Thursday, June 28, 2018



"To the jealous," they say, "nothing is more frightful than laughter."

Your success is someone else's misery. They want what you have, and think that they don't have it.

"Why is he or she happy, and I am not?"

And so they try to subtract from your happiness by talking negatively about you or your success.

And so, the older people said, "The one who talks, is either jealous or wants what you have."

The frustration of the jealous, though, is that many times the happiness someone else has can not be taken away by any means. The jealous ends up feeling alone in a room full of smiles.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Yes, even in Chamorro we can be redundant. Saying the same thing twice.

Although it's something we can easily live with, it's good to explain the redundancy, so that people won't make the mistake of thinking they HAVE to write it the way they do, keeping the redundancy.

In Chamorro, we have a marvelous construct to make something a time or a place.

We simply add FAN in front of the word and then add -AN after the word. Doing so make the word a time period or a physical location.

For example, GUPOT or GUPUT means "to feast or party" or the noun "feast or party."

If you add FAN to GUPUT and -AN at the end of it, you get FANGUPUTAN.

That means, "The place of feasting or partying."

FAN/AN can also be used to call a period of time.

UCHAN means "rain" or "to rain." FANUCHÅNAN means "rainy season." The time when there is frequent rain.

Since FAN/AN do the job already, there is no need to add the word SAGAN (place of) when a word already has the FAN/AN prefix and suffix.

You can give the word SAGAN a break. The idea of "place of" is already handled by FAN/-AN.


In Chamorro, when the N is followed by an S or a CH, that combination becomes Ñ.


In the second picture above, FAN+SETBI becomes FAÑETBI.

In both cases, the -AN becomes a -YAN because it simply sounds better to the Chamorro ear to say FAÑOCHUYAN and FAÑETBIYAN rather than fañochuan or fañetbian.

Setbi, by the way, means "to serve, assist."

If there were a word fansetbisiyan, it would be based on the word setbisi, which I don't think exists in Chamorro. There is the word setbisio ("service") but that would then make it fañetbisiu'an.

Monday, June 25, 2018


In 1919, the Naval Government of Guam was building a new road from Hagåtña to Yoña . As the road crew ascended the hill past the Pågo River, they came upon eight latte stones. Only three of them were still standing erect; five of them lay on the earth. Some of them stood in the way of the planned road. Finding the pillars too heavy to be moved, what do you think they decided to do?

Yes, that's right. Blow them up with dynamite! Five or more centuries old. Just blow them up.

The American foreman, a Mr. Bell, set off the first explosion. Seconds later, his sleeve was ripped by flying pieces of rock.

Bell's Chamorro assistants saw this and told him they'd have no more part in blowing up latte stones. If Bell wanted them removed, he'd have to blow them up himself. Those flying slivers of rock were enough to convince the Chamorro workers that Americans had no guarantee of being immune to the revenge of the spirits. The workers knew that latte stones meant both graves and homes, for traces of both were usually found where latte stones were found. "The owner of this house is angry with us," the Chamorro workers said, "and they will manage to kill us all."

The explosions and road work eventually revealed a gold mine of historic remains. Male and female skeletons in abundance, sling stones, potsherds, a broken pestle, a polishing stone, adzes and scrapers. The bodies had been buried face down, their feet pointing east. The biggest skull had a large rock on top of it. Why was it there?

I don't know what became of the standing latte stones, the bones and the artifacts. I'm not even sure of the exact location of the site. It would sure be nice to have those answers, so we could possibly go back and see how we can undo some of the damage done by dynamite and steamrollers.

Source : The Guam News Letter

Thursday, June 21, 2018


Garapan Church in the 1930s

Before World War II, Spanish Jesuits staffed the Catholic missions of Saipan and Luta.

These Jesuit missionaries established on Saipan two organizations for boys and young men, just as they had been doing for many years in Spain. The aim of these two organizations was the religious formation of the members.

Age divided these two societies.

The Congregation of SAN ESTANISLAO was for boys who had made their First Holy Communion (7 years old) up to around 15 years old. It was named after Saint Stanislaus Kostka, a Polish Jesuit saint who died at the age of 17.

The Congregation of SAN LUIS GONZAGA was for boys older than 15, up until they got married. This group was named after Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, an Italian Jesuit saint who died at the age of 23. These two young, male saints were to be the model for the young males in these societies.

In Spain, members of the two groups were called Luises and Estanislaos. I don't know if they were called this in Saipan; all the members back then are now passed away! But it's possible they were, even if only on occasion by the Spanish priest.

Like any organization, they had their regular meetings and religious functions. In parts of Spain, the Luises met every third Sunday of the month for spiritual reflection and prayer.

These statues of San Luis Gonzaga and San Estanislao in the Mt Carmel Cathedral in Chalan Kanoa, Saipan are echoes of the past. Many people wonder, "Who are these saints and why are they here?" Now they have the answer with this blog post.


In April of 1932, the Spanish Jesuits in Saipan established the Congregation of San Luís Gonzaga in Garapan. Though the Chamorros were the majority, the Carolinians were well represented.

In time, every third Sunday of the month, the members attended the same Mass and received Holy Communion as a group. Mass was followed by a spiritual talk given just to the members. Gatherings usually ended with some kind of social time, such as a meal or snacks (merienda), once at the home of the Tomokane family.

April 1932

Juan Matsunaga
Daniel Matsunaga
David Reyes
José Muña
Joaquín Santos
Juan Mendiola
Jesús Dueñas
Jesús Tudela
José Villagómez
Manasés Matsunaga
Gregorio Arriola
Germán de León Guerrero
Tomás Agulto
Vicente Cruz
Godofredo Sánchez
Gregorio Castro
Pedro Camacho
Antonio Reyes
Carlos Torres
Luís Arriola
Efrain Matsunaga
Francisco Sablan
Benedicto Lizama
Vicente Capileo
Luís Santos
Elías Malite
Vidal Selepeo
Francisco Teregeyo
Albert Fitipual
Tomás Igimara
Aniceto Teregeyo
Alejandro Sablan
José Olopai
Tomás Ríos
Antonio Díaz
Vicente Cepeda
Gabriel Boyer
Francisco Borja
Martín Borja
Antonio Cabrera Camacho
Leonardo Cabrera
José Cepeda
Bonifacio Esteves
Vicente Babauta
Luís Santos
Juan Cepeda
Tomás Blas
Antonio Rogolifoi
Jesús Ríos
José de León Guerrero
Joaquín Díaz
Torcuato Borja
Alberto Tenorio
Enrique Lizama
Juan Limes
Gregorio Camacho
Vicente Palacios
Basilio Ogarto
José Fitial

From among these members, the following were office holders :

Jesús Ríos - Prefect
José de León Guerrero - Assistant
Joaquín Díaz - Secretary
Torcuato Borja - Treasurer
Alberto Tenorio - Warden
Enrique Lizama - Instructor

Juan Limes - Councilor
Gregorio Camacho - Councilor
Vicente Palacios - Councilor
Basilio Ogarto - Councilor
José Fitial - Councilor

Tuesday, June 19, 2018


In July of 1902, Vicente Taitano de Borja, a leading citizen of Sumay, took in a Chilean guest named David Soto.

Soto was a member of a sailing crew. There were other sailors from Chile with him on their stopover at Guam. For whatever reason, Borja and Soto became acquainted and Borja welcomed Soto into his home for three days. After weeks or months on the high seas, I'm sure several days of rest and entertainment on land was a welcome relief for Soto.

On the third day, a Sunday morning, at around 6AM, Soto asked Borja if he could borrow his boat. He wanted to go to Punta Piti, the usual place people landed when they wanted to go to Hagåtña, the capital city. Borja lent him the boat.

At 9AM, Soto was joined up now by another Chilean shipmate, one Miguel Mendoza. They left Punta Piti in Borja's boat, headed back to Sumay. Perhaps Soto wanted Mendoza to join him in Sumay for a day of fun or adventure.

Punta Piti (right) and A'papa (Cabras) (left)

Half-way to Sumay, a strong wind knocked the boat over, and both Soto and Mendoza fell into the waters of Apra Harbor. They struggled for two hours, hanging onto the capsized boat. After around 2 hours in this situation, Mendoza dove under the boat, we assume to try and push it back up from underneath. But he never resurfaced. Not long after, Soto managed to get the boat upright, though it was full of water. He got to shore and found a talayero, a man fishing with a talåya net, who took Soto in his small canoe to Piti to report the incident.

Naturally, the government authorities had to keep open the possibility that there was foul play, since they had only Soto's version of events. But the next morning, a government party found Mendoza's lifeless body washed up at Leyang, a location on Cabras Island (called A'papa in Chamorro). An autopsy performed later that day showed that there were no signs on Mendoza's body of a fight or struggle. There were only two superficial wounds, one of his left shoulder and another on his left ear, both easily caused by rubbing against coral rocks in the harbor.

Mendoza's decaying body was quickly buried at Pigo' Cemetery that same afternoon by Padre Palomo.

The only wrinkle in the story is that a third Chilean sailor, Francisco Carceles, was interviewed and said that Soto was a drunkard and a troublemaker, while Mendoza, the dead man, was not a drinker and not a troublemaker. But the physical evidence showed that, in Soto's case, being a drunkard and troublemaker do not necessarily make one a murderer.

Vicente Taitano de Borja

The boat owner, Vicente Taitano de Borja, was also interviewed. The judicial proceedings in those days were done in Spanish, with interpreters provided for those who needed one. Borja didn't need an interpreter; he understood Spanish. He testified that Soto had asked to borrow his boat, and that, up till then, Borja had not gotten his boat back. It was still in the harbor.

I hope he eventually got it back.

RIP Miguel Mendoza. A Chilean's bones reside in Pigo' Cemetery.


Born in Hagåtña, a resident of Sumay.

He was the son of Gregorio Guerrero de Borja and Alejandra Luján Taitano.

He was a Cabeza de Barangay (neighborhood leader) in Sumay for a while.

Monday, June 18, 2018


Damage in Hagåtña after the 1940 Typhoon

The worst typhoon to hit Guam since 1900 came to the island on November 3, 1940, just a year before the war. Winds got up to around 150 miles per hour, at a time when most of the island's homes were made of wood, tin or thatched roofs. Damages were estimated at $1.6 million in 1940 values.

The typhoon destroyed so much of the vegetation on the island that the cattle didn't have enough to eat. So, rather than see their cows die a slow death by starvation, many cattle owners butchered their cows and ate the meat.

In 1930, there were around 7000 head of cattle on Guam. Eleven years later, in 1941, there should have been more, but in fact there were only around 6000 head of cattle due to the killing of large numbers of cattle after the 1940 typhoon.

As an aside, notice how the U.S. newspaper makes sure to mention that all the "Americans" were safe and sound. The 20,000 Chamorros of Guam, at the time, were not American.

Friday, June 15, 2018


From a list of Chamorro government officials in the 1830s, we find the following officials for Sinajaña.

JUAN GOGO was the "Mayor" or Gobernadorcillo ("little governor").

ANTOLÍN MARCHENA was the second-in-command or Teniente.

JOSÉ TEDTAOTAO was the Agricultural Officer or Juez de Palmas, Sementeras y Animales (Judge of Palms, Fields and Animals).

MARIANO NAPUTI, AGUSTÍN QUIDACHAY and LUÍS ATOIGUE were the neighborhood leaders or Cabezas de Barangay (heads of the barangay). A barangay was a district or neighborhood.

Antolín Marchena is an interesting name.There is a Spanish last name Marchena as well as a Spanish town named Marchena and, sure enough, a captain named José Marchena is listed in the 1727 Guam Census as being in the Spanish company of soldiers. But this could mean he was from Spain or from Latin America, and even possibly (though less likely) the Philippines. He was married to María Salas. Quite probably it is their son José who appears in the 1758 Guam Census, married to Rosalía Tailaf. That spelling of the last name could be "off," but it seems pretty clear that it's a Chamorro name.

Antolín could be the son or grandson of José and Rosalía. By 1897, there is only one Marchena left on Guam, a woman named Josefa, quite possibly the daughter of Antolín. Josefa is married to Casildo Lajo and they have no children. The Marchena name died out.

As you can see, other than Marchena, all the surnames are Chamorro, as the more mixed Chamorro population (those with foreign blood) lived mainly in Hagåtña and those with less foreign blood (sometimes none at all!) lived in the outlying villages.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


This is one of those Chamorro words which makes your nåna say, "Heiiiiii!!!!" or may even win you a slap in the face (patmåda).

Chatfino' means "swearing, cursing, cussing, profanity" and the like. Fino' means "speech" and chat means "defective, imperfect, faulty, flawed" and so on. Chatfino' literally means "deficient speech."

Karåho is borrowed from the Spanish carajo and, depending on the country, it can be an extremely offensive word, or it can be less so.

In Chamorro, there is no literal meaning for karåho among modern Chamorro speakers. We just know it as an expletive, a word to express anger, whether it be a mild disappointment to a strong opposition.

Some older people think it comes from a mixture of the Spanish word cara (face) and the Chamorro possessive suffix -ho, meaning "my." "My face."

But the word we borrowed is purely Spanish and there are many theories where the word originated. It goes back at least to the 900s AD. Different regions of Spain pronounce the word differently and there is a Portuguese version, too. In many places, the word is used for the male organ.

Whatever the different origins and usage, in most cases, carajo is a taboo word. It shouldn't be said in polite company. Different places in the Spanish-speaking world soften the word to caramba, caray or carrizo.

Many Chamorros shorten karåho to karao. Even karao would have earned you a slap in the face from granny in the old days.

Because it is (traditionally) a very impolite word, many Chamorros also modify it karåmba, karånchot, karambola, kalachucha and other forms.

The fact that the Juan Malimångga comic strip felt free to use it in a newspaper shows that modern generations are not attuned to the gravity this word had for the older generations.

Monday, June 11, 2018


Ana Pangelinan Martínez Underwood
in 1938

Ana Pangelinan Martínez, who married the American former Marine James H. Underwood, was one of the most prominent Chamorro women on Guam in the first half of the 20th century.

Her husband was the U.S. Postmaster on Guam for many years, and her brother, Pedro Pangelinan Martínez, was a successful businessman. She lived at the center of Guam's social life, with one foot in the elite Chamorro world and the other foot in the U.S. Navy officers' social circle. She was thus involved in many events and affairs of the island. But she found one of her greatest opportunities to contribute to the community through the Church. She was close to the Spanish Capuchin missionaries and she was in charge of the religious education program at the Hagåtña Cathedral, educating hundreds of children every day after public school got out around lunch time. She was responsible for assigning the teachers to their respective classes.

Thus, Tan Ana was well-known among all classes of people, from her contemporaries down to the little children, since she took a very public role in the Church, to which 98% of the Chamorro people of Guam belonged.

It isn't any surprise, then, that a little children's song was composed which included her name. God knows who wrote the words, but everyone knew Tan Ana and she found a place in the song. As are many children's songs, it's playful.

Keep in mind that most Chamorros in those days pronounced Underwood AN - DA - UT (OOT).

In a court document, James Underwood is referred to as "Santiago Andaut," "Santiago" being "James" in Spanish and "Andaut" the Chamorro way of pronouncing "Underwood."

Dingaling muñeka, bestidu-ña ni asut.
Håye lumaksiye hao? Si Tan Ana'n Andaut!

Dingaling doll, its dress of blue.
Who sewed it for you? Tan Ana'n Underwood!

Friday, June 8, 2018


Apparently, to raise money for the American Red Cross on Guam in 1917, people could pay to see a movie (or was it a play?) and the proceeds went to that relief agency.

Officially began on Guam in 1916, the Red Cross started here right before America's entry into the First World War in 1917 and some of the first fundraising efforts went to support that cause.

The Chamorro leaflet says the following, keeping the original spelling :

Segundo Viajen Teatro
(Second Trip to the Theater)

pot y mas manmauleg na personaje
(for the best persons)

para y beneficion y Red Cross
(for the benefit of the Red Cross)

Gui Paingen Damengo Dia
(On the night of Sunday day)

26 de Agosto
(26 of August)

Ayuda i Red Cross yan unnamagufjao
(Help the Red Cross and entertain yourself)

al mismo tiempo
(at the same time)


Primera Clase 50 Centimos
(First Class 50 cents)

Segunda Clase 25 Centimos
(Second Class 25 cents)

Tiquet para este na teatro umabende guijeja mismo gui guima
(Tickets for this show will be sold right there at the house)

y teatro gui paingen Sabalo yan Damengo.
(of the theater on Saturday and Sunday evening.)


1. Chamorro borrows a lot from Spanish, especially when needing terms for things and concepts which were also imported from abroad, such as "theater." There are some Spanish loan words here which could have easily been replaced by indigenous terms, such as taotågue for petsonåhe. Both mean a "class of people," and Chamorro can and does use either term interchangeably. I man maolek na taotågue, or i man maolek na petsonåhe mean the same.

2. Then we see a borrowing from English. We can imagine that tickets were hardly needed, or used, in the Marianas during Spanish times. Our elders did borrow the Spanish word for "ticket," "billete," which would then be spelled in Chamorro biyete. But perhaps the word wasn't used much and so when tickets became more used when the Americans took over Guam, the people picked up the English word "ticket." Still, in this ad, "ticket" is spelled the Spanish way, using a Q instead of a K.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


A lot of people take for granted that the background scene on the official Guam Seal is Two Lovers Point, or Puntan Dos Amåntes. People look at it and go, "Yeah. Looks like Two Lovers Point." As just one example among many, a recent Fino' Chamorro column in a local newspaper clearly states that the background scene is Puntan Dos Amåntes.

But how do we know for sure it is?

My response is made in this video. But, after the video, I have provided some photos and maps to help explain things.

For handy reference :



From 1835, we see that the Hagåtña River broke into two directions. One flowed into the bay to the east, to the east of where the Paseo is today, more or less in the same spot the river empties today. The other flow went west towards Aniguak, emptying into the bay across from where the Corn Building used to be.

The same thing can be seen in this 1922 map above.

In this aerial photograph of Hagåtña during the American bombardment in 1944, we still see the river empty to the east of the channel. After the American return to Guam, the military bulldozed the destroyed city of Hagåtña and pushed the debris out to sea east of the channel, forming the present-day Paseo, in between the channel and the mouth of the river.

As the pre-war pictorial evidence suggests, the eastern mouth of the pre-war river flowed east of the channel and therefore east of the present-day Paseo. From this location, Two Lovers Point cannot be seen.

Monday, June 4, 2018


Desde ke un dingu ham
manmamamaisen i famagu'on,
"Malak måno si nåna?"
Ti siña hu oppe siha magåhet
na un traidute yo'.
Ennao mina' mama'tinas yo' estoria
na un susede un desgråsia
ni pumuno' lina'lå'-mo.

Ya hu konne' siha guato gi sementeyo
ya gi un nåftan nai ma tuge' i na'an
un difunta ni pareho na'an-miyo
man mamo'lo siha flores-ñiha.
Milak påpa' lago'-ñiha,
piniten guinaiya ni ti un merese.
Ya gi este fåtso na nåftan
nai ma håfot todo i anyulang
i fåtso na guinaiya-mo.

Ya på'go nai un bira hao mågi,
håfa mohon malago'-mo
na bai sangåne i famagu'on?
Ti siña lumå'la' ta'lo
i esta ma håfot na måtai.

Ever since you left us
the children have been asking,
"Where did mom go?"
I cannot answer them truthfully
that you betrayed me.
That is why I made up a story
that you had an accident
that took away your life.

And I took them there to the cemetery
and at a grave where a name was written
of a dead woman whose name is the same as yours
they put their flowers.
Their tears flowed down,
the pain of love which you don't deserve.
And at this false grave
are buried all the fragments
of your false love.

And now that you have come back,
what do you want
me to tell the children?
A dead person already buried
cannot live again.