Tuesday, January 30, 2018




Around 1904, James H. Underwood, an American resident of Guam, married to a Chamorro woman and eventually US Postmaster of Guam, came across an article in the Sunset Magazine about a vegetable that attracted his attention.

It was called chayote, a native of Mexico that spread elsewhere in time. In the Sunset article, a lady in Los Angeles was growing them in her backyard, and a photo of the vegetable was included.

Underwood wrote to the lady, asking if she'd mail him chayote seeds in exchange for seeds from Guam plants. She said yes. This episode was written up in the Guam Recorder in 1936.


There are numerous ways to eat it. Treat it like squash, or zucchini or cucumber. Sauté it, pan fry it, use it in soup. Whatever way suits you. Some eat in raw as long as it's pickled. It doesn't need even need to be peeled.


This is where it gets interesting.

Once the seeds got to Underwood, I assume he grew them or gave them to someone to grow and from there it spread among the people.


Lacking a Chamorro name for it, the people soon invented one. We have no idea who started it. But it became the accepted local name for chayote.

Since it includes a sensitive word, I will not spell it out completely. The lady in the video says it, so you'll know it from her.

Many Chamorros in those days found it easier to pronounce Underwood as Andaut. That is, AN - DA - UT (OOT).

Monday, January 29, 2018


An maloffan i likao, songge i danges ya un pega gi bentåna.

(When the procession passes, light the candle and put it on the window.)

I thought the custom had totally disappeared, but here it is 2018 and I saw one house in Mongmong continue it. We were passing this home in procession and I spied a lit candle on a table in the carport.

In the old days, people would light a stick candle, less frequently a jar candle since they were not as available back then, and put it on the window sill facing the road where the procession would pass. Back in the 1980s, I still saw it done here and there, especially in the south.

It was a way of the residents showing respect for the religious image that was passing the home, either on a karosa pulled by people or on an åndas carried on the shoulders. This way the home could ask for a blessing from that saint or the Lord.

Sometimes it was because an elderly or sick person in the home couldn't leave the home to attend the church function. At other times, even if the whole family was going to attend the Mass at church, they would leave a lit candle anyway at the window or wherever convenient and safe, as a way of inviting a blessing on the home. In modern times, some families turn on the outdoor lights, too, as a way of giving respect to the passing image.

If there were someone elderly or sick inside the home, they would try to situate themselves by the window or door so they could see the passing image, make the sign of the cross and say some prayers while the image was passing, unless of course they were unable to rise from bed, unconscious or in a very bad state. Then a caregiver in the family was the one who did that for him or herself, and on behalf of the sick or elderly family member.

Lighting candles by the window was a custom in other parts of the world, continued to this day in some places. There were different reasons for this, including the passing of processions.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Joe Salas was born on Guam around 1871. He was probably named José at birth.

The 1900 census identifies a José Salas working at the Panoche mine in San Benito, born around 1870 or 71, from the Philippines. Since the Marianas had been a province of the Philippines under Spain, many people from Guam were identified as coming from the Philippines. This could very well be the Joe Salas seen in the photo above.

In 1911, he was sentenced to three years in prison for forgery and was sent to San Quentin State Prison. His prison documents state he was from Guam, but furnish no other details about his family background.

He must have been a good boy at San Quentin because he was discharged a year early, in 1913.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


kinanta as (sung by) Arnold Kaipat

Buenas korason-ho.
(Hello my heart.)
Bai hu nangga hao
(I will wait for you)
sa' hågo ha' guinaiya-ko
(because you alone are my love)
todo i tiempo.
(at all times.)

Buenas noches mañaina-ho. (1)
(Good evening my elders.)
Oppe yo' pot kilisyåno. (2)
(Answer me because I am a Christian.)
Måtto yo' bai fan nå'e notisia
(I have come to give notice)
na manguaiya 'u nu hagå-mo.
(that I love your daughter.)

Esta nene mås de dies åños
(It's been more than ten years baby)
de hu nanangga akseptå-mo.
(that I have waited for your acceptance.)
Håfa nene nai desision-mo?
(What is your decision, baby?)
Sa' guåho esta yo' prepåra.
(Because I am already prepared.)

I kattå-mo ni un hanågue yo'.
(Your letter which you sent me.)
I fitmå-mo i labios-mo.
(Your signature with your lips.)
Lao bai sångan nene gi taiguine.
(But I will say it baby like this.)
Hågo ha' gi korason-ho.
(You alone are in my heart.)


(1) Buenas noches mañaina-ho. In the old days, a young man could never deal with the girl one-on-one. He always had to gain her parents' approval. So a young man would act his best, come around the house a lot, rake the yard, pick up trash, help with whatever projects needed to be done, in order to win the parents' good graces.

(2) Oppe yo' pot kilisyåno. Religion was very much present in the minds of many people back then. They were aware of their Christian duties. The young man is saying, "Answer me, because I am a Christian," or he could mean, "Answer me, because you are Christians and it's the Christian thing to do, the charitable thing to do, to answer me."

Monday, January 22, 2018


(1923 ~ 2018)

Kabayero, at its basic, means someone honorable, respectable, noble.

It implies a man of virtue, fairness, wisdom.

It is borrowed from the Spanish word caballero, from caballo or "horse." A caballero is a horseman, a knight and all the virtues that were traditionally ascribed to knights.

A kabayero may not have wealth. He may not occupy powerful political office. He may not even speak much in public. But when he speaks, people listen. His wisdom and moral rectitude command respect and wield influence.

Kabayero is how I would describe Uncle Rey, whose formal name was Ignacio Mendiola Reyes. He was born in Malesso' in 1923, the son of a Malesso' father and a mother from Sumay. I guess the "Rey" came from his last name Reyes, which in English sounds like "RAY - JESS." Some people spell it "Uncle Ray" but his funeral announcement spells it "Rey."

He was called "Uncle" because he and his wife, the former Rosa T. Aguigui, didn't have children of their own. But they were like uncle and aunt, and even grandpa and grandma, to many people, starting with their nieces and nephews and their children, but also to many people who were not related by blood.

Uncle Rey and Rosa with Father Lee

Uncle Rey was a gentle, soft-spoken man who was always in a pleasant, calm mood. I would visit him from time to time and ask him sensitive questions about the war. He would listen (he was very good at that), and before he would respond, he would sit back and think for a moment. He thought before he spoke, weighing his words. His answers were always honest but also worded very carefully, so that he was never unfair in his description of events or people. He was what we call mehnalom in Chamorro. It means someone reflective, a thinker. That word comes from mi (meaning "abundant") and hinalom (meaning "interior"). He had an abundance of interior thinking and reflection.

He was elected Mayor of Malesso' from 1952 to 1956, was a school teacher and then a truant officer. He was married to the former Rosa Tyquiengco Aguigui (Auntie Chai), the first woman on Guam  elected to public office (the consultative Guam Congress) in 1946. Together they were a couple dedicated to all their nephews and nieces and their children.

On their wedding day

Fishing was Uncle Rey's great love and he did it often. He was also an active member of San Dimas parish in Malesso', serving on many church committees throughout the years and singing in the San Dimas Mens Choir.

An expert fisherman

One man from Malesso' described him as makalamya. Makalamya means someone active and industrious, but also in an effective way. Someone who knows how to get things done or find people who know how to get the job done.

If you ask me what makes me proud about our Chamorro people and culture, it's people like Uncle Rey and Auntie Chai that make me proud. Good people.

Deskånsa gi minahgong, Uncle Rey. Un merese i deskånson i man fiet. (Rest in peace, Uncle Rey. You deserve the rest of the faithful.)

Uncle Rey and Auntie Chai

Thursday, January 18, 2018



Women skilled in assisting other women giving birth are called pattera (midwife) in Chamorro, a word borrowed from the Spanish partera, meaning the same thing. Parto in Spanish means "labor" as in birthing.

In 1900, the US Naval Government mandated, with General Order No. 28, the licensing of Guam's pattera. They were told to report to the Naval Hospital in Hagåtña to undergo an elementary course, free of charge. They would then be given licenses, again free of charge. Only those licensed could practice midwifery.

One of the reasons stated for this training and licensing was to reduce the "present deplorable rate of mortality among mothers and infants."

Well, one lady claiming to be a pattera never got around to getting a license. And, to make matters worse, the mother she assisted in childbirth died while giving birth to the baby.

Late in the night of April 3, 1901, María, a woman just 22 years old from Sinajaña, sent word to a woman named Joaquina that she was feeling labor pains. Joaquina told the family there was no need to call for a pattera. She claimed that she herself could do the job. Poor María, however, died after giving birth, and it was reported to the government that she had been assisted in her labor pains by Joaquina, who lacked a license.

The court ordered Joaquina to pay a heavy fine. But, having no earthly goods, Joaquina was unable to pay the fine. So the court ordered that Joaquina spend 7 days in jail.


I know no further details about Joaquina and her role as a pattera, whether she had been a genuine pattera or not.

But, while we're on the subject, it's good to know that many of our people in those early days of American rule preferred to keep distance from American medical services. If they could take care of it at home, with traditional åmot (medicine) or practices, our grandparents generally would do that instead of going to an American doctor, especially if the sickness were common and simple to treat.

So when Chamorro midwives came under Navy training, many people had a hard time accepting that. Even the Chamorro lady already a pattera, or wanting to become one, often hesitated to enroll in the Navy's midwife training program or come under Navy supervision. 

The Navy had hoped that the midwives under their supervision would help bring more Chamorros to the Navy's hospital. But this didn't have the level of success the Navy wanted for many years.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


The document above tells you that a Joseph King was born in the Ladrone Islands, also known as the Marianas. He was born around 1828 and moved to Sydney, Australia in 1855 while serving on the ship named the City of Sydney. He was naturalized a British subject in 1865.

As we know, "King" is not a surname found in the Marianas during the Spanish era. It is not native Chamorro, nor Spanish nor Filipino, so we must assume that Joseph dropped his original surname and adopted "King." This was often the case with the Chamorro seamen who left the Marianas for good. Sometimes a more Anglo surname was easier for others to pronounce. Sometimes the Chamorro seaman wanted to hide his origins, for different reasons. Some, for example, did not want to be discovered and be sent back to the Marianas. Sometimes ship captains, immigration officers or just others in general gave the overseas Chamorro seaman a new name and it stuck.

So what was Joseph's original surname? Unfortunately, we have no clue from the documents that we have.

One could suppose that maybe his original surname was Reyes (or de los Reyes), since Reyes means "kings" and Joseph changed his name to King. Reyes has been a family name in the Marianas for a very long time. But this is just a wild guess and we have something nowadays that helps us a bit when documents may be lacking. It's called DNA and through DNA testing, some of the Australian descendants of Joseph King have connected with Chamorro relatives using the same DNA tests. None of them are Reyes. So, the search continues!

Joseph married in Australia; a lady named Elizabeth Jane Edwards. He has descendants in Australia to this day, actively pursuing his history. Joseph passed away in Australia on April 11, 1893. RIP

~ with the help of Pamela Johnson, Joseph's descendant

* We know there is a King family in Tinian, with Luta (Rota) roots but that is a whole different story with a completely different beginning from the story we're dealing with concerning Joseph King.

Monday, January 15, 2018


What do many Chamorros living in the mainland ask us to send them? Chorisos Españot.

Strongly-flavored and fatty, chorisos españot can be really addicting.

And, for Chamorros, there is only one kind of chorisos españot. It has to be the "El Rey" brand, in its distinctive olive green can (or plastic bag, nowadays) and gold lettering.

Where does it come from?

Well, we call them chorisos españot which literally means "Spanish sausages."

But notice that the can (or package) does NOT call them chorisos españot. It doesn't even say Chorizos Españoles, which would be the way to say it in Spanish. In fact, there is no ONE thing in Spain known as "chorizos españoles" because there are dozens and dozens of different kinds of Spanish sausages.

The green can or package doesn't call these chorizos by a certain name. But the original manufacturer of the El Rey variety of chorizos called them chorizo Bilbao (or chorizos de Bilbao) after the Spanish city of Bilbao. There may be chorizos made in Bilbao, but it's not exactly what you find inside the El Rey can of chorizo.

The original manufacturer, named Genato, enjoyed much success with his brand of chorizo and chorizo Bilbao became well-loved in many a Filipino kitchen. It was Genato who thought up the brand name, the design of the can and the tweaking of the flavor, which includes generous portions of paprika.

I wonder if our Genato of the Chorizo is the same Vicente Genato of the Genato Commercial Corporation in Manila which produced Royal brand foods. The Royal brand of chorizo bears striking similarities with the El Rey brand. The Royal brand chorizos were encased in lard (manteca) inside the can. Vicente Genato had a store on the Escolta, a premier shopping street in the Binondo district of old Manila.

At some point, Genato's El Rey brand of chorizos were being manufactured in the U.S. Several different American companies have manufactured the El Rey brand.

Chorisos Españot being sold in Hawaii for $5.29 a can in 1960.

But I believe Guam didn't need to wait for chorisos to be made in the US in order to enjoy them. Guam merchants always did business in Manila before the war, and I wouldn't be surprised if they imported El Rey chorisos españot since then. Someone on Guam called them "Spanish sausages," or "chorisos españot," maybe because the cans had Spanish writing on them.

They come in plastic bags now




So, if chorisos españot is made in the US, why do our stateside friends and relatives ask us on Guam to send it to them there?

I suppose because it is easier and faster for us to find El Rey chorisos españot at Payless down the street than for them to hunt high and low in Orange County. They may be made in the US but they aren't sold down the street everywhere in the US.

This is one of the few quirks of life where people on Guam need to send to the mainland something made in the mainland.

Thursday, January 11, 2018



Puñetero in Spanish means someone annoying, bothersome; a pain in the neck. Be careful; in some Spanish-speaking countries, the word is stronger than that and can be very offensive. In Chamorro, it can also be considered an insult, depending on the tone of voice.

This story is taken from Guam's court records in 1902. Except for the line "Gran puñetero!" and what follows, the words are not quotes from the testimonies but the information is taken from the court documents.

Guåho si Mariano Perez Tenorio yan estague i estorian-måme yan si Vicente'n Kinto.
(I am Mariano Perez Tenorio and here is my story with Vicente'n Kinto.)

Un oga'an, humånao yo' para bai konne' i ga'-ho toro para i låncho giya Yigo. 
(One morning, I went to take my bull to the ranch in Yigo.)

Annai hu atan i trongko annai hu godde i toro, taigue i toro. 
(When I looked at the tree where I tied the bull, the bull was gone.)

Kada dia hu aligao i ga'-ho toro lao humåhnanao ha' ti hu sodda'. 
(Every day I searched for my bull, but I didn't find it.)

Gi mina' kuåttro dias, hu sodda' i ga'-ho toro na ma gogodde 
(On the fourth day I found my bull tied)

gi et mismo trongko annai eståba åntes de malingo. 
(on the same tree where it was before it went missing.)

I besinan-måme as Maria'n Fernandez sumangåne yo' na era si 
(Our neighbor Maria'n Fernandez told me that it was)

Vicente'n Kinto ni kumonne' i ga'-ho toro. 
(Vicente'n Kinto who took my bull.)

Poko dias despues, umasodda' ham yan si Vicente gi chalan giya Ungåguan. 
(A few days after, Vicente and I met on the road in Ungaguan.)

Hu faisen si Vicente kao magåhet na guiya kumonne' i ga'-ho toro 
(I asked Vicente if it was true that he took my bull)

ya ha oppe yo', "Gran puñetero! Yagin låhe hao, tunok gi ga'-mo guaka 
(and he answered me, "What a pain! If you are a man, get down from your cow)

ya bai puno' hao ensegidas!" Ya ha laknos i machete-ña ni ha kana' gi sinturon-ña. 
(and I will kill you right now!" And he took out his machete hanging on his belt.)

Hu desatiende este na sinangån-ña ya må'pos ha' yo' para i siudå. 
(I ignored what he said and I went to the city.)

Sigiente dia kumeha yo' gi tribunåt ya despues de ma imbestiga este na kausa, 
(The next day I complained at the court and after investigating this case,)

ma pongle si Vicente singko dias gi kalaboso.
(they put Vicente in the jail for five days.)



Humåhnanao. This means "it kept on." The man looked, but the situation continued that he couldn't find his bull.

Poko dias. A Spanish derivative rarely ever heard today. It comes from the Spanish pocas días, meaning "a few days."

Yagin. An older form of yanggen, which means "if."


Ungåguan is a place in Barrigada which was one of the prime farming areas on island. It is located right below what we now call Barrigada Heights, to the south of it.

Map from the early 1900s

You can see that the trail leads from Hagåtña through Toto to Ungåguan.

Here's where Ungåguan is on a modern map of the area :

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Camp Asan is a popular place for kite flying due to the absence of trees and poles

The early months of the year bring to our islands strong trade winds. Not only do they make life more comfortable with the soothing breezes and less sticky humidity, the trade winds also make for great kite flying.


We're not totally certain where and when kites were invented.

Some think it was in China. At least that's where the oldest written records of kite making are found. China also had great materials ideal for kite flying. Light-weight paper and silk fabric, and bamboo for the frame.

But it's also possible that kites originated in island Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia). There is an old kite-flying tradition in Polynesia as well. How all of these traditions are connected (or not) is not certain.

And so we have to allow for the possibility that our ancestors flew kites. They aren't mentioned in the early European descriptions of our ancestors' life and activities, but that doesn't mean they weren't around. It just means that our ancestors' kites weren't included in these descriptions, if they existed at all.


Chamorro has two words for "kite," and maybe they describe two different kinds of kites.

PAPALOTE is borrowed from the Mexican variety of Spanish. In Spain itself, the usual words for kite are cometa (comet), or cometa de papel (paper comet), and cachirulo. But in Mexico, the usual word is papalote. In some regions of Mexico, they may have another word for kite, too.

Our use of a Mexican term suggests again the great Mexican influence on Chamorro language and culture, due to the Mexican lay missionaries and soldiers brought to the Marianas in the late 1600s and early 1700s, and which is seen in other vocabulary and in our food (corn, achote, tortillas).

Papalote comes from the Nahuatl word papalotl, which means "butterfly." Nahuatl was the language spoken by a large group of indigenous, Native Americans who lived in Mexico (and other countries). Other Native American peoples, with other languages, also lived in Mexico before the Spanish arrival. Many of these languages are still spoken, including Nahuatl.

When Chamorros do DNA tests and Native American shows up in their genes, this is why!

It could be that, if kite flying was not done in our islands before European contact, then it was brought over from Mexico, and so the Mexican word was adopted. All one needed to make a kite could be found in our islands. Paper might be harder to come by, but kites can be made using wide leaves, such as lemmai (breadfruit). String was made from different fibers. Sticky rice acts as a glue. We have no lack of sticks.


The second word in Chamorro is måru.

It's a wonderful mystery where that word comes from. Isn't it nice that we cannot answer all questions? Life's more interesting that way. I cannot seem to find a connection between that word and Spanish, a Filipino language, Japanese and so on.

Påle' Román, the Spanish Capuchin missionary who mastered the Chamorro language, says that papalote maro means a kite without a tail.

Others say måru means a box kite.

I think, over time, måru came to mean any kite at all, at least with some people.

No tail? Papalote maro.

Furthermore, Påle' Román says that maro or marro refers to the ancient clothing of the pre-Spanish Chamorro people. That's all he says about the word. What he says begs more questions than answers them. The word may refer to ancient Chamorro clothing, but is it a Chamorro word or a borrowed word? He doesn't say. What clothing? As far as we know, our ancestors wore very little. They wore some things; hats, little aprons, grass skirts, battle vests, lots of jewelry and other things. But in this tropical heat and humidity, it isn't surprising that they didn't cover their entire bodies. So what exactly were these "ancient clothing" called maro?

Does the kite called måro and the ancient clothing called maro have any connection? Who knows?


If the kite has a tail, Påle' Román says the Chamorros call that papalote korason. "Heart kite." Why? He doesn't say.


In the 1960s, I remember we'd get copies of the Guam Daily News, light weight sticks, scotch tape, glue or even sticky rice, and string, and make our own kites to fly. They didn't cost any money. We used what was lying around the house.


The Guam Museum is taking advantage of the season's breezy winds to conduct a kite-making activity for their Ha'ånen Familia series. You can see the information in this poster.

Monday, January 8, 2018


Even he is a techa.

Yesterday a young man lead (tucha) the nobena prayers. He was our techa.

Some people mistakenly think that he should be called a techo. After all, he's a male and should be called a techo, so they think.

It's like the word sottero, or "bachelor." That's for a male. A single woman, however, is a sottera.

See? O for male, A for female.

So here's what people think :




This O for male, A for female rule is used in the Spanish language, from which Chamorro borrowed many words.

But what people may not understand is that this rule is not UNIVERSALLY applied even in Spanish. That is to say, it is not used in EVERY case.


A male Communist is a Comunista.

A female Communist is a Comunista.

A male idiot is an idiota.

A female idiot is an idiota.

A male psychiatrist is a psiquiatra.

A female psychiatrist is a psiquiatra.

In Chamorro, we use the O for male, A for female rule in SOME Spanish words :

SOMETIMES used in Chamorro
when using SOME Spanish words

(Attractive, pretty, nice, beautiful)

An attractive male is BONITO

A pretty lady is BONITA

(Rascal, scoundrel, trickster, mischievous, sneaky)

A mischievous male is PÍKARO

A mischievous lady is PÍKARA


A male teacher is MAESTRO

A female teacher is MAESTRA

But there are times when, even when the word is Spanish, we do NOT apply the Spanish rule in Chamorro. In many cases, Chamorro ends the word in O for BOTH male or female.

when using SOME Spanish words

(Cheap, inexpensive)

A male bull that sells for $1 is BARÅTO

A female cow that sells for $1 is also BARÅTO

(Peaceful, calm, serene, quiet)

A calm male is TRANGKILO

A calm lady is also TRANGKILO

(Last, final)

The last male to arrive is the UTTIMO

The last lady to arrive is also the UTTIMO

And when it comes to truly Chamorro words, we do not use the O/A rule AT ALL.

Do NOT distinguish male or female gender

(Elder, superior, lord)

A male is a SAINA, not a SAINO


A bad man is BÅBA, not BÅBO


A male twin is a DINGA, not a DINGO

TECHA is a truly Chamorro word. It is NOT borrowed from Spanish. Therefore, the O/A rule does not apply at all to this word.

Techa comes from the Chamorro word tucha, which means "to lead a public prayer."

The person who tucha is i titicha, which then gets shortened to techa.

We see this in other Chamorro words like pekno'. That comes from the Chamorro word puno', or "to kill." Someone murderous is i pipino', which becomes shortened as pekno'.

So, when you look at a male who is leading public prayer and you are tempted to call him a techo, just ask yourself : Is techa a Spanish word? Or is it truly a Chamorro word? Once you remember that it is a truly Chamorro word, coming from the Chamorro word tucha, then you'll decide not to apply a Spanish rule to techa; a rule that isn't even applied in Spanish in every single case.

Would you call your father a SAINO? Would you call a tall man LOKKO'? I didn't think so.


There IS a Chamorro word techo, and it's borrowed from Spanish. It means "roof" or "ceiling." It's rarely used, though, since we have a Chamorro word for roof, åtof. The usual word for "ceiling" in Chamorro is kísame, which is borrowed from the Spanish word "zaquizamí" which means "attic."

Thursday, January 4, 2018


Señora Teresita Flores, a Chamorro language teacher at the University of Guam, heard this song from her grandfather.

It's a flirting song and it definitely goes back to the early 1900s if not earlier. It includes a good deal of Spanish phrases. O mi kerida (oh mi querida), kerida mi amor (querida mi amor), kerida de mi korason (querida de mi corazón) are all taken exactly from the Spanish.

O mi kerida sangåne yo' på'go.
(Oh my darling tell me now.)
O mi kerida sa' guaha lugåt-mo.
(Oh my darling because you have the chance.)
Sangåne yo' på'go håfa malago'-mo.
(Tell me now what is it you want.)
Kao håfa na disposision.
(What is your will.)
O kerida mi amor
(Oh darling of my love)
kerida sen mames na nene hao.
(darling sweet baby you are.)
Chiku, chiku nene åmbre nene åmbre chiku pot fabot.
(Kiss, kiss baby, come on, baby, come on kiss please.)
Sa' estague' na bai apåtta yo'
(Because here I am going to depart)
ya bai hu dingu hao gi fi'on-mo.
(and I will leave your side.)
Adios adios kerida de mi adios
(Farewell farewell darling of my farewell)
kerida de mi korason.
(darling of my heart.)

Was the young man leaving Guam? Is that why he is coaxing her to give him a kiss, since he is leaving the island and will see her no more? Is he leaving in the US Navy? If this song is much older, is he leaving on a whaling ship?

By identifying the melody, which seems adopted from elsewhere, we can get a better idea how old this song is.


Kerida. From the Spanish, meaning "loved one" in the feminine gender.

Lugåt. Literally means a physical "place," but can also mean time, opportunity or occasion. This is why, when we ask if someone can do something, we add, "An guaha lugåt-mo." "If you have the chance, opportunity, time."

Disposision. Several meanings are possible, including "will," as in a person's desire.

Åmbre. From the Spanish word hombre, meaning "man." It can be used, as in English, to express a wish. "Stop it, man!" "Båsta, åmbre!"

Wednesday, January 3, 2018


He was as big and as strong as a karabao.

And so Vicente was known as Vicente'n Karabao.

He stood at six feet, two inches and weighed 210 pounds, a lot of it muscle.

The short life of Vicente (he died in his early 40s) embodies much of what was characteristic of pre-Spanish Chamorro male prowess. Physical stature, strength, pride and competition are all found in his story; the same traits that were said of our ancestors before the Europeans came.

His name was Vicente Acfalle Champaco, but he really was Vicente Champaco Acfalle. He was born in 1902 when Chamorros still kept the Spanish system of using the father's surname first, followed by the mother's. But there is another story why he was known as Champaco, and not Acfalle. He was such a champion in anything physical that the American nickname "champ" stood for both Champaco and being a champion.

He made such an impression on the American Navy on Guam that he was written up in the Guam Recorder, the monthly news magazine printed on island by the Navy. Some of the information in this post is taken from that article.


His Champaco side was Chinese. His grandfather was a pure Chinese man named Gregorio (or Hilario and even Mariano) Champaco (or Cham  Puaco, and sometimes Chua Puaco), who came to Guam and eventually settled in Malesso', marrying a lady named María Tedpahogo Eguiguan. Their daughter Asunción (sometimes misidentified in documents as Concepción) married Macario Babauta Acfalle, the son of Eugenio Acfalle and Margarita Babauta. Except for Champaco, those are all indigenous Chamorro names. The Chamorro ran strong in Vicente!


Vicente started working for the Navy so his work took him up to Sumay and Piti, where the Navy had facilities.

He was so strong, it was said, that Vicente picked up barrels of water or what have you and easily tossed them onto the ships.

It was said that Vicente could easily dive to 120 feet below water and stay down for three minutes. Recreational divers usually don't go below 130 feet, and that's with an oxygen tank! He'd sometimes come back up with a fish in both hands. Once, it is said, he grabbed a fish out of a shark's mouth and kicked the shark in the nose. Hungry for lobster? It was said Vicente knew some deep-water holes where he could dive and fetch lobster.

A team of diving experts from off-island came to Guam once to teach locals how to dive. After seeing Vicente display his diving prowess, the off-island experts walked away humbled.

Our ancestors were said to be equally at home in the sea as on land. Our people could dive into deep water and stay down for long periods.


European visitors to the Marianas described our ancestors as being competitive in nature. There were always contests between people. They would challenge each other to show their physical strength or even debate each other publicly to see who could outwit the others.

These contests could be between close relatives, even between fathers and sons! In more than one story, chiefs grew angry when their little sons uprooted coconut trees with their bare hands, to the point of wanting to kill the son!

And so it happened with Vicente'n Karabao and his cousin, a man named Juan Champaco. Juan's son Jesus tells the story :

Vicente and his cousin Juan were helping to roof a house when Vicente challenged Juan to wrestle. "Get down and I'll test you, since you say you're so strong. But no one is stronger than me. I'm the strongest in Malesso'." Juan indeed was also strong. He only needed to shake a coconut tree to make a coconut fall down if he needed one.

Juan tried to dissuade Vicente from wrestling but Vicente wouldn't take no for an answer, so they wrestled and, in the middle of it, Vicente fell. Well, that angered Vicente to no end so Vicente swore that he would kill Juan and his whole family. Juan took his family to hide in the boonies for about a week, while his brother and the aunt tried to talk Vicente out of killing Juan and Juan's family.

Finally, it was at a cockfight that Juan saw Vicente there, and Juan told Vicente, "Let's stop fighting and reconcile. Here, give me your rooster and I'll enter him in the fight," and Vicente gave Juan the rooster because Juan was good at cockfighting and sure enough the rooster won and peace was restored between the cousins Vicente and Juan.


In July of 1944, the Japanese in Malesso' knew that their time was up. The island was completely surrounded by American ships which were bombing the Japanese defenses on the island almost to oblivion.

Fearing that Malesso' people would somehow come to the aid of the incoming Americans, or that the strong men of the village would overpower and kill the small numbers of Japanese soldiers in Malesso', the Japanese started rounding up the people they feared.

In the first group, the Japanese arrested anyone they feared politically. Community leaders, teachers and anyone with a connection with the U.S. military were targeted. This meant Vicente'n Karabao, who had been working for many years for the U.S. Navy.

On July 15, with the rest of his group, he was put in Tinta Cave where the Japanese threw in hand grenades and bayoneted to death anyone they thought had survived the blasts. Vicente died there, leaving behind a wife, the former Ana Espinosa, and his children.

His name appears on the Memorial which stands in front of Malesso' Church. RIP