Hinekka i Tiningo' I Manåmko'

I have done so many interviews with older Chamorus that sometimes I lose track. Some interviews stay with me and I remember for the most part very clearly, others blend together. I have tapes. I have digital video. I have thousands of pages of notes in notebooks, in legal pads, in the margins of books and random scraps of paper. I have lost exact count of how many of these oral history interviews I have done, but it is well over 400 at this point. 

In addition to these interviews that I've done personally, I also for many years had my students do simple interviews with elders. I have hundreds of these interviews as well, one of which I've included below from a student that I had for Elementary Chamoru 1, who interviewed her grandmother. Sometimes the Chamoru sayings or phrases that I share with my students or on social media come from these interviews. 

I have so much in terms of raw material for these interviews, this cache of oral history, but I scarcely have time to do anything with it. I incorporate elements that I read or remember into articles, columns, teaching, presentations, my discussions with people. But formally preparing it or releasing or publishing it will have to wait. 


 Interviewer: Anjoelais-Rose Mendiola

Interviewee: Dorothea Pangelinan Mendiola, 79 years old, resident of Yona. 

Oral History Project

Anjoelais: So grandma, say your name, age, village and birthday. And then speak loud, so we can hear you. I’m just going to ask you questions on the back.

Grandma: Just nai write my name there. 

Anjoelais: Oh no, but I have to record the interview.


Anjoelais: So you have to say your name.

Grandma:My name is Dorothea Pangelinan Mendiola … something like that?

Anjoelais: Yes. So my name is Dorothea ….

Grandma:P. Mendiola. 

Anjoelais: Yes. Your age? How old are you grandma?

Grandma:My age is seventy-nine and I was born on January 6, 36. 

Anjoelais: 36, So your age is seventy-nine and you were born January 6, 1936. And your village is…


Anjoelais: And your village is Yona. 

Grandma:Am I okay?

Anjoelais: Yes. I’m sure. You’re okay grandma. So, can you describe for me the house you grew up in? What you remember about the house you grew up in? 

Grandma:Oh I remember I was born in Agana. 

Anjoelais: You were born in Agana.

Grandma:Where Padre Palomo. 

Anjoelais: Padre Palomo?

Grandma: You remember that place?

Anjoelais: Hmmmmm.

Grandma: The traffic light? Going to Mong Mong – Toto.

Anjoelais: Yes.

Grandma: Coming down.

Anjoelais: Oh you live there?

Grandma: Yeah. 

Anjoelais: Wow. 

Grandma: That’s where my mom live. 

Anjoelais: Did you live in a house? How…where… did you live?

Grandma: House like a… a… tin… no sa’ not tin… a… coconut 

Anjoelais: Coconut.

Grandma: Coconut hatch. And the side is a… the side is a … the wood and the posts is wood like agao… the posts. That’s all I remember. 

Anjoelais: Did yer.. what…

Grandma: Then we moved up to Yona. 

Anjoelais: Then you moved up to Yona. 

Grandma: But I don’t know. I think I was a four years or five years and then the war came.  

Anjoelais: And then Manenggon.

Grandma: Manenggon. Ah. World War II I was a five years so the guy was a told that if we didn’t surrender to the Japanese they gonna look for all the female and they gonna cut off the…

Anjoelais: Boob? Their susu?

Grandma: Their susu. And the guy.. they gonna cut the private. 

Anjoelais: Oh my gosh.

Grandma: So that’s why we surrender because the church over here in Yona that’s where the Japanese are using for the Quarters. So they, we surrender, and we register on the Japanese flag. Then a after that, when the Americans come to Guam, we moved from Yona to Manenggon and we stay in Manenggon with the Tenorio family, that’s our friend. So nana have to out and like a hunting for the shell in the river, we have to cook that to… for our food.. and our breakfast.. the breadfruit… and all the… we planting taro, yam, and beans, raising cow, and pig, and chicken. And the Japanese will come and tell you to call the chicken and feed the chicken and hold the chicken and they will point to the chicken and you have to catch that, clean it, and give it to them. 

Anjoelais: You have to cook for them.

Grandma:No, they gonna cook it. What we have to do is clean it and cut it up and give it to them. Then, ahh.. they took us from the… from the house over there where.. you don’t know.. you see where the store? 

Anjoelais: Ummhmm..

Grandma:That used to be our house when your grandpa’s still alive. But uh father down.. uh.. let me see… the.. you pass the store then the first exit… that’s where we staying… that’s where we… where our house is during Japanese. They told us they just a do whatever they ask you because you don’t go with what they want they slap you or beheaded you.

Anjoelais: Wow

Grandma: So I suffer during the Japanese. I had to go out on the field, the hot sun, and pull eveeerrryyy weed on the radish, the cucumber. We plant whatever we have. Imagine the kids. I was in school so the minute we say dah a pledge of allegiance in the Japanese they took us and instead of ah do some home.. ah.. our schoolwork, we have to go to the field  and pull every little weed  in the plant.  And we have to take the soil and cover again the plant. And if they… if the sensei came back to inspect.

Anjoelais: The sensei grandma?


Anjoelais: The sensei?


Anjoelais: If the sensei comes back… The teacher or something… the supervisor. 

Grandma: Yeah, like dat. They… that’s why I always have a headache now because they always slap me. 

Anjoelais: Oh yeah.

Grandma: My ears. Something wrong with my ears. Then my brother have a nice friend. That friend is very nice to us and we cooking secretly…. Cooking what he like.. the egg or you know the barbeque chicken?

Anjoelais:  Ummhmm.

Grandma: We do it for him but we have to be careful because once we know we feeding one person, they gonna punish us. So we heading to Manenggon then when ah my mom left to pick up the ration.. like rice.. like tuna fish in the can… the intention is to put all the chamorro in the cave.. there’s a man cave ah yeah.. sa… Baby, hold on something wrong with me, with my medication sometimes it make my brain ahh… 

Anjoelais: It’s okay grandma. 

Grandma: Okay.. sooooo… the taro, the yam, the coffee, we have a coffee tree… we have to pick the beans and clean it, roast it and grin  it and give it to them. And now the family, now don’t let them catch you with… making coffee with the beans … they will punish you again. You know what my nana did in order for her to drink coffee?  The leaf. The leaf of the coffee.. she pick the yellow leaf and she boil that. 

Anjoelais: For her own coffee. 

Grandma: Yeah. For the family coffee because like every three days the Japan… Japanese peop… the like  ah about three Japanese come and inspec  all the … the plantation, if we a cheating on them, and we gave them the big sweet potato, taro, yam and all. And for us it’s the small one. In order to survive, so we survive with ah breadfruit tree again so when that time we went to Manenggon my mother is a went to pick up the ration they already knows that the Americans is ah here on Guam so the Americans telling the people to get down… get down on the groun… so my mom is instead of her to ahh get down on the groun she run because I’m ony by myself at the cam because we pick up, we build what’s that a camp…. Out of coconut leaf and a bamboo. And we put the coconut leaf on the ground, that’s where we sleeping because we run we didn’t get all the things that we need because they want us to go right away. Somebody told us to pack and go… go because the Americans here already. So that’s how we did. So we in that time we’re still in Manenggon and we walked from Manenggon to Agat and you know the thorn of the yam? Its loctus like a gado’ call that gado’ and thorn is lactus. It’s black like a needle. You know instead of me walking on the on the trail, I have to look for a what’s that the branch of tree to step on it because I cannot go like the other people because my slippers is broken so I used the I hold myself in every branch of the mendichina tree or whatever tree that I can grab and hold myself then we came to the place that they’s no thorn then that’s the American people making a trail for us. So we headed over to Agat. Then after that, we… they took us back to here in Yona because tha they say that it’s already safe to go back and come home. Go to your house so that’s what we did. 

Anjoelais: Ahhhhh. Okay grandma. 

Grandma: So that’s why I hate the Japanese. Ha. When Auntie Dal, when Uncle Richard’s daughter gonna get married we fly from here to Japan instead of going from here to Hawaii. So we went to Japan  an I said “my gosh … I don’t like” but I don’t want to say anything because Auntie Dal is the one who… who pay for my trip and said “Mom, it’s cheaper to take the Japan route than Hawaii cause it’s near. We’re closer to Japan than Hawaii.” After Japan, after Hawaii we head over from Hawaii to San Francisco. So you know, 

Anjoelais: You had a hard time? 

Grandma: I hate the Japanese. Even though they are not the one that ah make us suffer the same person. I hate the Japanese. Then I said ah then the guy ah push me on the wheel chair because I’m using wheel chair… the minute I gave him ten dollars… just left me there. So another stewardess came and push me.

Anjoelais: Wow

Grandma: See how rude they are?

Anjoelais: Yeah grandma. 

Grandma: That’s it. 

Anjoelais: What… what school …. What schools did you go to?

Grandma: Ahhh… Yona, they have that M.U. Lujan 

Anjoelais: M.U. Lujan

Grandma: Ah Ah. Yeah. 

Anjoelais: Ummhmm.

Grandma: Or I think Yona School because M.U. Lujan they named the school the public school over here M.U. Lujan after former senator name… the former principal so that’s how we come out with that name, M.U. Lujan for Manuel Uloa Lujan 

Anjoelais: Manuel Uloa Lujan

Grandma: Yes. 

Anjoelais: Okay. I’ll remember that one grandma. What umm what church did your family… did your family go to church? Who…

Grandma: St. Francis

Anjoelais: And who was the priest there? Pale…

Grandma: Pale…

Anjoelais: Pale… 

Grandma: Oh I forgot the Pale… it’s only the new priest that they came over to serve the Yona 

Anjoelais: Was he Chamorro?

Grandma: No. He’s a father Alvin. 

Anjoelais:  Father Alvin.

Grandma: Yeah. 

Anjoelais: Wha.. What was he? American?

Grandma: Yeah, after tha… I think 1946. Father Alvin.

Anjoelais: 1946. Father Alvin.

Grandma: I think 1946. So they have a convent here for the nun so I remember that ah superior is Sister Eukarita. That’s why they named this road 

Anjoelais: Eukereta.

Grandma: Ekareta. And she’s a principle. She’s a supervisor of the school and principle. And then my teacher is Sister Erick and Sister Aquina. Thomas Aquina. 

Anjoelais: Ummm… And what did you wear to church? What kind of clodes?

Grandma: Ordinary clof. 

Anjoelais: Ordinary clodes? 

Grandma: Not pants like now. It’s a dress.

Anjoelais: It’s a dress. 

Grandma: Yeah. 

Anjoelais: Okay. The next question is… when did you start your first job? How much did you get paid? 

Grandma: Oh my first job? Ahh… first job. I apply when grampa is a.. a disable. So…

Anjoelais: How old were you grandma?

Grandma: At that time? 32.

Anjoelais: 32. 

Grandma: So. 32. My antie dot is a she was born in 68 so I apply for a job because the public health take some social worker and interview us and how we survive because your granpa has been sick like 6 month so I told them that I planting taro, I’m panting tapioca and yam and what’s that banana… I’m planting banana and sweet potato and then ah… because your granpa is only a taxi driver … that’s how we getting our money. So I have all the nine kids. And your grandpa is still earning money from the taxi. So they give us public assistance about 2, 3 month so um they gave us ration of the food commodity… milk, eggs, flour, cheese, the powder milk, not liquid milk and some cans good like vegetable like beans or a chili beans and some like a luncheon meat. And we survive like that. Then I said can I get a job, can they help me find a job cause I don’t want to depend on the social service, the public health because in that time I said “ I don’t want people to say look at that person using my tax money to buy cigarette”… see I used to be a smoker.  Then I said, ah, then they asked me “ Are you sure you wanna work” an I said “Yes. Just give me a job that I can handle. I don’t care whether ah custodian or whatever, I don’t care I’m gonna clean somebody you know… poo. I don’t care as long as I’m earning money. So I start on January 6 .

Anjoelais: Your birthday?

Grandma: Yeah. January 6 they interview me 1971 so they want me to work right away because the one that ah I took over his position ? He’s sick. He’s a disable so that’s how I got the job over in Tamuning Elementary School as a custodian. Building custodian. 

Anjoelais: How much did you get paid?

Grandma: You know how much they paying me?

Anjoelais: How much?

Grandma:Two dollars and a …. Two dollars some but we’ll survive with that and the power, the water, is cheap you know that time? So they keep raising me up you know upgrading my job cause even like you if you work and they see that you ahead on the job, they promote you, increase your salary, so every year around that time, I receive a salary. So until 95’… 95’ September 29, 1995 I retire. 

Anjoelais: From, so you worked at Tamuning Elementary the whole time?

Grandma: No, I transfer myself over, I check for the opening because I wanna be near because Antie Dot is still going to school. So I asked for a transfer if they have a opening in Price. So, I’m lucky again. 

Anjoelais: You got it?

Grandma: Yeah.

Anjoelais: That’s good. 

Grandma: So I… They promote me because when I start, that’s only a building custodian but I transfer to..

Anjoelais: Price Elementary?

Grandma: Yeah. The principle saw me that … the way I work.. that I can do the water blasting ah bush cutter ah buffer and a paint and change the light bulb  he promote me to maintenance custodian. So that’s how my wage went up. 

Anjoelais: Okay. You ready for the next question? 

Grandma: What is it?

Anjoelais: The next question is… how did you meet my grandpa?

Grandma: Oh. You granpa. 

Anjoelais: Oh wait. And grandma, you have to tell them what’s my grandpa’s name.

Grandma: Okay. Your grandpa’s name is Vicente Perez Mendiola. He live in Barrigada. I live in Yona. So my cousin one time my cousin.

Anjoelais: Who’s your cousin?

Grandma: Uncle John Ogo.

Anjoelais: John Ogo. 

Grandma: That’s my second cousin. That’s nana … nana cousin’s son…. First cousin’s son. So he said ah it’s fiesta that time. And this guy is very close to your grandpa. He said “Dondo’ let’s go party”. Your grandpa said “where?”. “Up in Yona si San Francisco”. Then ah he ask your … your grandpa ask “ do you have a cousin that I can…? Not a male, a female. ” And Uncle John said “Yes! Let’s go an I’ll show you”. “Is it a pretty?” “I don’t know, I don’t know. You. Because for me it’s pretty for me but for you I don’t know.” Because my cousin he came and I’m so tricky. He came and he pretend … “Ai Doring, ai this and that,” and I said “Ay, be quiet because my mother could hear you and you know what I’m gonna be in trouble because my mom don’t want me to have a boyfriend.” But I have secretly boyfriend. So later on he come over to the house to visit . I think it was Juan, because my cousin is Juan, that brought him over to show him he was still single and this and that and this and that. No I don’t know what but according to Juan he said “That’s my good friend, that’s my close friend he wanna attend the fiesta”.   So that’s how I met him. 

Anjoelais: Ummm.

Grandma: Ever since ahh…

Anjoelais: How old were you grandma? 

Grandma: Seventeen?

Anjoelais: And when did you get married? 

Grandma: No, sixteen. 

Anjoelais: And when did you get married?

Grandma: Almost eighteen. Seventeen. 

Anjoelais: And how old was grandpa?

Grandma: I know him only, I know him only for one year. 

Anjoelais: Wow. 

Grandma: Granpa is twenty-eight when I got married to him. 

Anjoelais: Twenty eight when you got married to him?

Grandma: Oh no no no… I take it back. 25. 

Anjoelais: 25. 

Grandma: So, he was born January 12, 1928. That’s his birthday. 

Anjoelais: January 12?

Grandma: Yes. So he’s eight years older than me. That’s it. 

Anjoelais: That’s it grandma. All done. 




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