Wednesday, January 31, 2024



The Chamorro penchant for giving people nicknames, and it sticking to his or her children and descendants, continues to this day. In olden days, nicknames came from the Chamorro or Spanish languages, but now even English can be used to give new nicknames.

Take for example the familian Camel.

Having been a priest in Malesso' in the 1990s, I remember a family there better-known-as familian Camel, and particularly the name "Ben Camel."

Some people thought they were named after the cigarette brand Camel. One person said that a family member was known for not drinking a lot, as he was never thirsty, like a camel. Close, but not quite.

I went to a son of the deceased Ben Camel to find out the story.

Vicente Reyes Cruz from Malesso', who was very close to the Church, took members of his family on a hike one day.

Naturally some started to get thirsty and they asked Vicente if they could drink from the canteen.

Vicente told them, "Nangga nåya," "Wait a while," probably to preserve as much drinking water as possible on the hike so they wouldn't run out.

So the thirsty ones retorted, "Dalai hao, kalan hao i camel," "My goodness, you're like a camel," because camels are well-known for being able to journey through arid deserts for days on end without the need to drink water, since they are able to store water in their bodies.

So, Vicente got identified with the nickname Camel and it was passed down to the next generation in his family.

This shows us a few things about Chamorro mentality.

First, we will notice something about you. Whether it be something about your body, appearance, mannerism, behavior or speech. Or something you did or that happened to you. You fell down. You hid under a table.

Second, that one little piece of your life we will make your entire identity. That's your nickname and claim to fame for the rest of your life. And it will probably be inherited by your children.

Rest in peace, Ben Camel. U såga gi minahgong.

Monday, January 22, 2024



with wife the former Rita Sablan Borja and children Rita and Otto
(courtesy of RoseMarie Siguenza)

The Siguenza family in the Marianas does not go a very long time ago. Of course, for you and me the year 1786 is a long time ago, but when other families appear earlier than that, in the 1727 and 1758 Censuses, while the Siguenzas do not, then the Siguenzas do arrive a bit later than many other families.

There was a soldier named Ignacio Siguenza on a list of soldiers serving the Spanish Government on Guam in 1786. He's one of the earliest Siguenzas documented in the Marianas. I cannot be sure if he has anything to do with the Siguenzas who came later, but there's more of a chance that he does than he does not. Who he was, where he was born and so on are questions I cannot answer for the moment. Was he Spanish, or Mexican, or Filipino, or a mixture or something else, we do not know for now.

Forty-three years later, there is another soldier named José Siguenza, who was the company drummer. For all we know, José could be Ignacio's son. Nine years later, there's a Miguel Siguenza listed as a soldier. José's brother? We cannot say anything more than that, since the documents just state first and last names and do not give us any more clues.

And we know from later records that there were a number of women named Siguenza who married, so the Siguenza name eventually got lost in the next generation.

But there were two men named Siguenza who became the patriarchs of all the Siguenzas who came later, many of them are people we know today.


Born around 1829, Luís Siguenza married Agustina León Guerrero Pangelinan.

According to the 1897 Census, there seems to have been two sons both named José.

An older JOSÉ was married to María Quichocho Taisipic.

A second JOSÉ was married twice; the first time to Ana Tenorio Taitingfong, the daughter of José and Joaquina, and then to Maria Sablan Camacho, the daughter of Roque and Ana. One of José and Ana's sons, Felipe, was better-known as Felipe'n Bombo.

There was also a daughter named ENCARNACIÓN whom I mention because she married Pedro Royos Quichocho and many Quichochos are descended from her. One branch of these Quichochos moved to Luta (Rota).


There was also a Vicente Siguenza from the early 1800s, whose relation to Luís Siguenza is unknown for the moment.

Vicente married Manuela Borja de los Santos.

They had the following sons :

JOAQUÍN, who first married Joaquina Pérez Cruz, the daughter of Pedro Reyes Cruz and María Cruz Pérez, then Emeteria de León Taitingfong, the daughter of Lorenzo Taitingfong and Juana de León.

From Joaquín's line come descendants like LORENZO TAITINGFONG SIGUENZA, who married Rita Sablan Borja; JOAQUÍN TAITINGFONG SIGUENZA, who married Ana Quitugua Borja and ANA TAITINGFONG SIGUENZA who, with Sharrock Brower Hannah, had a number of children.

Vicente and Manuela had at least two daughters. One was FILOMENA who married Vicente Tainatongo Castro.

The other daughter of Vicente and Manuela concerns us more because she had a number of children out of wedlock who carried the surname Siguenza, since their fathers were not known, or at least not official.

Her name was DOLORES

Allegedly with Joaquín Cruz Pérez, she had these two sons :

JESUS, who married Carmen Santos Mendiola, the daughter of Ignacio Reyes Mendiola and his wife María Fausto Santos.

And VICENTE, who married Dolores Manibusan Cruz, the daughter of Juan Ignacio Cruz and María de la Rosa Manibusan.

From another, unknown, father, Dolores had a son named JOSÉ, who married Consolación Cruz, the daughter of Juliana Cruz who was at some point married to Antonio Fejeran Mendiola.

So there are a number of people with the surname Siguenza who are all descended from Dolores Santos Siguenza who had at least three sons with "unknown" fathers.


Although not as numerous as many other families on Guam, the Siguenzas have produced a number of people very well-known on the island down through the years. Some of them were :


Lorenzo Taitingfong Siguenza, better known as Larry, was one of the earliest Siguenzas who became active in the island community. He was the son of Joaquín Santos Siguenza and his wife Emeteria de León Taitingfong, and so he comes from Vicente's line of Siguenzas.

His mainstay was the US Department of Agriculture before the war, working for them as an agricultural extension agent, whose job it was to promote island agriculture, especially among the youth through Boys' and Girls' Agricultural Clubs.

But that was just the beginning. Larry was involved in many civic activities before and after the war. Besides working for the Government of Guam, in various capacities such as the Department of Agriculture as Deputy Director and as the Parks chief for the Department of Land Management, Larry was involved in the Liberation Day Queen contest, the Lions Club, the Young Men's League of Guam, the Guam Civic Improvement League and the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men's organization. He was a Boy Scout master since before the war. Larry was also involved in sports, particularly being a boxing referee and judge. He passed away in 1983.


Peter Charles Siguenza, born in 1920, was the son of José Siguenza and Consolación Cruz, and thus the grandchild of Dolores Santos Siguenza, the daughter of Vicente Siguenza and Manuela Borja Santos.

Pete was fortunate enough to go to Coronado High School in Coronado, California near San Diego before the war. He was still in California when World War II broke out in 1941. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps. But his potential was noticed by his superiors and he was sent to officer's school and became the first Chamorro officer in the Marine Corps. He saw action in several famous battles in the Pacific arena.

Two pioneer Chamorro Marines

He graduated from Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California and later obtained a Master's degree from the University of Southern California. He married the former Barbara Bordallo, daughter of BJ Bordallo and his wife Josefina Pangelinan Bordallo. Back on Guam, Pete Siguenza worked in various positions in the Government of Guam and for J&G Enterprises. He was also active in many civic groups and activities. He passed away in 2007.


The son of Peter Charles Siguenza and his wife Barbara Bordallo, and thus a descendant of Vicente Siguenza from the 1800s, Peter Siguenza, Jr rose through the legal profession to become a trial judge in the Superior Court of Guam and then Chief Justice of the Guam Supreme Court. He graduated from Father Dueñas Memorial School and did his college and law school studies in California. He passed away in 2020.


If you attended almost any social event on Guam in the 1970s pretty much until before he died in 2009, you saw Eddie Siguenza, the brother of Peter Charles Siguenza. More importantly, he saw you because he was a photographer by profession, one of the island's leading photographers. Chances are he took your picture. He was everywhere, camera in hand. He was often hired by government officials and corporate bosses to photograph the island's biggest affairs.


And the last Siguenza I will mention is one who had an air of holiness about her. She was a Notre Dame Sister, Sister Carmen Frances Siguenza, the daughter of Jesús Siguenza, the son of Dolores Santos Siguenza, and his wife Carmen Mendiola. Sister was a school teacher, so she touched the lives of hundreds of children, from elementary grades up to junior high school. She even worked in Yap as a missionary.

She always had an aura about her that was warm and accepting. In her older years, she began to suffer bad health involving a lot of pain, and had to wear a neck brace. She was never down about it, and she never complained. She stayed the same. She was constantly praying for people. People brought her many intentions, and she listed them down to remember them when she prayed. She passed away in 2015.


Although we don't know where the first Siguenza on Guam came from, we do know that the name is Spanish and is the name of a city in northern Spain in the Province of Guadalajara.


in 1902

If you notice the way the name SIGUENZA is spelled in the photo of the Spanish city, there are two dots above the U. 

The two dots are needed in Spanish to make the sound GWE in SIGWENZA. Without the two dots, the GUE would sound like GUERRERO - GERERO. No GWE.

Notice that the Chamorro man José Pangelinan Siguenza spells his last name the Spanish way, with the two dots above the U.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024



A family I was visiting told me a story that reminded me of something similar, dealing with the Niño (Infant Jesus) going around the village at Christmas time.

When they were teenagers, these siblings, who are now in the 70s and up, would be sent by the mother or grandmother with pans of empanåda (chicken pies) to sell to earn the family extra income.

They were told not to dare come home unless they had sold every single empanåda, but some days it was simply hard to. Knowing they would be scolded or spanked if they didn't sell everything, they wondered what to do.

They found the magic formula. They would look for a house where the family and maybe some friends were gathered in the carport or porch playing poker for money. A house playing poker was a sure way to sell every last empanåda.

This reminded me of what some people said who took the Niño house-to-house for veneration at Christmas time.

They said the houses that donated the most to the Niño were the houses where gambling was going on when the Niño arrived.

Many times those gamblers were not the most pious Catholics. Some hadn't even been to church in years. Perhaps in order to assuage their guilt, they'd drop a hundred-dollar bill into the donation box when the Niño came for them to kiss.

Oh the ways of human nature.

Thursday, January 4, 2024



Club Bamboo (also called the Bamboo Inn) was a restaurant bar on Marine (Corps) Drive in Hagåtña after the war up to the 1950s. It was owned by former statesider Adrian LaDeau, who went by the nickname Trader Ade. LaDeau came to Guam as a Seabee in 1944, fell in love with Adela San Nicolas, left the military, married her and stayed. 

LaDeau's wife's sister was married to local businessman Ambrosio Torres Shimizu of Ambros Enterprises. So Shimizu was also invested in the business. 

The Club was a popular place to eat, drink and dance, with live music. Besides being a meeting place for various civic groups, Club Bamboo was the scene of some colorful episodes in its short history.

Chamorro waitress JOSEFA M. was fined $100 in 1950 for serving a Marine an alcoholic beverage. The drink itself only cost 50 cents. The Club was designated a "civilian" club, so I am assuming military personnel were not allowed in.

Three Marines in 1950 got too tipsy at Club Bamboo and started causing a ruckus. Chamorro police man Ben Charfauros went to arrest the Marines, who gave him such a hard time that Charfauros lost his badge in the scuffle. "We got the Marines," he said, "but I lost my badge."

Merchant Marines, too, could get in trouble. In 1950, several Merchant Marines were arrested on various charges at Club Bamboo.

Even employees at Club Bamboo could get the business in trouble. One worker sold cases of beer to various merchants, not knowing that Club Bamboo had no license to sell wholesale. The government punished the club by closing its bar for one week, but the restaurant side of the business couldn't make money without the bar so even the restaurant closed for one week.

In 1953, somebody perhaps got lucky at Club Bamboo. A statesider returned home after a night at the Club and noticed he didn't have his wallet on him anymore. The wallet contained $1200, which in today's value is worth $13,800. Why was the man carrying the equivalent of half a year's salary around?

By 1955, there was hardly any news concerning Club Bamboo and by 1956 there was no sign of it in the news at all. LaDeau remained on Guam and went on to other things, including establishing a place called Pirate's Cove, which is still in existence but for the longest time now owned by Jeff Pleadwell.