Monday, July 30, 2018


Before 1983, it was a universal requirement that Catholic churches announce the foreseen wedding of a bride and groom for three consecutive Sundays (or Holy Days of Obligation) in both the bride's parish and the groom's parish. The reason for this was to discover any legal impediments that would prevent the wedding.

The idea was that a man might still have a wife living somewhere, unbeknownst to the priest. Announcing the intended wedding well in advance should, so the theory went, uncover any hidden prior marriages or whatever else might prevent the wedding. A bride and groom might even be first cousins but unaware of the fact, because one or even both of the two could be illegitimate, only the mother knowing who the biological father was. First cousins can get married, but only with the bishop's permission. Otherwise, the wedding could not proceed.

In the English language, these announcements are called marriage or wedding "banns," from an old English word meaning "proclamation." The names of the brides and grooms were announced at Mass, and anyone who might no a reason or reasons why the couple could not legally get married in Church had to inform the parish priest.

In the Marianas, these announcements were called the amonestasiones, a word borrowed from the Spanish. The word comes from the Latin word for "warn or advise."

Since many people could not read or write, the amonestasiones were read out by the priest during the announcements in church. In time, they became printed in the church bulletin and/or tacked to the bulletin board or doors of the church.

Here is a sample of an actual amonestasiones read out in Chamorro by a Spanish priest in 1925.

Hu na' fan manungo' todos :
(I make it known to everyone :)

na si Antonio Díaz Pérez, sottero, de 24 åños de edåt,
(that Antonio Díaz Pérez, single, aged 24 years,)

låhen Félix yan Josefa, mafañågo giya Agaña (Guam),
(son of Félix and Josefa, born in Agaña (Guam),)

yan si Estella Pangelinan Sablan, sottera, de 17 åños de edåt,
(and Estella Pangelinan Sablan, single, aged 17 years,)

hagan Mariano yan Elisa, mafañågo guine,
(daughter of Mariano and Elisa, born here,)

malago' umassagua, si Yu'us mediånte.
(wish to marry, God willing.)

Pot lo tånto, håye i tumungo' na guaha håf na impedimento,
(Therefore, whoever knows that some impediment exists,)

na pot guiya ti siña u ma selebra este na umakamo',
(by which this union cannot be celebrated,)

u sangåne yo' åntes de i 16 på'go na mes.
(will inform me before the 16th of this month.)

It was signed by Father Dionisio de la Fuente, the Jesuit priest of Garapan, Saipan.

The bride and groom in this case, Antonio and Estella, went on to get married. Antonio passed away in 1969. Estella lived for many more years, passing on in 1993.

Antonio Díaz and Estella Pangelinan Pérez


1. The Spanish priest rendered the names of the bride and groom in the Spanish style, which places the person's father's last name first, followed by the mother's. So Antonio Pérez Díaz's father was a Pérez and his mother was a Díaz. On Guam in 1920, the American Naval Government ordered everyone to follow the American custom of placing the father's last name last, so Antonio Pérez Díaz became Antonio Díaz Pérez.

2. Si Yu'us mediånte. This is the Chamorro form of the Spanish phrase "Dios mediante," literally meaning "by means of God," or "God willing." Man might want something, but if God doesn't want it to happen, it won't.


In this Spanish document, we see the word "bilangos," the plural of "bilango."

A branch of the Pérez family on Guam is known as the familian Bilånggo.

If you look at the picture above, the encircled word is bilangos, the plural of bilango, according to the Spanish way of spelling it.

You can see the word again in the picture below. Two words down from bilango is another word - Alguacil, spelled with a Z instead of a C as it is spelled nowadays. Both words - Bilango and Alguacil - meant an officer of the law. A law enforcement agent.

Back in the 1700s, the Spanish Government in the Marianas had a village position called the bilango. He was usually a member of the islands' troops who, by the late 1700s, were the descendants of the Spanish, Latin American and Filipino soldiers brought here earlier, many of whom married Chamorro women.

At the time, each village had a bilango, who was like a sheriff or police officer.

It's possible that an ancestor in this family was a bilango at some point, and he and his descendants were nicknamed Bilånggo.

The title for that position was later changed and the word bilango was completely dropped. But the nickname survived to this day.

Ignacio Cruz Pérez was nicknamed Bilånggo. Ignacio married Rosa Cárdenas. 

Their sons were Juan Cárdenas Pérez, who married Carmen Padilla Laguaña; and Jesús Cárdenas Pérez who married María Borja Santos.

Their descendants are still known as familian Bilånggo.

In a 1904 court document, Ignacio Cruz Perez is mentioned being better known as Belango (Bilånggo)


The Spaniards who set up the local government here knew the term bilango from the Philippines, where it was used already. So they simply used the same word here for the same village position as was used in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, a local chief's (datu) constable, sheriff or law enforcer was called a bilanggo, who often used his own house as a jail. That's why the word bilanggo also came to be known as "to be jailed" - ma bilanggo, or "jailed" - because the bilanggo apprehended you and put you in jail, often the bilanggo's own house. So bilanggo also meant a "prisoner, someone jailed."

So maybe the Chamorro person given the nickname Bilånggo had also been imprisoned, instead of being the law enforcer as was the original meaning of the word. Either way is possible. But if bilånggo had, at one time, meant "prisoner" in Chamorro, as well as in the various Filipino languages, that meaning did not last. In fact, the word bilånggo didn't last at all in Chamorro, except as a family nickname whose meaning also became lost.

Some people, like the author Jean-Paul Potet, speculate that the word bilanggo used in the Philippines actually comes from India, by way of Tamil, one of the many language spoken in India. In Tamil, vilangku means "fetters," or "chains." That, in turn, might come from another Indian language, Malayalam where belunggu or lunggu means "prisoner."

Thursday, July 26, 2018


The word is still "in the books," but hardly ever heard in conversations today.

Failaye means "to betray." According to some old dictionaries, it can also mean "cunning, deceit" or a crime done with forethought, as in premeditated murder which would be "failaye pumuno'."

Some of the older dictionaries spell it failahye, with an H. In the photo above, of a document written in 1902, the H is missing, but, in those days, people spelled in a very inconsistent way. Since it's more usual to forget a letter than to put one in that doesn't belong, and since three very old dictionaries (1865, 1918 and 1932) all have the H, I reckon failahye is the more accurate spelling, matching the pronunciation of the word in those days.

Påle' Román (1932) says that failahye can be used to describe interrupted sleep. Hu failahye i maigo'-ho. All those interruptions, waking one up, is a betrayal of the desire to sleep long.

The fafailahye is the traitor and finailahye is the noun form for "treason, betrayal."

Failahye was replaced in conversation by the people themselves with the Spanish loan words traidot (traitor) and traiduti (to betray). Fa'baba is a Chamorro word than can mean "to betray," but it has a wider meaning, including "to fool, trick, cheat, pretend, defraud."

In 1902, there was a man named Antonio Blas who was nicknamed Antonio'n Failaye.


Failahye seems very close to the word fa'aila', which means "to accuse." Later, the word took on more meaning, such as "to report on." I wonder if there is a connection between failahye (to betray) and fa'aila' (to accuse). Even fa'aila' has been forgotten, most people saying sokne or akusa for "accuse." Sokne really means more than "to accuse," but that's a topic for a future post.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018


The Masons are a fraternal organization which, to this day, Catholics are forbidden to join.

That didn't stop Masons from coming to Guam, nor Chamorros from joining the Masons in small numbers before the war. Generally, Chamorros who did join the Masons before the war stopped practicing Catholicism.

There may have been Spanish Masons in the Marianas during Spanish times, as well, though there was no lodge in the Marianas until the American Masons opened one on Guam before the war.

But that didn't stop one Catholic Chamorro couple, Vicente Roberto Herrero and his wife, the former Dolores Martínez Pangelinan, from becoming interested in a Masonic ring. Herrero wasn't a Mason, but a ring, especially if it were made of gold, had economic value, and Herrero somehow acquired one. The Herreros ran a store on the ground floor of their Hagåtña house and someone had stolen the ring, among other numerous items, when the store was somehow infiltrated undetected.


And then, in 1902, a US Marine stationed on Guam, William Dalby from Indiana, walked into the Herrero store looking to buy handkerchiefs. Dolores studiously observed Dalby's hands on the counter. Dolores called to her husband to come over. Vicente looked at Dalby's hands and saw a Masonic ring on it. "That ring belongs to us," Vicente said.

Dalby replied, "I bought it from another soldier. It's a Masonic ring for the 10th degree in the United States." Herrero answered, "It's for the 13th degree, Spanish Masonic lodge." Well, Dalby said he'd go and get the American Marine he bought it from.

Alvin Acree from Virginia walked in and said that he had bought the ring from a Chamorro. He wasn't totally sure it was a Chamorro, but he thought so. He described the man as being short, of dark color and having hunched shoulders. The man couldn't speak much English; only a few words.

The court summoned José Taitano de León Guerrero, a silversmith, who testified that he had seen the ring in the possession of Herrero since around 1897, as Herrero had brought it to him for an appraisal. Another witness, Nicolasa Cruz Santos, a seamstress who used to work for Herrero, said she, too, had seen the ring in the possession of the Herreros some years back when she was working for them.


Somehow, perhaps just from the physical description, or maybe because someone informed the authorities, a man named José was identified as a suspect. Because his family is still around, and rather numerous, I'll just keep it at José. That's what happens when the author is local and the island is small and interconnected!

José completely denied having anything to do with the ring. He didn't know who it belonged to nor anything else about it. He did say he was at the barracks (probably the Marine barracks in Hagåtña) and saw a Filipino young man named Jabe (or Tabe or Fabe, the first letter is not clear). Jabe was laughing and José asked why. Jabe said, "I just tricked an American! I told him I'm Chamorro but I am not!" José was certainly insinuating that this Jabe was the real suspect.


But, the authorities created a lineup, the first I've come across in Guam's documentation. Four men were brought into the room and made to stand shoulder to shoulder, their backs against the wall. Besides the suspect José, there was another José, surnamed Cruz, and then a Pedro Mendiola Delgado and a Nicolás Garrido Iriarte. Then, four American Marines who claimed to have been there when the Chamorro man sold the ring to Acree were brought in, one by one so that one man's answer wouldn't influence another. Three of the four identified José as the man they saw selling the ring to Acree. One of the four couldn't identify any of the four men at all in the line-up.

Then the judge did an interesting thing. Out of sight of the four Marines, the judge had José change shirts with Iriarte and changed up the order of the line. Then he brought in the four Marines again, one by one. The same three Marines still identified the suspect José, while the fourth one still couldn't tell which of the four the man was.


So, the charge stuck with José and he eventually paid the price for it. The local officials of Hagåtña were asked to testify as to José's character. They all said he started out with a good reputation. He was known as an industrious man, always working hard at his ranch to feed his family. And then....gambling. Card games, cockfights. He lost a lot of money and sold possessions to cover his debts.

Monday, July 23, 2018


Early 1800s

From a list of Chamorro government officials in the 1830s, we see the names of the officials for the barrio or district of Aniguak :

IGNACIO SOYOÑA - he was the Gobernadorcillo, meaning "little governor" who acted like a town mayor.

PEDRO TAITAGUE - he was the Teniente, or second-in-command.

DIEGO TAITAGUE - he was the Agricultural Officer, or Juez de Palmas, Sementeras y Animales (Judge of Palms, Fields and Animals).

The neighborhood leaders, or Cabezas de Barangay, were :



Every single Aniguak official has an indigenous Chamorro surname, not a Spanish (Cruz, Santos, Pérez) nor Filipino (Pangelinan, Manibusan) surname. The Hispanic and Filipino settlers lived mainly in the city proper of Hagåtña. The outlying villages of Hagåtña (Aniguak, Mongmong, Sinajaña and others) were almost entirely populated by the more indigenous, less mixed-blood Chamorros.

SOYOÑA more than likely comes from the word sohyo, which means "to encourage, persuade, influence" and the like. Many indigenous names end with the suffix -ña (Mangloña, Megofña, Laguaña) and could mean either "his/her/its" or "more than someone else." Or adding -ña to a word could have a meaning no one knows anymore!

TAITAGUE more than likely comes from the word tahgue, which means "to replace, to take the place of, to succeed someone." Tai means "without." Taitague could mean "lacking a replacement, someone to replace him or her." Many indigenous names begin with the prefix tai (Taitano, Taimanglo, Taitingfong).

AFLAGUE might have something to do with falågue, which means "to run toward or after." The prefix A means "together." Aflague could mean "to run towards each other" or "after each other."

MATERNE is sometimes spelled Matednge and gives us a clue as to its meaning. Totnge means "to light a fire" or "to feed a fire." Matetnge (Materne) could mean "was inflamed" or "ignited."

Thursday, July 19, 2018


In 1910, Stockton, California was a growing city of 23,000 people. Just ten years before, the city had 17,000 people, so people were moving to Stockton, were jobs could be found in agriculture, industry and transportation.

Among them were some Chamorros from Guam. There were still commercial ships, some of them whalers though in decreasing number, that passed through Guam in the 1890s, and some Chamorro men joined the crew. From there they landed in Hawaii, the US West Coast and other places.

These four Chamorros appear in the 1910 Census in Stockton, all living together at 242 South San Joaquin Street in a boarding house run by James Hammond :

Ben Santos, 21 years old. He arrived in California in 1898. He worked as a cook in a tamale factory.

Joe Armandola, age 32 years. He arrived in California in 1898. He worked as a tamale maker. I wonder if his surname was really Mendiola.

Bob Santos, 30 years old. He, too, arrived in California in 1898. He was a butcher.

Joe Gros, 25 years old. He arrived in California in 1894. He was a cook on a steamer. If he really was 25 years old in 1910, then it means he arrived in California at age 9 years! Not impossible, but that is awfully young to leave home. But.....people often just guessed their ages and were often notoriously off from their actual ages. Gros is not a surname found on Guam, and could be a shortcut of Guerrero, or a nickname of some other origin.

Chamorros seems to have found jobs as tamale makers. In other records, I found Chamorro tamale makers in San Francisco in the early 1900s. The tamales made were Mexican, using corn husks rather than banana leaves as wrappers, as is done the Chamorro way. Despite this and other differences between Mexican and Chamorro tamales, the basic idea and ingredient (corn meal) were the same.

Chamorro seamen often got new names and went by nicknames, as well, so don't be surprised by names like Armandola and Gros, and they all had nicknames (Ben, Joe, Bob) rather than Vicente, Jose and Roberto.

In 1910, all four Chamorro men were single, but maybe in time some or all of them got married. It's hard to track them down in future censuses because they sometimes changed their names or put down Spain or the Philippines as their home country. This is because the Marianas had been under Spain and had been a province of the Philippines under Spain.

The boarding house they lived in housed around 30 people, men and women, from all over the world. When in close proximity to Mexicans, Chamorros in the US in those days tended to associate and even identify with Mexicans than with other races (or with the Portuguese in Hawaii), because they really did a lot in common at the time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Obviously, it wasn't always called Bird Island.

What did Chamorros call it before the English name became prominent?

Isletan Maigo' Fåhang.

A list of Saipan place names

The fåhang is known in English as a "noddy tern." These birds favor coastal cliffs and small rocks or islets along the shore.


Isleta means islet, or small island. The word is borrowed from Spanish.

Maigo' means "sleep" or "asleep" and it probably refers to the fåhang using this rock to rest and sleep at.

Apparently the Japanese, who ruled Saipan from 1914 to 1944, had their own name for the island. Tsukimi, which means "moon viewing."

Monday, July 16, 2018


...instead of saying "the funeral," you say, "THE DEAD!"

~ Where are you going?
~ To the dead!

A statesider or some other English-speaking person not used to Chamorro will assume the person is going to a dead person, not a funeral or wake. Of course, there is no funeral or wake without a dead person!

This could be another example of "English the Chamorro way," except that we also say the same thing in Chamorro.


"I'm going to the dead,"in English, is based, I think, on our Chamorro way of speaking and thinking.

We do say in Chamorro, "Bai hu falak i matai," which literally means, "I will go to the dead." But what we mean is that we're going to a funeral or wake.

Måtai can be both an adjective (e.g. "The dog is dead.") or a noun (e.g. "Don't disrespect the dead.")

It can also be the verb "to die." Kumekematai i taotao. "The person is dying."

So we say in Chamorro things like,

Håye matai-miyo? Literally, "Who is your dead?" but what we mean is, "Who in your family or party has died?"

Guaha matai-ho agupa'. Literally, "I have a dead tomorrow," but what we mean is, "I have a funeral or wake tomorrow."


Finatai means "death." So we can say, "Asta i finatai-ho," or "Until my death," but we can also say, "Asta ke måtai yo'," or "Until I die," or "Until I am dead."

Bela means "wake." It is borrowed from the Spanish word vela, meaning the same. A bela really means an overnight vigil with the dead body, which is why in English it is called a wake, because one stays awake all night. But I do hear some people call the viewing of the deceased during the day a bela.

Entiero means the funeral Mass or ritual. This is also borrowed from Spanish, and the root word here is tierra, meaning "earth." Spanish entierro most exactly means "burial," that is, to bury in the earth (tierra).

Håfot means "to bury" and hinafot means "burial." Fanhafutan is an indigenous term for cemetery, in addition to the Spanish loan word sementeyo (from cementerio) or kåmpo sånto ("holy land or field," from campo santo). Naftan, or "grave," is probably a contraction of fanhafutan.

Responso are the prayers over the deceased's body.

Father Ibáñez in 1865 says that onras also means "funeral," meaning the honors (onra) paid to the deceased.

Thursday, July 12, 2018


This Chilean peso was probably used in the Marianas at one time

During the 1800s, various kinds of money from more than one country were used in the Marianas as legal tender. Because of the abundance of silver in the Spanish colonies of Latin America, many coins came from Mexico, Chile and Peru. Then, because of the many whaling ships (and others) who came to the Marianas from England, the U.S., Australia and other places, coins from many parts of the world entered circulation in the Marianas, too.

In 1902, a businessman on Guam named Vicente Roberto Herrero and his wife Dolores Martinez Pangelinan had quite an assortment of those coins, put in an iron box in their general store, located on the ground level of their Hagåtña home. There was coinage from Spain, Chile, Peru, Mexico, England, the United States, Germany (perhaps via the Northern Marianas, in German hands since 1899) and even China.

One day that year, the Herreros discovered that their money was missing. Someone had entered the home during the night or early morning and run off with the money.

It didn't take long, though, before a man was fingered as the primary suspect. Why? He started throwing Chilean pesos around island.

In May of 1900, the American Governor had declared that only the Mexican peso (or its equivalent in U.S. currency) was legal tender on Guam. So, the Chilean peso was put in drawers or boxes, not to be used in commercial buying and selling anymore. Witnesses testified that by 1902 they rarely saw Chilean pesos in circulation on Guam.

So when this man started gambling with Chilean pesos and sending his son to buy groceries at stores with Chilean pesos, people started to notice. The man in question was quite the gambler, showing up at the Santa Rosa fiesta in Hågat to play card games for money, and playing also in other villages and at the cock fight.

It took the court a year, during which time the man in question spent some months in detention, to decide that the evidence against the suspect was weak. He was finally let go.


Tuesday, July 10, 2018


The Cruz Family singers put new lyrics and story to an old melody, Eskatmina Silensio na Puenge. Another song about false love, false expectations, false dreams.

An un tulaika i hinasso-mo
(If you change your mind)
ya åhe' ti para un dingo yo'
(and no, you will not leave me)
nene nå'e 'u mågi ni guinaiya-mo
(baby give me your love)
ya un dalak yo' para iya håme.
(and come with me to our place.)

Hu nå'e hao alahås-mo
(I gave you jewelry)
ai yan salappe'-mo
(and money)
lao ti este ha' siña bai hu cho'guiye hao.
(but these aren't the only things I can do for you.)
Nene nå'e 'u mågi ni guinaiya-mo
(Baby give me your love)
ya un dalak yo' para iya håme.
(and come with me to our place.)

Pues pine'lo-ko na ti dåkon i guinife
(So I thought that dreams don't lie)
sa' tåya' na hu susede taiguine
(because I never went through this)
i para un pångon yo' gi maigo'-ho
(that you would wake me in my sleep)
sa' malago' yo' bai kuentuse.
(because I want to talk.)

Gi annai makmåta hao un oga'an sen tåftaf
(When you woke up one morning very early)
ya hu hahasso i guinifi-ho
(and I remembered my dream)
pues pine'lo-ko na magåhet na gaige
(so I thought that it was true)
si nene nai gi fion-ho.
(that baby was by my side.)

I ha ofrese 'u na palåbras gi kattå-ña
(The words she offered me in her letter)
ha na' sen pinite korason-ho
(really hurt my heart)
sa' ha ofrese 'u na para bai in assagua
(because she proposed that we be married)
lao mandagi eyo na kontråta.
(but it was a false agreement.)

Pues pine'lo-ko na ti dåkon i guinife
(So I thought that dreams don't lie)
sa' tåya' na hu susede taiguine
(because I never went through this)
i para un pångon yo' gi maigo'-ho
(that you would wake me in my sleep)
sa' malago' yo' bai kuentuse.
(because I want to talk.)

Monday, July 9, 2018


An tumåtånges i patgon
nå'e na'-ña entot tupu.
Yanggen sige ha' de tumånges,
håtsa hulo' ya un na' susu.

(When the child is crying
give him a piece of sugar cane to eat.
If he keeps on crying,
lift him up and breast feed him.)

Now, I could be wrong but I don't think this verse is to be taken literally.

I'm not sure it's good to give an infant a piece of fibrous sugar cane that s/he can choke on! Even with mommy watching, I think it would be a challenge to get a baby to just suck the juice and not swallow the fiber. And chew with what teeth? No; I think the verse is meant solely for entertainment value.

Entot means a cut-off piece, a fragment. It comes from the word utot, which means to cut off.

Tupu (or tupo) is sugar cane. It is not to be confused with tupu' (tupo'), which has a glota at the end, which means a water well.

Thursday, July 5, 2018



The Spanish have a saying.

"Quien nombre no tenía, García se ponía." "Whoever lacks a name, is given the name García."

Back in the days when people were beginning to adopt family names or surnames in great numbers, let's say around the year 1400 or so, García was chosen by or given to so many in Spain that García came to be, and still is, the most common surname in Spain. Thus the saying, "If you don't have a surname, we'll call you García."

A million a half people in Spain today have García as a paternal last name. Another million and a half have García as their maternal name. García is so common that almost 80,000 people in Spain are García García, from both mom and dad's sides. The next most common surname (Fernández) doesn't even reach a million.

So, as the Spaniards went out into the world, to their conquests in America, Asia and Africa, the García name went with them. García ranks very high in places like Mexico and Argentina, and it is the most common name among Hispanics in the United States.

Closer to the Marianas, García is in the top ten most common surnames in the Philippines.

But when we come to our own islands, the Marianas, García doesn't make even the top twenty. In 1930, there were just a little less than 60 people on Guam with the surname García, and that includes women who were married to García men. There were more Gumataotaos than Garcías on Guam at the time.


And yet, it seems as if the García surname had the possibility of becoming a huge family on Guam, as far back as 1727. In that Census, there is a García family listed in the roll of Spanish soldiers, which meant that the names listed could be Mexican and other Latin American, as well.

The head of that family was Lázaro García, married to Juana de Cárdenas. They had three boys (Feliciano, Ignacio and Dionisio); enough, it seems, to plant the name rather well in these islands. But in the 1758 Census, only Feliciano is still listed among the sons of Lázaro (also named in the 1758 Census) and he is married to a Chamorro, Ignacia Taitiguan.

In 1758, there are new Garcías unseen in the earlier census. Two are Filipino, and one is listed under the Spaniards who could have been a son of Lázaro, but maybe not. There is also an orphaned male with the last name García. The two Filipino Garcías are incidentally married to Chamorro women. All these males with the last name García could have established a large number of García descendants, but by the 1800s, the number of Garcías on Guam remained small.

IN 1897

In what I call "modern Guam," the Guam about which we have much more information and can make clearer connections within families, there seems to have been three main lines of Garcías at the turn of the century in 1900, based on the 1897 Census and birth records from the early 1900s.

Two of those three lines, the García-Lujáns and the García-Manibusans, seem to date back to the Marianas in the early 1800s and could be descendants of the even earlier Garcías of the 1700s, either Spanish or Filipino in origin or both.


There was an Alberto Rojas García but apparently he had no descendants.


A Francisco Luján García from Hagåtña married Gertrudes Aquino. His nickname was Pikos. Their line continued and they have descendants to this day.


A Justo Manibusan García also from Hagåtña married Ángela de la Cruz. One of their sons married Magdalena Pereira Atoigue, and they have descendants. A daughter, Antonia, married Félix Martínez Camacho, and they were the parents of former Governor Carlos García Camacho and the grandparents of former Governor Félix Pérez Camacho.


García-León Guerrero

A Santiago García from Pampanga in the Philippines moved to Guam at least by the 1850s and married a Chamorro woman named María de León Guerrero.

Their son Demetrio married Isabel San Nicolás and they have many descendants. Demetrio's signature is seen at the top of this post.

Demetrios' grandson, through his son Antonio who married Ana Cabrera Francisco, was Jesús Francisco Cabrera who was one of the casualties on the US Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.


A possible son of Santiago and María was Antonio León Guerrero García, and he married Gertrudes Villagómez Cabrera.


Today, there are many more Garcías from many different origins. Filipino Garcías continue with new lines started, such as Jesse García who married Amparo (Paning) Díaz Gumataotao, and Tomás García who married Engracia Palomo, Father Pat García's grandparents. Jesse's brother Bert García has part-Chamorro grandchildren.

Then there are Hispanic Garcías. Juan Sáenz García, from Mexico, was stationed in the military on Guam before the war and married María Garrido Eustaquio. They had children who gave them descendants to this day. In Saipan, Juan García originally from Cuba but then in the U.S. military, married Fermina Sablan Pangelinan, and they had children and now descendants. Not too long ago, Thomas García, whose family hails from Enseñada, Mexico, had a child with Lynn Borja from Guam and another with Persha Mendiola, also from Guam.

And, given, the presence of Chamorros today all over the place, there are bound to be new lines of Chamorro or part-Chamorro Garcías that we're only beginning to know about.

So, while the García name was not as numerous among Chamorros as it was among Spaniards, Hispanics and Filipinos, little by little there are more and more of them as time progresses.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


Yes, fake news is not just a modern phenomenon. It happened on Guam in 1902.

On the 9th of November, in the morning, the Court House in Hagåtña was the recipient of an anonymous letter, delivered by unseen hands.

The letter claimed to be from a fisherman who was casting his talåya at Alupang Island on the night of November 5. He said he saw, in the darkness, a little canoe approach the island, while he stayed quiet and hidden. A man and a woman landed on what little beach the island has. The man told the woman he was going to kill her. The woman asked for pardon. The fisherman author states that he recognized both persons as lovers living in the same house, but unmarried.

The letter goes on to state that the woman was killed and buried at the beach in Alupang.

Well, despite the questionable origin of the letter, the court officials decided they had to act. They formed a group to go out to Alupang and investigate. Those participating were the judge, Pancracio Palting; the island attorney, Tomás Anderson Calvo; the bailiff Lucas Camacho and the American Naval forensic physician, Dr HM Tolfree. Seeing the little island for themselves, they noticed nothing to suggest a murder nor a burial. There was only a little bit of sand that could have been dug up for a grave, the rest of the islet being made of hard coral rock. There was no trace of a freshly dug grave.

Returning to Hagåtña, the court decided to make a public announcement, not specifying a murder, but the receipt of a letter making a serious claim of a crime. The announcement insisted that the author of the anonymous letter make himself known within two days. The two days came and went, and no one showed up claiming to be the author. An announcement was made giving the author another three days. Still, no one showed up.

Alupang (or Alupat) Island today

The court's last move was to call on Pedro María Duarte y Andújar, a Spaniard married to a Chamorro who had been a government official under the Spanish administration and who kept working for the government even under the American flag, to act as a handwriting expert. Duarte was asked to study the writing and suggest a possible author, comparing the writing to the many documents kept in the island's archives.

It took Duarte some days, but he finally wrote a report, stating that he believed the letter was written by a Chamorro, but one with a good knowledge of Spanish. The grammar was basically good but the spelling was not. He suggested that the spelling was bad on purpose, to hide the identity of the author. Based on the handwriting he knew of many local people, he suggested three names as possible author of the anonymous letter.

Part of the Actual Letter written in Spanish
The grammar was OK, the spelling was not

All three people were brought to court for official questioning. All three denied being the author and of having any knowledge whatsoever about it.

The three suspects were let go. It was all a hoax, but one that cost the government a week or more of investigation.

As Duarte said, the perpetrator either wanted to distract the court from actual business, which may have included a case against the author, or to play a humorless joke on the government.

(Youtube : PlanetGuam)

Monday, July 2, 2018


The wharf at Punta Piti 
Early 1900s

What major, life-changing event in the history of Guam happened at Piti?

Spanish rule over Guam ended at Piti on June 21, 1898.

Two hundred and thirty years of Spanish rule over Guam came to a screeching halt in a matter of hours that day, and it happened at Piti.

It didn't happen at Hagåtña, the capital city. It didn't happen in Apra Harbor or at Sumay. It happened in Piti. Specifically, not far from the dock that made Punta Piti (Piti Point) important in those days.

Apra Harbor, of course, was where almost all ships anchored when coming to Guam. Sumay was an important village for that reason. One could get on a smaller boat and head into Sumay. But, if one wanted to go to the capital, Hagåtña, people in their smaller boats headed towards Punta Piti. It was faster for them to get a ride into Hagåtña from Piti, rather than take a bull, karabao or horse-driven carriage from Sumay.

So when the American Captain Glass came into Apra Harbor on June 20, 1898 with orders to capture the Spanish officials on Guam, Piti was drawn into historic events.

Glass was in his own ship, the USS Charleston, but he was accompanied by three transport ships. These American ships had been spotted sailing down the western coast of Guam, past Hagåtña, and some Spanish military officers and other private citizens went down to Piti to observe the arrival. In time, they got on boats and went out to meet the Charleston and found out, for the first time, that war existed between the US and Spain. The Spanish officers were ordered to deliver a letter to Spanish Governor Juan Marina, in which the surrender of the island to Captain Glass was demanded. Much later that day, as the day was coming to a close, a letter from Marina arrived, declining the order to come on board the Charleston, and requesting Glass to come ashore to meet Marina.

Spanish Governor of the Marianas Juan Marina y Vega
In 1897 while in Cavite, the Philippines

The following day, on June 21, an American contingent under the command of Lieutenant William Braunersreuther went ashore at Piti. There, Braunersreuther met Governor Marina and gave him thirty minutes to surrender himself to the American forces. Marina was placed under US custody and transported to one of the American ships. The Spanish and Chamorro soldiers were ordered to appear at Piti not later than 4 o'clock that afternoon.

In compliance with this order, the 54 Spanish and 52 Chamorro soldiers gathered at Piti on the afternoon of June 21 and were relieved of their weapons. The Spanish soldiers were transported to the American ships, and the Chamorro soldiers were told to return home to their families. The next day, June 22, the four American ships left Guam with all the Spanish military officers and soldiers to be taken to Manila. Spanish rule over Guam had come to an end on the shores of Piti.

Spanish rule ended over Guam. But Spanish rule would not end in the Northern Marianas till the following year, in 1899, since the US wanted only Guam. Spain held on to the Northern Marianas for another year till Spain sold them to Germany.


If you look at old maps of the dock at Punta Piti, it was located right across Cabras Island, which was separated, at the time, from the main island. This map below is from before World War II.

Here is an even older map, showing Piti's older location.

And here is an even older map, showing the location of the pantalán, or pier, at Punta Piti.

If we look at a modern, aerial view of this same area seen in the two old maps above, here's what we find :

So the older location of Piti, and the location of the dock in which area the surrender of Spanish power to the Americans in 1898 took place, was in the area of Atlantis, in the area circled above.

Here's what the place looks like today.

It was somewhere in this vicinity, near today's Atlantis tourist office in Piti, that Spanish rule over Guam came to an end. One hundred and twenty years ago.