Karabao or carabao are water buffalo introduced to Guam from the Philippines during the Spanish occupation (1668 – 1898) for farming. In and since colonial times, the picture of this animal pulling a two-wheeled cart has evolved into one of the most vivid visual images of the collective social imagination of the CHamorus that recalls that era. Besides dominating land transportation on Guam in the 1700s and early 1800s, this creature served as an important member of the ‘farming family’ and is largely recollected as such.

The image of a carabao brings to mind a lifestyle of hard outdoor work but also a time when Guam was less populated and slower paced, specifically prior to World War II.

By Julian Aguon

For further reading

Herman, RKD. “Guam: Inarajan – Memories: Carabao Days.” Pacific Worlds, 2003.

Rogers, Robert. Destiny’s Landfall: A History of Guam. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1995.