Just Who Are The Chamorro People?

Just Who Are The Chamorro People?

What I never knew about Guam or my own people

“Oh, you’re Chamorran!? That’s so cool!”

I say nothing and sigh under my breath. Close enough to not correct them, I suppose.

It’s funny: I’m unsure of where people hear the word “Chamorran,” (the correct pronunciation and spelling is Chamorro), but I’m more surprised at how they know a derivation of the ethnicity itself. Chamorro is an ethnicity that I don’t really hear of when comparing ethnicities and backgrounds, out of curiosity, among friends.

Because my family lived in a military setting, I never really encountered too many Chamorro people while growing up. Of course, I’d visit my grandparents and other extended family in Guam (Guahan in Chamorro) the occasional summer during my childhood, but aside from attending Mass or indulging in traditional Chamorro cuisine (namely barbeques), I feel as though I know very little about my own heritage.

This month being Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I thought it would be appropriate to trace my roots and learn more about my people as a people.

Just who are the Chamorro people?

“Chamorros are the indigineous people of the Mariana Islands of which Guam is the largest and southernmost on an island chain. Archeological evidence identified civilization dating back 5,000 years” (Taimanglo).

Okay, well what does that tell us?

(Many Chamorros reside in the Mariana Islands, even the Northwestern U.S., but because Guam is where the majority of Chamorros live, the main focus of this article will be on Guam’s Chamorro population.)

Through trauma after trauma, Guam has grown into the U.S. territory we know it as today.

Genocide and colonization, destroying nearly every home, every citizen of Guam in the mid-1600s by the Spanish;

the U.S. swooping in and staking their claim in the late 19th century after their “victory” in the Spanish-American War;

the Japanese forcing their occupation until 1944 after Pearl Harbor, when the U.S. and Japan battled it out in what resulted in the most scarring, violent destruction ever on the beautiful, 210 square-mile island.

If the information Patricia L.G. Taimanglo provides us is true, that means that my grandparents were born just the year before the utter ruin of Guam’s culture, that means that my great-grandparents likely witnessed these very tragedies with their own eyes. I only hope that they weren’t succumbed to the forced labor, the beheadings, the torture much of the island experienced.

But when people think of Guam, they don’t think of a once war-ridden island. They don’t think of a highly affected, contested knot in the tug-of-war of political maneuverings. Even now, China’s evidently pointing their missiles straight at Guam.

No, when people think of Guam, they think of “America’s second Hawaii.” They think, “Wow, I can’t wait to have my wedding in such a tropical place!” They visit places like Tumon to get their luxury fixes and appease their ocean water cravings.

People don’t see the villages or the culture still there today.

I don’t blame them for that; the lack of pre-Hispanic cultural significance is bewildering. As the result of war, most Chamorro culture has been erased from history.

Of course with the occupations came great shifts in, and approaches to, culture, although some originality is still fostered on the island.

For instance, most Chamorros are Roman Catholic, place a high emphasis on respecting others (especially elders), partake in fishing activities, and even have their own language. Both Spanish and Filipino heavily influenced the Chamorro language.

Unfortunately, the Chamorro language is dying. It seems as though only the older generations both understand and communicate in the Chamorro tongue. My grandparents typically switch from English to Chamorro in just one conversation.

I do know a few Chamorro phrases. “Hafa adai” (ha-fuh-dei) means “Hello” and “Hu guaiya hao” (hoo-goowai-dza-how) means “I love you.” Those were the easiest for me to remember as a child. I wrote the phrases my grandpa would tell me in a little black notebook, but misplaced it somewhere in the numerous childhood moves.

In a valiant effort to preserve the remaining culture, and increase awareness of the loss of Chamorro identity, according to Taimanglo, public schools teach the Chamorro language as an integration of the educational curriculum. There are also several cultural groups encouraging the learning of the history, culture, songs, and dances of the Chamorro people.

It’s important to continue raising awareness about these issues in order to prevent any further loss of culture or identity of the Chamorros.

Although we cannot resist the changes time often brings, we must develop a clear understanding of the Chamorro identity and not loss more than what was already lost in the first colonization of Guam.

Hu guaiya Guahan.

Cover Image Credit: Chamorro Connections

Popular Right Now

College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.

The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:

“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:


When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:

"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Everything You Need To Know About The New Abortion Ban In Several States

DISCLAIMER: the following does not include any of my personal beliefs/opinions.


Abortion has and will always be a controversial and very sensitive topic for all genders. The following article delves into the details about the Alabama abortion ban that was signed to be a law which, if it passes, will be in effect January 2020 and briefly touches on the Georgia Heartbeat Bill.

Roe v. Wade (1973)

In 1973, Roe v. Wade 410 was passed in the U.S. by the Supreme Court. In short, this ruled that the Due Process Clause along with the 14th Amendment in the Constitution would work to give pregnant women the choice to choose whether or not they wanted an abortion AND should coincide with the government's personal agenda to protect the health of all who is involved. What I mean by this is that the Supreme Court decided during the second trimester of a pregnancy, abortions would be allowed. But, if it is the third trimester, abortion is to be prohibited unless the health of the mother is in danger. This law catapulted the abortion debate which is still going on today.

Abortion vs. Alabama

Alabama's governor, Kay Ivey, signed off on a bill that will basically ban all abortions, including rape, incest, any abnormality, and if the mother's life is in danger on May 14, 2019 after acquiring approval from 25 Senators . This could be a problem considering that it very much contradicts Roe v. Wade (1973). To Ivey, the bill is a reflection of the values in which the citizens of Alabama believe: all life is precious and a gift from God.

Governor of the State of Alabama, Kay Ivey (pictured above). home.bt.com

The governor of Georgia also signed a bill to ban abortion after detecting the slightest heartbeat which is approximately around the six-week pregnancy period (around the time most women discover that they are pregnant). Another important take on this is that despite the rift and debate that is going on between Democrats and Republicans, most Republicans believe that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. This is looking more like a possibility considering most of the Supreme Court consists of people who support the Republican party. In short, the main idea is to ban abortion in all of the United States, not just in some states like it is currently. In regards to Alabama, the bill still has not been enacted into a law and could possibly encounter delay in the Supreme Court because, after all, this is a very debated topic. For now, abortion is still legal until January 2020 or when it becomes a law.

Conditions of the Abortion Law

The conditions of the abortion law explicitly states that abortion during any stage of a pregnancy is prohibited and if any medical professional aids in the practice/procedure of an abortion, they will face up to 99 years in prison. If an attempt is made to perform an abortion procedure, an individual can be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Women who successfully get an abortion or attempt to will be prosecuted as well. However, only those who provide another with an abortion will be punished in Alabama, not the one receiving the service.

No form of abortion is allowed including: rape, incest, life-threatening abnormality, or putting the life of the mother in danger.

Alabama expected to approve controversial abortion bill www.youtube.com

Two Sides to the Debate

Although most Republicans support the law, the Democratic party has combatted the notion of it. Many opponents of the ban state that the restriction can put the lives of many in danger and affects women of color and those who are living in poverty heavily. ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights have also declared that they will sue. Many young people have also reached out to social media websites such as Twitter and Instagram to voice their opinions:

Tweets from individuals who are anti-abortion ban www.wnd.com

Many celebrities have also stated their opinions on the matter. Rihanna stated in one of her Instagram posts, "Take a look," referring to a picture of 25 Senators in Alabama who approved the abortion bill, "These are the idiots making decisions for WOMEN in America. Governor Kay Ivey...SHAME ON YOU!!!"

Although both sides clearly have their opinions on the debate of pro-life/pro-choice, one thing we all can agree on is that this will be a long process that can make or break the lives of a lot of people in our nation.

Until next time,


Related Content

Facebook Comments