Language of bachelors

Fino’ gualåfon was a style of language developed and used by young bachelors in ancient Chamorro society.  The term fino’ gualåfon translates as follows: “fino’” is language and “gualåfon” is the full phase of the moon, or specifically,  full moon language or language of the full moon.

Young Chamorro bachelors were referred to as uritao.  The uritao lived together in one of the largest houses in the village called the guma’ uritao or house of bachelors.  In the guma’ uritao, young men would learn the trades and skills required to become a man.  The uritao were also schooled in the oral traditions of singing, chanting, dancing, storytelling, sexual practices, poetry and debate.

Fino’ gualåfon was considered a mysterious language by early visitors to the Marianas.  The language was created by the uritao and was used primarily in speaking with each other. In the guma’ uritao the young men would confide in each other and establish life long bonds. Fino’ gualåfon may have developed as a result of how close the uritao were to one another.

Fino’ gualåfon was used primarily in love songs.  The uritao were instructed how to sing and were often responsible for creating new songs.  The fino’ gualåfon was a result of their learning and was their creative addition to their abilities as performers.

Jesuits missionaries brought Christianity to the Marianas in 1668 and by the time the Chamorro Spanish wars ended in 1695 the tradition of fino’ gualåfon was lost.  As Christianity gained influence with the Chamorro people, the Jesuits were able to get rid of the guma’ uritao which they considered undesirable.  The uritao, without a place to learn or create songs, did not continue the mysterious language of  fino’ gualåfon.

By Nathalie Pereda

For further reading

Cunningham, Lawrence J. Ancient Chamorro Society. Honolulu: The Bess Press, 1992.

Cunningham, Lawrence J. “Pre-Christian Chamorro Courtship and Marriage Practices Clash with Jesuit Teaching.” In Guam History Perspectives, Vol. 2. Edited by Lee D. Carter, William L. Wuerch and Rosa Roberto Carter. Mangilao, GU: University of Guam Richard F. Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center, 2005.

Freycinet, Louis Claude de. An Account of the Corvette L’Uranie’s Sojourn at the Mariana Islands, 1819. Supplemented with the Journal of Rose de Freycinet. Translated and prefaced by Glynn Barratt. Saipan, CNMI: Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Division of Historic Preservation and the University of Guam Richard F. Taitano Micronesia Area Research Center, 2003.

Political Status Education and Coordinating Commission. I Magubetna-na Guahan: Governing Guam, Before and After the Wars. Hagåtña: Political Status Education and Coordinating Commission, 1993.