Get to know Guam: Barrigada, Belly of the island
Get to know Guam: Barrigada, Belly of the island
Etitor’s note: The U.S. territory of Guam is comprised of 22 villages, many with their own distinct character, history and points of interest. Stripes Guam and Guampedia have joined forces to present this weekly feature on each of them in the hopes that it will help our readers get out – and get to know – our gracious hosts. To learn more about Guam’s people, history, culture and places, visit: guampedia.com
Barrigada: Belly of the island
Little is known about the ancient villages that were scattered through central Guam. However, early archaeological studies on Guam found a large number of latte stones in the region now called Tiyan, which suggests that the area was well populated. Chamorros were forced out of this region during the Spanish-Chamorro Wars of the late seventeenth century. However, it was not long until Chamorros started using the area for ranching, hunting, and for grazing cattle.
During the early 20th century, the village of Barrigada was established near the current location of P.C. Lujan school which was surrounded by scattered ranches. Some of the island’s best soil was located at Tiyan, which was ideal for corn. Early in the U.S. Naval Era a deep well was drilled here to attract farmers to settle and by 1924 there were enough people to warrant the construction of Barrigada’s first school. By 1940, about 875 people lived in the municipality of Barrigada, which at the time also included what is now Mangilao and Toto.
During World War II, the Japanese allowed people in Barrigada to stay in the village and several Hagåtña families moved to their Barrigada ranches during these years. However, these residents were forced to provide food for the Japanese. Chamorros were also forced to help build an airfield for the Japanese at Tiyan. When American forces arrived and secured the western beach heads in July of 1944, Barrigada, and its well, were among the first inland objectives. Marines faced fierce fighting on August 2 and 3, 1944 in what came to be known as the “Battle of Barrigada.”
When the war ended, the United States military decided that the old village center would be needed for a military golf course and other military facilities. The village center was relocated to the present location of San Vicente Church where the Navy laid out new streets and lots. San Vicente Church was built in 1947. Many people who had lived in Hagåtña before the war, moved permanently to Barrigada which resulted in a 270 percent population increase between 1940 and 1946.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Admiral Nimitz Golf Course
This 18-hole golf course is located in an area known as Radio Barrigada, which prior to World War II was a farming area because of its nutrient-rich soil.
. Barrigada (elevation: 674 ft.)
A short drive up Mt. Barrigada offers spectacular views of Tiyan, the hills of central Guam, and the Philippine Sea. Also located along the hillside of Mt. Barrigada are upscale homes, Guam Memorial Hospital’s Skilled Nursing Facility, a Presbyterian Church and St. Dominic’s senior care facility.
There are softball and football fields and a paintball course/range located in Tiyan in what was formerly known as “Naval Air Station Brewer Field.” The area is a favorite walking/running area for residents.
A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport Authority
Barrigada is home to Guam’s airport the A.B. Won Pat Guam International Airport Authority the primary regional facility in Micronesia.
Nestled in the middle of the village is San Vicente Catholic School founded in 1955. The school was built on land donated by Maria Camacho and Jose Crisostomo.
Guam Main Facility, US Post Office
Barrigada is home to the US Post Office’s Guam Main Facility, located along Route 16, or US Army Corp Drive.
Guam National Guard Readiness Facility
In 2001, the Guam National Guard opened this state-of-the-art facility that houses administrative offices, classrooms, secure storage areas for equipment and weapons and a shopping area for guard members and their dependents.
Barrigada has several Guam Public School System schools named after Chamorro educators and civic leaders including L.P. Untalan Middle School, P.C. Lujan Middle School, B.P. Carbullido Elementary School.
Other religious institutions located in this central village including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and Assemblies of God.
San Roke/San Vicente Catholic Church
The San Roke/San Vicente Catholic Church sits in the middle of the village across the street from the mayor’s office and community center.
- Traditional Chamorro place names: Some of the traditional Chamorro place names in Barrigada include Aspengao, Cañada (which means valley in Chamorro), Leyang (cave), Ungaguan, Lalo, Tiyan and Lusong.
- Village Fiestas: Barrigada has three feast days for three patron saints: San Vicente (April 5 and 6, 2008); San Roke (Aug. 16 and 17, 2008); and San Ramon (Aug. 30 and 31, 2008).
This village at a glance
- Population: According to the 2002 U.S. Census, there were 8,652 people living in Barrigada. As of November 2010, official census results were unavailable.
- Village officials: Mayor June U. Blas began her term as village mayor in 2013 with Vice Mayor Jessie P. Bautista. Jessie B. Palican, Mayor, 2005-2012; Peter S. Aguon, Mayor, 2001-2005; Raymond S. Laguana, Commissioner/Mayor, 1977-2001; Pedro T. Rosario, Commissioner, 1969-1977; Jose F. Mendiola, Commissioner, 1968-1969; Jesus S. Camacho, Commissioner, 1949-1968; Pedro G. Cruz, Commissioner, 1946-1949; Vicente Palomo, Commissioner, 1946-1946; Vicente M. Flores, Commissioner, 1945-1946; Jesus Villagomez, Commissioner, (no dates provided); Gregorio C. Camacho, Commissioner, (no dates provided); Pedro L. Cepeda Commissioner, (no dates provided); Jose Castro Commissioner, (no dates provided); Vice Mayors/ Deputy Commissioners; June U. Blas, Vice Mayor, 2001- Present; Vicente L. Guerrero, Vice Mayor, 1997-2001; Jessie B. Palican, Assistant Commissioner/Vice Mayor, 1985-1997; Jose F. Mendiola, Assistant Commissioner, 1981-1985; Bernardo L.G. Mafnas, Assistant Commissioner, 1977-1981; Raymond S. Laguana, Assistant Commissioner, 1969-1977; Jose F. Mendiola, Assistant Commissioner, 1945-1969. (Provided by Konsehelon Mahot Guåhan/the Mayor’s Council of Guam.)
- Village description: Barrigada is a land-locked village located near the center of the island on Guam’s limestone plateau. It stretches from the cliff line overlooking Harmon Industrial Park in the East to Mt. Barrigada in the north. Upscale homes have been developed on Mt. Barrigada along an area known as Barrigada Heights overlooking Tiyan, the interior hills of Guam and the Philippine sea. To the south is the village of Mongmong-Toto-Maite and to the east is the village Mangilao. In the past, Barrigada was a popular ranching area for people from Hagåtña. Today some parts of the village still have a rural feel attributed to the long winding roads that make their way through hills, valleys, dense vegetation and wetlands. Nevertheless, the village of Barrigada is now a heavily populated residential area bordered by considerable commercial development along routes 8 (Purple Heart Memorial Highway), 10 (Vietnam Veterans Highway) and 16 (US Army Corps Drive). The recently returned former federally-designated land located in Tiyan (formerly the Naval Air Station, Guam) has become the site of some government of Guam offices, private businesses, and residential homes.
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