Tuesday, March 29, 2022



There used to be a HOLL family on Guam since Spanish times, but they were descendants of a German named John Holl. In German he would have been Johann or Johannes (nickname Hans) and in Spanish Juan.

But the name HOLL would have been hard for Chamorros to pronounce the German way. Chamorro doesn't like words to end in L. Spanish hospital becomes Chamorro ospitåt. Spanish ángel becomes Chamorro ånghet.

Final L in another language becomes final T in Chamorro. HOLL has to become HOT.

But the H in Spanish spelling is silent. In order to produce the H sound, Spanish has to make it a J. Like Jose and Juan. So HOT became JOT or JAT.

Father Aniceto Ibáñez in his diary (really chronicles) tells us that a JUAN HOLL, a native of Prussia (a part of Germany) but married on Guam (the assumption here is to a Chamorro wife) presumably drowned in the sea outside of Hagåtña in 1867. He and some others were in a boat taking kamute (sweet potatoes) to a whaling ship when it capsized. His body was never found.

Before Germany was one nation

The German Juan married a Chamorro named PAULA DE CASTRO.

Apparently Juan and Paula had nothing but daughters! Here are the three daughters I have been able to find : MARIA, ANA and MAGDALENA.

MARÍA CASTRO HOLL had a son outside of marriage named Guillermo Holl. Guillermo married Caridad Quitugua, the daughter of María Quitugua.

Guillermo and Caridad had six children children; from their birth records we see that they spelled their last name Holl are HART. If you remember that Chamorros would have pronounced Holl as Hot or Håt, you can see why it could also be spelled Hart.

Of the six children, three were sons.

Of the three boys, only Pedro was married and he had two daughters. 

Two of the three daughters married, so their children would take on their fathers' last names. One of the daughters, María, married Juan Salas Cruz.

ANA CASTRO HOLL married Juan Reyes Sablan. Born on Guam, they moved to Saipan in Spanish times. Their daughter María married Antonio de la Cruz de los Reyes.

They had a son whose name changed depending on what country was governing Saipan. He was born WILHELM during German times. He would have been called GUILLERMO by Chamorros and the Spanish priests in Saipan. When the Americans took over in 1944, he switched to WILLIAM. But everyone called him by his nickname - BITLIN, believed to be a Chamorro pronunciation of Wilhelm. He was a famous educator in Saipan after the war and they named an elementary school in Chalan Kanoa after him.

Great Grandson of the German Juan Holl

Great great grandson of German Juan Holl

Mario, of SAKMAN fame, is the great great grandson of Juan Holl through his daughter Ana Castro Holl, her daughter Maria Holl Sablan, her daughter Magdalena Sablan Reyes, Mario's mother.

MAGDALENA CASTRO HOLL married Vicente Cruz Mendiola. Their daughter Consolación Holl Mendiola married Manuel Concepción. Their daughter Antonina, married to Blas Sholing Pérez, recently passed away.

This family spells Holl JAHT. It's how Holl would have been pronounced by Chamorros in the old days, with a Spanish J like Jose and Juan.

Great Granddaughter of the German Juan Holl

If Juan Holl had never drowned taking kamute to a whaling ship, presumably he would have lived many more years and possibly have had sons, and we might today know all kinds of HOLLS in Guam, Saipan and who knows where else.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022



Songsong, Luta

A very Chamorro thing to do in the old days was to COMPOSE SONGS for just about any special occasion.

When a dignitary arrived on island, they composed a song to sing in his or her honor when getting off the ship or plane.

When someone celebrated a milestone or an anniversary, someone put words to music to tell the story.

When a new building, school or church was begun or finished, they wrote a song for everybody to sing to celebrate the project.

Here is Ray Barcinas singing something he learned from his mañaina (elders) in Luta (Rota) about the start of the building of the new church there after the war.

Ray was born a long, long time after the church in Luta was built. But here he is telling a bit of the story, how the plans were done in 1951; how the Chief Commissioner (who would be called a Mayor now), Tomás Camacho Mendiola, who held that position from 1947 to 1952, led the project; how the community was called together to make the plans a reality. The song bridges the long gap between the building of the church and Ray's own life many decades later.

The words Ray sings are :

Mit nobesientos singkuentai uno munhåyan i plåno
(1951 the plans were done)

para u ma håtsa i nuebo na guma'yu'os-ta.
(to build our new church.)

Chief Commissioner Tomás yan i man ga'chong-ña.
(Chief Commissioner Tomás and his team)

Ha kombida i taotao songsong, ayo suena mås.
(He invited the people of the village, as was fitting.)

Chief Commissioner of Luta 1947-1952

The song also helps us not forget the Chief Commissioner of Luta at the time, Tomás Camacho Mendiola. Those of us not from Luta or too young to have known him may never even hear his name, except that this song keeps his name alive.

In 1935, the US Secretary of War paid a visit to Guam. Our people composed a song to welcome him, and sang it in Chamorro, a language the American official didn't understand.

When the Northern Marianas was made into its own diocese in 1984, on the occasion of Bishop Tomás Camacho's ordination as bishop and elevation of Chalan Kanoa's church to a cathedral, Juan Sánchez of Saipan composed two dozen verses in Chamorro telling the tale.

It goes to show, the instinct of our people in those days was to write a song, even if they used familiar melodies, to memorialize the event.

Sadly, we don't do that much at all today. Once in a blue moon I've seen it done at celebrations. But sadder still, fewer people today could compose such a song in Chamorro, for an audience that increasingly doesn't understand their native language.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022




Many people, even in the old days, were content with simply keeping the law, doing their daily duties and staying out of trouble. But there were always some who wanted to do more; to bring the community together and accomplish things for the benefit of all.

In Humåtak before the war, one of those few was Francisco Quinata Sánchez. He personified the civic spirit, especially when it came to the children. He was Humåtak's school teacher, but he was more than that. He was a kabayero, a term describing a man who is noble, esteemed and respected.

Here's why he rose to that level among his community.


Francisco was born in Humåtak in 1899, the son of Antonio Sánchez and Emilia Quinata. Antonio was a simple farmer, as almost every man was in those days. But Francisco took a different path early in life. By the age of 16, in the year 1915, he began teaching school in Humåtak. In those days, a child may only reach the fourth or fifth grade then quit, so it was not unusual to hire a smart 16-year-old to teach the little ones.

His younger brothers, Joaquín and Ignacio, did the same. They started teaching in their teens, as well.



Humåtak is one of our smaller villages and in the 1920s the village had roughly 350 residents. Numbers were low enough that a one-room schoolhouse was all that was needed, and often just one teacher, Sánchez himself, who held the title of Principal and Teacher.

School was not just where students learned to read, write and add. It was where government tried to form the island's society by training the children who would soon become the island's working population. Everything from hygiene to agricultural improvements was touched, and Sánchez was the main player. Sánchez was an avid supporter of volleyball and his school scored prizes in island-wide competitions.


It's very likely that Sånchez got some teacher training in Hagåtña, though I haven't found anything describing the details. Many teachers still went to night school to enhance their own knowledge. Sánchez also wrote articles for the government newsletter about Humåtak's activities, school and otherwise. Humåtak won a good share of prizes in education, sports and civic activities because of Sánchez.



Humåtak in the old days was very proud that tradition held that Magellan anchored here when he "discovered" Guam and the Chamorros discovered him!

So Magellan Day, as it was called then, in March, was always a major event in Humåtak. It was a time, other than the agricultural fair and the patronal feast of San Dionisio in October, when the village hosted large crowds of people from all over the island. It was a time for Humåtak to beam with pride, and Sánchez made sure every Magellan Day was better than the last. Humåtak was so identified with Magellan that the village school which Sánchez headed was officially called Magellan School.

As there was no real road between Hågat and Humåtak back then, many people took a boat, the USS Penguin, from Piti to Humåtak. Sánchez lead the Humåtak people in greeting the boats as they came in. The school children took a leading part in the festivities, especially in singing and giving speeches, so Sánchez was behind all those arrangements.

Someone said that Sánchez should be considered the Grandfather of Guam Tourism because he was one of the first people to promote Guam tourism, albeit local. He made sure the Magellan Day celebrations and Humåtak's agricultural fair were huge affairs that drew Hagåtña and Sumay people down to Humåtak. It is believed he, really, was the originator of the annual Magellan celebration.

for Magellan commemoration in the 1920s

Sánchez was involved in the formation of the Guam Teachers Association in 1920 and he must have convinced the Association to adopt as one of its goals the erection of a monument in Humåtak to Magellan. The Association raised the money and the Monument was finished in 1926.  Sánchez is credited with a lot of this work, including the design of the monument. A lot of the yearly fanfare on Magellan Day happened at this Monument.

Sánchez did a lot of the planning and execution of Magellan celebrations. The students and young people of the village had an active role in these events, from singing to acting to speaking, as the nicely-dressed young man pictured above was doing at the Monument. Sánchez was behind all of these plans.

They say Sánchez penned this song that the Humåtak children and people sang as the boats left the bay when the celebrations were done for the day.

Goodbye, friends, you are leaving today.
Goodbye, friends, you are going far away.
But you are coming back again on next Magellan's Day,
to dear old Humåtak by the sea.

In our dear old southern home,
situated right by the sea,
where Magellan landed when he crossed the silent sea,
in our dear old Humåtak by the sea.


In 1936, Guam's political leaders decided to send a delegation to Washington, DC to lobby for US citizenship and other changes on Guam. The Naval Government of Guam refused to finance the cost of such a trip. So, the people of Guam began to raise funds on their own. Sánchez was one of them.

He got his school children to go out every Saturday evening and Sunday morning from house to house, asking for donations. The Guam Recorder mentioned this and added this message of thanks :

The amount of contributions
will appear for you to see;
sixty dollars was collected
by Umatac on the sea.
Many thanks we are extending
to all the citizenry
for aiding the delegation.
Praise be Umatac by the sea!

Pedro "Doc" Sanchez recalls seeing a dozen or so Humåtak school children, lead by Sánchez, singing in the streets of Hagåtña asking for donations for the delegation's trip to Washington. The children held open some sheets and people from their homes would throw nickels, dimes and quarters.


In 1933, Sánchez put into action an idea to have a small concrete structure built on the side of the main road passing through the village where he could stack books where people could come and read. There was no librarian. People could read the book and leave it on the shelf when they had to go. 

Although different roofing was placed over the concrete book shelf,  some of them woven material and sometimes tin, the books were still vulnerable to the weather; rain, wind and sun. 

Besides books and reading material, the village put trophies and awards in the structure won by the village. It was fitting that "Umatac Pride" was written on the structure. Behind the outdoor library was Magellan School, which was replaced by a new and larger school after the war further down the road.

The Humåtak people provided the muscles and donated supplies, except for the cement. Books were donated by the Navy. 

During the Japanese Occupation, all the books were removed by the Japanese. After the war, new books were donated, often by the military, till the library fell into disuse.

It's fitting that, in the middle of the structure, Sánchez designed a heart. It was a labor of love for his community.

Besides all of this, Sánchez was elected a Congressman in the old, advisory Guam Congress, representing Humåtak.



Sánchez passed away in 1954 at the young age of 55. At around the same time, a brand new, concrete school was being built in Humätak, one of the first post-war permanent and typhoon-resistant schools built.

Members of the Guam Legislature thought it was opportune to name the new school after the village's long-time and beloved educator and civic leader. The Legislature passed a resolution asking the island's education board to do so. The board ignored the request and, when a second resolution was passed to press the point, the board said they could honor Sánchez with a plaque or statue.

The board was out of touch with the sentiments of the general public, which wanted to do more. The Legislature passed a bill, then Governor Elvidge signed it into law, mandating the school be named after Sánchez. It was the first Guam public school named for a Chamorro educator. The first Guam public school named after a Chamorro was before the war, when the Naval Government named the public school in San Antonio district in Hagåtña after Padre Palomo.

Photo courtesy of Joe Quinata, GPT

There are plans in the making to repair and reuse FQ Sánchez School as a charter school, museum, senior citizen center, mayor's office and to include a coffee shop. The Government of Guam has put aside $3.5 million for this project. Senator Joe S. San Agustin introduced the funding bill.

Tuesday, March 8, 2022



One of the late Burt Pugh's dubious distinctions is being one of Guam's first homeless people. It's a sad story, but I thought it would be a positive lesson to share how Guam responded to Burt's passing away in 1976; a real testament to the island's values of the time.

Burt, born Bartholomew M. Pugh, Jr., was obviously not always homeless. He came to Guam in 1947 with the Army Air Corps. He left island to do some sailing all over the Western Pacific. Done with that, he opened a heavy equipment business and machine shop on Guam. He even ran as an independent candidate for Senator in 1960 and received 303 votes, not enough to win a seat. His slogan was, "A vote for Pugh, is a vote for you!"

Court battles with the Federal Government over the ownership of some equipment cost him his money, and his spirit. He just wasn't the same after that. He more or less gave up, but not entirely. But he was short on money for the rest of his life. He was arrested several times for small-time thefts, DUI and the like and served short sentences.

He had a house to live in as late as 1972, because he reported to police that it was burglarized.

In April of 1973, the wooden house in Hagåtña where Burt and some other men were living burned down, as the grassy area behind Ada's Market where the house stood caught on fire. It was a very bad dry season and large grass fires had broken out in several places, especially in the southern hills, threatening homes there.

Apparently that's when Burt became homeless, saying he lost everything in the house fire except the clothes he was wearing. He found some people to take him in, then they threatened him at gun point. So he left.

He moved to the Paseo de Susana and slept on the bleachers, storing his things underneath. "The good Lord asks no rent," Burt said. It was 1974. He had a stray dog for companionship named Baby.

He kept the bleacher area clean, and then he would go all over Hagåtña, Sinajaña and Tamuning on foot collecting discarded copper, glass and bottles. He made $4 a day selling them to Island Equipment Company and the soda pop people. He was hoping when he turned 62 and qualified for a pension that he could now afford, with some government help, to rent a place.

He was frequently seen in various places around the capital city, asking people for spare change at Town House, the Julale Shopping Center and the Guam Legislature.

He was at the Guam Legislature sometimes to testify on bills! His favorite topics were public utilities - power and telephones - things he didn't have.

When Typhoon Pamela (May 1976) wrecked the Paseo and its bleachers, Burt moved to live under the Spanish Bridge (Tollai Åcho').

But homelessness was not the only problem Burt faced. He had turned to the bottle very heavily. Vodka was his drink of choice. It was just a matter of time before booze did him in.

He landed at Guam Memorial Hospital in October of 1976. He escaped the hospital once, and was found in hospital gown and no pants walking the street. He died at GMH on December 22, 1976 of gastro-intestinal bleeding and cirrhosis of the liver. He was just 64.

Burt's death left some things unresolved. First was how would his hospital bill be paid. Second was who would bury him. A daughter lived in the States, but would she come and take care of Burt's funeral?


Attended by Madeleine Bordallo (left), Father Mel McCormack and others

For almost two months, Burt's body lay in the morgue unclaimed.

There had been, in fact, no daughter. But Burt had a brother in the States, but he could do nothing for his deceased sibling.

Then Pete Ada of Ada's Mortuary stepped in. Bearing most of the expenses himself, he arranged for Burt's remains to be given a proper burial. Burt was placed in a casket, then a hearse took the casket to Tiguag Public Cemetery (now Vicente A. Limtiaco Memorial Cemetery).

Attending the burial were 18 people, some who knew Burt but others who didn't. They only heard about Burt and his burial from the newspaper the day before. The newspaper worried that the only people who would be at his burial would be reporters who had written stories about Hagåtña's homeless man.

It wasn't to be so. Capuchin Father Mel McCormack, who knew Burt since Burt first came to the island, lead the religious prayers at the grave site. 

Madeleine Bordallo, First Lady at the time, also attended and laid a floral arrangement on Burt's casket before it was lowered. She knew Burt from his constant presence around Hagåtña and the Legislature. "He always said 'Hi Madeleine.' when he saw me," she said.

A public school teacher, Opal Jaquette, who didn't even know Burt, sang "Sunrise Tomorrow." And someone else, a man who wished to remain anonymous, gave flowers. Two flower shops, Floral Boutique and Eileen Kershaw, also donated floral tributes.

Father Mel said, "Burt never harmed anyone, so please see that no harm comes to him now."

And so that is how our island in 1977 took care of a homeless man who passed away. He was alone, but not really. I wonder, though, what happened to Baby.

before heading up to Tiguag

Tuesday, March 1, 2022



So tell me what you know about ALFRED CHING.

Nothing? I'm not surprised. Some much older people surely remember the name, and even though I'm just entering man åmko' status, I remember hearing the name before but couldn't tell you either who he was.


We're not talking about the old Guam Congress under the US Navy administration, where someone like Tomás Calvo served, who was born in Manila. We're talking about the popularly-elected Guam Legislature that was created by the Organic Act in 1950.


Alfred Kwai Doon Ching was born in Hawaii in 1919.

He was of Chinese background, his father having born in Guangdong (Canton) and his mother having been born in Hawaii but of Chinese parents.

Ching got involved in the construction business after finishing high school. He moved to Guam in the early 1950s and continued in that line of work; building houses and other things, selling building supplies, and developing real estate.


He got involved civically, too, becoming President of the Guam Lions Club and serving on the Territorial Planning Commission.


Ching decided to give politics a try for the first time in 1958.

In those days, the only way to get elected on Guam was to run as a Popular Party candidate. So he added his name to a list of 28 candidates. There was no primary election in those days. The party had a convention in September and the convention voted for the party's final list of 21 candidates. Ching won enough votes to make it among the 21.

In the 1956 election, the Popular Party won all 21 seats in the Legislature and the Territorials won zero. It looked like it would be a repeat performance in 1958 and, sure enough, the Popular Party won all 21 seats again, with Ching coming in last (or next-to-last according to the Hawaii newspapers).

Though coming in at the bottom, he was still elected and an equal to the other 20 winners once sworn in. As a Senator (called Congressman in those days), he was quite vocal and was often in the news. He had his fiery arguments with other Senators, even though they were all of the same party. he was known as a stickler for correct spelling and clear wording in the bills being debated, often calling the attention of the Legislature to typos.


In the 1960 Popular Party convention, Ching did not make it to the official list of 21 senatorial candidates. He was beat out by another candidate by one vote for the 21st slot. So Ching was unable to run in 1960 as a Popular Party candidate.

After some years, he decided to return to Hawaii where he continued in private business and passed away in 1997.

He and his wife did have children and one that I know of went to Father Dueñas Memorial School. So I wonder if the children are still with us and have been back to the island any time lately?