I Nå’an Songao
Songao is likely an indigenous name from the Mariana Islands. The name is recorded as early as the 1727 Census of the Mariana Islands.
Unfortunately, I do not know what it means; however, there appear to be a variation of forms (at least similarities) of it within the two primary census periods of the 1700’s: Songao, Sungao, Sugaota, Suñgaolaian, Sungaofino. For some of the challenges and background of native names see my previous article:
I would certainly like to know what the word “songao,” refer to; and, as always, I welcome the collaborative discussion on its meaning and family history. Some unconfirmed information I recently received indicates that some members of the Songao family claim to be descendants of Fo’na (Fu’una) and Pontan (Puntan). I would love to hear from those who may know something about that.
Below is a summary of where I have found the Songao surname recorded in Spanish Census records:
1. Pedro Songao, unmarried male, Agat, Guam
2. Francisco Songao, boy, Agat, Guam
3. Fernando Songao, married, Mongmong, Guam
4. Juan Songan, boy, Miune, Rota
1. Francisco Sungao, married to Maria Egege, Agat, Guam. This Francisco is likely the same person recorded in 1727 as a boy living in Agat. Francisco and Maria had three children:
Francisco de Borja
Maria Lumen Godongña
2. Juan Songao, married to Teresa Tia, Sosamhaia (Sosanhåya), Rota. This Juan is likely the same person as Juan Songan recorded in 1727 as boy living in Rota. Juan and Teresa had had three children:
Juan Mariano Domingo
Rosa Elena Tia
3. Dimas Sungaota, listed as an orphan, Agat, Guam
4. Francisco Suñgaolaian, widower, Agat, Guam. He had a son living with him:
5. Cipriano Sugaota, mother is Ursula Maadi, Agat, Guam and his brother was Felix Taitiguir
6. Francisco Sungaofino, parents are Francisco Yngin and Juana Ago, Pago, Guam
In the 1897 Census there were 17 people (17) recorded with the Songao surname all from Rota. It appears at this time point, the Songao family surname was well rooted and found only in the island of Rota.
____. 1897. Padron de Almas: Año de 1897. Spanish Colonial Government Records, Mariana Islands 1678-1899, found in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Rodrigue Levesque. 2000a. History of Micronesia: Volume 13 — Failure at Ulithi Atoll, 1727-1746. Levesque Publications: Quebec, Canada
Rodrigue Levesque. 2000b. History of Micronesia: Volume 14 – Full Census of the Marianas, 1746-1773. Levesque Publications: Quebec, Canada
Famagu'on Maga’låhi Matå’pang
Some of you may already know of my own personal interest in tracing the descendants of Maga’låhi Matå’pang. It began sometime around 2001 with an email exchange from Jay “Sinangan” Pascua informing me that we have a common ancestor that may be the descendant of Matå’pang. More recently, I had been on a hot trail of information that my wife may also be a descendant. However, my research and effort for this particular topic tends to run back into the cold. Much of this stems in part from conflicting information and then huge gaps of information. And so my journey continues.
So before Matå’pang died in 1680, he had at least two children that I have been able to identify. Unfortunately, I have yet to identify the name of his wife.
In 2014, I found out that Matå’pang’s daughter’s name is Maria Assion. It turns out that Maria was the newborn baby baptized by Father San Vitores and for which he met his fate on April 2, 1672.
Maria was married to an unnamed soldier and around 1691, she was confronted by a married man allegedly to pursue an affair with her. She refused him and told him, “Even if you tear me to pieces you will not get what you are trying to get.” This incident was recorded with other incidents demonstrating, in part, religious conversion success stories among the natives.
Diego Luis San Vitores [Matå’pang]
Recently, with the help of Rlene Santos Steffy, she pointed me in the direction of Matå’pang’s son. It turns out that in a 1684 letter from Father Antonio Xaramillo (sometimes spelled Jaramillo), he informs the King of Spain that he brought Matå’pang’s son along with two other unnamed native boys to Manila with him.
“One of these boys is the one who[se baptism] occasioned the death that his father gave to the Ven. Father Diego Luis Sanvitores. He too holds this name, as I was the one who gave it to him when the good luck of baptizing him befell me; the Ven. Father himself had been preoccupied with the baptism of his own blood, and was unable to administer the baptism of water to him then.”
In Levesque’s Volume 8 (1996), for which he transcribed and quoted Xaramillo’s letter to the King, he also made a footnote about Matå’pang’s son’s name, “Diego Luis Mata’pang,” and indicating that would have made him 12 years old in 1684.
Unfortunately Levesque’s footnote and interpretation of Xaramillo’s letter to the King is not correct. It would be Matå’pang’s daughter Maria that would have been 12 years of age in 1684, and not her brother. Maria was Matå’pang's newborn baby girl baptized by Father San Vitores for which he lost his life. I am uncertain at this point in my research if Maria is older than Diego.
Also of note, in a 1686 letter from Xaramillo to the King, he indicated that he wanted to send Diego to Spain, but it is currently unknown if he was ever transported to Spain.
Jacques Arago. 1823. Narrative of a Voyage Round the World in the Uranie and Physicienne Corvettes Commanded by Freycinet, During the Years 1817, 1818, 1819, and 1820. Davison, Whitefriars; Howlette and Brimmer: London, England
Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, MFA and Nicholas Yamashita Quinata, ' Matå’pang: Matapang', referenced August 1, 2012, © 2009 Guampedia™, URL: http://guampedia.com/chiefs-matapang-matapang/
Rodrigue Levesque. 1996. History of Micronesia, Volume 7: More Turmoil in the Marianas Conquest 1679-1683. Levesque Publications: Quebec, Canada
Rodrigue Levesque. 1996. History of Micronesia, Volume 8: Last Chamorro Revolt 1683-1687. Levesque Publications: Quebec, Canada
Indigenous Names: Eguiguan yan Saguanamnam
I recently received a request to elaborate on the origin of the Eguiguan and Saguanamnam surnames. I certainly appreciated the inquiry because it caused me to look deeper into a specific request with regards to indigenous names. Unfortunately, sometimes inquiries are not always easy for me to address since I am appleng and still learning to speak Chamorro more fluently. However, I try to provide a reasonable response based on my current research findings and a review of historical literature.
Every now and then I would preface my response with some of my personal observations and perspectives of history regarding indigenous Chamorro names in order to try and help frame my response. Also, because there seems to be only a hand full of people focused on Chamorro genealogy and others have convey to me that they found it of value to have some background information.
So to begin with, and depending on the discussion, there are several challenges I tend to make people aware of...
The first challenge is that with the Taotao Håya (the words the ancient indigenous people of the Mariana Islands described themselves as) of the mid-1600’s and earlier, only had first names. They did not have a need to have a last name like the Europeans that came from vast populations. It was not until the first full and comprehensive census in 1727, where it was apparent that indigenous people of the Marianas started to carry a first and last name. Many scholars agree that once a Chamorro was baptized, her/his indigenous name became the last name and the baptismal name became a first name. As a result, many immediate families possessed different last names, which make it a challenge (among other situations) to trace genealogical roots for our people.
Also, some scholars believe that the names of the indigenous people may have been dynamic. In other words, each individual may have had or been known by more than one name. The indigenous people of the Mariana Islands have a historical practice, to this very day, of conjuring up a variety nicknames for people they know. Some of these tend to stick and become family clan names, or, in the case of funeral announcements are “better known as” names.
For example and according to Chamorro genealogist Anthony Ramirez (1984), family nicknames tend to be derived from a reference of at least one of the following ten categories: below. For example the nickname may be a reference to:
- a first name (Kaila derived from Micaila/Duenas); or
- a surname (Robat derived from Roberts/Roberto); or
- a place name (Umåtak derived from Umatac/Garrido); or
- an animal (Kichu/Fish refers to Lizama); or
- a descriptive action or quality (Ma’fongfung/To be pounded refers to Manibusan); or
- an object (Åpu/Ashes refers to Flores); or
- a food (Chåda/Eggs refers to Cruz); or
- a status (Kabesa/Leader refers to Flores); or
- a body part (Gugat/Muscle refers to Santos); or
- some other category (Gualafun/Full moon refers to Chargualaf)
The two earliest known full Census documents from the 1700’s seem to demonstrate these examples within the indigenous names recorded.
The second challenge is the impact of conquest and colonization. The lifestyle and changes from those influences and in many cases lawful mandates may have discouraged the Chamorro people from retaining their indigenous names and identity. To some, it may have been more economically advantageous to carry a Spanish last name. Such an influence would explain, in part, the mortality of indigenous names and why few have survived over time. For instance, I personally know of a family whose original last name is Taijeron, but changed to Perez because it was easier for the US Navy personnel to pronounce and spell that latter. Conquest and colonization is also a cause and reason for why many of the indigenous words are no longer used in today’s Chamorro language. We have a lot of borrowed Spanish words in the language, and now as in my case of being appleng, incorporate a lot of borrowed English words.
The third challenge is also a result of time and space where the spelling of names may have morphed based on culture and orthography. I have observed a variety of names spelled and recorded differently in literature, census documents and other official records across time. This is somewhat the power of the pen or even of the person who physically records information such as the Census enumerators or scribes.
With those three particular challenges in mind, I will now address the two indigenous names.
I have not been successful in finding an exact match for origin or definition of this name. I do believe it is an indigenous name with a lost definition (or at least its meaning may remain in hibernation until new historical literature surfaces to revive its meaning).
The earliest recording I have found which is somewhat a similar match is the last name Egigam in the 1758 Census: Pedro Egigam married to Mariana Dungña who both resided in Miring, Rota.
In an 1823 Guam Vital Statistics Report, there was a birth recording of Jose Eguigam, July 8, 1823.
In the 1897 Census, we can find families carrying Eguiguan as a surname or recorded with their mother’s surname as their middle name.
Another potential match I found was contained in Laura Thompson’s literature (1932), where she recorded the name Eginguan as one of the “Chamorro Family Names from Guam.”
“EGINGUAN (EgIng'Guan), Accidentally-one-sided: Eging, crooked, onesided, not balanced; Guan or Guaihun,to happen to one accidentally.”
I offer a couple of other possibilities for consideration and research:
- One possibility is that the root word of Eguiguan may have been guiguan or even guigam (perhaps even two very different words), with unrecovered meanings, and were nouns. Adding the “E” changed the based word from a noun a verb.
- Another possibility is that this last name may have been erroneously recorded and may have actually been Eguihan, which means “to fish.”
For a while, and as previously conveyed by Påle Eric Forbes (2012), the meaning of “namnam,” appeared to have been lost. Forbes further stated that “sågua” means “channel, as in an ocean inlet.” But just recently on July 12, 2015, as I was reading Volume 6 of Levesque’s History of Micronesia (1995), I found that the word “namnam” was recorded and meant “courage.”
This last name is appears twice in the 1758 Census:
- Francisco Saguanamnam, son of Estevan Taimanglo and Merenciana Manoga from Merizo, Guam
- Quintin Saguanamnam, son of Pedro Taisagui, Maria Humaña, from Agat, Guam
In an 1823 Guam Vital Statistics Report, there was a birth recording of Mariano Saguanamnam, March 15, 1823.
And, in the 1897 Census, we can find one individual with the Saguanamnam as a surname and several others recorded with their mother’s surname as their middle name.
I certainly welcome the conversation to expand the discussion on these indigenous names and their meanings. I also welcome the dialogue from those affiliated with these family names!
____. 1823. Guam Año de 1823. Retrieved November 9, 2015 from: http://www.guampedia.com/1823-guam-vital-statistics-report/
____. 1897. Padron de Almas: Año de 1897. Spanish Colonial Government Records, Mariana Islands 1678-1899, found in the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Påle Eric Forbes. 2012a. Familia : Lujan. Retrieved November 5, 2015 from: http://paleric.blogspot.com/2012/03/familia-lujan.html
Påle Eric Forbes. 2012b. Lost Surnames : Salucnamnam. Retrieved November 5, 2015 from: http://paleric.blogspot.com/2012/08/lost-surnames-salucnamnam.html
Anthony Ramirez. 1984. Chamorro Nicknames. From Guampedia.com, accessed June 25, 2014: http://www.guampedia.com/chamorro-nicknames/
Rodrigue Levesque. 1995. History of Micronesia: Volume 6 – Revolts in the Marianas, 1673-1678. Levesque Publications: Quebec, Canada
Rodrigue Levesque. 2000. History of Micronesia: Volume 14 – Full Census of the Marianas, 1746-1773. Levesque Publications: Quebec, Canada
Laura Thompson. 1932. Archaeology in the Marianas Islands, Bulletin 100. Bernice P. Bishop Museum: Honolulu, Hawaii.
Earliest Recording of a Chamorro Family with Names
From what we know today, the recording of names of the ancient Chamorro people, who referred to themselves as Taotao Håya, continues to remain very sparce. Beginning with European contact in 1521 and until 1602, it is very difficult to find any indigenous names within the literature available.
However, by 1602 one of the objectives of a group of Spanish ships was to stop by the Mariana Islands to retrieve shipwrecked survivors of the Santa Margarita. On board one of the visiting ships was Fray Juan Pobre who deserted his ship by jumping into a “canoe” of an unnamed native while the Spanish ships sailed away without him and another Friar.
Although Pobre’s excursion in the Mariana Islands was only for about seven months (March – October 1602), he made efforts to learn about the Taotao Håya and wrote about his encounters that were eventually transcribed. His 1602 recordings seems to be among the earliest, if not the first, to name an indigenous family with whom he had stayed with while in Luta (Rota, at the time was also called and recorded as Carpana [Zarpana] by the Spaniards).
This Taotao Håya manggåfa (family) consisted of Sunama, his wife Sosanbra, their “eldest son” Maripego, and two daughters: Marifoquez and Mominasaria. Unfortunately, the transcribed recordings of Pobre do not seem to indicate the name(s) and mention of how many other sons Sunama and Sosanbra may have had. This family resided in the village Tazga, Rota.
Marjorie G. Driver. 1988. Fray Juan Pobre de Zamora: Hitherto unpublished accounts of his residence in the Mariana Islands, The Journal of Pacific History, 23:1, 86-94, DOI: 10.1080/00223348808572578.
1962: Guam Trade Fair
In 1962, Anderson Air Force Base hosted the Guam Trade Fair. Several village Commissioners and volunteers collaborated on constructing a thatched-roof structure to house a display of Chamorro antiques and local produce for the Fair.
On the right is Enrique Naputi of Inarajan, who was schedule to demonstrate and play the Belembåutuyan also at the Fair.