Tuesday, September 16, 2014


We have no photos of the Agat Konbento in 1855. But houses in those days tended to look something like this.

Between 1849 and 1855, the village of Hågat (Agat) was getting a new priest house, or konbento. This was certainly needed, since the konbento of Agat was specifically mentioned in Father Ibáñez's chronicle as having suffered damage in the earthquake of January, 1849.

In those days, under the Spanish, the men of the community had to put in a certain amount of hours working on public projects such as the building of roads, bridges and buildings. This was to substitute for taxes, which were not collected in the Marianas, since the people didn't have much money to speak of and whose harvests were not big enough to be treated as a government resource.

Since Catholicism was the state religion under the Spanish in those days, the building of a priest house was a public works project. Sometimes, the konbento was the only stone house in the village. The best they could do in those days was make houses using a mixture of coral rock and mortar, called mampostería.

We have the list of men who worked on the konbento project in Hågat. We don't know exactly what each one did, except for the more skilled ones with titles. The others, we can assume, did the more basic work of carrying, lifting and so forth. It is not certain all these men worked at the same time, or were rather spread out over the six year time period of this project.


José Mendiola

José Santos

Francisco Taitano

Gregorio Alejo (1)
Gregorio Mendiola

Basilio Crisóstomo
José Tanoña (2)

Marcelino Demapán (3)

Ramón Cruz

I could be wrong, but these skilled laborers were, perhaps, not all from Hågat.  At least, some of their surnames are not found in documents concerning that village, and other surnames in this list are so common that they could be from Hågat but just as possibly from other places. Since they were skilled workers, perhaps they were hired from Hagåtña or other villages, while the laborers below were Hågat people. 




BABAUÑA, José (4)
BABAUÑA, Mariano
BABAUÑA, Silvestre


CRUZ, Aniceto

EÑAO, Alvino (5)

HOCOG, José (6)

LAGUAÑA, Francisco

LASCANO, Manuel (7)


PINAULA, Fulgencio
PINAULA, Paulino


QUITAUJE, Mariano (8)


ROSA, Francisco de la

SAN NICOLÁS, Francisco

TAEÑAO, Alejandro

TAISIGO, Ciriaco (9)
TAISIGO, Clemente

TAITIGUAN, Domingo (10)


Of the 20 surnames listed among the laborers, 14 are Chamorro names.

(1) I have not come across Alejo as a family name before. Unsure who he is. Chamorro? Filipino?

(2) The Tanoña family died out eventually, but there were people with this last name not too long ago.

(3) Some of the Demapans moved to Saipan, where they became more numerous. The branch that remained on Guam was not so numerous.

(4) There was, at one time, a family in Hågat named Babauña. That family name disappeared, though Babauta survived. They are two different families. In old Chamorro, babao meant something like a flag, or banner, or symbol.

(5) Another family that disappeared.

(6) When we hear this name, we think of Luta (Rota) but Hågat also had its own Hocog family, but it died out.

(7) More Lascanos are found in Humåtak. Maybe this one was from Humåtak but moved to Hågat. Or did the Lascano originate in Hågat and some moved to Humåtak? Even the Lascanos in Humåtak died out.

(8) Another old Chamorro family that died out.

(9) A family that died out. Could come from the word sugo' (to stop by, to pass the while, to enter).

(10) Another family whose name faded away. Meaning unsure. 

Many names were spelled differently in those days, and there was inconsistency many times, as well. Terlaje was sometimes spelled Tarlaje; Dimapan for Demapan; Jocog for Hocog; Nededoc for Nededog; Tayañao for Taeñao.

Lastly....the project seems to have been completed by 1855. The next year, in 1856, a smallpox epidemic devastated the island, killing off half the population. Many of the men listed here would have been among the dead.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Chamorro hymn to the Holy Name of Mary. The patroness of the Hagåtña Cathedral is the Dulce Nombre de Maria, the Sweet Name of Mary, a different version of the same title. The feast is today, September 12.

O JESUS BAI IN KANTÅYE, si Maria i Nanå-mo :
(Oh Jesus, we will sing to Mary your Mother :)

Nånan Yu'us as Maria, u ma tuna i na'ån-mo.
(Mary, Mother of God, blessed be your name.)

Singko letras ma tuge'-ña, i bonito na na'ån-mo;
(Your beautiful name is spelled with five letters;)
ti hinentan nu i taotao, pat pine'lo mañaina-mo;
(it was not discovered by man nor given you by your parents;)
lao tinago' i Saina-ta ni tumungo' i bidå-mo. (1)
(but commanded by Our Lord who knew your life.)

Mames na Nå'an Maria, mames nai i masangån-mo,
(Sweet Name of Mary, it is sweet to pronounce it,)
långet, tåno' yan i tase, estague' gi matunå-mo.
(in heaven, on earth and sea, there is your praise.)
Tåya' nai gi hilo' tåno' ni umige' i Na'ån-mo.
(There is nothing on earth that surpasses your Name.)

Hågo pulan i hinemhom ya mani'ina gi tano'
(You are the moon in the darkness which shines on earth)
kalan åtdao talo'åne på'go ennao ininå-mo,
(your light is as bright as the noonday sun.)
Nina'inan Yu'us Åtdao as Jesus ni fina'nå-mo. (2)
(illuminated by God the Sun, Jesus, whom you behold.)

Gin in atan i tasi-ta in hasuye i Na'ån-mo; (3)
(When we look at the sea, we remember your Name;)
yagin taichi i tase, taihinekkok i grasiå-mo.
(If the sea i limitless, your grace is without end.)
Yagin sahguan hånom guiya, hågo Sahguan i Saina-mo.
(If the sea contains water, you are the vessel of your Lord.)

U fan magof i tumamtam i minames i Na'ån-mo.
(Those who taste the sweetness of your Name will rejoice.)
Gi inetnon i man ånghet taiminaktos matunå-mo.
(Your praise is eternal among the choirs of angels.)
Asta ke man måtto guennao gi mina'lak echongñå-mo. (4)
(Until we arrive there by your brilliant side.)


(1) This line is based on the tradition that SS Joachim and Anne were inspired by God to give their daughter the name Mary.

(2) This verse (quite beautiful) speaks of Mary as the moon. Like the moon, she does not shine her own light, but rather that of the sun, who is Christ, whom she faces, as she is His mother.

(3) This verse is based on one interpretation of the meaning of the name Mary, or Mariam in the Greek New Testament. That theory says the name is based on the word "sea."  Christian theologians who agree with this see in this explanation a connection with Mary as being full of grace, as full as the oceans of the world are full of water. Mary is also called Star of the Sea, the light that guides our lives amidst the stormy waters of the sea.

(4) Here's that word again that modern Chamorros don't understand. The meaning has been lost. They confuse it with the word echong, which means "crooked." But there is a separate word echongña, which means "side."

From von Preissig's dictionary

Thursday, September 11, 2014


In the early 1900s, several sisters, descendants of a Chamorro settler, enjoyed great success entertaining Hawaiians with song and dance.

Ignacio Aflague left Guam in the late 1800s and set up home in Hawaii, on the Big Island. In 1885, he married a Portuguese settler, Maria (or Mary) de Rego Souza.

In 1890, they had a son Joseph, whose middle name, Enos, is interesting. Pronounced by an American, it would sound like ee-nos, which is the same pronunciation for the Chamorro nickname for Ignacio, which is Inos or Inås. Did Joseph's parents give him, for a middle name, the nickname his father Ignacio usually went by? Inos?

Joseph worked for the Oahu Railway and Land Company and married a Portuguese woman, Angela M. Medeiros in 1916. It seems they moved to California at some point because Angela dies there many years later.

Another child was born the following year, this time a daughter named Constance. Again, her middle initial is E, possibly for Enos (Inos).  The record says Constance's mother was Maria da Conceição, which we would recognize in Spanish/Chamorro as Maria Concepción (Mary of the Immaculate Conception).  Many Spaniards and Portuguese had such combinations for first names, so this is probably the same Maria de Rego Souza, except that her full name would have been Maria da Conceição de Rego Souza.

Constance was a teacher (at one time in Waipahu) and eventually married Louis Vivien in 1911 at Saint Augustine Catholic Church in Waikiki.

The oldest child, though I lack more documentation that I'd prefer, seems to have been a Gloria Aflague, who was a pianist and who married as early as 1902, to one J.E. Lewis.

But the stars of the family, the ones getting all the attention on the stage, were one Lucille and one Adeline Aflague. They performed in concert halls and at benefit events. They did it all; Spanish dances, current hits and Hawaiian songs. William Fernandez was often the producer of their shows.

That they were Catholics is shown by their church weddings and also from the help they gave Sacred Heart Church in Punahou, performing at a benefit show for the church.

The timing seems right that Adeline and Lucille (sometimes called Lucy) should be the youngest and often billed as the "Little Aflague Sisters."  If mom and dad had married in 1885, and these two were born around 1895 (after Gloria, Joseph and Constance), that would make them teenagers around they time they were delighting crowds performing on stage.

Though being Aflagues, they were not in touch with their father's Chamorro heritage and identified more with their mother's Portuguese culture, there being a large Portuguese community all around them in Hawaii.  In fact, a newspaper said that they were "well-known members" of Hawaii's Portuguese community.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


At least a week after the person is buried, rearrange the bedroom and all its furniture.

If there's anything worse for old-time Chamorros than someone dying, it's the return of that someone who died!

When we send them off to the afterlife, we want them to stay there!

We love and miss them, but that doesn't mean we want them showing up at the foot of our bed in the middle of the night. Or pinching us in our sleep. Or making noises and moving framed pictures.

We'll pray for their eternal repose and hopefully meet them again in heaven. But, for now, we want them to wait till that glorious day and save their visits for later, not now.

Now, what has this to do with the custom, observed by some, of rearranging the bedroom furniture after the burial?

According to one elder,

"Åmbres gi halom homhom un tungo' ha' måno i chalan." (Even in the dark, you know where the path is.)

One knows the lay of the land of one's bedroom so well from being in it so often that, even in the darkness, one can find his way. How much more a spirit that returns from the dead can find its way through the darkness of the bedroom when it wants to visit the survivors.

But if you rearrange the furniture,

"Yanggen måtto ta'lo i espiritu ti u tungo'." (If the spirit comes again, he won't know the way.)

Poor grandma! "Håye pumo'lo i kaohao guine mågi? Eståba guennao guato!" (Who put the storage chest over here? It used to be over there!)

So, forgive us, grandma if you stub your toe on your way into the bedroom. It's just our way of saying, "Let's just meet again on Judgment Day. For now, we need to sleep!"

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


In 1866, a German ship, the Libelle, left San Francisco, California intending to journey to Hong Kong. Guam was not even remotely part of their travel plans.

But the ship encountered a storm on the high seas and hit a coral reef at Wake Island in the dark hours of March 4. The ship was unable to proceed. Three weeks were spent on Wake, salvaging what they could from the Libelle.  Fresh water was not to be found on Wake, and, while sea birds were a good supply of protein, their salvaged food stock was bound to run out. That's when Guam flashed in the mind of German captain Tobias. On two row boats, they would be able to transport the 30 crew members and passengers to safety on Spanish-held Guam. On Guam, there'd be no risk of being killed (and eaten) by islanders, as did in fact happen on rare occurrences in the Pacific.

And what passengers they were! An English opera troupe on a world tour, with their star, Anna Bishop, plus her husband and New York diamond merchant named Martin Schultz. A diplomat for the Hawaiian Government, Eugene Van Reed, and a Japanese diplomat (one Kisaburo) were also hitching a ride on the Libelle, hoping to get to Japan.

Anna Bishop
British Opera Star stranded on Guam in 1866

Before leaving Wake, it was said that Tobias had left behind a considerable fortune worth around $150,000, consisting of coins, precious stones and mercury (called quicksilver in old reports) in individual flasks. These were goods picked up in San Francisco and entrusted to him for transport to the Far East.

The boat taking Bishop and the others in her party made it safely to Guam in about 2 weeks, arriving on April 8. But the second boat containing Captain Tobias and much of his crew capsized and those men were presumed dead.

Marianas Governor Francisco Moscoso y Lara received the survivors with hospitality, even sending out search parties for Captain Tobias, finding no trace. The search party was lead by the boat owner, George H. Johnston, a British subject but married to the Governor's daughter. The motive was not entirely altruistic. According to the laws of the day, Johnston could keep a third of the remnants of the Libelle, including the treasure, if found, and the Spanish Government in the Marianas the remaining two-thirds.

While the Spanish were looking into the fate of Captain Tobias and his lost treasure, the survivors could not leave Guam, except for the two diplomats who left Guam for Hong Kong after a few weeks. When Johnston returned with no news of Tobias but, with some of the valuable goods he managed to recover, the survivors were allowed to sail on to Manila on June 25th on Johnston's ship.

One can only imagine what Anna Bishop and the others did on Guam for those almost three months. To undergo a shipwreck and lose much of your possessions, to spend three weeks on a somewhat desolate atoll and then almost two weeks on the ocean sailing for Guam, one wonders what kind of emotional state they were in. Perhaps they were glad to be on a larger island with some comforts, with the small goings on of Spanish colonial life. Did she regain her spirits and put on a little singing recital for the Spanish colonial community and the priests? Though Protestant, imagine renowned world opera star Anna Bishop, who had sung for kings and princes in Europe, singing a motet in the Hagåtña Church!  We do know that Bishop wrote from Guam to a friend in San Francisco telling him of their misfortune but also miraculous survival.


Johnston had not grabbed all what remained of the lost treasures of the Libelle, and news traveled fast. Soon, interested parties from both directions (Hawaii and China) were setting out for Wake to hunt for Captain Tobias' hidden treasure.

According to one report by a Hawaii paper, the First Mate of the Libelle, who made it successfully to Guam on the one boat, returned to Wake in search of the treasure.* He was well-equipped with weapons and brought with him a group of "expert divers from Guam." At Wake, he met Thomas Foster of Hawaii with his own crew of Hawaiian divers. Both of them unwilling to cede to the other, they agreed to split what they found fifty fifty. Foster returned to Hawaii, and the First Mate of the Libelle went to Hong Kong. To this day, not all of the alleged treasure on Wake has been found.

Now the question is, assuming the news report is true : who were these "expert divers from Guam?" Well, who lived on Guam at the time, who would have had a background in diving? I doubt the few Spaniards on Guam would fit that description, but who knows? Were they Chamorros? Perhaps a few Filipinos resident on Guam? Carolinians, also residing on Guam?

When the search was over, the First Mate went from Wake to Hong Kong, according to the newspaper. That means the "expert divers" from Guam also went to Hong Kong. From there, they may have found their way back to Guam. Or maybe not.

* The Hawaiian Gazette, January 21, 1890

Friday, September 5, 2014


Sen tungu'on yanggen gaige
sa' lumo'lo' gi besino.
Ya manlolo'lo' pumalo,
lao lilo'-ña konosido.

It's very easy to know when he's around
because he coughed at the neighbor's.
And while others are coughing,
his cough is recognizable.

Those were the days when houses were so close to each other, you could hear someone cough in the next house.

Tungu'on = the suffix -on means "able to." Tungo' (to know) becomes tungu'on, "knowable."

Konosido = borrowed from the Spanish conocer, which means to be acquainted with, to know in an experiential or personal way.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Chamorros have been moving to Hawaii since the whaling days of the early 1800s. Unfortunately, many of them did not go by the usual names they had but had their names modified so that Americans in Hawaii could more easily pronounce them. Some were even called by their nicknames.

Many Chamorros have Spanish names, so at times it is impossible to tell from a list in Hawaii if the Cruz or the Santos is a Chamorro or someone else, a Puerto Rican or Portuguese, for example.

But Pangelinan is a good bet. It's a Pampanga (Filipino) name but with a branch that had been planted on Guam since the 1700s, intermarried with Chamorros and became Chamorros. Filipinos also spell it Pangilinan while Chamorros spell it Pangelinan.

In an 1871 list of people in Honolulu who still hadn't picked up their mail, we find the name of one Vicente Pangelinan.  There is, in fact, documentation that a Ben Pangelinan from Guam moved to Hawaii around the year 1860.  Ben lived in the Big Island some years. Maybe that's why he hadn't picked up his mail at the Honolulu Post Office for a while.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


I nana gi familia, masea chatpago pat bonita;
ta hongge gi todos i tiempo, sa' kalan ånghet para hita.
(The mother of the family, whether plain or beautiful;
we believe her all the time, because she is like an angel to us.)

Ti bonita si nanå-ho, ti u ma ayek para raraina;
lao bonitå-ña si nanå-ho ke un blåndin Amerikåna.
(My mother wasn't beautiful, she wouldn't be chosen to be a queen;
but my mother was more beautiful than a blonde American.)

Ti ha chagi si nanå-ho, i "latest style" siha gi tienda;
lao todo i tiempo listo i modan-måme, masea pinat man ma limenda.
(My mother didn't try the latest styles in the store;
but our clothes were always ready, even when most of them were repaired.)

Ti umeskuela si nanå-ho, ti settifiko ni sikiera un diploma;
lao guiya ha' ham fumanå'gue, na si Yu'us na bai adora.
(My mother didn't go to school, she didn't have a certificate or even a diploma;
but it was she who taught us that it is God we are to adore.)

Todos hamyo ni man nåna, gof takkilo' i sagan-miyo;
si Yu'us en fan binendise pot todos i bidan-miyo.
(All you mothers, you have a very high place;
God bless you for all you have done.)

Esta taigue på'go si nåna, lao magof yo' humongge todos;
sa' esta hu tungo' na si nåna, gaige på'go gi fi'on as Yu'us.
(My mother is now gone, but I am happy to believe all she taught;
because I already know that mom is now at God's side.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Pacific Daily News

It's happened before.  As far back as 1884.

The main ocean currents in the north Pacific, at least as far as they affect the Marianas, go from west to east; from California, past Hawaii to the Marianas.

Here, take a look :

So when people on the West Coast of the U.S. throw messages in bottles into the sea, it isn't surprising that some end up in the Marianas.

What is surprising is how long people have been doing it!

The earliest attestation I have found happened in 1884. That bottle was thrown into the sea from the steamer the Columbia in 1882. Two years later, it washed up on Saipan.

In January of 1898, one Clement Wragge, aboard the Zealandia, travelling from San Francisco to Australia, threw his message in a bottle into the sea.

On June 21st of that same year, on Guam, a Chamorro man walking along the shoreline at Ylig Bay, happened to notice a bottle with a piece of paper inside. His name was Rafael de Leon Guerrero. He turned it into authorities in Hagåtña. A sea captain, Captain Turner, who obviously spoke English, revealed that it was from a man named Wragge and the story was sent to newspapers here and there.

Source : The Independent (Honolulu), September 16, 1898

Friday, August 29, 2014


A sermon from 1963

Malago' yo' hu na' saonao sumångan guine una kosa. 
(I want to include saying here one thing.)

Ti maolek yanggen i lahe u dingo i familiån-ña pot para u kefañodda' che'cho'-ña gi otro na lugåt.
(It isn't good if the man leaves his family in order to try to find work in another place.)

Intension-ña si Yu'us na i lahe yan i palao'an ni umassagua debe de u dadanña' ha'.
(It is God's intention that the married man and woman should remain together.)

Yanggen i lahe ni gai asagua ha dingo i familiån-ña ya malak otro na lugåt para u o'salappe', ha po'lo i familiån-ña gi meggai na peligro.
(If the married man leaves his family and goes to another place to look for money, he puts his family in a lot of danger.)

Maulek-ña ha' para i lahe yanggen dumadanña' yan i familiå-ña ya ti guailaye u nina' låstima nu ayo na salåppe' i siña mohon ha gånna yanggen humånao gue'.
(It's better that the man be together with his family and it won't be necessary to waste that money which he might gain if he goes.)

I lahe ni dumingo i asaguå-ña yan familiån-ña pot para u fanaligao che'cho'-ña gi otro na lugåt, mama'titinas meggai na tentasion para guiya yan para i asaguå-ña.
(The man who leaves his wife and family to look for work in another place, creates a lot of temptation for him and for his wife.)

Ayo lugåt-ña i lahe annai gaige i asaguå-ña yan i familiån-ña.
(The man's place is where his wife and family are.)


O' : is a prefix that means "in search of" or "to be in motion towards completing an act." It can also be rendered E'

O' salappe' : to go in search of money

O' faisen : to go in search of answers, information.

E' panglao : to go in search of land crabs

E' gagao : to go with a request in mind

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Former Speaker Joe T. San Agustin

The last name San Agustin does not appear in any Spanish records in the Marianas till the 1800s.

By that time, contact with Mexico was gone, since the war for Mexican independence began in 1815. That was the year the last Acapulco galleon sailed for Manila.

After 1815, the bulk of all outside contact with the Marianas, save for the whalers, was through Manila, and more and more Filipinos settled on Guam.

The first San Agustin to move to Guam could have come from many places, but the Philippines would be a good guess.

It seems that he had five children. We can account for two sons, Vicente and Mariano, and they both had the middle name Tainatongo, believed to be an indigenous, Chamorro name.  Today, one thinks of Malesso' when they hear Tainatongo, but the family actually was from Hagåtña and some moved down to Malesso' years later.

Vicente Tainatongo San Agustin married Juana Crisostomo, the daughter of Maria Crisostomo. Her father seems to be unknown. They had a good number of children.

Mariano Tainatongo San Agustin married Maria del Espiritu Santo. I don't know Maria's parents. They, too, had a good number of children.

All the other San Agustins in the 1897 Census are women (three) so it seems that these two males, Vicente and Mariano, are the male ancestors of the San Agustins of Guam.

Though a small clan and of recent foundation, the San Agustins have made their impact on the island, producing civil servants, government heads, a laicized priest* and a teaching sister/principal.

* Laicized means a priest who no longer functions as a priest and returns to the lay state.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Ti pot i kantidå lao i fina'tinas.

(It's not the quantity, but the work.)

This is our version of the English adage, "Quality over quantity."

The Chamorro version is not quite exactly the same as the English, though essentially they say the same thing.

The Chamorro version speaks of the fina'tinas, the work itself.  The work, the end result, the product will speak for itself, whether it came out well or not.

Another interpretation is : it might have been a small thing, but a bad thing nonetheless!

For example :

~ Diåche si Juan sa' ha sakengguan yo' singko pesos!
(Gosh that Juan, he stole five dollars from me!)

~ Dalai hao, ti meggagai ennao i singko pesos!
(Oh please, five dollars isn't much!)

~ Ti pot i kantidå, lao i fina'tinas!
(It's not the quantity, but the deed itself!)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Sept 22, 1902

One of the most significant earthquakes in recorded Guam history occurred in 1902 close to noon.

These were the days before earthquake intensities were registered, so we don't know just how strong it was in terms of a scale. But we know from the effects that it was extremely strong.

Before there was any movement, people heard a deep murmuring under the ground. Then - three big jolts, followed by a lighter one. Then, for two and a half minutes (go ahead, time it and feel how long it was), the whole island felt like a ship rolling on huge sea waves.

The earthquake was felt as far north as Saipan, but, of course, not as strongly and with no significant damage there.

When the earthquake was over, here's what people saw :

1. All the stone homes and buildings showed some damage; many were damaged beyond repair. As someone said, the typhoon of 1897 hurt the poor, who lived in wooden and thatched homes easily blown away, and in the earthquake of 1902 it was the turn of the rich, who lived in stone homes, to feel the pain.

These houses of masonry were cracked, sagging and distorted. One sank 2 feet into the ground. The clay tiles that covered the roofs of most of them fell off and cracked.

And this was not just in Hagåtña. Humåtak's small stone church was damaged completely.

2. Bridges fell in many places, impeding travel between villages separated by rivers. The one linking Hagåtña with Piti, where the government warehouse was located, was one such bridge that fell.

3. The ground opened up in many places. Salt water would gush forth from some of these fissures. Some of them emitted gaseous vapors.

4. There were landslides, too, in some places.

5. Telephone poles swayed to and fro, and some collapsed, disrupting telephone service, which, all the same, mainly serviced the military, government and a few private citizens.

6. Because of damage to schools, classes were interrupted for up to two years in some places.

7. Was the island raised? Chamorro boatmen noticed after the earthquake that the channels at low tide were lower than usual. They reported this observation to Governor Schroeder. After sending people out to investigate other points along the coast, they all reported that the water was shallower a full six inches. Some speculated that the earthquake was caused by volcanic activity under the ocean and lifted the island.

8. Thankfully, there was only one fatality, when falling debris, after the earthquake subsided, fell on someone and killed him or her. There were a number of injuries.

There were many after shocks after the earthquake, nearly every day for weeks, up to March of 1903. It's hard to tell if the tremors felt that late were aftershocks or new seismic incidents.

Some suspected that earthquakes in the Philippines in August of 1902 may have triggered Guam's in September.

Hagåtña's church (not a Cathedral yet) suffered major damage in 1902. Major repairs would take more than ten years to complete.

(Yes, that's a big pile of rubble from the parts of the stone church that fell in the earthquake)

Monday, August 25, 2014


What was the traditional Chamorro attitude towards illegitimate children?

It's an interesting question because there was a high frequency of illegitimate births among Chamorros even when religion pervaded the atmosphere a hundred years ago.  Almost every family had an occurrence of illegitimate births somewhere along the way.

But it was normally considered something scandalous.  Let's hear what one of our mañaina in the clip has to say.

First, I ask her what is the Chamorro custom concerning illegitimate children.  She says,

"I sinanganen-ña si nanå-ho annai kokkokolo' yo' ilek-ña, este i patgon sanhiyong ma nåna'na'.  Anggen på'go ma fa'tinas, ma nåna'na' i nana, sa' ma å'ålok eyo na kalan desgustao gi familia, man a'abak, pues ilek-ña ma nåna'na' sa' na' mamahlao gi familia, dångkulo na eye i kalan isao na cho'cho' gi familia ni ma sedi ayo na påtgon para u mafañågo.  An mafañågo ayo na påtgon, matakpånge ha', lao kalan ma nåna'na'."  (My mother's saying when I was growing up was that the illegitimate child was hidden.  When the child is born, the mother hides it, because they said it was like a dishonor in the family, they went astray, so she said they hid the child because it was shameful for the family, it was like a sinful thing for the family to let that child be born illegitimate.  When the child was born, it was baptized, but it was like they hid the child.)

I then told her that I had heard that some fathers who had illegitimate children did take care of them, even making them heirs of his property.  She said,

"I para u ma erensia i patgon baståtdo?  Ennague ma såsångan na anggen gai tano' ya sopbla lao man mofo'na i famagu'on propio ni i famagu'on sakramento."  (To make heirs of the illegitimate child?  That's what they say when the person has land and has extra land, but his proper children from the sacrament of matrimony come first.")

So, to sum up the traditional Chamorro attitudes :

1. Though it happened quite a lot, illegitimate births were not something to be proud of, much less think normal.  It was considered a moral failure, and to be hid as much as possible.

2. One way they did this was not to throw christening parties for the child.  The child was baptized, but quietly.

3. Rarely were illegitimate children told who their biological fathers were.  It was not a topic for open discussion.  Sometimes the child was lucky to hear from someone outside the immediate family who the father was.

4. Sometimes the illegitimate child was acknowledged by the biological father and taken cared of by him, usually from a distance because he normally had his own wife and children from her, whom he had to care for up close.

The common Chamorro term for a child born out of wedlock was påtgon sanhiyong. It means, "Child from the outside," meaning "outside marriage" or "outside the union of husband and wife."

A harsher word, usually avoided and not told to the illegitimate child directly, was baståtdo, meaning "bastard," borrowed from the Spanish language.

Friday, August 22, 2014


Joaquin Pangelinan Zablan, a Chamorro from Guam, left his island home for another, Hawaii.

Usually young Chamorro men left Guam in those days aboard the whaling ships, with hardly a peso to their name.

It seems life was eventually good to Joaquin because by 1880 he was able to buy a cattle ranch on the Big Island.  Cattle rustling may have been a problem, as he thought it necessary to take out an ad in a Hawaii newspaper to warn people and their animals to stay off his property.