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.)