No childhood on Guam is complete without memories of stories being told by grandparents and other relatives about ancient legends, recounts from family members and with some imagination, all things supernatural. These creatures of spirit and the past seem to lay below the surface or at least within a few feet of entering the thick jungle.
In adulthood, you realize that most of these stories helped to keep active children at bay from wandering and getting lost in the brush. However, on an island steeped in Roman Catholicism and native Chamorro culture, the supernatural plays a role merely beyond a plot of a scary movie.
It adds to the oral cultural history of the Chamorro people, linking myth, spirituality and ancestral identity to new generations composed of many mixed ethnic backgrounds. It, along with other markers, keeps the Chamorro culture alive.
Stories like the White Lady ( A ghostly menacing figure), the Duhendes ( Guam’s magical elf-like people), Sirena ( Guam’s Mermaid), and the Taotaomonas ( Guam’s ghosts of ancestral spirits) all make up this cultural spooky and fascinating treasure.
I remember being told by my elders not to enter the jungle and partake of anything in it ( even attending to your own Mother nature needs) without asking permission of the Taotaomonas.
“Guella yan Guello, dispensa ham låo Kåo siña ham manmaloffan yan manmanbisita gi tano miyu sa’ yanggen un bisita i tano’må mi faloffan-ha’ sin un famaisin.”
Translation: “Grandmother and grandfather, excuse us. May we walk through and visit your land and when you come to our land we will welcome you to do the same.”Guampedia
For me these stories have become a link to my Chamorro culture and to my forefathers. They have been passed down for generations. It is my connection to a past and it is a key part of our survival as a culture into the future.
I received these stories through family storytelling as a young child. It brings back memories of those times. Some of those stories still send chills up my spine. I always have this small gnawing thought that maybe there was something out there in the jungle.
But those fears have quickly dissipated in the warmth of my family and their love.
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