Chamorro Language      The Importance of Family   The Spanish Chamoru Conflict 1671


According to legend, the origin of the people of Guam resulted from a god of the past ages named Chaifi (Fire) who lived in Sasalaguan (Hell). Sasalaguan was a place where Chaifi made souls and used them as slaves. One day Chaifi built a very large fire in an open pit which suddenly exploded. In the confusion, one of the souls escaped and landed on the southern part of Guam. The soul turned into a rock, which softened as the rain fell thus transforming into a man. According to legend, the remnants of this rock is Funa (Rock), located a mile to the north of Umatac in Fouha Bay. After exploring the island of Guam, the man found he did not like to be alone so he decided to make some companions for himself. He gathered up some red earth and water forming it into the shape of a man. He used the heat of the sun to give it a soul and then he made both men and women calling them children of the earth.

Chaifi, by this time, had found that one of his souls had escaped. He searched for it for many days and noticed a small child playing on the beach. Chaifi thought that this child was his lost soul and sent a big wave to destroy the child who consequently escaped as his soul had come from the sun. Chaifi then tried many other ways to destroy the child but was unsuccessful. This child became a man and told Chaifi that he could not destroy him or the many other souls on Guam as they had come from the sun. Chaifi had no power over souls from the sun and returned beaten to Sasalaguan.


Guam is the largest and most southern island in the Mariana Islands archipelago in the western north Pacific Ocean, covering 212 square miles with a population of some 150,000 people. The most developed island in Micronesia, it serves as a transportation and communications hub and is regarded as the gateway to Micronesia. There is traffic congestion, fast food restaurants, large shopping centres, a university, lavish resort hotels and a large U.S. Military Base.
In contrast, southern Guam is made up of hills ranging in altitude up to 1,300 feet (Mt. Lamlam) and has sleepy villages, good sandy beaches and an abundance of butterflies and rainbows. The central and northern part of the island consists mainly of a limestone plateau with steep cliffs dropping down to a narrow coastal shelf.


The earliest inhabitants were the Chamorros who traced their origin to Indonesia and Malaysia. The islands fell to the Japanese shortly after the Pearl Harbour attack and was occupied by Japan until 1944. It was retaken by America and was made a United States territory.

A wide variety of vines, shrubs and trees decorate the island giving it a lush tropical appearance and there are also many types of flowers. Today, small scale agriculture provides families and local markets in the capital Agana (now recently renamed back to its original Chamorro Hagatna), with pineapples, bananas, papayas, mangoes, limes, avocados and melons, also cucumbers, green beans, squash, peppers and eggplants.

Although Guam's lifestyle is increasingly Americanized, which means most modern conveniences can be found, the old Chamorro and Spanish traditions are retained and that translates into a very relaxed, gentle atmosphere.


International resort hotels line the shores of Tumon Bay less than fifteen minutes from the Airport and shopping centre. Sea Charter Fishing is on hand and only a day's notice is needed to secure a boat charter which departs daily from Agana Boat Basin, Agat Marina or the charter pier in Merizo. Scuba equipment and snorkelling gear can be bought at duty free prices and if you are not interested in deep-sea fishing, you can rent scuba gear and go see the fish in their natural habitat on the coral reef.

There are lots of small sail boats and catamarans for rent at most hotels and resorts. Guam is a shopper's paradise for the island has duty free status, which means you can pick up name brand merchandise and other items cheaper than in their country of origin.

In 1969 Guam initiated its visa waiver program whereby citizens of more than a dozen countries are allowed entry to Guam without a visa for a period of up to 14 days. However travel onward to other U.S. points is not allowed.

Guam has an underwater world only recently discovered by visiting divers to be exceptional. The water is crystal clear, with 200 ft visibility being common place and you can expect to see coral gardens teeming with fish life, a unique blue hole and caverns. There are several wrecks of historical importance here such as a Japanese Zero. Also, the remains of a Spanish Galleon, the world's largest side paddle-wheeler, and a 230 metre passenger liner were found layered on top of each other. You can also trace the remains of both World Wars at the double wreck of the Cormoran a WWI German Gunboat, and the Toka's Maru, a Japanese freighter from WWII.


Located on prime beach front property on the western end of Tumon Bay, the 691 room Hilton Guam Resort and Spa is one of Guam's premier deluxe resort hotels. The island's capital city, Agana, and the international airport are consequently located only minutes away from the hotel. Many of the island's optional tour activities, such as golfing, diving and deep sea fishing, are also conveniently located within a short 20 minute drive from the Hilton. Guests can select from a choice of 357 rooms in the Magas Building (Chief's Building), 234 rooms in the Magalahi Tower (High Chief's Tower) or from 100 luxurious rooms in the recently renovated Magahaga Spa Wing (Female Chief's Wing) which overlooks a spectacular view of Tumon Bay and Two Lover's Point, Guam's most famous landmark.


Seven restaurants and bars are located in the hotel including the acclaimed Roy's Restaurant, featuring unique Euro-Asian cuisine. For authentic Chinese Beijing-style cuisine and exquisite Peking Duck specialities, there is Dynasty Restaurant. Other food and beverage outlets are the Genji Japanese Restaurant, Islander Terrace Restaurant, 24-hour Pastry Factory and Lobby Lounge, Roy's Lounge and the exciting outdoor Tree Bar. The Hilton Guam Resort and Spa's exterior incorporates the island's Spanish colonial influence and is complemented by lush tropical landscaping. The redesigned interiors combine classic elegance and tropical ambience. Other specialty features include the Azotea Executive Floors with Hilton Clubroom service located in the Magalahi Tower, non-smoking floors, in-room faxes, a shopping arcade, expanded parking facilities, a wedding chapel, a full range of banquet/conference facilities, and Guam's most complete spa facilities.

Rejuvenate your body and senses at the Magahaga Spa Wing featuring seaside spa pavilions, invigorating products and professional services. Treat yourself to the many services of Mandara Spa which include massage therapies, facial care, body treatments and spa combinations. Sports facilities include five night lighted championship tennis courts managed by Peter Burwash International (PBI), a Fitness Club with state-of-the-art equipment and sauna facilities, children's entertainment room and extensive grounds for walking or jogging. The hotel's RESOPA Water Park offers complete recreational facilities which include three swimming pools, waterslide, jacuzzi, waterfalls, children's pool, supervised activities and a fish-filled tropical lagoon. There is also a Beach Club where guests can rent a variety of water sports equipment.


Beachfront on the shores of Tumon Bay, the 21 storey Westin Resort Guam with the attractive atrium tower, is ideally situated in the heart of the hotel and shopping district. It is just minutes from Guam International Airport, the city's business centre, and major attractions.

Westin properties worldwide are renowned for elegant five star accommodation. Guest rooms feature air-conditioning, cable television with in-room safe, private bar, iron, iron board, and complimentary tea service. Each room provides two queen or two double beds, and king size beds are available on request. Bathrooms feature jet baths, and every room has a balcony with views of the city overlooking the bay.


Five star relaxation options include two swimming pools with waterfalls and towel service provided. Active guests will want to take advantage of the range of water sports on offer. You can try an outrigger (long boat), pedal boat, hobie cat, water bike, kayak, water wheel, or windsurfer, and there are also floats, snorkelling gear and life jackets available. Golfers will appreciate the free shuttle to the Leo Palace Resort where a 27-hole championship golf course designed by Palmer and Nicklaus offers preferential rates to Westin guests.

Dining at the Westin Resort almost rates as an attraction in its own right with a selection of eight food and beverage outlets - nine if you include the option of in-room dining. Cafe Kalahucha is a bright, airy restaurant serving two meals, sumptuous buffets and a la carte continental and Asian dishes. Prego offers Italian with a Mediterranean twist including pastas and pizzas. Misty's Poolside Grill serves cold drinks and hot food throughout the day to sun lovers. LuFuKu specialises in Cantonese and other regional Chinese cuisine including Dim Sim, and Issin features Japanese food with sushi and teppanhyaki counters as well as a la carte.
Caffeine lovers will appreciate the convenience of Starbucks Coffee and pastries at the ChaChaCha Restaurant, and at Happy Hour you can sample a spectacular Guam sunset accompanied by your favourite cocktail at On the Rocks. Leo Palace and Westin Premier Members have their own exclusive Mattingan Lounge which offers coffee, juice, cocktails, beer and light snacks.

Nearby attractions include shopping at DES Galleria Shopping Centre which also has an outlet in the lobby, and Liberty House at the Plaza, just a five minute walk away. For dining and entertainment, there's Planet Hollywood, the Hard Rock Cafe, Sand Castle Theatre, and the Onyx Disco, all just a short walk away.
A selection of function rooms, all with spectacular ocean views, means that the Westin Resort has the perfect space for any event from an intimate wedding to a grand conference for up to 340 people. So whether your visit is for work or leisure, The Westin Resort Guam offers the ultimate in luxury and convenience.


Majestically located on prime beachfront in the heart of Tumon Bay, the 19 storey Pacific Star Hotel is one of Guam's most magnificent luxury resort hotels. Fronting the beautifully landscaped San Vitores Road, it is within easy access of the main business district of Agana and the airport. Accommodation is in 436 air-conditioned guest rooms and suites which offer captivating ocean views and are equipped with all the five star amenities you would expect including IDD telephones, electronic voice mail and wake up call systems, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, remote control TV and instant view movies.


For an intimate cocktail after an active day, there is the rendezvous bar, or if you are in a more social mood, drop by the lobby bar for live entertainment, unparalled views of Guam, and breathtaking sunsets. Afterwards, the flavoured of the world are at your door with a choice of five restaurants. For casual meals, there is Cafe Sirena Coffee Shop, and le patio garden terrace, adjacent to the pool is perfect for a light lunch. Enjoy the best in continental cuisine and fine dining in elegant surroundings at Creations, be tempted by authentic Cantonese at Lotus Garden, or traditional Japanese at Shiranami which features a sushi bar and teppan yaki counter as well as private rooms.

Those needing to take care of business will appreciate the services of the computerized business centre's secretarial services. The banquet facilities can cater for that special occasion or business meeting from the smallest gathering to a sit down dinner for 600. For a relaxing and enjoyable stay in the exotic and tropical paradise that is Guam, let the charm and elegance of the Pacific Star Hotel provide you with a magical experience.


Situated on a prime 150 metre stretch of beach on Tumon Bay, Hyatt Regency Guam is one of Guam's premier hotels.
All of its 455 air-conditioned guestrooms and suites command spectacular oceanfront views of Tumon Bay and the sunset. The interior design is light and airy with tropical colour tones evoking a resort feel.

Three floors comprise exclusive Regency Club accommodation, a 'hotel within a hotel' concept for which Hyatt 'hotel within a hotel' concept for which Hyatt is known worldwide. The Regency Club Lounge, for the exclusive use of its guests, is the ideal settings. Complimentary breakfast and late afternoon hors d'oeuvres and cocktails are served daily. The Regency Club also features its own Business Centre where coffee and tea is served all day. ...



    Chamorro Language

The Chamorro language is a mix of Chamorro, Spanish, Japanese, and English. Sentences will either start in Chamorro and end in English, or be said in Chamorro throughout, but include English words. For example, when I was in May's apartment one day, my roommate Shawn walked in and asked, "May, sina yu hu type papethu gi yomu computer?" This translates to "May, can I type my paper on your computer?" The "y" in Chamorro is pretty difficult to pronounce. To pronounce "tze," you must cut your breath before pronouncing the letter, and then breathe out as you say the next letter. The sentence Shawn said was in Chamorro, but included the English words "type" and "computer." This is because the Chamorro vocabulary is limited.

Much of the vocabulary comes from the Spanish language. Words like, "canta," "baila," and "busca" all come from the Spanish words, "cantar," "ballar," and "buscar," which mean "to sing," "to dance," and "to look for." The calendar system also comes from the Spanish. Words for the days of the week and the months are from the Spanish language, although the words are not spelled the same or pronounced exactly alike. When I was asked when my birthday was, I replied, "Cinco de Mayo." This means the fifth of May in both the Chamorro and Spanish languages. The Chamorro number system also comes from the Spanish number system. On many occasions I was asked, "Prim, kiora esta gennao?" This is a quicker way of saying "Pri'mo, que hora esta?" which means "Cousin, what time is it?" The word "kiora" is like saying "que hora" very fast. The word "primo" is cut short to "prim." It is important to keep in mind though, that the ancient Chamorros had their own number system and calendar, as well as a unique language which is still sometimes used by the elders.

Many Chamorro families have Spanish last names. Some of the last names that I took note of were, San Nicolas, De Leon Guerrero, Santos, Reyes, Camacho, Sanchez, and Dela Cruz. San Nicolas is both Spanish and Chamorro for Saint Nicholas. The name De Leon Guerrero means "lion warrior" in Spanish. Santos also means "Saints" in both languages. Dela Cruz is "of the cross" in Spanish, but Chamorros do not use this word. The word for cross in Chamorro is "kilu'us." The largest families in Saipan are the Guerreros, Camachos, and Sablan. All three of these names come from the time when Spaniards married Chamorros. There are also a couple with Japanese last names like Tomokane and Takai.

Titles used to address family members were also borrowed from the Spanish. We say "tio" and "tia" for "uncle" and "aunt." Cousins are called "primo" or "prima." Our godparents are our "nino" and "nina." But for one's immediate family, Chamorro words are used. We say "nana" and "tata" for mom and dad. "Chet'lu" is the Chamorro word for brother or sister. There are other words for family members, but many are used in certain contexts, such as when speaking to elders.
Aside from the Spanish, there were also many words that came from the Japanese language. When we walk out the door of any apartment, our slippers would all be scattered on the floor. Someone would then yell out, "Mungi i zore-hu?" This means, Where are my slippers? We use the Japanese word "zori" for slippers. Most of the Japanese influence is in the foods that we eat, like sashimi, sukiyaki, tempura, miso soup, sushi, fish and rice, which are common in the Chamorro diet. Unlike in Hawai'i where noodles are usually called "saimin," we say "soba." We like to eat our soba with "shonga," the Japanese red ginger. Both of these words are Japanese, but are a part of the Chamorro language as they are a part of the Japanese.

While it may seem that the Spanish influence is greater than that of the Japanese, actually, we are more Japanese than Spanish by a great margin. I know that my grandparents from both sides all speak Japanese as fluently as they do Chamorro. With this in mind, I asked everyone in the Prince Lunalilo if their parents also spoke Japanese. To my amazement, they all said yes. There is a perfect explanation for all this. All of our grandparents grew up during the Japanese administration. Back then, they went to school and there they learned the Japanese language and culture.







chamoru (Chamorro)






Bien binidu / Buen binidu



Håfa ådai / Buenas

How are you?


Håfa tatamanu hao?

I'm fine

Mamaolek ha' yo' / Todu maolek

Long time no see


Åpmam tiempo ti hu li'e hao

What's your name?


Håyi nå'ån-mu?

My name is ...


Nå'ån-hu si...

Where are you from?


Taotao månu hao?

I'm from ...

Taotao ... yo'

Pleased to meet you


Magof yo' sa' umali'e' hit

Good morning


Buenas dias / Buenas dihas

Good afternoon


Buenas tåtdes

Good evening


Buenas noches



Ådios Esta / Åsta (inf)

Good luck


Buena suette

Cheers/Good health!



Have a nice day


Puedi ha' todu maolek

Bon appetit


Ta fañocho (let's eat)

Bon voyage


Buen biåhe

I don't understand


Ti hu komprende

Please speak more slowly


Pot fabot kuentos ladespasio

Please write it down


Pot fabot tuge' fan påpa'

Do you speak Chamorro?


Kao siña hao fumino'Chamoru?

Yes, a little


Hunggan, didide' ha' / Ha'a, didide' ha'

How do you say ... in Chamorro?


Håfataimanu un sångan... gi fino'Chamoru?

Excuse me/Sorry


Dispensa yo'

How much is this?


Kuånto båli-ña este?

Thank you


Si Yu'us Må'åse'

Response (You're welcome)


Buen Probechu

Where's the toilet?


Månu na gaige i kemmon?

Would you like to dance with me?


Kao malago' hao bumaila yan guåhu?

I love you


Hu guiaya hao

Get well soon


Puedi/Ohala homlo' hao ti åpmam









Båsta! Påra! Na'påra! (Stop it!)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Felis Nåbidåt yan Magof na Åñu Nuebu

Happy Easter


Felis Påsgua

Happy Birthday


Felis Kumpliåños / Biba Kumpliåños

One language is never enough


Ni ngai'an nahong un linguåhe

My hovercraft is full of eels


Bula håsuli/åsuli iyo-ku hovercraft




































































































trongkon kannai







foot, feet
















tooth, teeth

tommon kånnai




















kalaberan ulu




åddeng pat påtas




kuyonturan kålulot





little finger - pinkie


prominent nose




pupil of the eye

nifen sanme'na


kålulot påtas




dåma' gas


kålulot talo'

middle finger




flat or pugged nose (colloquial)










cousin (female)


great great granddaughter




human being


woman, girl








great grandson


great grandfather





nanan biha pat guella





cousin (male)


great great grandson




man, boy










great granddaughter


great grandmother







tatan bihu pat guello





young bachelor


young lady


teenage son


teenage daughter


preteen female

che'lu - palao'an





cousin (female)


grand daughter








parents-in-law (mother)


parents-in-law (father)


preteen male








cousin (male)


grand son

ma'estra pat ma'estro


estodiante pat disipulu












lamasan *estodiante

students' desk

siyan *estodiante

students' chair







famagu' on










kattiya pat lepblo


siyan ma'estra

teachers' chair



chiget pappet

paper clips

midida (dosse potgådas - pie)







sweetsop or sugar apple








star apple








sour grapes


custard apple

















     The Importance of Family

In the Chamorro culture, people identify themselves with their families, which includes lineages from both the mother and the father, and even extended families. Lisa Sablan and I are first cousins. Our mothers are sisters. Our mothers and May's mother are also first cousins, which makes us second cousins. John and I are distant cousins through his mother and my father. In the Chamorro culture, families are very important to each other. They watch over each other and help one another out when in time of need. One example comes from a phone conversation. Lisa was on the phone with her mother. After a while, she told me that her mother wanted to speak to me. After about ten minutes of conversation her mother closed by saying, "Atan hijo ennao i chetlumu ah." This translates to " Son, watch over your sister okay?" Now, although I'm not Lisa's brother or her mother's son, this is how we are referred to and treated. This is common in the Chamorro culture. The word, " hijo," is of Spanish origin. It means "son." In the Chamorro language, there are other words that also mean "son." "Hijo" is usually used by the elders, though.

For many Chamorros, tracing our lineage and finding out how we are related is second nature. I observed Lisa and May talking about some of their relatives back in Saipan. I noticed they were saying things like, "His mom and my mom are second cousins, so we're third cousins." I remember one particular line, "Your grandfather and my great-grandfather are brothers." By hearing this, you could see how far back some Chamorros can go to determine who their relatives are.

Chamorros also situate themselves according, to a pattern. In Saipan, families own their own land. Families build houses next to each other. Back home, I live with my family on a lot my mother has inherited. Our next door neighbors are my mom's sisters and their families. My grandparents live at the entrance to the land. This pattern is mimicked here in Hawai'i. The Chamorros situate themselves close to each other. There is also a sense of security when you have family members around. Though not everyone is related to each other, they think of themselves as family.
Another aspect of the Chamorro culture is the way one respects the elders. One day, Lisa's uncle and aunt flew In from Saipan. They visited for a couple of hours before leaving for the mainland. We had dinner at a restaurant and then dropped them off at the airport. On the way back, I asked Lisa how she was related to them. She told me that they weren't really her relatives, but that her family grew up with their family while in Oregon. She referred to them as aunty and uncle for respect. I remember as a little kid, my parents taught me to call every elder I saw, aunty or uncle, even though we weren't really related.

Chamorros use the titles, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law to include cousins, or close relatives of the couple. I have two roommates, Shawn De Leon Guerrero and Benedict Lizama. Shawn is Lisa's and my first cousin. Benedict has a brother in Saipan who is engaged to our first cousin. Because of this, Shawn, Lisa, and I can all call Benedict our brother-in-law. The Chamorro word for this title is "icunadu" or "kinadu." We use a shortened title, "niao." In the Chamorro culture, your "niao" is anyone dating or married to any of your cousins, distant or close, or to any of your brothers or sisters. The reason for this is that we consider our cousins our brothers and sisters. Therefore, we can call their husbands or wives our "niao." I can refer to Benedict as my "niao" because his brother is engaged to my first cousin. just this past November, my cousin and Benedict's brother were married. The reception included more than seven hundred people, friends and family, The reception is called a "fiesta," or "fandango." Again, the words "fiesta" and "fandango" have Spanish origin.

Speaking of parties, there was always something going on every weekend at the Prince Lunalilo. The Chamorros look for a reason to party. My cousin John always joked by saying, "Brat, my birthday is this weekend, and also next month." The frequent get togethers is a Chamorro lifestyle. In Saipan, fiestas are celebrated almost every weekend. Every weekend, there will be someone who is getting baptized, receiving their first Holy Communion, having a first birthday party, a farewell party, or celebrating their anniversary - the list goes on. Most fiestas are for religious matters. This goes back to the Spanish influence.

This past Thanksgiving, we had a huge party at the recreational room of one of apartment complexes. We prepared for the party just the way our parents would for a fiesta back home, There were over thirty people at this party, all from Saipan. The people at the Prince Lunalilo prepared the big meals like the turkey, the sukiyaki, the red rice, and the salads. Those who lived elsewhere brought the already prepared food to the party. During the preparation, all the women were in Lisa's kitchen preparing the rice, and salads and so on. The men were downstairs getting the barbeque ready. Everyone was saying that this was just like home. This is a common division of labor among the Chamorros when preparing for a fiesta. The men kill the pigs and the cows, clean them, and cut them up for the women to cook. They then do the barbeque while the women cook in huge outside kitchens, which every Chamorro household has. It is during these preparations that everybody catches up with what the others have been tip to.

The most noticeable aspect of the Chamorro Culture is the hospitality and generosity the Chamorros have toward others. The first thing that I was asked everytime I walked into someone's apartment was, "Brat, chow!" This is Chamorro slang for "Come and eat!" The Chamorros are always inviting everybody that they know. Whenever I brought someone over, everyone was always making sure that the person was comfortable. They were always offering something to drink or eat. This is an important part of our culture. In Saipan, we are always visited by our relatives. They come in and eat, and talk for a while. We treat our visitors the way we treat our relatives. I get a great feeling when I introduce someone who is not Chamorro or has never heard of Chamorros to my friends and cousins from Saipan. They all compliment us on how we are as a people.

By Peter Aldan




     The Spanish Chamoru Conflict 1671.
[Introduction by William Hernandez, Curator of National Museum of Guam Cathedral-Basilica]

In 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi claimed the islands of the Chamorus as the property of the kingdom of Spain. Later, the arrival of missionaries at the Chamoru archipelago completed the acquisition of these islands but not without resistance and war against the foreigners.

One of the notable Chamoru warrior chiefs was Hurao of Hagatna. Chief Hurao delivered a speech to his Chamoru people of Hagatna in 1671, encouraging them to defend the homeland and remove the foreigners from the islands. His speech was published in Paris by a French Jesuit historian based on the accounts of missionaries headed by Father Diego Luis de San Vitores. The rallying message by Chief Hurao was the preservation of Chamoru liberty, traditions, custom and national sovereignty.

Chief Hurao was the main leader and defender of Guahan and the Chamoru people. His goal was to expel foreigners whom he felt threatened the sovereignty of the Chamoru Nation. He was assassinated in 1672 by a Spanish soldier wielding a sword a few months after the deaths of Padre Diego San Vitores and his assistant, Pedro Calungsod. Chief hurao was the martyr for Chamoru freedom in the 17th century and represented the tenacity and bravery in the resistance against the Spanish Catholic military subjugation of their 2,600 year old civilization.

This address was translated from French to English by Reverend Paul Daly C.P.S., in Charles Le Gobien's "History of the Mariana Islands", 1700, Paris. The Chamoru version was produced from the English by the Chamoru Language Commission of the Government of Guam.


The Europeans would have done better to remain in their own country. We have no need of their help to live happily. Satisfied with what our islands furnish us, we desire nothing else. The knowledge which they have given us has only increased our needs and stimulated our desires. They find it evil that we do not dress. If that were necessary, nature would have provided us with clothes. They treat us as gross people and regard us as barbarians. But do we have to believe them? Under the excuse of instructing us, they are corrupting us. They take away from us the primitive simplicity in which we live.

They dare to take away our liberty, which should be dearer to us than life itself. They try to persuade us that we will be happier, and some of us had been blinded into believing their words. But can we have such sentiments if we reflect that we have been covered with misery and illness ever since those foreigners have come to disturb our peace?

Before they arrived on the island, we did not know insects. Did we know rats, flies, mosquitoes, and all the other little animals which constantly torment us? These are the beautiful presents they have made us. And what have their floating machines brought us? Formerly, we do not have rheumatism and inflammations. If we had sickness, we had remedies for them. But they have brought us their diseases and do not teach us the remedies. Is it necessary that our desires make us want iron and other trifles which only render us unhappy?

The Spaniards reproach us because of our poverty, ignorance and lack of industry. But if we are poor, as they claim, then what do they search for here? If they didn't have need of us, they would not expose themselves to so many perils and make such great efforts to establish themselves in our midst. For what purpose do they teach us except to make us adopt their customs, to subject us to their laws, and lose the precious liberty left to us by our ancestors? In a word, they try to make us unhappy in the hope of an ephemeral happiness which can be enjoyed only after death.

They treat our history as fable and fiction. Haven't we the same right concerning that which they teach us as incontestable truths? They exploit our simplicity and good faith. All their skill is directed towards tricking us; all their knowledge tends only to make us unhappy. If we are ignorant and blind, as they would have us believe, it is because we have learned their evil plans too late and have allowed them to settle here. Let us not lose courage in the presence of our misfortunes. They are only a handful. We can easily defeat them. Even though we don't have their deadly weapons which spread destruction all over, we can overcome them by our large numbers. We are stronger than we think! We can quickly free ourselves from these foreigners! We must regain our former freedom! [DATED: 1671]





Linguistic and archaeological studies have indicated that two thousand years before the birth of Christ, the remote islands of the Mariana archipelago were settled by people from Southeast Asia. These people, the ancient ancestors of the archipelago's contemporary Chamorro population, were accomplished horticulturalists, mariners and fishermen who skilfully adapted to an environment made challenging by periodic droughts and powerful tropical storms. After evolving over a period of three millennia in relative isolation, the Chamorro had the doubtful honour of being the first people of Oceania to receive European callers during the early sixteenth century.

The Chamorro were the indigenous population of the Mariana Islands when Magellan first visited Guam in 1521. It was not until 1668 however that the Jesuits and soldiery set about converting and subduing the islanders. Several great typhoons at the end of the 17th century were nature's footnote to the carnage.
By 1710 an estimated population of 100,000 Chamorro had been reduced to little more than 3,500. A few Chamorro escaped to the neighbouring Caroline Islands where they kept their identity as a people. This massive population loss had been commonly attributed to a policy to genocide supposedly carried out by the Spanish military. This explanation is not in keeping with the historical facts as the principle aim of the Spanish mission was not the extermination of the Chamorro population but rather its religious conversion.

It is more likely that high mortality rate of the late 17th century can be attributed directly to the introduction of deadly diseases into the archipelago in conjunction with the concentration of the scattered Chamorro population into mission villages.

In the years that followed, the Mariana Islands north of Guam became completely depopulated. By the late 19th century, although the population of Guam had increased again, it had become a mixture of Chamorro, Filipino and Spanish stock. The indigenous language had survived but the oral traditions had been swamped by introduced elements with only fragments of recognisable oceanic themes remaining.

Linguists have classified the Chamorro language as Austronesian, being part of a broad grouping of languages which they suspect originated in Southern China and spread into Island Southeast Asia via Taiwan sometime around 4000 BC. One of a number of divergent theories on the origin and spread of the Austronesian language suggests that an earlier form of the language referred to as Proto-Austronesian was brought into the northern Philippines sometime around 3000 BC, eventually evolving into the Malayo Polynesian subgroup. The Malayo Polynesian subgroup again split into Western Malayo Polynesian subgroup and the Eastern Malayo Polynesian subgroup. The former came to include languages spoken in the Philippines, Sulawesi, Madagascar and Vietnam as well as in the two Micronesian archipelago of Palau and the Marianas. Eastern Malayo Polynesian developed following migrations into Melanesia, and after additional sub-groupings into the Oceanic languages spoken in Eastern Micronesia and Polynesia.

What little is known about early prehistoric life is inferred from changes in artifacts and other archaeological materials, primarily ceramics. It was roughly about 1,000 years ago that a new round of cultural adaptations began to appear in the archaeological record. Included among these were a new architectural form and possibly a growing social complexity. It is this period that archaeologists have termed the Latte Phase, after the distinctive stone columns and caps which began to appear throughout the archipelago around 1100 AD.

Historical research has suggested that pre-historic Chamorro society was made up of three distinct social classes, a noble or chiefly class (matua), a demi-noble class (atchoat) and a low class (mangatchang). This conventional view of Chamorro social organisation is in consistent with the results of recent archaeological and historical research, and with the structures of other traditional Micronesian societies.

Although research on the nature of pre-historic Chamorro society continues, the preponderance of archaeological and historical data clearly suggests that Chamorro society was organised at the village level and comprised two or three general levels of relative rank.

Ancestor worship was an integral part of ancient Chamorro culture. According to historical account, skulls were exhumed from grave sites after the flesh had decomposed, a practice illustrated by this photograph of a headless burial from Saipan. Leg bones were also removed for the manufacture of spear points.

The affairs of a village were probably run informally by the respective chiefs along the lines of an extended family. Activities such as warfare, canoe building, navigation and fishing were practised by the males. Women on the other hand, were responsible for taking care of the young children, maintaining the household and working in the garden. Another important female occupation was the production of woven mat which were used to fashion mattresses, blankets, hats and other articles.

The missionaries noted that Chamorros did not marry relatives and that they were monogamous. It was also apparent that while the men may have been the warriors and navigators, the women were the heads of the household and were quick to assert their prerogatives. The important and powerful role exercised by women in the traditional Chamorro society has been summarised as follows. Females, in particular elder women in the clan, who were married and mothers were powerful in all spheres of the traditional society. Through matrilineal kinship system, women exercised control over family life, property and inheritance. They assumed a central role and possessed strong bargaining powers in their marriages. Their esteem status was also reflected in rituals, legends and ceremonial events.


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