Guam and his wife, sometime in the 1920s, asked her to accompany them to Sumay, I believed it.

She said they rode in his car, which had an open roof. It was dusk, the sun was setting and it was becoming perfectly dark. She was sitting in the back of the car, in a corner. The Governor and his wife were busy talking to someone else when she felt a presence next to her, standing outside the car but at her corner.

It was dark so she didn't see the features of this person standing next to her, but she had this feeling it was a strange person. The person started talking to her, but in a language she did not understand. And Auntie Måmmi' imitated the sound : bab bab bab bab.

In time, the Governor was ready to go and the driver started up the car and off they went, and Auntie Måmmi' did not say a word about it to the American Governor. Down they drove to Sumay along the road that you see in the photo above.


Auntie Måmmi' in fact married a Guzmán from Sumay and after the war moved to Santa Rita as all the Sumay people did on orders of the U.S. Navy.

As you may know, Santa Rita sits on the slope of Mount Alifan. Some of those houses there are right up against the mountain.

Auntie Måmmi' told me about living in one such house, with its back door facing the bushy slopes of the mountain.

Someone also living in the house, I forget who, would throw things into the bush behind the house, against the slope of the mountain. Then, when Auntie Måmmi' would open the back door when it was getting dark, she saw dark figures in the bush. There may have been more details to this story which I have forgotten. But the bottom line was that Auntie Måmmi' told the person to stop throwing junk in the back of the house. Apparently the taotaomo'na were not happy about it and made their presence known to Auntie Måmmi' to let them know it.


My mother's brother Ning, Auntie Måmmi''s nephew, once went to GMH for some reason. It wasn't because he was sick. He went there either to visit someone who was sick, or some other business. Well, he parked in the back where the terrain is very rocky with coral rocks. He needed to relieve himself and he figured he could just do it safely by the cliff line, where it is rocky.

The following day his one foot was ablaze with painful swelling.

It was my Auntie Måmmi' who told me about it. "Isao-ña ha' si Ning!" "It's Ning's own fault!" she said.

"Sagan taotaomo'na i acho'," she said. "Rocky places are the abode of the taotaomo'na."


Later in life, Auntie Måmmi' became one of the first residents at Guma' Trankilo, a residential area for elderly people. I would visit her there and she always said Tomhom (Tumon) was rife with taotaomo'na since ever since.

Tomhom had been a large Chamorro settlement long before the Spaniards came. Bones of our ancestors can be found everywhere underneath Tomhom's sandy soil.

Especially when it was dusk, I'd be sitting talking to Auntie Måmmi', with her facing the screen door many times, and she would interrupt our conversation to ask me, "Håye ennao?" as she looked at the screen door. I'd turn around and see no one. "Who's that?"

"Tåya' taotao, Auntie," I would reply. "There's no one."

"Hunggan guaha!" "Yes there is."

Then she'd look down or away. I guess whoever was there moved away.

I'd get a bit of chill but I never saw, heard or sensed anything.

Sometimes I wondered if it was just an old lady's imagination, or if my Auntie Måmmi' was something of an entertainer.

Auntie Måmmi' is the lady in front of the haligi (pillar) facing the camera. The other lady is her cousin, my Auntie Epa', my grandmother's sister, Josefa Torres Artero, whom we called Auntie Epa'.

Taken at a picnic in the 1980s at Ipao in Tomhom - sagan i taotaomo'na! Abode of the taotaomo'na!

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Åmbres i ilu' gi papa' tåno' man lålala' ha'.
(Even the worms under ground are alive.)

This was said by a man who was asked how could he provide for his family of eleven children.

He was the only rice winner in the family as his wife raised the children and managed the home. But he brought home the check that fed, clothed and housed his children, whom he also put through Catholic school.

It's similar to what the Lord said about how the birds neither spin nor reap yet God the Father feeds them.

Mother Nature was a teacher to our mañaina who saw that there are resources available for those who are willing to look for them. Even the lowly worm teaches us that.


Ulo' (with glota) = worm

Ulo (without glota) = head

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


with his wife, Juana Pérez San Nicolás

Although I cannot be totally certain of this, I would be willing to wager that I came across the whaling contract of one of Guam's first Chamorro Protestants and patriarch of the large Kueto clan : José Mendiola Taitano. I believe the facts of the contract fit together with other facts about Jose that we know from other sources and family tradition.

First, the dates fit. Family tradition says José was born around 1839 or 1840. The contract says this José was 19 years old in January of 1856, so therefore born around 1836 - pretty close to 1839. Keep in mind that in those days people were very casual about dates, because they didn't have the same culture as we do today with our driver's licenses, birth certificates and other forms of ID readily available. People didn't have much in the way of paper IDs and little need for providing their date of birth. It is very documented that people gave different years for their date of birth, depending on their all-too-vague memory of what they were told.

Second, it is well-known that José left Guam as a young man as a whaler. That's how he got to see the world and be exposed to Protestantism, which he adopted in his heart, though he could not openly practice it when he returned to Guam many years later. He even had his first children baptized Catholic and married Juana, his wife, in the Catholic Church.

Third, the 1758 Census identifies a Francisco Taitano married to a Songsong (or Manongsong). They were from Aniguak, the same barrio that the  José in this contract comes from. That fits in nicely also with the fact that the more "pure" blooded Chamorros (Taitano is a Chamorro, not Spanish, surname) lived in the surrounding barrios (Aniguak, Mongmong, Sinajaña, etc.) while the more mixed race lived in Hagåtña proper.

But the document also provides us with one detail I had never heard of before (if this is truly Josen Kueto's contract) and that is that José was orphaned of both father and mother by the time he was 19 years old.

According to the contract, one José Taitano, aged 19 years, orphaned of both parents, a resident of Aniguak, agreed to serve on the American whaling ship Philip I under Captain Benjamin H. Sisson in January of 1856, for a period of one year, when Sisson was supposed to return José to Guam.

Two other Chamorro lads joined Sisson's crew at the same time : Juan de la Cruz and José Manibusan.


According to family tradition, the Kueto clan goes back to a male ancestor named Ukudu Da'gua.

His son was Francisco Taitano, born around 1712. Francisco was from Aniguak and married Maria Songsong or Manongsong.

His son was José Taitano, born around 1750.

His son was Francisco Taitano, born around 1795 and married to Josefa Mendiola.

Francisco and Josefa's son was José, who could very well be the subject of this whaler contract.

Josen Kueto's signature???

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


In the late 1930s, Påle' Roman Maria de Vera, the most outstanding expert in the Chamorro language among the Spanish Capuchin missionaries, was busy trying to raise money to build a new church in Santa Cruz, Hagåtna.

This was the second parish in the capital city, which had around 10,000 residents. The original church was built almost 20 years before and was too small for the growing population.

In order to raise funds, Påle' Roman conducted raffles. One of the main prizes was an Indian bull, donated by Pedro Martinez, the wealthy businessman and close friend of the missionaries. He owned a large herd of cattle in Dandan.

As usual, Påle' Roman used music to attract buyers of raffle tickets. He used commonly-known school songs and put them to Chamorro words. Most of these tunes are not known today.

Here they are :

Sung to "There's a cry behind the hill" :

Ayogue' i dangkulo, Indian bull! Indian bull!
Påtas, ulo, kanghelon, Indian bull! Indian bull!
Håfa ya-mo Christmas-mo, sångan på'go i ya-mo;
Indian bull! Indian bull! Indian bull!
(There is the big Indian bull!
Feet, head, horns, Indian bull!
What would you like for Christmas, say now what you'd like;
Indian bull!)

Sung to "Postman! Postman!" :

Dollar, dollar, bente na numero;
dollar, dollar, sa' riko hao.
Nihe ta anaga, nihe ta afana,
ombre, ombre, na' geftao hao!
(Dollar, dollar, number twenty;
dollar, dollar, because you're rich.
Let's flood each other, let's face each other,
man oh man, be generous!)

Sung to "Cherries are ripe" :

Giya Guåhan, giya Dandan
ma påsto i Indian bull.
Ti ga' ice cream, ti chichipa
lao ya-ña Santa Cruz.
(In Guam, in Dandan
the Indian bull pastures.
He doesn't like ice cream, he doesn't smoke
but he loves Santa Cruz.)

My favorite one, and one sung to a tune we should all know, is sung to "Ring around the rosie" :

Rifa, rifa, rifa, kuånto para hågo,
one, two, three, four, iyo-mo i bull!
(Raffle, raffle, raffle, how much for you,
one, two, three, four, the bull is yours!)

Chule' numeru-mo, kuånto malago'-mo,
one, two, three, four, iyo-ko i bull!
(Take your number, how many do you want,
one, two, three, four, the bull is mine!)


Monday, June 1, 2015


Luís Martínez Baza's stores, located in three Hagåtña barrios : San Antonio, San Ramón and San Nicolás

Chamorros were involved in commercial enterprise, in small numbers, even back in the 1800s under the Spanish.

We can think of Jose Martínez Portusach who, in partnership with his brother-in-law, the British J. Turner Harrison, tried to make money from copra in Pagan.  But his lease on Pagan was full of legal controversy, hampered by the change of administration from Spanish to German rule and the separation of the Northern Marianas from Guam.

We can also think of Vicente Roberto Herrero, engaged in business also at the turn of the century. And there were a few other Chamorros who invested money here and there with the hope of making a profit.

In 1915, we get an idea who were the principal Chamorros interested in running businesses on Guam.

Luís Martínez Baza was one the biggies. He had a 2nd class business license in 1915 which enabled him to run a business worth no more than $5000 with imports valued at the same amount.

Others at the same tier of business were Lorenzo de León Guerrero, Eulogio de la Cruz (Filipino but married to a Chamorro), José Martínez Torres, Vicente de la Rosa Mesa and Antonio de Torres.

Small retailers (3rd class license for businesses worth $500 or less) included numerous Chamorros. These would have been sellers of copra or owners of small retail shops.

Ignacio Mendiola Cruz
Vicente Dueñas de Torres
Vicente de Borja
Rosauro Unpingco
Manuel Manalisay
Ignacio Camacho
Vicente Palomo Camacho
Emilia Martínez
Vidal Camacho
Antonia Martínez
Rafael Calvo
Vicente Roberto Herrero
Antonio Camacho
Ana de Salas
José Untalán
Antonio San Nicolás
Juan Santos
José Castro
Félix Pangelinan
Gregorio Pérez
Rita Guzmán
José Díaz
María de León Guerrero
María Flores
Enriqueta de Guzmán