Thursday, May 31, 2018


Practicing Catholics are very familiar with the Salve Regina prayer by the time they are teenagers, if not earlier. It is one of the most used prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary, besides the Hail Mary.

We do not know for sure how long ago this prayer was translated into Chamorro. We know from early historical accounts that Sanvitores translated many prayers, the catechism and some hymns into Chamorro from the first days of his arrival in 1668. Maybe the Salve Regina was one of them.

Many prayers are set to music, and this is one of them. The melody sung by Chamorros for this prayer is borrowed entirely from a Spanish melody, well-known in traditional, Catholic Spain.


I am old enough to have experienced hearing this hymn or prayer sung by entire congregations of Chamorros who sang it from memory.

The real custom and tradition is for the people to sing this antiphonally. That means one side of the church will sing one line, then the next line is sung by the opposite side. Usually our churches have just two sets of pews (benches), left and right with a middle aisle separating them.

I would get goose bumps listening to our older people sing this back in the 1960s and 70s. I didn't understand the words back then, but it still made a deep impression on me.


The Chamorro version is followed first by a literal English translation, then by the traditional English wording.

Numerous language notes follow at the end of this post.

Si Yu'us un gineggue Raina yan Nånan mina'åse', (1)
(God defend you Queen and Mother of Mercy,)
(Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,)

lina'la', minames yan ninanggan-måme.
(our life, sweetness and hope.)
(our life, our sweetness and our hope.)

Hågo in a'agang ni man ma destilådon famagu'on Eba.
(You do we call, the exiled children of Eve.)
(To thee do we cry poor banished children of Eve.)

Hågo in tatanga, man u'ugong yan manåtånges ham
(You do we desire, groaning and weeping)
(To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping)

guine gi sagan lågo. (2)
(here in the place towards the sea.)
(in this valley of tears.)

Gusse' nai pues Saina abogådan-måme
(Quickly then Lady our advocate)
(Turn then most gracious advocate)

leklek mågi ennao i man yoåse' fanatan-mo
(turn here that merciful look of yours)
(thine eyes of mercy toward us)

ya despues de este i man ma destilådon-måme
(and after this our exile)
(and after this our exile)

na' li'e' ham nu i matunan finañagu-mo as Jesukristo. (3)
(make us see your blessed child Jesus.)
(show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.)

Asaina sen yoåse'! Asaina Yiniusan! Asaina mames na siempre Bithen Maria! (4)
(Most merciful Lady! Godly Lady! Sweet and ever Virgin Lady Mary!)
(O clement! O loving! O sweet Virgin Mary!)

Tayuyute ham Sånta Nånan Yu'us para in merese kumonsige i prinemeten
(Pray for us Holy Mother of God that we may merit to obtain the promises)
(Pray for us O Holy Mother of God that we may be made worthy of the promises)

i Saina-ta as Jesukristo. Amén. Jesús. (5)
(of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. Jesus.)
(of Christ. Amen.)


(1) Un gineggue. Goggue means "to defend, protect." The prayer means, "May God defend you Mary." This translation comes from a double meaning in the original Latin. In Latin, the prayers says "Salve Regina." The Latin word salve can mean two things. First, it comes from the word salus which means "safety, salvation, well being." This is where one can get the meaning "defend, protect." But salve was also used by the Romans as a greeting when meeting each other. It makes sense that a nice way to greet someone is to wish them well, to wish them safety and well being. It is in this sense that Latin uses salve to say "hail" as in "Hail holy queen" as a greeting or salutation. It doesn't literally mean that we wish that God saves Mary, for He has already from the first moment of her conception.

(2) Sagan lågo. In Chamorro, lågo always means "in the direction of the sea." It makes sense, then, that lågo can also mean a place far away, separated from us here in our homeland. Thus, a place of exile, far from us and separated from us by the vast ocean, can be sagan lågo.

(3) Finañago. Fañågo means "to give birth to," so finañågo (noun form) literally means "that which was birthed," that is, a child.

(4) Yiniusan. This means "divine," "godly" or "godlike." It comes from the word Yu'us or "God." The original Latin of this prayer says pia, which can mean many things! It can mean "dutiful, conscientious, faithful, respectful, righteous, good, upright." We get the English word "pious" from it. In a religious sense, "pious" can mean many things, as well! It can mean "godly, holy, saintly, devout, reverent." The English version calls Mary "loving" in the sense that the pious loves God.

(5) Jesús. An old Spanish custom to sometimes add the name of Jesus at the end of a prayer. Perhaps it comes from a strong devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. It isn't done in English-speaking Catholic cultures.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018


(To make oneself a turtle)

Like many other cultures around us, many Chamorros in the old days hid behind a wall of shyness and passivity.

They might be starving, but if you offer them food or drink, they will turn you down two or three times before they accept. And, if you stop offering after only the first or second invitation, they will sit there for an hour looking amorously at the food or drink but never touch it and depart starving still.

This trait is still alive and well among many of our people to this day, although it is disappearing among many others.

Some of the most difficult things to ask a Chamorro is "What do you want? Which do you like? Would you like some?" The answer is often, "Whatever." Very helpful! Not!

So, in the olden days, people would say "Mama' i haggan!" "You're being the turtle!"

You pretend not to want something but you really do. You're just hiding your true desires, like a turtle hides in its shell.

This did not refer only to food, but to anything a person might really want, but pretended not to.

HAGGAN = turtle

MAN (verb marker) + FA' (to make) = MAMA'

Monday, May 28, 2018



As far as I can tell from the records, the first Chamorro casualty in the Vietnam War was the late Jesús Rosa Mariano, who was a Specialist Four in the US Army.

He was just 20 years old when he died.

Jesús was born on Guam in 1945, the son of Vicente Fejerang Mariano and the former Águeda de la Rosa. They lived in Mangilao.

In July of 1965 his tour of duty in Vietnam started. On September 27 of the same year, he was killed in action. His body was recovered and he is now buried at Veterans Cemetery in Guam.

Two more Guam men died in Vietnam in 1965, the first year of Guam casualties. But Mariano was the first.

Rest in peace. May all of our Guam and CNMI casualties in all wars rest in peace.

Thursday, May 24, 2018


This Chamorro hymn to Mary speaks about the beauty of Mary. It is primarily a spiritual beauty, that came about through God's doing, God's grace, while Mary, as a free human being, cooperated, accepted and followed through with that grace.

Hu none hao Maria, saina-ho yan Jesus; (1)
(I greet you Mary, my mother and mother of Jesus;)
gef pulan yo' gi tano', yan gi me'nan Yu'us.
(watch over me well on earth and before God.)

Tai tituka na rosa, paopao yan gef pågo, (2)
(Rose without thorn, fragrant and most beautiful),
tåya' tinifok Yu'us, gåtbo-ña ke hågo. (3)
(there is no work of God more beautiful than you.)
Gi ginegue-mo Nåna, hu po'lo yo' på'go
(Into your care, Mother, I place myself today)
sa' gi kanai-mo siha ti ya-ho chumågo'. (4)
(because I do not like to stray far from your hands.)

I rosa yan i lirio, gef gåtbo yan paopao, (5)
(The rose and lily, are very beautiful and fragrant,)
masamai na Raina-ho, ti u ha ige hao. (6)
(my beautiful Queen, they will not outdo you.)
I gaige giya hågo, magåhet na åtdao.
(He who is with you is the true sun.)
Ya guiya muna' gåtbo yan nina' paopao hao.
(And it is He who made you beautiful and fragrant.)

O påharos chatanmak, an oga'an tåftaf, (7)
(O birds of the dawn, when it is early in the morning,)
katiye si Maria, bonito yan åpmam.
(cry out to Mary, beautifully and prolonged.)
Ya hamyo bo'bo' hånom, kantåye ekahat
(And you springs of water, sing smoothly)
i Be'bo' Paraiso, Nanå-ta tai mancha. (8)
(the the Font of Paradise, our sinless Mother.)


1. None. This is an old term, now mostly forgotten. It doesn't even appear in the most recent Chamorro dictionary. Even if you ask older people who can sing this hymn from memory, most won't be able to tell you what the word means. It means "to salute, to greet."

Saina is also used, which generally means anyone superior to you. In this case, it means "mother." Mary is our mother in a spiritual way, and Christ's mother both spiritually and also physically, or biologically.

2. På'go. Another old term that most have forgotten. The usual meaning of the word is "today" or "now."  But the word can also mean "beautiful." A recreated traditional Chamorro village center in Inalåhan is called Gef Pa'go. Although few older people understand the word to mean "beautiful," all Chamorro speakers understand the word chatpa'go, which literally means "defectively or imperfectly beautiful," and from there we get the definition "ugly."

The song also says that Mary is a "rose without thorn." This is a reference to Mary's sinlessness. All of us, no matter how admirable we are, some for their physical beauty, others for their intelligence, still others for this or that talent, we are roses with thorns. We have our admirable traits (rose), but also our painful defects (thorns). Not so with Mary, who was free from sin (thorns) from the first moment of her human existence or conception.

3. Tinifok. From the word tufok which means "to weave." Tinifok is the product, the woven item. The hymn uses tinifok as a metaphor for Mary, whose Immaculate Conception is the work of God.

4. Chumågo'. Chågo' means "far" and chumågo' is the verb form which means "to go far from," or "to stray away from."

5. Gef pågo. In the original hymn, as published by Påle' Román, the phrase is, "lu gåtbo yan paopao." Lu means "even though," as in "despite the fact that." As an example, "Metgot lu dikkike'." "He is strong even though he is small." So the phrase really means "Even though the rose and the lily are beautiful and fragrant, they will not outdo you in beauty or fragrance, my beautiful Queen." Due to the fact that lu is hardly ever used nowadays, the choir decided to change the word lu to gef, which alters the original meaning. Lu isn't included in the most recent Chamorro dictionary.

6. Masamai. An old word meaning "beautiful." Again, this word does not appear in the latest Chamorro dictionary. Many Chamorro speakers do not know the word.

7. Påharos. Most Chamorro speakers use the word paluma for "bird." But older speakers were also familiar with another Spanish-borrowed term for "bird" which is påharo or påharos.

8. Tai mancha. Måncha (borrowed from the Spanish language) literally means "stain," but theologically is can also mean "sin." Sin is like a stain on the soul.


The Chamorro hymn is based on a Basque original entitled Ama Maite Maria, meaning "Lovable Mother Mary."

The Basques are a race of people, with their own language and culture, who live in Spain and France. Påle' Román, a Spanish Capuchin missionary who lived on Guam from 1915 till 1941, was Basque and translated some Basque hymns into Chamorro.

I cannot find an audio recording of it, but here is the music of the Basque original, which matches the music of the Chamorro hymn.

*Thanks to Lawrence Borja for finding the Basque original

Tuesday, May 22, 2018


Outdoor light on in broad daylight

An guaha måtai gi halom familia, na' fan mañila' todo i kandet sanhiyong.

(When there is a death in the family, turn on all the outdoor lights.)

Some families practice the tradition that when someone living in that home passes away, they turn on all the outdoor lights from the moment of death until after the burial.

Even during the daytime, the outdoor lights are kept on. Some families keep all the inside lights on, too, even at night when everyone wants to sleep.

It's a way of telling others in the neighborhood or passing by that there's a death in that household. Seeing all those lights lit up all day and all night draws attention and alerts everyone seeing it.

In fact, one could make a joke if you see a home with the outdoor lights accidentally left on in broad daylight by asking, "Kao guaha måtai-miyo?" "Do you have a death (in the family)?" Just know in advance, though, that, depending on the sense of humor of the people involved, a family could be offended by such a remark if, in fact, there were no death.

Monday, May 21, 2018


Under Spain, married people in the Marianas could not divorce.

In practice, some husbands and wives physically separated, some even taking on a new partner. But none of this was legal. There was no legal effect, and there were spiritual penalties imposed by the Church, in such cases.

In the first year of American rule on Guam, however, a tiny number of couples were already filing for divorce. By 1901, the Naval Governor confirmed these early divorces through an Executive Order. Though legal now, divorces remained rare in Guam until the modern era.

In 1902, a couple in Sumay divorced. The court awarded the woman custody of the two children born of the marriage, and the following goods which the couple had accrued during their marriage :

One spotted cow
One large frying pan (carajay)
One large clay jar (tinaja)
One small clay jar (tinaja)
One mirror
Two glass jars
One sewing machine
One flag
One processional image
Two statues (San José and La Dolorosa)
One urn
Two blankets
One metate
One small pot
One rosary
One carriage
One young cow
Two young pigs
One coconut grove in As Esteban (located in Hågat)

The court ordered that the man bring these items (except for the coconut grove, obviously!) to an in-between, Ignacio Mendiola Cruz, better known as Ignacio'n Tu'an, who lived in Sumay. From Ton Ignacio, the woman would retrieve these items. The woman also had moved to Hågat, probably to live with relatives.

Various tinåha

The tinåha (from Spanish tinaja) was a clay or earthenware jar, found in every Chamorro home. Large ones were put underneath the roof of the house to catch rain water (hånom sinaga).


A metåte was an indispensable part of a Chamorro kitchen back when our people are corn-based food on a daily basis. On the metåte, dried and cured corn was ground into a flour to make titiyas (tortilla) and other staple foods. The oblong stone used to crush the corn is called the måno (Spanish, for "hand"). The metåte was carefully treasured in the home, as they were not easy to replace if they accidentally cracked. Mothers passed them down to their daughters as if they were bequeathing gold jewelry to them!

Friday, May 18, 2018


Portrait by Paul Jacoulet

Well, there are two versions of the story. It's up to you which one to believe!

Strange things happen at night. Even in the small, sleepy village of Asan in 1902.

Pedro Evaristo Salas, from Aniguak, was spending the night at his friend's house in Asan, a young man of 28 years named Francisco Taitano Taijito.

Just past midnight, Francisco and Pedro were awakened by a man calling out, "Hombre! Hombre!" "Man! Man!"

The two of them getting up and going outside to see what was up, they found an American Marine Private named Nelson Tracey standing there.

"Are you the brother of Rita?" Tracey asked Taijito. "No," Taijito responded.

Tracey turned to Salas and asked, "Is he the brother of Rita?" "No," Salas replied.

At that, so testified Taijito and Salas, Tracey took out his revolver and pointed it at Taijito's chest. He forced the two men to accompany him to Salas' house in Aniguak, at which point Tracey grabbed Salas by the collar, asking for a fight. Salas declined and, when Tracey wasn't looking, Salas quietly entered his home and evaded further involvement. That left Taijito alone with Tracey, who forced Taijito to go with him to Rita's house to call for her. Finding no one at Rita's house, Tracey let Taijito go and they went their separate ways.

It would have ended there, except that Taijito and Salas then filed a complaint in court against Tracey, accusing him of threatening them.

When questioned in court, Tracey had a different story to tell. He says that he was out for a walk in Asan that night, where he lived. He saw a young man in the street and he asked him if he knew where he could get some tuba. The young man said he'd go look, and Tracey gave him a peso. The young man said he'd be back in 10 minutes. When 30 minutes went by with no tuba or young man in sight, Tracey went looking for him. He found someone resembling the young man walking, and he asked him if he found tuba. The person said "no." Tracey asked him if he was the person he gave a peso to. Again the person said "no." Where could he find the man, then, Tracey asked.

That's when this young man went to the home of a woman named Rosa, which happened to be Taijito's house, and called out "Hombre!" When Taijito and Salas exited the house and met Tracey on the road, Tracey asked him if he was Rosa's brother. Taijito said he was not the brother of Rita, nor of María, but he was the brother of Rosa, although all three women were sisters.

Tracey felt he was being played around with and put his hand on Taijito's shoulder, asking for the tuba. At some point his revolver fell from his jacket to the ground and he picked it up, but at no time did he threaten anyone with it. Then, a village official, Carlos Maañao Tydingco, came on the scene, at which point Taijito went away.

Tydingco was also questioned and said that he saw none of this happen at all!

So it became the word of two against one, with no independent witnesses to corroborate either side's stories.

So we will never know. Was the American Marine Nelson Tracey looking for Rita that night? Or for tuba instead? Was it for love, or for liquor?

Tracey's name on a list of Marines stationed on Guam in 1901

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Some people call it "Chamorro Time." Others call it "Island Time."

It's the notion that many people don't show up on time for things here in our islands. Mind you, even Filipinos talk about "Filipino Time" and Mexican Americans talk about "Mexican Time."

This one lady told me the story of her mother, who was always on "Chamorro Time."

Fuera de i Misa, tåya' na måfåtto si nanå-ho gi ora.
(Besides Mass, my mother never came on time.)

Yanggen guaha lisåyon måtai, pat gupot pat ma gradua i famagu'on,
(If there was a rosary for the dead, or party or graduation of the kids,)

todo i tiempo atrasåsao si nanå-ho måtto.
(my mother always arrived late.)

Ha na' fan gof mamåhlao ham,
(She made us very ashamed,)

sa' hame kumokonne' gue' para masea håfa na okasion,
(besides we were the ones taking her to whatever occasion,)

sa' ti mañuñugon si nanan-måme,
(because our mother didn't drive,)

lao tåya' tumungo' na guiya ha' muna' fan atrasao ham man måtto.
(but no one knew that it was she who was making us arrive late.)

Annai esta gof malångo si nanan-måme,
(When our mother was already very sick,)

ya gaige gi espitåt, ya esta båba i korason-ña yan chatsaga hinagong-ña,
(and was at the hospital, and her heart was bad and she had trouble breathing,)

ha atan ham todos ya ilek-ña, "Bai hu måtai lamo'na."
(she looked at all of us and said, "Tonight I will die.")

Ilek-ña i che'lu-ho mås påtgon,
(My youngest sister said,)

"Nang, ti para un måtai lamo'na. Tåya' na måfåtto hao gi ora."
("Mom, you won't die tonight. You never come on time.")

Ya magåhet na måtai si nanan-måme gi sigiente dia gi talo'åne.
(And it was true that our mother died the next day at noon.)

Monday, May 14, 2018


From a list of Chamorro government officials in the 1830s, we find these names for the village of Asan.

CLEMENTE MEGOFÑA was the village mayor, or Gobernadorcillo ("little governor). His name appears as a village official over many years.

MIGUEL MEGOFÑA was the second-in-command, or Teniente. I haven't found yet any indication how and if Miguel and Clemente were related.

CENÉN MEGOFÑA was the Agricultural Officer, or Juez de Palmas, Sementeras y Animales. Cenés is the Spanish name of a lesser-known saint. Again, I have no idea how he is related to the other Megofñas.

FRANCISCO NAMAULEG, MARIANO TERLAJE and IGNACIO TAITANO were the neighborhood leaders of Cabezas de Barangay.

The Megofña name comes from the word magof (happy) and when a Megofña from Asan moved to Saipan, the name was spelled Magofña there, as it remains today. In some Guam lists, too, from many years ago, the name is spelled Magofña.

Mariano Terlaje's last name was actually spelled TARLAGI in this document, and shows that the TER in Terlaje or the TED in Tedtaotao is actually TAT, a shortcut of TÅYA' meaning "none, lacking."

In Spanish, a G before an E or an I has the sound of H.

As you can see, all the Asan officials in this list from the 1830s have indigenous Chamorro surnames, not Spanish ones like Pérez, Flores or Cruz. Besides Megofña and Terlaje, we have Namauleg ("make good, correct, repair") and Taitano ("no land").

We have an abundance of written evidence that shows that the Spanish, Mexican, Latin American and Filipino soldiers settled in Hagåtña while the outlying villages in central and southern Guam (the north lacked any villages for 200 years) remained the centers of the indigenous people. In time, both groups would mix to create the society our grandparents came from.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


In 1947, the Decca record label issued a single entitled "My Dearest Uncle Sam," sung by the Andrews Sisters.

The song was based on the Guam, wartime song "Uncle Sam," sung by Chamorros as an underground resistance song against the Japanese.

Guam was inundated with American military personnel and others right after the American return in July of 1944 all the way to the end of 1945. Tens and tens of thousands of Americans passed through Guam in those two years. It's not surprising that the Uncle Sam tune got to the ears of Alex Kramer and Joan Whitney, a married couple who also co-wrote songs. One can only suspect that someone passing through Guam during the final period of World War II heard the tune and passed it to someone who passed it to someone who.....

Kramer and Whitney borrowed the Guam melody (attributed to Pedro Taitingfong Rosario, "Pete Seboyas") but changed the substance of the wartime Chamorro original. The record even stated that the song was "Based on an Island of Guam Native Song." But the new version portrayed an island girl in love with all things American - the men, chocolates, spam and jam. The romantic attraction American men held over island women is underlined. There are two verses where that is emphasized.

The original song was all about the Japanese Occupation and the hope that the US would come back to liberate the island from the Japanese.

Eighth of December, 1941
People went crazy right here on Guam.

Our lives are in danger, you better come
and kill all the Japanese, right here on Guam.

Now compare with the lyrics of the American version :


On far Pacific island by a mango tree
lonely maid is cryin', lookin' out to sea.

Refrain : Oh Mister Sam, Sam, my dearest Uncle Sam
won't you please come back to Guam.

One year ago September that's when it began
from a boat there landed a big American.

She learned to love his chocolates, she learned to love his spam,
she learned to spread her pancake with huckleberry jam.

He was very handsome but one thing she liked best,
fascinating picture tattooed on his chest.

She wanted education, he taught her ABC's
but she kept asking questions about the birds and bees.

She started to imagine that he was here to stay
but man in Washington he say come right away.

According to another source, there is this additional verse, not heard on the recording above :

He taught her how to say, "Ah loves you honey chile;"
also dance to record boogie woogie style.


Notice the way the Andrews Sisters pronounce the A in a lot of the words, as well as the O in words like "education" and "questions," modified to sound like the A in Guam.

Thanks to Sean Rodriguez

Monday, May 7, 2018


Guadalupe Cruz Díaz of Sumay, then Santa Rita, was a devout Catholic.

Born in 1914, she lived a long life, dying in 2007 a month shy of her 93rd birthday.

She never married but was a loving sister and aunt in the family. She went to Mass daily, and lead prayers and devotions in Chamorro.

In the late 1970s, Santa Rita's pastor, Father Ferdinand Stippich, was moved to Saint Fidelis Friary in Agaña Heights where he could get the attention and help he needed in his old age. He was stationed in Santa Rita from the 1950s till the 1970s, and wanted to leave Santa Rita only in a "wooden box," as he used to say. He was so attached to the village.

Tan Guadalupe made a promesa (promise). Once a week she would be driven by a family member to the Friary and clean Father Ferdinand's room. She would sweep and dust and put a few things in order.

Father Ferdinand

When I first started living in the Friary in the early 1980s, I was surprised to see a little old lady walking down the hallway to the priest's rooms in the middle of the morning, around 9 or 10AM. I think I would see her carrying a broom and dust pan, and maybe some rags. She'd only be there for about an hour, and then I wouldn't see her anymore. Someone then told me that she was an old parishioner of Santa Rita who had made that promise to do something for Father Ferdinand.

Later, in the 1990s, when I was already a priest, I would cover Santa Rita parish, sometimes for 2 months in the summer, while the pastor went home to the mainland to visit his family. There I would see Tan Guadalupe at daily Mass and see her pray and lead prayers, too. Rest in peace, Tan Guadalupe.

Tan Guadalupe's signature on one of the many Chamorro novena books she owned

Thursday, May 3, 2018


Preparing for the Field Trip to the Northern Islands in 1967
L-R Pilot Emmet Kay, Father Arnold of Saipan, Father Sylvan
who made the trip north

After World War II, when the northern islands were more or less depopulated, small numbers of Chamorros and Carolinians from Saipan gradually moved north to Pagan, Agrigan and the other northern islands.

By the 1960s, the numbers were bigger. Since they were all Catholic, a priest missionary from Saipan would periodically go up to these islands to say Mass for them and perform other religious duties. The Trust Territory Government, aware that the islanders were Catholic, provided the ship transportation for the priest, alongside the government workers also making the trip.

Here's a report on those islands made by one of the missionaries who made the trip there in 1967.


Population in 1966 : 43
Population in 1967 : 18

Mainly Carolinian.

That's a reduction of 25 people in one year!

Industry : Copra

Landing : open sea on rocks along the beach and only good in fair weather.

No springs or natural water. Only rain water can be collected.


Population in 1966 : 15
Population in 1967 : 3. All males. Chamorros.

Industry : Copra and pigs.

Landing : Poor. Only possible in good weather.

The population dropped in 1967 to just three males because the community leader was treating the people like slaves, and stealing from them, according to Father Sylvan.

To go from the ship to land, one had to use a smaller boat and hopefully manage to jump on the rocks and not land in the sea!


Population in 1966 : 48
Population in 1967 : 19

Mainly Chamorros.

Industry : Copra, pigs, some cattle. Over 60 pigs exported when ship came the last time. Has large citrus supply, but little is exported.

Landing : can be made at two villages, Perdido and Songsong, but only by jumping from vessel to the rocks. Guaranteed wet landing! Unsafe to do so in bad weather.


Pågan was the only northern island with an airstrip.

Population in 1966 : 89
Population in 1967 : 53

Mix of Chamorros and Carolinians. Even a Palauan here and there.

Industry : Has the greatest potential of all the northern islands, but, so far, money to be made is mainly from collecting brass shells from Japanese war remains in caves.

Only northern island with a dock for small boats.

Only northern island with an airstrip.

Only island with roads good enough for cars to use.

Pågan has two lakes and a natural hot spring.

The island could easily support 1000 people if developed.

But both volcanoes are active.

Catholic Chapel
Possibly on Pågan


Population in 1966 : 153
Population in 1967 : 100

Mainly Carolinian.

Most devout Catholic population.

Landing : One good beach possible to land in almost any weather.

Industry : Copra.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018


So how do you climb the pugua' tree when you have no ladder?

You make a gapet!

Betel nut trees (pugua') have thin trunks that grow straight up and are slippery. Many times lumut (moss) also grows on the trunks to make them even more slippery.

But the gapet is made with fibrous material, like the bark of a pågo tree or rope. Putting your feet inside the gapet while you straddle the trunk as you climb up keeps you from sliding down the trunk.

Here's one man showing how. His name is Miguel (Mike) San Nicolas, father of the Guam senator of the same name. Even modern, factory-made material can be used as a gapet, as this video shows.

Courtesy of Senator Michael San Nicolas

The gapet was used to climb coconut trees, too, as when collecting coconuts or checking on/taking down the tuba containers that hung there.

This gapet is made from the bark of the pågo tree that usually grows by the shore or river banks

Just make sure that the gapet has a secure, tight knot so that it doesn't come loose while climbing and down you go!

Thanks to Lorenzo Reyes