Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Tan Ding Gould

Each month Independent Guåhan honors a Maga'taotao or an elite, pioneering or noble person, who has fought hard in some way for the rights of the Chamorro people, especially in terms of self-determination. This month we are honoring the late Clotilde "Ding" Castro Gould who was a war-survivor, an educator, author, song-writer and a master story-teller. She is best known for her creation of the Chamorro language comic strip Juan Malimanga, which appears in the Pacific Daily News six times a week and her role in helping develop the bilingual and bicultural education program in Guam’s public school system. Tan Gould was also a member of PARA (People's Alliance for Responsible Alternatives) and OPI-R (Organization of People for Indigenous Rights), and as a political activist fought hard for the right to self-determination of the Chamorro people. 

Para Guahu, there is an extra dimension to this honor, as I, through my work in the Chamorro Studies Program at the University of Guam, continue to play a role in keeping alive her legacy. Each semester I have my CM102 students create new Juan Malimanga strips with new jokes, in order to keep her dream alive. For the past year I've taken those jokes and handed them off to Ric Castro an artist and fellow professor at UOG, who works with students to illustrate them and then publish them in the Pacific Daily News.  


Clotilde “Ding” Castro Gould (1930-2002) was a beloved storyteller, educator and advocate for Chamorro language and culture.  Through her sense of humor and gift for weaving stories and songs together about Chamorros and life on Guam, Gould helped create and shape Chamorro language resources and programs on Guam, as well as advanced cultural awareness of the Marianas in the larger Pacific region.

Gould was born in 1930 in Hagåtña, the daughter of Juan Castro Castro, a tailor.  Although she did not grow up with her mother, her name was Antonia, and Gould heard she was an active midwife after World War II.  Instead, Gould was raised by her paternal grandmother, her father and his youngest sister.  When her aunt married and had children of her own, these cousins became more like siblings.  Juan Castro supported the whole family up to his death.

With such a full household, Gould was able to have an exciting and love-filled childhood.  In fact, Gould attributed her storytelling skills to her paternal grandmother.  Her early childhood memories were filled with stories her grandmother told her and her siblings, especially at bedtime—tales from the Spanish era, always ending with a moral or lesson to be learned.  Gould learned to embellish stories the way her grandmother did, adding suspense and surprise with each retelling.

A motivated and bright student, Gould, like many other children on Guam at that time, had her education interrupted by the Japanese occupation and World War II in the early 1940s.  Many memories from war times involved difficulties during the Japanese occupation.  Throughout her hardships, Gould maintained her strong will.  One such incident involved her being taken from her home in Hagåtña by Japanese soldiers and forced, along with a few others, to walk to the rice paddies in Malesso.  Gould escaped and found her way home.  Another incident involved Gould’s encounter with a Japanese soldier who prodded her with a shotgun and told her to bow.  Instead, she started singing “God Bless America.”

Toward the end of the war Gould and her family were sent to the concentration camp in Manenggon valley, Yona, where they stayed until the island was liberated by the United States.  It was during their time in the camp that the family experienced the most hardship, under constant guard by the Japanese soldiers and with little food and shelter against the weather.  Gould’s family survived on breadfruit and anything else they found in the jungle. If they were lucky enough to find a chicken, they would boil it over and over again for the thin broth.

When the Americans came, all the residents of the camp, including Gould’s family, were overjoyed, running to greet the soldiers.  Like other liberated Chamorros, young Gould felt her family’s hardships were over.  She and her siblings were then able to return to school and finish their education after the war.

Before and after the war Gould was very active in the Catholic Church.  She was a member of the Sodality of Mary (a church organization for young, unmarried girls), a member of the choir, a catechist (or lay teacher of the Catholic faith), and did other work for the Agana Heights parish.  Her love of music and singing found expression in the church choir and in her own musical compositions — her mischievous or rebellious side sometimes coming through in her lyrics.

Gould also was active in school, serving as student council representative and as a member of the Civic and Playhouse clubs.  She graduated from George Washington High School in 1951, and received a full scholarship to Barat College of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Illinois, a rarity in those days.  She attended Barat College from 1951 to 1954.  Even then, she would regale her friends in the dormitories with taotaomo’na stories from Guam and other tales.

Upon her return to Guam in 1954, Gould became an educator, although she had already been working since 1949 as an elementary school teacher.  She taught high school from 1954 to 1958.  She married Silas Edward Gould, an American, and left again for the continental United States where she taught, first in Kansas City, Missouri, then in Riverside and Pleasant Hill in California until 1972.  The Goulds raised their only daughter, Sandy, while in the States.

Longing to reconnect with her island roots, Gould began to engage with other Chamorros who had relocated to California, setting up different social activities for the Chamorro community there. However, her chance to return home came in 1972 when her aunt became ill and Gould decided to take care of her.  She took a job with the Department of Education (DOE) as a Language Arts Consultant.  With her proficiency in Chamorro she promoted Chamorro language for DOE and developed a series of children’s texts to teach the language, including I Niyok yan I Manha (The Ripe Coconuts and the Young Coconuts),  I Un Punidera Yan I Dies Na Babui (The Hen and the Ten Pigs), and Si Patas Nganga’ (Patas the Duck), all published in 1973.

When the Government of Guam enacted the Chamorro Language and Culture Program with federal funding, Gould became the project director.  She helped develop the Chamorro language curriculum for the elementary schools and train teachers for the new curriculum.  It was during her tenure that governmental support for Chamorro language, music and culture reached new highs, as even the courts and government agencies began to translate signs and other important materials and commercials into the Chamorro language.

Throughout her career, Gould served on numerous education committees and task forces.  While at DOE, she served as chairperson of Na Bunita from 1974 to 1977, and as vice-chairperson of the International Women’s Conference in 1977, and as vice-chairperson of the Chamorro Language Commission (1980-1983).  In 1980, she was appointed the Administrator of Chamorro Studies and Special Projects Division at DOE.  From 1981 to 1983, she was the chairperson of the Retired Senior Citizens Advisory Council.  In 1981, she organized the Guam Genealogical Society to help research and preserve genealogies and family histories of Guam’s people.

In addition to her work in education and other civic organizations, Gould was also an activist.  She was a member of the People’s Alliance for Responsible Alternatives (PARA) and also the Organization of People for Indigenous Rights (OPIR), two grassroots organizations that advocate political awareness and change, especially regarding issues of language, culture and political rights for the Chamorro people.

In the 1981 strike led by the Guam Federation of Teachers, Gould joined other educators to form the Organization of Non-striking Employees to ensure that schools would stay open, and in protest against what she believed to be a confrontational action (i.e., the strike) that went against Chamorro culture.  Most notably, her work with OPIR and PARA led to a demonstration that prompted the Pacific Daily News (PDN) to formulate a liberal language policy and the development of two Chamorro language features for the newspaper which would become part of Gould’s legacy: Fino’ Chamorro and Juan Malimanga.

Because such public protests were largely unheard of in Chamorro history, Gould was not expecting a large turnout for the small group protesting the PDN’s English-only advertisement policy.  In fact, to her surprise, more than 800 people turned up for the demonstration, causing the PDN to rescind its English-only policy and to be more sensitive to issues of language and culture.  A joint effort between the PDN and the Chamorro Studies Division of DOE, of which Gould was the director, resulted in Fino’ Chamorro, a short daily language lesson, and Juan Malimanga, a Chamorro language comic strip, to be published.

Initially, Gould had been asked by the PDN to translate the popular comic strip Peanuts by Charles Schultz into Chamorro.  Gould attempted to do so, but soon realized that the humor of Peanuts was lost in the translation and was not funny for Chamorro readers.  However, not wanting to lose the opportunity, Gould proposed to produce another comic strip, with Chamorro characters speaking and joking in Chamorro, and written in a way that reflected local humor.  Drawing from her imagination and childhood memories of family and friends, she created the characters for the strip and the storylines for their different misadventures.  With the help of an illustrator, Juan Malimanga and his sidekicks, Kika and Nano, were brought to life in May 1981.

Juan Malimanga was based on a Chamorro folk tale character named Juan Mala, who lived during the Spanish era.  Juan Mala always managed to outwit Spanish administrators with his simple manners and perceived slow wit.  Like Juan Mala, Juan Malimanga had the same joking manner that drove Kika and Nano crazy.  But the strip was more than a window into Chamorro humor.  It was a learning tool, and Gould often used it to voice out on current events on Guam in a funny way.

In spite of her success with DOE, from which she retired in 1989, and in civic life, Gould was, at heart, always the storyteller.  She knew that storytelling was an effective way of teaching, especially young children.  Taking up her guitar, Gould would make up songs and use the instrument for special effects to enhance her stories.  Because of her skills, in 1985, Gould represented Guam as a storyteller in the 5th Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture (FESTPAC) in Townsville, Australia, sharing stories of Guam and Chamorro history.  In 1992, she participated in the Talking Island Festival held in the Hawaiian Islands.  With guitar in hand, Gould told stories and sang songs about Guam to diverse audiences of students from all grade levels, as well as senior citizens.  That same year, Gould was given a grant from the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency (CAHA) to translate the video, Chamorro Courtship and Marriage Practices of the Early 1900s Conference.

Gould also used her love of music to perpetuate the traditional Chamorro song form known as Kantan Chamorita, a one-octave chant that consists of four lines that rhyme in the second and fourth lines.  The songs are based on a simple melody that is repeated, but the lyrics are improvised, like an impromptu call-and-response.  Gould often demonstrated this form with other singers.  When she was younger, she composed numerous songs, several of which were recorded by popular local music artist Johnny Sablan, including I Mambiha na tiempo, Adios kirida, I na pinikara, and kada ilek-hu Hafa Adai.  Her songs, evocative of Chamorro life, memories and love, were extremely popular among Sablan’s many fans.

In 1985, Gould was presented with the Governor’s Art Award in Literary Arts.  Over the years she has received recognition with several Legislative Resolutions and Awards, including her 1994 induction into the Educators’ Hall of fame at the Agana Library.  She was featured as an influential Chamorro woman organizer in Dr. Laura Souder’s seminal work, Daughters of the Island in 1987.  She was also selected to be included in the Hale-Ta Who’s Who in Chamorro History series, as well as the CAHA Masters of Traditional Arts as a Master Storyteller.  In 2000 she received a Humanities Lifetime Achievement Award from the Guam Humanities Council.

Clotilde Gould passed away in 2002, but left a legacy of service few people have been able to emulate.  Fino’ Chamorro and Juan Malimanga continue to be featured in the Pacific Daily News, with the creativity of Chamorro specialist Peter Onedera, art professor Ric Castro and students from the University of Guam, and support of PDN publisher Rindraty Limtiaco.  Now in the digital age, Gould’s brainchild, born from a life of storytelling and humor, will educate and entertain audiences she may have only imagined, for years to come.

By Dominica Tolentino and Faye Varias


 Storytelling is Rich and Alive in Guam
By Judy Flores
The Guam Guide
January 24, 2012
Like other Pacific Islands, storytelling in Guam has been an important method of passing knowledge from one generation to the next.  Storytellers were respected members of society because of their ability educate and entertain. Stories were used to provide examples of good and bad, to help youngsters learn how to react properly to social situations. Many stories had a moral, or lesson, for the listener. Jesuit historian Father Francisco Garcia noted in 1668 that Chamorro people had a love of debate and poetry, together with a tendency towards mockery, which has characterized the Chamorro people throughout history. They had huge feasts where they celebrated by telling their histories in oratorical, poetic ways.

Legends probably began as a good story based on interesting characteristics or achievements of the hero. As the story passed from one storyteller to another through time, the details became exaggerated. Other legends were created to explain events that no one could understand. Every culture has a creation legend that explains how their land came to be or where their first people came from.

Storytelling traditions of the Chamorro people were interrupted due to our colonial history.  Our creation legend, for example, was lost during the Spanish missionary period.  Fortunately, an early missionary heard the story and wrote it down, where it was discovered in the 20th century, among the writings of Father Peter Coomans, a missionary in Guam in 1673.  According to his report, the natives of Guam claimed that the first man, Puntan, was born without a father and only one sister.  When he was near death, he called his sister, Fu’una, and ordered that out of his belly the sky be made; that out of his lice and their eggs…be made the stars in the firmament, from his eyebrows originated the sun and the moon, and out of his eyelashes the rainbows. From his shoulders the earth was made, and from his ribs and bones the trees were to grow; from his hair came branches and green grasses, his bladder became the sea, and the lower extremities the banana trees and the reeds.  His intestines became the sea straits and the ports…  The whole human race began from a rock (called Lalas) that stands like a sentinel phallic symbol located off the western shore of the present-day Fouha Bay.

Despite colonial attempts to erase the history of the Chamorro people, certain beliefs have persisted through the passing down of stories. The belief in ancestral spirits called “taotaomo’na” (“taotao” meaning “people” and “mo’na” meaning “first”) persists to this day. The banyon (Nunu) tree is particularly respected as the home of the taotaomo’na. The ancient practice of asking permission to enter the lands under the control of another clan has persisted in the continuing practice of asking the ancestors, or taotaomo’na, permission whenever one needed to trespass in the jungle. The words of the ancient chant of request have changed due to colonial language introductions, but the meaning and practice of asking has persisted. In his 1994 compilation of stories about ghosts and superstitious beliefs, Peter Onedera presents a version of the way one must ask permission to enter unknown territory.

“Whenever one is away from home, such as visiting in the neighborhood…or some other activity, and the restroom is needed — and especially if one is outdoors — permission must be sought from the spirits of the ancient ones. This is what one should say:  ‘Ancestors, may I please (state your intentions) because I am not able to reach my own home/place/property.  Guelo yan Guela, kao sina ju’ (ha sangan hafa para u cho’gue) sa’ ti sina hu hago’ i tano’-hu ya dispansa yu’.”  Failure to pay such respects to the ancestors has resulted in stories told by those who have been pinched or bitten, with visible marks to show for it; and, in extreme cases, become ill wherein no medical remedy can cure them. Taotaomo’na stories are a favored genre of contemporary storytelling. Throughout Guam, Rota, Tinian, and Saipan, storytellers add new stories about supernatural activities experienced by people of these islands today.

While there are uncounted numbers of storytellers practicing today, official recognition was given to the late Clotilde Castro Gould, a master storyteller of Guam. Energetic, funny, sometimes ribald and always interesting, Clotilde (fondly called “Ding”) traveled extensively throughout the islands and to Pacific Islander events everywhere, representing Guam’s rich tradition of storytelling.  She perpetuated the antics of “Juan Malimanga” by putting it in the daily newspaper as a comic strip. The character, Juan Malimanga, depicted a middle-aged, unworldly Chamorro man who dressed in an open-front shirt tied at the waist, rolled-up knee-length trousers, and zori’ (rubber thongs) on his feet. Other regular characters included Tan Kika’, an old woman in long skirt and slippers with a bandana tied around her head; and Nanu, a person of dubious age. This ambiguity allowed his character to act sometimes as a boy and sometimes as a man. The humor revolved around mis-communications due to word plays, often using typical Chamorro misuses of English words, and Juan Malimanga’s philosophy of life, which was to work as little as possible while using his wits to undermine authority figures. This comic strip continues to run in the Pacific Daily News in 2011. It is read by Chamorro speakers and those who use it as a challenge to practice reading the Chamorro language.
In the Northern Marianas where Caroline Islanders (Refaluwash) share native citizenship with Chamorros, stories from both cultures have blended cohesively.  Lino Olopai of Refaluwash ancestry who speaks Refaluwash, Chamorro and English languages, has traveled widely telling the stories he learned from his elders – of fishing, canoe traditions, and family folkways. One tradition he described at a storytelling event at Gef Pa’go Inalahan was that listeners must continuously respond to the storyteller by saying, “yehyeh”, or the storyteller would assume no one was listening and stop. This was practiced during his childhood when a storyteller would sit on the sleeping mats among children to tell bedtime stories. The storyteller judged whether the listeners were still awake by listening for the “yehyeh” response. When everyone was silent, it was a sign that the children had drifted to sleep.

Contemporary storytellers can be contacted through the storytelling group, “Ginen I Hila’ I Maga’ Taotao – From the Tongues of the Noble People,” a non-profit organization formed by practitioners for the purpose of passing on storytelling traditions. They host several storytelling events each year, most recently their annual “Fright Night” Halloween storytelling event, held at night in the beachside jungles of Ipan, Talofofo. Over a dozen storytellers participate in rotating sessions where the audience is guided in the dark to each storyteller, raising hairs and squeals from the audience with their stories. This group usually participates in the annual November Gef Pa’go Storytelling Festival in Historic Inalahan, with each member presenting their specialty of scary, dramatic, funny, or ribald stories and skits that give insight into the Chamorro beliefs and sense of humor. This is a very fluid group, including recognized old-timers Peter Onedera, Peter Duenas, Toni Ramirez, Rosa Salas Palomo, Loui and Lila Gumbar, Victor Tuquero, Selina Onedera-Salas, and Beverly Acfalle, and constantly adding young new talent to keep the group fresh and pass the tradition along. Elders of Inalahan, such as Tan Floren Paulino, Ben Meno, Carlos Paulino, and others participate each year.  Two recognized Guam storytellers, Cira McMillan and Jay Pasqua, who have moved off-island, continue to practice their art in U.S. Chamorro communities.

The Chamorro storytelling tradition is alive and growing. Check our calendar of events to see when the next storytelling event will take place — and enjoy the stories!

Judy Flores, PhD. is a professional batik artist, historian and folklorist, using her art to depict Guam’s rich history and culture.  She grew up in the village of Inalahan and continues to work towards restoring and revitalizing the early-1900s buildings as an educational and tour venue.  She recently published her book, “Estorian Inalahan: History of a Spanish-era Village in Guam”, available at Framed, Etc. Gallery in Anigua, Bestseller Books, The Guam Gallery of Art, Gef Pa’go Gift Shop, and on her website at


Ten Guam Women Firsts Recognized by Women's Chamber of Commerce
by Clynt Ridgell
Pacific News Center
March 10, 2015

Soroptomist Sigma Society, Soroptomists International of the Marianas and Guampedia Collaborate 
Guam - The Guam Women's Chamber of Commerce announced ten women firsts today during a ceremony held in conjunction with the Soroptomist Sigma Society, Soroptomists International of the Marianas and Guampedia to commemorate the first women on Guam to achieve certain milestones.

"Our Guam Women's of Chamber Commerce vision is that we want women to participate in the community development and economic development of our island and that we women want to be just as strong and formidable in the business community as our male counterparts,” said Guam Women's Chamber of Commerce President Lou Leon Guerrero.

 To accomplish this the Guam Women's Chamber of Commerce is always looking for ways to lift up the status and image of women on Guam. This is why they came up with the First Women of Guam series and today they honored ten women who have been recognized as the first women on Guam to reach certain milestones.

 Elizabeth Barret-Anderson was recognized as the first appointed woman attorney general of Guam. Carmen Meling Romualdez Dela Cruz is the first woman owner of a music and arts school on Guam. Herminia Duenas Dierking was the first Chamorro woman president of the Associations of Pacific Island Legislatures. Leona Flores is the first Chamorro Woman to graduate from a U.S. military academy for the Air Force. Clotilde Castro Gould is the first Chamorro woman to lead the Chamorro studies program and the first Chamorro woman cartoonist. Esther Kia'aina is the first woman from Guam to serve as assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Insular Affairs. Rindraty Celes Limtiaco is the first woman publisher of a daily newspaper on Guam. Flora Baza Quan is the first Chamorro woman recording artist and the first Chamorro woman to win a regional beauty pageant Maria Roberto is the first Chamorro Woman chief native nurse. Genevieve Ploke Snow is the first Chamorro woman U.S. Naval Officer

 Guampedia assisted with this project by doing the historical research necessary to establish the first women to achieve certain milestones.

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