Mayor denies allegations from cultural dance group's leader

MEMORIAL: A plaque and wreaths decorate the Asan landing site honoring the civilians and soldiers who lost their lives during World War II, on Friday, July 16, 2021. Haruo Simion/The Guam Daily Post

The Asan Landing Memorial Ceremony was celebrated last month without a hitch, but an incident between Asan-Maina Mayor Frankie Salas and a group of cultural performers after the event has thrust the mayor into the spotlight.

Patrick Camacho is the dance leader for Guma ma Higa, which has been performing at village events and ceremonies for nine years.

The local dance group performed the opening blessing for the Asan Landing Memorial Ceremony, which was held July 16. The event was held in honor of those who perished in World War II and to commemorate the liberation of the island from Japanese occupation.

Fifteen youth cultural dancers performed, said Camacho. But when it came time for payment, tensions rose.

Camacho said he provided a discount for the group's services, charging $250 instead of the normal charge of $300. Camacho said a verbal agreement was made prior to the event in which he said the mayor would pay out of pocket.

"After the ceremony finished it seemed to me like he kept trying to dodge me," Camacho said. "I approached him and said, 'Buenas siñot, we have to head to another function so if we can settle this now that would be great.' He tells me to come back next week."

Camacho said he went to the mayor's office to handle the situation and while there, things got heated.

"He threw me words, slammed his office table and then some man comes in and tells me to leave this place or he will pull me out and that I should wish he never sees me again or else," Camacho said.

He said the mayor then refused to pay the group.

"We had an agreement over the phone already to go there, do what we had to do. There was no agreement to come back; we did our services already." Camacho said. "We come out with our heart and soul."

However, nothing was put in writing prior to the event.

'Very disrespectful'

The Guam Daily Post spoke with Salas regarding the allegations. He denied Camacho's version of events and said it was Camacho who became belligerent and failed to show up to rehearsal and refused attempts to meet at the office to formulate a written agreement.

Salas said he just wanted an invoice from the group so that he could justify the money spent for the service, which he said was funded with $400 from the Mayor's Municipal Planning Council.

"I was asking him to come on Monday down to the community center so I could cut a check and get an invoice, and at the same time he was raising his voice," Salas said.

He said that he has yet to receive an invoice, but did cut a check that day for $250 to Camacho.

"I asked him right there if this was for the kids, or his self," said the mayor, who questioned why the check would not be made out to the group.

Salas said as Camacho was leaving the office, "everyone" heard him cursing. 

"That's very disrespectful," Salas said.

The mayor said he is waiting for an apology from Camacho.

Salas, however, is not the only one who feels disrespected. Camacho believes the mayor's alleged actions were also disrespectful and is waiting for an apology from the mayor.

Camacho believes he stood up for his dancers by insisting on payment. He said he made the negative comment to the mayor because the mayor smirked at him as he was leaving the office, he said.

Camacho said he thought that the situation was over.

But two days ago, he said he heard Salas was telling other mayors not to book Guma ma Higa.

"You want to go ahead and tell people that I'm disrespectful and I said chada nana mu to you, but you don't want to tell them reasons why it escalated that far, then I am going to go ahead and let them know why," Camacho said.

The mayor denied the allegation.

"No, no, no. I'm not like that." Salas said. "This is between me and him. I would not go to my colleagues and advise them like that."

Salas added: "It's shameful for him what he did."

Neither have communicated with each other since the incident occurred.

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