Saturday, May 21, 2011

Chamorro Public Service Post #19: Pappa' Sombran Mapagahes

Ti siña mumaigo’ yu’ achokka’ gof yafai yu’. I can’t sleep tonight even though I’m exhausted.

I’m in Sacramento at the NAISA (Native American and Indigenous Studies Association) Conference. I spent the day hanging out with some Chamorro graduate students, attended some panels, walked around downtown Sacramento. Now I’m back in my hotel room, finding myself missing someone terribly, but unable to sleep.

I was going through my computer, looking through the digital equivalent of ancient, dusty files, seeing if I could bore myself to sleep. I came across a folder which I hadn’t look at in quite a while, full of the lyrics to old Chamorro songs. These are songs that all older Chamorros know in some form or another, but which aren’t as popular nowadays for obvious reasons as changes in taste and the decline of the language in general. When I was going through the lists of songs whose lyrics I've collected over the years, I remembered a story involving one of them.
Many years ago, when I first started a website on geocities called “Free Guahan,” I received an email from a Chamorro in the states whose mother had passed away recently and was looking for the lyrics or information about a song which she had loved. This Chamorro had spent most of her life in the states and didn’t speak Chamorro or know much about Guam or her culture beyond the parties she would sometimes attend or the relatives that she knew. There was a song which she would sing regularly, and so her daughter knew the tune, and could make out some of the lyrics, but like most Chamorros who hear Chamorro songs but don’t speak it, they often confuse the lyrics and sort of cobble together phrases of their own. This daughter had done just that, she had a sense of the song, but was having trouble finding the lyrics or even just the title of it online. She emailed me, writing down some portions of it that seemed clearer in her mind than others.

She wrote down the disparate lyrics and one of them in particular caught my eye, the word “sabedos.” This sounded a lot like the phrase “sabe dios” which means “god knows.” I could only recall this phrase being used in one song in particular, “Pappa’ Sombran Mapagåhes” which means “Beneath Somber Clouds.” I had found the lyrics to the song in MARC and had also heard a version of it on Johnny Sablan’s Dalai Nene album. I sent her the lyrics to see if that was the song, and indeed it was. The song itself is a love song, although like many Chamorro love songs, a tragic and na'puti one.

I wrote this post in an effort to get sleepy and it’s working. I’m going to bed now, but not before I post below the lyrics to the song. Hopefully the next Chamorro who is googling these lyrics won’t have such a hard time and can just find them right here on my blog.

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PAPPA’ SOMBRAN MAPAGAHES

1
Pappa’ sombran mapagahes
I tumampe na nuhong
Matto fehman guinaiya-ku
Ya ayu yu’ mina’umugong
Matto fehman guinaiya-ku
Ya ayu yu’ mina’umugong

Testigu ha’ siha I puti’on
Ni’ u madodotna I langhet
Faisen fan I ma’lak pulan
Nene kao ti magahet
Faisen fan I ma’lak pulan
Nene, kao ti magahet

2
Pappa’ sombran mapagahes
I tumampe na nuhong
Hahasso I kontrata-ta
Sa’ enao yu’ na’umungong
Hahasso I kontrata-ta
Sa’ enao yu’ na’umungong

Guaha un trongkon atdetfa
Gi pappa’ I bentana-hu
Hahasso I kontrata-ta
Antes di u ta adingu

Yanggen esta yu’ ti ya-mu
Pika yu’ put pidasu
Yute’ yu’ gi halom tasi
Para pinigan yan apu

Na’manteni yu’ ni’ kannai-mu
Ya bai despidi hao Adios
I mata-hu matan magof
Lao I korason-hu sabe Dios

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