In the mid-1600's Spain nearly killed everyone on the island of Guam.
|The Peskadot Warrior
In the mid-sixteen hundreds, Spain stretched its ravenous talons outward toward the New World. Their heavy Spanish Galleons knew no boundaries, and putting on the guise of saviors rather than conquerors, they sent priests and missionaries to teach, train, and baptize countless so-called savage civilizations into the folds of the Catholic Church. But their real reason was to secure their Galleon trade routes from Acapulco and the Philippines to Spain. This clever ruse added untold riches of land and gold to Spain’s already bulging coffers.
During this time of exploration and conquest, they came upon a small group of islands located between the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Inhabited by a simple and happy people who had no religion, no industry, and no diseases. The Spaniards compared these islands to the lost Garden of Eden.
The largest island was called Guahan by its Chomoru people, but the Spanish merely called it Guam.
A dark imposing figure sat beneath the shade of a Banyan tree, his back pressed comfortably against one of its thick, dense roots. He chewed on a red betelnut, called pugua, as he intently watched the surrounding jungle.
His name was Hurao, and he was a peskadot warrior, which meant, he who stalks and hunts the sea. He wore no clothes except for a loin-cloth and a necklace of tiny intricate seashells that hung about his massively-corded neck and laid across his large, barrel-shaped chest. His jet-black hair hung down to his broad shoulders, and his brown, piercing eyes were set into a furrowed brow.
Cradled in his heavy-muscular arms rested a bloodied ten-foot spear. A Spanish cutlass stuck up from the ground beside him. At his feet lay the severed head of a Spaniard with its eyes glazed-over in death.
Hurao had come to pray to the ancient ones, called the Aniti, begging their permission to grant him one of their sacred bones to use as a new spearhead. Instead he had found a Spanish soldier digging through the burial grounds of his ancestors, searching for treasure. The Chomoru had no religion, but they did believe that the ghosts of the Aniti could cause you physical harm if you ever showed disrespect to their sacred haunts. Hurao just helped the spirits out, when he discovered and killed the intruder with his spear, then took his long knife of metal. The soldier’s head was to be a reminder to any others that trespassed here.
He suddenly became distracted by the scurrying of a rat within the underbrush. The rats were just one of the gifts brought to them from the Spanish, along with mosquitoes and flies. He ground his teeth on the pugua angrily, then spit it out. He would let the rats have the body of the soldier. They belonged to him, so let him feed them.
He picked up his heavy stringer of fresh fish, then quickly melted into the dense jungle, making his way home to the village of Tomhom, where his wife and child would be eagerly awaiting his safe return.
Chief Mata’pang of Tomhom sat within his lofty hut with two uninvited guests. He played with his one-month-old daughter, smiling as she suckled at one of his proffered fingers.
“Greetings, Chief Mata’pang. I am Padre Diego Luis de San Vitores, and this is my friend and companion, Pedro Calansor; we are Jesuit Missionaries and have just journeyed from Hagatna where we sat in wise counsel with Chief Quipuha.”
“Chief Quipuha is a coward! He allows you Spanish to tell him how to behave. He gives you sacred lands that are not his to give. All lands are owned by the mega’haga, not the Chiefs!”
“Yes, we know of your matriarchy society,” said the priest, greasily, “but we believe that men are much better suited to make these types of decisions, and Chief Quipuha has the blessing of the mega’haga.”
“You Spanish would have done better to remain in your own country. We have no need of your help to be happy. We have everything we need. What is it you really want?”
“We wish only to instruct you in the ways of righteousness.”
“No! You lie, priest! Your ways make us weak and sick! You have brought us nothing but misery and illness. If you want to help us, then teach us the remedies for healing our people from your diseases!”
The baby began to cry, and a beautiful woman came out from behind a hand-woven partition. Mata’pang bowed his head to her, then handed up the child.
“This is our mega’haga. She is also the mother of our child. Her name is Onaga, which means, Queen of the Sea.”
The priest and his companion nodded to her, then quickly averted their eyes from her nakedness.
The woman bent to whisper something into the Chief’s ear. Her breasts full of milk, hung down in plain view. Then she hurried away with the hungry baby.
“Our child has recently become ill and needs attending to, but you have been invited to stay the night with us and share our food. Tomorrow, when the sun is again high, you must leave here and never return.”
Hurao entered the village to joyful cheers and hugs from his family. His wife took the fish from him to prepare for their evening meal, while Hurao proudly showed off the new sword he had acquired earlier from the Spanish soldier.
As he laughed and talked with friends, he noticed the Spanish priest and his Filipino companion wandering through the village.
“Who has allowed these men here?” he asked, pointing at the priests angrily. He picked up his spear and approached them.
“Go, Spanish! Leave this place!”
Chief Mata’pang stepped in between them and held the young warrior back. “They are to be our guests for this evening, my friend. Onaga has given her word. They’ll be gone tomorrow. Hold your tongue and your anger.” The Chief pushed him back, playfully. “So tell me, how is the mightiest warrior of the Tomhom? What tales have you brought for your old friend that can still dive deeper than you, and catch more fish, heh? I will wager that I can still lift a bigger latte stone than you.”
“Tales?” Hurao asked. “I have tales of Spanish soldiers digging in our ancestors' graves trying to find the gold they love so dearly. They have no respect for our ancestor's spirits, yet they want us to respect and believe theirs. They use all their skill to persuade and trick us.”
“Come!” The Chief motioned to him. “Walk with me, Hurao.”
They entered the jungle together. Both men fell silent until they had come to the rocky area where the stone pillars were quarried.
“I know your heart, Hurao. It beats the same rhythm as my own. We outnumber the Spanish, and if united, we could throw these invaders from our sacred shores.”
“Yes, Mata’pang! I am with you! Let us destroy them before anymore of our people die from their kindness.”
“The truth is that Chief Quipuha has given them land to build a mission near Hagatna.”
Hurao's brow furrowed. “This cannot be! What of the maga’haga? Will they allow this?”
“They have given their blessing! They do not want war. The heart of Quipuha has changed from the once proud warrior we knew as children, my friend. But without his warriors, we can not hope to defeat this enemy.”
“Then we will go to the other clans to build an army!”
“I agree. Something must be done, and going to the other villages would be the best course to follow. These priests tell us we are blind and ignorant, but if that is true, it is only because we have learned too late of their evil plans and have allowed them to settle here.”
“I have heard talk among the suruhana of this water that they use to baptize our people, that it is the source of all the sickness.”
“This priest, Diego Luis, is a good talker. He has baptized many already with his words as well as with his water. But he will not trick me, nor our people. They will leave our village before they can spread their corruption. Now, let us go eat and play with our children before the sun sets. It is good that we had this time to talk, my friend.”
Padre Diego Luis watched as latte stones were carried into the village by a score of straining, muscular men. He fanned himself with a small palm frond, smiling devilishly at their naked, glistening bodies.
“Look at the sheer brute strength of these savages, Pedro. It would take four of our soldiers to carry such a stone, yet it takes but one of them.”
"Yes, padre, an amazing feat. But why do they build their houses atop these stones?”
“Because it keeps them cooler during the hot summer months, Pedro. It also keeps away snakes and other small animals at night. But the real reason, I have found, is that between the four main pillars, beneath the house, they bury their dead.”
Pedro looked shocked. “They truly are barbarians, padre!”
“Yes, yes, but we have been chosen to guide them into the light. If we could but baptize the child of the maga’haga, the rest of the villagers would follow her example. Her authority is respected by all.”
“I saw the Chief enter the jungle. Now would be the time to do a public baptismal, while the father is away.”
“Excellent idea! Our time here is quickly running out. We must make a bold move to demonstrate our authority and power to this tribe. They will obey the laws of God, one way or another.”
“Will the mother allow it?”
“She is but a woman. I will persuade her.”
The two men smiled to one another, then headed for the Chief’s house.
Onaga had just finished nursing and putting her baby to sleep. She then joined the four servants in the main room of the house, preparing for the evening feast.
She looked up to see the Jesuit priest standing in front of her. She did not like these men. They made her feel uneasy. They showed no respect due the maga’haga, and in them, she sensed a great evil, like a deadly snake waiting to strike.
“Welcome to our home,” she flatly stated. “Please be seated. We are about to eat as soon as Chief Mata’pang returns.”
“Yes, of course, Onaga. But first we would like to perform a small ceremony showing our gratitude for your hospitality. The Chief mentioned that he would like to know some of our remedies for healing and protecting your people.”
“Yes, remedies to help heal your sick baby. You would not want her to die, would you? This ceremony will cure her from any diseases that she may have.”
“We should wait for my husband, so that he too may learn this remedy. Our healers, the suruhana, must also learn of this.”
"Yes, yes, all shall learn it. We will perform the rights at the center of the village, so that everyone may watch and learn.”
Onaga felt more at ease with the knowledge that everyone would be there to witness the actions of these men.
“Bring the child, and it will take but a moment to perform the rights. When Mata’pang returns, he will rejoice with the news of his daughter's good health. We will await you outside, but hurry, every moment she grows closer to the darkness.”
Onaga turned and instructed her servants to hurry and bring the child, while the priest and his assistant went outside to prepare.
Everything was going as Diego had planned. The people of Tomhom gathered around as the priest finally finished up with the final words of the ceremony.
“In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” Diego dripped the holy water over the forehead of the baby girl. The child squirmed and cried out loudly. The deed was done.
Chief Maga’pang ran through the crowd and saw his baby girl in the arms of the priest.
“What has happened?” he asked. “What have you done?”
“Your child has been baptized into the Holy Church.”
“You have used your water upon my little girl?”
He grabbed the child from Diego’s arms. Turning to his wife, he handed the child to her, a look of utter disbelief upon his face. Onaga backed away from him. She could see his anger welling up inside.
“He said he would cure our child. That this was one of the remedies of which you sought.”
“Ahhh...!” The Chief fell to his knees, screaming out in a helpless rage.
Hurao appeared at the Chief’s side, brandishing his weapons. He tried to help lift his friend back to his feet.
Maga’pang grabbed the shaft of Hurao’s spear and slowly pulled himself up. Tears flowed heavily down his cheeks, for he had lost his child to the magic and poison water of the priest. His gaze finally fell heavily upon Diego.
The priest became very afraid. “Your daughter is not harmed. She has only been baptized in Holy Water."
In a blur of sudden movement, Maga’pang thrust Hurao’s bone-tipped spear through Diego’s chest. The force of the stab was so fierce that half the spear shaft protruded through the priest’s back.
The eyes of Padre Diego Luis de San Vitores widened in shock, his face wrinkled with pain, and then he crumbled to the ground, his Holy Bible falling from his limp, dead fingers.
Hurao yelled a barbaric war-cry and fell upon the assistant, hacking him to bits with his Spanish cutlass. The ground ran red with blood.
“Death to the Spanish!” yelled Hurao.
When the news of the death of Diego Vitores reached Spain, all Jesuit missionaries were pulled out and the Spanish army was called in to handle the uprising.
Between 1670 and 1695 many battles were fought, and during the course of the Spanish occupation an estimated 200,000 Chamorus were reported killed. After 1695 the people of Guam were forced to attend church daily and to learn the Spanish language and customs.
Eden had once again been lost.