Wednesday, August 31, 2016


11th Guam Legislature (1970-1972)

Why "modern?"

Many people are not aware that the Guam Legislature, created in 1950 by the Organic Act, underwent some important changes in 1968.

These changes enacted in 1968 were to take effect in the next round of elections in 1970. That year, the 11th Guam Legislature was elected.

The changes included :

1. Giving a title for the members of the Legislature. In the original Organic Act (1950), no title was given. So they were called "congressmen," which in hindsight doesn't quite fit, since there was no longer any Guam Congress, but rather a Guam Legislature. Now, according to the amendments to the Organic Act in 1968, they would be called "senators."


2. Lifting the limitation how often the Guam Legislature could meet. In the original Organic Act, the Legislature could meet for only 60 days in a year (not including emergency, special sessions). This was usually broken down into two, 30-day sessions. This meant that the lawmakers did not meet year-round; it was a part-time legislature. Members had full-time jobs as lawyers, businessmen and what have you. Salaries were low. Staff was small and shared among all 21 members.

With the 1968 changes to go into effect in 1970, the Legislature could meet as often as it desired. This encouraged many senators to become full-time lawmakers with higher salaries. Each senator was given the power to hire staff and a budget to fund that. This is what we mean by a "modern" Legislature.


The gubernatorial campaign of 1970 was an exciting, passionate time; the first time Guam was allowed to elect its own governor, rather than receive a Washington appointee, who were, in the 1950s, all statesiders.

The Democratic Party, the dominant party on Guam, divided along three lines.

The Governor Guerrero Camp

Manuel Guerrero had been the appointed Governor of Guam from 1963 until 1969. He threw his hat in the ring to run for Governor in 1970. Having been Governor for around 6 years, appointing directors and other officials, Guerrero had a following among them. He put up his own candidates for the Guam Legislature in 1970 and the following eight won :

Allen Sekt
Jose Ramirez Dueñas
Adrian Sanchez
Joaquin Perez
William (Bilmar) Flores
Oscar Delfin
Tomas Charfauros

The Ricky Bordallo Camp

The charismatic Bordallo, who served many terms in the Guam Legislature, and who was involved in turning the old Popular Party into the Democratic Party, enjoyed great influence in the Party and also ran for Governor in 1970. He had his own candidates, and the following seven won :

Florencio Ramirez
Frank Lujan
Adrian (Nito) Cristobal
Francisco Santos
Paul Bordallo
Leonard Paulino
James Butler

The Joaquin Arriola Camp

The Speaker of the 10th Guam Legislature, Joaquin Arriola also ran for Governor in 1970 and put up his own candidates for the Legislature under the Democratic banner. Only one won : George Bamba.

The Republican Minority

The Democratic winners from the three camps numbered 15 members, a handsome majority (more than 2/3).

The six minority Republicans were :

Paul Calvo
Ben Ada
Concepcion (Chong) Barrett
Tomas Tanaka, Sr
Pedro Perez, Sr
Tomas Ramirez Santos

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


A branch of the Camacho family on Guam is called the familian Espåtsa.

You won't normally hear them say it that way. But originally, the nickname was Espåtsa, back when Chamorros had the same trait as the Spaniards in being unable to say an S followed by another consonant without putting a vowel in front of the S.

In other words, in Spanish and in old-style Chamorro pronunciation, you will never find combinations like SB, SP, ST, SM, SN, SG or SK without a vowel (A, E, I, O, U) in front of it.

So Chamorros used to say ESKOOL when saying school; or ESTUDIENT when saying student.

As people got more Americanized, this trait disappeared and the Espåtsa family became known as the Spåtsa family.

Even the spelling shows the strong mark of Americanization.

The nickname begins with Spåt, but we think like Americans and picture the word spot. So, Spotsa, like the street sign picture above.

The trouble is that the Chamorro O always sounds like O as in coat or vote. Ogo, Okada and Toves are examples using the Chamorro O. So Spotsa really ought to be Spåtsa.

This street sign uses the A but without the lonnat (Å) to show that it has the AW sound. It also uses a Z when in Chamorro, we do not have the Z unless it's a foreign proper name like Perez or Lizama. Espåtsa is not a proper name, it is a nickname formed by Chamorrofying the Spanish name.

Well, enough about spelling....

Why does this family have this nickname?

If you're a member of the Espåtsa family and know the reason, please do comment below and let us know. But the few members I have been able to contact do not know the reason.


When I first came across the nickname Espåtsa, in court and/or land records during Spanish times, it was spelled Esparza. This makes sense. Chamorros would have changed the R to a T, and would have pronounced the Z like an S. When older Chamorros say Perez, it sounds like Peres. When older Chamorros say Carlos, it sounds like Kåtlos.

Esparza became Espåtsa.

So Esparza happens to be a Spanish last name!

In fact, here's a pic of Felipe Esparza, a Mexican comedian. I don't know his comedy nor support it. I just use him as an example of how Esparza is a Spanish last name.

OK, so did some Spanish, Latin American or Filipino guy named Esparza come to Guam and got somehow connected with a branch of the Camacho family?

That would seem to be a good possibility.

I haven't come across an Esparza in the Marianas records during Spanish times. But there are all kinds of possibilities. Maybe an Esparza came here for such a short time that his name isn't in the records, but stayed long enough to get connected with the Camachos. Maybe the Camacho went to Manila and got connected somehow with an Esparza. Maybe there is an Esparza in the records but the record got lost, destroyed or we just haven't found it yet. There are so many possibilities, some not even thought of. We know that some Chamorro families got their nickname because someone in the family worked for someone named Logan, for example. So that family became known as the familian Logan. Maybe a Camacho worked for some guy named Esparza.

But how else to explain Espåtsa, especially when the Spanish records call this family by the nickname Esparza?

So the best, I think, we can say for now, unless we get reliable information from the family, is that

1. Espåtsa comes from Esparza
2. Esparza is a Spanish last name
3. The Camachos better-known-as the familian Espåtsa were so named because of some connection to a person named Esparza or some other connection to the name Esparza.


Espåtsa must be one of the oldest family nicknames in Guam because it is not known yet who was the first person to carry the nickname. If the nickname had begun later in time, we would have a greater chance of knowing who was the first person to have the nickname.

In the case of Espåtsa, several Camacho families have been identified with that nickname, and the connections between these different Camachos is not always clear.

For example, a FERMÍN LUJÁN CAMACHO, born around 1849, was identified in court records ad being known as Espåtsa.

Fermín was the son of Luís Palomo Camacho and Juana Luján. These are the same ancestors of the late Governor Carlos García Camacho and his son, the former Governor Felix Pérez Camacho. Fermín was married to Ignacia Acosta Arriola.

Félix San Nicolás Camacho, born around 1877, is also identified as being Espåtsa in court documents. His father was Pedro Camacho, but we don't know yet what connection, if any, Pedro has with Fermín Luján Camacho. Félix married Juana Borja Crisástomo and their son Vicente, who married Josefa Guerrero, have descendants today.

Félix's brother Manuel married Ana Delgado Meno and this branch of the Espåtsas have many descendants to this day.

José Ortiz Camacho, husband of Josefa Baza Deza, was also the son of the same Pedro Camacho, father of Félix San Nicolás Camacho, but with his first wife Joaquina Ortiz. These Camachos became more identified as the familia'n Desa, because the man Camacho married a Deza woman, and as the Deza name was only one family, the nickname Desa was more convenient in singling out this family.

And then we have the Sumay Espåtsa.

Guillermo Sablan Camacho, whose name appears below in a court document in 1912, is nicknamed Esparsa, or Espåtsa. The @ stands for "alias," or "also known as." His son Tomás Taitano Camacho carries on the nickname.

Guillermo was the son of Antonio Camacho and Dolores Sablan, both of Hagåtña. What connection, if any, existed between Antonio and Fermín and Pedro Camacho is still not known, though they were all identified as Espåtsa. Clearly, this nickname goes back to the 1830s or so. One of the oldest family nicknames that has survived till now.

Monday, August 29, 2016


Famaisen = to ask

Halom Tåno' = jungle; inland; literally "inside the land"

Almost three hundred years of Catholicism under Spanish missionaries were unable to completely stamp out the belief that the jungles of our islands are inhabited by spirits. It shouldn't surprise us. It's a trait of human nature found all over the world. Spain itself has its share of scary folklore and allegedly haunted places.

Many Chamorros believe that these spirits inhabiting the jungle can become angry with you and hurt you in some way, mainly by making you sick. Thus, custom says to ask permission when entering the jungle and other natural, uninhabited places of the islands. Taboos include making unnecessary noise, disturbing the natural environment such as tumbling rocks or breaking trees without reason, and going to the bathroom without asking permission.

Tan Maria, in the video below, gives her own description of this custom.

Eyi i hagan i haga...i lahi-ho, an humånao para i lancho
(My daughter' son's daughter....when she went to the ranch)

tinago' as nanå-ña na u famamaisen an para u me'me' pat masinek.
(was told by her mother to be asking if she was to urinate or defecate.)

Ilek-ña pa'go eyi i hagan i lahi-ho,
(My son's daughter said,)

"Håfa para bai famaisen yanggen tåya' taotao?"
("Grandma, I mean mom, why should I ask when there is no one?")

Ilek-ña tåya' nai taotao lao guaha. Famaisen ha'. Gaige ha' gi fi'on-mo.
(She said there is no one but there is. Just ask. He is by your side.)

Sa' guåho tåya' magåhet Påle' ti ma na' malalango yo' ni ennao
(Because as for myself, Father, truly I have never been made sick by that)

sa' måno hinanao-ho todo i tiempo mamamaisen yo' para bai ma asi'e' ya bai...
(because wherever I go, I always ask to be forgiven and...)

sa' åhe' ti para bai pala'cha'...
(because certainly I am not going to be mischievous.)


1. Tan Maria is from Luta so she pronounces malångo as malango. The å is absent.

2. Notice how the English words "grandma" and "mom" have entered the speech even of an elderly woman from Luta.

3. Pala'cha' means to be mischievous, or rascally or to be otherwise disrespectful. She seems to soften the word in her speech and omit the first glottal stop.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


By 1795, we had then what we have now.....a new kind of Chamorro race based on the blood lines of those who lived here before European contact, mixed now with the blood of people from Spain, Latin America, the Philippines and a few from other places.

The soldiers of Guam had been formed into two separate companies based on racial lines.

The Spanish Infantry (Infantería Española) included people from Latin America, more than likely from Mexico most of all, but it is not impossible that there were some from other countries of Latin America (we know that Governor Esplaña was from Peru) and perhaps even from Spain itself, though normally the only Spaniards from Spain on Guam in those days were the high officers and the missionary priests.

The Pampanga Infantry (Infantería Pampanga) included Filipinos from Pampanga, a province of the Philippines not far from Manila, having its own language distinct from Tagalog. This group of soldiers could have had some men from other parts of the Philippines as well, but the majority would have been from Pampanga.

In short time (1670s), these foreign men began marrying Chamorro women. Then they started marrying among themselves : Chamorro, Latin American and Filipino blood all mixing together. This happened mainly in Hagåtña, where the soldiers lived, while the outlying villages had but a few soldiers posted there and were populated by Chamorros who more slowly intermarried with foreigners.

In 1795, the soldiers were still classified as belonging either to the Spanish Infantry or the Pampanga Infantry, but they were all, in the main, Chamorros as we understand the term today : the descendants of the pre-contact people, mixed with foreign blood. In fact, you can find some indigenous Chamorro names in this list such as Aguon, Materne and Achuga.

NOTE : I am keeping the spelling of the names as found in the original document, with the modern spelling in parenthesis.

Achuga, Rafael
Acosta, Patricio
Aguirre, José Antonio
Aguon, Víctor
Anungui, Francisco
Arceo, Desiderio
Arceo, Félix
Arceo, Francisco
Arceo, Leopoldo
Basa, Remigio (Baza)
Basa, Victorino (Baza)
Bermejo, José
Borja, Enrique de
Calderón, Pedro
Camacho Francisco
Cárdenas, (first name illegible)
Castro, Ignacio de
Castro, Nicolás de
Cotino, Pedro
Cruz, Felipe de la
Cruz, Félix de la
Cruz, Francisco de la
Cruz, José de la
Cruz, Justo de la
Cruz, Salvador de la
Díaz, Pedro
Dimapan, Ignacio (Demapan)
Dueñas, (first name illegible)
Dueñas, Feliciano
Dueñas, José Romano
Espinosa, Ignacio
Flores, Juan Crisóstomo
Flores, Rosario
Fránquez, Florentino
Fránquez, Rufino
Garrido, José
Garrido, Manuel Tiburcio
Guerrero, Juan de Dios
Guevara, José Andrés
León, Luís de
Lima, Joaquín de
Lizama, José
Lizama, Nicolás
Manibusan, Gregorio
Manibusan, Juan
Manibusan, Martín
Materne, José
Mendiola, Paulino
Mendiola, Tomás
Mendiola, Vicente
Ojeda, Manuel de
Pablo, Juan Regis
Palomo, Antonio
Pangilinan, Gaspar (Pangelinan)
Pascual, Andrés
Pascual, Francisco
Quintanilla, Nicolás de
Ribera, Diego de (Rivera)
Rivera, Marcos de
Rodríguez, José
Rosa, Domingo de la
Rosario, Remigio del
Sánchez, Andrés
San Nicolás, Dámaso de
Santos, Antonio de los
Santos, Mariano de los
Sarmiento, Juan
Sigüenza, Ignacio
Taytano, Juan (Taitano)
Tello Ximenez, Andrés (Jiménez)
Torres, Juan Francisco Regis de
Ulloa, José de
Vega, Antonio de la
Zablan, Augustin Roque (Sablan)
Zepeda, Nicolás (Cepeda)


Crisóstomo. In this case, this was not a last name. Crisóstomo is the Spanish form of Chrysostom, the full name of Saint John Chrysostom. That is why this man's name is "Juan Crisóstomo." What was interesting is that, in the list, his name is abbreviated using the Greek form for the first two letters : xptomo.

Tello Ximenez. Tello would be the paternal surname; Ximenez the materanl. In Spanish, X (before a vowel) would have the same sound as a J (before a vowel). Think of México. The Tello surname continued in Guam till the late 1800s into the early 1900s but then died out, being all women.

De. Many of the surnames began with "de," meaning "of," or "del" (of the, masculine) or "de la" (of the, feminine) or "de los" (of the, masculine plural). Most families dropped all of these in order to shorten their names. The de la Rosa family did not drop it.

Pangilinan. In Spanish, a G before an I or an E would sound the same. The G would sound like an H. Pan - hi - li - nan. The name is from Pampanga where there still are many Pangilinans and they spell it this way. In the Marianas, the Chamorro descendants of their Pangilinan/Pangelinan ancestor moved in time to the GE form of Pangelinan.

Augustin. The first name of the only Zablan on the list. In modern Spanish, it is spelled Agustín.

Zablan. In the Spanish spoken in Latin America, the Philippines and the Marianas, the Z sounds like an S in all cases. That is why, in the past, it was sometimes spelled Zablan or Sablan. Both sounded the same.

Basa. See above, about Zablan, that explains why at times it was spelled Basa and at other times Baza.

Zepeda. See above, about Zablan, that explains why at times it was spelled Zepeda and at other times Cepeda.

Regis. Some people might mistake this for Reyes. It is not Reyes. There was a Jesuit saint named John Francis Regis. Since the first missionaries here were Jesuit priests, John Francis Regis (Juan Francisco Regis), or a version thereof, was a name often given to boys.

Taytano. In Spanish, Y and I have the same sound, so at other times it was spelled Taitano, the form which soon became the exclusive way to spell it. This is why at times you see Ynés/Inés, Ypao/Ipao and so on.

Joseph/Josef. The original is the Latin Joseph or Josephus. Later, the Spaniards shortened it to José, dropping the PH or F. I have my suspicions that, even when it was spelled with a PH or F, it was pronounced José by the 1600s.

Dimapan. Later it became spelled Demapan. This Guam family moved to Saipan.

Ribera. In Spanish, the V and B before a vowel sound the same, closer to a B. The Victorino Basa listed above was actually spelled Bicturino but I couldn't bear to repeat that spelling in the list.

Rosario. There is a man named Rosario, which might surprise some people because we take it as a woman's name. People named Rosario are named after Our Lady of the Rosary. The word rosario actually means "rosary" so, although not often, the name is also given to men. Other names considered "female" but which are sometimes given to men are Trinidad (for the Trinity) and Nieves ("snows," in honor of Our Lady of the Snows).

Juan de Dios. Literally, "John of God," was the name of a saint.


Augustin Roque Zablan. Sablan, or Zablan, does not appear in the Marianas records till after 1758, so this may have been one of the first Sablans in the Marianas, or the son of one of the first.

Juan Francisco Regis de Torres. Son of a Spaniard (José Miguel de Torres) and Dominga Josefa Espinosa. He married a Chamorro. A very high official in the colonial government.

Manuel Tiburcio Garrido. His name appears in many Marianas documents, having been a government clerk.

Justo de la Cruz. Justo served many years in the Spanish colonial government in a variety of offices.

Dámaso de San Nicolás. This last name does not appear in the Marianas records till after 1758 and, as shown in some baptismal records, was given by some Augustinian Recollect priests (who arrived only in 1769) to some illegitimate children. Saint Nicholas of Tolentine was a patron of these Recollect priests, so it is no surprise they wanted to name some babies after him.


At least among the Chamorro population. There may be families living on Guam now with these last names, due to more recent migration.

Lima, de
Vega, de la

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


In World War II, no ship sailing the ocean was safe from the attack of a submarine.

Submarines were a huge military asset. The 60 or so submarine crew members could often do more harm and at less cost on the enemy than 1000 men on a battleship. The US had around 288 submarines in the water by the end of the war. Their main mission was to cripple the Japanese war machine. By sinking Japanese ships, supplies and soldiers could not easily get in or out of port.

The USS Kingfish was one such submarine that hung out on Guam during WW2


Wherever advantageous, the Navy identified certain place in the Pacific where the submarines and their crews could receive the four R's : repair, refit, refuel and rest.

Before Saipan and Guam were in U.S. hands, the U.S. Navy had to use bases in Australia. But by August of 1944, those two islands in the Marianas were now assets of the U.S. From these two islands, American submarines could patrol the waters near Japan in half the time it took to do so from Australia.

In October or November of 1944, the Navy approved the building of a submarine rest camp on Guam. The site chosen was just north of Talofofo, in Ipan by a beach. There, the submarine crew members could rest, relax and recreate in peace and quiet. The camp was built by the crew members of the AS 12 Sperry and christened Camp Dealey.



Commander Samuel David Dealey was something of a war hero. He was, at least, a submarine war hero. He won fame for sinking so many Japanese destroyers and was known as the "destroyer killer." Unfortunately, he missed one Japanese vessel and didn't notice it was trailing him. The Japanese fired and he and his entire crew of 78 men perished. It was August of 1944.


Camp Dealey was not a perfect paradise. Japanese soldiers who refused to surrender hid in the thickly-wooded areas around Ipan and further inland. Desperate for food, the Japanese would sometimes raid the food pantry at Camp Dealey under the cover of darkness. Once in a while an American would discover the Japanese scavengers and start shooting. A submariner resting at Camp Dealey had as much of a chance of getting killed by one of these trigger happy fellow Americans as by a Japanese armed with a bamboo spear.


The facilities at the Camp were adequate but not luxurious. There were Quonset huts, tents and small shacks. While at the Camp, you did whatever you wanted. Sleep, write letters, swim, play a game, read. It was a way the submariners kept from losing their sanity, since they spent months underwater many times. Twenty-two cases of beer were dropped off every day at Camp Dealey.

When American Prisoners of War were liberated in various places in Asia, some of them were sent to Camp Dealey on Guam first before heading to the U.S. mainland. Some of the former POWs felt that they needed to gain weight and get back to their former health before they met their families in the States.

When World War II was done, there was no need for the camp and it closed.

Playing tennis at Camp Dealey


Today, the Camp Dealey area is back in private hands, mostly Chamorro families, some of them renting out homes in the neighborhood.

Many of the beaches are inaccessible unless the owners let you in.

Almost everything is gone from the old camp, but you can still find a lot of concrete flooring which tells you that a Quonset hut or some other building sat on that spot. Some of the families living there now use these old floors as parking lots or basketball courts now.

Old Guard Post

We pass this many times when we travel south to Talofofo, but many people do not give it a thought, that these posts are relics from Camp Dealey, where the camp guard regulated the traffic in and out of the camp.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Ti daddao yo'.

I don't have sharp teeth.

The other day at a party, where seating is informal, a lady wanted to sit at our table with me and another lady.

She asked, "Kao siña yo' matå'chong yan hamyo?" "May I sit with you all?"

The lady who was with me replied, "Hunggan. Ti man daddao ham!"

Daddao can mean two things, but they are connected. In fact, I think one comes from the other.

The oldest reference I can find in a dictionary (1918) says that daddao means "sharp, cutting, pointed."

It's obvious how this was then applied to the sharp teeth of a menacing dog or some other threatening animal. This is how other dictionaries then define daddao. "Vicious, cruel, savage."

So, "Ti daddao yo'" is a Chamorro way of saying the English equivalent "I don't bite," as is often said by people inviting others to come closer.

Monday, August 22, 2016


Just south of Garapan, and behind Guålo' Rai, as the terrain gently slopes upward towards the Mount Takpochao high ground, is a small area of Saipan called As Palomo.

The prefix "As" can be used as a name or place marker, roughly meaning, at times, "at."  "At my dad's" can be translated "as tatå-ho," for example.

So the place name "As Palomo" more or less means "at Palomo's" or "at Palomo's place." The area, thus, was named after someone with the last name Palomo. But which Palomo?

If we research the Saipan church records, there was no Palomo family that permanently settled the island. There is no Palomo family in Saipan today; at least not among the Chamorros.

But Padre José Palomo y Torres, the first Chamorro priest, did live in Saipan for many years. As a diocesan (or secular) priest, who do not take a vow of poverty, he was able to personally own land and he did, in fact, own land in Saipan as well as other places. When Guam and the Northern Marianas became politically separated, Palomo's land was confiscated by the German government because Palomo was living on Guam and could not develop his Saipan land. The Germans were much against idle land ownership and took it over.

Is it possible that the place is called As Palomo because Padre Palomo owned land there at one time? The best way to get to the bottom of this question is to look at old Saipan land records from the Spanish period, if they still exist, and see if Padre Palomo indeed owned land in the area known as As Palomo.

Don José Bernardo Palomo y Torres

Saturday, August 20, 2016


A song of one man's yearning for the woman he loves, sung by the one and only Mike Laguaña, one of the great Chamorro singers.

Ai frineskon månglo' i gumuaife i tataotao-ho.
(What a cool wind blows upon my body)

Ai minaipen somnak i umina i kamå-ho.
(What a hot sun shines on my bed.)

Ai trinisten pulan i umina i kamå-ho.
(What a sad moon shines on my bed.)

Ya ai na trinisten puenge gi annai tåya' ga'chochong-ho.
(And what a sad night it is when I have no companion.)

Sa' ai na trinisten puenge gi annai tåya' ga'chochong-ho.
(Because what a sad night it is when I have no companion.)

Sa' man hula yo' palao'an na hågo ha' guinaiya-ko.
(Because I promise you, woman, that you alone are my love.)

Ya ti un lie yo' palao'an man aligao nai otro.
(And you will never see me, woman, look for another.)

Sa' ai na trinisten puenge gi annai tåya' ga'chochong-ho.
(Because what a sad night it is when I have no companion.)

Sesso tengnga an puenge matå'chong yo' man hahasso.
(Very often at night I sit thinking.)

Ti ha estotba yo' pot i taigue hao,
(You being absent doesn't disturb me,)

ha estotbå-ña yo' nai che'lo:
(it disturbs me more, sister.)

Ti ha estotba yo' pot i taigue hao,
(You being absent doesn't disturb me,)

ha estotbå-ña 'u konsiensiå-ko.
(my conscience disturbs me more.)

Sa' ai na trinisten puenge gi annai tåya' ga'chochong-ho.

(Because what a sad night it is when I have no companion.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


A "false friend" is a word that looks the same, or similar, in two different languages but means two different things in those two languages.

For example, in Spanish embarazada looks like it means "embarrassed" but in reality it means "pregnant." A false friend indeed, because if you asked a blushing woman in Spain if she is embarazada , you could insult her. You think the word "embarrassed" is your friend, helping you communicate with a Spaniard, when in truth it is betraying you and getting you into trouble. A false friend.

Today we consider two words that are false friends. Almost twins.

Asiste and atiende do not mean what they look like.

Both are words borrowed from the Spanish, so their original meanings come from the Spanish way of defining them.

ASISTE means "to be physically present." In other words, "to attend" in the same sense as saying, "I will attend the program."

Bai hu fan asiste gi progråma. I will attend the program.

Ha tungo' na a las ocho i lisåyo, lao ti man asiste. S/he knew the rosary was at 8 o'clock, but s/he didn't attend.

ATIENDE looks like it should mean "attend" as in to be physically present.

But the original Spanish and Chamorro meaning of atiende is "to attend to" as in "to look after, deal with, help, listen to."

Atiende i che'cho'-mo! Pay attention to your work!

Ti u lache bidå-ña i patgon komo ha atiende i dos saina-ña. The child wouldn't have made a mistake if s/he had only listened to his/her parents.


This explains the cartoon above.

The doctor is telling the new nurse, "Because you are a new nurse, don't help but come and attend."

The doctor doesn't want a new and inexperienced nurse to be involved in the surgery or procedure, but he wants her to attend and learn from watching the others.


But languages are always changing and evolving.

Today, and for many years now, the words asiste and atiende have indeed acquired additional meanings.

People (nowadays) do say asiste and mean "assisting, helping."

And people (nowadays) do say atiende and mean "to be physically present."

Kao siña hu asiste hao gi gualo'? May I help you in the farm?

Bai atiende i entiero agupa'. I will attend the funeral tomorrow.

Even in Spanish, asistir can mean the original "to be physically present" but also now "to help."

But, in Spanish, atender still means "to look after, pay attention to" but never "to be physically present."


Because of these additions to the original meaning, Chamorro speakers and learners have to be careful when using asiste and atiende.

You could be using those words in one way, and the other person is understanding them in another way.

That's why the nurse in the cartoon is befuddled.

The doctor meant, "Don't help, but attend."

She understood, "Don't help, but assist."

Knowledge is power. Know these details and you'll be OK.

But if you use asiste and mean "be physically present," and if you use atiende and mean "to look after, to pay attention to, to heed," then I will know that you know the older meanings our great grandparents understood.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


On the eastern half of Saipan, around the middle of the island, is an area called As Teo. It is a heavily wooded area sloping from the higher ground of Mount Takpochao down towards the sea. Capitol Hill is to the north of it, and Kagman lies to the south of it.


It has been called As Teo for the longest time. So long ago, in fact, that no one remembers the reason why it is called As Teo. I have never come across anything in writing explaining the name. Maybe it exists somewhere, but I've never seen it. I doubt it exists. People didn't write these things down in the past.

The "As" in the name is Chamorro roughly meaning "at." In many cases, this is followed by a person's name, meaning "at so-and-so's place." On Guam, there are places named As Quiroga, after former governor Jose de Quiroga; As Gådao, named after the legendary chief Gådao; and As Don Lucas, after someone named Lucas of whom we know nothing. On Luta, there is a place called As Nieves, after an unknown woman by the name of Nieves.

But place names beginning with "As" do not always refer to human persons. As Aniti on Guam refers to spirits (aniti); As Måtmos on Luta refers to drowning.

So As Teo could perhaps refer to a person named Teo. If it does, chances are that Teo is a nickname for Mateo, Doroteo or Timoteo or some other male name that ends in Teo. Chamorro nicknames usually consist of the ending of the name, not the beginning. Jesus will become "Chu" in Chamorro, isolating the "sus" in Jesus and turning it into Chu. In English, however, Jesus will become Jess, starting with the beginning of the name.

Even if As Teo is named after a Mateo or some other man with a name that ends in Teo, we will never know anything about him.

If Teo does not refer to a person but rather to a thing, we have no way of knowing, at least as of today, what that thing is. There is no word teo in Chamorro, at least not in the Chamorro we speak today. The closest we get to that is teok (thick liquid), and whereas many people like to see direct connections between similar things, I prefer to refrain from such conclusions till we see evidence. To me, there is no reason why Chamorros would have said teo for teok. We don't see the dropping of final letters in Chamorro words in other instances. Shortening of Chamorro words was achieved by eliminating sounds inside a word, not at the end of them.(1)


Long before any human being lived in the Marianas, much of Saipan was underwater where limestone formations were coming together. What we see now at As Teo and in many other places all over the Marianas - limestone caves and cliffs - is what was formed underwater and was later exposed when the land rose above the sea.

These caves were used as shelters during the horrific bombardment of Saipan when the Americans came to take Saipan from the Japanese in June of 1944. Even the Japanese used a large cave in As Teo as a field hospital for their wounded.


Today, people immediately associate the As Teo area with a branch of the Borja clan known as i familian Tuhu. They own a lot of the land in As Teo. The land came into the Tuhu family by way of marriage into the Diaz family who were the original owners. Manuel Mendiola Borja (born on Guam) married Ignacia Sablan Diaz, daughter of Ramon Diaz and Rita Sablan, also originally from Guam.


Some time after the war, as the Tuhu family continued to farm and eventually reside at As Teo, they took advantage of the natural environment and built a shrine to Our Lady of Lourdes in one of the crevices of the limestone cliff on their property.

The Virgin Mary had appeared in 1858 in a niche on the side of a large rock in the small French village called Lourdes.

Lourdes, France

For many decades now, Catholics all over the world try to replicate this original grotto in a variety of styles. Where possible, grottoes are formed from crevices and niches found naturally in the environment, like As Teo.

Besides the good fortune of having crevices in the rock on their property to simulate the Lourdes grotto, the Tuhu family also had the blessing of a well at the same spot. At Lourdes in France, a spring of healing water burst forth at the Virgin's prompting. Indeed, As Teo made an almost perfect site for a Lourdes shrine.

Originally, there was just a well at As Teo. Recently, they have placed a pump there. The Church has made no statement about that water's spiritual significance, or lack thereof. But am sure the visitors find the water refreshing nonetheless. I have never tasted the water and don't intend to until I find out if it's safe to do so.

For many years now, the Santa Lourdes Shrine at As Teo is a crowded place due to the many visitors, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, from all over the Marianas and the world.


A man in Saipan told me something that only a Chamorro would think of.

As I mentioned, the Borja family who live in As Teo and who run the Shrine are called the Tuhu family. Tuhu' in Chamorro means "to drip" or "to leak." The motion is downwards. But, as the man said, at Santa Lourdes Shrine, the water comes up from the ground below.

So, he said, the "dripping down" family (Tuhu) runs the shrine where the water springs up.

Ai. Only in Chamorro. Iyon i Tuhu i be'bo'! The spring belongs to the Tuhu!


Sadly, there is a tragic and final note to the story of As Teo.

It was at As Teo that two young sisters, Faloma and Maleina Luhk, went missing in 2011 and to this day have never been found. The sisters left their home in As Teo to catch the school bus, and were never seen again.

We pray that Faloma and Maleina are alive and well and will be found soon.

(1) An example of this kind of shortening a word in Chamorro is måktos. It comes from magutos. Gutos means "to break or snap," as in string or a cord. Instead of saying magutos, we shorten it in the middle of the word and say måktos.

Friday, August 12, 2016


A story in the Marianas Variety tells us that police arrested a certain Tai Ting Fong for assault and robbery.

Since there is no Western first name preceding Tai Ting Fong, it's easy to wonder if the person arrested was Chinese, since the Chinese normally have three names. First would come the family name (Tai), then the personal name (Ting) and the generational name (Fong).

You know, like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

Someone also commented that he had heard that Taitingfong was actually a Chinese name that had been "Chamorrolized." I prefer the word "Chamorrocized."

So, is the name Taitingfong Chinese or indigenous Chamorro?


1. We have lists of Chinese immigrants to the Marianas during the late Spanish period. These lists were taken in the 1870s and after and name all the Chinese who came to the Marianas since the 1850s. They all settled on Guam. Every family on Guam with Chinese origins (Limtiaco, Unpingco, etc) is in these lists, except for the ones that came afterward during the American period (e.g. Won Pat). Yet, there is not a single Taitingfong in these "Chinese lists."

If you say that the first Taitingfong on Guam was a Chinese who came long before the 1850s, that would be pure speculation without documented evidence. You would have to explain how a single Chinese man came to Guam during a period of time that no other Chinese person came to Guam. The Chinese who did come to Guam in the 1850s came in groups from the Philippines, recruited by the government to help boost farming on Guam. A lone Chinese named Taitingfong coming to Guam before the 1850s would be an anomaly that would need explanation as well as verification.

2. The name Taitingfong does appear in lists of people living on Guam in 1843, more than ten years before the Chinese immigrants listed in the Spanish records. Taitingfong is a name that appears in lists of people from the village of Pago, at present-day Pago Bay. This small village was inhabited by "purer" Chamorros, with indigenous names like Mafnas and Atoigue. In the 1897 Guam census, a Josefa Taitingfong, born around 1842, married a man named Agualo, another indigenous name.

As with many names written in the past when people spelled the way they wanted to, Taitingfong in the Spanish records is sometimes spelled Taitinfon.

As the documents show that there were Taitingfongs living on Guam before the Chinese immigration of the 1850s, and that these Taitingfongs either lived in almost exclusively Chamorro villages like Pago, or married others with indigenous Chamorro names, the evidence suggests that the Taitingfongs were also Chamorros living among other "purer" Chamorros. "Purer" meaning less mixed with foreign blood, as suggested by their indigenous surnames and residence in villages far from Hagåtña, location of the greater ethnic mix of Chamorros and Spaniards, Hispanics and Filipinos.

3. The name itself can be understood within the Chamorro language.

We all know that tai means "without, lacking" in Chamorro. There are a number of indigenous Chamorro names that begin with tai : Taitano, Taimanglo and Taijeron to mention just a few.

The "tingfong" looks suspiciously close to tufong, which means "to count." Just as tucha (to lead prayers) morphed into techa (prayer leader) via titucha, tufong could have morphed into tingfong via titufong. One possible meaning, therefore, could be "without a counter," someone who counts.

4. The similarity between Taitingfong and two verified Chinese names, Tyquiengco and Tydingco, is only an apparent similarity, thanks to our Americanized brains.

Modern Chamorros pronounce it TAI-quiengco and TAI-dingco. But this isn't the original pronunciation.

The TY in those two names was pronounced like TEE, not like TAI. TEE-quiengco and TEE-dyngco In fact, older people and even younger people who know their culture still pronounce it like TEE, not like TAI.

Remember that it was Spaniards who first wrote down those Chinese names in a Spanish way. For a Spaniard, TY will never be pronounced TAI. The Y in Spanish sounds like an I. TI-quiengco, TI-dyngco.

Thus, Taitingfong and Tyquiengco are similar only to Americanized minds that think in English.


Putting all of this together, I think the evidence all points to a Chamorro classification for the surname Taitingfong.

We are only being fooled by coincidental and apparent similarities if we assert the original hypothesis.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


Ma susede un desgråsia
as Malilok na lugåt.
Ya ti ilek-ho na ti un måtai,
na un måtai naturåt.

An unfortunate incident occurred
at a place called Malilok.
I never said you would never die,
only that you would die naturally.

This verse comes to us from the island of Luta (Rota).

Puntan Malilok is a place there, on the southeastern shore.

Chamorrita verses, or any poetic verse, are not always meant to be logical. Oftentimes they are meant to be nonsensical, humorous or satirical.

What unfortunate event happened at Malilok? It seems to be connected to someone's death. How was this person's death "natural?" Not murdered, that's for sure. Murder wouldn't be "natural." Did the person simply drop dead? Of a heart attack? Possibly. That would be considered a natural death, but would it be considered unfortunate?

Perhaps an accident killed the person, or a drowning. Something that could have been avoided and was thus unfortunate.

We'll never find out the verified meaning of this verse; the composer is long dead. The humor comes from the singer addressing the dead person posthumously. The dead person was never guaranteed a long life; only that he or she wouldn't die by murder, suicide or war.


Desgråsia sounds like "disgrace" but the word is borrowed from the Spanish and it means some misfortune or tragedy. This is the meaning in Chamorro as well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016



A Deceitful World

Tåno'. World.

Dåkon. Liar.

It was brand new. The new wall put up in the house looked perfect. But, within a few days, cracks appeared. Looks can be deceiving.

For the Chamorro, the world is a liar. Tåno' na dåkon.

We think our material possessions are safe and sound, yet they corrode, rust, break or get stolen.

The value of things - gold, gas, stocks - goes up and down. Nothing is stable. Nothing is permanent.

A tree behind the house looks strong and healthy. We wait, and yet it bears no fruit.

The sea looks calm. But lives perish that same "calm" day when an unseen swell tips the boat over.

We swear we saw something. It turns out to be a mirage.

Some people wear the nicest smiles. But that's all it is. Something they wear, and take off.

And the worst lie of all, according to the elders, is to think that this material world is all that exists.

Monday, August 8, 2016


Tåya' ti månnge' para i ñalang.

Nothing isn't delicious to the hungry.

There are many ways of stating the truism that the truly hungry person appreciates any food at all, despite its taste or lack thereof.

"Hunger is the best sauce," said the Spaniard Cervantes, or rather "El hambre es la mejor salsa." This saying is also attributed to the Roman writer Cicero.

This meant that hunger would make tasty what otherwise would not be appetizing, just as a sauce does not an otherwise bland dish.

The more common expression in Chamorro is, "Yanggen magåhet na ñålang, siempre ha kånno.'" "If he or she is truly hungry, he or she will surely eat it." Or, this was said in the second person :

~ Nang, ñålang yo'. Håfa na'-ta? (Mom, I'm hungry. What's there to eat?)
~ Kåddun månnok fresko. (Fresh chicken stew.)
~ Uy mungnga yo'! Ti ya-ho. (Not for me! I don't like it.)
~ Yanggen magåhet na ñålang hao, siempre un kånno'! (If you were truly hungry, you would certainly eat it!)

Many times children were told to eat what was put before them, or go to bed hungry if they refused. Parents would then grin in triumph when the famished child humbly asked to eat, an hour later, what he had previously refused.

But some mothers also used the phrase above.

~ Nang, matå'pang este na fina'tinås-mo. (Mom, your dish is bland.)
~ Tåya' ti månnge' para i ñalang. (Nothing isn't delicious to the hungry.)

Depending on the mother (or granny or auntie), that last statement could be accompanied by a whack with the slipper (changkletas) or hand (patmåda).

Thursday, August 4, 2016


Chamorros have traditionally looked to Mary as a protective mother but also as a sorrowful mother who knows our pain (she lost her Son on the cross) and who can thus have the deepest sympathy for us. This song is an example of that Chamorro view of Mary.

1. Nanå-ho Sånta Maria nå'e yo' siningon-ho
(My Mother Mary, give me endurance)

sa' ti hu huhulat sumungon i piniten korason-ho.
(because I am not able to withstand the pain of my heart.)

2. I piniten korason-ho hågo nanå-ho mås tumungo'
(You, my mother, know more than anyone the pain of my heart)

ya an un sotta yo' na måtai, i piniti-ho yo' pumuno'.
(and if you leave me for dead, it is my pain that killed me.)

3. Ai ai puti, puti tåya' familiå-ña
(Oh it hurts, it hurts to have no family)

sa' ni håfa siña bai hu cho'gue pot todo i hu padedese.
(because there is nothing at all I can do about all that I suffer.)

4. Ha na' pinite yo' i mediko sa' ha po'lo yo' gi piti
(The doctor made me suffer because he put me in pain)

ya ni uno gi familia måtto para u fan bisita.
(and not one in the family came to visit.)

5. Singko åños na pinadese gi espitåt i commonwealth
(Five years of suffering in the commonwealth hospital)

ya ni uno gi familia måtto para u fan bisita.
(and not one in the family came to visit.)

6. Puti, puti i tåya' familiå-ña
(It hurts, it hurts to have no family)

sa' ni håfa siña bai hu cho'gue pot todo i hu padedese.
(because there is nothing I can do about all that I suffer.)

7. Hu padese todo klåsen puti, kon todo putin manhasso
(I suffered all kinds of pain, including pain of thought)

sa' hamyo ha' hu hahasso gi todo i manera.
(because I thought of you all alone in all ways.)

8. Ai ai puti, puti tåya' familiå-ña
(Oh it hurts, it hurts not to have a family)

sa' ni håfa siña bai hu cho'gue pot todo i hu padedese.
(because there is nothing at all I can do about all that I suffer.)

Monday, August 1, 2016


Japanese officials supervise Chamorros working in the rice paddies

"No army ever marched on an empty stomach," so the saying goes.

Many times, though, the invading army expects the people they subjugate to fill those empty stomachs!

Our ancestors have been planting and eating rice for many centuries, long before the Europeans came. Due to the fact that rice cannot be grown except in wet fields, Guam did not have an abundance of land suited for large rice plantations. Corn, in time, became the main starch for Chamorros, thanks to Mexican influence. Corn can more easily be grown than rice, and rice was saved for special occasions. By the 1930s, more Chamorros were making money and could afford to buy imported rice from Japan. Local rice production was still low and could not supply the island with enough rice.

When the Japanese occupied Guam, they set out to rectify that situation. All that rice they hoped to grow on Guam was primarily for the Japanese military stationed here; then Japanese civilians and, lastly, the Chamorros. Private property was no issue for the Japanese. If they told you your property had to be used for rice cultivation, you had no choice but to allow it.

Prior to the war, only 186 acres of Guam land were used for rice production. The Japanese felt they could increase that to 1960 acres! The best they could do was reach 709 acres, but that was still a significant increase in rice plantings.

This chart shows where the rice was planted, according to acreage.


161 acres

148 "

118 "

105 "

96 "

56 "

25 "
709 acres

As you can see, no rice was grown north of Hagåtña. From Tamuning and Mangilao onto the north of Guam, the land was made up mainly of porous limestone, so wetlands were not to be found there. Rain seeped into the white, chalky soil, filling the huge underground lake that provides us water when we can dig wells to fetch it. No rivers can be found in the north of Guam.

The best areas for rice farming were in the south of Guam, where volcanic, red-clay hills descend into well-watered valleys and coastal wetlands, and in low-lying Piti and Asan. Piti, in fact, was highest in the number of acres dedicated to rice farming during the Japanese Occupation.

In this 1944 aerial photo of Piti, one can see the amount of flat land to the rear and west of the village which was cleared and used for farming.

I suspect that most of the rice farming in Piti would have been in Sasa, which is a low-lying, marshy terrain good for rice paddies.

Chamorro men and women were made to work in the rice paddies, in Chamorro called fama'åyan. (Fan+få'i+an). Få'i is the planted rice seedling.

Rice farming under the Japanese, however, was a failure. The Japanese gave up on rice farming by late 1943 and told the Chamorros to plant taro, yams, corn and other foods that proved more successful.

There were several reasons for the horribly low yields of rice at harvest time. The Japanese were unable to bring in enough insecticides to kill bugs like the leafhopper which attacked the rice plantings. Guam also lacked fertilizers and equipment. The Americans kept sinking Japanese ships carrying supplies to Guam, so very little of these made it to the island.

Let's honor the memory of our people who were made to work hard in the fama'åyan and not even for their own benefit.