Camel rock at asan guam
Compiled by: Rudolph Villaverde at ns.gov.gu See below for Analysis. The legend of Camel Rock (known as Gapang or literally, pet of the warrior Pang) is important because of several Ocean Navigational nmeumonics ... one of which describes the sudden appearance of a bright star rivaling in magnitude the planet venus. This precontact folklore narrates the beginning of a prehistoric landfall by a foreign group of star navigators (*1). The legend describes a starburst with the name 'dinagi laolao' or 'deceived by the twinkling light' (a direct reference to a star which twinkle rather than planets which do not). This starburst may have been concurrently commemorated in epigraphs such as the star calendar pictographs at the Guam Ritidian cave. It opens the possibility of oral history being used as an event marker by Chamoru star Navigators perhaps commemorative of the Latte Period where a supernova was sighted in July 4, 1054AD by many other cultures as the Native Americans, Japanese, Chinese, European and Arab astronomers, .(*2) Permission to cite some parts of this legend was granted by DOE Chamorro Studies Director Ronald Laguana.

Many centuries ago, Guam was inhabited by people with supernatural strength. They were so powerful that the mightiest shark didn't frighten a child of six and was an easy prey to a youth of sixteen. The ancient tribes rivaled one another, but they were brothers against a common enemy.

It came to pass that a voyaging fleet of proas were observed on the horizon, their approach was planned through Agana Bay (*3).

The chiefs of all the tribes immediately held a summit meeting, and they decided to block Hagatna Bay with a huge rock which would seal off the open channel (Boat Basin Channel), which was of easy access to the interlopers. Entrusted with the task was the Aguada Tribe, the mightiest of all clans on the island. Note: Historian, Malia Ramirez (Parks and Recs) had publicly lectured at UOG in 2009 that oral tradition places this village in Anigua.

The chief of the Aguadas dispatched several men to measure the size of rock needed. Soon thereafter, they reported that one of the loose, camel-like rocks at Orote Point would suffice. Because the job could be handled by two youngsters, the chief sent for two four-year-old boys and instructed them to fetch the rock and plant it in Agana Bay. The boys left immediately.

Arriving at Orote Point at midnight, the two children picked up a huge rock measuring 120 feet in length, 60 feet in width, and 30 feet in height, and carried it towards Agana Bay.

The two boys were offshore in the vicinity of Asan when they sighted a bright twinkling star. Thinking it was Venus, which usually appears at 4 a.m., they dropped the rock and dashed home (*4).

Because the youngsters (*5) failed to accomplish their task, the invaders swept into Agana and remained on Guam, eventually intermixing with the ancient race.

The abandoned rock, Gapang, resembling a camel, still stands offshore Marine Drive in Asan. Gapang is a traditional metaphor for "unfinished task". The traditional narative recounts that Chamoru ancestral progenitors whose legendary strength have been corroborated by osteologists http://uog2.uog.edu/taga/taggaARRC.htm , may have changed physically through intermarriage with other Pacific peoples. Intermarriage or creating interisland networks of clan relationships (needed in times of environmental exigency or non-natural calamities) was critical when homelands were abandoned and peoples relocated within the framework of traditional noninstrument Seafaring Navigation (Rauchholz, Manuel. Notes on Clan HIstories and Migration in Micronesia. Univ of Guam. Pacific Asia Inquiry Vol 2 Number 1 Fall 2011). Guahan may have been settled by more than one ethnic group of ancient mariners (http://ns.gov.gu/latte.html).

The incident was named "dinagi laolao" which means "fooled by the twinkling light."


ANALYSIS. This ancient oral lore was originally written in The Guam Recorder Vol.XIII No.VIII Nov. 1936 by J.Torres. Some suggest it to be a time marker for the latte period. Latte refers to distinctive stone pillars and caps which began to appear throughout the archipelago around 1100 AD (Russel, Scott 1998: Tiempon I Manmofo'na. p 99). "To assume that the Marianas archaeological record reflects a single cultural system that grew continously may be incorrect. Instead, the Marianas is a sink habitat (which) absorbed immigrants... (Amesbury, Judith and Hunter-Anderson, Rosalind. An Analysis of Archaeological and Historical Data on Fisheries for Pelagic Species in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. May 2008. Micronesian Archaeological Research Services; p 15)." Camel GAPANG rock at asan guam offshore

(1) One proposition correlates the latte population increase with the onset of the 'Little Climatic Optimum' which started 1000 to 800 Before Present (Russel, Scott 1998: IBID. p.112). According to Hunter-anderson and Butler, this period was followed by a time of intense social fermentation in the Marianas roughtly 1200 to 1600AD. Settlement studies indicate a complex pattern of settlement expansion and abandonment of the interior areas of the Southern Marianas Islands (Bulgrin, Lon November 2006: Fina'okso' Antigu, Prehistoric Soil Mounds in the Interior of Rota. Micronesian Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences Vol.5 No.1/2 Combined Issue).

(2) This is a geomythology which incorporates the primary sites of Orote, Agana Channel, Camel Rock, and Anigua as reference markers to other coastal landmarks of commemorative if not of navigational significance. There is also a possible association of this folklore to the Supernova Starburst of 1054AD narrated by the Ritidian Cave pictographs. Incidentally, a 1738 map of the Hagatna River illustrates two mouths - one in Anigua and one at the Boat Basin Hagatna Channel (Farrel, Don A. 2011: History of the Mariana Islands to Partition. p205) which this legend further commemorates. The present day mouth of the Hagatna River was moved to the right (east) of the new Paseo Peninsula after WWII by the Seabees (Rogers, Robert 1995. Destiny's Landfall. p201).

(3)In Oceania, Voyaging protocol is strictly adhered to. Proas will moor outside the reef and will not make landfall on an occupied island unless a Chief from the island ascents to their landing. Passengers and crew of stray or drift canoes may either be adopted into a high clan of the archipelago they washed up on or they could be put to death. Manners should be circumspect (Brower, Kenneth 1983. A Song for Satawal. pp 112-113). Crews of vessels after thousand mile voyages are enervated and would be pushed to their physical limits if they are expected to battle immediately after landing.

(4) A recent retelling published by the Guam Dept of Education Chamorro Studies and Special Projects Division in 1986 by Olympia Q. Camacho correctly differentiated the 'guest' star (i.e. supernova) from the planet venus. The planet venus was not scheduled to rise above the horizon until between 8-9am in July 4, 1054AD according to the planetarium software "Skymap Pro". Ms. Camacho wrote that the sighting of the bright star occurred at 2 a.m. "Aguada youths were prohibited from leaving their homes between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m."

However, J. Torres in 1936 states that the first appearance of the star was 4a.m. "Under no circumstance were they to be absent from homes after 4:00a.m.". This statement, attributable to oral traditions, focuses on the location of camel rock, offshore at Asan village, which affords an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon when the bright star rose.

Who is right? Chatagmak is Pre-dawn (1:00am to 5am). Ma Chakchak Kattan is Early Dawn (5:30am to 6:30am). Guam's indigenous Chamorus believe that twilight before sunrise and the twilight at sunset are periods when spirits begin to stir and move through the land at night. It is possible that the curfew exists to avoid these spirits during "Ma Chakchak Kattan".

Reiterating the beginning of this page, the timing may have been a mneumonic regarding the sighting of the crab supernova in July 4, 1054AD by Chamoru navigators, native American Indians, Japanese, Chinese, and Arab astronomers. The star was also mentioned in the "Legend of the Stone Canoe of Fena Lake" by an informant of the ethnographer Hans Hornsbostel who was hired by the Bishop Museum in 1924-1926. The stellar event marker was characterized by rapid building of the Latte monoliths. Author Steve Thomas (The Last Navigator 1987 1997. p 37, 268) wrote, "certain stars when 45 degrees above the horizon at dawn marks a new star month". The Micronesian Sidereal compass employed in Traditional Navigation indicates that July is marked by "Uul" or Aldeberan the star in the Taurus Constellation. By using the planetarium software "Skymap Pro", only Pleiades and the crescent moon would be visible at 2am July 4, 1054AD. However, by 4am, Aldeberan and the Crab Supernova would have already risen above the East Ocean horizon and viewable on Guam. The answer is 4a.m.*

One fundamental question of this legend is, "Why is Venus of symbolic importance in this narrative?" The answer is that the caves of Guam are based on a theme of two supernova explosions. When the brightest supernova occurred in 1006 April at about 7pm in the East horizon during a solar annular eclipse (which was visible outside of Guam), Venus was at zeta Tauri (at the tip of the South horn of the constellation Taurus the Bull ). When a second supernova in July 4 1054AD about 4am appeared, the crab Supernova M1 exploded near the same spot "1 degree northwest of zeta Tauri (www.nightskyinfo.com/archive/m1_supernova_remnant/)".

(5) A special mneumonic explains why two 4 year old boys were chosen to execute the task. During the spectacular 1054AD astronomical event, the only constellation rising and marking the east horizon was Gemini - the twin boys. Gemini is roughly close to the latitude as Guam and the rectangular shaped constellation was commemorated in a cave at Urunao (Ulu enao).

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