Catholic church, Mongmong: Nuestra Señora de las Aguas
Toto: Immaculate Heart of Mary
Mongmong-Toto-Maite is located in central Guam, just north of the capital city of Hagåtña. Aside from the airplanes flying directly over the tri-village before landing in the neighboring area of Tiyan, many residents of Mongmong-Toto-Maite find it to be a very quiet and peaceful place to live. Maite’s cliffline, with beautiful sunset views, is home to some of the island’s most well known families, including the Calvo’s, whose attractive homes line the cliff above East Hagåtña.
Mongmong and Toto for the most part are rural, residential areas. Mongmong runs parallel to Maite and is at the center of the tri-village. It is heavily vegetated and is the most populated of the three villages. Toto borders Barrigada to the north of the other two villages, and is known for its winding roads and swamplands.
However, there is also a busy industrial side to the Mongmong-Toto-Maite. The area of Maite and Toto along Route 8 between Tiyan and the island’s capital, Hagåtña is primarily an industrial area, filled with warehouses, hardware and furniture stores, mom-and-pop markets, and many popular bargain shops.
Mongmong’s Catholic Church is Nuestra Senora de Las Aguas (Our Lady of the Waters). Parishioners celebrate their annual fiesta in honor of their patron saint on the last day of January.
The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Toto celebrates its patron saint’s fiesta on the second or third Saturday of June each year.
The village of Maite does not have a Catholic Church and does not have a village fiesta. The Bayview Baptist Church and Son of God Baptist Church are located in Maite.
Sixty years ago, Mongmong-Toto-Maite was not a place to live; it was a place to work. And working at that time didn’t mean reporting to an eight-hour job in an office. It meant walking a few miles to a ranch to farm for food as was typical for many areas of Guam.
Before the Japanese occupation of Guam in 1941, Mongmong-Toto-Maite was mainly used for small-scale farming and raising poultry and other livestock. Most of the people who used the land prior to the war lived in Hagåtña and would walk through jungle trails to the tri-village to farm in the morning and return home in the evening.
Mongmong was particularly popular during the early months of the year when people from all over the island would travel there to honor the village’s patron saint Nuestra Senora de Las Aguas, or Our Lady of the Waters. They would pray to her for rain during the island’s dry season. In 1881, a man named James Young wrote to his sister in Australia telling her about the residents’ devotion to the saint. He said people believed that this image of the Virgin Mary appeared to some villagers during a strong typhoon in 1850, and caused a perfect calm that saved their farm from destruction.
In 1898, only seven families lived in the area. Others simply owned ranches there. But this quickly changed during World War II. While the Japanese Imperial Army populated Hagåtña, several families began migrating to the Mongmong-Toto area. And even more families moved there after the heavy U.S. bombardment followed by an invasion of troops on the island, which eventually ended the Japanese occupation.
As Hagåtña became a business area, Mongmong-Toto-Maite was one of the villages that housed the families who used to live in the capital. At this time, Mongmong and Toto also accommodated the Fifth Service Depot, a U.S. Marine supply outlet, pushing residents to the hilly, rugged and swampy areas of the tri-village. It became a popular place to live because residents felt safe being so close to the Marines right after a war. And many villagers found jobs at the depot. Several Quonset huts were built in Mongmong and used for schools, such as the original George Washington High School.