Editor’s note: The following entry, with a few additions, was produced by the Guam Council on the Arts and Humanities Agency (CAHA) as part of their publication and poster series, A Journey with the Masters of Chamorro Tradition, 2000.

Master Suruhåna

Jose Santos and Mercedes Sayona Santos were en route home to Guam, when they had to stop in Yap giving birth to their daughter Angela Sayona Santos during their visit. Working for a shipping company, Angela’s father often traveled to the other islands of Micronesia bringing his family with him. At the age of five, Angela’s mother passed away, requiring her to move to Saipan where she was raised by her grandmother, Maria Sayona, who was a pattera and a suruhåna.

Her grandmother helped pregnant women, but also treated patients with different ailments. Medicine made from plants and herbs were given to those who were ill, and as a child, Angela assisted her grandmother in the treatment of patients. By the age of nine, Angela began her training, and her grandmother encouraged her to carry on the tradition of helping those in need. At 18 years old, she married Leon Torres Palacios. Even on her special day, Angela went to the hospital to treat a patient – dressed in her wedding gown.

Throughout her life, Tan Angela treated many individuals and was a well-known and well-sought suruhåna. Hundreds have sought out Tan Angela’s assistance as a suruhåna for different illnesses, particularly for treatment of chetnot famalao’an yan famagu’on (ailments of women and children). Women who had difficulty bearing children or who were experiencing difficulty with their pregnancy would come to Tan Angela for help, and she would gather the necessary herbs and plants which she grew to make the medicines. Numerous plants such as Håle’ Nunu, Tåke’ Uchan, Tumåtes Chå’ka, Pupulun Aniti, and Maigo’lålo’ were used by Tan Angela in treatment of her patients with the medicine prepared or by massaging them.

Tan Angela would åmte (treat) the patient by having them drink the åmot (medicine) prepared or palai (rub on) the affected area. The medicine she prepared or the gentle touch of her hands massaging the afflicted area would provide relief to the patient. Arriving early in the morning for treatment and throughout the day until late afternoon, Tan Angela treated patients daily with her children returning home often finding their mother treating a patient. And while Tan Angela never charged fees for services rendered, patients would often show their appreciation by giving money, food, or other useful items.

Master Suruhåna Tan Angela Santos Palacios passed away on 4 November 2008.