Wednesday, February 02, 2005

The White Lady of Fonte River

During the early Spanish colonial rule in the late 1600's on the island of Guam, there lived two newlyweds in the quiet hillside village of Maina, the couple, a Spanish officer and his Chamorro bride.

Before marrying, the bride's fiance was romantic, dashing and polite. But soon after their honeymoon, he became cruel and abusive. Every night the husband demanded fresh mountain stream water with his food and sent his wife to the small creek in the valley below to fetch his water. After a while, the woman actually began to enjoy her lonely walks and eventually it became a ritual that she looked forward to.

Her favorite time was during the full moon when the moon's reflection shimmered across the surface of the moving creek like dancing stars, with the gentle wind whistling through the jungle foliage.

Her husband soon began to notice that it took longer and longer for her return and became enraged. Then one stormy and rainy night on their first wedding anniversary and during a new moon, he sent his wife out into the cold and wet, blackest of nights. With no full moon to guide her way and the screaming wind, the woman could not see that the small and trickling stream had transformed into a raging flood.

As she made her way near the river's edge with her clay vessel, the muddy embankment suddenly gave way, causing her to slip into the turbulent water. Her cries for help came unheeded as she succumbed to the rivers dark depths.

Today it is told that if one were to drive over the Maina bridge during a new moon and look into the blackness of night, they may see a ghostly sentinel standing at the river's edge wearing a long and white flowing dress similar to a bridal gown, silver hair like the moon and sad red eyes. This is especially true when a dangerous storm is fast approaching on the horizon. Today's local Chamorros refer to her as the "White Lady" who warns of impending danger.

Editor's Note: During the 1600's it was common for Chamorro women to have silver hair. The Spanish Father Francisco Garcia wrote, "The color of the Marianas natives is brown, a bit lighter than Filipinos. They are taller, are more corpulent and more robust than Europeans... The women wear their hair long and they bleach it white with repeated shampoos. They color their teeth black, taking this as the prettiest ornament of their beauty. The men do not keep the hair long; they shave it off, leaving a tuft or crown on the head a finger high. "

The imagery of the White Lady evolved into a form that can be either half-woman or half-horrible creature. She can change herself into a human or an animal form. Her body is covered with hair from her head to her foot. The White Lady can only be seen during the hours between dusk and darkness. She will appear one hour after sundown and suddenly disappears when the moon arises.

She can be seen at three well-known landmarks on Guam: Two Lover's Point; Harmon Heights; and the Fonte River which runs from Maina to Adelup bay. She is said to have an aversion to women and children. If the White Lady touches you, she leaves a red spot on your body where the contact is made. Occasionally, she makes very horrible, screeching sounds. The White Lady of Guam is afraid of only one thing, the Holy Cross. So, beware young children! Stay at home between the hours of dusk and darkness.


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