Legends of Guam

The Cow and the Carabao            Sirena               Mount Lamlam

Puntan Dos Amantes                 Taotaomona    

The Cow and the Carabao

There was once a cow and a carabao who were friends. They enjoyed talking to each other, but neither one trusted the other. One very hot and humid day the cow and the carabao met on the beach in Inarajan. They both had come down for a relaxing soak in the cool water where the river entered the bay. Before going into the water, the cow took off her skin and hid it under a banana tree. The carabao hid his skin under a coconut tree.

While they were enjoying a refreshing swim, a native found the skins of the two animals and decided to play a trick on them. He switched the skins around. He took the cow's skin, placed it under the coconut tree, and put the carabao's skin beneath the banana tree. As darkness approached, the animals decided it was time to return from the water and to put on their skins. As they reached the beach, it was dark. In the darkness, each animal returned to his own hiding place and dressed rapidly. Not being able to see the skin in the darkness, neither animal knew he was putting on the wrong skin.

To this day the cow has skin that is much too big for her, making it hard for her to run very fast. The carabao, however, has a tightfitting skin and is able to run very fast.

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The Agana River meandered from the newly washed green jungle foliage and merged with the ocean surf near the village of Agana. It was near this stream at Minondo that a family once lived many, many years ago. There were three girls and one boy in the family. Sirena was the youngest and the prettiest girl in the family.

Unlike the others in the family, Sirena enjoyed swimming more than anything else in the world. Her mother tried to teach her to sew, to cook, to sweep, to wash and to do other dutiful things that a girl her age should know in order to become a good wife and mother. Sirena, however, only wanted to swim.

One day, Sirena's mother sent Sirena on an errand to get charcoal, for the iron, from her aunt who lived across the river at Agana Springs. The temptation to plunge into the river and swim was so great that, before she knew what was happening, Sirena was in the water swimming and enjoying herself. She soon lost all sense of time and, of course, forgot what she had been sent to do.

It began to get dark and Sirena's mother began to worry. She knew about Sirena's obsession for the water, but that her daughter was a good swimmer. The mother became upset and angry because she had waited so long for the charcoal for the iron. Passionately she muttered, "I wish my daughter would turn into a fish." Sirena's godmother, who was visiting at the time, said, "Her upper half should stay the same."

While she was still swimming in the water, Sirena felt a change come over her body. Looking down at her feet, she could see them changing into a fish's tail. As she struggled to leave the water, the lower part of her body turned into a fish. Sirena then knew that she would spend the rest of her life in the water that she dearly loved.

The current of the river began to carry her to the ocean. Sirena found that she could swim very well, and she was very pleased. She swam out to the ocean and was never seen again by her mother or godmother.

It is often told that many fishermen and ships have seen and have heard Sirena swimming and singing in the oceans of the world. Whenever anyone gets too close to her, Sirena swims away and isn't seen again for quite some time. She appears in many areas of the crystal blue sea.

Sirena can only be caught with a net woven from human hair. It is said that Sirena once was caught by a ship's captain but escaped a few minutes later and disappeared into the depths of the ocean.

Somewhere, beautiful Sirena is swimming and enjoying herself. The next person to see her may just happen to be you.

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The Legend of Mount Lamlam

There was once a great chieftain named Lamlam, who lived in a huge cave on Guam. The cave was as wide as a kingdom with glittering rocks and fine hand carvings on the walls.

One day the chieftain's cook became sick and was unable to serve him. The chieftain, becoming hungry, decided to build a fire and to cook his own meal. The fire gave much heat, but the chieftain didn't think it was hot enough. As he put more wood on the fire, he burned his hand. Getting angry, he added more and more wood to the fire. The cave started to rumble and to shake. Soon there was a tremendous explosion.

This disaster created the highest elevation on the island which was named in honor of the great chieftain, Lamlam. Today, if you should climb to the top of Mount Lamlam, you will not only see the surrounding ocean on all sides, but you will also feel the rumbling and the shaking of the earth beneath your feet.

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Puntan Dos Amantes

The Legend of Two Lovers Point

Long ago when the Spanish still ruled the island of Guam, an event happened which brought deep sorrow to a powerful family and reminded the Spaniards, of fierce pride, that one should never fail to listen to the human heart.

In old Agana, there lived a proud family. The father was a Spanish aristocrat and the mother was a Chamorro of noble blood. Although the land they owned and the position they held were reason enough for their dignity and pride, their finest possession was their only daughter, for she had that kind of beauty which is seldom seen. She was more than beautiful, for her modesty was so genuine and her charm so natural that her beauty shone outward to all around her. She was sought after by boys and men, and although she smiled on all, young and old, ugly and handsome, her innocence protected her from misunderstanding and harm.

One day a self-assured gallant, three times her age, came to court her. As a captain in the service of the King of Spain, he was well received by the girl's ambitious father, who was flattered that a grandee would pay his daughter so much honor. From the first visit, the opinionated father decided that the captain would be his daughter's husband.

However, the daughter in no way encouraged the suitor, and the vain captain, himself, did not seem conscious that she could have no interest in him. Sure of himself, he pressed his courtship, certain that she could not resist him for long.

When the father saw that she continued to hold off the captain with cool courtesy, he made it clear to his daughter that he intended to marry her off to the grandee. Lowering her eyes in respect and humility, she said nothing, but her father's unloving sternness pained her deeply. When he told her that he knew what was best for her future, she wanted to please him and to abide by her father's wishes, but her womanly instinct compelled her to confess, "I feel nothing for the good captain." The father, annoyed, reminded her of her duty to her parents. Meekly she asked, "I already have one good father. Do I need another in so old a husband?"

The father, angered because she had questioned his judgment, warned her that she should obey or he would send her away from her home forever to learn the meaning of obedience in a convent in distant Spain. Crying, she ran to her mother who told her daughter she must resign herself to her father's will. Feeling wretched, the girl wandered along the shore as the sea soothed her with its silence and peace.

The girl wanted to be a good daughter and was frightened at the thought of being sent away from her beloved island for the rest of her life. She was torn, too, by a yearning to be married to a boy of her own choosing, a man who would make their life together a lovely dream. But, she had beheld him only in her heart. Alone and unhappy, she wandered on the high peninsula overlooking Tumon Bay, the vast ocean thrashing below. There, against the setting sun, sat a young man, lost in his own solitary thoughts. His gentle eyes seemed to be studying a lonely star, asking it what life should be. She saw that he, too, was seeking. She felt as if she had found the boy of her dreams.

When he became aware of her gaze upon him, he turned toward her. He was awed by her beauty, and she sensed that he, somehow, felt her sadness and yearning.

He got up and slowly came to her. His hand touched her shoulder to comfort her, and she knew then that he would always understand. Before the last sunrays vanished and the night stars fully appeared, they learned the meaning of love.

That evening the girl returned home. She now had a real reason for resisting the captain's unwanted advances. However, that night the officer, dazzled by the new flush in her cheeks, grew more persistent and ardent than ever before. His words, so clever and grandiloquent at dinner, became empty and unkind when, in the hallway, she fled his hot embrace. His impatience and anger showed that he did not know what true gentleness was.

Alone in her room, the bright girl realized that the captain wanted her as he did the fine horse he rode on festive days. With a sinking heart, she saw that her father was giving her away like a choice piece of land to a vain, powerful man to gain his favor at court. While she reasoned thus, the captain downstairs decided to force the issue before he left. He demanded the girl's hand in marriage and the father willingly consented. At once he summoned the girl from her bed to announce his decision. His daughter's crestfallen face went pale. He patted her, assuring the girl she would be happy and her future would be secure.

She would have yielded to tears, but her pride made her dare to tell the truth in true Castilian style.

"I do not -- I do not love the captain. I cannot -- I shall never be his wife."

Embarrassed and furious at his daughter's disobedience, he ordered, "You can -- and you shall!"

The conceited captain said nothing, but vowed he would break her as he had his wild, beautiful stallion. She would learn to kiss his hand in respect and even in reverence.

The weeping girl, humiliated and crushed by her father's command, ran upstairs to her mother and told her what had happened. The mother, a dutiful wife who had learned early to bow to her husband's will, if not to his wisdom, tried to convince her daughter all would be well.

"You will love the captain one day -- out of love for your mother and father," her mother said.

Between tears and joy, the girl admitted to the mother that she had fallen in love with the boy she had met that evening on the heights. The mother shook her head at the news while she rocked her child in her arms, but she bowed to her daughter's passion. She would tell her husband that her daughter was in love with a young fisherman who could read the stars.

The mother went at once, but the haughty father forbade her to speak woman's nonsense. Besides, how could he go back on his word to the grandee now? He would never permit his daughter, greatest prize of all his possessions, to waste her life on a poor nobody. Hesitantly, the mother went back and told her daughter what the father had said.

The next morning the father announced the date for the marriage feast to his silent child. As she listened to her father's practical reasons for the match, she understood for the first time the Spanish way -- the cruelty in its greatness, the heartlessness in its empire, and the pride and the resignation it demanded. Before its great, dark power over her tiny life, she felt small and lost.

She remained alone in her room all that day. At twilight, she stole out of the house to meet the Chamorro boy who loved her. As agreed, she joined him at the high point where they first met and watched stars appear.

She was late and the boy thought she would never come again. He feared she had forgotten him already for the royal suitor she had mentioned. When he heard her steps in the dark, he rushed to her and they held each other in their arms.

His keen joy suddenly turned to anxiety when he saw her face in the full moonlight, her cheeks streaked with tears. She then told him of her impending marriage to the grandee.

His large, gently eyes were defeated now, the light in them dead. He believed she was saying good-bye forever. Because he loved her truly, he swallowed his grief and tried to wish her happiness, but the words died in his mouth.

She understood without words, and she whispered something that assured him that she was all his own. They embraced, kissed, cried and held on to each other, not knowing if it was for the last time.

As the night grew longer, they knew they would not part to go their separate ways to live without each other. They would run away together, even though it meant certain death for the boy if they were caught.

They would need some things to give them a chance to survive. He would fetch a canoe, a net, some fishing gear and a weapon. She would get some money and other necessary things. In a few days they would make their escape to another island where no one would ever find them.

At home the next day, the young girl was worried and bothered about the recent events. The ever-present captain took her distraction as a sign of modesty and of submission. His unsatisfied desire for her made him persuade the father to hasten the preparations for the ceremony so that it would take place before the week was out. One night when she thought she could stand the man's advances no more, she tried to go out to see her Chamorro lover, but her father forbade her to leave the house till after the wedding. To be sure of it, he posted a guard at her door and the captain's men around the walls of the large mansion.

The days passed with the girl being unable to go out. The boy did not know what to think. Fearing the worst, he thought that she had given in to her father's wishes. Finally, unable to endure the silence and not knowing what to think anymore, the boy went to the estate and slipped past the guards to seek out her window. He remembered that her balcony faced toward the sunrise. When he thought he had found it, he took his life in his hands and called out her name softly to the open window. A face appeared in the dark opening. It was hers.

How she got out of the house and how the guards failed to see them are not known, but the next morning, the mother discovered that her daughter was gone. The mother knew, immediately, what her daughter had done, but she did not know where the girl could have fled. She delayed some time before going to her husband.

When the father learned what had happened, he became furious. He informed the captain that his daughter had been kidnapped by a low rowdy and together the elderly men set out with soldiers and horsemen to scour the hills of Tumon Bay.

Toward noon, the young couple was sighted fleeing through the tangantangan. Searching soldiers kept them from getting to the canoe the boy had hidden in a cave. The captain, in shrewd military style, had his mounted men circle ahead as far as the high peninsula above the caves.

The two lovers sighted their pursuers behind them. Instinctively, they felt their only escape was at the top of the point. They climbed through the underbrush and over the sharp volcanic rock which cut their hands and feet. When they reached the summit, their hearts were glad. Their relief was short-lived. They were surrounded on all sides. The horsemen slowed as they neared the jutting peak because they saw that the youngsters were trapped. On the great black horse rode the captain, who was very angry. Next to him rode the stern father who suddenly became uneasy because his daughter was so close to the edge of the cliff. Still advancing, he called to her, but she did not hear him. The lovers knew there was one thing left for them to do. The boy shouted a warning for the men to stay back, and the father signaled the men to halt and to watch. The couple stood at the very edge of the precipice. The men were puzzled when the boy and girl tied their hair together.

The two acted as if they were utterly alone. They looked deeply into each other's eyes and kissed one last time. The anxious father shouted a warning to the girl to obey, and the captain spurred his horse forward to try to seize the boy. In that instant, the young couple leaped down the long, deep cliff into the roaring tide below.

When the father galloped up to the edge, all he could see was the floating hair and the yellow wedding ribbon his daughter had used to make the final bow with the unknown boy's hair. Too late the father understood the meaning of their hair tied together.

The men, in their canoes and boats, searched for them the rest of the day, but they did not find their bodies.

Since that day, the islanders look to the jutting peak by Tumon Bay with a kind of reverence. They are paying homage to the young couple who showed them that real love comes from the entwining of two souls, true to one another in life and in death.

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The Legend of Taotaomona

The taotaomonas are the ghosts of the ancient people of Guam. The taotaomona may take the form of a person who is very big and strong. Some of the taotaomonas, being headless and having deformed bodies, are very ugly looking indeed.

There is one special taotaomona called Anufat. He is very ugly and has teeth six inches long. He also has a hole in each side of his head, with ferns stuffed in each hole. Whenever Guamanians walk through a cemetery, they always whistle because they don't wish to disturb Anufat. If they don't whistle, Anufat may become startled and cause great harm.

The taotaomonas of Guam live in the jungles and disturb the taotaomonas, they may pinch you, leaving red marks on your body, or they may cause you to become sick. The only cure for this sickness is to visit a witch. If you put the sleep from a dog's eye into your eyes, you can see the taotaomona. If you look into the steam of cooking rice, you can also see a taotaomona.

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