Tuesday, July 27, 2021



Francisco Martínez Santos, the son of Juan Borja Santos and Josefa Concepción Martínez was born in 1900.

Sometime during World War I (1917-1918 for the US), Santos started working for an American Navy dentist, Dr William S Thompson. In the 1920 Guam Census, Santos is described as being a dentist. In the record, the first entry states "App Dentist," the "App" probably meaning "apprentice." But then someone crossed out the "App," leaving "Dentist" by itself.

So impressed was Dr Thompson with Santos that when Thompson returned to the US in 1920, he brought Santos over in 1924 to continue learning dentistry under his tutelage at his dental clinic in Newman, California, not far from Modesto.

Santos returned to Guam and continued working as a dentist out of his home in Aniguak. After the war, when Hagåtña was destroyed and people moved elsewhere, Santos lived in Sinajaña, and practiced out of his home, where the photo at the top was taken

Long before the war he married the former Josephine Untalan Day and had one daughter, Juanita, who married David Ulloa. The little girl in the photo at the top has to be Juanita, as she was their only child and was born in 1938, making her around 7 years old in 1945 after the war, as the girl in the picture seems to be.

For weeks the Americans bombed and strafed Guam before they landed ashore. Many Chamorros were injured, and some died, as a result. Josephine's mother Juana was one of them, getting hit in the legs from American bullets. Santos used his dental tools to take out the bullets from her injured leg.

who trained Santos in dentistry

Like many Chamorro professionals and businessmen, Santos never refused to help a person in need of his services, even if they couldn't pay immediately.

According to the family, he was a jovial man who loved to play solitaire. When Juanita was being courted by her future husband David, the two would sit in the house chatting on the couch while Santos sat off to the side at a table by himself playing solitaire. That was "dating" in the strict days of the past.

When Urban Renewal got going in Sinajaña and new streets were laid out, many lots were lost to residents, to be given new lots in exchange. Even though Santos was given another lot in Sinajaña when his original one, where his house stood, was to be taken over by Urban Renewal, Santos moved his residence and dental practice to Tamuning. He passed away in 1970. U såga gi minahgong. Rest in peace.

Courtesy of Ed Ulloa

Tuesday, July 20, 2021


in 1918

Chamorros have been moving to California for a long, long time. Since Spanish times in the 1800s.

Although Antonio Mendiola may not have actually been a whaler, because whaling had died down very much by the time Antonio came along, I use the term BAYINERO (whaler) to describe all those young Chamorro men, some still teenagers, who began to leave Guam by the dozens in the 1800s because of the whaling ships.

The whaling ships were most numerous in the early 1800s, and by the 1870s they dropped in number. Still, young Chamorro men kept joining merchant and commercial ships that happened to stop on Guam. Antonio Mendiola was one of them.

Antonio ended up in California, where we have some documents telling us a little about who he was.

Although his grave stone says he was born in 1886, a seaman's document from 1918 states that he was born in 1875. He began life as a cook on commercial ships in 1894. He sometimes went by the name Anton.

He settled in San Francisco, living most of the rest of his life on Mason Street, just on the outer limits of Chinatown. By 1915 he was married to a Mexican lady, Esther Figueroa. This was very common. Many Chamorro men who ended up in California married Mexican or Latina women and we shouldn't be surprised. Those Chamorro men moving to the US in the 1800s and early 1900s saw themselves as being connected to Spain. They often put as their native country "Spain" and their native language "Spanish."

Even if the Chamorro man spoke very rough or incorrect Spanish, he felt an affinity toward Spanish-speaking people. With Mexicans, he would have found some of the food familiar, since Chamorros inherited many corn-based foods from the Mexican soldiers who lived, married and died on Guam (titiyas, tamales, atule). And, of course, there was the Catholic religion that bound them both.

With Esther, who had two sons from prior relationships, Antonio had two daughters but only one of them lived to adulthood.

Antonio never lost his connection to the sea. He worked as a cook on commercial vessels and was absent in the 1930 and 1940 US Census on account of, I believe, his serving on ships out at sea. He left the US in 1943 for Australia, for example, as a worker on a commercial ship, and didn't return to San Francisco till 1944.

Antonio went by the middle name Guerrero. But was it really Guerrero? Or was it Leon Guerrero, since some people shortened Leon Guerrero that way back then? He also states in a document that he has a brother named Ben Mendiola on Guam. Was that Vicente Mendiola? Vicente Guerrero (or Leon Guerrero) Mendiola?  Or was Ben really Benjamin? These clues are a start, but may not be strong enough to tell us what Mendiola family Antonio came from.

When Antonio died in 1952, he was buried in the Italian Cemetery for San Francisco located in the little town of Colma. Although established for Italians, people from all races were buried there. U såga gi minahgong. Rest in peace.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Los chamorros se han estado mudando a California desde hace mucho tiempo, desde la época española, en el siglo XIX. Aunque Antonio Mendiola puede que en realidad no fuera ballenero, porque la caza de ballenas había disminuido mucho cuando Antonio nació, uso el término BAYINERO (ballenero) para describir a todos aquellos jóvenes chamorros, algunos todavía adolescentes, que comenzaron a salir de Guam por docenas en el siglo XIX en los barcos balleneros. 

Los barcos balleneros eran más numerosos a principios del siglo XIX, y en la década de 1870 disminuyeron en número. Aun así, los jóvenes chamorros siguieron uniéndose a los barcos mercantes y comerciales que se detuvieron en Guam. Antonio Mendiola fue uno de ellos.Antonio terminó en California, donde tenemos documentos que nos cuentan quién era él.

Aunque su lápida dice que nació en 1886, un documento de marinero de 1918 dice que nació en 1875. Comenzó su vida como cocinero en barcos comerciales en 1894. A veces se llamaba Anton.

Se instaló en San Francisco, viviendo la mayor parte del resto de su vida en Mason Street, justo en los límites exteriores de Chinatown. En 1915 estaba casado con una mujer mexicana, Esther Figueroa. Esto era muy común. Muchos hombres chamorros que terminaron en California se casaron con mujeres mexicanas o hispanas y no debería sorprendernos. Aquellos hombres chamorros que se mudaron a los Estados Unidos en el siglo XIX y principios del XX se veían a sí mismos conectados con España. A menudo ponen como su país natal "España" y su lengua materna "español".

Incluso si el hombre chamorro hablaba un español muy rudo o incorrecto, sentía afinidad por las personas de habla hispana. Con los mexicanos, habría encontrado algo de la comida familiar, ya que los chamorros heredaron muchos alimentos a base de maíz de los soldados novohispanos que vivieron, se casaron y murieron en Guam (titiyas, tamales, atule). Y, por supuesto, estaba la religión católica que los unía aambos.

Con Esther, que había tenido dos hijos de relaciones anteriores, Antonio tuvo dos hijas, pero solo una de ellas vivió hasta la edad adulta.

Antonio nunca perdió su conexión con el mar. Trabajó como cocinero en embarcaciones comerciales y estuvo ausente en el censo estadounidense de 1930 y 1940 debido, creo, a su servicio en barcos en alta mar. Dejó los EE. UU. en 1943 rumbo a Australia, tal vez, como trabajador en un barco comercial, y no regresó a San Francisco hasta 1944.

Antonio tenía el segundo apellido de Guerrero. ¿Pero era realmente Guerrero? ¿O era León-Guerrero, ya que algunas personas acortaron el León-Guerrero? También declara en un documento que tiene un hermano llamado Ben Mendiola en Guam. ¿Era Vicente Mendiola? ¿Vicente Guerrero (o León-Guerrero) Mendiola? ¿O era Ben realmente Benjamín? Estas pistas son un comienzo, pero pueden no ser lo suficientemente contundentes como para decirnos de cuál familia Mendiola procedía Antonio.

Cuando Antonio falleció en 1952, fue enterrado en el Cementerio Italiano de San Francisco ubicado en el pequeño pueblo de Colma. Aunque establecido para los italianos, personas de todas las nacionalidades fueron enterradas allí. U såga gi minahgong. Descanse en paz.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021


Just before US bombardment

For most of us, Piti is a small village we mainly pass by on our way north or south on Guam's western side. 

If you have friends or relatives there, you stop by, not pass by.

You may work at Cabras and pass through Piti on a daily basis, or when business requires you.

Fish Eye, Veterans Cemetery and the annual fiesta are some of the other reasons why most of us spend time in Piti now and then.

But at one time, before the war, Piti was a lot more active in Guam's island life, and the action was right in the village and not out on Cabras as much of it is today. Back when ocean travel was the only way to get to Guam, Piti was a key link in that chain of travel.


Even in the 1800s during Spanish times, Piti was an important site on Guam as the main landing point for arriving passengers from the sea.

Ships would anchor in Apra Harbor, but passengers would then get in little boats and land at a pier at Punta Piti (Piti Point). Landing at Piti rather than Sumay saved people a couple of hours' journey to Hagåtña. Even from Piti, it took over an hour for people to get to Hagåtña by horse-driven carriage on a gravel road. It took longer if by bull or karabao cart.

When the Spaniards surrendered to the Americans in 1898, the surrender took place at Punta Piti. That way the Spanish officers and soldiers could get on transport boats right away and go to the waiting ships to take them as prisoners of war to Manila.

The port's pilot, responsible for guiding vessels into Apra, lived in Piti and met arriving ships on his little boat. Enterprising men rented out boats and carriages at Piti for sea and land transport.

When the Americans took over Guam in 1898, they continued to use the pier at Piti for landings.


But greater things were in store for Piti. The Americans would build up Guam militarily more than the Spaniards had done in a long time. The Americans also had the benefit of  huge improvements in technology by the time they came along.

The landing facilities at Piti were to be expanded. There had already been a pier and boat houses, and maybe even a customs house, under Spain but under the US an actual Navy Yard was to be built and developed over time. The Navy Yard was able to handle small activities such as transporting passengers and cargo from ship to land. In time, to this was added minor and emergency ship repair facilities.

Right up to the war, two patrol boats were docked at the Piti Navy Yard.

All of this came with all the newest tools and supplies needed in modern transportation. Workshops and warehouses were built. In 1941, eight American Navy men staffed the Yard, separate from the patrol boats' crews, and 31 Chamorro Insular Guardsmen. The US could have done more, and some in Washington wanted to build up Guam more. But the 1922 Washington Treaty between the US and Japan limited any militarization that could provoke the other party.

Every time a ship pulled into Apra Harbor, many people from Hagåtña would go down to Piti to see who was coming on island. Some people described it as almost a holiday on Guam when a ship paid the island a visit.

The strong typhoon of November 1940 (typhoons weren't named back then) severely damaged the Piti Navy Yard. But the Navy rebuilt the Navy Yard just in time for the Japanese to take it over.




The Japanese knew of the importance of the Piti Navy Yard so they made it one of their targets when they attacked Guam on December 8, 1941.

But Japanese bombing of the Yard did little damage. The Japanese were able to make use of the Yard without needing to repair much.

Prior to the Japanese taking over the Yard, the Americans scuttled the two patrol boats.

When the Japanese gathered all the American Prisoners of War on Guam, they were brought down to the Piti Navy Yard to be taken out to the Argentina Maru and shipped off to the prison camp in Japan.

The Japanese did almost nothing to build on or improve the Yard in the short time they had it. They had too much fighting going on in the rest of the Pacific to devote any attention or resources to developing Guam.

The irony is that is was the Americans themselves who destroyed their own Navy Yard when the US returned to take back Guam in 1944. The US bombed everything on Guam they felt the Japanese were located or could use to their advantage. Sadly, a lot of historic and non-military assets on Guam were forever destroyed by those American bombs.

The US flag flown at yard was secretly hid for the entire Japanese Occupation in a pillow by Gaily Roberto Kamminga, one-time Commissioner of Piti.

Bomb craters dot the Piti landscape on right

After the war, the US military decided not to rebuild the Piti Navy Yard. Instead, Sumay and the whole Orote Peninsula would be turned into a modern naval base, many more times the size of a simple Navy Yard.

Today, the area where the Piti Navy Yard used to be, and the area where the Piti pier used to be, and the spot where the Spaniards surrendered to the US in 1898, and where the Americans in turn were sent away by the Japanese, is a fuel storage area by the power plants and where Atlantis docks its boats.


Wednesday, July 7, 2021




Bernard Punzalan over at chamorroroots.com shared some photos of busts molded of Chamorro men in 1839.

A French scientific expedition visited Guam that year and one of the academic team made these molds, and these photos were later taken of them and are now at the National Museum of Natural History in France. These busts, in my opinion, have an effect unlike photographs. It's almost as if the man is really there, just asleep with eyes closed.

Since the busts come with names, I thought it would be interesting to see if the men came up in old records and if we could see what eventually happened to them.

The man above is identified as FAUSTINO CHARGUALAF from Humåtak.

Chargualaf is not a surname that makes us think of Humåtak as quickly as the surnames Quinata or Topasña, but records show there were quite a bit of Chargualafs in Humåtak in the 1800s, though in time their number decreased and Chargualaf remained more prominent in Inalåhan and Malesso'.

For example, in 1897 there were NINE people in Humåtak named Chargualaf. By 1920, there was only ONE. But in the early and mid 1800s, there were many more Chargualafs in Humåtak and Faustino was one of them.

According to the Humåtak church records, Faustino married Salomé Quinata. 

From this marriage of Faustino and Salomé at least one son, Ignacio, died in 1837 and probably died in childhood or youth, which was much more common in the old days than now. 

But there could have been more children, as many burials do not give the parents' names. If all the children died young, that explains why we don't see anyone identified as descendants of Faustino and Salomé later on, and the Chargualaf surname slowly disappeared in Humåtak up to World War II.

Maybe there are some Chargualafs in Humåtak today, but they probably came from another branch of Chargualafs from another village and moved to Humåtak only recently.