Tuesday, February 22, 2022




If a dog eats octopus, its hair will fall off.

I've heard this al my life.

But is it true?

According to many websites, run by veterinarians or canine experts, dogs can eat cooked octopus in moderate amounts now and then with no risk to their health. Eating raw octopus or octopus in large amounts and with frequency could be hazardous to dogs (germs, worms, mercury and many other factors involved).

As for the dog's hair falling off, only one internet source that I came across treats the question and the vet's answer is "no." It won't happen.

Maybe it's just a Guam/Marianas thing. 

If someone has a personal experience seeing a dog eat octopus and lose its hair, please share the story in the comments.

Still, don't feed your dog octopus. If you do, there will be less kelaguen gåmson for humans.

True or not about the dog losing its hair, I decided to write a little poem about it :

Gåmson senan-måme, pues in yite' nai i sepbla;
Kinanno' palo ni ga'lågo yan palo ni kulepbla.
Lao dumåkngas i ga'lågo, patås-ña yan ilu-ña,
sa' an ha kånno' nai i gamson, siempre måtgan i pilu-ña.

Octopus was our dinner, then we threw out the leftovers;
some was eaten by the dog, and some by the snake.
But the dog became bald, his paws and his head,
because when he eats the octopus, his hair will surely fall.

"But how do you say it, Påle? How do you say it?"

Here's the audio, complete with sing-song intonation :


PODDONG is the Chamorro word for "fall" or "drop" and can be applied to just about any fall.

MÅTGAN means more like "falling off," like when a fruit falls off a tree when ripe, or the handle of a suitcase when it's old. So, when something is attached to something else and falls off, måtgan is the better word to use, and a dog's hair is attached to its body. But when the entire dog falls into a pit, then poddong is the word.

Monday, February 14, 2022



It being Valentines Day, I composed this poem celebrating the love between spouses which most times creates new life, we the children! So blessed is this union that it is a Sacrament of the Church.

The Bible also has romantic imagery. Listen to these words from the Song of Songs in the Old Testament : Listen! My beloved! Look! Here he comes, leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.

I got my inspiration for my poem from the idea that eyes are useless if they do not behold anything beautiful, which for us believers is everywhere, for everything created speaks of the divine artist, our Creator.

Para håfa si Yu’us
(Why did God)
Na ha nå’e yo’ ni dos matå-ho
(give me my two eyes)
Yanggen ti siña hu li’e’
(if I cannot see)
kada dia i bonitå-mo?
(your beauty every day?)

Para håfa na ha nå’e yo’
(Why did He give me)
Ni dos talanga-ho
(my two ears)
Yanggen ti siña hu hungok
(if I cannot hear)
I suåbe na kuentos-mo?
(your gentle voice?)

Para håfa na ha nå’e yo’
(Why did He give me)
Ni gui'eng-ho
(my nose)
Yanggen ti siña hu nginge’
(if I cannot smell)
I mames na paopao-mo?
(your sweet fragrance?)

Para håfa na ha nå’e yo’
(Why did He give me)
Ni dos kanai-ho
(my two hands)
Yanggen ti siña hu go’te
(if I cannot hold)
I manñaña’ na kanai-mo?
(your tender hands?)

Para håfa na ha nå’e yo’
(Why did He give me)
Ni dos adeng-ho
(my two feet)
Yanggen ti siña yo’ malågo
(if I cannot run)
Guato gi fi’on-mo?
(there by your side?)
Para håfa na ha nå’e yo’
(Why did He give me)
Nu este i labios-ho
(these my lips)
Yanggen ti siña hu chiko
(if I cannot kiss)
I guaiyayon na fåsu-mo?
(your lovable face?)

Para håfa na ha nå’e yo’
(Why did He give me)
Ni todo i lina’lå'-ho
(my whole life)
Yanggen ti siña hu na’ danña’
(if I cannot unite it)
Yan entero lina’lå’-mo?
(to your entire life?)

The English translation is not always exact, because the outcome wouldn't be graceful. But the English is essentially what the Chamorro is saying.

Since many of you tell me you need to know how the Chamorro words sound, here's the audio :


Tuesday, February 8, 2022



When I was a priest in Saipan from 1991 to 1994, Chamorro was my main language of daily communication. It was there that I got into a Chamorro-translating phase, putting at least a dozen church hymns into Chamorro, mostly from Spanish hymns. A few I taught to my choir and one or two songs caught on, at least for a while.

But somehow the thought came to me translate an English Protestant hymn, How Great Thou Art, into Chamorro. It is said that How Great Thou Art is the second best-known English hymn, after Amazing Grace. I think in the Marianas How Great Thou Art is not that well-known.

But, the music moves me, and the lyrics are not in opposition to Catholic teaching, and I would be translating it freely anyway, meaning changing things up a little, mostly in order to match the musical notation. In the end, I inserted a line about the Blessed Mother, so the hymn became Catholic!

For the Chamorro title, I rendered "How great thou art," which is four syllables, as "Gof må'gas hao," also four syllables, which literally means, "You are very great."

Gof Må'gas Hao is the one hymn I've translated that is still sung here and there. From my one parish in Saipan, it spread to other Saipan parishes and then to Guam. I just heard it sung the other day by a choir in Santa Rita.

Here is one of Guam's top vocalists, Ruby Aquiningoc Santos, singing two verses of the song which, in Chamorro, is Gof Må'gas Hao (You are Very Great). She is assisted by Lawrence Perez Borja.


Saina Yu’us hågo muna’ fan huyong
(Oh Lord God you created)
I tano’ yan todo i guinahå-ña.
(the earth and all that it contains.)
I atdao yan i pilan yan puti’on
(The sun, the moon and stars)
Muna’ annok i metgot kanai-mo.
(show forth your mighty hand.)


Pues i anti-ho kumantåye hao :
(So sings my soul to you : )
Gof må’gas hao! Gof må’gas hao!
(You are very great! You are very great!)

Hu li’e’ i flores siha gi tano’
(I see the flowers on the earth)
I ekso’ yan i taddong na tåse.
(the hills and the deep sea.)
Hu tuna hao pot todo i che’cho’-mo
(I praise you for all your works)
Hu guaiya hao, sa’ un gof guaiya yo’.
(I love you, for you have truly loved me.)

Ya un deside para un fa’tinas
(And you decided to make)
Hame ni taotao i imahen-mo.
(Us, the people, your image.)
Un pega ham para u pulan maolek
(You placed us to watch over well)
Todo i nina’huyong-mo siha.
(All your creation.)                                                                      

Ya annai poddong i taotao-mo siha
(And when your people fell)
Ya man abak gi chachalan-ñiha,
(and lost their way,)
Un na’ hånao i mames na Lahi-mo
(You sent your sweet Son)
Para u såtba ham ni man isao.
(to save us sinners.)

Puede ha’ mo’n i langet bai hanaogue
(Would that to heaven I shall go)
Ya guihe bai hu sen adora hao.
(and there will truly adore you.)
Gi fi’on i Bithen Sånta Maria
(Alongside the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Bai hu kånta : Saina, gof må’gas hao!
(I will sing : Lord, you are very great!)

Wednesday, February 2, 2022



My conversation with this elderly widow took an unexpected turn when she began telling me how her late husband began courting her. The lady is not one to say much about her married life, which lasted for fifty years plus till his death, so I was surprised she wanted to tell me these stories.

What she shared can be seen in Chamorro life long before her; the strictness and the rules of courtship. But in the late 1950s, early 1960s when she was of dating age, life had changed on Guam in other ways. There were more venues to take a girl out than before the war. There was much more access to automobiles.

But the dating rules of old Guam were still in force as in her grandmother's day, as she relates :

"My late husband told me he first saw me at a parish dance when I was 15 and he was 16. He knew better than to come up and talk to me, since I was still young and he knew my parents were strict. But he said he took one look at me and said, 'That's my girl. I will marry her one day.'

When I was already 16, my father allowed me to work a few hours after school at a nearby store. My father knew the owners, an elderly couple, and they assured my father they would keep an eye on who was trying to talk to me.

My husband would come every week and buy a case of 7-Up just to be able to see me and exchange a few words, always with a big smile. He didn't have to say much. I saw it in his eyes. I pretended not to notice and treated him like everybody else. The store owners, especially the wife, probably could tell this man liked me, but so did a few other men but nothing ever happened and she never brought up the topic. But every week he came and bought a case of 7-Up.

Finally when I began my senior year at George Washington, my husband came to my house and asked to speak to my dad. Being a year older than me, my husband was already graduated and found a good job with the Navy and, even though he only had a high school diploma, his supervisor at the Navy liked him and put him in an apprentice program. It wasn't an official program, more like the supervisor told an experienced worker to take my husband under his wings and teach him everything.

I guess my husband felt more confident that way and he asked my dad if he could visit me at my home. He also told my dad that if my dad needed any help around the house or at the ranch, he would help. He told my dad that he had a good job and that I was already a senior so it's time to look at the future.

I think my dad liked my husband's confidence and said, "OK, you can visit here but only on these days and at these times." And when my husband did come to visit, there were my mom and dad sitting with us, and me on one side of the såla (living room) and my husband on the other side. Of course we could not talk about everything we wanted to but we did talk about his family, his work and his hopes for the future so I did get to know more about him.

Finally my dad allowed my husband to take me on dates but only on Saturday night so there would be no interference with my homework. We would go to the movies. We had the Johnston, Universal, Gaiety and even the Drive In theaters. He taught me how to bowl at the Guam Bowling Center. A favorite of mine was going to Dairy Queen in East Agaña. Every time we went I tried a different thing. When he was low on money we'd just go to the beach. And he had to be low on money sometimes because every time he took me out, there were never less than four of us; me, him and two others in my family. If not my brothers and sisters then even a cousin. And he had to pay for all of us! He would tell me, "It cost me my life savings to win your hand in marriage!"

But that's how my parents felt safe letting me go on a date. And my parents were smart enough to always have one of my sisters go, not just a brother, because brothers are easily bribed. The guy just has to give him a few dollars and tell him to go away for a while and he will. But my two sisters would never do that, so either both sisters go with me, or one sister then one of my brothers.

My birthday is in January so in January of my senior year, I turned 18. According to American law, I was now free to do what I want, but try doing that when you're still living with your Chamorro parents. At the same time, I didn't want to go with the modern ways. I saw that the old kostumbre (customs) were good and protected me.

But my husband came to my dad in February asking permission to take me to the senior prom just him and me, since I was already 18. He promised to take me from my home straight to the dance, where my aunt would be because she worked at George Washington and would be at the prom. Then when the prom was over straight back to my house. So my dad said "yes" under those conditions.

Well, on the way to the prom, my husband's car had a flat tire. It really did! And he did not have a spare. Luckily, he pulled over near a friend's house who just happened to have a spare tire lying around the house in Chalan Pago. So we made it to the prom, but almost an hour late. My husband explained to my auntie what happened and even showed her his dirty hands and dust on his clothes, but my auntie was not happy.

When my husband dropped me home, my dad did not know what happened because there was no way for my auntie to call him. But the next day I was expecting my father to be angry at me. The whole day I was thinking the phone will ring and it will be my auntie with all the news. But my father said nothing the whole day, and the next and the next.

Little did I know that my auntie didn't tell my dad first. She told my husband's parents first! It just so happened that the next day was Sunday, and my auntie and my husband's family were from the same village and went to the same Mass. So she told my husband's parents what happened.

Long story short, my father never said anything to me because my own husband's parents grounded him for one month. They said he brought shame to his family, so they punished him. For one month he could not see me or communicate with me for any reason. Somehow his father talked to my father about the whole thing, and my father was satisfied. A week or so later, my mother talked to me privately. When I told her that the whole truth of the matter was my husband's car did have a flat tire and nothing happened between me and him, she said, "I believe you," and said nothing more about the topic.

Later on I found out that my husband convinced his father, and later on my father, that our story was true, because my husband showed his dad his flat tire and the friend from Chalan Pago also swore that my husband came to him to borrow a spare tire.

Oh the good old days! So strict! But I think life was better in those days."