My great grandfather originally came from Portugal. The story of how he came to live and settle in Guam was told to me by my father, and some of my siblings remembered the story as I had remembered it. Recently, however, I heard a totally different version of the story from my oldest brother Daniel who supposedly had heard about it when he recently talked to a relative on the maternal side of our great grandparents. For some reasons or other, we had not known of or had lost track of these relatives until recently when my brother talked to one of them. So now, we have two versions of our great grandfather's story floating around--both versions, I think, are equally intriguing.
Here is Version One. This is the version that I heard my father tell, and I wrote it on this page as I remembered it:
My great grandfather was one of the best whalers of his time. He did a lot of traveling as can be expected of this kind of occupation. At one time, he went to Alaska. He also went to North and South America; in fact, he went all over the world including the isles of the sea.
One day, his ship came to Guam and stayed on the island for a while. During this time, the crew and the natives were friendly. There were fiestas, dancing, drinking, and music. After a while, it was time for the ship to leave the port. When the roll was called, my great grandfather was not present. He was no where in sight. It was as if he had vanished in thin air.
As he was one of the best whalers, if not the best one on board, the captain could not afford to lose him. So, a reward for a large sum of money was to be given to whoever found him. The captain and the crew waited for a positive respond to the reward offer. None came. My great grandfather was not found. Sadly the Captain and his crew left the ports of Guam without my great grandfather. In the Captain's logbook, Jose Francisco was reported missing in the island of Guam.
What had happened was my great grandfather met this beautiful native girl. She had beautiful brown eyes and a ready smile that could light up a whole room. Her jet black hair was long and complemented her sweet, delicate young face. It was love at first sight no doubt. She was the most beautiful woman my great grandfather had ever laid eyes on, and he had been to many a ports. My great grandfather decided he would stay and marry this girl. He would make Guam his permanent home. So, what he did was hide in one of the caves in the island and did not come out until the coast was clear.
My great grandmother knew of the plan, and she and others provided sustenance for my great grandfather while in hiding. Soon after, a fandango was planned, and the young lovers were united in marriage.
Version Two of the story is this: Three Portuguese brothers--the Francisco brothers--attended navigation school sponsored by the Queen of Spain. After graduation, they were commissioned by the Queen to be captain of each of three ships. Each ship had a crew who were great whalers, and their job was to navigate the globe to catch whales. Whales were used for all kinds of things back then. The most common use was oil.
The ships manned by the three Francisco brothers sailed into the ports in Guam which at the time was under Spanish rule. The Governor of Guam was a Spaniard and selected for the post by the Queen herself.
Shortly after arriving in Guam, a typhoon swept the island causing extensive damages. Some people were killed, and many were injured. Vegetation and livestock were destroyed. One of the ships of the Francisco brothers incurred irreparable damage to its keel. The other two ships apparently incurred damages that were easily repaired. My great grandfather was the captain of the disabled ship. Shortly after the storm, it was decided that the two seaworthy ships would sail, as planned, to the Philippines with the rest of the crew of the disabled ship. Jose Francisco stayed behind and became the right-hand man of the Spanish Governor of Guam.
Working under the Governor of Guam, my great grandfather became quite wealthy. He married a native girl and acquired substantial real estate property. My great grandfather must have been a very religious person because on the property he had a beautiful chapel (capija) erected. A water tank to store water for use not only by his family but by the people in the neighboring region was also erected. To this day, the chapel and the water tank are still there intact. The unwritten law that got passed down through four, going on five, generations concerning the chapel was that it be maintained and lighted at all times.
Years later when my grandfather Nicholas Francisco divided his property equally amongst his eight children, he decided to give the section where the chapel was to his youngest son, Antonio, who was my father. However, because my father married a Protestant lady, my grandfather Nicholas felt it best not to give that section of property to my father. Instead, he gave it to my Uncle Tan Pete. Today, one of Tan Pete's children, my cousin Frank, has the sole responsibility of maintaining the upkeep of this sacred property that seemed to last through the generations.
What happened to the two brothers who sailed to the Philippines? When my brother Daniel visited the Philippines several years ago when he was with the United States Navy, he was amazed to see a slew of Franciscos listed on the phone book--eight pages total. It would be interesting if some of the people in the Philippines bearing the name Francisco remember how their great grandfathers came and settled in the Philippines. Did they remember them making mention of a brother who was left behind in Guam because his ship was damaged by a typhoon? If someone remembers, then, it proves the veracity of the second version of the story. Even if this were true, I would still cling to the first version because it was what I heard from my father.
Regardless, all that really mattered now was that my great grandfather made his way to Guam, had a family, and settled on the island. Had it not been for the cave-hiding experience of the first version or the disabled ship in the second version, my great grandfather would not have settled in Guam and there would not be any Francisco family in Guam.
My great grandfather might not have known it then, but God had a plan for him, and that was sailing into the ports of the island of Guam and marrying a beautiful Guamanian girl. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord." --Jer. 29:11.
Did you know the Lord has a plan for His Church too? Some day soon, His Church Triumphant, like a noble ship, will sail right into the Heavenly Harbor.
Sailor, are you going to be in that ship?