Wednesday, December 28, 2022



Ma faisen si Juan gi eskuela, "Kao hihot-ña i pilan kontra Guam pat hihot-ña Manila?"
(Juan was asked in school, "Is the moon closer to Guam or is Manila closer?")

Ilek-ña si Juan, "I pilan."
(Juan said, "The moon.")

Ilek-ña i ma'estra, "Bai faisen hao ta'lo."
(The teacher said, "I will ask you again.")

Pues ilek-ña si Juan, "Ya pareho ha' bai oppe hao."
(Then Juan said, "And I'll tell you the same thing.")

Mamaisen i ma'estra, "Kao hihot-ña i pilan pat Manila?"
(The teacher asked, "Is the moon closer or Manila?")

Manoppe si Juan, "Esta hu sangåne hao na hihot-ña i pilan."
(Juan replied, "I already told you that the moon is closer.")

Mamaisen i ma'estra, "Håfa taimano?"
(The teacher asked, "How is that?")

Manoppe si Juan, "Gaige yo' Guam ya hu lili'e' ha' i pilan lao ti hu lili'e' Manila."
(Juan replied, "I'm on Guam and I can see the moon but I can't see Manila.")

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


Mariana Maru

We all know that Guam and the Northern Marianas form two separate governments. Still, both are under the American flag and observe all applicable US Federal laws.

But think about the advantages some people could have had when the two island governments were under separate flags; Guam under the US and the Northern Marianas under Japan.

When that was the case, between 1914 and 1941, the Japanese in Saipan did not have to honor American requests from Guam, and vice-versa, when it came to judicial proceedings.

In 1926, a complaint was filed in Guam's court against a man named Ignacio for illegally possessing a house which rightfully belonged to another.

When he received the summons to appear in court, Ignacio seems to have had other plans : sail to Saipan on JK Shimizu's schooner, the Mariana Maru. There, in Saipan under the Japanese, Ignacio may be able to avoid going to the American court on Guam and face punitive measures.

The plaintiff in the case reported this plan of Ignacio's possible escape to the Court. The Court, in turn, asked the Governor to prevent the schooner from taking Ignacio to Saipan.


Instead, the Governor solved the whole situation by allowing Ignacio to sail to Saipan, but in the nature of being DEPORTED.

That was a brilliant stroke of legal manoeuvre. Instead of fleeing, Ignacio was being deported. If he was deported, he could not expect to ever come back. Whatever house he was illegally possessing on Guam was now vacant, and the legal owner could move back in.


Wednesday, December 14, 2022




Josefina LG Martínez, a young mother in her 20s, was peacefully frying bananas in her home in Sinajaña one day in 1955. It was 1:30 in the afternoon and she was all alone in the house.

Out of the blue, the frightful appearance of an almost-naked, bearded man startled her when he pushed open the kitchen door.

His beard went down to his chest and his hair down to his shoulders. He held a gun and a saber hung from a rope around his waist. It had to have been a Japanese straggler.

The Japanese motioned with his fingers for her to keep silent, and nudged his gun against her ribs.

Thankfully, the menacing man only grabbed some bananas, both the ripe and also the fried bananas (madoya), saying "beru, beru." which must have been "taberu," Japanese for "to eat." Then he dashed back into the jungle near the house. On his way out he dropped two madoya!


Josefina contacted the police, however, and the Police Chief tasked Juan Unpingco Aguon and José Salas Bukikosa, two police officers who had previously been members of the Guam Combat Patrol that hunted Japanese runaway soldiers after the war, to track down this latest straggler.

But he was never to be seen again. His bones probably lie somewhere in the dense vegetation of the island.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022



Jesús Villagómez Santos (1905-1968) had a very pronounced limp, and it wasn't temporary.

It was such a noticeable limp that people would talk about his LIMPING openly.

But people started to play around with the English word "limping" and changed it to LINCOLN.

So, Jesús became known as JESÚS LINCOLN.

"Lincoln," of course, when said, sounds like LINGKON.

To show he took no offense and was a good sport about it, when Jesús and his wife Rosario had their first baby boy, they named him ABRAHAM. In all seriousness, this child could truly be called, in Chamorro fashion, Abraham Lincoln.

better known as Jesús Lincoln

Jesús was from that branch of Santoses who already had a family nickname, BÅLI TRES. So we see how new nicknames can be applied to individuals and then their children and grandchildren could go by a new nickname.


Jesús Lincoln's nickname shows two things about Chamorro culture.

1. We single-out a prominent physical trait or condition of people and it becomes their nickname.

We're not the only culture that does that. Think of all the men nicknamed SLIM or LEFTY in the US.

But God help you if you stand out in any way in the Marianas. Chances are it will become your nickname.

2. We play around with English.

We know the English word and how to say it. But we like to play around with it. "Might as well" becomes MINUS WHALE. "Toilet paper" becomes PAPER TOILET.  LIMPING became LINCOLN for Tun Jesús. And the list goes on.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022



1888 ~ 1969

Alfonso was a píkaro (naughty) man in his early 20s. He had been caught more than once sneaking into people's homes.

But one night in 1925 he tried once too much.

He made the mistake of sneaking into the house of JUAN NAUTA TENORIO and his wife, the former ROSA GUMATAOTAO.

Rosa was the mother of three young daughters by 1925 : Amanda, aged 18; Rita, aged 16 and Encarnación, aged 15. There were also two young sons, José and Juan, both not even teenagers yet.

But Rosa was no woman to mess with.

It was ten o'clock that night and everyone was in bed, but not necessarily sleeping. Rosa and daughter Encarnación were lying in the såla or living room, evidently on the guåfak or woven floor mat. The two other daughters, Amanda and Rita, were lying on an actual bed in the apusento or inner room/bedroom. The door was shut, but not locked, as was often the case on Guam in those days.

In walked Alfonso, without so much as knocking or calling out, and he quickly blew out the one lamp resting on the table in the såla

Immediately, Encarnación called out to whoever this man was, asking why he put out the light. Realizing he was discovered, Alfonso made a run for the door, but Rosa was no slow poke. She caught up to Alfonso just as he got to the door and she grabbed his shirt, holding him back and preventing him from escaping through the door.

Rosa asked, "Why are you here? Are you asking for the hand of any of my daughters?" Denying that he was, he tried to pull free. But Rosa testified in court, "But being of superior strength, I got a piece of iron rod and hit him by the head with it, and then got a piece of rope and tied him to a post in my house, in order to be identified by the authorities. I sent my daughter Amanda to wake up Jesús Matanane Cruz, better known as Ibang, to look for a policeman, which Matanane went away and and came back with a patrolman..." While all this was going on, one of the daughters had lit the lamp again.

Grabbed his shirt; hit him with an iron rod and tied him to a post with rope. Not bad for a Chamorro matron, with no help from a man. Don't underestimate the capabilities of a protective Chamorro mother.

In fairness to Alfonso, he later straightened out, got married and raised a family. Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.


I was only seven years old when Rosa passed away, but I knew her daughters Amanda and Rita, who lived close to Saint Jude Church in Sinajaña and went to Mass every day, all dressed for church in mourner's black until their own deaths, which was the old custom.

Had I known this story back in the 1970s and 80s when I knew the two sisters, I would have asked them, "Sangåne yo' pot si Alfonso!" "Tell me about Alfonso!" I would have loved to know what they remembered of this story.

Thanks to my fellow Sinajañan and friend Patricia Tuncap Andrews, great granddaughter of Rosa, for Tan Rosa's photo and to Carmela Cruz, another great granddaughter, for the photo of Encarnación.


Wednesday, November 16, 2022



Tå'i, Mangilao

Nurseries, pre-schools, kindergartens and day care centers abound on Guam today, a reflection of modern times when both parents work, or perhaps there is only a mom and she works, so someone needs to care for the little ones during working hours.

In the old days, most families were huge and multi-generational. There were more than enough grandmothers, single aunts, nieces and older sisters to care for the young.

But in 1952, the Mercy Sisters opened Guam's first nursery, where parents could drop off their pre-school children and the Sisters would care for them and begin to educate them.


The Mercy Sisters had moved into their new convent in Tå'i, on church land next to Father Dueñas Memorial School and Seminary, in 1951. In 1952, Sister Redempta Thomas, a stateside Sister and Mercy superior for Guam, decided to open a nursery on land just down the hill from the Mercy convent. A nursery would provide the Sisters with extra income to meet their financial obligations for a rapidly increasing community. Not all the Sisters were inclined to teach in schools; some worked better with pre-school children. Guam was also changing. More parents by then were living in nuclear family houses, without the extended family around to help watch the children, so a nursery was helpful to the parents who could use that help. An early start in their child's education wasn't a bad idea, either.

A permanent concrete building was completed in 1959 which still remains, but it has been added to and improved more than once over the years.


Religion, of course, played a big role in the daily program at the nursery. Basic prayers were taught, as were religious songs, and many of them were in Chamorro. A number of parents were attracted to sending their children to Infant of Prague for this reason; to learn prayers and hymns and also in Chamorro. Religion was reinforced with devotional acts, like May Crownings, and through religious plays.

The children never went hungry. If a child wasn't given a lunch pail from home, the Sisters had an endless supply of Ichiban (ramen) noodles. Some of the Sisters who baked also treated the children with their cakes and other pastries.

So well-cared for were the children that even when parents forgot to pick up their child at the end of the day, they didn't panic when they remembered or got a call from the nursery. Their child was in good hands with the Sisters. One auntie was asked to take the child to the nursery and so she dropped him off, not realizing that the day was a public holiday and there was no school. The convent was just up the hill and a Sister called the parents to come fetch the child.

Many more nurseries and day care centers have popped up all over Guam now, but Infant of Prague is the first. Many of Guam's leaders in every type of career and profession got their first taste of school at Infant of Prague. The nursery is still going strong; full of children, with the Sisters and lay teachers continuing the mission of caring for the children, spiritually and in every other way.


The Infant of Prague is a statue of the child Jesus which is venerated in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. It has many claims of miraculous episodes in its history. The devotion was very popular in America in the 1950s when the nursery on Guam was established.

Thursday, November 3, 2022



The road up to San Ramón Hill, forty-one years apart.

In 1981, the road was decorated for the arrival of Pope John Paul II on February 22, 1981 - the first and only Pope, so far, to visit Guam. He actually spent the night, too, right at the Bishop's House which can be seen in the 1981 photo, at the top of the hill, dead center.

Take away those papal visit decorations, though, and the area was very simple. No curbs along the road up the hill, no new Judicial Center, no office building in the back, no bus stop. Even the vegetation looks sparser. The Latte Stone Park was just that; just latte stones and no picnic cabanas as we have now at the renamed Angel Santos Memorial Park. The wooden telephone poles are now concrete.

The area to the left in the photo, under the hill where the Archbishop's house is, is the barrio of San Ramón.

The area to the right in the photo, what is now Angel Santos Memorial, or Latte Stone, Park, is the beginning of the barrio of Togae (also spelled Togai or Toggai).

Wednesday, October 26, 2022



This short hymn about the Holy Rosary is almost not a hymn on account of its brevity - just three strophes long with no refrain.

Secondly, the hymn is more than just about the Rosary. Like many of the old hymns, it is catechetical - it teaches Catholic doctrine. And this hymn teaches about the Communion of Saints.

But, first, the hymn :


O gai Lisåyo, Bithen Maria,
(O Virgin Mary, Lady of the Rosary)
mames na Nånan i taotao siha.
(sweet mother of the people.)
Oppan gi tano' : Åbe Maria!
(It resounds on earth : Ave Maria!)
Åbe bula hao gråsia.
(Ave full of grace.)

O gai Lisåyo, Bithen Maria,
(O Virgin Mary, Lady of the Rosary)
mames na Nånan i anghet siha.
(sweet mother of the angels.)
Oppan gi langet: Åbe Maria!
(It resounds in heaven : Ave Maria!)
Åbe bula hao gråsia.
(Ave full of grace.)

O gai Lisåyo, Bithen Maria,
(O Virgin Mary, Lady of the Rosary)
mames na Nånan i ånte siha.
(sweet mother of the Souls in Purgatory.)
Oppan gi guafe : Åbe Maria!
(It resounds in the fire of Purgatory : Ave Maria!)
Åbe bula hao gråsia.
(Ave full of grace.)


As you can see, the hymn speaks about PEOPLE on EARTH; ANGELS in HEAVEN and SOULS in the FIRE (of Purgatory).

These are the three communities that make up the Church. These three communities are on EARTH, in HEAVEN and in PURGATORY.


First of all, there is you and me. We're still here on earth, struggling hard, with the help of God's grace found in prayer and Sacraments, to abide by the Lord's teachings even though the world goes by its own rules, and we face hardships of every kind. It is a real battle, spiritually. So the Church fighting the spiritual battle is called the Church Militant.

After we have died and left the battle field of the earth, most of us will go through Purgatory where we will purified of all that is in us that isn't worthy of heaven - our imperfections, the harm we did while on earth that we haven't repaired, the penances never done and so on. This delay of heaven is of immense suffering to the soul in Purgatory, who longs for heaven but cannot enter it for a while. The Church enduring the pains of Purgatory therefore is called the Church Suffering.

And on that blessed day that our souls, now made spotless for heaven, enter the full vision of God, we will rejoice in God's presence, with the saints and angels. The Church that enjoys the perfect joy of heaven is called the Church Triumphant.

All three communities that make up the Church are spiritually united with each other. Death does not separate us on earth from the Souls in Purgatory, who need our prayers, and the Saints in Heaven, who pray for us. This is what we call the Communion of Saints.

Our Lady is Queen and Mother of all three parts that make up the Church. She is with the Church Triumphant in heaven, praying for us the Church Militant on earth and also for the Church Suffering in Purgatory.


Lawrence Borja has found a German hymn on which the Chamorro one is based.

Not only is the melody the same, the subject of the hymn is the same, i.e. Our Lady of the Rosary. The German title is Rosenkranzkönigin, which means "Queen of the Rosary." The composer was the German priest Michael Haller. Påle' Román used Haller's hymns quite a bit when writing Chamorro versions of hymns.

Thursday, October 20, 2022



When the biological father chooses a godfather for his child to be baptized, the two fathers become compadres, also called kompaire. Com (together, with) and padre (father).  Co-fathers. One biological, the other spiritual.

This arrangement creates a bond that lasts for life. Compadres come to each other's aid whenever needed.

In the village of Inalåhan in 1924, Isidoro Chargualaf Taimanglo received a bakiya (a heifer or young female cow) as payment for services rendered to a Japanese settler in the village named Antonio Kamo.

Taimanglo kept the bakiya at a place outside the village but eventually brought it into town to tame the animal and, while it was in the village, Manuel Dueñas Flores claimed the  bakiya as his own.

Taimanglo took the matter to court. Flores, meanwhile, stated that Kamo had given away two bakiya, one to Taimanglo and the second one to Flores. The bakiya Flores took was his, not Taimanglo's. Taimanglo denied Flores' version of the story.

But when the day came for the case to be heard in court, Pancracio Palting, Taimanglo's lawyer, told the judge that Taimanglo wanted to withdraw his complaint, as he and Flores were compadres. He proposed that both Taimanglo and Flores divide the bakiya between them when slaughtered, and share the court costs fifty-fifty.

Flores accepted the proposal and the case was dismissed. All because the two opponents were compadres.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


Cuando un padre biológico elige a un padrino para bautizar a su hijo, ambos se convierten en compadres, también llamados “kompaire” en chamorro. Kom (junto, con) y paire (padre). Co-padres. Uno biológico, el otro espiritual.

Este arreglo crea un vínculo que dura toda la vida. Los compadres acuden en ayuda mutua cuando es necesario.

En el pueblo de Inaraján en 1924, Isidoro Chargualaf Taimanglo recibió una “bakiya” (una novilla o vaca joven) como pago por los servicios prestados en el pueblo a un japonés llamado Antonio Kamo.

Isidoro Taimanglo mantuvo la “bakiya” fuera del pueblo, pero después decidió llevarla y domesticarla y, mientras estaba en el pueblo, Manuel Dueñas Flores reclamó la “bakiya” como suya.

Isidoro Taimanglo llevó el asunto a los tribunales. Manuel Flores, por su parte, afirmó que Antonio Kamo había regalado dos “bakiya”, una a Isidoro Taimanglo y la otra a Manuel Flores. La “bakiya” que tomó Manuel Flores era suya, no de Isidoro Taimanglo. Pero Isidoro Taimanglo negó la versión de Manuel Flores.

Cuando llegó el día de la audiencia del caso, Pancracio Palting, abogado de Isidoro Taimanglo, le dijo al juez que Isidoro Taimanglo quería retirar su denuncia, ya que él y Manuel Flores eran compadres. Propuso que tanto Isidoro Taimanglo como Manuel Flores dividieran la “bakiya” entre ellos cuando la sacrificaran, y que compartieran los costos de los tribunales al cincuenta por ciento.

Manuel Flores aceptó la propuesta y el caso fue sobreseído. Todo porque los dos opositores eran compadres.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022



1909 to 1915

In 1909, both Saipan and Samoa belonged to Germany.

Among the various differences between the two places owned by a common colonial power, the Chamorros and Carolinians of Saipan accepted German rule without a whimper, but not all the Samoan chiefs did.

A Samoan resistance movement against the Germans called Mau a Pule concerned the Germans so much that they exiled 10 chiefs involved in the movement to Saipan in 1909. The German ship SMS Jaguar took them, and their wives and children, some 72 in all, to Saipan in April of that year. A German colonial journal said that deportation was a severe punishment for the Samoans, since they were so attached to their native land.


The Samoans at first lived in a government building near the landing pier in Garapan but this was just temporary. The Germans always had in mind to keep the Samoans in their own separate community. Considered "rabble rousers," the Germans may have wanted to keep them apart to prevent them influencing the Chamorros and Carolinians, though those fears would have amounted to nothing, given the docility of the Chamorros and Carolinians. Still, the Samoans sent to Saipan were not regular settlers; they were political prisoners, having had no prior contact with Chamorros or Carolinians, so a separate place for them was decided.

It was hard, at first, to convince the Samoans to live in their own settlement, according to the German colonial journal, but the German officials took the Samoan leaders to scout areas and it was decided to build in this area just south of Tanapag. Tanapag was a small community of a few hundred people, and the Samoan camp would be two and a half miles away from Garapan, the capital, with its much larger population.

The area was situated just south of a stream called Saddok as Agaton. The German journals say that the water was clean and drinkable, but eventually water was fed through bamboo pipes from a spring called Bo'bo' Agaton.

The ocean was right at their doorstep and the area had breadfruit and coconut trees.  Each family was given the same amount of land to grow their own foods, and the taro patch was common to all. The Samoans also traded food with the Tanapag villagers. 

The houses were built with prison labor, since the Samoan deportees were political, not criminal, prisoners. Each chief had his own dwelling. A Protestant pastor came with them, and he also his own quarters as well as a prayer house where he conducted daily services. There were a few Catholics in the group, but they could go to the Catholic church in Garapan.

One of the leading chiefs who lived in Saipan

In October 1914, Japan took over the Northern Marianas from the Germans on account of World War I. It took a while to get things moving, but the Samoans finally got their chance to leave Saipan and return to Samoa in June of 1915.

One of the chiefs, I'iga Pisa, didn't wait for that but, instead, sneaked away in a canoe to Guam where he spent a few years, then returned to Samoa.

Four Samoan chiefs had died in Saipan before the group could return to Samoa. That left five chiefs who boarded the ship to go back to Samoa, minus I'iga Pisa in Guam. But one of them, Lauaki, died during the voyage before the group arrived in Samoa, so only four chiefs made it back on that trip. Pisa returned his own way later.

The bones of the four chiefs who died on Saipan, and others among the Samoans who also died in Saipan, were brought back to Samoa.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022



I met a man attending a funeral and, to make conversation, I asked him if he knew the deceased man. This is how the conversation went.

~ Kao un tungo' i difunto?
(Did you know the deceased?)

~ Hu tungo' håye gue' sa' man besino ham gi annai man dikkike' ham. Lao achok ha' ti gos amigu-ho gue', menestet na bai hu fåtto gi entieriu-ña pot otro na rason.
(I knew who he was because we were neighbors when we were small. But although he was not a close friend, it was important that I come to his funeral for another reason.)

~ Ya håfa ennao?
(And what is that?)

~ Gi annai sais åños yo', man hugåndo ham ni famagu'on gi tatten guma' ya ha danche i matå-ho un pedåson kriståt annai ma panak un boteya ya måffak. På'go mafañågo i difunto pues humånao si nanå-ho para as nanå-ña i difunto para u fan ayao leche ginen i sisu-ña si nanå-ña ya ma åmte i matå-ho ni lechen i nana. Pues hu didibe i difunto meggagai sa' an ti mafañågo gue' ti u gai leche si nanå-ña guihe na tiempo.
(When I was six years old, we kids were playing behind the house and a piece of glass hit my eye when they hit a bottle and it broke apart. The deceased was just born so my mother went to his mother to borrow milk from his mother's breast to treat my eye with the mother's breast milk. So I owe the deceased a lot because if he had not been born his mother wouldn't have had breast milk at that time.)

Some blog readers always ask to hear how the Chamorro sounds :


Science tells us what Chamorro mothers knew all along.

Breast milk has a lot of health benefits, even for the mother! But not only is breast milk good for the baby to drink and put inside the body, the anti-bacterial properties of mother's milk can be used to treat external problems such as skin rashes and pink eye.

Different cultures use breast milk for all sorts of conditions. Chamorros in the past used it to treat eye ailments.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022



In the 1920s, María was arrested and taken to court. The crime? Adultery.

She was found guilty and sentenced to serve time in Hagåtña's civil jail.

There was one other factor involved. María was pregnant. Probably by the man with whom she had an adulterous affair.

How could María take care of an infant while serving time? She had no relatives living in Hagåtña either.

When her time came, María gave birth in the Naval Hospital. The doctor entrusted the newborn, a baby boy, to a man named José and his wife Dolores.

Although the court records don't say it, we know from census records that José and Dolores were childless at the time. Childless couples often adopted children from single mothers who were in difficult situations. But how did the doctor know José or Dolores?

Court documents do say there were no relatives available. Census records show that María's parents were deceased by the 1920 Census. Her siblings, if she had any, may have also passed by then.

At any rate, María agreed that José and Dolores take care of her son and, not only that, that they be legally appointed custodians of the boy.


The old Chamorro belief was that a barren couple, by adopting children, would be rewarded by God with biological children of their own making.

José and Dolores did have one son, born five years after they adopted the imprisoned woman's boy. And this one biological son of theirs gave José and Dolores SIXTEEN grandchildren.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022



The Sorrowful Mother is a big part of traditional Chamorro devotion. Chamorro women, especially mothers, strongly identify with the Virgin Mary's sorrows.

In Chamorro, she is known as i Dolorosa, the "Sorrowful One." Many Chamorro women were also called Dolores in past times. Both these names, Dolorosa and Dolores, come from the Spanish word for pain, which is dolor.

The Dolorosa has her own section in the traditional Chamorro hymn book (Lepblon Kånta) on Guam. Her feast day is September 15 and the parishioners of Santa Rita have been praying her novena and singing many of her hymns.

Here's the English translation just of the verses they sang in the video.

SEN MAHÅLANG SI MARIA (Mary was Very Sorrowful)

Sen mahålang si Maria, annai taigue i Saina-ta.
(Mary was very sorrowful when our Lord was absent.)
Mañe’lu-ho pinitiye i maså’pet i Nanå-ta.
(Brethren, feel sorrow for the sufferings of our Mother.)

Kololo’-ña nina’ låmen annai måtai gi fi’on-ña.
(She was wounded worse when He died by her side.)
Ma atåne gi kilu’us i yini’us na patgon-ña.
(Her divine child was nailed to the cross.)
Sen pinite si Maria sa’ ma puno’ i Saina-ta.
(Mary was greatly pained because our Lord was killed.)

SAOSAO NÅNA (Wipe Mother)

Saosao Nåna i lago’-mo,
(Wipe your tears, Mother,)
guåho muna’tånges hao.
(I made you weep.)
Lao mañotsot yo’ magåhet
(But I am truly sorry)
sa’ hu na’ pinite hao.
(because I hurt you.)

O Bithen mipinite hasuye i tinago’
(O Virgin full of sorrow remember the command)
Nina’i-ña nu hågo na un adahe yo’.
(Given to you to care for me.)
Mañotsot i anti-ho, hu setbe hao Nanå-ho
(My soul repents, I will serve you, my Mother)
Hu ago’ i bidå-ho ya un gofli’e yo’.
(I change my ways and you will love me.)

NÅNAN PINITE (Mother of Sorrows)

Nånan pinite, nånan ma guaiya
(Mother of sorrows, beloved mother)
Po’lo ya guåho hu sångan a’gang
(Let me declare loudly)
I masa’pet-mo piniten nåna
(Your sufferings, a mother's sorrows)
Nu i Lahi-mo ni i ma klåba.
(for your Son who is crucified.)

Ya i Katbårio nai ma sen anña’
(And Calvary was where He was truly struck)
Ma na’ taidahok i tataotao-ña
(His body was stripped of clothing)
Ya ma atåne addeng kanai-ña
(and His feet and hands nailed)
Gi trongkon håyo kalan gue’ gå’ga’.
(to the tree as if He were an animal.)

MA KANA' GI KILU'US (He was Hung on the Cross)

Umågang i Saina-ta ilek-ña “Må’ho yo’.”
(Our Lord cried out saying, "I am thirsty.")
I taihanom na Nåna yinengyong takhalom.
(The waterless Mother was shaken deep within.)
Mamichao gi matå-ña dos lågo’ dångkulo.
(Two large tears burst from here eyes)
Ya ayo ha atu’e i må’ho na påtgon.
(And that is what she offered her thirsty child.)

Ma kana' gi kilu'us. Maså'pet fehman gue'.
(He was hung on the cross. He suffered intensely.)

Friday, September 9, 2022



and First Lady Madeleine Bordallo with Prince Philip

As the world mourns the passing of a Queen almost all of us have known all our lives, let us recall the time that Queen Elizabeth made a short visit to Guam on May 4, 1975.

She has been all over the world, but not to every single country or place. She never visited some countries, close to Guam, who are huge compared to our small corner of the world. But she came to us, even if it was for just an hour.

Word first reached Guam in March of 1975 that the Queen would make a stop on Guam as part of her Asian tour, with Hong Kong (still under British rule) and Japan on the schedule.

She was originally supposed to stay two days on Guam, but the presence of thousands of Vietnamese refugees changed her mind. She didn't want the island to divert attention from the needs of all those refugees.

An advance team from London came out to Guam not only to look over security, but also to explain the rules of dealing with the British monarch.


The Queen's plane landed at Guam International Airport at 1:13PM on Sunday, May 4, 1975. The royal couple (husband Prince Philip accompanied the Queen) then went in separate limousines to Government House. The Governor, Ricky Bordallo, and the Queen in one car, and Prince Philip and First Lady Madeleine Bordallo in another car.

They went from the airport to Hagåtña by way of Maite, avoiding Marine Corps Drive.

At Government House, the Queen enjoyed the view of the island. Some refreshments were served, gifts were exchanged and the conversation kept light and social. This was not a formal, state visit. But, royal protocol was observed in dress and food. Military and a few other officials were present, but otherwise the affair was kept to minimal attendance. There were thirty members of her entourage from London to begin with!

Then it was time for the Queen to return to her plane and continue her journey. Her Guam visit lasted about an hour.

Madeleine Bordallo remembers a bet that the Queen never made with Prince Philip which she would have won. Flying over Guam, they saw gray canvases all over one area. Prince Philip said they were the canvas tops of military vehicles. The Queen told Madeleine this and Madeleine replied, "Oh no, ma'am, those are canvass tents for the refugees." And the Queen said, "I would have won that bet."

Guam residents who were British subjects, of course, were very happy to welcome their Queen. They took out a full-page ad in the newspaper to greet her. I hope someone showed the Queen a copy of the PDN!

I was never a British subject, but my grandfather was, when the British ruled Ireland (there are six Irish counties they still occupy).

My grandfather, it is said, ran off to America to escape British rule. Still, my dad took me to the hillside across Government House with a hundred or so other people to see the British Queen's limo drive by.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022


before the war

In the 1990s, an older woman shared with me this description of prewar life on Guam.

Ai, åntes de gera, håssan yommok. 
(Oh, before the war, there were few overweight people.)

Håfa na ti meggagai na taotao man yommok åntes de gera?
(Where weren't there many overweight people before the war?)

Ke sa' megai-ña na in kanno' håfa in tanom gi gualo' pat in kenne' gi tasi. Nahong ha' para in fan lå'la' lao diddide' golosina na klåse. Ayo ha' i in nesesita. Titiyas, atule, guihan, chåda'. I mannok, hame in pepeksai. I hineksa' yan kåtne mås para an Damenggo pat gupot.
(Well because we mainly ate what we grew on the farm and caught in the sea. It was enough for us to live, but very few delicacies. Just what we needed. Flat bread, corn porridge, fish, eggs. The chicken we raised ourselves. Rice and meat were more for Sundays or parties.)

Yanggen para in fanmamåhan gi tienda, ni bes en kuåndo ha' na in che'gue, para arina yan laterías; satmon, leche, latan kåtne. Lao megai-ña na in kanno' håfa in tatanom gi gualo'.
(When we were to buy from a store, which we did only once in a while, it was for flour and canned goods; salmon, milk, canned meat. But we mainly are what we planted on the farm.)

Pues, fuera de ennao, man macho'cho' ham duro guihe na tiempo. Desde ke man makmåta ham asta ke man maigo' ham. Ya ti ma nanangga asta ke sumottera pat sumottero hao para un tutuhon macho'cho'. Yanggen esta hao siña mamokkat, siempre u guaha para tareå-mo. Makkat i lina'la' åntes de gera.
(Then, more than that, we worked hard in those days. From the time we woke up till we slept. And they didn't wait for you to be a teenager for you to start working. If you could walk, you would have your task. Life before the war was hard.)

Mañåga ham Hagåtña lao gaige i gualo'-måme giya Lu'ayao pues debe de in fanmamokkat desde Hagåtña para ayo na lugåt katna ha' kada dia. Guaha karetan guaka lao ti todo siña man hulat man ma udai guihe. Para håfa ham ni "diet" sa' esta nahong i diårio na cho'cho' para bai in fan dalalai.
(We lived in Hagåtña but our farm was in Lu'ayao, so we had to walk from Hagåtña to that place almost every day. There was a bull cart but not everyone could fit to ride on it. We didn't need to 'diet' because daily work was enough to keep us thin.)

Åntes de gera, i yemmok kumekeilek-ña na riko hao. Kololo'-ña i asaguan i riko na taotao. Pot i ti ha nesesita macho'cho' i riko na palao'an. Sumåsåga ha' gi halom guma' ya guaha muchachå-ña para todo i che'cho' halom guma'.  Tåya' na mamokkat para i gualo' yan guaha karetan asaguå-ña yanggen para u paseo. Yan, pot i riko, meggai finahån-ña na nengkanno' ginen i tienda ni na' yommok.
(Before the war, to be fat meant you are rich. Especially the wives of rich men. Because the rich woman didn't need to work. She stayed indoors and had a servant to do the housework. She never walked to the farm and she had her husband's cart to go around in. And, because she was rich, she had a lot of store-bought food which was fattening.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2022




In 1923, a woman named JOSEFA and her two adult daughters IGNACIA and SOLEDAD washed laundry for a living.

A washerwoman, or laundry woman, in Chamorro is a LABANDERA.

A court case gives us an idea how much they made every month doing this work. 

Their three clients, and how much they paid each month, were :

JULIANA SALAR PÉREZ, the wife of Juan Díaz Torres - $7.00

CONCEPCIÓN TORRES CALVO, the wife of Jacques Schnabel - $6.00

PEDRO LIZAMA CEPEDA (Kókora) - $5.00

That made a total income of $18.00 per month. In today's value, that would be $312. That doesn't sound like a lot of money, and that was the income of three people, not just one, but people in those days also didn't need cash as much as they did after the war. Many things came free of charge from mother nature if you were able to farm and fish. If they made that income all twelve months of the year, it would make an annual income of $3744 in today's value.

Keep in mind that's income from just three clients. Imagine if they took on more.

This information also shows how much money the clients had. All three came from the "respectable" class of people, and the two ladies came from the upper tier of Chamorro society. Juliana's husband had occupied government positions and Concepción's father was a Manila college graduate and Island Attorney for Guam.

Pedro'n Kókora's monthly bill of $5 would be $86 in today's value. No small expense.

A good number of Chamorro women made a living as labandera, especially for American military officers, besides the affluent civilians.

The court case makes it clear that all the earnings of the three women went to the purchase of iron roofing for a new house being built by the husband/father. The iron roofing was bought from the store of JK Shimizu.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


En 1923, una mujer llamada JOSEFA y sus dos hijas adultas IGNACIA y SOLEDAD lavaban ropa para ganarse la vida.

Lavandera, en chamorro se dice “LABANDERA”.

Un caso judicial nos da una idea de cuánto ganaban cada mes haciendo este trabajo.

Sus tres clientes, y cuánto pagaban éstos cada mes, eran:

JULIANA SALAR PÉREZ, la esposa de Juan Díaz Torres - 7.00 dólares

CONCEPCIÓN TORRES CALVO, la esposa de Jacques Schnabel - 6.00 dólares

PEDRO LIZAMA CEPEDA (Kókora) - 5.00 dólares

Eso sumaba un ingreso total de 18.00 dólares por mes. En el valor de hoy, sería 312 dólares. No parece mucho dinero, y ése era el ingreso de tres personas, no solo de una, pero la gente en aquellos tiempos tampoco necesitaba tanto dinero en efectivo como después de la segunda guerra mundial. Muchas cosas venían gratis de la madre naturaleza, si podía uno cultivar y pescar. Si tuvieran ese ingreso los doce meses del año, generaría un ingreso anual de 3744 dólares en valor actual.

Tengan en cuenta que son ingresos de solo tres clientes. Imagínense si aceptaran más.

Esta información también muestra cuánto dinero tenían los clientes. Los tres procedían de la clase "respetable" de personas, y las dos damas procedían del nivel superior de la sociedad chamorra. El esposo de Juliana había ocupado puestos gubernamentales y el padre de Concepción se había graduado en la Universidad de Santo Tomás en Manila y era el fiscal de la isla de Guam.

La factura mensual de Pedro'n Kókora de 5 dólares sería 86 dólares en el valor de hoy. No es un gasto pequeño.

Un buen número de mujeres chamorras se ganaban la vida como “labandera”, especialmente para los oficiales militares estadounidenses, además de los civiles adinerados.

El caso judicial aclara que todas las ganancias de las tres mujeres se destinaron a la compra de techos de hierro para una nueva casa que estaba construyendo su esposo y padre. El techo de hierro se compró en la tienda de JK Shimizu.


Tuesday, August 23, 2022



In English, we say APPLE Pie. What KIND of pie? Apple.

CHOCOLATE Cake. What KIND of cake? Chocolate.

But, in Chamorro, the order is reversed. Buñuelos AGA'. What KIND of buñuelos? Aga'.

It is Pån TUBA. What KIND of pån? Tuba.

Therefore, in Chamorro, it is Titiyas MÅNHA. What KIND of titiyas? Månha.

To the Chamorro ear, saying MÅNHA TITIYAS is as unpleasant as is saying PIE APPLE or CAKE CHOCOLATE to the English ear.


The mighty march of Americanization continues in the minds of our younger Chamorros of Guam. Swimming in an ocean of the English language, surrounded by English water from the moment one wakes up to the moment one falls asleep, and being the only language so many of our people under the age of 60 speak, it is no surprise that even when Chamorro people use a Chamorro phrase, they use it in an American way. They don't even realize it.

One glaring example of this is how widespread the phrase MÅNHA TITIYAS is.

That's an American way of using Chamorro words to describe Young Coconut Flatbread.

Chamorro flatbread is called TITIYAS, a Chamorro version of the Spanish word TORTILLA.

Now there are many kinds of titiyas. Titiyas can be made with corn (mai'es), wheat flour (arina), breadfruit (lemmai) and pretty much any carb that can be made into a flour or incorporated into flour.

But in Chamorro we put the KIND of thing it is AFTER the thing itself.

Notice in this picture we don't say MÅNGLO' BUÑUELOS (Wind Donuts). We say BUÑUELOS MÅNGLO' (Donuts Wind). What KIND of donuts is said AFTER we identify it as donuts.

We don't say MÅNNOK KÅDDO (Chicken Stew). We say KÅDDON M­ÅNNOK (Stew Chicken). What KIND of stew is mentioned AFTER we call it stew.

Notice the pattern in PÅN TUBA (Bread Coconut Toddy), NOT tuba pån (coconut toddy bread). KELAGUEN UHANG (Marinated Salad Shrimp), not uhang kelaguen (shrimp marinated salad).

In English, what KIND of thing it is comes before the name of the thing. APPLE Pie. BEEF Jerky. CHOCOLATE Cake.

But it's the other way around in Chamorro. KELAGUEN BENÅDO. PÅN TOSTA. Therefore TITIYAS MÅNHA.

Even when we use the English word "soup," it's SOUP CANDELARIA, NOT Candelaria Soup.


Go ahead and say SPAM KELAGUEN or FLOUR TITIYAS, combining English and Chamorro.

But if you're going to use the full Chamorro name of the food, put it in the right order in the Chamorro language.

(traducida por Manuel Rodríguez)


En inglés, decimos APPLE Pie (pastel de manzana). ¿Qué TIPO de pastel? De manzana.

CHOCOLATE Cake (tarta de chocolate). ¿Qué TIPO de tarta? De chocolate.

Pero, en chamorro, el orden se invierte. Buñuelos AGA' (buñuelos de plátano). ¿Qué TIPO de buñuelos? De aga’ (de plátano).

Se dice Pån TUBA. ¿Qué TIPO de pan? De tuba (de ponche de coco) .

Por lo tanto, en chamorro, se dice Titiyas MÅNHA. ¿Qué TIPO de titiyas? De manha (de coco verde).

Para el oído chamorro, decir MÅNHA TITIYAS es tan desagradable como para el oído inglés decir PIE APPLE o CAKE CHOCOLATE.

La poderosa marcha de la angloamericanización en Guam continúa en la mente de nuestros chamorros más jóvenes. Nadar en un océano de idioma inglés, rodeado de agua inglesa desde el momento en que uno se despierta hasta el momento en que se queda dormido, y siendo el único idioma que habla mucha de nuestra gente menor de 60 años, no sorprende que incluso cuando los chamorros usan una frase chamorra, la usan a la manera angloamericana. Ni siquiera se dan cuenta.

Un ejemplo evidente de esto es cuán erróneamente extendida está la frase MÅNHA TITIYAS.

Ésa es una forma angloestadounidense de usar palabras chamorras para describir este pan plano elaborado con coco verde.

El pan plano chamorro se llama TITIYAS, una versión chamorra de la palabra española TORTILLAS.

Ahora bien, hay muchos tipos de titiyas. Las titiyas se pueden hacer con maíz (mai'es), harina de trigo (arina), fruta del pan (lemmai) y casi cualquier carbohidrato que se pueda convertir en harina o incorporar a la harina.

Pero en chamorro decimos el TIPO de cosa que es DESPUÉS de la cosa misma.

Fíjese que no decimos MÅNGLO' BUÑUELOS. Decimos BUÑUELOS MÅNGLO' (Buñuelos de Viento). El TIPO de buñuelos se dice DESPUÉS de que identifiquemos tal cosa como buñuelos.

No decimos MÅNNOK KÅDDO. Decimos KÅDDON MÅNNOK (caldo de pollo). El TIPO de caldo se menciona DESPUÉS de que lo llamemos caldo.

Observe que se dice PÅN TUBA (Pan de Tuba o de ponche de coco), NO tuba pån. Se dice KELAGUEN UHANG (Ensalada de Camarones Marinados), no uhang kelaguen.

En inglés, el TIPO de cosa se dice antes del nombre de tal cosa. APPLE Pie (pastel de manzana). BEEF Jerky (carne seca). CHOCOLATE Cake (tarta de chocolate).

Pero en chamorro se dice a la manera inversa. KELAGUEN BENÅDO (ensalada de venado). PAN TOSTA (pan tostado). Por lo tanto se dice TITIYAS MÅNHA (tortillas de coco verde).

Si usted va a usar el nombre completo de la comida en chamorro, póngalo en el orden correcto en el idioma chamorro.