Tuesday, January 17, 2023



There is disagreement going on right now about renaming Upi Elementary School.

Some want to rename it after the late master ifit carver Robert S. Taitano, who, besides his significance as a cultural arts practitioner, didn't live far from the school.

But others, especially those connected to the school, want to keep the current name of the school.

Having no connection whatsoever to the school, it is not my purpose to weigh in on the matter. But I do want to clarify some statements made by some people that need it. As I didn't hear these people make these statements, and am relying on media quotes, one has to ask if they were quoted accurately.

Nonetheless, someone is reported to have said that Upi is "simply a street name that stands for Northwest Field." This is not accurate. Long before there was a small Upi Street in Yigo (not even where Upi Elementary School is), there was a district of northeastern Guam called Upi. And Upi is not in the northwest of Guam but in the northeast, nowhere near Northwest Field.

This map based on a 1902 Guam map shows the traditional location of the area called Upi. It is exactly where Andersen Air Force Base sits today.

Thus, the second alleged statement by another individual, that "Upi was actually named after a cluster of homes in the Tarague area" is also in need of clarification. Upi is an area just south of Tarague, but it is its own area, distinct from Tarague. 


FROM 1989

Many people associated with Upi Elementary School today want to keep the name as is, but how interesting to find out that, in 1989, the people associated with the school back then actually opposed the name Upi Elementary School.

Prior to 1989, it was Andersen Elementary School. Then the Guam Board of Education voted to change the name to Upi Elementary School. Over 600 people connected to the school opposed it, signing their names to a petition. They preferred the school be called Mount Santa Rosa Elementary School.

Late 1960s

Those opposing the name Mount Santa Rosa said that the school was not on Mount Santa Rosa, which is south of the school, though not very far.

Those opposing the name Upi Elementary School did so for a number of reasons. Some said no one knew where Upi was nor even how to pronounce it; some pronouncing it YOO-pee. Others said there was no connection between the school and some place they had never heard of.

As for the fear that Upi would be called YOOPEE by others, let it be a lesson. While it is good to anticipate possible problems, they all don't actually become problems. Almost everyone today pronounces Upi the right way, as far as I know.

The question is : is Upi Elementary School in Upi?


As seen in the 1902 map, Upi is way at the northeast corner of Guam. Looking at the areas near it, one sees that Late Point is adjacent to Upi. It is definitely north of Anao Point. Upi, properly speaking, is exactly where the air fields of Andersen Air Force Base are.

Upi Elementary School is located well south of that. The school is adjacent to Anao Point.

So Upi Elementary School sits in between Upi and another area called Lupog, just north of Mount Santa Rosa. 

So a better case might be made that Upi Elementary School resides in Lupog, as the map indicates that the school is much closer to Lupog than it is to the air fields of Andersen Air Force Base, which is definitely Upi.


Who says a building or institution has to sit in the geographical location it is named for?

After all, there are many bakeries called Paris Bakery, and grocery stores called Manila Food Store, that are neither in Paris nor in Manila.

Buildings and institutions can be named after places, people and events that mean something to those who use the building or are part of the institution.

And, in the end perhaps, it is they, the users and participants, who ought to decide, since it is they who will have to live each day under that name.


  1. Having gone to Andersen Elem and growing up on Tun Luis Tugon St, I too wondered why it was changed to Upi when in fact it is in Lupog. I have always known the area as Lupog

  2. Also it seems as many these days do not know that this area even had the name of Lupog