Wednesday, December 28, 2022



Ma faisen si Juan gi eskuela, "Kao hihot-ña i pilan kontra Guam pat hihot-ña Manila?"
(Juan was asked in school, "Is the moon closer to Guam or is Manila closer?")

Ilek-ña si Juan, "I pilan."
(Juan said, "The moon.")

Ilek-ña i ma'estra, "Bai faisen hao ta'lo."
(The teacher said, "I will ask you again.")

Pues ilek-ña si Juan, "Ya pareho ha' bai oppe hao."
(Then Juan said, "And I'll tell you the same thing.")

Mamaisen i ma'estra, "Kao hihot-ña i pilan pat Manila?"
(The teacher asked, "Is the moon closer or Manila?")

Manoppe si Juan, "Esta hu sangåne hao na hihot-ña i pilan."
(Juan replied, "I already told you that the moon is closer.")

Mamaisen i ma'estra, "Håfa taimano?"
(The teacher asked, "How is that?")

Manoppe si Juan, "Gaige yo' Guam ya hu lili'e' ha' i pilan lao ti hu lili'e' Manila."
(Juan replied, "I'm on Guam and I can see the moon but I can't see Manila.")

Wednesday, December 21, 2022


Mariana Maru

We all know that Guam and the Northern Marianas form two separate governments. Still, both are under the American flag and observe all applicable US Federal laws.

But think about the advantages some people could have had when the two island governments were under separate flags; Guam under the US and the Northern Marianas under Japan.

When that was the case, between 1914 and 1941, the Japanese in Saipan did not have to honor American requests from Guam, and vice-versa, when it came to judicial proceedings.

In 1926, a complaint was filed in Guam's court against a man named Ignacio for illegally possessing a house which rightfully belonged to another.

When he received the summons to appear in court, Ignacio seems to have had other plans : sail to Saipan on JK Shimizu's schooner, the Mariana Maru. There, in Saipan under the Japanese, Ignacio may be able to avoid going to the American court on Guam and face punitive measures.

The plaintiff in the case reported this plan of Ignacio's possible escape to the Court. The Court, in turn, asked the Governor to prevent the schooner from taking Ignacio to Saipan.


Instead, the Governor solved the whole situation by allowing Ignacio to sail to Saipan, but in the nature of being DEPORTED.

That was a brilliant stroke of legal manoeuvre. Instead of fleeing, Ignacio was being deported. If he was deported, he could not expect to ever come back. Whatever house he was illegally possessing on Guam was now vacant, and the legal owner could move back in.


Wednesday, December 14, 2022




Josefina LG Martínez, a young mother in her 20s, was peacefully frying bananas in her home in Sinajaña one day in 1955. It was 1:30 in the afternoon and she was all alone in the house.

Out of the blue, the frightful appearance of an almost-naked, bearded man startled her when he pushed open the kitchen door.

His beard went down to his chest and his hair down to his shoulders. He held a gun and a saber hung from a rope around his waist. It had to have been a Japanese straggler.

The Japanese motioned with his fingers for her to keep silent, and nudged his gun against her ribs.

Thankfully, the menacing man only grabbed some bananas, both the ripe and also the fried bananas (madoya), saying "beru, beru." which must have been "taberu," Japanese for "to eat." Then he dashed back into the jungle near the house. On his way out he dropped two madoya!


Josefina contacted the police, however, and the Police Chief tasked Juan Unpingco Aguon and José Salas Bukikosa, two police officers who had previously been members of the Guam Combat Patrol that hunted Japanese runaway soldiers after the war, to track down this latest straggler.

But he was never to be seen again. His bones probably lie somewhere in the dense vegetation of the island.

Tuesday, December 6, 2022



Jesús Villagómez Santos (1905-1968) had a very pronounced limp, and it wasn't temporary.

It was such a noticeable limp that people would talk about his LIMPING openly.

But people started to play around with the English word "limping" and changed it to LINCOLN.

So, Jesús became known as JESÚS LINCOLN.

"Lincoln," of course, when said, sounds like LINGKON.

To show he took no offense and was a good sport about it, when Jesús and his wife Rosario had their first baby boy, they named him ABRAHAM. In all seriousness, this child could truly be called, in Chamorro fashion, Abraham Lincoln.

better known as Jesús Lincoln

Jesús was from that branch of Santoses who already had a family nickname, BÅLI TRES. So we see how new nicknames can be applied to individuals and then their children and grandchildren could go by a new nickname.


Jesús Lincoln's nickname shows two things about Chamorro culture.

1. We single-out a prominent physical trait or condition of people and it becomes their nickname.

We're not the only culture that does that. Think of all the men nicknamed SLIM or LEFTY in the US.

But God help you if you stand out in any way in the Marianas. Chances are it will become your nickname.

2. We play around with English.

We know the English word and how to say it. But we like to play around with it. "Might as well" becomes MINUS WHALE. "Toilet paper" becomes PAPER TOILET.  LIMPING became LINCOLN for Tun Jesús. And the list goes on.