Plena Mosaico Número Uno

Plena Music

Plena is one of Puerto Rico’s native music rhythms. It is the music of southern, coastal Puerto Rico, especially around the city of Ponce. First appearing around the end of the 19th century, plena lyrics concentrate on providing information about contemporary events so its nickname became “el periodico cantao” (the sung newspaper). Originally plena was a song accompanied by Spanish tambourines called panderos; later frame drums and guiro were added, and more contemporary plena saw the addition of horns. Plena songs are characterized by the repetition of phrases. 

The “Mosaico Número Uno” Plena

In August 1932, needleworkers (seamstresses) of a local Mayaguez handkerchief factory went on strike against the factory’s owner, Lebanese industrialist William Mamary, to request higher salaries for their work. The employees were always complaining because they earned little. The leader at the time was María Luisa Arcelay, a close relative of Jose Luis
Moneró the singer. Maria Luisa Arcelay, who was already a leader “on the side of the worker” incited unrest to encourage the workers to claim their rights. She was a great leader of the working class. Also, a Senator and the first Puerto Rican woman who had a license to drive a car! Mamery hired replacement workers (whom the seamstresses considered to be scabs). The strike was organized by local labor leader John Vidal, and patronized by local assemblywoman María Luisa Arcelay, who both had sewing workshops. Police, who were called to protect employer properties, killed and wounded some strikers who stoned the workshop of Arcelay.

Mosaico Número Uno Lyrics

Composer: Mon Rivera

¿Qué será que pasará. . .que el taller de Mamery pide
gente pa’ trabajar.
Aló, ¿quién ñama?


¿Qué será, qué pasará?
El taller de Mamery
pide gente pa’ trabajá.
Aló, ¿quién ñama?
María Luisa Arcelay
tratando con John Vidal
dicen que las bordadoras
que sin lana
no van pa’ allá


¿Qué será que pasará?
que el taller de Mamery pide
gente pa’ trabajar.
Aló, ¿quién ñama?
Empezó la huelga
Dios mío, qué barbaridad
¡Ay! las trabajadoras
Empezaron a bembetear
. . .que si cuchi cu,

que si cuchi ca
Petra apaga esa plancha
No trabajemos na’

¿Qué se cree esta gente?
No nos tienen piedad.
La lana que aquí nos pagan
Ay, no nos da pa’na.

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