Pre-Latte Pottery. Raph Unpingco illustration.

Culture of reciprocity

The term ko’lao yan fattoigue refers to the customary practice of bringing food to someone with whom you are visiting. Oftentimes, the visitor and the visited share the food and couple it with conversation. Besides referring to a general custom of socializing over food, this term and practice is redolent with the workings of custom of chenchule’, or the system of reciprocity at the heart of CHamoru culture.

Especially if one is visiting an ill person or someone who is busy at work, common knowledge counts this as significant among those social norms known as kustumbren CHamoru. In the case of the former, the food that is brought is not necessarily eaten by the sick person, but rather, by their family members. In this case, as in many others, the gesture itself is what is important.

By Julian Aguon

For further reading

Chamorro Heritage, A Sense of Place: Guidelines, Procedures and Recommendations For Authenticating Chamorro Heritage. The Hale’-ta Series. Hagåtña: Department of Chamorro Affairs, Research, Publication, and Training Division, 2003.