Thursday, September 28, 2017


"Alcaide de la Cárcel"
"Prison Warden"
Guam Court Document in 1901

A branch of the Camacho family on Guam is known as the familian Atkaide.

What does Atkaide mean?

It's the Chamorro version of the Spanish word alcaide, seen in the Guam court document above. An alcaide was a prison warden; the man in charge of a jail or prison. Guam had a jail in Spanish times, located in Hagåtña. It was called the Cárcel Pública in Spanish, or kalaboso in Chamorro (borrowed from the Spanish word calabozo). By the late 1800s, the jail was located at the courthouse or tribunåt in Hagåtña.

How did a person named Camacho get the nickname Atkaide?

Benigno Pangelinan Camacho, married to Magdalena Quintanilla Palomo, was a member of the local militia. When he retired from that, he was made the alcaide of the local jail in Hagåtña. This information is taken from the Guam Recorder, a monthly news journal published on Guam before the war :

"(Benigno) was a sergeant in the local company of artillery, who upon retirement from military service, was appointed warden of the civil jail at Agana, which post he occupied for some years under the Spanish administration." (Guam Recorder, March 1937)

So, having the job of alcaide, it isn't any wonder that he was soon known himself as Benigno'n Atkaide, and the name passed down to his son, Vicente Palomo Camacho. Vicente was educated at the highest school available in the Marianas at the time, the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán in Hagåtña. There he learned Spanish, enabling him to work for the Spanish government as a clerk in the local court. Then he clerked for the Registrar of Lands, who, under the first American administration, was William E. Safford, who helped Vicente learn English.

Judge Vicente Palomo Camacho, "Atkaide"

Vicente then became a kind of attorney for clients living in the outlying villages, then Deputy Island Attorney then Judge. In 1935, he retired from government service and concentrated on farming, having two ranches, one in Barrigada and one in Mangilao by the old Price Road. His retirement was cut short when the Americans returned after World War II, as he was appointed back to the bench. He finally retired for good in 1947.

A street in Leyang, Barrigada named after the Atkaide family

Apartments named with a more exact spelling of the family nickname

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Sen umaguaiya i un låhe yan i nobiå-ña ya umassagua i dos.
(A man and his girlfriend were so in love and they got married.)

Kada dia, ma umenta i minagof-ñiha pot i umagofli'e' i dos.
(Each day, their happiness increased because of their mutual love.)

Lao måtto i pininite annai gotpe ha' måtai i palao'an.
(But sorrow came when the woman suddenly died.)

Ti siña ma konsuela i lahe ni piniti-ña.
(You couldn't console the man of his pain.)

Duro gue' tumånges, ha'åne yan puenge.
(He cried and cried, day and night.)

En fin, ha konne' i matai na asaguå-ña
(In the end, he took his dead wife)

para u ma håfot gi tasi.
(to be buried in the sea.)

Mientras humahånao gi tasi gi halom boti-ña,
(While he went to the sea in his boat,)

måtto i taotaomo'na ya ha sangåne i lahe,
(the spirit of an ancestor came and told the man,)

"Siña hu na' lå'la' ta'lo i asaguå-mo,
("I can bring your wife back to life again,)

lao hu nesesita atfilet piao."
(but I need a bamboo pin.")

I lahe ha nå'e i taotaomo'na nu i atfilet piao
(The man gave the spirit a bamboo pin)

ya i taotaomo'na ha dulok i damagås-ña i lahe
(and the spirit pricked the thumb of the man)

ya ha na' tuhu i hagå'-ña gi labios-ña i palao'an
(and let his blood drip onto the lips of the lady)

ya magåhet na lumå'la' ta'lo i palao'an!
(and truly the lady came back to life again!)

Ma bira siha tåtte gi tano' ya todo maolek.
(They went back to land and all was well.)

Lao un dia, ha sodda' i lahe na guaha atungo'-ña otro na låhe i asaguå-na.
(But, one day, the man saw that his wife had another male friend.)

Gi lalalo'-ña, ha puno' ma se'se' i asaguå-ña annai eståba na umo'omak gi saddok,
(In his anger, he stabbed his wife to death while she bathed in the river,)

ya i haga' i palao'an ni ma chuda' gi saddok mama' chåda' ñåmo.
(and the blood that spread through the river became the eggs of mosquitoes.)

Ennao mina' man man å'aka' i ñamo siha.
(That is why mosquitoes bite.)

Ma espipia nahong na kantida håga' kosa ke u lå'la' ta'lo i palao'an.
(They are looking for a sufficient amount of blood to bring the lady back to life again.)

Monday, September 25, 2017


The man blocked the road with tree trunks

Poddong Lisong

Imagine your surprise when you are heading to your ranch, where you have been farming for years, and suddenly you find that the trail has been blocked by tree trunks that weren't there the day before.

Far from a storm felling these trees, your neighbor purposely cut the trees and blocked the road.

This is what happened in 1901 at a place called Poddong Lisong, in the central part of Guam in the low-lying, swampy area between Sinajaña and Toto .

All of central Guam had ranches, mainly owned by people living in Hagåtña. When they found that the trail leading to their ranches was blocked, they also discovered that a land owner in the area named José was responsible for it.

José had a field in the area and he wanted the road closed. He claimed that the original road through the area, with public access, was around 120 feet away. The road he closed, he claimed, was private and not open to the public.

Four land owners who needed that road open took the matter to court. They called five senior citizens who knew the area well. One of the witnesses, Catalino de Borja, was 71 years old and said that since he was a young man, he knew no other trail going through the area except the one closed by José. Other witnesses saying the same thing were Vicente Roberto Herrero, Lorenzo Torres Aguon, José Castro Mendiola and Salvador Díaz Luján, the grandfather of Monsignor Oscar Luján Calvo.

Well, the court believed these old gentlemen and José was ordered to reopen the trail.

The Name Poddong Lisong

According to the 1901 court documents, the place is called Poddong Lisong. Poddong means "to fall" or "fallen," and lusong is a "stone mortar." The name could thus mean "Fallen Mortar," or refer to a place that descends down to an area where there used to be a lusong. It really is all guess work. For the names of many places in our islands, neither oral tradition nor written documentation explain why a place is so named.

Food, herbs and medicine could be ground up in a lusong.

In Chamorro, initial vowels (like the U in lusong) can easily change (to an I as in lisong), depending on the usage or on who is saying the word. Thus, later maps call the place Peddong Lisong and Poddong Lusong.

"Peddong Lisong"

"Poddong Lusong" on the Sinajaña village sign

Thursday, September 21, 2017


Here it is, 118 years after the Spanish left Saipan in 1899, and this Chamorro family still prays this nobena to the Santa Cruz (Holy Cross) in Spanish. Even the singing is in Spanish.

While it is true that Spain left Saipan politically in 1899, and left Guam politically a year earlier in 1898, the clergy in both places remained Spanish for another 40 years or so.

In Guam, the last Spanish priest left in September of 1941, just three months before the war, and the bishop remained Spanish until 1945.

In Saipan, the last Spanish priest left in 1947. In addition to Spanish priests, Saipan had Spanish sisters, the Mercedarians, since 1928. These sisters had influence over the women of Saipan, and women generally have more of a role to play in keeping religious customs alive in the home. The people leading this Spanish nobena in this video in Saipan today are the women.

Spanish was used as an official language of government on Guam even in the early days of the American administration. It was in 1905 that Governor Dyer ordered the switch entirely to English. But, even in to the 1920s, performances staged by Chamorros included Spanish songs and dances. Chamorros clung to Spanish in prayers and hymns for many years after and, although in smaller numbers now, up to this day.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


Gof chachathinasso un nåna sa' pot kada oga'an mumuta' i hagå-ña achok ha' ti kalentutura pat sinago. Ha konne' i hagå-ña para i mediko ya ma eksamina i me'me'-ña i sotterita. Sinangåne i nana nu i mediko, "Ma potge' i hagå-mo." Ilek-ña i nana, "Ti siña, Señot. Todo i tiempo humahame na dos ya tåya' na ha dingu i gima' guiguiya ha' na maisa, tåya' nobio måfåtto gi gima', tåya' na kumuentos gue' gi telefon yan låhe." An monhåyan ha sångan este i nana, tumohge i mediko gi me'nan i bentåna ya sige de tumalak hiyong. "Håfa, Señot, un a'atan guihe huyong?" mamaisen i nana. Ilek-ña i mediko, "Hu nanangga i Tres Reyes."


Mañugon i dos Etmåna para Inalåhan lao ti ma repåra na esta kumekehokkok i gasolina gi karetan-ñiha. Sen matai karetan-ñiha giya Yoña ya ma espia si Påle' Alvin para u ayuda siha. Ilek-ña si Påle', "Siña hamyo en fañopchop gasolina ginen i karetå-ho, lao tåya' båtde pat låta para u sinahguan i gasolina, solo guaha este na orinola." Pues magåhet na mañopchop gasolina i dos Etmåna pues ma chule' i orinola ni bula gasolina ya ma nå'ye gi kareta ni eståba gi kanton chålan. Guaha taotao maloloffan ya ha li'e' na ma nåna'ye gasolina ginen orinola ya ilek-ña i taotao ni dos Etmåna, "Magåhet, Sister, na todo klåsen milågro si Yu'us  siña ha cho'gue."

Tuesday, September 19, 2017



According to Candy Taman himself who told me, this was the first song Candy wrote in Chamorro. The tune he adopted from songs he heard from Chamorro singers who had lived in Yap and who had returned to the Marianas after World War II.

The song is full of sarcasm and humor. I'll explain in the notes below.

Uriyan tåno', hålom tåsi
(At land's end, in the ocean)
annai hu plånta i gigao-ho.
(where I set my fish net.)
Puro ha' sesyon yan satmonete
(It was all rabbitfish and goatfish)
ya sen dimålas sa' gai hiting.
(and what misfortune as there were bigeye scad.)

Aga' manila yan papåya
(Manila bananas and papaya)
ayo tengguång-ho gi mattingan.
(was my food at the reef.)
Ya låstima i dångkulon talåya
(What a waste was the large net)
sa' todo tinitek nu i guihan.
(because it was torn by the fish.)

I un lancheru mås gef saga
(The rancher is the richest of all)
sa' abundånsia tinanom-ña.
(because his planting is abundant.)
Ya i bulachero et mås dimålas
(And the drunkard is the most unfortunate)
sa' tåya' para kinano'-ña.
(for he has nothing to eat.)

Chinachak tuba na sen mames,
(Very sweet coconut toddy cuttings,)
kinemman kangkung ni bibisbis.
(Sizzling, pan-fried kangkung)
Tamåles chotda para agon-ña,
(Banana tamales as a staple,)
linemmok lemmai na mahange.
(fermented, pounded breadfruit.)

Macheten doffe', galon tuba.
(A dull machete, a gallon of coconut toddy.)
Båtden abono chinile'-ña.
(He brought a bucket of fertilizer.)
Tåya' produkto gi lanchon-ñiha,
(Their ranch had no produce,)
meggai tinanom marihuåna.
(it had a lot of marijuana plants.)

Verse 1 talks about a fisherman using a gigao, a fish trap made of netting. Sarcastically, he says that it turned out to be a bad catch because it included hiting, which was actually a prized fish among the people.

Verse 2 continues the fisherman theme and says that the fish net tore apart because of the abundance of fish caught, recalling a biblical image!

Verse 3 compares the life of a farmer who grows what he eats, and the drunkard who is so drunk that he cannot work and make money or grow food, and thus has nothing to eat.

Verse 4 talks about food, such as tuba, a mild liquor made from coconut sap by cutting certain branches, and kangkung which sizzles in the pan. Older dictionaries spell the word besbes but here they say bisbis. Candy Taman is part Chamorro (Babauta) and part Carolinian (Taman) so he then sings about a Chamorro food (tamåles chotda, banana cooked in a banana leaf wrapping) and then a Carolinian food (linemmok lemmai), which is breadfruit pounded and allowed to ferment.

Verse 5 pokes fun at marijuana growers, who could care less about running a farm for food. They could care less that the machete is not sharp. They make more money growing and selling marijuana, so no food is grown on their farm.

Monday, September 18, 2017


Map showing the commercial activity of Capelle & Ingalls in the Marshalls

Adolf Capelle was a German gentleman who combined a businessman's ambition with a yearning for travel. Micronesia, mostly unknown to the Western world in the 1800s, proved an exotic and enticing destination. Off he went to the Marshall Islands to work for a German company doing business there. When that company folded up, Capelle started his own business, with various partners. One partner was the Portuguese Anton Jose de Brum and another was the American Charles H Ingalls.

At the top right of the picture above, you can see a German map of coconut plantations in the Marshalls run by Capelle and his partner Ingalls.

Adolf Capelle

The company didn't confine its activity to the Marshalls. It branched out to several places, and the company even tried to get something going in the Spanish Marianas.

In 1880, Ingalls was in Guam and won a contract from the Spanish government to build a warehouse, or almacén, at Punta Piti (in the vicinity of the current Cabras power plant).

Maybe that Piti project was just a way in since, not long after, Ingalls got Spanish permission to exploit Pagan and Agrigan's coconut tree resources to make money from copra.  Hired for the Pagan job in 1880 were the following men from Guam :

Ramón Gumataotao, José Fejarang, Ignacio de la Cruz, José Pereda, Francisco de la Cruz, Vicente Lizama, Ramon Wisle (Wesley), José Pangelinan, Mariano Pangelinan, José Aguon, Juan Roberto, José Tenorio, José de Salas, Pedro de los Reyes, José de los Santos, Vicente Mendiola (but he signed his name "Flores"), Ignacio de la Rosa, Antonio de San Nicolás, Enrique Carolino and Pedro de los Santos.

Enrique Carolino sounds like the name of a Carolinian named Enrique.

Gregorio Pérez, probably the founder of the Goyo clan, which would make him Gregorio Cruz Pérez, was to be the head of this crew. Félix Montufar Roberto was appointed alcalde, or mayor, of Pagan for the duration of the Capelle settlement. I am not sure if these men ever did get to Pagan. The license was only to last a year, anyway.

Not long after, another agent for Capelle, one SS Foster, with Alexander Milne, came to Guam to get government permission to exploit, once again for copra, the island of Agrigan. I am not sure if that project ever actually happened.

The Capelle Company's presence in the Marianas was very brief; more like poking their noses in the area to see what could happen. The answer was nothing much. Their success lay in the Marshalls and other areas close by.

Charles H. Ingalls' signature
on the 1880 Punta Piti contract

Thursday, September 14, 2017


William Pritchard Coe

William Pritchard Coe was a half-American, half-Samoan businessman adventurer who, for whatever reason, moved to Guam right after the American capture of the island. For two weeks, he served as Governor of Guam when a passing Naval officer dismissed the Governor at the time and appointed Coe instead. But Captain Richard P. Leary was just two weeks away from Guam and, when he arrived, Leary took over the government.

Coe remained on Guam and was captain of the port of San Luis de Apra for part of his time on island. As captain of the port, Coe was in charge of the comings and goings of boats and ships in and out of Apra.

On October 24, 1900, Coe saw a boat leave Cabras Island, headed for Piti. In those days, Piti was the actual point of disembarkation for people arriving at Apra. Thus, there was a pier built at Punta Piti (Piti Point), more or less opposite the Cabras Power Plant today.

Cabras Island and Punta Piti in the 1800s
"Pantalán" means "pier"

When the boat landed at Punta Piti, Coe observed three men, namely Joaquín Martínez of Hagåtña, José Martínez and José Finoña, both of Piti. Their boat was laden with lemmai (breadfruit). Coe asked the men if they were aware that the lemmai was government property, since all of Cabras was government property. The men replied that they had the Governor's permission to harvest at Cabras.

Coe filed a formal complaint with the government, anyway.

William Coe's signature in 1900

The island court sat on this issue for over a year! Finally, the government tossed out the complaint because no crime had been committed. According to Philippine forestry law, still in force on Guam since most of the Spanish-era laws had not been abrogated yet by the US Naval Government, people could freely make use of whatever grew on government land.

Coe left Guam for good around this time, and may have even been gone by the time the court issued this final decision.



The original Chamorro name for the island is Apapa.

Cabras is the name Spaniards gave it, and the name means "goats." I suppose goats were raised there at one time. The last name Cabrera comes from cabra. It means "goatherd," a tender of goats just as "shepherd" is a tender of sheep.

Nowadays, no one calls it Apapa and fewer still even know the name. Most people don't even call it an island anymore!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


This Chamorro expression is one more proof that language is not just a matter of vocabulary and grammar. There are modes of expression that go beyond ordinary logic.

Ma tåla' na påtgon means that a certain child is outgoing, speaks up, expresses his or her personality. He or she is the opposite of the shy child who is rarely seen and never heard. The underlying belief is that the ma tåla' na påtgon has confidence in him or herself, while the yomåhlao (shy) child has a lack of confidence and thus dislikes being seen or heard.

The curious thing is the use of the word tåla'. To tåla' means to dry in the sun. Your wet clothes are ma tåla', either hung on the clothes line or spread out over bushes. Salted meat is dried, or ma tåla', in order to preserve it for future use.

So, how is an outgoing child ma tåla'? Is he hung on the clothes line?

So I asked Påle' Jose this question.

So, just as our wet clothes or salted meat are exposed in the sunshine, seen and visible to all the world, in the same way, the ma tåla' na påtgon is not hidden. He or she is exposed, seen and visible to the whole world.

In fact, one of the older Chamorro dictionaries (1918) says that tåla' means to "expose or lay out." It doesn't state that tåla' specifically means to "dry out," as in clothing or food. But, if one exposes wet clothes and food to the sun and air, they will dry out. So, perhaps, the most basic meaning of tåla' is simply to expose or lay out.

Ma tåla' na påtgon. It's a mental image that came to the minds of our Chamorro mañaina and came into the language.

Monday, September 11, 2017


Clerk of the Guam Court

My great grandfather Victoriano Joanino was clerk of the Guam Court in the first years of the American Naval Government. He was thus involved in many of the comings and goings of Guam society in those days, including the criminal!

In those days before typewriters and tape recorders, everything documented in court was done by hand, and Victoriano wrote thousands of pages of court records, from transcripts of testimonies to certificates to legal forms.

One such court case put him in the right place at the right time, at least for one suspect.

A man farming in Piti, Antonio de la Cruz, came home one day to find that his wooden chest (kaohao) was broken into. He had spent the night prior to this at his mother-in-law's, together with his wife, and no one was in his own house the night the chest was broken into.

Missing from the chest was 19 pesos, a good sum of money in those days. Then he discovered that a good quantity of pugas (raw, harvested rice) was also missing.

Investigating the surroundings, he noticed footprints of at least two people outside the house, and the prints of a karabao. He followed these prints and they lead him to the house of one Vicente the Tagålo (Tagalog). Antonio believed he had found his suspect.

This Vicente was Vicente Mejos Gonzales, a Filipino from the town of Bangar in the province of La Union, in the Ilocano-speaking region of the Philippines. For Chamorros, all Filipinos are Tagålo (Tagalog), even if that person is Visayan, Ilocano or what have you. Gonzales was, in fact, far from being Tagalog, but his own neighbor, Antonio Cruz, called him Vicente the Tagålo. In the court record seen above he is named "Vicente de tal @ tagalo." "De tal" means "so and so" and @ stands for "alias," or "also known as." Since the court had only Antonio Cruz's information thus far, no one knew Vicente's full name yet, so he was called Vicente the Tagalog.

Government investigators went out to Antonio's ranch house in the Sasa' area of Piti, a good place for growing rice in its swampy terrain. They looked over the ranch house and took measurements of the footprints. Then they went to look for Vicente the Tagålo.

When they found him, they encountered a slight difficulty. Vicente was not Tagalog at all but rather Ilocano. He had married a Chamorro-Chinese mestiza, Maria Mafnas Champaco. Being unschooled, Vicente could not speak either Spanish nor Tagalog, and his Chamorro was very basic. If he had to testify, he could do it in only one language - Ilocano. Where would they find an Ilocano speaker who also spoke excellent Spanish?

Well, it just so happened that the court secretary, Victoriano Joanino, was Ilocano. Although the court clerk or secretary shouldn't act as interpreter, Victoriano had no choice but to translate for Vicente, suspected now of being the robber.

When all was said and done, no charges were brought against Vicente Gonzales. The court determined that there just was not enough evidence to point fingers at anybody, and the robber was never identified.

All of which made very happy one Vicente the-not-so Tagålo.

But I wonder what poor Vicente would have done if Victoriano Joanino had not been the court clerk that day when he was called before the judge. How would he have given his side of the story? My great grandfather was in the right place at the right time to act as Ilocano interpreter for Vicente.

The Sasa' area south of Piti where Antonio had his ranch house

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Chinese laborers started settling on Guam in larger than usual numbers around the year 1858. That year alone saw the arrival of Chinese men named Unpingco, Losongco, Tyquiengco and perhaps that same year, or maybe soon after, Limtiaco.

By the 1880s, there were between 15 and 20 Chinese men living on Guam, maybe a third of them married to Chamorro women and baptized into the Catholic religion.

In a document from the year 1884, Rosauro Unpingco is described as the "current head of the Chinese residents in this island." "Cabeza actual de los chinos residentes en esta isla."

The Spanish colonial government system including neighborhood heads called cabezas de barangay. A barangay was a neighborhood, and its head was the cabeza (Spanish for "head").

As far as I know, there never was a formal office for a cabeza for the Chinese residents of Guam. At least I've never seen such a title on any official list of titles or positions in the island government during Spanish times.

So, I suspect that Rosauro's title was an informal, unofficial but practical one. He would act as the liaison between the Spanish government (its Spanish officials and Chamorro clerks) and the dozen or so Chinese residents on Guam. He would relay to the Chinese community any news, announcements or requests from the Spanish government, among other duties. His position would have been appointed, not elected (there were no elected offices in the Marianas at all under the Spanish).

Rosauro's signature 

Once again, don't be too concerned about the way Rosauro's last name is spelled. Here it is Ung Pinco. "Ung" would have been his Chinese last name. It is often rendered Ng today in his variety of Chinese (Fujian). In the Spanish records, Unpingco is spelled in three or four different ways.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


A song of lost love, sung by Larry Saralu


An ti siña mohon humita kerida
(If we cannot be together, darling)
i tataotao-ho ti maolek siniente-ña;
(my body doesn't feel well;)
ya ti siña hu sungon kerida
(and I cannot bear, darling)
na bai hu mamaisa ha'.
(to be alone.)

Annai un chiko yo' tumånges yo'
(When you kissed me I cried)
sa' ti hu hongge na para un dingo yo'.
(because I couldn't believe you would leave me.)
Ya ti siña hu sungon kerida
(And I cannot bear, darling)
na bai hu mamaisa ha'.
(to be alone.)

Åpmam tiempo de humihita.
(We were together for a long time.)
På'go para un apåtta hao.
(Now you're going to go on your own.)
Nene hu guaiya hao.
(Baby I love you.)
Ti hu sungon man meggai åpmam na tiempo
(I cannot endure many long periods of time)
sa' tåya' mås kerida ke hågo.
(because there's no one more than you.)
Ya ti siña hu sungon kerida
(And I cannot bear, darling)
na bai hu mamaisa ha'.
(to be alone.)


Maisa. To be one alone, as in "Guiya na maisa," "Him alone/only." Some think it is related to the Ilocano word maysa, meaning the numeral "one." Then, there might be a connection with the Filipino word isa, also meaning "one," found in many local languages in the Philippines.

Bai hu mamaisa ha' has a stronger feeling than just "to be alone." It has the sense in a constant condition of being utterly alone; to be left alone, by oneself, in this world.

Apåtta. To be apart, to be separated from, to be far off.

Monday, September 4, 2017


Poor Vicente never made it up this hill. He was shot and killed around this spot.

NOTE. This is a historical account of a murder on Guam in 1900. The investigation records are still intact. But I am not including last names for the simple reason that 117 years ago is not that long a time. Relatives of the murderer, the suspected accomplice and the victim are still with us. 

Vicente was, from all accounts, a nice guy. Sociable, affable and friendly. Except for a few landowners in Talofofo who differed with him about exact land boundaries, he got on well with everyone and even those neighboring ranchers didn't hate Vicente. It was just the normal squabbling about how far your goat could eat the grass that was routinely found among people in those days.

Vicente's real problem was his wife Rosa. Lots of people in Hagåtña believed that she was unfaithful, carrying on with a certain Juan. Her boyfriend Juan was a single man, and ten or so years younger than her. She made all kinds of excuses never to follow her husband Vicente from Hagåtña, where they lived, to their ranch in Talofofo. One day she would say she was not feeling well; the next day it was because she had too much to do in the Hagåtña home. So, off Vicente would go to the ranch in Talofofo, and Juan the boyfriend would spend time with Rosa in the house while Vicente was gone. Juan made himself at home, going into any room he cared to enter.

Tongues wagged all over Hagåtña. It didn't help that Rosa's own cook swore that she caught Juan and Rosa in physical contact in the bodega or basement. Some of her own children also stated that they believed their mother and Juan had something going on.

Matters turned worse when Vicente himself walked in on his wife and Juan, a kompådre to them by the way, in each other's arms.  A day or so later, Vicente confided to a few people that he was resolved to bring Rosa down to Talofofo to live there for a few years, to keep her away from Juan. Perhaps that's when Juan got the notion to kill Vicente, to put an end to the plan to keep Juan and Rosa apart.

A witness actually called Juan and Rosa achagma (achakma), the Chamorro word for illicit lovers

In the early hours of May 16, 1900, between 2 and 3 in the morning, Vicente and his wife Rosa readied some of their animals and bags and left their house in Hagåtña to go to Talofofo. Another Vicente, a house boy, went with them. Though it was in the dark of night, the moon was out and its light brightened the path of the travelers. They entered San Ramón barrio and were just passing the last house on that road, which leads up the hill to Sinajaña.

Just before the road rose towards Sinajaña, Rosa asked to stop. She needed to urinate. In the meantime, Vicente decided to have a smoke. He lit a match to light his piece of tobacco and out of nowhere shots were fired. Vicente was hit three times in the back. A bullet entered his chest, damaging some vital organs and arteries. He fell on his face, then turned to lie face up, and died.

Rosa cried for help, bent down to examine her husband's body, and saw that he was already dead. She departed to inform the authorities at the government offices in the Palåsyo (palace).

The testimony says Vicente was shot in a spot just before the road rises up the hill

Vicente's body was taken to his home and laid out. People remarked that Rosa did not seem to be grieving. Then there was the matter of the house clock; some noticed that it was two hours ahead of time! Someone had pushed the time forward. Vicente never left Hagåtña for Talofofo so early in the morning before. Why now? Rosa said they left that early at her request, in order to travel while it was still dark and cool. Did Rosa push the clock two hours ahead in order to make Vicente rush, thinking that they had less time in the dark than in reality? The real time was 2AM; their house clock said 4AM. Dawn was coming; hurry!

Strange, too, that they should travel in the darkness while Juan, Rosa's lover, was on guard duty at the Palåsyo. An American military man says he saw Juan leave his post in those dark hours, and then there was the sound of gun fire. Half an hour later, Juan re-appeared at his post. When some American military men examined Juan's gun later, they stated that the gun had been fired within the last 48 hours.

Map of Hagåtña a few years after the murder, showing the barrio of San Ramón
and the pre-war road leading up to Sinajaña

Juan was detained, but let go because of insufficient evidence. But people observed that Juan stayed away from Rosa from then on. Both sides of the family, Rosa's and Juan's, strongly advised them to keep apart. People were pointing fingers mainly at Juan, but also at Rosa, as being responsible for the death of Vicente.

Then a strong typhoon in November of 1900 brought Juan and the widow Rosa together again. Juan went to go see how Rosa fared the storm. In no time Rosa was pregnant, with Juan's child.

The authorities never let all of this pass, however, and by April of 1901, both Juan and Rosa were held in custody, while the government investigated further. Juan and Rosa denied any participation whatsoever in the murder of Vicente, but, on April 4, Juan broke down and confessed to being the murderer of Vicente.

Juan blamed it all on the rage he felt when he happened to see Vicente and Rosa in physical intimacy in the privacy of their bedroom. This rage, Juan said, clouded his mind and he resolved to kill his lover's husband. Passing their house the night of the murder and seeing the light on and the door opened, Juan stopped by and learned from Rosa that they were about to leave for Talofofo. Juan went to get his gun and hid in the bushes in San Ramón by the road that leads to Sinajaña. He shot Vicente when he saw the match light.

Juan was eventually condemned to death. Rosa was set free. Juan's legal counsel appealed the sentence. Under Spanish law, a death sentence on Guam was appealed to the higher court in Manila. But that court was no longer in existence under the new American judicial system in the Philippines. Guam was lost somewhere in legal limbo. The United States Congress had not yet instituted a clear court system for Guam. Without a higher court to appeal to, the Navy in Washington told the Governor of Guam that the best thing to do was cancel the death sentence for Juan. It was reduced to a life sentence and, in time, Juan was pardoned.

Modern map of Hagåtña showing the general area of the murder