‘Karetan guaka’ brings Borja to his resting place

The karetan guaka built by the late Eugenio Arriola Borja is prepared by his grandchildren and children and brought to the diocese of Chalan Kanoa for his memorial service and burial at the Chalan Kanoa cemetery. (Kimberly A. Bautista)

A prize-winning bull cart that was built by the late Eugenio Arriola Borja was used yesterday by his family members to carry his casket to his final resting spot at the Chalan Kanoa Cemetery.

Borja’s granddaughter, Loarraine Borja Pinaula, said yesterday that her grandfather built the cart, called a karetan guaka in Chamorro, back in his prime and it won prizes during local parades as it was part of a traditional float theme.

He made the karetan guaka many years ago but was constantly fixing it and replacing the old, worn-out parts, to ensure that the cart would remain presentable, Pinaula said.

“That’s what he liked to do. He was always fixing it and entering it in parades. He enjoyed doing that. He was very cultural,” she said.

Pinaula said the cart has since been passed down to her generation and, as part of that tradition, they decided to carry Borja on it for his final ride.

“We thought it would be really nice for him to enjoy a last ride on the bull cart, like what he had always enjoyed doing,” she said.

Borja passed away at the age of 90 and had 10 children.

She said Borja had so many grandchildren that it’s hard to give an exact number; she estimates that he had about eight-great grandchildren.

The karetan guaka was the traditional form of transportation in the Marianas and was introduced to the ancient Chamorro during the Spanish colonial period, according to a Web source.

The cart was used predominantly to carry fish gathered by hunters during this period but, as the years went on, the karetan guaka became part of different Chamorro traditions like weddings and funerals.

The carts soon became family heirlooms, passed down from generation to generation, as automobiles started to become the source of transportation.

Kimberly Bautista Bautista
Kimberly Bautista is the youngest in the stable of Saipan Tribune reporters. She has covered a wide range of beats, including the community, housing, crime, and education, for the Saipan Tribune.
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