Ever since I first began learning Chamoru my interest in Chamoru music has continually grown.

 I grew up sometimes hearing Chamoru music, but couldn't understand it and didn't really connect with it. 

But from the first time that I sat down with my grandmother at the dining room table and had her help me translate the CD "Chamorro Yu'" from Johnny Sablan, kinenne' yu'. I have been hooked. 

To this end I have been collecting Chamoru music, whether in CD, cassette or vinyl form.

 I've collected whatever I can from newspapers, magazines and scholarly sources related to Chamoru music. 

 I have also been fortunate enough to sit down with many musicians and talk to them about their experiences and why in a world where English dominates, they chose to record and release music in Chamoru.

Last month I was very very luck, gof suettettette, to be able to pick up the album "Ai Saun Diroga" by Chamolinian II while searching for Chamoru music online. 

 Frank "Bokonggo" Pangelinan was one of the most iconic and recognizable of all Chamoru musicians in the 20th century, until he passed away in 2008.

I uploaded a few of his songs from Chamolinian II to Youtube recently and I ended up Googling to see if I could find more info on his life and legcy


“A Tribute to a Friend”

By Herbert Del Rosario

December 11, 2008

Saipan Tribue


Frank Pangelinan “Bokonggo will be missed in the CNMI, Guam and mainland United States by the thousands of Chamorro music fans. His passing away in Guam last week has saddened and shocked many of his friends on Saipan, Guam and those who knew Frank as a very aggressive and a dynamic musician.

Frank Bokonggo, as he is known in the CNMI, Guam and other Chamorro music fans living in the West Coast in the U.S. mainland, is a legend when it comes to Chamorro music. His song Triste Yu made Frank Pangelinan the most popular and admired entertainer for some time. Although Frank will be physically missed, his spirit will live in the hearts of many of us who remember him as a very popular artist in the CNMI.

Frank Bokonggo’s contribution in promoting and preserving the local music such as Triste Yu, I Pution, Ingratto, Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi, Patgon Neni, Down by the Shore of Saipan

Hago I Inan I Langet, and many other popular Chamorro songs, including the Chamolinian Christmas album that Frank Bokonggo, Candy Taman and the late Quirino Aquino recorded will long be remembered as part of Frank’s contribution to the Chamorro cultural heritage.

I remember the good old days when our group, Tropic Settee, was the island’s most successful and popular group of musicians in the ’70s and ’80s before Frank departed for Guam to share his talent with our fellow Chamorros there. The Tropic Settee included Frank Bokonggo on lead guitar and lead vocals, Candy Taman on the rhythm section and vocals, Ron Del Rosario on the bass guitar, Jun P.P.D. Duenas on keyboards and myself on the drums. Our group concentrated on promoting the Chamolinian hits of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. We performed at the Saipan Grand Hotel. From there we moved on to the Oleai Room at the Saipan Bowling Center where our group performed for several years. I must admit the song Patgon Neni was our most popular song, which brought the whole island to Oleai Room every weekend to listen to this song which originated from the island of Pohnpei.

Tropic Settee’s versatility in entertaining the young, the middle-aged, and the man’amko was one reason for our success. Let me also recognize my friend, Candy Taman for his very dynamic and God-given talent that made our band one of the most successful and respected groups ever assembled in the CNMI. With the Christmas season is right upon us, we will continue to hear Frank’s golden voice, together with Candy Taman and the late Quirino Aquino singing their Chamolinian Christmas collection of songs.

There were several requests during the last five years for a reunion of our band, Tropic Settee, so that our fans and people will be able to hear some of our very popular hits back then. However, health and other concerns prevented our group from coming together.

To my brother Frank Bokonggo, may our prayers guide you in your journey with the Lord toyour final resting place. God bless you.





NMI artists present tribute to musical legend

Saipan Tribune

December 12, 2008


Performing artists will give a fitting tribute to one of the CNMI’s legendary musicians, the late Frank Matagolai Pangelinan, during funeral ceremonies today at the Mt. Carmel Cathedral.

Pangelinan, who is well-known by his moniker “Bokonggo,” passed away on Dec. 4 in Guam. He was 54.

His remains arrived yesterday and were escorted to Nuestra Señora Dela Paz Memorial Chapel at the Cabrera Center.

A Mass will be held today at 11am at the Mt. Carmel Cathedral, to be followed by the internment services at the Chalan Kanoa Catholic Cemetery.

On Thursday night, several local performing artists gathered at the home of one of Bokonggo’s contemporaries, Alexandro “The Colonel” Sablan, himself a well-known musician.

Former representatives Candy Taman, one of Bokonggo’s long time partners in the music industry, was also present during the rehearsal for the tribute that they will be offering in today’s Mass.

For more than three decades, Pangelinan wrote numerous songs and produced many records for many of Guam’s musicians.

Sablan said the loss of one of the Marianas’ homegrown recording star is felt by the entire community.

“[His death] permeates through all the local Chamorro music fans on our island world. We sadly mourn the loss of a very strong advocate of the recording world of Chamorro songs with the passing of Frank Pangelinan “Bokkongo.” He is now resting but his legacy will never die,” said Sablan, who was a radio announcer for more than 20 years.

Sablan said he grew up with Bokonggo, whom he said helped shape the form of music in the CNMI.

“He always came to my shows,” he said.

Bokonggo immortalized the song Triste Yu.

Sablan recalled that Triste Yu became the all-time hit that no local artists ever matched and the song was the most requested at all radio stations.

“That song is both sad and romantic, it takes people’s breath away. It was really a very powerful song,” Sablan said.

In a letter to the editor, John S. DelRosario Jr., one of Bokonggo’s contemporary with the band Tropicsette, lauded Pangelinan’s talent, saying: “My buddy could belt anything from Latin rock to traditional songs with super renditions. Perhaps his best hit was the adaption Triste Yu that was in the hearts and minds of both young and old for many years now. This song became an international classic, picked up by other musicians the world over using their native tongue.”

In another letter, Tropicsette band leader Herbert Del Rosario cited Bokonggo’s contributions to local music such as Triste Yu, I Pution, Ingratto, Gi Talo Gi Halom Tasi, Patgon Neni, Down by the Shore of Saipan, Hago I Inan I Langet, and many other popular Chamorro songs, including the Chamolinian Christmas album that Bokonggo, Candy Taman and the late Quirino Aquino recorded.

Sablan said that Bokonggo’s music will continue to live in the hearts of the people that he loved.

“I will never forget the recording trips, as we would travel to Manila on separate projects, but with the same recording studios. He was a very humorous person and was always full of vibrant energy. I asked him once about doing work other than music, and he said that he has already made up his mind to live life with his talent. To me, that became a great encouragement,’ Sablan said.

He said Bokonggo built and operated what at that time was a state-of-the-art 24-track recording studio in Yigo, Guam, producing beautiful songs.

“I managed to secure recording time at his studios and recorded major commercial productions for major companies like JC Tenorio Enterprises, Anheuser-Busch, and Continental Air Micronesia,” he said.

“I was still working at KSAI Radio in Susupe when Frank Pangelinan released the title cut Tristi Yu. As soon as I finished the debut broadcast of that song, jackpot! It immediately became the number one most requested song 10 years in a row.”



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