June Adeline Corpuz is the granddaughter of Pongholo Stanislaus Dominic, an orphan from a royal house of a sea-faring “pirate” tribe suppressed by the British, who was then brought up by William and Ada Pryer from the age of about 8 until the Pryers left North Borneo. Both William and Ada had been orphaned at a similar age, and Pongholo was raised in a loving home, becoming quintessentially Victorian in his values, behaviours and customs.
From the Pryers he gained proficiency as a musician, ballroom dancer and a mission education, rising as the most senior Sabahan Native in the colonial service until his retirement as Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Customs in 1928. His strong allegiance to English values and customs led to his death at the hands of the Japanese at the end of World War II, but his family sustained their cosmopolitan orientation, enabling June to migrate to England, initially to complete her education but ultimately for nearly 40 years as a professional in the banking industry.
On retirement, encouraged by certain members of her Dominic clan and her curiosity about the stories she’d heard as a child, June launched into researching the heritage of the Pryers in the British Archives finding the letters and manuscripts that form the basis for this book and the biography of Ada Blanche Pryer. June is also an aspiring artist and the book includes etchings of her own depicting the landscape in Sandakan in the late 19th century alongside the watercolour sketches by William Pretyman, who was Resident of the West Coast in the late 1870s.