Thursday, July 28, 2016


American sailors and Chamorros dance right after the war

Gi despues de gera nai ma susede este.
(This happened after the war.)

Un puenge, kåsi guennao gi oran a las sais, man ma kombida håye malago' para u fan baila
(One night, around 6 o'clock, anyone interested was invited to dance)

yan i sendålon Amerikåno siha.
(with American soldiers.)

Ha sede si tatan-måme para in fan hånao, hame yan i mañe'lu-ho famalao'an,
(Our dad allowed us to go, me and my sisters,)

lao solo yanggen ha ga'chunge ham si nanan-måme ya guiya u pinilan ham.
(but only if our mother accompanied us and she would chaperone us.)

Man magof ham todos sa' månnge' todo.
(We were happy because everything was enjoyable.)

Pues, måtto un kapitan gi as nanå-ho ya finaisen nu guiya,
(Then, a captain came to my mother and asked,)

"Señora, maila' ya ta fanu'e este siha haftaimano magåhet ma baila i Lindy Hop."
(Ma'am, let's show these people how the Lindy Hop is really danced.)

Ti malago' si nanå-ho bumaila ya sige ha' mama' eskusu si nanå-ho na ti ha tungo' bumaila
(My mother didn't want to dance and kept making excuses that she didn't know how to dance)

lao sige ha' lokkue' i kapitan ha apreta si nanå-ho.
(but the captain also kept pressuring my mother.)

En fin, kumonsiente si nanå-ho ya ma tutuhon i dos bumaila.
(In the end, my mother agreed and the two started to dance.)

Ai lokkue'. Tåya' dies minutos måtto påpa' si tatan-måme ya ha go'te kannai-ña si nanå-ho
(Oh dear. It wasn't ten minutes and our dad came down and grabbed my mom's hand)

ya ilek-ña, "Nihi! Todos hamyo nihi tåtte gi gima'! Ni håyeye na låhe para un tinektok!"
(and said, "Let's go! All of you let's go back to the house! No man is going to hug you!")

Pues man hånao ham todos tåtte gi gima'-måme.
(So we all went back to our house.)

Man triste ham sa' pot si nanan-måme ti man baila ham åpmam ayo na puenge.
(We were sad because of our other we didn't dance long that night.)


1. This family was of the "respectable" class, very religious and Spanish-influenced. Dancing, in general, was frowned upon as an occasion of sin. The father would not allow his teenage daughters to go to the dance unless the mother was there to keep an eye on them. The fear of dancing came from concern over physical touch. Notice the husband's remark that he would let no man hug his wife, even in dancing with many witnesses present.

2. How did the dad find out about the wife's dancing? Nothing stays a secret very long in our islands. Someone saw the married woman dancing with an American officer and made sure the husband heard about it.

3. The husband's displeasure could be more centered on a fear of being talked about by the community, rather than on any fear of an American officer's contact with his wife. Had the wife danced longer with the officer, and the husband never put a stop to it, people might gossip about the wife and her husband's ignorance of her behavior, or his indifference to it or his inability to correct his wife's behavior.

4. The mother's reaction is also telling. Two cultural factors were in tension within her. First, she instinctively knew she couldn't dance with the officer. That would be against the norm. Yet, there was another cultural norm and that was to please the other, especially an American and more so an American military officer. She had to weigh the two forces within her and the norm to please the other won out, probably because she thought it was a harmless dance, with her daughters present to vouch that it was just a dance and maybe she could do this one dance and be over with it. The trouble was that others were watching, too, and got word back to her husband.

The Lindy Hop

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


escorting a captured Japanese

The changing tides of history.

In the photo above, Saipan Chamorro guards have custody over a Japanese. Six years prior to this, a Japanese would have had the power over the Chamorros.

On February 16, 1953, more than eight years after Tinian's capture by the United States, a Japanese straggler was discovered on that island.

Susumu Murata was not a soldier but rather a civilian employee for the NKK, the largest sugar company in the Marianas. Murata was a long-time resident of the Marianas, having worked for the NKK first on Rota in 1934. But it was on Tinian where Murata found himself running for his life during the American invasion.

Even though he knew from pamphlets dropped by the Americans that the war was over, Murata decided to hide. He built a well-hidden shack near Tinian's lake or hagoi in Chamorro. It is not the best of fresh water but it is potable. Murata was quite resourceful. Besides fishing and bird hunting, he would take from American supplies under the cover of darkness.

Murata's downfall was the vegetable patch he grew not far from his shack. When the little garden was discovered, it was enough to raise suspicions and a security detachment, including Cristino Sablan de la Cruz, went out to investigate. They followed a barely visible trail that lead them to the shack.

De la Cruz yelled for whoever was in the shack to come out with his hands up. It took a few tries but Murata eventually came out. When asked by de la Cruz if anyone else was in the shack, Muarat said no. Still, de la Cruz opened fire and shot up the shack. Murata started to cry. De la Cruz asked why. Murata said that de la Cruz had just shot up his only supply of soy sauce. De la Cruz told him he would find more soy sauce in Saipan.

He captured Murata

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


The Malesso' Bell Tower

Now how does one say "bell tower" in Chamorro?

If you go down to Malesso' and look for the signs at the bell tower, you will become very confused.

You will see it called Kampanåyu, with a U.

And you will also see it spelled Kampanåya, with an A.

Even the village name gets spelled two different ways. With an ending U, or with an ending O.

So which is it?

Well, the word is borrowed from Spanish and the Spanish word for bell tower is campanario. The word for "bell" itself is campana, which we also borrowed in Chamorro - kampåna.

Since the Spanish word campanario involved the Western Y sound in the last two syllables - RIO - the Chamorro is going to have difficulties with that since we don't have that Western Y sound. We change it to our own DZ sound represented by the Western Y letter. Thus, Yigo and Yoña are pronounced Dzigo and Dzoña.

Check out these comparisons :








So, kampanåya is a mistake. Kampanåyo is correct.

Someone on the staff didn't know this well enough to realize the mistake.

Funny thing is, the older wooden sign, with the correct spelling, was there and is still there! Nobody noticed.


This is part of the U-vs-O debate.

Chamoru? Or Chamorro?

Guåhu? Or guåho?

Since Chamorros are (in the main) used to writing in Chamorro, no system is going to be easily accepted by the great majority of people. An official orthography exists, but the majority of people writing Chamorro do not access it. Many who do have disagreements with the official orthography.

Of the small number of people who write in Chamorro (compared to the vast number of people who hardly ever write in Chamorro), many will write it as they hear it.

And the fact is that some Chamorros favor the U sound when they speak. Listen to them. 

But a good number of other people, especially the older ones, favor the O sound when they speak. Listen to them.

I'm in favor of allowing people to spell it as they speak it, for the time being, because I don't think we have arrived yet at a commonly accepted orthography. We have an official one. But not a commonly accepted one yet.

But there is a bigger difference between a U and an A, compared to a U and an O.

Malessu'/Malesso' has a minor difference between them, in my opinion, compared to kampanåyu and kampanåya.

Call a guy fulånu is the same as calling him fulåno.

But call him fulåna and there may be trouble.

Friday, July 22, 2016


Juan C. and Rosa M. Paulino
Juan is the grandson of Mariano, the founder of the Paulino clan

All the Paulinos of Guam can trace their ancestry to one man named Mariano Baza Paulino.

Mariano was originally from the Philippines and came to Guam around 1840. By the late 1850s he was the alcalde or mayor of Tinian. Tinian did not have a permanent population but was rather a government cattle ranch, staffed by 20 or so Chamorros from Guam who worked there for a couple of years and then were replaced by another round of workers from Guam.

The income from the sale of Tinian beef helped raise funds for government projects like the hospital for lepers (Hansen's Disease) run on Guam.

Signature in 1898

Thanks to baptismal records in Saipan which survive to this day, where Tinian baptisms were recorded, we have documented evidence for Mariano.

Mariano's wife was Maria de Borja Aguon, a Chamorro of Hagåtña.

Some of Mariano and Maria's children were born in Tinian and Saipan.

Eventually, Mariano and family moved back to Guam and settled in Inalåhan. From there, the family grew and spread to the rest of Guam and, now, to the U.S. mainland and perhaps even beyond.

One of Mariano's sons, Vicente, was living in Hagåtña in the 1890s with his wife Fabiana Cepeda, but apparently moved back to Inalåhan some time later.

Mariano and Maria had three sons to carry on the name, and three daughters.

The three sons were Manuel, Vicente and Jose. All those who carry the surname Paulino of the Marianas can trace their ancestry back to one of these three men.

Jesus Paulino on the far right with other Inalåhan parishioners in the early 1970s accepting a donated car for the parish from Ricky Bordallo

Jaime D. Paulino (right) was Mayor of Inalåhan from 1981 to 1989

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Karakot gi halom tåsi
(Shell inside the sea)

A'anok yan lalamlam;
(visible and shiny;)

i linamlåm-ña yan i bunitu-ña
(its brightness and beauty)

ti chumilong yan i guinaiya-ko.
(are not equal to my love.)

Ya i napu gi taddong tåsi
(And the waves in the deep sea)

måfåtto yan humåhånao;
(come and go;)

taggam, taggam yanggen siña
(block it, block it if you can)

lao adahe hao nu i chaochao.
(but be careful of the turbulence.)

~ Author unknown


Karakot. Borrowed from the Spanish caracol, meaning "snail, seashell, conch, shell or cochlea in the ear."

Chilong. To match, balance, make equal. A synonym is the Spanish loan word pareho. Na' chilong i che'cho'-mo yan i apås-mo. Make equal your work and your pay. In other words, work for your pay.

Taggam. To block, stop, confront, repress. It also came to mean "to meet someone arriving," because, in one sense, to meet someone arriving at the airport or dock is to stop their movement traveling. Taggam is also used to describe how the priest meets the casket of the dead when it arrives at the church door for the funeral rites.

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Meggai åños tåtte na tiempo, åntes de i finatton i Españot, måtto gi islå-ta un tiempon ha'ilas.
(At a time many years ago, before the arrival of the Spaniards, a time of drought came to our island.)

Man måtai todo i tinanom siha. Ni un pedåson suni pat dågo pat ni håfafa na klåsen tinekcha siña ma sodda'.
(All the plants died. Not one piece of taro or yam nor any kind of fruit was able to be found.)

Man sen ñalang todo i taotao siha, kololo'-ña i man dikkike' na famagu'on.
(All the people were very hungry, especially the little children.)

Manetnon todo i maga'låhen i san lago na bånda para u ma deside håf para u ma cho'gue.
(All the chiefs of the northern/western* side met to decide what to do.)

Yan taiguennao lokkue' bidan-ñiha i maga'låhen siha gi san haya na bånda gi isla.
(And the chiefs of the southern/eastern side of the island did the same.)

I un gurupu ti ma tungo' håfa para bidan-ñiñiha i otro na gurupu.
(The one group did not know what the other group would be doing.)

Lao todo i dos gurupu ma deside para u tågo' uno na maga'låhe yan dos ga'chong-ña påtgon para u fanhånao para i otro na bånda pot para u tungo' håfa na nengkanno' siña guaha guihe.
(But both groups decided to send one chief and two child companions to go to the other side in order to know what food might be there.)

Ya ennao magåhet ma cho'gue.
(And that is, in fact, what was done.)

Sigiente dia, finakcha'i na uma'sodda' todo i dos na gurupu gi talo' gi isla.
(The following day, it happened that both groups met in the middle of the island.)

Hinengan i dos maga'låhe na pareho ha' intension-ñiha para u ketungo' håfa na nengkanno' siña ha' guaha gi otro bånda ya ma tutuhon i dos kumuentos pot i eskases ni muna' fañachatsaga todo i taotao siha gi isla.
(The two chiefs were surprised that their intentions to try to know what food might there be on the other side were the same, and the two began to converse about the scarcity which was putting all the people of the island in hardship.)

I kuåttro na famagu'on, pot i man yayas yan man ñålang, man åsson gi edda' para u fan maigo'.
(The four children, because they were tired and hungry, lay on the ground to sleep.)

Pot fin, kontodo i dos maga'låhe malingo maigo'-ñiha gi annai esta gespainge.
(At last, even the two chiefs fell asleep when it was already very late in the night.)

Gigon makmåta i dos maga'låhe, ma sodda' na man måtai i kuåttro na famagu'on mina' i niñalang-ñiha ni esta ti siña ma sungon.
(When the two chiefs woke up, they discovered that the four children died of their unbearable hunger.)

Gi trinisten-ñiha, i dos maga'låhe ma håfot i famagu'on ya ma håtsa åcho' latte gi naftan siha.
(In their sadness, the two chiefs buried the children and set up latte stones on the graves.)

Todo i taotao siha tumungo' na este na lugåt nai man ma håfot i kuåttro na famagu'on.
(Everyone knew that this was the place where the four children were buried.)

Åños despues, ma sodda' na kuåttro na trongko man dokko' guihe na lugåt, un trongko kada naftan.
(Years later, they saw that four trees grew in that place, one tree for each grave.)

Tåt nai ma li'e este na klåsen trongko, lao annai ma sotne ya ma kånno i tinekchå-ña, ei na minannge'!
(They had never seen this kind of tree, but when they boiled and ate its fruit, it was delicious!)

Ma ågang "lemmai" ya desde ayo para mo'na, tåya' na man måtai ñålang i taotao gi isla,
(They called it "lemmai," and from that time on, the people of the island never died of hunger,)

sa' achok ha' påkyo pat ha'ilas i tano', lamita gi sakkan guaguaha ha' lemmai para mantension i linahyan taotao.
(because even if there is typhoon or a drought in the land, half of the year there is still lemmai for the sustenance of the people.)

* san lago and san haya mean two different directions depending on which island (and sometimes village) you live in.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


Just as we did centuries ago with Spanish, we do with English today.

We borrow the word and change it to fit our grammar and, many times, our pronunciation.

Nice to see also, as in the photo above, we feel free to change the spelling to match the way it really sounds to us.

So English "type" becomes Chamorro taip. Not as in "What's your type?" but rather "Can you type?"

Ti hu tungo' mantaip.
(I don't know how to type.)

This is interesting because, according to the normal rules, N+T becomes a simple N.

Man+tunu (to barbeque) becomes manunu.

Man+tungo' (to know) becomes manungo'.

So man+taip should become manaip. At first it sounds weird, but perhaps if heard often enough it wouldn't sound so strange. And, there are always exceptions to rules, so perhaps it would have remained mantaip.

Håye tumaip este?
(Who typed this?)

How about "typewriter?"

In other languages, the word becomes a compound word meaning "writing machine."

In Spanish, máquina a escribir.

In French, machine à écrire.

In German, Schreibmaschine.

So I suppose, in Chamorro, it could be måkinan månge'.

Måkina = machine (but also engine)

Månge' = to write (man+tuge' becomes månge')

Now månge' looks a whole lot like månnge' ("delicious") so be careful.

If you misplaced a typewiter you really liked, you could say

"Mångge i mannge' na måkinan månge'?"

"Where is the really good (literally, delicious) writing machine?"

We call anything we really like månnge' (delicious).

Friday, July 1, 2016


On December 8, 1941, when Japan attacked Guam from the air, the American Naval Government prepared for the imminent invasion.

Part of the plan was to set free the civilian prisoners serving time in the capital city's jail. That way, they wouldn't all perish at the same time if a Japanese bomb made a direct hit on the jail. In fact, a Japanese bomb did land close enough to the jail to damage a corner of it. But it was quickly repaired.

When the Japanese were securely the masters of the island, Saipan Chamorro interpreters helped round up the prisoners released by the Americans. The Japanese word for "interpreter" is tsuuyaku.

A man named Takeshi Shimada was a police investigator whom Saipan interpreters said was police chief during the Occupation, or at least acted as one. Helping him were fifteen or so Saipan interpreters who did more than translating. They also supplied the muscle in performing police work and in physically punishing civilians under police custody.

Some Guam Chamorro inmates continued to be a source of irritation to the Japanese police.

Juan T. was arrested for stealing a fusiños (hoe) and was thrown into the city jail and beaten.

Jose M., Enrique R. and Jose C. made the daring move to escape from the Hagåtña jail. They claimed hunger drove them to do it. They roamed around looking for food and were finally caught by the Japanese in Ordot. They were taken back to the jail and beaten.

Some inmates were caught playing dice late at night on New Year's Eve and were punished with beatings.

One Saipan police interpreter got drunk and started berating the Guam Chamorro inmates, telling them that they longed for the return of the Americans, but that they would never eat "bacon and ham" again. He then started beating them in his drunken state.

A Guam inmate testified that, during his entire time jailed in Hagåtña, he witnessed around 50 separate beatings of other inmates. Some were serious enough that the victim died as a result of the beating.

In their defense, some Saipan interpreters said that they had to be hard on their fellow Chamorros from Guam because the Japanese were watching. The last thing they wanted was to be accused by the Japanese for being soft on the Guam Chamorros. The Japanese expected total loyalty from the Saipan Chamorros, since they had grown up under the Japanese since 1914. They would have gotten a worse beating from the Japanese, they said, had they not satisfied the Japanese.