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 Åmti Espirituat
As a child growing up in Saipan, it was a common sight for young Genaro Saralu, to see his mother – a local healer – treating her patients. Genaro’s great-grandfather, grandfather, and mother were all healers. Genaro’s mother and grandfather taught him the proper methods and techniques of gathering the plants used to prepare medicine for various ailments, as well as various methods of massage. Genaro also learned to call upon the strength of his ancestors to heal his patients.
In 1945, after World War II, Genaro moved to Guam where he lived out the rest of his life. Known as Tun Naro, he was called for the treatment of all types of ailments of children, women, and men. His specialty went beyond herbal treatments as he treated physical illnesses, mental illnesses, and unexplainable illnesses which were sometimes attributed to the taotaomo’na (first spirits). Tun Naro was well known for his spiritual healing and treated those who became seriously ill due to their disturbance or angering of a taotaomo’na.
Tun Naro’s method of treatment included massages, herbal medicine, and spiritual chanting. Each method of treatment was dependent upon the nature of the illness, so that with massages, some illnesses called for soft, pressurized massage while others required more vigorous massages. The plants needed by Tun Naro for morning treatments, he searched for in the jungles and throughout the island, as remedies for certain ailments required special plants. Depending upon the nature of the illness, Tun Naro’s patients took the herbal medicine orally or externally as an ointment applied to the affected area. Treatment of patients was done at certain times of the day, at mid-morning or from late afternoon through early evening hours. This allowed him time between morning and afternoon treatments to seek out the plants needed in his healing of his patients.
Tun Naro’s skill as a spiritual healer, and success treating illnesses caused by the unforeseen or unexplainable, was known throughout the island. While some praised his healing of spiritual illnesses, others felt that Tun Naro’s method of spiritual healing was inappropriate, or often misconstrued his practices since they didn’t understand the ‘supernatural’ technique that he used.
Tun Naro and his wife, Ana Blas, did not have any children, so he chose John Chargualaf to be his apprentice. Chargualaf began his training under Tun Naro in 1981. In the late 1980s Tun Naro and other local suruhånu participated in discussion at KUAM on their methods of healing. However, Tun Naro did not reveal the specifics or details of his treatment. These techniques were not shared with the public but were passed on to Chargualaf, who continued studying under Tun Naro’s tutelage until the healer passed away in 1996.