Tuesday, February 21, 2023



If you've ever heard of a man from Saipan named JOE ELEVEN, you're in your 50s and 60s if not older.

In the past, there were two JOE TENORIOS on Saipan. The older of the two was José Camacho Tenorio, who was Saipan's richest businessman. Everyone knew him as JOE TEN.

The younger Joe Tenorio, who chose a legal career, was known as JOE ELEVEN.

Joe Eleven showed his intellectual curiosity early in life, picking up English here and there from the few people in Saipan who knew some English.

That intellectual curiosity was enough to get him in trouble with the Japanese, who were so paranoid of American victory that even a tiny knowledge of English was enough to label you a possible American spy. Even if you were just eleven years old, as Joe Eleven was in 1944.

But the Japanese came looking for the young boy, going to his family farm. He tells the story :

"When the Japanese came looking for us, we fled and went into hiding. We offered up prayers to the Sacred Heart for protection against the Japanese and for protection against the bombs that were bursting all around us. And we were protected and weren't harmed."

Just based on his natural smarts and making the most of what limited education was possible in Saipan after the war, Joe Eleven got a job teaching at Saipan's elementary school.

In this capacity, he got to know Mrs. Paul Murphy, the American principal at the Navy dependents' school in Saipan. She recognized Joe Eleven's potential and reached out to a Minnesota priest named Monsignor Bernard Mangan. He, in turn, brought the matter to the attention of the De La Salle Brothers who ran Saint Mary's College in Winona, Minnesota. They agreed to take in Joe Eleven on scholarship.

After finishing college and studying law, Joe Eleven returned to Saipan. He got married and raised a family, passing away in 1989. U såga gi minahgong. Rest in peace.

If it weren't for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he may never have accomplished all that, all because he spoke a little English and that made the Japanese nervous about an eleven-year-old boy.


Thursday, February 9, 2023



In 1926, a woman named María owed attorney Tomás Anderson Calvo (grandfather of former Governor Paul M. Calvo), $15.72.

In today's value, that would be around $260.

No reason is ever stated in the court documents why she owed Calvo that much.

Having failed to get payment from María, Calvo sought justice from the court. María answered the summons and promised payment by a certain date. When that date came and went, and there was still no payment, the judge ordered the Commissioner of Hagåtña to search María's house for anything worthy of being auctioned, in order to obtain money to pay the debt.

The Commissioner reported that he found only one thing worthy of being auctioned. A gold rosary with red beads and a gold crucifix.

Well, that would have to do and the rosary was put up for auction. Only one person stepped forward to make a bid. He was Pancracio Rábago Palting, another lawyer, who bid $4 for the rosary, which today would mean $66. So, Palting won the rosary and the debt was now reduced by $4. I have no idea what happened to the rest of the debt.


The Catholic Church does not allow blessed items to be sold. Assuming María's rosary was blessed, her rosary lost its blessing the minute it was bought, even in auction.

Palting, if he wanted a blessed rosary, had to have it blessed again after he had bought it in auction.

This little story shows how much many Chamorros prized their rosaries. It was sometimes put in the will who in the family would inherit it.