Chiefly Business

Chief Marino's Genealogy.  These audio files are from a tape of Chief Marino describing the genealogy of the chiefs of Tobi Island. 
The tape was made by Alison and Otto Vanderbrugh on board the Micronesian Princess in 1978.  The translator is Andres Nicklaus.

Access the complete tape broken into three parts as wav files:
Part 1      Part 2       Part 3

Or click here for one large (490 mb) wav file of the complete tape.

This tape is also available in 11 parts as RealAudio files. For a player, download it free at

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6
Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11  

In 1972, PCAA made a recording of Chief Marino, titled The Chiefs of Tobi (MP3 file).

Chief Marino and his wife, Elizabeth

Chief Marino and his wife, Elizabeth.

Copyright Peter W. Black
August, 2000

"Chief does not belong to everyone. But (it goes to) the sons of the Chief. If he has two or three he will pick one. If none he will give it to his brother. If he does not appoint you, you cannot have the power (pou)."  Chief Marino, Tobi, July 1973.

The following material, taken from my notes of interviews with the late Marino Fitihang, represents his views of several important questions.  Not reflected here are the different opinions held by other people. 

List of the Chiefs of Tobi
Notes on Some Old Customs Connected with the Chief
The First Trouble About Who Should be Chief
Houmutamor:  Songs for the Chief
Bauu: An Ancient Custom
The Story of Mohonuhur & Ficharaung & How Marino Became Chief

Chief Marino in 1972 Chief Marino in 1972


The names on the following list were copied from a paper shown me by Chief Marino Siokuchi Fitihang in 1973 and then checked with him, his wife Elizabeth and Aureo Sagichi Hangeor, his mother's sister's son. This conversation provided the information about clans and family relationships. Sisma Andrew (Ngiralbong) helped with translations. The spelling of the chiefly names is that used by Chief Marino.

The line started with Ramoparuhe's four sons:

Name Clan
Eango Hapeimohor
Rahipiterihabwari Hapeimohor
Eauh Hapeimohor
Uhuhu Hapeimohor

Then six outsiders took over:

Rapai A powerful magician who came to Tobi from another island (Fais or Wolei or Pul or somewhere else) and killed (by ghosts) the Chief and took over.
Marihirifar son of Rapai
Sonubu son of Rapai
Hongo son of Rapai
Hochepi son of Rapai
Sahecha son of Rapai

After these outsiders all died the title went back to the true line:

Marwatereh Haworobuh (according to Aureo, Marino didn't know his clan)
Eatifo Hapeimohor (according to Aureo)
Popomah Haworobuh (according to Aureo)
Hapingepinge Haringafeng (according to Aureo and Elizabeth)
Hangatamor Hafaramau
Faitamor Haworobuh
Hatruiouh Hapeimohor
Chohomo Hapeimohor
Ficharaung Hafaramau
Mohonuhur Haworei
Marino Haworobuh

Marwatereh was the father of Eatifo who was the father of Popomah whose widow married Hapingepinge while Hangatamor was a baby. Hapingepinge made himself chief. When he died Popomah's son Hangatamor became Chief. Faitamor was the son of Hangatamor and the father of Hatruiouh and Chohomo. Hatruiouh was the father of Mohonuhur.  Chohomo was the father of Ficharaung, whose brother Befitihang was the father of Chief MarinoMohonuhur was number two chief because his father Hatruiouh did not give him the job of first chief.  When Ficharaung died, Mohonuhur became number one chief.

Copyright Peter W. Black
August, 2000

Information given by Chief Marino Fitihang, his wife Elizabeth,
Aureo Hangeor, and Perpetua Perfecto in 1973

All the following six customs have been thrown away (pataroh).

Uor: Green sea turtles were food for magicians (uatoto).

Hachaf: The shells of hawksbill turtles were divided between the catcher and the Chief who each got half, or the catcher, Chief and magician who each got one third.

Mor: Fish reserved for the Chief. Also, when the carvers were finished making a small paddling canoe, they waited for others to come in from fishing. Then they placed ten or more mor in the new canoe and it would be ready for use. This is like a baptism of the canoe. This was called Ich e neni uataifuh. Note: Mor may be the fish known in English as "squirrelfish."

Yohong: A small fish. People had to give one in ten to the Chief at the ghost house.

Haniyah: Food of the ghost (?). The Chief got part of this in the old days.

Mam: Another kind of fish reserved for the Chief. Note: Mam may be what are known in English as "bumphead wrasse."

Two customs that were still observed are:

Yahachuhatabur: The Chief must always taste food first at any meal at his house. Yahachuha means to clean up. Tabur is like when a priest crosses himself.

Houmatamor: Songs for the chief:  Both Marino and Ficharaung have houmatamor. The chief doesn't sing his himself but he asks someone to sing it for him. They make it and if there is any trouble against the chief they sing it at drinking parties so all the people can hear it and learn it and sing it. He told Aureo and Elizabeth to sing it. They composed it and then put it on tape. This was because Benaroso was making trouble against him. Aureo and Elizabeth were in charge of that song. Then other people (like Felix) studied it. The song is about Mohonuhur. "You are calling the names of those both dead and alive...." Benaroso has a lot of bad songs against Marino.

 Copyright Peter W. Black
August, 2000

 As told by Chief Marino in 1973

Hapingepinge was a powerful Tobian magician who married Chief Popomah's widow while Hangatamor, Popomah's son, was still an infant.  He made himself chief.  Hangatamor was his rar birong.  He wanted Chorumar, who was married to his daughter (by another wife) to follow him as chief.  But Hangatamor's mother had learned about the chief's job and all the other things from Popomah and so when Hapingepinge died and while he was in Fariping, and while Chorumar (who Hapingepinge had already told to take his place) was showering and putting on his turmeric, she ran to the south and told Hangatamor to hurry up and put his turmeric on and to run to Fariping.  She helped him get ready and he reached Fariping before Chorumar.  The people sitting with Hapingepinge's body turned him to face the west and Hangatamor put the coconut leaf on the corpse's lips and recited the list of the chiefs of Tobi, including Hapingepinge's name.  When he finished, he was the chief.  This was the first trouble about who should be the chief.

HoumAtamor:  Songs for the chief
 Copyright Peter W. Black
August, 2000

 As told by Chief Marino in 1973

Both Marino and Ficharaung have houmatamor.  The chief doesn't sing it himself but he asks someone to sing it for him.  They make it and if there is any trouble against the chief they sing it at drinking parties so all the people can hear it and learn it and sing it.  He told Aureo and Elizabeth to sing it.  They composed it and then put it on tape.  This was because Benaroso was making trouble against him.  Aureo and Elizabeth were in charge of that song.  Then other people (like Felix) studied it.  The song is about Mohonuhur.  "You are calling the names of those both dead and alive..."  Benaroso has a lot of bad songs against Marino. 

 Copyright Peter W. Black
August, 2000

As told by Chief Marino, with the assistance of his wife Elizabeth and Perpetua on July 17, 1973

Chief Marino says that Patricio probably knew the list of the names of the chiefs because it was part of his work. That work was to bring the floating stones in from the ocean and take them to Farihapriim, unless it was too late at night. Then he would take them to the jungle and put them under a breadfruit tree and call the names of the chiefs up but not including Marino. This job passed from father to son to Patricio's father. Urpiano was also one. Petua says it belonged to Haringafeng clan. (Urpiano's clan was Haringafeng and so was that of Patricio's father's father). There was only one of these men at a time. The name of this work was Bauu. The stone was really a beautiful girl, crying because she was cold. (This is the same ghost-girl that Andres saw on the east side). Every month when the moon rose about 11:00, this man would call the names of all the chiefs and then shout, closing the taking of live trees from the jungle and the taking of drift wood off the beach. A month later on the same night he would do the same thing and open the taking of wood from those two places. When he shouted, the chief had to go to Fare Gigak and shout

The Story of Mohonuhur and Ficharaung and How Marino Became Chief
 Copyright Peter W. Black
August, 2000

As told by Chief Marino on July 6, 1973 

Mohonuhur is the one who told him to take his place as chief.  It starts with the story of Sangarahorimarar, the eldest son of Chief Faitamor.  A big log drifted in and Sangarahorimarar asked his father for it.  (There used to be a season for driftwood; any that came in out of season was left on the beach until the season opened.)  He wanted to make a big canoe.  The chief said "No.  If you break the law there will be no food on the island."  Sangarahorimarar took six coconuts to the ghost house so his canoe would be strong.  He called his father (who didn't know about it) to come to the ghost house to watch the magic.  So the chief came, and he was so angry he couldn't talk.  But his wife (Sangarahorimarar's mother) made food for the senup who built the canoe.  But she was not happy about it.  When they finished the canoe, the chief said he would call the canoe Uariyamubur which means the canoe that will carry you away.  When the chief said such a word it would come true.  One day Sangarahorimarar was out chasing a ship and he never came back.  

When Faitamor got sick, he called his wife and three remaining sons to him.  "Now I am sick and am going to die. You, Hatruiouh, (the eldest son) will take my place."  The other two sons just sat and listened.  "If you die, remember your brothers,"  he said.  In other words, he told Hatruiouh to give the title to one of them.  But he didn't say which one.

Faitamor died.  

They took him to the big canoe house called Fariping.  Each chief had one of these big canoe houses.  All the people except Hatruiouh came, including his two brothers.  They all sang.  Hatruiouh didn't come because he had taken the place of the chief and he didn't want the people to see him sad.  The next morning Hatruiouh was supposed to dress up and go to the canoe house.  But he didn't.  Instead he told his son Mohonuhur to shower, put turmeric on, to go to the beach in the east, pray and put coconut oil on his head.  When the sun came up he was supposed to go back to the house and wait.  He did all this (which is what Hatruiouh was supposed to have done).  By about 8 am, Hatruiouh sent Mohonuhur to the canoe house Fariping.  

The two brothers of Hatruiouh were very angry at seeing Mohonuhur coming instead of his father. They did not turn Faitamor's head from the east to the west and say the chief is coming and have the new chief make magic like they were supposed to.  Instead they left Faitamor's head facing the east.  They broke the canoe and the box they were going to set their dead father adrift in (the box with the corpse in it lashed to the canoe which would be towed out past the reef to the current to be set adrift).  Nor did they let Mohonuhur put the young white leaves of the coconut (ubut) on Faitamor's mouth and call the names of all the past chiefs of Tobi (including Faitamor).  

The two brothers wanted to follow Faitamor's words but Hatruiouh did not.  He wanted to give the job to his son instead of taking it himself and then passing it to one of his brothers.  So the two brothers went to the house where Hatruiouh was waiting and told him he couldn't quit.  They agreed to make Mohonuhur the number two chief and Hatruiouh had to stay number one.  So Hatruiouh went to the canoe house and did his magic and they buried Faitamor.  This meant that he was the number one chief and Mohonuhur was the number two.  (This was the first time for a number two chief on this island; before that there was only one chief on the island).  He had to go to Fare Gigak to make magic. Heirenichob is the name of the chief's magic.  When they broke it into two parts they made it so either chief could do it if the other one wasn't there.  Heimeh is the name for the number two chief.  Heimang is the name for the number one chief.

When Hatruiouh got sick he gave the power to his brother Chohomo.  Mohonuhur was still number two. Number one stayed in one line and number two in another.  When Chohomo got sick he called his last remaining brother, Hangariartamor.  Hangariartamor told him to give it to one of your sons because I am too old and you have plenty of kids.  Ficharaung was Chohomo's eldest son so Chohomo gave it to him.  

One and two were combined until this story, when they broke it.  

And then Ficharaung was chief.  

The Germans came to Tobi and wanted to take the chief to Koror to see the islands and to see the Germans and to go with some Tobi people to Anguar.  He sat and thought: " I am going to Koror so I will call Mohonuhur and tell him about Hateh coconuts."  Ficharaung told a guy to go and tell Mohonuhur to come and see him. Mohonuhur didn't come so the chief sent for him again, but he still didn't come.  Ficharaung thought that if he went to Palau something might happen to him.  He thought about the Hateh coconuts (that is why he had sent for Mohonuhur).  Then it was time to leave Tobi. They went to the east side because the sea was too rough at the west.  All the people followed them.  At that time Uoribuhaitah was in charge of Hateh (Haworobuh was his clan).  He went to the east with Ficharaung, who called him over and told him:  "Now I will go to Anguar.  You must keep the coconuts at Hateh until I return."

Ficharaung stayed on Anguar.  He didn't have to work.  Everyday he walked on the beach with his friend Hafachihai.  After one month they saw two coconuts drifting in from the south.  They were tied together and had their ends cut in a special way.

That cut was a sign of hapiteri yarus. So he knew it was from Hateh.  (The sign meant that women could not eat those coconuts). So the chief said to his friend: "Haparimahatawah, I know that they already took down the coconuts from Hateh."  He told his friend to pick up the coconuts (they were his from the distribution). Then he went straight to his house.  After one week he died, but he did not say who should take his place.

Now when they brought the coconuts from Hateh, then they knew the chief must die.  They brought all the coconuts to Fare Gigak.  Mohonuhur called all the names of the chiefs, including Ficharaung.  That's why the people knew he must die.  He was the one who told Uoribuhaitah to bring down the coconuts.  All the men in the family of the chief wore their turtle shell leis.  So when Mohonuhur stood up and called all the names of the chiefs including Ficharaung, Chief Marino's real father took off his turtle shell lei and scolded Mohonuhur and then went to his house at Hawarai and he stayed there, very sad.  Then Mohonuhur divided all the coconuts among all the people on the island.

When the ship came the people heard that the chief had died.  Mohonuhur was still number two and there was no number one because Ficharaung didn't say who should take his place.  Mohonuhur took the number one place.  He was number one and number two.  He took it without information or power from Ficharaung who didn't give him the information or power or the stuff for the chief.  Four feathers from the wings of the hataf (a giant bird) is the sign for who will be chief.  But Mohonuhur didn't get any from the old chief.  

After the phosphate started during Japanese times, in about 1940 a Japanese guy came on the ship and told Mohonuhur that he should find who should be the guy to take the number one job.  Mohonuhur was already a little senile and they needed a chief who understood Japanese. He called a meeting of everyone on the island, including his son Benaroso, at his house at five o'clock after Father Elias finished the mass. His house was in the north at Haringemoh.  So Marino (whose father was already dead) went with his older brother Jesus to the meeting.  He did not wear his turtle shell lei.

Before the meeting Saharias heard that the people wanted to make him chief because he was already married to Marcelina (Mohonuhur's daughter who was not yet Ramoparuhe).  He had no other relation to the chief's family.  So Saharias stood up at the meeting and said: "No. I am not willing to be chief because I am the son of poor people (rar marutamau)."  This means that he had no relation to the chief's family.  So people said ok, let Elias take it.  But Elias said "No. Call those guys that it belongs to (Jesus and Marino)."  So then Mohonuhur called the two brothers who were outside the house with all the people.  They just said: "Give it to those two brothers that it belongs to," but they didn't say which one.  Mohonuhur said the same as Elias, and all the people said "Yes, lets do it that way. That is a good idea."  Then everybody pushed Marino and that is why he took it.  Jesus didn't want it because he knew their father had walked out the time Mohonuhur had distributed the Hateh coconuts.  But Marino was too young and didn't know about it.  He didn't know about the problem (according to Perpetua) but he did know that to take the chief's place was dangerous because of the problem before and what had happened to Ficharaung.  The people just pushed Marino after Jesus refused because they knew that the place belonged to him.  

After that they went to the Japanese guy who wrote down Marino's name as chief.  Father Elias did not attend this meeting.  Benaroso just sat beside his father Mohonuhur but his father did not tell him to take his place.  He always stayed by his father, but when Mohonuhur died he didn't give power to him to become chief.  After the meeting Marino became chief.  He didn't wait for Mohonuhur to die but became chief at the meeting.  But Mohonuhur was still chief because he was still alive.  Number one and number two at that time.  Mohonuhur quit the work but still was chief.

A Rubekul Belau. Palau Community Action Agency, Koror Palau, 1974.
Information about the chiefs of Tobi, Sonsorol, Pulo Ana, and Merir (in Palauan).