‘Graves of CHamorus from earlier eras have stories to tell’

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"Within Pigo alone, it tells a story you could look at the tombstones. I have done research on it...people don't realize it but a lot of the carvings, a lot of the way these markers are made, tells you a story of them a story of their time. I can point out graves that even though there is no name, I can tell you what era that marker was estimated to have been erected based on the design," Hoben said.

A man with a knack for history has set out on a mission to remember our Saina and he is doing it with a scrubber and cleaner in hand.

You pass them every day … a sea of tombstones and grave markers that are the final resting places of our island’s Saina. But do you ever wonder who they were?

PNC spoke with Hoben-Jules Mendi a local history buff who has found peace in giving back to the community by cleaning and restoring grave markers of our Saina.

“I didn’t really think it’s a big deal to do what I am doing. I am a disabled combat veteran and in my sessions, I have learned to stay grounded to keep me where I am and I have found that I was drawn to places like the civilian cemeteries and noticed the graves of our Saina. They aren’t purposely neglected but like in my post, those who knew them moved on,” Hoben said.

Hoben hasn’t kept track of how many grave markers he has brought back to life but he can tell you that each marker shares a story.

“Within Pigo alone, it tells a story you could look at the tombstones. I have done research on it…people don’t realize it but a lot of the carvings, a lot of the way these markers are made, tells you a story of them a story of their time. I can point out graves that even though there is no name, I can tell you what era that marker was estimated to have been erected based on the design,” Hoben said.

Hoben added: “There’s a story in there. They’re still alive. When you walk in there, the Saina, they’re still alive you can see it. They are talking to you when you’re looking at their marker, you don’t just see a marker, there’s a story behind it. And when I am cleaning it, I talk to them, you know, and I say I won’t forget you, I will find out who you are and if I don’t, at least I will give you some dignity and clean your marker.”

Hoben shares the markers he has cleaned and researched on through his Facebook group page Chamoru History Culture and Courtesies.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.