Thursday, August 27, 2015


Lists of Chamorro whalers show up in many documents of that period, from around 1820 till 1900.

How do we know they are Chamorro?

If we're lucky, the document says the men are from Guam, or the Ladrones. The English-speaking world was still calling our islands the Ladrones in the 1800s.

At other times, the last name of the whaler is almost certainly Chamorro, like Taitano or Babauta, which are neither Spanish nor Filipino.  Even Manibusan or Pangelinan, though originally Filipino, became Chamorro surnames as well when Filipinos with those names moved to Guam and married Chamorro women. If you find a Pangelinan on a whaling list, there is also the possibility that he might be Filipino, as the whalers also recruited from various port cities in the Philippines.

When the list does not state specifically that a whaler is from Guam, or the Marianas, we face the following hurdles coming to a conclusion that the whaler is Chamorro :


Many Chamorros carry Spanish surnames. These Spanish surnames join the Chamorro man with countless others from all over the world who also carry Spanish surnames. Jose de la Cruz could be from the Philippines, Mexico, Peru, Chile and many other places.

A few Portuguese recruits had their names spelled more like the Spanish version.


American and British clerks spelled a Chamorro recruit's name the way it sounded to them. This means that in many cases the name was spelled in very bewildering ways.

Some are not so far off that it is relatively easy to figure out that Denorio is Tenorio and Mendiolo is Mendiola. Perrado is Peredo and Pangalino is Pangelinan.

Sometimes a whaler's name might sound very similar to an Anglo name, and he'd be stuck with that. So a man named Fausto became Foster, and a Roberto would become Roberts, which was the original version of Roberto anyway! All the Chamorro Robertos are descendants of a British seaman named John Roberts, who became Juan Roberto when he settled on Guam.

Someone named de la Rosa could have been renamed Rose.

Some names look unfamiliar because the names died out on Guam. One whaler was a Nego, which used to be a family on Guam but they died out.

A bit harder to recognize at first, but gazing at it a bit longer will help you see that the whaler named Longrero is actually Leon Guerrero. Manilsea was more than likely Manalisay.

But some clerks went wild with names like Guamatasas, Hanotanto and Gamatuatan, which I suspect was Gumataotao.

Mantotanta was possibly Mantanoña.

Let's keep in mind that these names were hand written, not type written. Different clerks had different penmanship, and what looks like an N to you and me could have been that clerk's R or U.


Finally, a whaler's name may look nothing like a Chamorro name because captains often gave a recruit a brand new name! Yet, he is Chamorro.

What new name? It was all up to the whim or logic of the captain.

I have seen lists where the guy was named Joe Guam, after the island where he was recruited.

Or Joaquin Kanaka. Kanaka was a common word in the Pacific meaning "islander" or "native" of an island.

Other times, the reason for the new name remains a mystery, known only to the captain and possibly the recruit, now dead.

For example, would you believe that John Allen, Domingo Carter, Jo Davis and Louis Thurston (all Anglo surnames) were listed as having been born on Guam.  American captains were not hesitant at all to give English surnames to both Chamorro and Hawaiian recruits.

For more about Chamorro whaler lists :

For more about the custom of giving whalers nicknames :

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Few people know, and older people hardly remember unless they hear the name again, that there is a section of Guam's roads called Leary Junction.

The problem is deciding where it is!

I first came across the name when researching life on Guam in the 1950s. I came across an article in a Guam newspaper of the time and it spoke about Leary Junction. It described that junction as the intersection between Marine Drive (now called Marine Corps Drive) and Route 8, the road to Mongmong and beyond.

But, if you look at the map above, modern indications say that Leary Junction is the intersection of Marine Corps Drive and Route 4, the road that leads to Sinajaña, Ordot and so on. You can clearly see in the map above that Leary Junction is by the Paseo.

So which is it?

Well, the newspaper article from the early 50s should be more credible than a modern map, I would think, because back in the 1950s they (the Americans) were still calling that intersection Leary Junction. When the name became less used, people's memory where it was more than likely became less certain of that.

Then, I came across this post card.

The post card clearly states "Leary Junction" at the bottom left corner.

And if you look carefully, this is indeed the area where Marine Corps Drive and Route 8 meet. Look at the bridge in the foreground, and, if you look closely or enlarge this, you can see in the back, on the right, the road to Mongmong and Maite. You can also see the cliffs in the background where Maite sits.


Leary was Capt. Richard P. Leary, first American Naval Governor of Guam, and he expelled the Spanish missionaries in 1899, leaving it to old Padre Palomo to take care of 10,000 Chamorro Catholics from Hagåtña to Malesso'.

He prohibited the public celebration of the village saints' feast days. He outlawed cock fighting on Sundays and tried to get the Carolinians living in Tamuning to wear clothes.

Leary Junction. Where? Who?

Perhaps I shouldn't have brought it up!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


This is the junction of Route 1 (Marine Corps Drive) and Route 8.

Some maps refer to this as Leary Junction, while other maps say that Leary Junction connects Route 1 and Route 4 (not Route 8), what we now call the Agana Loop by Chief Quipuha's statue.

The first picture was taken in the early 1970s. We can still see Town House, one of the island's top shopping destinations at the time. The new Ada building is already built, on the left. The Pacific Daily News Building (today the DNA Building) is not yet built.

Marine Corps Drive (called simply Marine Drive in those days) had no median strip and was just 4 lanes wide. There were as yet no sidewalks.

Before the war, this area was known as San Antonio.

Early 1970s


Monday, August 24, 2015


Chamorros are a welcoming people.

Some Chamorros think we welcome too much! As in, they say, we welcome foreign countries who occupy our islands!

Nonetheless, so we are and we often welcome people with song.

In 1935, the U.S. Secretary of War (what we now call the Department of Defense) George Dern visited Guam, an important naval outpost for the U.S.

The Governor of Guam, Navy Capt. George A. Alexander, got a committee together which included the main players among Guam's elite.

Among the many songs sung in Dern's honor was this Kåntan Chamorrita :

Biba Sekretårion Gera,
(Long live the Secretary of War)
sa' måtto hao gi tano'-måme;
(because you have come to our land;)
bai in fata hao ni guaha,
(we will show you what we have,)
kon todo i minagof-måme.
(with all of our happiness.)

Kao para minaulek tåno',
(Is it for the good of the land,)
håfa mohon finatto-mo?
(what is the reason for your arrival?)
Pat para un li'e hechuran-måme?
(Or is it to look at our appearance?)
Håfa guaha gi hinasso-mo?
(What is on your mind?)

Pues adios, Sekretårion Gera,
(So farewell Secretary of War,)
uttimo ha' ali'e-ta på'go;
(this is the last time we will see each other;)
hahasso ham gi puesto-mo,
(remember us in your position,)
ni minagof-måme nu hågo.
(our happiness with you.)

In desea hao maolek biåhe,
(We wish you a good trip,)
an un dingo este na puetto;
(when you leave this port;)
ya i man ali'e-ta på'go
(and our meeting today)
in konsidera un rekuetdo.
(we consider something memorable).

The Secretary of War, George Dern, was the great grandfather of Hollywood actress Laura Dern.

Great Grandpa Dern

Laura Dern in her role in the movie Jurassic Park


In the second verse of the Chamorrita song above, I can detect a bit of old-fashioned Chamorro self-deprecatory humor.

Here is this big-shot from Washington coming to little ole Guam in the middle of the huge Pacific Ocean.

So the Chamorro singers ask him, in so many words, "Have you, such a VIP, come all the way here just to see our Chamorro faces?"

"Pot para un li'e hechuran-måme?"

"For you to see our appearance?"

But more to the core of the question would be, "For you to see what we look like?"

This reminds me of the "natives on display" type tourism of the past.

But there could be a twist according to this Chamorro logic.

Who is the greater fool?

The native on display? Or the foreigner who travels so far and with great effort to see people who, in their own eyes, are just ordinary people.

Friday, August 21, 2015


Some people were wondering about the Chamorro used in this sign.

My first comment is to say that Chamorro, like perhaps most languages, does not always operate in just two colors, black and white. There are many shades of meaning, and different Chamorros will appreciate some of them and other Chamorros will find them disturbing.


First of all, let us examine the use of the word kaohao for box.

Kaohao probably meant any box-like container but in time, among the majority of Chamorros, kaohao has come to mean, exclusively, a chest where special material things are stored and only rarely to be touched. Things like wedding dresses, special fabrics yet to be sewn, documents and so on.

This is why, when Påle' Román on Guam translated the phrase "Ark of the Covenant" as "Kaohao i Inadingan," the Chamorros of Saipan found it strange. The Ark of the Covenant was indeed a box, richly ornamented. Chamorros on Guam just went with the flow of Påle' Román's translation and people can get used to just about anything. But the Chamorros of Saipan, who had their own translation (Åtkan i Aliånsa, which uses Spanish loan words which Påle' Román always tried to avoid), to this day find the use of the word kaohao in this way strange. To them, and most Guam Chamorros, kaohao is that wooden chest in the bedroom where nåna hides special things, seen once a year at most.

Instead, Chamorros adopted two Spanish loan words for other kinds of boxes. Kåhon (from cajón) is usually a large box while kahita (from cajita, or "little caja") is a small box or a box made of cardboard. Even the refrigerator is a kåhon ais (ice box).

So, although kaohao is certainly correct, most older Chamorro ears will find it strange to use it for a drop box.


The Chamorro translation above does not translate the English word "drop." This is probably because it's an idea not normally expressed in Chamorro.

In Chamorro, we rarely say, "I dropped something." Instead, we say, "It dropped." Poddong. Maybe it's a verbal way we distance ourselves from guilt!

You could say, though, "Na' poddong ayo!" "Make that thing drop!"

It could be that to "drop" money is not a Chamorro way of thinking. Instead, one places or puts money somewhere. So perhaps "pine'lo" or "placement" could work here for "drop."

"Kaohao pine'lo" or "Kåhon pine'lo" might work for "drop box," but more precisely "placement box."


Åpas is the Chamorro word for "payment."

Åpas isao is "payment for sin."

Åpas madåsai is "payment for a hair cut."

Åpas ha'åne is "daily wage."

Åpas kåndet is "payment for the electrical light." It really includes all the electricity used in the house, but the light is the most obvious use, to most people. So when a Chamorro says he needs to pay the kåndet, he means the power bill.

Inapåse (payment) and ma apåse (to pay) can also be used.

But the older Chamorros find the simple form åpas sufficient. It means "payment."


Elektrisidå is a perfectly fine and correct word. It specifically means "electricity."

But, as mentioned, kåndet can also mean "electrical power." It is the first way older Chamorros think when wanting to refer to "electrical power," because the first you notice when the power goes out is that the light dies (måtai i kandet). There were no TVs or air conditioners in those days.


No question here. It means "water."

So, there are options  besides the one seen in the sign above :





and there are still other possibilities.


The reckoning of time into seconds, minutes and hours is a Western construct, dependent on (in our case) Spanish words. But the sign above seems to want to avoid Spanish loan words as much as possible.

So "g.e." stands for "gi ega'an" which means "in the morning."

And "g.p." means "gi pupuenge" which means "in the evening."

Notice that the usual introduction "a las" meaning "at" is missing. A las siette gi ega'an. At seven in the morning.

Now the description of 5PM as "in the evening" creates a debate right there.

Some Chamorros will contest that 5PM is "in the evening." To them, "evening" starts at 6PM and not a second earlier.

So they will say "a las singko gi despues de talo'åne." "At five after noon."

I suppose one could abbreviate that into : g.d.t. Gi despues de talo'åne. If you don't mind something longer, g.d.d.t.


Finally, there is this use of the word taka', which means "to reach, to obtain."

The creator of this sign above wants to avoid the Spanish loan word asta, which modern Chamorros often render esta. But the original Spanish word is hasta, the H not being voiced. It means "until."

Asta ke måtai yo', bai hu gofli'e hao.
Until I die, I will love you.

So the creator tried to find a way of expressing "until" without resorting to the Spanish-based asta or esta.

He or she chose the word taka', "to reach," as in, "from seven in the morning it reaches five in the afternoon."

This is a new way of using the word taka'.

A usual way of using it would be, for example, "Ti ha tataka' las onse ya esta yo' måpos." "It wouldn't even reach 11 o'clock and I will already be gone."

But tumaka', which uses the -um infix,  is an actor-focused verb form. -Um verbs answer the question, "WHO did it?"

Si Juan tumaka' i langet. Juan reached (obtained) heaven.

Perhaps tinaka' would be a better verb form.

For example, "Na' tinaka' agupa'," means "let it reach tomorrow." Keep doing your work 'till tomorrow comes. Your work lasted all the way till the next day.

7:00 g.e. tinaka' 5:00 g.d.d.t.

I suppose one way to avoid asta/esta is to say :

Ma tutuhon gi a las siette gi ega'an ya måtto chi-ña gi a las singko gi despues de talo'åne.
It begins at 7 in the morning and it comes to its completed distance at five in the afternoon.

As you can see, that's a mouthful.

And there are several more ways one can try to express a beginning and an end time without using the Spanish loan word asta/esta.

Others will reason, "Well, there's no way to avoid Spanish loan words because this time scheme is not indigenous in the first place." They have no problem borrowing the word hasta which became our asta/esta.

As you can see, there is more than one way to express things in Chamorro, as in perhaps any other language.

Many times, it boils down to "that's just the way we say it."

Others are more willing to invent and create new uses of old words. But not everyone will join the band wagon, as they are not used to these new phrases created by individuals or committees, and because there may in fact be older, indigenous ways of expressing the idea, but the loss of fluency among modern speakers has pushed them to re-invent the wheel.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


The uniquely gifted Sidro Torres of Santa Rita saw an old photo of a man resting his head on a wooden pillow while he lay on a guåfak (woven mat).

History shows that pillows were made of all sorts of materials all over the world before today's soft, stuffed pillow became ubiquitous. The ancients used wood, stone, straw, bamboo and even porcelain.

Sidro made the pillow out of narra wood which, though not native to Guam, grows here in limited quantity. In fact, he had to get the narra wood at a private ranch.

In the old days, people did with what they had.

Before stores existed, people made their own pillows using the cotton-like bulbs of the kapok tree, called the trongkon atgidon in Chamorro. Atgidon is the Chamorro form of algodón, the Spanish word for cotton. Though not true cotton, it is very similar in feel and Chamorros would take whatever fabric they had, make a sack, stuff it with kapok and sew it closed.

Fallen bulbs of the trongkon atgidon

If atgidon was not available, people in those days used what they had. They would fold up some clothes or fabric or, as seen above, use a wooden pillow or block to rest their head. Sometimes, they wouldn't use a pillow at all. Or, as one elder said, they would rest their head on someone else's body.

Ha fa' alunan i tiyan nanå-ña!

S/he made a pillow of his/her mother's tummy!

Sidro Torres

Monday, August 17, 2015


(sloppy, clumsy or inattentive work)

When your employee photocopies your report back-to-back, but the rear page is printed upside-down, that is che'cho' malakís.

The auto repair shop returns your car, but forgets to tighten the bolts on your wheels. That is che'cho' malakís.

Sloppy, inattentive and clumsy work.

Che'cho' means "work" or "action."

But where did we get the word malakís?

It's not Spanish, and it doesn't resemble a modification of a Spanish word.

Some think that malakís comes from the Chamorro word pulakis.

Pulakis means "to peel" the skin of a fruit, or the shell of an egg.  A second meaning is to "hatch an egg." It can also mean "to incubate."

In time pulakis became a kind of curse word and, for reasons I cannot discover yet, a strong one! Older Chamorros do not use the word pulakis when in polite company.

Perhaps, then, people changed the word pulakis to malakís as a safe alternative.

This could also explain the change in pronunciation. The stress in malakís is on the last syllable : malaKIS, not maLAkis. This makes the word even more distant from pulakis, which stresses the middle syllable : puLAkis.

Friday, August 14, 2015


Chamorro has a number of ways of expressing the idea of "small" or "short."

DIKKIKI' : is the usual word for something small in size.

Please note that we do not mean here something small in quantity, which would be diddidi'.

DICHICHING : mean something extremely small, tiny or minute.

The eye of a needle is dichiching, for example.

When Christ talked about the tiniest part of the letter of the law (like the dot of an I), we can use the word dichiching.

ETTIGO' : means short of stature, as opposed to a tall person.

The ettigo' person may be rather large in size, like an obese person, but be short in height.

A tree can also be ettigo'.

NÅNO : is the word for "dwarf." It comes from the Spanish word enano, meaning the same.

But Påle' Román says there is an indigenous term for dwarves. It is chónnai na taotao.

Chónnai itself, according to Påle' Román, means a "rooster with short feet."

PO'YET : means something or something that has a difficult time growing taller. Ñating dumångkulo. Mappot dumångkulo.  From this it came to mean anything small, or smaller than it should be.


Thanks to newer influences from other countries, we have a few more ways to describe small or short people.

SHORI : is the Chamorro pronunciation of the English "shorty."

In fact, the Chodde' family on Guam are so-named because that is yet another way Chamorros pronounce "shorty."

CHIBI' : is borrowed from the Japanese, and is thus used in the Northern Marianas, but not on Guam. In Japanese, chibi is a slang word for a short person and carries with it, among Japanese, a somewhat negative connotation, as in "shrimp" in English.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


They say the best time to fish is at night, when the sun doesn't chase the fish into deeper water.

In the dark of night, the fish come up close to the surface so they can look for food. That's when the fish are easier to catch.

This painting depicts just such a scene.

It was painted by Påle' Marcian Pellett, an American Capuchin missionary who was the priest of Malesso' in 1940.

He told how Jesus Cruz Barcinas, a Malesso' resident and community leader, took him and a few others with him to do night fishing.

To do this, one needed a hachón, or fishing torch. The word itself is borrowed from the Spanish. By 1940, Chamorros were using metal canisters filled with kerosene, with some rags serving as the wick.

Then, the fisherman would use a spear, or fisga, to catch the fish. That word, too, is borrowed from Spanish.

As soon as the fish was lanced, into the rice sack it went.

There are pros and cons to almost everything in life, and night fishing did pose its dangers. One could step on the wrong thing in the dark water, for example.

The amazing thing about this Malesso' fishing scene is that is was painted in Japan - not on Guam!

Påle' Marcian, being an American, was shipped off to prison camp in Japan when the Japanese occupied Guam. There, he had lots of time on his hands. Somehow he managed to get the supplies needed to paint these water colors, all from the memories he kept of his time in Malesso'.

Monday, August 10, 2015



1914 ~ 1945

Most people have heard of at least three Chamorro priests from the early years, the time before the war.

A lot of them know the name Padre Palomo, the first Chamorro priest, whose full name was Jose Bernardo Torres Palomo.

Even more people, perhaps, remember the second Chamorro priest, because he was beheaded by the Japanese in 1944 and because a well-known school is named after him : Father Jesus Baza Dueñas.

Many still remember the third Chamorro priest, who died only in the year 2000. He was a contemporary of Father Dueñas. Monsignor Oscar Lujan Calvo.

But very few people can name the fourth Chamorro priest, ordained in 1942. Few can name him because he died not long after ordination. He was not even ordained on Guam, but in Manila. And he never spent a day on Guam as a priest, because the war prevented him from leaving Manila, where he died.

His name was Father Jose Ada Manibusan.

He was born in Hagatña in 1914, the son of Lorenzo San Nicolas Manibusan and Regina Mendiola Ada.

At some point, he was sent to Manila to study for the priesthood when he was still in his teens. The future Fathers Dueñas and Calvo also studied in Manila at the same seminary of San Jose, run by the Jesuits, both Spanish and American.

Fr Manibusan in Manila when he first began his studies, not yet in a seminarian's cassock.
Photo taken in 1930.

First to finish his studies was Dueñas, the oldest of the three, who left Manila to return to Guam and be ordained in 1938. Then Calvo returned to Guam to be ordained a priest in 1941. Manibusan was not ready yet for ordination so he stayed in Manila, only to be stranded there when war broke out on December 7, 1941.

On March 21, 1942, with the Japanese already occupying Manila, Manibusan was ordained a priest. Because of the war, he still had to wait in Manila till circumstances might allow him to return to Guam.

The Pride of the Church on Guam
Bishop Olano and the Three Chamorro Seminarians in Manila
Duenas, Manibusan and Calvo

Father Manibusan had been suffering from poor health for some time. His poor health may have slowed his progress towards ordination, since he was, in fact, one year older than Calvo, who was ordained ahead of Manibusan. Older people recollect that his illness was some sort of respiratory condition, but cannot say anything more specific. The hardships and shortages of the war, including a lack of proper medical attention and medicine, contributed to his decline.

Though thousands upon thousands of civilians died in the battle for Manila in February of 1945, Manibusan survived the bombs and bullets, only to die from his own poor health, on March 13, ten days after the Americans had recaptured Manila.

He was buried in Manila, but his body was eventually brought back to Guam where it was buried in Pigo Cemetery, in an above-ground crypt standing on its own and then later in another crypt in the new mausoleum building.

Friday, August 7, 2015


Pandanus Mat

Pablo Pérez was a governor who stood out.

Ruling over the Marianas for a long term, from 1848 till 1855, he certainly made his mark on the islands. He also stepped on a few toes, including American agents on Guam, as there were many American whalers coming to the island at the time, and he even managed to irritate the Spanish priests.

Formal complaints were actually lodged against Pérez with his successor, Felipe de la Corte. Perhaps it was a case of beefing up one's case that multiple complaints came in. Perhaps the main plaintiffs actually went out looking for others who had an ax to grind with Pérez.

For here we find in the documents a complaints made by three Inalåhan officials against Pérez over guåfak - mats woven from pandanus, usually, and sometimes from other plants.

Justo Taimanglo, Francisco Charguani and Regino Meno were the three Cabeza de Barangay in Inalåhan. A Cabeza de Barangay was a neighborhood leader. Towns and villages were divided into barangay or neighborhoods, and were headed by a cabeza, which is Spanish for "head."

According to the complaint, Governor Pérez ordered guåfak to be made by people in Inalåhan, to the tune of 83 pieces. The three Cabezas were apparently in charge of seeing that this was done, and they were successful and turned them in to the Governor.

But the Governor stiffed them. The Cabezas never got paid for them. Either the Cabezas fronted the money and paid the weavers (less likely) or the Cabezas promised the weavers the money would be coming soon (more likely).

As soon as Pérez was replaced by de la Corte, the three Cabezas filed this complaint.

The Spanish text is nicely worded :

"Que habiéndose hecho en este pueblo 83 petates, por disposición y mandato del ex Gobernador Don Pablo Pérez, tenemos el sentimiento de elevar a su superior conocimiento como hasta la fecha no se nos ha satisfecho el pago de dichos petates."

"That having made in this town 83 mats, by the ruling and command of the former Governor Sir Pablo Pérez, we have the desire to bring to your greater awareness that till this day we have not been given payment for said mats."

The cost for all those mats? Ten pesos.

But, as they say, there are two sides to every story and, apparently, others testified that the weavers gave these mats to Pérez as a donation.

After all the back and forth, Governor de la Corte decided there was no merit to the case and ended proceedings.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015



1. Easily done
2. Risky behavior
3. Prohibited act

Opening a crocodile's mouth and putting your head inside it isn't that difficult a feat. But the consequences can be a pain in the neck. Thus, laws can be enacted to make those acts illegal.

I wouldn't be surprised if fahatek originally just meant "something easily done."

Ti fahatek ma cho'gue. That's not easily done.

Fahatek ma konsige. That's easily achieved.

And later, it gained a nuance. Many things that are easily done lead to results that are hard to endure.

It isn't difficult for a woman to walk the streets advertising herself. But numerous dangers can come her way by doing so.

Tailaye na palao'an; ti ha na' fahatek i bidådå-ña. That evil woman; she doesn't consider her behavior to be risky.

Finally, a further development from this was to make these risky acts illegal.

Fahatek i mangonne' benådo på'go na mes. Catching deer is illegal this month.

Today, when very few people know the word fahatek, these ideas would be expressed using other terms, sometimes Spanish loan words.

Libiåno ma cho'gue. It's easily done. From the Spanish word liviano, meaning "light, easy."

Ti mappot ma konsige. It isn't hard to achieve. Mappot means "difficult."

Pine'lo-ña na fåsit mama'tinas salåppe'. S/he thinks making money is easy. From the Spanish word fácil, meaning "easy."

Peligro ayo i bidådå-ña. What s/he is doing is dangerous. From the Spanish word peligro, meaning "danger."

Ma pribi i mangonne' fanihi entero i sakkan. It is prohibited to catch fruit bat throughout the whole year. From the Spanish word prohibir, meaning "to forbid, prohibit."

Monday, August 3, 2015



(Bathed in wealth, possessions)
(Opulence, lavishness, excess, luxury)

O'mak means "to bathe." But the connotation is "to be immersed in water."

Thus, "swimming" is often rendered to as o'mak. Umo'omak gue' gi tase. S/he is swimming in the sea. One does not literally bathe in the sea in the sense of cleansing oneself.

Umo'omak gue' gi saddok. S/he is bathing in the river. That can mean he or she is bathing in the river with soap and shampoo. Or, it could simply mean the person is having a swim in the river.

Not all o'mak is hygienic bathing, but being in water, whether the ocean, river or shower stall is always o'mak.

So it seems the imagery created by the word o'mak is to be immersed in water or some other thing, as in riches.

Guinaha comes from the word guaha, "to have, to exist."

It can simply mean "possession" but is also used for "riches" or "wealth."

To be bathed in wealth means to be in opulence and extravagance.

~ Atan si Pedro yan i nuebo na gumå'-ña! (Look at Pedro and his new house!)
~ Umo'omak guinaha si Pedro! (Pedro is bathed in opulence!)