Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Governor’s Complex and the Latte of Freedom



If you have been on Guam for any amount of time, you’ve probably heard of or seen the symbol of this chalice shaped pillars of important significance. The latte (pronounced: lah-tee) stones were used by the ancient Chamorros throughout the Marianas as the foundation for their homes. Made out of coral rock shaped by hand, the pillars consisted of two pieces: the support column called the haligi or column topped with a capstone in the shape of a cup or small bowl called the tasa. The haligi was formed from coral limestone and usually carried several miles from the quarry site to ancient villages for installation. The tasa was formed from hemispherically shaped coral heads collected from reef formation along island shores. The Latte Stone is symbolic of the strength of the Chamorro people and their families, and today, represents a firm connection of today’s families, with their ancestors and their aspirations for the future.

Latte stones are abundant on Guam and are seen in company logos, decorations and subliminally placed in modern architecture.



So what is this talk about the “World’s Largest Latte Stone?” In commemoration of the 200th birthday of the United States of America in 1976, Governor Ricardo J. Bordallo launched a bicentennial project to celebrate the American freedoms and the proud heritage of the Guamanian people. The latte, the handiwork of the ancient Chamorros, gave rise to Governor Bordallo’s vision for the Latte of Freedom.

As the Statue of Liberty welcomes visitors to America’s eastern shores, Governor Bordallo envisioned the Latte of Freedom rising above Guam as a welcoming symbol of American freedom in the Western Pacific. And just as the children of America donated their pennies to erect the Statue of Liberty, Guam’s school children raised thousands of dollars to make the first donation to build the Latte of Freedom.

The Latte of Freedom is a gift from the people of Guam to freedom lovers everywhere.


The Latte of Freedom is located on the Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor’s Complex where The Hall of Governors  is also located. Several artifacts and The Hall of Governors commemorates the twelve Guam governors who held office since the signing of the 1950 Organic Act of Guam until the present day. It contains exhibits from the Office of Governor of Guam, the Guam Museum and the Department of Chamorro Affairs.




Also on the grounds is the Raider 21 Crew Memorial in remembrance of a B-52 crash on July 21, 2008. The aircraft, operating out of Andersen Air Force Base, crashed into the Pacific Ocean during a training flight. All six crew members aboard the aircraft were killed and the aircraft was destroyed.


The Governor’s Complex is very scenic and has some great historical information. Go check it out!

Latte of Freedom:

Hours: 0800-1600

Admission: $2 for locals and military $3 for foreigners $1 for children under 12

Stroller accessible: YES

Changing Table: NO

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Buque Escuela A.R.C. Gloria Colombia: Training School A.R.C. Gloria Colombia



We were lucky enough to tour this beautiful 45 year old Colombian tall ship at US Naval Base, Guam. A.R.C. Gloria  is the training ship for the Navy of Colombia and flagship of the naval academy. Inside we got to see where the sailors train, eat, and sleep. The students had some impressive paintings on display (something they do as a pastime). They even had a little movie theater inside, the seats were kept in the ceiling. How neat! I loved how clean and polished the deck was.



Taotao Mo’na and Other Spirits



Not long after we moved here, we were warned that if we ever went Boonie Stomping (a common pastime in Guam, basically hiking through the jungle) that we should ask permission to relieve ourselves in the outdoors, or we would get sick.  There have been accounts of Americans who did not heed the warning and and ended up getting ill. Apparently, there are spirits in the jungle who demand respect.

We were also at a local restaurant one night with our little one and the owner advised us to put perfume on her to mask her smell when going out at night to protect her from spirits trying to take her, pinch her, or make her ill. (There are also a lot of superstitions and rules when it comes to pregnancy.

I did a little research on these legends and her is what I found:

The connection between Chamorros and these spirits has changed over time, primarily due to cultural changes that came about from Spanish colonization and Christianization. Slowly over time, these spirits have changed from the ante of ancestors to the wily ghosts, devils and demons that play tricks or cause harm to Chamorros today. Taotaomo’na can be defined in three different ways:


First, they can refer all the spirits of Chamorro ancestors, to all of those who have come before. In this definition, these spirits played a huge role in the daily life of Chamorros offering assistance and protection with all sorts of daily tasks. These spirits were treated as members of the family and were referred to be name or through terms of endearment.

The second definition used for Taotaomo’na  refers to the ancestors whom Chamorros could no longer connect themselves to through genealogy. These were remote spirits, which could not be easily counted upon for help as if members of a clan, but instead had to communicated with primarily through intermediaries such as makanas (“spirits counselors” or “medicine men”).

Ancient Chamorro history provides the names of a few of these remote ancestral spirits, whom Chamorros knew they were related to, but did not treat with the same intimacy that they did their relatives that had recently passed away.

One such taotaomo’na is Anufat. He is described as very ugly with teeth six inches long. He also has a hole on each side of his head (battle head wounds), with ferns (medicinal herbs) stuffed in each hole. If a person walks through an ancient burial site, they must always whistle so as not to disturb Anufat. If they don’t whistle, Anufat may become startled and cause harm.

Over time the role of makanas slowly became what Chamorros today refer to as suruhånus and suruhånas, who would also be able to communicate with taotaomo’na, but primarily in the service of healing the sick. People who do not ask permission when entering the jungle, taking from its resources or using it as a bathroom and become sick are advised to seek a suruhånu or suruhåna for treatment and medicine and are also told to go back to the site and ask the taotaomo’na forgiveness.

Taotaomo’na are said to reside in jungles and are present around the ancient latte ruins, large basalt and coral boulders and caves, as well as amongst the thick dense hanging roots of the Banyan Trees. If you plan on going to any of these places, here are the ways to ask permission to the taotaomo’na.

Asking Permission

The following is said to ask permission to pass:

Guella yan Guello, dispensa ham låo Kåo siña ham manmaloffan yan manmanbisita gi tano miyu sa’ yanggen un bisita i tano’må mi faloffan-ha’ sin un famaisin.

Grandmother and grandfather, excuse us. May we walk through and visit your land ? When you come to our land we will welcome you to do the same.

The following is said before relieving yourself in the jungle:

Guello yan Guella kao siña u usa i kemon guini ya agin matu hamyu gi tano-hu sinen isa lokkue.

Grandmother and Grandfather may I use the restroom here? When you come to my land you may do the same.

The following is said before entering the jungle and taking wood or fruit from it:

Gue’la yan gue’lo, kao sina yu’manule’ tinanoum-muya yanggen matto hao gi tano’-ha fuannule’ ha sin mamaisen.

Grandmother and grandfather, can I pick from your plants? If you come to my land, you may take without permission.

These requests should be asked loudly and boastfully because the taotao’mona dislike anything weak.

Special Relationships

Some Chamorros had privileged relationships to taotaomo’na. These people were usually referred to as gaitaotao or gaiga’chong. For these people, a taotaomo’na was their ga’chong(friend and companion) and with them at all times, helping them and giving them the appearance of having super-human skills or being sen metgot (very strong).


Lastly, in the definition which matches closely to the way Chamorros think of them today, taotaomo’na are mananiti or aniti, pesky, troublesome and sometimes evil spirits.

Duendes, a Spanish word, are one such type of taotaomo’na. They are small, dwarf-like people, who go naked or wear clothes made of leaves. They are most well known for luring unsuspecting children into the jungle by taking the shape of a chichirika (a red fantailed bird), singing songs to them, or by offering them gifts or treats. Once captured a child would be shrunk down to such a small size that those looking for them would easily step over them or walk right by them completely unaware. When a child is eventually found they usually suffer from chetnot manman, meaning they will stare into space with a blank and empty look. To fix this, they will have to be taken to a suruhånu or a pale’(priest).

The White Lady of Fonte River

A White Lady is a type of female ghost reportedly seen in rural areas and associated with some local legend of tragedy. White Lady legends are found around the world. Common to many of them is the theme of losing or being betrayed by a husband or fiancé.

Guam has its own White Lady apparition. It is said that if one were to drive over the Maina Bridge during a new moon, they may see a her standing at the river's edge wearing a long and white flowing dress similar to a bridal gown, silver hair like the moon and sad red eyes.* This is especially true when a dangerous storm is fast approaching on the horizon.

She can be seen at three well-known landmarks on Guam:  Two Lover’s Point, Harmon Heights, and Fonte River.

*During the 1600's it was common for Chamorro women to have silver hair.  Women would  keep their hair long and bleach it white with repeated shampoos.

(Sources: Wikipedia, Guampedia, Pacific Daily News, Ultimate Culture of Guam, Tasisthoughts)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Flowers of Guam


If you have followed me on my other blog, you have probably come to the conclusion that I love flowers. One of the first things I noticed when we moved here were bushes with white and yellow flowers with waxy petals. These are plumeria flowers and are abundant on Guam.


After researching about plumerias, I discovered that each district has an official flower. Below is a pictorial list of official flowers and their respective villages from The Guam Visitor's Bureau. Untitled

List of Villages and their Official Flowers

(If the picture is too small, hover your mouse over the pictures for the name of the flower and their respective village)

BougainvilleaPlumeriaGolden TrumpetTuberroserock rosePoinsettiapink hibiscushibiscusgardeniaChichirika

They’re all so beautiful! Which is your favorite?

Wearing Flowers

Many women on Guam whether residing or visiting, love to wear fake or fresh flowers in their hair or as a garland. But did you know how you wear your flower tells people whether you are single or taken? Ladies, if you are single and looking, place the flower on the right side, if your heart is taken, place it on the left! You can find fake flowers to wear at many places, including discount and dollar stores. If you want to be a little fancier, you can wear fresh flowers. Purchasing a fresh garland of flowers may be expensive, but I found a great tutorial for plumeria leis.

I hope you have enjoyed this colorful post. Adios esta despues!

What do you call someone from Guam? What do they speak?


This is a question I was often asked when telling people I was moving to Guam. Here is the answer:

All people living on Guam are called “Guamanian.” Guam is a U.S. Territory and people speak English; however, the Chamorro (the indigenous peoples of the Mariana Islands) speak Chamorro. So, all people from Guam are Guamanian, but not all Guamanians are Chamorro.

One common phrase you will often hear is “Håfa adai” (sounds like “half a day”) which translates to “hello” or “good day.” You will often hear this when entering stores or restaurants.  Chamorro is spoken in homes and though you will probably get by just fine on Guam without speaking a word of Chamorro, if you have the opportunity to converse in  the language and put forth an effort I’m sure it will be appreciated and well received.

The Chamorro language is currently threatened. The 2000 U.S. Census showed that fewer than 20% of Chamorro living on Guam speak their native language fluently, and most of those are 55 or older. Though currently there is action for the language to be revitalized, it seems it may not be enough. I was watching the news one day and a local man stated that the children in school are being taught their numbers and colors in Chamorro, but more needs to be done for this language to be saved.

You may be thinking “So what? It is a dying language. The world is shrinking. Soon we will all be speaking the same language anyway. What difference does it make? And isn’t it a U.S. Territory?” Well yes, that may be true, but it IS important. The language, culture and history of any place, be it a state, a village or even a street, should be remembered. To know where you come from is to know who you are.

Below are the Chamorro and correct pronunciations some of the villages on Guam. I also included some every day use of Chamorro obtained from the Department of Chamorro Affairs. You may  notice some Spanish influence in some of the words because Guam was colonized by Spain for over 300 years. If you are interested, you can get a better idea of how to pronounce these words here.

Guåhån -- Guam


Agat                                    ayg-it

Chalan-Pago-Ordot            chah-lahn pah-goh or-dot

Dededo                               deh deh dough

Hagåtña                               ha-gat-nya

Mangilao                             mahng-ee-lau

Mongmong-Toto-Maite       muhng-muhng toe-two-my-tee

Piti                                      pee-tee

Yigo                                    gee-go

Yona                                   joan-ya


Greetings and Salutations

Håfa Adai                       Hello/ Good day

Buenas                               Hi/ Hello

Buenas Dihas                Good Morning

Buenas Tåtdes                Good Afternoon

Buenas Noches               Good Evening

Siñot                               Response or greeting to a male

Siñora                             Response or greeting to a female

Håfa tatamanu hao?         How are you?

Kao todu maolek?          Is everything fine? Are you all right?

Kao maolek hao?            Are you fine?


Help/ Directions

Kao siña hu ayuda hao?                   May I help you?

Kao guaha un nisisita?                     Do you need anything?

Kao un nisisita ayudu?                     Do you need help?

Amånu nai gaige i ‘Hotel Nikko?’   Where is Nikko hotel?

Amånu nai gaige i K-Mart?              Where is K-Mart?

Amånu nai gaige i kemmon?             Where is the restroom?

Pot fabot, ayuda yu’!                         Please help me!

Despensa yu’.                                   Excuse me.

Ki ora på’go?                                   What time is it now?

Hu nisisita mediku.                            I need a doctor.


Personal Information

Håyi na’ån-mu?                          What is your name?

Taotao månu håo?                      Where are you from?

Amånu nai sumåsaga hao?          Where do you live?

Sumåsaga yu’ giya Barrigada.     I live in Barrigada

Kao Chaorro hao?                      Are you Chamorro?


Hunggan                                                  Yes

Åhe’                                                        No

Maolek yu’.                                             I am fine

Ya hågu?                                                 And you?

Todu maolek .                                         Everything is good

Todu båba.                                              Everything is bad

Maolek/ maolek ha’/esta maolek            Good/ okay

Si Yu’os Ma’åse’                                    Thank you

Buen probechu                                         You’re welcome

Adios                                                        Good-bye

Pues adios astaki/ Adios esta despues      Goodbye until later

Asta i biråda                                             See you around

Pot fabot                                                    Please

Nangga un råtu                                          Wait a minute

Saluda, bien binidu                                   Welcome (arrival)

Inorabuena, filisadåd                                 Congratulations


Ordinary Words

På’go                                 Today

Agupa’                               Tomorrow

Nigap                                 Yesterday

Agupa’ña                           Day after tomorrow

Nigapña                             Day before yesterday

Ora                                    Time

Nå’i yu’                             Give me

Fa’nu’i yu’                         Show me

Fa’nå’gue yu’                     Teach me

Guaiya, guinaiya                 Love

Bunitu, bunita, asentådu      Beautiful/Nice

Maipe’                                Hot

Manengheng                        Cold

Chata’an                              Rainy



Until next time, Asta i biråda !




Hafa adåi and welcome to Guam, where America’s day begins! We just moved here from Misawa, Japan and travelled with two cats, a 5 month old and all our luggage!

I hope you will find this blog useful. Guam is catered to tourists and though I will put some “touristy” things in here, I hope to do more than that. (Because let’s face it, shopping at the Tiffany’s and Louis Vuitton every day just isn’t practical…) This blog is for those of you who will be staying here long term (a year or more) and looking for things to do and restaurants to try. And for parents with young children, I will do my best to note whether certain places are stroller friendly, and if their restrooms have changing tables.  Most importantly, I hope to illustrate the beauty and cultural richness of this little island.

Whenever you move to a new place you will hear bad things about it. No doubt you will hear of typhoons, lizards, frogs and brown tree snakes on Guam. But remember, there is a lot of good, especially if you are willing to go out and look for it.

I’m looking forward to my adventures here and hope to find a lot to share with you.  Before I go, I will leave you with a few websites I find helpful for those coming to Guam for the first time.

The Guam Guide

Guam Humanities Council

Department of Chamorro Affairs

Guam Visitor's Bureau

Guam Food Guy (This website is a little outdated, some of the restaurants are no longer in business and prices have changed on pretty much all of the menus)

Asta i biråda. See you around!