Excursion to a garden


It was an imaginary trip to a garden nestled in a deep valley below Mt. Tagpochau. What’s oddly unique with the visit was the sheer neatness of the place, as though one of my ancestors came by earlier to tidy it up.

Under huge shady branches of monkeypod trees peep majestic sunrays radiating and descending into the verdant strand below. There were lush tall ferns that stood proudly under shades of huge branches. It seemed to have been planted and lined along a path to nearby fruit trees. Behind were fiery red flame tree flowers that must have been blazing through the night.

The garden was neat and, equally fragile, I was resigned to walking about freely. I didn’t want to break a branch or disturb anything in it. So I took a seat near the trunk of a tree enjoying the whip of the trade winds upstairs pulling the hair of every coconut branch nearby.

Birds came by dancing in and out of branches. Each has music with different messages throughout the day. At a distance were white doves gliding out to sea while rainbows chase dark clouds gathering storm in the horizon. Then I heard the ghostly cry of a nocturnal deer nearby. It has superior sense of smell so it isn’t coming anywhere near the garden. I wondered if there were wild boars in the vicinity. A big one would mean climbing a huge tree.

My mind weaves in and out of our ancestral days when our old folks built thatch houses right in the garden. It usually faces the windward side of the island so the house is sufficiently ventilated throughout the day. The kitchen downstairs also serves as temporary corral for farm animals during inclement weather. The dual purpose made sense.

A water well was dug nearby. It is so designed so you could hear steps descending or ascending. It makes for a healthy walk up and down the stairs. If mom wants more of it for her kitchen use, you must abide by her request. That you had to fetch from downstairs brings home sensible use of water!

The trip to a simple setting gave a quick glimpse of changes in our lifestyle from traditional farming and fishing to jobs in both sectors. Life was simple and practical then. But someone started chasing the Jones’ and we all fell into the rat race. Life was never the same since. In the back of my mind there was a yearning for the simpler days or idyllic rural life, though we can’t turn back the hands of time. But we were happy campers then with what little we had a long time ago.

Communing with nature was a planned break to reassess our journey filled with excitement and share of disappointments. But the excursion is one of “aesthetic” experience to regroup and be whole once more. Leaving, I could see ants industriously moving food into their tunnel. It’s back to square one!

Learning Eñglis
A long time ago we started learning English, broken as they were in our bouts with it. But we held on to the opportunity so we could sound like stateside Amerrrrcans. It was hip to speak English twisting your tongue into unusual slurs so you sound cool. More often than not, we end up with tons of mispronunciations. It was one rough journey.

In flag ceremonies, we’d sing the Star Spangled Banner. The only thing clear was, “O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed…” After the word “hailed” everything was mumbled and garbled. The Navy admiral thought we sang it in Chamorro. Sorry, admiral. That was our bilingual rendition!


A former police officer laughs at the traffic citation he issued in the late ’50s that was thrown out of court. He said he wrote down, “Did not spot at the spot sing’”—stop at the stop sign. He said the judge probably thought it was a spelling bee!


A Navy inspector was doing homestead inspection during the Naval Administration. He saw a woman changing the baby’s diaper. He said, “Nice baby!” in polite gesture. My aunt thought he was referring to her anatomy downstairs, which sounds quite close to baby. Laughter.


An uncle doesn’t read English. At a grocery store he found a cart full of cat food on sale. He thought it was canned tuna. He bought it all. Later he blamed his wife for “not looking me.” Dios mihu!


A friend who never ate at a restaurant before decided it was better to follow whatever his friend orders. After his choice was taken the waiter asked, “How would you like your eggs, sir?” Said he, “I like it very much!”

John S. Del Rosario Jr. | Contributing Author
John DelRosario Jr. is a former publisher of the Saipan Tribune and a former secretary of the Department of Public Lands.

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