Friday, December 19, 2014


Yanggen chumocho gåmson i ga'lågo, siempre nina' dåkngas.

(If a dog eats octopus, it will lose its hair.)

Ilek-ña i amko', "Ti debe de u chochocho sa' måppla' siempre i pilu-ña." "It shouldn't eat it because its hair will fall out"

I heard this when I was a kid.

Not that I have ever seen it. Fifty years and I have not once seen anyone offer octopus to a dog.

So I asked the elder, "Lao håftaimano i ga'lågo para u fañodda' gåmson para na'-ña?" "How would a dog find an octopus for food?"

"Yanggen mañochocho gåmson i familia ya guaha sopbla, siña ha' nina' chocho gue' nu i gamson." "If the family is eating octopus and there are leftovers, the family might make the dog eat the octopus."

Neither is there, as far as I can find out, any scientific basis for the folk belief.

The only caveat I read about is to avoid the toxic blue-ringed octopus. Its venom is powerful enough to kill humans.

"Don't eat me! I'm poisonous!"

But I'd never myself offer a dog even a regular octopus. Just in case.

This seems to be more than just a Chamorro concern, as the link below will show. Others have also asked the question if eating octopus will make a dog lose its hair.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Sermon from the 1950s

Komo påle'-miyo, guaha obligasion-ho na hu na' fanmanhasso hamyo pot i moråt na obligasion-miyo yanggen manmanbota hamyo.
(As your priest, I have an obligation to bring to your mind your moral obligation if you are voters.) (1)

Nesesita en bota ayo na petsona i en pepe'lo gi korason-miyo na guiya i mås maolek para ayo na ofisio.
(You must vote for that person whom you consider in your hearts to be the best person for that position.)

Yanggen manbota hao ha' sin fotmalidåt pat yanggen on bota håye na taotao ni taigue gi korason-mo na guiya i mås maolek na taotao para ayo na ofisio, siempre on komete un isao kontra i tininas.
(If you vote without seriousness or if you vote for someone who isn't in your heart as the best one for that position, you surely commit a sin against justice.)

I obligasion para manbota, un serioso na obligasion.
(The obligation to vote is a serious obligation.)

Petmitido hao manbota sa' guaha libettåt-mo.
(You are permitted to vote because you have freedom.)

Fanhasso maolek åntes de on fa'tinas i botu-mo.
(Think well before you make your vote.)

Faisen maisa hao : Håye siha i mås man maolek na lalåhe (2) para u ha ma'gåse (3) i sengsong-ho (4).
(Ask yourself : Who are the best men to lead my community.)

Nesesita hågo mismo on fa'tinas i desision-mo.
(You yourself must make your decision.)

Gågao si Yu'us ya on inayuda fuma'tinas i dinanche na desision.
(Ask God to help you make the right decision.)


1. This line strays from a literal translation. The Chamorro literally says "to make you think" and also "if you vote." But I have given a dynamic translation to give more of the sense intended.

2. Lalåhe = men. This sentence dates this sermon to the days when it was assumed that only males were political candidates.

3. Ma'gåse = to be superior, the head. Må'gas can mean the superior or great.

4. Songsong = town, village or community.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Nuebo na rai, nuebo na lai.

A new king, a new law.

I've heard this said only by one person, in his mid or late 80s, and that was ten or more years ago.

Am sure he learned it as a kid, so perhaps in the 1930s.

The idea is that it's a whole new ball game whenever a new guy takes over.

This was especially true when Guam and the Marianas were truly ruled more by man and less by rule.

Both Spanish and American military governors had wide powers. On paper, there were limits and these were observed to an extent. But some governors exceeded them and got away with it many times.

To be accurate, even some Spanish governors were denounced (fairly or otherwise) and had to appear before higher authority. Some American Naval governors also faced fire from the public and were then scrutinized by Washington.

Because of this, I am sure our mañaina certainly related to the proverb : Nuebo na rai, nuebo na lai. One didn't know what to expect with each new governor.

Even today, when we say we are under a government of laws, not men, each ruler's personal likes and dislikes, style and emphasis color his or her administration and affect people's lives to some extent.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Chamorros in Hawaii were not as low-profile as one might imagine a hundred years ago.

For example, a Chamorro from Guam named Joe (born Jose) Castro was a bit of a boxing celebrity in Hawaii at one time.

We don't know who he was, other than that he was originally from Guam. In fact, he billed himself as the "Guam Wonder" in the ring. Castro didn't box just in Hawaii. In the early 1900s, he was in Stockton, California, and did so well he was able to come back to Hawaii with money in his pocket.

He had a bit of bad luck, though, in the Aloha State.

His wife sent a small boy to a Chinese eatery to buy ten cent's worth of poi. But the missus didn't give the boy the necessary dime, and the Chinese owner wouldn't part with his poi.

Mrs. Castro then went personally to see the Chinese owner, and a verbal exchange took place. That's when The Guam Wonder came in and used his boxer's fists to do the talking. He, and his wife, were arrested. Eventually, both the Chinese owner and Castro coughed up the money to pay the court fees and end the case.

Turned out to be very expensive poi.

(made from taro)

Thursday, December 4, 2014


Well, before Charmin came along, what DID our mañaina use?

Some say this....

....or whatever leaf (non-irritating) was handy.

I am old enough to remember we often used this, especially in the outhouses :

But when actual toilet paper became commercially available, Guam and Saipan (and Luta) diverged because, when that time came, we were under two different colonial powers.

On American Guam, our people decided to forego trying to pronounce the English "toilet paper" and coined the Chamorro phrase "påppet etgue," which literally means "paper for wiping."  Not just wiping, as in wiping anything. But I don't want to get more specific. You get the idea.

While on Japanese Saipan and Luta (modern Tinian had no Chamorro community before WW2), the Chamorros borrowed the Japanese word for tissue chirigami.

The Japanese word chirigami comes from two words. Kami means "paper" (it also means "god"). Chiri means "dust" or also "rubbish."  Rubbish paper. The word did not only mean "toilet paper." Inexpensive wrapping paper was also called chirigami.  Or, chirigami could also mean a coarse, rough kind of paper. In fact, today in Japan, many people no longer call toilet paper chirigami. Many call it tisshu (tissue) or even toiretto pepa (toilet paper).  But, just as it happens in other places, Saipan and Luta preserve an old usage less employed in the original country!

On Guam, as well, there is a standard joke that we use "paper toilet" in the restroom.

Whatever you call it, make sure you know your Guam term, and your Saipan/Luta (and now Tinian) term, so you get what you need when you're in a jam.

Monday, December 1, 2014


1. Gi hilo' tåno' annai muma' taotao i Saina
(On earth when the Lord became man)

Ha padese minappot pot i bidå-ta
(He suffered difficulties on account of our deeds)

Ha kåtga un makkat kilu'us pot i isao-ta
(He carried a heavy cross on account of our sins)

Mumåtai yan lumå'la' pot i satbasion-ta.
(He died and rose again for our salvation.)


Esta på'go ha baba i pottan* i langet
(He has already opened the gate of heaven)

sa' yanggen måtai yo' siempre ha pipet yo'
(because when I die He will surely lead me)

Pues ta fan manåyuyut pot i isao-ta
(so let us pray over our sins)

Ya puede tunas i anti-ta para i Saina.
(so that our souls may go straight to the Lord.)

2. Sumen bonito este bidå-ña i Satbadot-ta
(Our Savior's deed is most beautiful)

Ha na' annok ha' dångkulo guinaiya-ña
(He revealed His great love)

Ola mohon ya taiguihe i korason-ho
(May my heart be that way)

Bai sakrifisio ya bai suhåye i tentasion.
(I will make sacrifice and avoid temptation.)

* Usually the definite article i ("the") will change potta to petta.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Garapan, GUAM???

We've all heard of Garapan in Saipan. But on Guam?

Yes. But ever since nearly everyone moved out of war-devastated Hagåtña after World War II, people forgot that there was a small section of the city that was called Garapan.

It was located east of the Protestant, or Baptist, cemetery, formally known as the Custino Cemetery. This cemetery is unknown by many, as it lays mostly hidden from view. It is across the street from the better-seen Naval Cemetery.

Tony LG Ramirez confirmed this for me some time ago, but this elderly man, who lived in San Antonio as a child, the barrio where Garapan was located, also confirmed it for me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Uno na monha (1) nina' li'e as Jesukristo i momento annai måtai un taotao ni i isao,
(Jesus Christ allowed a nun to see the moment a sinner died,)

ya ha hungok i sentensian Jesukristo ni i yinegguan (2) uhe (3) na ånte na måtai yan må'gas na isao.
(and she heard the sentence of Jesus Christ of condemnation of that soul which died in mortal sin.)

Annai ha li'e i monha na uhe na desgrasiao na ånte kinenne' ni i anite ensegida iya sasalåguan,
(When the nun saw that unfortunate soul was taken immediately to hell by the demon,)

ha tutuhon i monha umugong ya kumasao dururo.
(the nun began to groan and cry intensely.)

Ayo nai finaisen gue' as Jesukristo, "Håf mina' umugong hao, ya kumakasao hao taiguennao?"
( Then Jesus asked her, "Why do you groan and weep like that?")

Ya ineppe nu i monha, "Håftaimano, Asaina Jesukristo, håftaimano ti hu ugong ya ti hu kasao,
(And the nun answered Him, "How, Lord Jesus Christ, how would I not moan and weep)

hu lili'e uhe i desgrasiao na ånte ma yoggua para siempre ha',
(to see that unfortunate soul condemned forever,)

ya tåya' håf na remedio para guiya, sa' hågo mismo un sangåne,
(and there is no remedy for him, because You yourself said,)

na tåya' håf na nina' libre giya sasalåguan?"
(that there is no escape from hell?")

Ayo nai ilek-ña si Jesukristo, "Ennao na ånte ma yoggua muna' malago'-ña ha'.
(Then Jesus said to her, "That soul is condemned through its own will.)

Guåho, ni i Yu'us yo', sen hu tutungo' na i taotao iningak (4) ni i tinailaye desde i pinatgon-ña,
(I, who am God, know very well that man is inclined to evil from his childhood,)

ya muna' ennao na tiningo'-ho hu po'lo gi iyo-ko iglesia
(and because of that knowledge, I instituted in my Church)

i sakramenton kumonfesat para u ma na' funas todo i isao siha.
(the sacrament of confession for the wiping away of all sin.)

Ennao na sakramento eståtaba gi disposision-ña, annai låla'la' ennao na ånte gi hilo' tåno',
(That sacrament was at his disposal, when that soul was alive on earth,)

ti ha aprobecha i tiempo ni i hu nå'e gue' para u dingo i chat (5) na bidå-ña ya u gef konfesat;
(he didn't take advantage of the time I gave him to forsake his evil ways and confess well;)

måtai på'go ya hu na' ma yoggua muna' i deskuidå-ña (6) yan i ma abandonå-ña."
(he has died now and I condemned him because of his carelessness and forsakenness.")


(1) Monha = from the Spanish word monja or "nun." Nuns are different than sisters in that nuns are cloisetered; they do not leave the convent. We are more used to sisters here in the Marianas, who teach and do other works. For us, a religious sister is etmåna, from the Spanish hermana meaning "sister."

(2) From the root word yoggua, which means to be condemned.

(3) Uhe = an old word for "that," no longer used.

(4) From the root word ungak, which is "to tilt or lean to one side."  The last name Ungacta also comes from this word.

(5) Chat means "defective."

(6) Deskuida is borrowed from the Spanish. Today, most Chamorros would say deskuido, rather than deskuida.

Friday, November 14, 2014


The Villagomez family has been around for a long time now.

At least since 1727, when they appear in the Guam Census.

In that Census, there is but one Villagomez, and his name is Cristóbal (Spanish for "Christopher").

Cristóbal is listed under the "Spanish"soldiers, which can mean either a Spaniard from Spain, or a Spaniard but born and raised in Latin America, or a Latin American of mixed blood (Spanish and one of the local native races in Latin America).

Cristóbal is married to Francisca Ana. Now therein lies the enticing mystery.

Ana is not a Spanish last name it is a first name). It doesn't sound Filipino, either. One must usually suspect a Chamorro wife, unless a Spanish or Filipino surname suggests otherwise.

There is a Chamorro anña, which means "to attack or injure some physically." The question is if the N in the original manuscript shows the ñ or not. All I've seen so far is a typewritten copy. I'll ask to see a photocopy of the original manuscript. If that has an ñ, then we're in business. If it doesn't, it is still possible that the name Ana is really anña, but the scribe didn't use the ñ for whatever reason.

Our ancestors had names that were often words of actual things, actions or conditions, so anña would be a possible name, like Naputi.

Cristóbal and Francisca had the following children :

Juan Jose

Five boys! And there could have been more children after the Census was taken. Two boys had the same name, Manuel.

In the 1758 Census, only the three oldest boys appear. The two Manuels do not.

Juan Jose married Dominga Manfaisen. Manfaisen is a Chamorro name. It is a contraction of "ma fafaisen." Faisen is "to ask."

Jose married Maria Francisca de la Vega. There is only one de la Vega family in the Marianas at this time that appears in records, and that is the family of "Spanish" soldier Manuel de la Vega and his wife Maria Egui. Again, Egui is not Spanish so we can assume she was Chamorro. Although there is no child named Maria Francisca in the 1727 Census, we can speculate she may have been born just after the Census was taken.

If this is accurate, we can see how outside blood was marrying into Chamorro families. The children most certainly grew up speaking Chamorro, as well as perhaps some Spanish in some cases at least.

Lastly, Francisco married Dorotea Ramirez. Dorotea appears in the 1727 Census as a daughter of the "Spanish" soldier Antonio Ramirez and his wife Antonia de la Cruz. We have no idea who Antonia was or her race.


On Guam, the Villagomez name survived mainly because of one Francisco Dueñas Villagomez who, by 1897, had almost a dozen children with his wife Mariana Cruz.

Nearly all the other Villagomezes on Guam in 1897 were women.

Two Villagomez men, born on Guam, moved to Saipan in the late 1800s.

One, Joaquin, married Rita Castro, and became the patriarch for the largest Villagomez branch in Saipan.

He had two sons. Manuel married a Carolinian woman, Antonia Parong Seman. His son Manuel became better-known-as Kiyu.

The other son, Rafael, married Romana Campos Pangelinan. Chamorros have a hard time pronouncing R, So Rafael was better-known-as Laffet and his descendants became a large clan in Saipan.

Another Villagomez from Guam, Jose, moved to Yap with his wife Maria Mendiola Cruz. The Yap Chamorros later left that island after World War II and returned to the various islands of the Marianas.


There are numerous surnames in Spain that are a combination of the word villa and something else. Villa means "house," as in an estate, larger than just the normal structure called a casa.

So Villanueva means "new house."

Villaverde means "green house."

Villalobos means "wolf house."

Villagomez means "town of Gómez." Gómez is a last name and is found everywhere in Spain and means "son of Gomo." "Gomo" is an old word that could mean "man" or "path."

Saturday, November 8, 2014


Antonio Maria Regidor
Filipino Nationalist Deported to Guam

In January of 1872, Filipino soldiers rose up against the Spanish at Fort San Felipe in Cavite. The mutiny was squashed and the Spaniards began their retribution by executing or exiling the rebels, but the Spaniards also targeted many people accused of anti-Spanish ideas or activities, though not directly involved in the revolt.

Many of these arrested for nationalistic aspirations were exiled to Guam, where they were housed with some of the island's elite.

Among the Spaniards of Guam, Vicente Guilló housed the best-known of the Filipino deportados, or deportees - Antonio Maria Regidor y Jurado.

The Spanish priest of Hagåtña, Father Aniceto Ibáñez, OAR, housed Jose Baza y Enrique and Jose Maria Baza y San Agustin.

Vicente Calvo y Olivares, a Spanish mestizo with Filipino blood, who was more or less a permanent resident of Guam, housed some rather big names in the Philippines nationalist cause at the time. They were Ramon Maurente y Luciano (allegedly a financier of revolutionary causes), Maximo Paterno y Yanson (father of the more famous Pedro Paterno), Pedro Carrillo y Flores, Jose Mauricio de Leon y Jacoba and the Filipino priests Pedro Dandan y Masancay (he stayed on in Guam for several years, exercising the ministry. He was something of a celebrity in the Philippines upon his return there in 1876 and died mysteriously during the Revolution of 1896.), Agustin Mendoza y Casimiro and Miguel Lasa y Berraches (also stayed on Guam for a while, exercising priestly ministry).

A Filipino, but a permanent resident of Guam and married into a Chamorro family, Tiburcio Arriola, housed two fellow Filipinos, both of them priests found guilty of nationalist sympathies, Feliciano Gomez y de Jesus and Justo Guanson y Vasquez.

Our own Chamorro priest, Jose Palomo y Torres, housed some Filipino deportados, all of them priests - Jose Maria Guevara y Reyes, Anacleto Desiderio y Bautista, Toribio del Pilar y Gatmaitan and Mariano Sevilla y Villena.

Several Spanish officials living on Guam also housed a few, individual deportados.

These deportados were not simple soldiers, much less common rabble-rousers from the streets. They were men of some education. Some were well-educated (Regidor) and wealthy (Paterno). Many were seminary-educated priests. So political ideas were certainly shared among them and their Guam hosts. One can just imagine Father Palomo discussing politics with them.

Further insight showing us that Guam was not quite the isolated, back-water island it was thought to be.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


(Micronesian Kingfisher - Halcyon cinnamomina cinnamomina)

Ilek-ñiha i man åmko',
(The old people say,)

yanggen gaige hao gi halom tåno',
(if you are in the jungle,)

cha'-mo tattittiye i sihek yanggen chineflåflågue hao,
(don't follow the sihek if it whistles to you,)

sa' nina' abak hao,
(because it will make you get lost,)

kinenne' hao mås hålom gi taddung gi halom tåno'.
(it will take you further into the deep of the jungle.)


Chefla = to whistle

Cheflåggue = to whistle to someone

Wednesday, October 29, 2014



One clan named Santos is better-known-as the Bali Tres family.

According to an 80-year-old member of that family, the nickname came from his grandmother, Andrea Santos, who was so industrious that her work was worth the work of three people.

He told me, "An man macho’cho’, åntes gi gualo', un taotao ha cho’gue bålen tres na taotao chumocho’gue che’cho’-ña."

"When they worked, in the past on the farm, one person did the work of three people doing her work."

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Spanish uniforms in the Philippines in the late 1700s

In 1786, the list of soldiers on Guam was still described as the Compañía de Infantería Española y de la Pampanga; the Spanish Infantry Company and that of Pampanga, a province in the Philippines.

But the soldiers who made up these two companies were, for the most part, not born in Spain or the Philippines. They were born on Guam, specifically Hagåtña, of ancestors who had come from Spain, Latin America and the Philippines and who had (again, in large part but not necessarily all) married Chamorro women. Even those who had just a little pre-contact Chamorro blood were Chamorro by culture and language if they were born and grew up on Guam. Of course, it was a culture and language strongly influenced by both Spanish and Catholic cultures. Still, this new culture and the language spoken in the home was not Spanish nor Filipino.

There are a few indigenous surnames (Taitano, Achuga, Anungui, Materne). Some are Filipino in origin (Manibusan, Pangelinan, Demapan). We see that San Nicolas is already a surname here. The Augustinian missionaries arrived 17 years prior to this list and were probably the ones who began naming some babies San Nicolas, as evidenced by baptismal records as late as the 1850s and 60s.

So a good many of these men would have been born and baptized during the Jesuit era. We can see Jesuit names of saints, such as Juan (John) Regis, a Jesuit saint, and many Ignacios (Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits).

Most of the surnames we see in this list of soldiers are recognizable. Some never took root here or vanished after a while for lack of male descendants.

Many names on the list were unintelligible due to ink smudges and/or tears in the paper. I have also given them the modern, recognizable spelling though some names were spelled in old, obsolete ways.

ACHUGA, Rafael

ANUNGUI, Francisco

ARCEO, Félix

BAZA, Remigio

BORJA, Enrique de


CAMACHO, Francisco

CÁRDENAS, (first name unintelligible)

CASTRO, Ignacio
CASTRO, Nicolás de


CRUZ, Félix de la
CRUZ, Francisco de la

DEMAPÁN, Ignacio (some of the Demapan family later moved to Saipan where they grew in number, whereas the Demapan on Guam grew smaller)

DÍAZ, Pedro

DUEÑAS, (first name unintelligible)
DUEÑAS, Feliciano

FLORES, Juan Crisóstomo (Crisóstomo here is not a last name, but the full name of John Chrysostom, a saint)
FLORES, Rosario (yes, Rosario could be used as a man's name, though not as often as a woman's. The name simply refers to the Rosary.)

FRÁNQUEZ, Florentino

GARRIDO, Manuel Tiburcio (he became a government clerk whose name appears in a good number of Spanish era documents)

LEÓN, Luís de

LIMA, Joaquín de (some people on Guam in the 1800s had, as their middle name, de Lima)

LIZAMA, Nicolás




PABLO, Juan Regis (again, the complete name of John Regis, a Jesuit saint)

PALOMO, Antonio


PASCUAL, Andrés (there was still a Pascual family on Guam in the 1800s)
PASCUAL, Francisco


RIVERA, Marcos de


ROSA, Domingo de la

ROSARIO, Remigio del

SABLÁN, Agustin Roque (interesting, because Sablan does not appear in the 1759 Census. So this Sablan may be of the first generation of Sablans on Guam since this list is from 1786.)

SAN NICOLÁS, Dámaso de

SANTOS, Antonio de los
SANTOS, Mariano de los




TELLO JIMÉNEZ, Andrés (the Tello family lasted on Guam into the late 1800s)

VEGA, Antonio de la

Thursday, October 23, 2014



Someone who is buskaplaito is the kind of person who goes looking for a fight.

He or she starts trouble.

It's as if they enjoy conflict.

They see peace and quiet, and don't like it.

So they'll pick on someone, hoping to start a fight.

They'll make a problem where none exists.

Sometimes, it's not for the mere enjoyment of it. Sometimes there's a real gain. For example, making two people who don't have a fight start fighting, so one can gain the advantage over both of them.

~ Håfa na ti ya-mo si Maria? (Why don't you like Maria?)
~ Buskaplaito na taotao! (She's a trouble maker!)

~ Suhåye i buskaplaito na taotao. (Avoid the trouble maker.)

The word comes from Spanish buscapleito.

It can be broken down into two words :

Busca, which means "he or she looks for," and

pleito, which means "quarrel or argument."

But we don't like the ei sound, and we change it to ai.

Like Spanish reina (queen) becomes Chamorro raina.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


For a short time on Guam, it was a crime to whistle in the vicinity of Hagåtña.

One could, apparently, whistle all one wanted in Talofofo or Yigo. But not in the capital.

You see, whistling got on the nerves of one man. But that one man was the Naval Governor, and that's all that mattered.

Governor Gilmer said, "Whistling is an entirely unnecessary and irritating noise that must be discontinued."

If you were caught whistling, you had to cough up five dollars.

Governor Gilmer

Well, Gilmer's edict did not ring right in the ears of many, including those in Washington. Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, removed Gilmer as Govenror of Guam in 1920. Daniels said the whistling prohibition had nothing to do with it. One has to wonder.

With the removal of Gilmer, the ban on whistling disappeared. Under the Navy, the Governor was the law.

It was this sort of thing that got Chamorros, and some Americans, moving on making the change towards a government by, of and for the people. It is a process many think is still incomplete.