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.