Friday, August 7, 2015


Pandanus Mat

Pablo Pérez was a governor who stood out.

Ruling over the Marianas for a long term, from 1848 till 1855, he certainly made his mark on the islands. He also stepped on a few toes, including American agents on Guam, as there were many American whalers coming to the island at the time, and he even managed to irritate the Spanish priests.

Formal complaints were actually lodged against Pérez with his successor, Felipe de la Corte. Perhaps it was a case of beefing up one's case that multiple complaints came in. Perhaps the main plaintiffs actually went out looking for others who had an ax to grind with Pérez.

For here we find in the documents a complaints made by three Inalåhan officials against Pérez over guåfak - mats woven from pandanus, usually, and sometimes from other plants.

Justo Taimanglo, Francisco Charguani and Regino Meno were the three Cabeza de Barangay in Inalåhan. A Cabeza de Barangay was a neighborhood leader. Towns and villages were divided into barangay or neighborhoods, and were headed by a cabeza, which is Spanish for "head."

According to the complaint, Governor Pérez ordered guåfak to be made by people in Inalåhan, to the tune of 83 pieces. The three Cabezas were apparently in charge of seeing that this was done, and they were successful and turned them in to the Governor.

But the Governor stiffed them. The Cabezas never got paid for them. Either the Cabezas fronted the money and paid the weavers (less likely) or the Cabezas promised the weavers the money would be coming soon (more likely).

As soon as Pérez was replaced by de la Corte, the three Cabezas filed this complaint.

The Spanish text is nicely worded :

"Que habiéndose hecho en este pueblo 83 petates, por disposición y mandato del ex Gobernador Don Pablo Pérez, tenemos el sentimiento de elevar a su superior conocimiento como hasta la fecha no se nos ha satisfecho el pago de dichos petates."

"That having made in this town 83 mats, by the ruling and command of the former Governor Sir Pablo Pérez, we have the desire to bring to your greater awareness that till this day we have not been given payment for said mats."

The cost for all those mats? Ten pesos.

But, as they say, there are two sides to every story and, apparently, others testified that the weavers gave these mats to Pérez as a donation.

After all the back and forth, Governor de la Corte decided there was no merit to the case and ended proceedings.

No comments:

Post a Comment