Friday, May 19, 2023



in Santa Rita Church, Guam

Saint Rita of Cascia (the town in Italy where she lived in the 1400s) is the patron saint of the village of Santa Rita in Guam.

Her feast day is May 22 and the public celebration of that feast is usually held on the weekend closest to that date.

The Chamorro hymn to Santa Rita speaks about her life, so unless you know some details about her life you may not understand the hymn.


When Santa Rita was born, bees gathered around her mouth, even entering and leaving, laying honey on her lips without harming the little baby. A man who observed this, who had a wounded arm, tried to gather the bees and his wound was healed instantly. The bees were taken as a good omen that the baby would grow into someone important. Later, long after Santa Rita died, white bees would gather in the walls of her monastery up until her feast day.


Saint Rita had always wanted to be a nun, but her parents pressured her to marry a man she didn't love. He was a womanizer and an abuser. She consented and suffered much on his account. Her husband was murdered and later her only two children, sons, died. But, in all three cases, Santa Rita helped the three repent of their sins before their deaths. Now independent, she finally entered the Augustinian monastery and became a nun.


Wanting to share in the sufferings of Jesus, Santa Rita asked to feel in her body the pains the Lord endured. Jesus allowed her to receive a wound on her forehead and the marks of the Crown of Thorns. This wound began to stink horribly and all the other nuns had to avoid being near her. But on the day she died the wound was replaced by a mark in the shape of a rose and colored like ruby. It now gave off a beautiful fragrance.

Santa Rita is the patroness of impossible cases and of abused women.

Fina’tinas Santa Rita meggai siha na milågro;
tayuyute ham Santa Rita todos i mangilisyåno.
(Saint Rita made many miracles;
pray for us, Saint Rita, for all Christians.)

Linangitan minamisan i masåmai na na’ån-mo / ninatungo nu anghet na sinantos na na’ån-mo / sa u maolek yan tagåhlo i hinanao-mo gi tano’…
(Your beautiful name is a heavenly sweetness, the holiness of your name was made known by an angel, because your journey on earth would be good and exalted...)

Annai på’go ma takpånge i pachot-mo nai man annok / i abehas låhyan siha / si Yuus ma na’ fan måtto / ya ma tungo magin ayo i minames i bidå-mo...
(When you were baptized a swarm of bees appeared on your mouth, sent there by God and because of that we know the sweetness of your life...)

I man silok na mañaina achok ha ti malago / ma naassagua hao guihe yan i ti ya-mo na taotao / lao un sungon i finakai si Yuus långet nu hågo…
(Your overbearing parents, even though you didn't want to, made you marry a man you didn't love, but you endured what the God of heaven marked out for you...)

Annai måtai i asagua na pinino’ nu i taotao / ya man måtai i dos lokkue na lahi-mo na man gåtbo / un hasuye gi anti-mo na un gunos hao gi tåno’...
(When your husband died, killed by someone, and your two handsome sons also died, you thought in your soul to separate yourself from the world...)

Umetmåna agustina ya un setbe i Saina-mo / korason ånte mumagof mesngon kalåmya såntos / un gofli’e’ i guinaiyan i anti-mo un nahåspok...
(You became an Augustinian nun and served your Lord, your heart and soul rejoiced, perseveringly you became holy, you loved the love of your soul and became satisfied...)

Si Yuus ha nadinilok i hai-mo nu i laktos / ya sumåga mandochon i dilok-ña giya hågo / O gai tituka’ na sånta ma asi’e’ i taotao-mo...
(God pierced your forehead with a thorn and its gash remained fixed in you. O saint with a thorn forgive your people...)

Tuesday, May 16, 2023



Some older people hesitate to admit that karabao was eaten before the war.

Perhaps some think it is embarrassing to admit that, seeing the karabao as a beast of burden, or buried in mud when not working.

A man born in 1928 told me that, yes, some people did eat karabao now and then before the war.

For some, karabao meat was tough to chew on. But, if a karabao just happened to die (from disease being an exception), why waste the meat and let it rot?

Secondly, depending on the family, there may have been a huge surplus of karabao in the herd. More than needed for farming. So, some were butchered.

In fact, even in the 1950s, stray karabao (and cattle) were sometimes rounded up by the government and slaughtered, with the meat being sold at public auction.


In the 1920s, a man in Inalåhan was told by his father-in-law to slaughter a young heifer for the feast of San José. The young man convinced his father-in-law to exchange the heifer for some karabao meat already butchered, and the karabao meat was used to feed the father-in-law's fiesta guests.

Another man told me years ago that, during the Japanese Occupation, he would sell karabao meat to the Japanese and sample some himself.

If a family had a sizeable herd of karabao, they might even slaughter a young calf because its meat was more tender.

Even into the 1970s, some karabao owners slaughtered karabao in order to sell the meat. One rancher in Inalåhan had to laugh when he saw kelaguen karabao at a fiesta, because chances were the karabao had been stolen from his large herd. But he let it go.

Then there's the hide of the karabao that can be used once it is butchered. Karabao hide is impermeable to water.

Karabao milk was prized as being more flavorful and creamy than cow's milk. Of course that meant the female karabao was kept alive for that reason.

In all my years I've never come across karabao served at any party on Guam, unless it was karabao but nobody said anything. But, especially before the war, it was not uncommon for people to eat kåtnen karabao.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023


Going to elementary school at Saint Francis School in Yoña from 1968 to 1974 meant that I passed through Chalan Pago five days a week riding the bus to school from my home in Sinajaña.

One of my memories of traveling Route 4 in those days was seeing the remnants of the HOLIDAY INN on the right side of the highway as one headed to Yoña.

I remember the building being somewhat elevated from the road, the building looking abandoned but the HOLIDAY INN sign still intact.

Don't think Holiday Inn as in the hotel.

This Holiday Inn had nothing to do with that hotel chain. It was independently owned and ran as a restaurant and dancing venue. Various civic club affairs and even political social events were held at Chalan Pago's Holiday Inn.

One of its owners was Bill Garrison, whose wife was Chamorro. Some treated lumber that had been ordered for a project in Saipan that fell through sat idle at Commercial Port and Garrison picked it up to build the Holiday Inn.

The dancing was meant to improve business. The Holiday Inn went one step further and was the first establishment on Guam to introduce go-go dancers. Garrison said in an interview that they weren't strippers, but they were "exotic" dancers.

Guam's first indecent exposure fine was levied against one dancer at the Holiday Inn in 1967. The priest of Chalan Pago preached against the dancing and the police weren't too happy either. They tried bringing in Japanese girl bands to attract more customers, but there just wasn't enough money being made to keep the business going. By 1969 it was no longer in operation.

Because the wooden walls had been treated, they lasted a bit but Typhoon Pamela in 1976 damaged the roof and the wood started to rot. In December of 1990, Typhoon Russ gave the final blow. People pass by now on Route 4 every day and see no sign of the Holiday Inn, although the cement foundation is still there.


Monday, May 1, 2023




Around midnight on Tuesday, November 18, 1980, going into Wednesday, Marine Corporal Steven R. Thompson was beaten and left for dead by three, young Humåtak men after a night of drinking and bickering.

All four men, and some others, had been drinking outside one of the men's homes. When Thompson entered the home without asking, a resident of the home felt disrespected. Some people say that Thompson was making advances on a lady in the house. Heated verbal exchanges ensued between Thompson and some of the men. Someone suggested they beat up Thompson to teach him a lesson.

They invited him to walk the sandy shore of Humåtak Bay, but the men felt it was too open and visible so they lead Thompson to the overgrown bushes and bamboo grove by the river near the Mayor's Office. There they beat him so bad that the back of his head was lacerated. Then they left him in the thick vegetation for the night.

The next morning, Wednesday, they checked on him. Thompson was alive and moaning, but the three men left him alone one more time, too afraid to tell anyone. 

A whole day passed and now it was Thursday. Two Humåtak men were taking advantage of the bright moon light that night and went to the area to hunt for crabs. They found a human body, instead. There was no ID on the man, but when word circulated around the island that a dead Caucasian was found, someone from the Marines told civilian authorities that a Marine had been missing for two days. Eventually authorities concluded that the dead body was Thompson's.



It didn't take a murder for Humåtak people to feel uneasy about the river banks in Humåtak. To this day, people in Humåtak call it "the Bamboo," even though the Mayor's staff cut down the bamboo long ago. The sound of wind blowing through the bamboo, and the creaking of the long stalks of bamboo, gave the area an eerie feel.

A woman in her 60s told me, "Growing up, my parents always told me not to play in that area. They never said exactly why. Just that it's a bad area. So hardly any kids played there. It always was a lonely place."

She also said that there used to be a wood and tin-roof house nearby, which is now long gone, which everyone considered scary. There was a family living there, with two children, but they rarely went outside the house. Even the two children stayed indoors. This cast a creepy shadow over the house, which was already in the area of the spooky bamboo marshland. Kids, especially, felt weird passing by the house.

About the only story I heard from Humåtak people about "the Bamboo" is that voices will be heard, but there is no one there. Most people are not sure what language was being spoken; the voices were heard but the words were not clear.