Friday, May 29, 2020


Sometimes the words just don't come out right away.

We need to pause and think about what to say next. For some reason, we still want sound while we pause to think, rather than have silence. So we say something that means nothing in itself, till we think of what to say next.

This is called a filler.

In English, we say UMMMMM.

In other languages people say EMMM, EHHHH, EUUUU, AAAAH.

Japanese tend to say ANO and many Spanish speakers say ESTE......drawing out the last syllable for as long as they need time to think.

In Chamorro we say NU.

If we really need more time, we say NUUUUUU.

Listen to this lady telling a joke, and saying NU when she needed to pause and think of the next line in the joke.

This is such a part of our Chamorro way of speaking that many Chamorros say it even when they speak English, which sometimes confuses non-Chamorro speakers.

"Hey, nu, what time do we, nu, go to the store?"

And the statesider looks confused and asks, "New? What new?"

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


A veces las palabras simplemente no salen de inmediato.

Necesitamos hacer una pausa y pensar qué decir a continuación. Por alguna razón, todavía queremos emitir un sonido mientras hacemos una pausa para pensar, en lugar de quedarnos en silencio. Entonces decimos algo que no significa nada en sí mismo, hasta que pensamos qué decir a continuación.

Esto se llama relleno.

En inglés, decimos UMMMMM.

En otros idiomas la gente dice EMMM, EHHHH, EUUUU, AAAAH.

Los japoneses tienden a decir ANO y muchos hispanohablantes dicen ESTE... alargando la última sílaba por el tiempo que necesiten para pensar.

En chamorro decimos NU.

Si realmente necesitamos más tiempo, decimos NUUUUUU.

Escuchemos a esta señora contar un chiste y decir NU cuando necesitaba detenerse y pensar en la siguiente línea del chiste.

Ésta es una parte tan importante de nuestra forma de hablar chamorro que muchos chamorros lo dicen incluso cuando hablan inglés, lo que a veces confunde a quienes no hablan chamorro, porque la palabra chamorra “nu” corresponde a la palabra inglesa “new,” es decir “nuevo.”

"Hey, nu, ¿a qué hora vamos, nu, a la tienda?"

Y la otra persona parece confundida y pregunta: "¿Nuevo? ¿Qué hay de nuevo?"

Monday, May 25, 2020


As an example of how Chamorro economics before the war wasn't always cash-based, we have the case of a man needing wood to build a house. Instead of cash to buy the wood, he offered two head of cattle.

In 1915, José Torres Crisóstomo agreed to give Antonio Reyes Tenorio two heads of cattle for the following supply of wood :

Eight haligi (posts) of ifit wood
Panao wood for the flooring of the house
Dugdug wood for the walls, door and window frames
More ifit wood for other parts of the house

Measurements were made using the Spanish vara. The equivalent value in the American system would be roughly 33 inches or slightly less than a yard.

Right up to World War II, many things were traded for, rather than bought with cash. Even after the war, a Chamorro lawyer who practiced in the 1950s and 60s told me that his poorer clients paid him with eggs or fish.

Prized wood especially for the main beams of a house


José Torres Crisóstomo was from the Beyong family who married Filomena Delgado Pereira. 


Antonio Reyes Tenorio was from the Bånik family and married Dolores Borja Torre. Perhaps you've heard of his daughters Connie Slotnick and Kitty Ferrante.

Crisóstomo on left, Tenorio on right
the penmanship is Spanish

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Un ejemplo de cómo la economía de los chamorros de antes de la guerra no siempre se basaba en el dinero, es el caso de un hombre que necesitaba madera para construir una casa. En lugar de dinero en efectivo para comprar la madera, ofreció dos cabezas de ganado.

En 1915, José Torres Crisóstomo acordó darle a Antonio Reyes Tenorio dos cabezas de ganado para el siguiente suministro:

Ocho postes de madera de ifit para las vigas.
Madera de panao para el piso de la casa.
Madera de dugdug para las paredes, marcos de puertas y ventanas.
Más madera de ifit para otras partes de la vivienda.

Las mediciones se realizaron con la vara española. El valor equivalente en el sistema estadounidense sería de aproximadamente 33 pulgadas o un poco menos de una yarda.

Hasta la Segunda Guerra Mundial, se intercambiaban muchas cosas, en lugar de comprarse con dinero en efectivo. Incluso después de la guerra, un abogado chamorro que ejerció en las décadas de 1950 y 1960 me contó que sus clientes más pobres le pagaban con huevos o pescado.

¿Quiénes eran estos dos hombres?

José Torres Crisóstomo era de la familia Beyong que se casó con Filomena Delgado Pereira.

Antonio Reyes Tenorio era de la familia Bånik y se casó con Dolores Borja Torre. Quizás hayais oído hablar de sus hijas Connie Slotnick y Kitty Ferrante.

Se firmó un contrato
Crisóstomo a la izquierda, Tenorio a la derecha
la caligrafía es española.

Friday, May 22, 2020


Sitting at home all day for two months has gotten on many people's nerves during the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020.

"This is driving me crazy!" many an island resident can say.

In 1914, the German sailors and officers of the SMS Cormoran went on their own version of "lockdown." They, too, found it maddening.

The Cormoran was busy trying to avoid enemy ships, especially the Japanese, and decided to try their luck hiding in Guam, still not participating in the war. But the US would be breaking its neutrality if it rolled out the welcome mat to the Germans in Apra Harbor. After a brief stop, the Germans were ordered out. But lacking fuel and facing the Japanese menace and possible British encounters, the Germans decided that being interned at Guam was better than dying in the ocean.


Apparently, being confined to the ship started to take an emotional and mental toll on the German sailors. According to news reports, many of the crew fell into depression. In the beginning, it seems, they were stuck on the ship, doing the same routine day after day. They could see the green hills of Guam, but couldn't stand on terra firma. The ship didn't move, except when the weather was stormy and the Cormoran was allowed to stay just outside the harbor for safety. Otherwise, everyone was on lockdown in what one newspaper called "the Hell Ship."

A visiting American expedition stayed long enough on Guam in 1916 to observe the men of the Cormoran. The loneliness, deadening routine and meager food all contributed to the despondency of the crew. The sailors called it a "living death" to be stuck on the ship, and would have preferred to face real death on the battlefield.

Three Suffer Mental Breakdown

At least three crew members suffered worse than melancholy or depression. They were described as  "insane."

The first to break down was Lieutenant Hermann Berka. He started hallucinating, believing himself to be the son of the German Kaiser. Dr Georg Ballerstedt, medical officer of the Cormoran, was allowed to bring Berka to the US for treatment in June of 1915.

Some months later, in November of 1915, three more crew members were allowed to travel to the US for medical help, accompanied by Lieutenant Werner von Elpons. Two of them, Stanislaus Lewitski and Hugo de Roggenbucke, were identified by newspapers as having gone insane. The third, Friedrich Siegmeyer, was suffering from tuberculosis.

And yet....

We also read of news reports stating that, in early 1915, the German government sent a ship to Guam bringing the Cormoran men

420 casks of beer
40 cases of whisky
24 cases of rum
20 cases of vermouth

In 1916, Lieutenant Commander William Cronan, became acting Governor while waiting for the next Governor to arrive. Cronan had a more relaxed attitude about the Cormoran and allowed for more liberties. This helped the crew's morale. Around 20 German officers were allowed to rent lodgings on shore.

We know that one of the ship's officers, Karl Gebhard, married Eleanor Blaine, one of the American nurses at the Naval Hospital in Hagåtña in 1917. The two first met at a social affair on board the Cormoran. If there were social affairs on the ship, it wasn't all gloom and doom.


We read in the papers of the Catholic missionaries that the crew of the Cormoran sang German Christmas carols in the Hagåtña Cathedral. Anecdotes by older people, now deceased, who lived in those days, and photographic evidence, tell us that sailors from the Cormoran did, at times, mix with the local population.


So, the truth of the hardships of the Cormoran's lockdown, and the resulting mental breakdown of some of her crew, has to be seen alongside the truth that it wasn't all misery all the time for everybody.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Estar sentado en casa todo el día durante dos meses ha puesto nerviosas a muchas personas en la pandemia del Covid 19 de 2020.

"¡Esto me está volviendo loco!" muchos residentes de una isla podríamos gritar.

En 1914, los marineros y oficiales alemanes del SMS Cormoran se embarcaron en su propia versión de "confinamiento". Ellos también lo encontraron enloquecedor.

El Cormoran trataba de esquivar los barcos enemigos, especialmente los japoneses, y decidió probar suerte escondiéndose en Guam, que no participaba en la guerra. Pero Estados Unidos estaría rompiendo su neutralidad si extendiera la alfombra de bienvenida a los alemanes en el Puerto de Apra. Después de una breve parada, se ordenó la salida del barco alemán. Sin combustible y enfrentando la amenaza japonesa y los posibles encuentros británicos, los alemanes decidieron que seguir escondidos en Guam sería mejor que morir en el océano.

Aparentemente, estar confinados en el barco comenzó a tener un costo emocional y mental para los marineros alemanes. Según los informes, muchos de los tripulantes cayeron en depresión. Al principio, al parecer, estaban atrapados en el barco, haciendo la misma rutina día tras día. Podían observar las verdes colinas de Guam, pero no podían pisar tierra firme. El barco no se movía, excepto cuando el clima era tempestuoso y al Cormoran se le permitía quedarse a las afueras del puerto por su seguridad. Todos estaban encerrados en lo que un periódico llamó "la Nave del Infierno".

Una expedición estadounidense permaneció el tiempo suficiente en Guam en 1916 para observar a los hombres del Cormoran. La soledad, la rutina mortal y la escasa comida contribuyeron al desánimo de la tripulación. Los marineros lo calificaron como una "muerte en vida" por estar atrapados en el barco, y hubieran preferido enfrentar una muerte real en el campo de batalla.
Al menos tres miembros de la tripulación sufrieron de algo peor que la melancolía o la depresión. Fueron descritos como "locos".

El primero en derrumbarse fue el teniente Hermann Berka. Comenzó a alucinar, creyendo ser el hijo del Kaiser alemán. Al Dr. Georg Ballerstedt, oficial médico del Cormoran, se le permitió llevar a Berka a los Estados Unidos para recibir tratamiento en junio de 1915.

Algunos meses más tarde, en noviembre del mismo año, a otros tres miembros de la tripulación se les permitió viajar a los EE. UU. para recibir ayuda médica, acompañados por el teniente Werner von Elpons. Dos de ellos, Stanislaus Lewitski y Hugo de Roggenbucke, fueron identificados por los periódicos como locos. El tercero, Friedrich Siegmeyer, padecía tuberculosis.

También leemos informes de noticias que afirman que, a principios de 1915, el gobierno alemán envió un barco a Guam para llevar a los hombres del Cormoran:

420 barriles de cerveza
40 cajas de whisky
24 cajas de ron
20 cajas de vermut

En 1916, el teniente comandante William Cronan, se convirtió en gobernador interino de Guam mientras esperaba la llegada del siguiente gobernador. Cronan tenía una actitud más relajada sobre el Cormoran y permitió más libertad. Esto ayudó a la moral de la tripulación alemana. Se permitió a unos 20 oficiales alojarse en la costa de Guam.

Sabemos que uno de los oficiales del barco, Karl Gebhard, se casó con Eleanor Blaine, una de las enfermeras estadounidenses en el Hospital Naval de Hagåtña en 1917. Los dos se conocieron en un evento social a bordo del Cormoran. Si había asuntos sociales en el barco, no todo era pesimismo.
Leemos en los periódicos de los misioneros católicos que la tripulación del Cormoran cantaba villancicos alemanes en la catedral de Hagåtña. Las anécdotas de personas mayores, ahora fallecidas, que vivieron en aquellos días, y la evidencia fotográfica, nos dicen que los marineros del Cormoran, a veces, socializaron con la población local.

Entonces, la verdad es que las dificultades del confinamiento del Cormoran, y el colapso mental resultante de algunos miembros de la tripulación, debe verse junto con la verdad de que no todo fue miseria para los alemanes durante aquel tiempo en Guam.

Monday, May 18, 2020


Para håfa hit guasguåson yanggen esta hit atalak?

What good is a remedy if we're already about to die?

This saying needs a lot of explaining, because the English translation of the Chamorro is not literal.

There are two words in the expression we need to understand first if we are to unravel the whole sentence.


This was the name of a soft volcanic stone, usually yellowish in color. It was scraped and the resulting powder added in the smashing of certain leaves to make herbal medicine for burning fevers called tabatdiyo.

So the saying "Para håfa hit guasguåson" means "Of what use to us is making herbal medicine with the guasguåson?" The deeper meaning is "Of what use to us is the remedy?"


To atalak is to open the eyes as wide as possible and to fix one's gaze on one object and hold that gaze for a long time.

This prolonged, fixed and wide gaze is often associated with the dying. Many older, dying people stare at one spot on the ceiling for hours. We do not know why, for they often are at a stage by then when they cannot communicate. It's as if they're in their own world.

So the saying, "yanggen esta hit atalak" means "when we're at the last stages of dying, staring wide at a fixed point out there somewhere."

Putting these all together then, we get the meaning, "Of what use to us is a remedy, when we're already on the point of death?"

It's a statement of surrender to the situation which we deem impossible to change.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Para håfa hit guasguåson yanggen esta hit atalak?

¿Para qué sirve un remedio si ya estamos a punto de morir?

Este dicho necesita explicación, porque la traducción al inglés del chamorro no es literal.

Hay dos palabras en la expresión que debemos entender primero si queremos desentrañar la oración completa.


Éste era el nombre de una piedra volcánica blanda, generalmente de color amarillento. Se raspaba y el polvo resultante se agregaba a ciertas hojas para hacer hierbas medicinales destinadas a fiebres llamadas “tabatdiyo”.

Entonces, el dicho "Para håfa hit guasguåson" significa "¿Para qué nos sirve hacer hierbas medicinales con el guasguåson?" El significado más profundo es "¿Para qué nos sirve el remedio?"


Atalak es abrir los ojos lo máximo posible y fijar la mirada en un objeto y mantener esa mirada durante mucho tiempo.

Esta mirada prolongada, fija y amplia a menudo se asocia con la muerte. Muchas personas mayores y moribundas miran un punto en el techo durante horas. No sabemos por qué, ya que a menudo se encuentran en una etapa en la que no pueden comunicarse. Es como si estuvieran en su propio mundo.

Entonces el dicho, "yanggen esta hit atalak" significa "cuando estamos en las últimas etapas para la muerte, mirando fijamente a un punto fijo en algún lugar".

Al juntar todo esto, obtenemos el significado: "¿Para qué nos sirve un remedio, cuando ya estamos a punto de morir?"

Es una declaración de rendición a una situación que consideramos imposible de cambiar.

Friday, May 15, 2020


Si Doctor Jesus yan si Doctor Jose annai ma retira i dos humånao para i papa’ trongkon lemmai ya matå’chong i dos ya duro ma akompåra i tiningo’-ñiha pot i chetnot siha yan håfa na klåsen åmot para ma usa.
(When Doctor Jesus and Doctor Jose got off work they went under the breadfruit tree and the two sat down and they kept comparing their knowledge of diseases and what kind of medicine to use.)

Pues ma li’e’ este biho na mamomokkat ya kalan ume’ekklao an mamokkat.
(Then they saw an old man walking and he was walking somewhat crookedly.)

Ilek-ña si Doctor Jose gi as Doctor Jesus,  “I’ll bet you na ti un tungo’ håfa chetnot-ña ayo na biho mågi, i mamamaila’.” (1) (2)
(Doctor Jose said to Doctor Jesus, "I'll bet you you don't know what's that old man's disease who is coming.")

Ilek-ña si Doctor Jose, “Oh hunggan hu tungo’ håfa chetnot-ña ayo na biho.”
(Doctor Jose said, "Oh yes I know what is that old man's problem.")

“Na håfafa?”
("What is it?")

Ilek-ña, “Fana’an hemorrhoids ya eyo na mamokkat taiguiguihe sa’ puti santatte-ña.” (3)
(He said, "I think it's hemorrhoids and that's why he's walking that way because his back side hurts.")

Ilek-ña, “Ya hågo Doctor Jesus håfa mohon pot este na bihu ni mamamaila’?”
(He said, "And you Doctor Jesus what about this old man who is coming?")

Ilek-ña, “Oh arthritis eyo na biho. Puti i temmon-ña ya chatta mamomokkat mågi.” (4) (5)
(He said, "Oh that old man has arthritis. His knee hurts and he's walking here badly.")

Pues annai esta hihot i biho guato ilek-ña si Doctor Jose, “Saina-ho! Saina-ho!” (6)
(So when the old man was close there Doctor Jose said, "Sir! Sir!")

Ilek-ña eyi biho, “Håfa lahi-ho malago’-mo?”
(The old man said, "What do you want, my son?")

Ilek-ña, “Dos mediko ham yan pot i mamokkåkåt-mo na ume’ekklao mamokkåt-mo an tododo eyo. Ilek-ña este si Doctor Jesus ilek-ña na hemorrhoid hao. Guåho ilek-ho na arthritis hao.”
(He said, "We're two doctors and because your walking is crooked and all that, Doctor Jesus says that you have hemorrhoids. I say you have arthritis.")

Ilek-ña eyi biho, “Ai iho! Man cha lache hit na tres!” 
(The old man said, "Oh son! The three of us are equally wrong!")

Ilek-ña si Doctor Jose, “Sa’ håfa ennao saina-ho?”
(Doctor Jose said, "Why do you say that sir?")

Ilek-ña, “Sa’ pine’lo-ko na para bai do’do’ ya hu tåtke yo’.”
(He said, "Because I thought I was going to fart and I went to the bathroom on myself."

Source : Mestisu Radio, Luis John Castro, Facebook


(1) It was really Doctor Jesus asking Doctor Jose, as the rest of the dialogue shows.

(2) "I'll bet you" in Chamorro would be rendered "Let us bet" or "Ta aposta."

(3) Hemorrhoids in Chamorro is pinidos.

(4) There is no Chamorro word for arthritis. We would simply say it hurts, or it's stiff.

(5) Chatta means "imperfectly" or "barely."

(6) Saina means more than the ordinary, modern sense of "sir." It's a term of deep respect. It recognizes the person's higher status due to age, place in the family or social position.

Monday, May 11, 2020


The Saipan Big Four
Top Level : Jose Tenorio (Joeten), Manuel Villagomez (Manet Kiyu)
Lower Level : Herman Guerrero (Hetman Pån), Escolastica Cabrera (Esco)

This song by Candy Taman recognizes the successful efforts of Saipan's four main entrepreneurs after World War II. After the destruction of war, and at the time an undetermined political future, these four business pioneers lead the way for many others. As Candy points out, their commercial success flowed back into the community through the generosity of the four.

Este tres na señores yan i un señora :
(These three gentleman and one lady :)
si Joeten, Kiyu, Hetman Pån yan Kolåstika,
(Joeten, Kiyu, Hetman Pån and Kolåstika,)
yan i asaguan-ñiha :
(and their spouses :)
si Daidai yan si Tan Iching
(Daidai and Tan Iching)
si Tan Maria yan kontodo si Ton Goro.
(Tan Maria and also Ton Goro.)

Desde i finakpo' gera nai ma tutuhon man tenda.
(Since the end of the war they began owning stores.)
Man manusune sa' ti tatkilo' i eskuela.
(They persevered because schooling wasn't high.)
Si Ton Hetman panadero,
(Ton Hetman was a baker,)
Joeten,  Kiyu lateria,
(Joeten, Kiyu sold canned goods,)
ya si Kolåstika i magågo yan guyuria.
(and Kolåstika clothing and guyuria.)

Poko menos i benta sige ha' ma umenta.
(Stocks were low but they kept increasing.)
Ginen un sen asta i dollar *
(From one sen up to the dollar) 
lao sige ha' ma muttiplika.
(but it kept multiplying.)

På'go sa' man gefsaga.
(Now they are rich.)
Korason-ñiha man geftao.
(Their hearts are generous.)
Meggai ayudun-ñiha gi taotao.
(Their assistance to people is a lot.)
Dångkulo i kontribusion
(Great is their contribution)
ekonomia, komunidåt
(to the economy, community)
sa' man manhongge nai gi che'cho' karidåt.
(because they believe in works of charity.)

Poko menos i benta sige ha' ma umenta.
(Stock were low but they kept increasing.)
Ginen un sen asta i dollar *
(From one sen up to the dollar) 
lao sige ha' ma muttiplika.
(but it kept multiplying.)

Pues hafañe'los respeta.
(So brethren respect.)
Nihi ya ta supotta
(Let us support them)
kino un taotao hiyong
(rather than an outsider)
tåya' probecho-ta.
(where we have no benefit.)
Ta nå'e onro ya ta fan banidoso.
(Let's give honor and be proud.)

* A sen was a Japanese cent. Saipan of course used Japanese money until the Americans took over the island in June/July of 1944.


Jose Camacho Tenorio - Better known as Joeten. Founder of Joeten Enterprises, beginning in 1947 selling sodas and beer. From a basic grocery store to a multi-million dollar company including hotels, auto dealership and many more.

Manuel Seman Villagomez - Better known as Manet Kiyu. Besides being a police officer, he and his wife started a store. He left his police job eventually to focus on the business and it expanded over time. He used profits to invest in land. His land holdings increased, some of them proving lucrative as they were located in prime tourist and commercial areas. He also bought properties in the US mainland. 

The generosity of both Joeten and Manet Kiyu helped fund the building of the main public library in Saipan, which is named for both of them.

Herman Reyes de León Guerrero. Better known as Hetman Pån. He began working for the US military on Saipan right after the war baking bread. With their encouragement, he went into private business doing the same. Over the years the bakery has expanded its product line and added a sit-down eatery. The bakery is popular beyond Saipan and Herman's products are often brought to the other islands whenever someone goes to Saipan.

Escolástica Borja Tudela Cabrera. Better known as Esco, but also as Kolåstika and Åtika. She was married to Gregorio Camacho Cabrera. After the war, she learned some skills working for the US military and officers' wives and then opened a beauty shop and did dress making, eventually opening a store where her own baked goods became popular.

They all gave back to the community in large and generous ways.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Los cuatro grandes de Saipán.
En primer lugar: José Tenorio (Joeten) y Manuel Villagómez (Manet Kiyu).
En segundo lugar: Herman Guerrero (Hetman Pån) y Escolástica Cabrera (Esco).

Esta canción de Candy Taman reconoce los esfuerzos exitosos de los cuatro empresarios principales de Saipán tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Después de la destrucción de la guerra, y en ese momento con un futuro político incierto, estos cuatro pioneros empresariales abren el camino para muchos otros. Como señala Candy, su éxito comercial revirtió en la comunidad gracias a la generosidad de ellos cuatro.

Este tres na señores yan i un señora:
(Estos tres señores y una señora:)
si Joeten, Kiyu, Hetman Pån yan Kolåstika,
(Joeten, Kiyu, Hetman Pån y Kolåstika,)
yan i asaguan-ñiha:
(y sus cónyuges:)
si Daidai yan si Tan Iching
(Daidai y Tía Iching)
si Tan Maria yan kontodo si Ton Goro.
(Tía Maria y con todos Tío Goro).

Desde i finakpo' gera nai ma tutuhon man tenda.
(Desde el final de la guerra comenzaron a ser dueños de tiendas).
Man manusune sa' ti tatkilo' i eskuela.
(Perseveraron porque la escolarización no era alta).
Si Ton Hetman panadero,
(Tío Hetman era panadero)
Joeten, Kiyu lateria,
(Joeten, Kiyu vendían latería)
ya si Kolåstika i magågo yan guyuria.
(y Kolåstika ropas y guyuría).

Poko menos i benta sige ha' ma umenta.
(Pocas cosas para la venta pero seguían aumentando).
Ginen un sen asta i dollar *
(Desde un sen hasta el dólar)
lao sige ha' ma muttiplika.
(seguían multiplicándose)

På'go sa' man gefsaga.
(Ahora son ricos).
Korason-ñiha man geftao.
(Sus corazones son generosos).
Meggai ayudun-ñiha gi taotao.
(Su ayuda a las personas es mucha).
Dångkulo i kontribusion
(Grande es su contribución)
ekonomia, komunidåt
(a la economía, a la comunidad)
sa' man manhongge nai gi che'cho' karidåt.
(porque creen en obras de caridad).

Poko menos i benta sige ha' ma umenta.
(Pocas cosas para la venta pero seguían aumentando).
Ginen un sen asta i dollar *
(Desde un sen hasta el dólar)
lao sige ha' ma muttiplika.
(seguían multiplicándose)

Pues hafañe'los respeta.
(Pues los hermanos se respetan)
Nihi ya ta supotta
kino un taotao hiyong
(en lugar de a un extraño)
tåya' probecho-ta.
(donde no tenemos ningún provecho)
Ta nå'e onro ya ta fan banidoso.
(Honrémoslos y estemos orgullosos)

* Un sen era un centavo japonés. Saipán, por supuesto, usó dinero japonés hasta que los estadounidenses tomaron la isla en junio / julio de 1944.


José Camacho Tenorio - Mejor conocido como Joeten. Fundador de Joeten Enterprises, a partir de 1947 vende refrescos y cervezas. Prosperó desde una tienda de comestibles básica hasta una compañía multimillonaria que incluía hoteles, concesionarios de automóviles y mucho más.

Manuel Seman Villagómez - Mejor conocido como Manet Kiyu. Además de ser un oficial de policía, él y su esposa abrieron una tienda. Finalmente dejó su trabajo de oficial para concentrarse en el negocio y se fue expandiendo. Utilizó sus ganancias para invertir en tierras. Sus propiedades aumentaron, algunas de ellas resultaron lucrativas ya que estaban ubicadas en áreas turísticas y comerciales de primer nivel. También compró propiedades en los Estados Unidos.

La generosidad de Joeten y Manet Kiyu ayudó a financiar la construcción de la biblioteca pública principal en Saipán, que lleva el nombre de ambos.

Herman Reyes de León Guerrero. Mejor conocido como Hetman Pån. Comenzó a trabajar para el ejército estadounidense en Saipán justo después de la guerra haciendo pan. Con su esfuerzo, entró en negocios particulares haciendo lo mismo. Con los años, la panadería expandió su línea de productos y agregó un restaurante. Su panadería es conocida más allá de Saipán y los productos de Herman a menudo se llevan a otras islas cada vez que alguien visita Saipán.

Escolástica Borja Tudela Cabrera. Mejor conocida como Esco, pero también como Kolåstika y Åtika. Estuvo casada con Gregorio Camacho Cabrera. Después de la guerra, aprendió algunas habilidades trabajando para el ejército de los EE. UU. y las esposas de los oficiales y luego abrió una tienda de belleza y confeccionó ropa, y finalmente abrió una tienda donde sus propios productos hechos al horno se hicieron populares.

Todos revirtieron en la comunidad de manera amplia y generosa.

Friday, May 8, 2020



As well as the rest of the Marianas.

Even today you might see an outhouse - the kommon sanhiyong - here and there in a hidden rural area of the island. But I am old enough to remember outhouses even in densely populated Sinajaña in the 1960s, right in between the houses.

In the prewar days, many families just didn't have the money to pay for indoor plumbing. Many of the houses were just not built for that either. According to the sanitary inspector in Hagåtña before the war, only 20% of the 1200 houses in the capital city had indoor plumbing. Most people did their toilet business in the kommon sanhiyong built in between houses.

After the war, many homes were made of wood and tin roofing, and indoor toilets were just not part of the plan, financial or otherwise. Even when people could afford a modern bathroom, some were just so used to the outdoor toilet that they continued to use them. One of my neighbors in old Sinajaña had both an indoor modern toilet and a kommon sanhiyong which predated the new indoor toilet. They never bothered to pull down the outhouse because the family was large and a second toilet came in handy for so many users.

"It kept the bad odors outside the house," an older lady shared with me, whose family could have added a modern toilet but kept the outhouse until they replaced their wood and tin roof house with a concrete one in the 1970s.

People were putting TV antennas on their roofs and driving brand new cars and parking them next to the outdoor toilet they were still using, despite their new cash flow.

The outhouse used no water and usually no store-bought toilet tissue so owners didn't care if the neighborhood kids used theirs, as there was no added expense. I remember the one in our neighborhood was available to all the kids if they were playing outside and their own indoor toilets were too far for an emergency. Sometimes one outhouse was shared by more than one family.

Six to ten feet. The hole was usually between six to ten feet deep. The deeper the better because in time you would cover the human refuse with soil or what have you and the hole would become shallower.

No door knob. Sometimes not even a handle. So the unlocked door was slightly ajar. You walked in and closed the door by using a simple hook latch.

Sit over the hole. The toilet was just a piece of ply board with a large hole cut in. I remember looking into the hole and seeing nothing. It was too dark to see anything in the hole. But the smell told you what was in the hole. I don't remember it being particularly bad. Just musty. Or earthy.

Odor Control. One way to control the foul odors was to burn newspapers or dead vegetation in the hole. A favorite one was dead banana stalks, which had dried out, were chopped into smaller chunks and dropped into the toilet then set on fire. The hole was deep enough that the fire wasn't a threat but the smoke replaced the odor of the human waste. Don't be surprised, though, if all sorts of critters (cockroaches, rats) scurry out of the hole.

The Daily News. You had to buy the daily newspaper anyway. In 24 hours, the newspaper became obsolete. Rather than let the paper go to waste, we used the paper for human waste. That's what we wiped ourselves with. I remember going into the outhouse and finding newspapers and even mail order catalogs lying around for us to use. Sears and Montgomery Ward.

Someone even came up with a little ditty about it, using the Håfa Adai song :



In America they say, “How are you?”
Filipinos say, “Kumusta kayo?
But when you’re on Guam you simply say,
“Hafa Adai! Hafa Adai!”

In America they use toilet tissue.
Filipinos use banana leaf.
But when you’re on Guam you simply use
Daily News. Daily News.



Straight into the water

Even better than the  kommon sanhiyong in your backyard was when you could do your business into the ocean. That way nothing accumulated in your backyard for flies to gather and transport harmful bacteria to you or your homes.

In Hagåtña and all the coastal villages, there were a few piers that stretched out as far as it could over the water. A small shack was built at the end and into the water went your human waste. You can see the ones in Sumay before the war in the pic above.

A man who was a teenager before the war in Hagåtña told me how people would send their kids to these seashore outhouses with their "honey dew" buckets of human waste and dump them there.

courtesy of Joe Quinata GPT

Some of the seaside outhouses weren't that far from shore, as seen in the pic above of a public outhouse in Humåtak in the 1960s. I am told that in some places the concrete foundation can still be seen.


The kommon sanhiyong was used for more than its intended purpose. Since the outhouse was avoided, due to the smell and contents, except when truly needed, some people found it a convenient place for things you wanted to hide.

Hiding Things

One man growing up in the 1950s was so naughty that he was regularly whipped by his parents with the kuåtta, the dreaded cow's tail whip. He told me that several times, when his parents weren't around, he'd take the kuåtta off the hook on the wall, the traditional place many parents kept them. The first time he threw the kuåtta on top of the outhouse roof. But his sister noticed it some time later and they retrieved it. So the second time he threw it into the outhouse hole. No one ever found out.

In the 1950s, a home in Dededo was broken into while the family was out. Stolen was a tin can with cash and jewelry in it. The family had a kommon sanhiyong. Just on a hunch, one of the police officers at the scene flashed his light down the hole and saw a silvery reflection. Yes, they retrieved the box, but it was empty.

Hiding Yourself

The kommon sanhiyong was a good place, at least for a while, to hide when you wanted to smoke or drink the little whiskey left in the bottle uncle forgot to put back. If the outhouse were so situated, you could hide behind it rather than inside it and still not be seen, but this way avoid the odors.

Discarded Babies

Sad to say, even unwanted or unexpected babies ended up in the kommon sanhiyong .

In 1958, an 18-year-old single lady in Aniguåk was feeling unusual in her abdomen and thought she needed the toilet. It was late at night. She went to the outhouse and gave birth to a baby boy. She told police she was not aware she was going to give birth, as she never had been pregnant before and had no idea what to expect. She put the baby on the floor of the outhouse and ditched her blood-stained clothes in the bushes. Hours later, her mother needed the toilet and found the baby, not knowing whose it was. The baby was taken to the hospital. Three days later the mother of the baby was feeling feverish and went to the hospital. There she confessed what happened.

A sadder story happened the following year in Tamuning. There, a 16-year-old high school student got impregnated by a 20-year-old unemployed drifter. She gave birth, unseen by anyone, and dumped the baby down the hole of the  kommon sanhiyong. A few days later she went to the hospital for post-delivery complications and coughed up the truth. The body of the dead baby was retrieved and an autopsy needed to be done to find out if the baby died before or after birth. No subsequent news story can be found to know the answer.

This case happened in 1962. The mystery was never solved.


Believe it or not, the kommon sanhiyong was a chosen place for several suicides in Guam history. Again, people don't hang around the outhouse so it's a place to do something you don't want people to notice, at least for a while.

In 1957, an 86-year-old man hanged himself in his outhouse in Sinajaña. He tied a woman's scarf around his neck. His step son-in-law saw him go into the outhouse but started to wonder why he was taking so long so he checked, and found the old man already dead. He had tried twice before to take his own life, but was prevented by others.

In 1959, a 49-year-old man in Dededo tied a bed sheet to his neck and to the beam of the roof of his kommon sanhiyong. His wife could not think of a reason why he would kill himself. What made this story so sad is that he did it on Christmas Day and his lifeless body was discovered by his 8-year-old daughter.


You would think that the outhouse would be a good place to meet a sweetheart, especially under cover of night.

There were two problems that made the outhouse not ideal. First, the odors and setting were less than romantic. Second, although the outhouse was usually avoided and thus private, when Mother Nature calls you answer, any time of the day or night.

A lady told me the story many years ago. It happened before the war.

Diesisais åños ha’ yo’ guihe na tiempo ya trabia ti siña yo’ gumai nobio
(I was 16 years old only that time and I couldn't have a boyfriend yet)

lao guaha ha’ iyo-ko uno. Kumontråta ham para in asodda’ gi kemmon sanhiyong,
(but I did have one. We agreed to meet each other at the outhouse,)

para in kuentos ha', gi oran a las dos gi chatanmak sa’ pine’lon-måme na todos
(just to talk, at 2 o'clock in the morning because we thought that all)

esta man mamaigo’ gi taiguihe na ora. Lao ai sa’ ha baba i petta uno na primu-ho
(would be sleeping at that hour. But oh my because one of my cousins who was staying)

ni sumåsaga giya hame. Hu faisen kao siña ha tåmpe, ya ilek-ña nu guåho,
(with us opened the door. I asked him to cover it up, and he said to me,)

“Ti bai kehåye hao lao debe de un promete yo’ na achok ha’ guaha håfa båba bidådå-ho
("I won't tell on you but you have to promise me that even if there is something bad you see me doing)

ni un li’e’ ti para un kehåye yo’ lokkue’,” ya kumonfotme yo’.
(you won't tell on me either," and I agreed.)

You never know when someone will need to relieve himself, so the avoided outhouse could be suddenly invaded.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020


(Francisco Baza León Guerrero)

In the United States, you scare the kids away by telling them that the Bogey Man is coming. In Spain, it is El Coco. In Russia, the Baba Yaga. Almost every place on earth has its equivalent.

In Guam in the 1930s, it was Kiko' Encho'.

Which would be sad, in a way, for Kiko' Encho' was a real human being and a very upright one at that. He was a good citizen and a faithful Catholic. The saving grace is that Kiko' Encho' took his reputation all in good humor. He understood that it was natural that his job, and the strict faithfulness with which he executed it, should instill such fear in people.

He was Hagåtña's Sanitary Inspector.

Public cleanliness was an important issue in those days because many of Guam's sick had preventable illnesses. But sanitation was the key. With only 20% of Hagåtña's houses connected to the city water and sewage system, the majority of the people collected water from public faucets, from private wells and from the rain. Garbage disposal was critical, since piling up waste even for short periods attracted rats. Lacking modern toilets, most people built outhouses (kommon sanhiyong) where disease-bearing mosquitoes and flies could breed if the outdoor toilets were not cleaned properly.

Dysentery, typhoid and other sanitation-related illnesses were common in the old days, affecting an estimated 10% of Hagåtña residents at any given time, according to Kiko' Encho'

The Naval Government made great progress by providing free medical care, improving the water supply so that less people relied on the wells where the water was murky and often contaminated. Less and less people were using the river for laundry as time went on. Many policies were put in place to improve conditions.

But to make sure people were complying as much as possible, Kiko' Encho' made daily inspections of Hagåtña, looking to see that garbage wasn't laying around; that pools of water weren't breeding grounds for mosquitoes; that latrines and outhouses were clean; that yards were raked and grass cut. If you failed to heed his warnings and corrections, Kiko' Encho' would issue a citation, which you had to pay off at court.

He was so strict that he even cited his own mother-in-law and his boss, a Navy officer, besides fining his friends and relatives. "I felt that I could not perform a good job," he said in an interview, "unless I showed the people that I was impartial." The people who gave him the hardest time were the upper classes, both Chamorro and American. But the courts backed him up. Even the elite Chamorros and American military officers lost to Kiko' Encho' in court. "I was mean," he said, but he had to be.



With 1,200 homes to inspect, Kiko' Encho' had a lot of ground to cover. Luckily, the capital city was divided into barrios since Spanish times. Kiko' Encho' just assigned certain barrios their specific days of the month to visit. He averaged three days a month for each barrio.

As soon as he left his house in the morning to start his inspection, the kids would all run to tell other kids living in the direction Kiko' Encho' was going, "He's coming! He's coming!" they shouted and all the other kids would run to their homes to warn their mothers, who grabbed brooms and rakes and garbage cans.. They might as well have been screaming that the Bogey Man was coming.

But Kiko' Encho's enforcement of sanitary laws in the capital had its effect. Visitors always remarked how clean and tidy the city was. The health of the people improved so much that cases of sanitation-related illnesses dropped and Kiko' Encho' didn't need to make as many home inspections as time went on. The people got used to keeping their homes and surroundings hygienic.

After the war, Kiko' Encho' didn't go back to his prewar job and instead worked for the military and then his own private business. He died in 1964.


His full name was Francisco Baza León Guerrero, but therein lay a problem.

There was another Guam gentleman, just a few years younger, with the exact same name, who was also well-known in the island.

He was the famous Mr Organic Act, and for whom FB Leon Guerrero Middle School is named.

But that Francisco was the son of Zoilo Tello León Guerrero, so he was known as Kiko' Zoilo.

Our Sanitary Inspector, on the other hand, was the son of Lorenzo Manalisay León Guerrero, so he was called Kiko' Encho'. Kiko' is the nickname for Francisco, and Encho' is the nickname for Lorenzo.

These two Kikos were related, but not mainly through the León Guerrero side but more so on their mothers' side. Their mothers were sisters!

Zoilo married Justa Martínez Baza and Lorenzo married Joaquina Martínez Baza.

The two Francisco Baza León Guerreros were thus first cousins of their mothers' side.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


En Estados Unidos, asustan a los niños diciéndoles que el Hombre Bogey se acerca. En España, es El Coco. En Rusia, el Baba Yaga. Casi todos los lugares del mundo tienen un equivalente.

En Guam en la década de 1930, era Kiko' Encho'.

Lo cual es triste, en cierto modo, porque Kiko' Encho' era un ser humano real y muy correcto. Era un buen ciudadano y un fiel católico. La gracia salvadora es que Kiko' Encho' aceptó su reputación, con buen humor. Comprendió que era natural que su trabajo, y la estricta fidelidad con la que lo ejecutaba, infundieran tanto temor en las personas.

Era el inspector sanitario de Hagåtña.

La limpieza pública era un tema importante en aquel tiempo porque muchos de los enfermos de Guam sufrían enfermedades prevenibles. Y el saneamiento era la clave. Con solo el 20% de las casas de Hagåtña conectadas al sistema de agua y alcantarillado de la ciudad, la mayoría de las personas recogían agua de los grifos públicos, de pozos privados y de la misma lluvia. Lo que ocurría con la basura era preocupante, ya que la acumulación de desechos, incluso por períodos cortos, atraía a las ratas. Al carecer de baños modernos, la mayoría de las personas construían unos refugios (kommon sanhiyong) donde los mosquitos y las moscas portadoras de enfermedades podían reproducirse si esos baños al aire libre no se limpiaban adecuadamente.

La disentería, la fiebre tifoidea y otras enfermedades relacionadas con el saneamiento eran comunes en aquellos tiempos, y afectaban a aproximadamente el 10% de los residentes de Hagåtña, según Kiko' Encho'

Hubo un progreso notable cuando el Gobierno Naval proporcionó atención médica gratuita, mejorando el suministro de agua para que menos personas dependieran de los pozos donde el agua era turbia y a menudo contaminada. Cada vez menos personas usaban el río para lavar la ropa a medida que pasaba el tiempo. Se implementaron muchas políticas para mejorar las condiciones de vida.

Pero para asegurarse de que la gente cumpliera en la medida de lo posible, Kiko' Encho' realizaba inspecciones diarias en Hagåtña, asegurándose de que la basura no estuviera por ahí desperdigada; que las piscinas de agua no fueran criaderos de mosquitos; que las letrinas y las dependencias estuvieran limpias; que los terrenos fueran rastrillados y cortada la hierba. Si alguien no hacía caso de sus advertencias y correcciones, Kiko' Encho'  emitiría una citación, que tendría que pagar en la corte.

Era tan estricto que incluso llegó a citar a su propia suegra y a su jefe, un oficial de la Marina, además de multar a sus amigos y familiares. "Sentía que no podía realizar un buen trabajo", dijo en una entrevista, "a menos que le mostrara a la gente que era imparcial". Las personas que le dieron más dificultades fueron las clases altas, tanto chamorros como estadounidenses. Pero los tribunales lo respaldaron. Incluso la élite chamorra y los oficiales militares estadounidenses perdieron ante Kiko' Encho'  en la corte. "Era malo", dijo, pero tenía que serlo.


Con 1.200 hogares para inspeccionar, Kiko' Encho'  tenía mucho terreno por recorrer. Afortunadamente, la ciudad se dividía en barrios ya desde la época española. Kiko' Encho'  terminó por asignar a ciertos barrios sus días específicos del mes para visitar. Promedió tres días al mes para cada barrio.

Tan pronto como salía de su casa por la mañana para comenzar su inspección, todos los niños corrían a decirle a otros niños que vivían en la dirección en que Kiko' Encho'  iba: "¡Ya viene! ¡Ya viene!" gritaban y todos los otros niños corrían a sus casas para advertir a sus madres, quienes agarraban escobas, rastrillos y botes de basura. También podían gritar que venía el Hombre Bogey.

Pero la aplicación de las leyes sanitarias de Kiko' Encho'  en la capital tuvo su efecto. Los visitantes siempre comentaban cuán limpia y ordenada estaba la ciudad. La salud de las personas mejoró tanto que los casos de enfermedades relacionadas con el saneamiento disminuyeron y Kiko' Encho'  con el tiempo no necesitó hacer tantas inspecciones de viviendas. La gente se acostumbró a mantener sus hogares y alrededores limpios.

Después de la guerra, Kiko' Encho'  no volvió a su empleo anterior y en su lugar trabajó para el ejército y luego montó su propio negocio privado. Falleció en 1964.


Su nombre completo era Francisco Baza León Guerrero, pero había un problema.

Había otro caballero de Guam, solo unos años más joven, con el mismo nombre, que también era conocido en la isla.

Era el famoso “Mr. Organic Act,” y por el cual se conoce hoy a la Escuela Intermedia Francisco Baza León Guerrero.

Pero ese Francisco era hijo de Zoilo Tello León Guerrero, por lo que era conocido como Kiko' Zoilo.

Nuestro inspector sanitario, por otro lado, era hijo de Lorenzo Manalisay León Guerrero, por lo que se llamaba Kiko' Encho' . Kiko' es el apodo de Francisco, y Encho' es el apodo de Lorenzo.

Estos dos Kikos estaban relacionados, pero no precisamente por parte de los León Guerrero, sino más bien del lado de sus madres. ¡Sus madres eran hermanas!

Zoilo se casó con Justa Martínez Baza y Lorenzo se casó con Joaquina Martínez Baza.

Los dos Franciscos Baza León Guerrero eran primos hermanos por parte de sus madres.

Friday, May 1, 2020


"Acha chatpago hamyo yan si Anufat."

"You're as ugly as Anufat."

That's the way you might have been insulted in the old days.

Not all taotaomo'na were created the same.

Meet Anufat, the ugliest of them all.

He was dark and hideous. His teeth were six inches long and his fingernails were long as well.

Both sides of his head had holes, stuffed with grass, leaves and ferns.

So, if someone wanted to tease you, he or she might tell you that you were as ugly as Anufat.


In olden times, people considered any latte site, no matter how small the latte or how damaged the pillars and capstones might be, to be dangerous places.

Even if the area just had a lot of exposed coral rocks, be careful.

The spirits of the ancient dead, or taotaomo'na, usually dwelt among the latte stones, it was believed, and they often indicated burial grounds of the people who lived before colonization.

People had the custom of whistling when they approached such places. They did this in order to alert Anufat that they were coming close. Otherwise, if your unannounced appearance startled Anufat, he could get angry and punish you by making you sick.

Some versions of the story say we ought to whistle when walking around cemeteries, but I don't think modern, Christian cemeteries are meant. Anufat would not be interested in hanging around the graves of José Cruz or María Castro. Too Christian for him.

He'd be more interested in hanging around the skeletal remains of the people of his time, before the Europeans came.

Other versions of the story say he had a bird's nest growing out of the hole in his head. That was someone's mistaken reading of an old book which said Anufat's hole had bird's nest FERN stuffed in his hole. It was fern, not a nest.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


“Acha chatpago hamyo yan si Anufat”.
“Eres tan feo como Anufat”

Ésa es la manera en que cualquier persona podía ser insultada en los tiempos de antes.

No todos los “taotaomo’na” fueron creados de la misma forma.

Conozcamos a Anufat, el más feo de todos.

Era oscuro y feo. Sus dientes tenían seis pulgadas de largo y sus uñas también eran largas.

En ambos lados de su cabeza había agujeros, rellenos de hierba, hojas y helechos.

Entonces, si alguien quería molestarte, podía decirte que eras tan feo como Anufat.

En la antigüedad, las personas consideraban lugar peligroso cualquier sitio donde hubiese piedras “latte”, no importaba cuán pequeña fuese la piedra “latte” o cuán dañados pudiesen estar los pilares y las piedras superiores.

Incluso si en esa zona había muchas rocas de coral expuestas, se debía tener cuidado.
Se creía que los espíritus de los antiguos muertos, o “taotaomo’na”, normalmente habitaban entre las piedras “latte”, y a menudo señalaban cementerios de gente que vivió antes de la colonización.

Se tenía la costumbre de silbar cuando uno se aproximaba a esos lugares. Se hacía esto para alertar a Anufat de que alguien se acercaba. De lo contrario, si su aparición no anunciada sorprendía a Anufat, él podía enfadarse y castigar a esa persona enfermándola.

Algunas versiones de la historia dicen que debemos silbar al caminar por los cementerios, pero no creo que los cementerios cristianos modernos estuviesen destinados a los “taotaomo’na”. Anufat no estaría interesado en pasar el rato en las tumbas de José Cruz o María Castro. Demasiado cristiano para él.

Le interesaría más quedarse con los restos esqueléticos de la gente de su tiempo, antes de que llegaran los europeos.

Otras versiones de la historia relatan que Anufat tenía un nido de pájaro saliendo de un agujero de su cabeza. Ésa es en realidad una lectura errónea de alguien, de un viejo libro, que decía que en el agujero de Anufat había un nido de pájaro relleno de helecho. Pero realmente era un helecho, no un nido.