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).