Monday, August 3, 2015



(Bathed in wealth, possessions)
(Opulence, lavishness, excess, luxury)

O'mak means "to bathe." But the connotation is "to be immersed in water."

Thus, "swimming" is often rendered to as o'mak. Umo'omak gue' gi tase. S/he is swimming in the sea. One does not literally bathe in the sea in the sense of cleansing oneself.

Umo'omak gue' gi saddok. S/he is bathing in the river. That can mean he or she is bathing in the river with soap and shampoo. Or, it could simply mean the person is having a swim in the river.

Not all o'mak is hygienic bathing, but being in water, whether the ocean, river or shower stall is always o'mak.

So it seems the imagery created by the word o'mak is to be immersed in water or some other thing, as in riches.

Guinaha comes from the word guaha, "to have, to exist."

It can simply mean "possession" but is also used for "riches" or "wealth."

To be bathed in wealth means to be in opulence and extravagance.

~ Atan si Pedro yan i nuebo na gumå'-ña! (Look at Pedro and his new house!)
~ Umo'omak guinaha si Pedro! (Pedro is bathed in opulence!)

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Hawaiian and Chinese signatures

During the whaling era in the 1800s, many Chamorro men left Guam, but a few foreign whalers decided to remain on Guam! Some people left, some people came.

In 1857, four Hawaiians and a Chinese man (probably coming by way of Hawaii) petitioned the Spanish Governor permission to stay on Guam until they could leave to return home or go elsewhere.

The four were seamen and the Chinese man was a cook.

Their names are very difficult to decipher. The Spanish spelled their names one way, and their signatures above show something different. One name is clear : Kaainoa.

In order to stay on Guam, the five had to

1. Promise to obey the laws of the land.

2. Not incur debts that would prevent them from leaving the island.

In order to guarantee condition number two, one William Hart, a resident of Guam, had to agree to be their guarantor and assume any and all financial obligations for any of the five.

Eventually, a Spaniard on Guam, Carmelo Gil de Orberá, became guarantor for two of them.

I am sure that, in return, the five men had to do some work for their guarantors.

It is unknown what eventually happened to these Hawaiian and Chinese settlers. We don't see their names again in the records, unless new ones come up. Perhaps they left the island. Perhaps they stayed and died without establishing families. I suspect the former.

Their presence on Guam shows that our elders of the 1800s were familiar with the bigger world out there. Spaniards, Filipinos, Chinese, Americans, British, Carolinian islanders.....and Hawaiians were known to them.

They also used the widespread term for Hawaiians at the time - kanaka - which carries today some negative feeling for some.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


The following letter, written to various priests, was written in Chamorro by the spouse of a dying person.  It has been edited to honor the family's privacy.

Sen bonito na ha'ånen i guaiyayon na Saina-ta. 
(A very beautiful day of our lovable Lord.)

Para bai nå'e hao dångkulo na agradesimento pot i tinayuyut yan guinaiya para si X yan i familia. 
(I give you great appreciation for the prayers and love for X and the family.)

Esta si X gof malango yan todo i tiempo ha nesesita asistimienton otro.
(X is already very sick and needs the assistance of another all the time.)

Eståba si Y guine ha gachunge yan ha setbe si tatå-ña tres semåna, despues ha bira gue' tåtte para i che'cho'- ña. 
(Y was here for three weeks, accompanying and serving his father, afterwards he went back to his work.)

Gaige ha' i dos hagå-ña guine. Si Z yan dos hagan-ñiha gaige esta lokkue'.
(His two daughters are here. Z and two of their daughters are already here as well.)

Esta i famagu'on yan i familia gi guinaiya yan pininiti ma aksepta i situasion yan håfa plånun i Saina.
(The children and family in love and sorrow already accept the situation and whatever the Lord's plans are.)

Esta monhåyan planu-ña para ma tratå-ña i tataotao-ña yan todo yanggen måtto i oran ma agång-ña.
(His plans for the disposition of his body and everything when the time of his calling comes are done.)

Pot fabot kontinua i tinayuyut para u ñahlalang pinadesi-ña siha yan para hame ni familia para in fan metgot gi hinengge yan aksepta i disposision i Saina. 
(Please continue the prayers so that his suffering will be lightened and for us the family that we be strong in faith and accept the will of the Lord.)

Kon tinayuyut yan bula guinaiya.

(With prayers and much love.)

Monday, July 27, 2015



One branch of the Quitugua family is better-known-as the familian Karabao.

Many family nicknames are of uncertain origin.

Oral tradition even within one clan differs, with various family members having different explanations why that family has that nickname.

According to one member of the familian Karabao,

Si bihu-hu guaha ga'-ña karabao.
(My grandfather had a carabao.)

Un dia, ha kåtga i kosås-ña gi karabao ya må'pos para i gualo'-ña giya Libugon.*
(One day, he put his things on the carabao and went to his farm in Libugon*.)

Todo maolek, lao media karera, esta ti malago' mamokkat i karabao.
(All was well, but half-way, the carabao didn't want to walk anymore.)

Yayas i karabao, ya sumåga gi chalan.
(The carabao was tired, and he stayed on the road.)

Pues si bihu-hu ha godde i karabao, ha na' tunok todo i kosås-ña ya guiya mismo kumåtga hulo' i kosås-ña para i lancho-ña.
(So my grandfather tied the carabao, took down all his things and he himself carried up his things to his ranch.)

Despues, ha bira gue' tåtte gi ga'-ña karabao ya ha båtsala i karabao guato para i lancho-ña.
(Then, he returned to his carabao and lead it over to his ranch.)

Annai lini'e si bihu-hu ni pumalon taotao, na ha båbåtsala i ga'-ña karabao hulo' para Libugon, ma chatge si bihu-hu ya desde ennao na ma fana'an si bihu-hu si Karabao.
(When my grandfather was seen by the other people, that he was leading his carabao up to Libugon, they laughed at him and since then they named my grandfather "Karabao.")

* Libugon : is what we call nowadays Nimitz Hill

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Manuel Aflague

What in the world are all those extravagant circular lines that almost cover the signature of Manuel Aflague?

All those flourishes are called the rúbrica in Spanish, and they were a common feature of Spanish (and Chamorro) signatures in the 1800s.

The point of it was this : it is far easier to forge a person's first and last names. But it is harder to forge the rúbrica. One's first and last names were limited to the letters that spell those names. Far more open to one's personal artistic whims was the rúbrica. Therefore, it was the rúbrica that assured others that the signature was authentic.

It was said that a rúbrica without a signature was worth more than a signature without a rúbrica.

So common was it that it was more surprising to see a signature without a rúbrica than an I without a dot or a T without a cross.

In many cases, a signature was not legally valid without a rúbrica.

So, those Chamorros who could sign their names copied the Spanish custom of designing a rúbrica to accompany the signature.

Here are some examples :

Ramón Ada

Antonio Martínez

Andrés de Castro

Some said that the rúbrica was like the snakes on Medusa' head. 

They could puzzle even the devil in discovering where they began and where they ended.

But they all agreed that it was downright impossible to reproduce the rúbrica as well as the inventor, so it was a seal of authenticity better than any.

Monday, July 20, 2015


The Bride
(MARC Collection)

I have my doubts about that claim, but I'll explain those later.

But, according to the Guam News Letter in June of 1915, the first exchange of vows performed in the English language of Guam was between David A. Diaz and Rita Millinchamp Duarte.

The bride was a Chamorro mestiza, the daughter of the Spaniard Pedro Duarte y Andújar and the Chamorro mestiza María Victoria Anderson Millinchamp. María was the daughter of Henry Millinchamp, a man of English and Polynesian ancestry, and his wife Emilia Castro Anderson, a woman of mixed Chamorro and Scots ancestry.

Díaz was not Chamorro but had rather come to the island connected somehow to the U.S. Naval Government. He was a member of the Agaña Lodge of the Elks Club. His mother resided at the time in San Francisco, California. He could have been of Mexican ancestry, but his surname reveals he could have been from any number of Hispanic backgrounds or even Portuguese.

The wedding took place at the Agaña Cathedral on May 22, 1915 with Påle' Román officiating. Påle' Román was one of the few priests on Guam at the time who had a good grasp of English.


My doubts about the claim that this was the "first wedding ceremony" in English here on Guam stems from the fact that other American-Chamorro weddings were celebrated on Guam before 1915. James Underwood, for example, married Ana Martínez about ten years before this, in the early 1900s. It is possible that Underwood, an American, pronounced his vows in Spanish or Chamorro, but it seems just as likely that he said them in English.

There were other American-Chamorro unions before 1915, as well.

Still, the Guam News Letter said what it said and we can't just dismiss the statement entirely. I'll just leave a little room for another possibility.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Artist : Paul Jacoulet

Hånao ha' bonitan måta
puede ngai'an na ha'åne;
ya måno nai guaha lugåt-ho
ayo hao na hu sangåne.

Go ahead, pretty face
hopefully whatever day it may be;
and whenever I have the time
that's when I will tell you.

Young love is often shy love.

Nerves. Rules.

The two meet, and cannot unleash the strong feelings beating in their hearts.

They smile and flirt, but that is all.

She has spent too much time with him. What if people notice and start to make comments?

She takes her leave, but he says he will wait for the right moment, whenever that may be, to finally tell her how she has captured his heart.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Åtmoneda in Chamorro means "auction."  The word is borrowed from the Spanish word almoneda.

Exclusive licenses from the government to run games and profit from them were auctioned, or opened up for bidding. The highest bidder would win and the government would benefit from the money put in for the bid.

In the late 1950s in Saipan, two bids were opened to run the gayera (cockfight) and bingo. Bingo was an American import so Chamorros don't have any other word for it than "bingo."

Here are the results of those two bids :

RESUTTAN I ATMONEDAN GAYERA (Results of the Cockfight Auction)

1. Joaquin C. Guerrero $1257

2. Efrain B. Matsunaga $1200

3. Francisco S. Pangelinan $1025

4. Manuel F. Aldan $900

5. Juan S.P. Cruz $80

The bingo auction seems to have been divided into districts on the island.

RESUTTAN I ATMONEDAN I BINGO (Results of the Bingo Auction)

Distrito 1

1. Ana S. Aldan $250
2. Juan S.P. Cruz $218

Distrito 2

1. Jose P. Tenorio $600
2. Vicente B. Lizama $556
3. Margarita A. Ayuyu $503
4. Baldomero Concepcion $486
5. Maximo S. Concepcion $465
6. Anselmo Iglecias* $400

Distrito 3

1. Francisco S. Pangelinan $255
2. Jose SN Ada $60

* In Saipan, the last name is spelled Iglecias. On Guam it is spelled in the original Spanish way; Iglesias.

There would have been a third auction, for båto, a game where one tries to knock down a stick or objects on a stick. But it was postponed for reasons described here :


I atmonedan i båto ma kana' asta ke u fonhåyan i Otdinånsia Munisipåt annai para u ma na' guaha i legåt na probision gi areklon este na åtmoneda.

(The båto auction is postponed until a municipal ordinance is completed wherein a legal provision organizing this auction will be enacted.)

Monday, July 13, 2015


The Veneziano Family of Guam
(MARC Collection)

Guam became the home of people from all over the world even during Spanish times. American, Chinese, Dutch, British and French men, among others, settled and founded families here.

But the American era also brought even more nationalities to our shores, including Greek.

Alexander Quitropolis Veneziano was born in Corfu in Greece. As a youth he moved to the United States and in time enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a musician. He was with Captain Leary, the first U.S. Naval Governor, when he arrived on Guam in 1899. He remained on island and married a Chamorro girl, Ana Guerrero. On Guam, he was frequently called Alejandro, the Spanish version of Alexander.

Due to declining health, he was given an honorable discharge around 1911.

In 1916, he went to Yokohama, Japan seeking medical treatment. Unfortunately, he died there in September. His body was returned to Guam where he was buried with military honors.

Alexander Veneziano
(MARC Collection)

Alexander and his wife Ana  had 5 children; half Chamorro, half Greek.

Isabel, also called Isabella, was the first Miss Guam, which was held in 1916. She later married John Charles Poshepny, an American naval officer, in 1918. Later they moved to California.

Rosa, or Rosita, married Widdy J. Laborde of Louisiana and moved with him to California.

Espiridion (a Greek name; he was also called Espiro), Enrique, Patrick and Jorge (or George) were the boys. Enrique died on Guam in 1935.

(Guam News Letter, October 1916)

At least up until 1916, Mrs. Ana Veneziano ran a garage with car rental services.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


MARC Collection

The photo above shows the members of the 8th Guam Legislature being sworn into office in January of 1965.

This was a legislature that made history. After four prior legislatures, or eight years, when not a single Territorial was even elected, the Territorial Party swept the majority in the 8th Guam Legislature.

There were 21 members of the legislature back then, and the Territorials won 13 seats while the Democrats retained just 8 seats.

From these 13 came some of the most prominent Guam statesmen.

Carlos G. Camacho, who later became the first elected Governor of Guam.

Paul M. Calvo, another future Governor of Guam.

Kurt S. Moylan, future Lieutenant Governor of Guam.

Carlos P. Taitano, who was elected Speaker of the 8th Guam Legislature, was the famous leader of the Guam Congress Walk-out in 1949. Later, Taitano became a staunch Chamorro culture advocate.

On the Democratic side, Ricky Bordallo would become Governor of Guam twice in two separate terms.

But the glory days of the TP were brief. In the very next election, not a single Territorial candidate won a seat in the legislature.

The party fizzled after that, with many former members forming or joining the Republican Party of Guam. Taitano, however, moved over to the Democrats.

Carlos Pangelinan Taitano
Speaker of the 8th Guam Legislature
MARC Collection


The Territorial Party began in 1955 when the majority of the senators (called Congressmen back then) switched their support to vote in a new Speaker.  Antonio B. Won Pat had been Speaker of the 1st and 2nd legislatures and put his name forward for the speakership of the 3rd legislature.

Others wanted a change and rallied behind Francisco B. Leon Guerrero. Leon Guerrero was indeed elected and when the two camps could not get back together, the majority formed the Territorial Party, Guam's second political party. The only party before this was the Popular Party, which became the Democratic Party of Guam in 1960.

Won Pat and the Populars defeated the Territorials in the next election, with all 21 seats going to the Populars. In those days, they called that "Black Jack," and it happened many times. All 21 seats going to the Populars/Democrats.

Francisco B. Leon Guerrero
Speaker of the 3rd Guam Legislature
MARC Collection

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


In English, events are postponed and agenda items are tabled.

In Chamorro, they are hung.

The word "to hang" in Chamorro is kana'.

Ma kakana' i gipot asta ke måkpo' i pakyo.
The party is postponed until the typhoon is over.

Maolek-ña ta kana' este asta despues de Agosto na mes.
It's better that we table this until after the month of August.

Ma kana' i botasion sa' pot ti nahong miembro.
They delayed the voting because there weren't enough members.

In Chamorro, we hang events and topics like we hang clothes or a picture on a wall. We don't mean we hang them like we hang people to die.

In Chamorro, to hang someone or something in order to kill them is ñaka'.

Ha ñaka' maisa gue' i besinu-ho.
My neighbor hanged himself.

Ma ñaka' i babue pues ma puno'.
The pig was hanged then killed.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Chamorro politics used to be much more personal than now.

It was standard practice for politicians to devote most of their speaking time to attacking candidates of the opposite party, including remarks about the opponent's personal life, spouse and children.

In 1959, a politician in Saipan felt it necessary to publicly refute the following accusations made by others about him :

Pot otro kosa, mina' presisamente malago' yo' na hu deklåra gi me'nan i pupbliko
(On another thing, I want to specifically declare before the public)

i ma supopone na ma depotta yo' tåtte Saipan,
(who believe that I was deported back to Saipan,)

pat i ma dulalak yo' gi U.S. Army.
(or that I was evicted from the U.S. Army.)

Este siha na sospecho man sen ti magåhet ya peligroso para guåho
(These suspicions are altogether untrue and dangerous to me)

ni en ayek para representånten-miyo gi minaulek yan i probechon i linahyan.
(whom you chose as your representative for the good and benefit of the community.)

Pot ennao mina' para infotmasion kuåtkiet petsona, guåho ti ma depotta
(For that reason, for the information of whatever person, I was not deported)

yan ti ma dulalak yo' gi Army.
(nor was I dismissed from the Army.)

Ni tampoko sikiera diddide' na minancha na'ån-ho guine gi uttimo na biahi-ho.
(Nor even the least stain on my name in this my last voyage.)

Guåho ayo i biktiman i sitkunstånsias.
(I am a victim of circumstances.)

Bumåsta yo' gi Army sa' malago' yo' bumåsta yan låhyeye pot i lachen i pasapotte-ko
(I quit the Army because I wanted to quit and especially because of an error in my passport)

annai humånao yo' para Guam gi Enero na mes para bai hu hålom gi Army.
(when I went to Guam in the month of January to enter the Army.)

Bai hu refiere atension-miyo ni kåtta siha guine na gaseta.
(I refer your attention to the letters here in this newspaper.)

Apparently, this politician was accused of being such a bad character that he was thrown out of the U.S. Army and forced to return to Saipan.

Still, he won the election! Nonetheless, he thought it important to deny those accusations.

On a side note, notice the abundance of Spanish loan words : pot, otro, kosa, presisamente, deklåra, pupbliko, supone, depotta, sospecho, peligroso, representånte, probecho, infotmasion, kuåtkiet, petsona, ni tampoko, sikiera, måncha, uttimo, biåhe, biktima, sitkunstånsia, båsta, pasapotte, Enero, mes, bai, refiere, atension, kåtta, gaseta.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


In 1861, Vicente Guilló, a Spanish officer in the militia of the Marianas, the Compañía de la Dotación, sold his property in Asan to Fernando Guevara.

The land was used for the growing of rice, corn, coconuts and other crops. It measured 250 feet, but that seems to be a vague measurement.

The farm had a house made of wood, three shacks, two carabaos (one male, one female), two plows and a number of goats of both sexes. There were also 800 coconut seedlings. All of these were included in the sale.

The buyer was a Filipino resident of Guam, Fernando Guevara of Binondo, a district of Manila. Guevara was to pay Guilló 261 pesos and 5 reales over a two-year period.

It is unclear if Fernando Guevara has any connection with the Guevaras of Guam we know today.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


María Pérez Calvo Torres
(1885 ~ 1973)

"Maolek-ña i baban guaha, ke nu i maolek tåya'."

(The bad of what you have is better than the good of what you don't have.)

The saying comes from a member of Guam's old prominent families.

Maria'n Jose'n Torres was a member of the Perez and Calvo families by blood, and of the Torres family by marriage, with connections to the Martinez clan.

Her husband Jose Martinez Torres was a leading businessman and judicial official before the war. He passed away in 1950.

They came from the generation very influenced by Spanish culture. In fact, when they wanted to hide information from the children or grand children, husband and wife spoke in Spanish.

The Proverb

As to the proverb....

What you have, although it may not be perfect, exists. It is there. It's in your hands to benefit from and enjoy.

There is always something or someone "better" out there, but often only theoretically. Possibly. But the point is that this possibly better option isn't in your hands now....and may never be!

It is better to accept a less-than-perfect person, thing or situation, because the perfect often exists only in our imagination. Furthermore, though less-than-perfect, the person, thing or situation that exists brings his/her/its own assets. Whereas the imaginary, theoretical and merely possible good brings no benefit, unless imagining the possible has its benefits.

Of course, as with all proverbs, there is a grain of truth, but not all truth. One proverb's truth is balanced by another proverb's truth.

Example :

1) Look before you leap.

2) He who hesitates is lost.

These two proverbs contradict each other, yet both are true depending on the situation.

Friday, June 26, 2015


Manuel shares the story how he used to hunt for edible birds before the war, using his slingshot.

The word he used for "slingshot" was pakin goma, literally meaning "rubber gun." But other Chamorros might use the word flecha, which is Spanish and usually means "arrow" but can also mean a slingshot.

To make his pakin goma, Manuel would first go into the jungle and look for a tree with Y shaped branches. The wood couldn't be too thick or two thin. Once he found the right dimensions of branches shaped into a Y, he would cut it off to the desired length.

He would then use rubber bands (goma) to tie around the two branches of the Y and use leather (kuero) as the nest for the projectile.

The best things to use as ammunition are round objects with a smooth surface. They fly much better than rough stones. He would use biyåt (marbles) or bålan plomo (lead balls).

Quietly he would go into the jungles or forests in northern Guam, just before sunset if he could, when birds often came back to rest in the trees. He would then aim and shoot. If he hit a bird correctly, it would drop to the earth. His eye had to be quick to follow the falling bird, because sometimes it was hard to find the dead bird, hidden under the fallen foliage of the dense jungle.

Hunting birds to eat was mostly a past time for Manuel. The meat on the birds was hardly enough to fill the stomach. But he was taught never to kill an animal just for sport. "An un puno' debe de un kånno'," he said. "If you kill it, you have to eat it."

"Mås i tettot hu sodda' gi halom tåno'." "It was mostly the tottot bird that I found in the jungle."

"Pues hu na' estufao pat guaha na biåhe na hu na' kåddun pika."

"Then I made it into an estufao or sometimes I would make it into a kåddun pika."


The slingshot that Manuel used was not the same as the pre-Spanish åcho' atupat used by our ancestors. The åcho' atupat was swung and thrown from the slingshot, not shot by pulling back an elastic band.