Chamorro Folktales: Dinague Laolao
Chamorro Folktales: Dinague Laolao
Editor’s note: Few things offer insight into a place and its people like stories passed from one generation to the next. These stories are part of the wealth of information being compiled on Guam’s free online encyclopedia, Guampedia, which shared them with Stripes Guam for this feature series. You can support this 501 (c) (3) non-profit community project by purchasing the children’s ebook “Chamorro Folktales” at: guampedia.com/gift-shop/products/category/children
Back in the ancient days, giants with supernatural strength inhabited the Mariana Islands. The giant men of the different villages and clans occasionally fought or argued with each other. However, they banded together when they believed their island was being threatened by foreign invaders.
One day, a ship was seen out on the horizon. The manmaga’låhi (chiefs) of the island were concerned that outsiders were trying to invade Guahan at Hagåtña Bay. They got together to figure out how to stop the invaders.
The manmaga’låhi decided that a huge rock should be placed in the channel to Hagåtña Bay. The maga’låhi from Orote declared that there were many huge rocks around his village that would be suitable for blocking the bay. The task of getting the rock and placing it in the channel was entrusted to the proud warrior clan of Agueda. When Naguadog, maga’låhi of Agueda, told his clan the size of the rock needed, the other men laughed scornfully and said, “Naguadog, you don’t need your warriors. That task is child’s play. Give the task to Pon and Patte, your sons.”
Naguadog thought for a moment, then raised his voice loud and clear and called out to his sons. The boys’ names bounced like thunder from tree to tree. Quicker than lightning, two small boys, aged three and four, came bounding up to their father, saying, “Naguadog, what do you wish of us?”
Naguadog, putting his strong arms around his sons, spoke: “My sons, go to Orote Point and get a big loose rock and quickly place it in the entrance of Hagåtña Bay.”
Obediently the boys ran off to Orote. They were proud to have been entrusted with such an important task. It was nighttime by the time the boys arrived at Orote, and the moon was full. By the light of the moon, the boys found a loose rock along the cliff which measured roughly 120 feet long, 60 feet wide and 20 feet high. Together they picked up the huge rock and headed back to Hagåtña, playing catch with the rock as they walked along the shore.
As the boys approached the village of Assan (Asan), they stopped to rest. It was about midnight, but, looking up into the night sky, they saw a bright twinkling star. The boys suddenly became nervous. They remembered that the village elders had set a curfew for the children that was strictly enforced.
When Venus, which looks like a bright shiny star, appeared in the sky, all the village children were to return to their homes. Indeed, all children could not be away from their parents or their homes between midnight and early dawn – around six o’clock in the morning.
Thinking this was Venus, they quickly dropped the rock in the water and ran for shelter in the Agueda Caves.
Because the men had given such an important task to children, the job was not completed. The boys failed to block the entrance to Hagåtña Bay, and so the outsiders entered, settled on Guahan and intermarried with the natives. The children of these unions were without superhuman strength, thereby making the natives of the Marianas ordinary human beings like you and me.
The “star” that the boys saw in the night sky has been called “Dinagi Laolao” which means “fooled by a twinkling star,” because the boys were fooled and failed to complete their task.
The rock which they dropped in the water off Assan is called Gapang Rock, which means, “unfinished task.” It is a reminder of the days long ago when people of supernatural strength lived in these islands. Today it is known as Camel Rock because of its shape which resembles the hump of a kneeling camel.
This story was adapted from “Legends of Guam.” The booklet was produced by class members of an education class at College of Guam in 1962.
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