Saturday, June 29, 2019


Around the 1920s

How times have changed.

Generally speaking, most Chamorros today would never consider working as a domestic servant.

But, in times past, many Chamorros were just that. And not just to foreigners, either. Many Chamorros worked as domestic servants for other Chamorros. The male servants were called muchåcho and the female muchåcha, words borrowed from Spanish for "boy" and "girl."

One indication how Chamorro attitudes about domestic service changed over time is the connotation those two words took on. The words muchåcho and muchåcha were considered too negative, especially if said in front of the servants, that people would called them lahi-ho or hagå-ho, "my son" or "my daughter," instead.

Working as a domestic servant had its advantages. Usually there was payment in cash, something more people came in contact with under the Americans but to which not all had access. Sometimes the employer would buy the servant work clothes. Servants could eat what was available in the house (later, of course). In general, by being in the home, office or environment of the boss, the servant could benefit from that environment.

When you worked for someone more affluent, who traveled abroad, you could, too!

In 1921, the Governor of Guam, Captain Ivan C. Wettengel, and his wife, wanted to travel to Manila. Accompanying them was First Sergeant Otto Cox, in the Marines but soon to retire. Cox was accompanied by his Chamorro wife, the former Dolores Borja of Sumay. With a bigger group of military and civilian passengers, they boarded the Army transport ship the USAT Thomas, which frequently stopped by Guam on its Pacific journeys.

The USAT Thomas docked in Manila in the 1920s

But the Wettengels and Coxes also brought their Chamorro domestic servants with them on the ship to Manila.

The maid of Mrs Wettengel, the Governor's wife, was Mrs. Juana Cruz. It's a common name, so I can't say which Juana Cruz she was in 1921.

The servant of Otto Cox was Miss T.A. Charfauros. I do not know what T stands for. Tomasa? Teresa? Teodora? Or the other dozen or so possibilities. I've looked through the 1920 Guam census for a single woman named Charfauros with a first name beginning with T.  I can't find one.

I can imagine Juana being told, "Pack our bags, Juana. We're going to Manila!"

showing Juana Cruz and TA Charfauros

Besides these Chamorro servants, Gaily Roberto Kamminga, and a Chamorro Navy man, Enrique R. Quitugua, were also sailing to Manila.

Juana Cruz and TA Charfauros were not the first, nor the last, Chamorro domestic servants to travel abroad, thanks to their employment. A former Spanish Governor of the Marianas and his wife even took their Chamorro maid with them back to Spain, where she lived and died.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Picture of the Foxhound etched on a tooth of a sperm whale captured by the ship
The ship visited Guam twice in 1835

Apra Harbor was very busy in the early 1800s, with as many as half a dozen whaling ships anchored there at one time.

A Spanish ship, the Pronto, sailed from Manila to Sydney, Australia, in 1835, selling sugar, rice, cigars, molasses and various things besides. Before coming to Australia, the Pronto had stopped by Guam and reported the following whaling ships visiting the island at around the same time :

Walmer (British)

Cheviot (British)

Foxhound (British)

Samuel Enderby (British)

Henrietta (British)

Superior (American)


Due to the arrival of significant numbers of whaling ships at Apra from 1820 onwards, the once-abandoned village of Sumay was repopulated mainly by people from Hagåtña moving down there.

Thursday, June 20, 2019


View of Tinian from Anson's ship in 1742

Hopefully it is by now well-known by my readers that Tinian was used, during the major part of the Spanish period, for cattle raising and a few other animals.

The island is, in the main, quite flat and suitable for animal grazing.

Under Spain, Tinian was also depopulated, so the entire island could be dedicated to agriculture and animal husbandry. The sale of Tinian beef, pork and other farm produce helped fund the Spanish government and the care of lepers and other needy people in Guam.

Since Tinian itself had no population, the Spanish government employed Chamorro workers from Guam, often single men who could work on Tinian for a couple of years then return to Guam, replaced by a new batch of workers repeating the cycle. Towards the end of the 1800s, Carolinian workers were brought in, but that didn't last long.

Thanks to an English shipwreck survivor, we have a bit of a description of life in Tinian in 1835, lived by these Chamorro workers from Guam.

The survivor, whose name was William Reney, sailed in a boat with five other shipmates after his ship had crashed in the Kiribati (Gilbert) Islands, some two thousand miles away. When they spotted Tinian a month later, they had depleted their meager store of food and water. They were overjoyed to find land!

They arrived at night so it wasn't until dawn's light that they met human beings on Tinian. The men described themselves as being "exiles" from Guam. I'm not sure what was exactly meant by the term. Were they found guilty of some crime on Guam and sentenced to work the Tinian farms as punishment? Or was the term "exile" misapplied or misunderstood by either party? In any case, Reney met men from Guam. He doesn't say how many men he met, but the impression given is not too many; certainly not in the hundreds. From other documents, we can estimate some thirty or forty men, more or less.

These workers are under the command of a sergeant, sent from Guam as well. He had the power to punish any man by flogging. The men lived in little huts. There is water from a well, and the water, though brackish, is drunk. As an alternative, the men make and drink their own tuba (coconut toddy).

Today's Tinian Cattle

Tinian was abundant with fruit. Coconuts, oranges, breadfruit, sweet potatoes and more. The workers raised cattle, all milky white, and pigs, and many of these ran wild. Well-trained dogs were employed to hunt down wild pigs. Sometimes twenty to thirty pigs were caught in a day. They were cut open and emptied of the inner organs then hung up over a fire to burn off the hair.

One man was in charge of making salt from sea water. Then the others would salt the meat. Three times a year, a vessel from Guam would come up to collect the dried, salted meat to take back to Guam, and to supply the Tinian workers with whatever supplies might be needed.

Though no priest regularly lived on Tinian, the Chamorro men got up every morning at the sound of a horn, and gathered as one body to say their morning prayers. Around 9PM at night, they gathered for prayer one more time, then went to sleep.

Reney's report makes no mention of women. Unless each man was able to bring his own wife and children to Tinian, it would be dangerous, if experience is any teacher, to have a small number of women on an island inhabited by that many men. No wonder, then, that the men from Guam served in Tinian only for a few years then went home, either to find a wife or return to the one they already had.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


The Payesyes bat

A branch of the Castro family on Guam is known as the familian Payesyes.

More people know about the fanihi bat, also known as the fruit bat.

Fewer people know about the payesyes bat, known by its scientific name Emballonura semicaudata. One of the reasons for this is because, as far as we know, the payesyes has disappeared from Guam. The last known sighting was in 1972. The brown tree snake and disturbances of their environment are causes for their extinction on Guam. There is a more or less safe population of payesyes on Aguiguan.

Payesyes used to live in caves and eat insects, unlike the fanihi which feed on fruits. Our people didn't eat them, again unlike the fanihi!

A deceased member of the Payesyes clan

Tuesday, June 11, 2019


Why do chickens scratch the ground so much? Well, common sense tells you the chicken is scrounging for food. But here's a more colorful explanation, thanks to our mañaina a long time ago.

Mamaisen i patgon gi as tatå-ña biho,
(The child asked his grandfather,)

"Tåta, håfa na sesso de ha ka'guas i edda' i mannok?"
("Father, why does the chicken frequently scratch the dirt?")

Manoppe i amko' taiguine.
(The old man answered this way.)

"Ginen guaha låncho åpmam na tiempo tåtte.
("There was a ranch a long time ago.)

Entre todo i man gå'ga' ni man gaige guihe na låncho,
(Among all the animals that were at that ranch,)

gof umabbok un babui yan un månnok.
(a pig and a chicken were great friends.)

Ilek-ña i babui un dia gi mannok,
(The pig said one day to the chicken,)

'Pot i sen umaguaiya-ta, chule' este na aniyo
('Because of our loving each other much, take this ring)

kuentan inagofli'e'-ta.'
(as a token of our friendship.)

Sen magof i mannok ha chåhlao i aniyo
(The chicken was very happy to accept the ring)

ya ha pega gi agapa' na patås-ña.
(and he put it on his right foot.)

Un åño despues, må'pos i babui para otro na tåno'
(One year later, the pig left for another land)

ya åntes de ha dingu i lancho, ha sangåne i mannok,
(and before he left the ranch, he told the chicken,)

'Nangga yo' asta ke måtto yo' tåtte.'
('Wait for me till I come back.')

Lao humåhnanao i babui ti ha bira gue' tåtte.
(But it went on that the pig didn't return back.)

Pine'lo-ña i mannok na ni ngai'an ta'lo
(The chicken thought that never again)

para u ali'e' yan i babui.
(would he and the pig see each other.)

Un oga'an, makmåta i mannok ya ti ha sodda' i aniyo.
(One morning, the chicken awoke and didn't find the ring.)

Sige de ha espia, lao ti siña ha sodda'.
(He kept looking, but couldn't find it.)

Pot fin, måtto tåtte i babui gi lancho ya ha faisen i mannok,
(At last, the pig returned to the ranch and asked the chicken,)

'Mångge i aniyo ni hu nå'e hao?'
('Where is the ring I gave you?')

Tumekkon i mannok gi minamamahlao-ña ya ilek-ña,
(The chicken lowered his head in his shame and said,)

'Un oga'an makmåta yo' ya ti hu sodda'.
('One morning I awoke and didn't find it.)

Humåhnanao ha' ti hu sodda' i aniyo asta på'go.'
(It went on that I didn't find the ring till now.')

Lalålo' i babui ya ilek-ña,
(The pig got angry and said,)

'Pot i un na' falingo i hu nå'e hao na aniyo,
('Because you lost the ring I gave you,)

hu matdisi todo i mannok siha desde på'go para mo'na.
(I curse all the chickens from now on.)

Asta i uttimon i tano', todo i mannok siha
(Till the end of the world, all the chickens)

siempre ma ka'guas i edda' asta ke ma sodda' i aniyo.'
(shall surely scratch the dirt till the ring is found.')

I leksion ni para ta eyak guine na fåbula : Cha'-mo muna' falilingo i ma na'i-mo.
(The moral we are to learn from this legend : Don't dare lose what is given to you.)

Tuesday, June 4, 2019


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

JOSÉ BABAUTA was the "Mayor" or Gobernadorcillo ("little governor").

MARIANO MATANANE was the second-in-command or Teniente.

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

BLAS QUINTANILLA, JOSÉ BABAUÑA and ALVINO GUIGILO were the neighborhood leaders or Cabezas de Barangay (heads of the barangay). A barangay was a district or neighborhood.

Because the Hågat baptismal records go back to the late 1860s, we can actually say a little about some of these people.

JOSÉ BABAUTA was more than likely the husband of Ana Jocog. These are the forefathers of the Min branch of the Babautas, which include the late Hågat mayor Antonio "Min" Babauta. Another branch of this family moved to Saipan in the early 1900s and became known as the Sa'i branch of Babautas.

RAYMUNDO BABAUTA was the patriarch of the second clan of Babautas. He married Joaquina Taimanglo. They have many descendants. It seems almost all the Hågat Babautas are either descendants of José and Ana Jocog or of Raymundo Babauta and Joaquina Taimanglo.

There was also a BABAUÑA family in Hågat, but I cannot find more information about a José Babauña going back to the 1830s.

Both names, Babauta and Babauña, come from the old word båbao, which was later dropped from common usage, which meant "flag, emblem, sign, banner." We know the meaning of the word thanks to the Spanish missionaries who wrote it down.

ALVINO GUIGILO's last name seems to be GIHILO' meaning "on top of" or maybe it's GEHILO' which means "higher." The name died out.

Blas Quintanilla, by the way, is the only one who has a Spanish last name. This means his ancestor was a soldier brought to Guam, and the Quintanillas eventually mixed with the Chamorro population. His first name Blas means "Blaise" in English. The first name "Blas" became a last name, just as Pablo ("Paul") and Francisco ("Francis") are first names that became last names.