November 14 - November 20, 2005
THE ILOCOS TIMES - FEATURE

Amado I. Yoro
Contributor


It's nearing close, it's fast approaching
Hawaii Filipinos will celebrate a centennial festivity with pride and memories

Ewa, Hawaii—Its nearing, its fast approaching….Centennial Celebration December 10, 2005 kick-off soon to come.

Just a matter of few months now, Filipinos in Hawaii will celebrate the one hundred years of their immigration ever since their first recorded arrival on December 20, 1906 via SS Doric with a fifteen Ilocano males, most of them from the province of Ilocos Sur in the Northern Philippines.

In partnership with the First Hawaiian Bank (and other sponsors), the Filipino Centennial Celebration Commission also known as Legislative Act 159, is now in their full gear in the preparation of the significant event that will officially start on December 10, 2005 and will end on December 17, 2006. Theme of the celebration is “Filipinos in Hawaii: 100 years and Beyond”

After the grand opening, unveiling of the Sakada Statue & Marker on December 17, 2005 in Keaau, the old Olaa Plantation at the Big Island where the first 15 Ilocano men assigned to work will take place. This event is mainly prepared and sponsored by the Big Island Filipino Community Council with Commissioner Cornelia “Cocoy” Anguay, and other community leaders. Why celebration is necessary?

Just like any other ethnic groups who immigrated into the island in their respective years and who came from their respective countries to seek a better opportunities and to meet their challenges and commemorate their own anniversaries, Filipinos likewise will commemorate their first official recorded immigration next year honoring the sakada, a recruit workers.

When the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association (HSPA) had decided to extend its r recruitment program to the Philippines, in its official representative A. F. Judd went to Manila, and had recruited the first 15 Ilokanos, all males boarded into SS Doric first landed in Honolulu port on December 20, 1906 then proceeded to Ola’a Plantation at the Big Island. (Please note however that there were some Filipinos who came to Hawaii and in the US mainland prior to December 1906])

These 15 males were: Antonio Gironella, 14; Francisco Gironella, 18; Vicente Gironella, 19; Celestino Cortez, 19; Julian Galmen, 20; Mariano Cortez, 21; Martin de Jesus, 22; Mariano Gironella, 23; Apolonio Ramos, 26; Emiliano Dasulla, 26, married; Cecilio Sagun, 27, married; Prudencio Sagun, 28, married; Marcelino Bello, 28; Filomeno Rebollido, 30; Simplicio Gironella, 56, married (Simplicio Gironella was the father of Antonio, Francisco, Vicente, and Mariano Gironella).

Following the first arrival, here came the different waves of Filipino Immigrations: First wave—December 20, 1906- 1919; second Wave—1920-1929 (in 1925 about 50 percent Filipino-sugar plantation workers. Pablo Manlapit led a fight for higher pay and better home.); third wave—1930- 1934. (The Tyding McDuffie Independence Act/Commonwealth was enacted); fourth wave—1946 (mass migration [Grand Exodus]. Port Salomague, Cabugao, Ilocos Sur. Vigan, Ilocos Sur as a Recruiting Center via SS Maunawili and SS Falcon); fifth wave—1965.

Many things to remember as a recognition and appreciation of their contributions to Hawaii. The general community now is beginning to learn of the upcoming significant event thru regular group meetings and community awareness program. This awareness has an impact in government: city, state, as they now realize that this is not a Filipino affair only but for the entire community and of course to the extent to national and international matter the fact that it will invite and open the door and welcome those former residents for homecoming and for those having business connections and trade relations to Hawaii and those with the interest to have an interest and opportunity to open business here as Hawaii a “Melting Pot of the Pacific”.

It is with high hope that this celebration gears for a certain ethnic group the “hardworking people” for their invaluable contributions to society, not only to appreciate their roots and country of origin or their value of their cultural heritage and tradition, thrift and frugal but they were observed as having the patience and endurance to work in all weather, social condition as they were the backbone of Hawaii’s sugar and pineapple industries, agriculture and other industries during the early years and up to the present time.

Hawaii also attained its growth and development because of the Filipinos, just like other immigrants, who dedicated their talent and service and shared their contribution unselfishly.

The commission will recognize many of their outstanding members among them who notably contributed their talent and successfully achieved their dreams, the old and the new generation, as the theme represents “Filipinos In Hawaii: 100 years and Beyond” in order to plan, prepare and foresee a future for the next generation to come.

The first of the first Filipinos who by fate and by struggle and by strong determination have earned their social status by working up as their opportunities opened up for them within the century.

Best example of a first is former Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano as the First Filipino Governor in Hawaii from the Filipino-American origin.

To name a few of the many firsts Filipino of American ancestry whether immigrant, immigrant professionals and local born who succeeded in their respective field of endeavors, whether in business, education, science, health and medical technology, government and politics, media and communication, arts and culture, sports and entertainments, and other field as they are worthwhile and outstanding:

Honorable Governor Benjamin J. Cayetano, first Filipino governor in Hawaii and the United State of America,1994-2002, son of a sakada from Urdaneta, Pangasinan; Honorable Eduardo Malapit, first Filipino Mayor in USA, in Kauai, Hawaii; Judge Alfred Laureta, first Filipino, Federal District Judge, first Filipino State Director of Labor and Industrial Relations followed by Dr. Joshua Agsalud, Mario Ramil, Leonardo Agor;

Atty. Peter Aduja, son of Vigan, first Filipino elected representative to occupy a seat, Territory of Hawaii, 1956, first president of Ilocos Surian Association of Hawaii, 1977; Honorable Benjamin Menor, first Filipino elected senator, Territory of Hawaii and first Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte and followed by Mario Ramil and Simeon Acoba , both son of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte; *Mrs. Ines Cayaban, first Filipina to study Public Health Nursing at the University of Hawaii.

Pablo Manlapit, first Filipino labor movement organizer; *Richard Adap, first Filipino teacher in Hawaii; Elias Yadao, first Filipino member of Board of Supervisor; Richard Caldito, Sr., first Filipino Councilman in Maui County; Alfred Lardizabal, first Filipino Director of State Personnel & Services, served as State Representative representing Kauai; Domingo Los Banos, first Filipino District Superintendent, State Dept of Education;

Maggie P. Domingo, first woman to become president of the United Filipino Council of Hawaii; first president of Ilocos Nortenians of America (INA), member, Hawaii Public Television Committee appointed by Governor Cayetano; Matilda Molina, first Filipina woman served as acting Chairperson of the Hawaii Democratic Party, first woman to become president of Oahu Filipino Community Council, 1978-1979. Served as UFCH secretary; Agrifina Cabebe, first woman served as vice president of the United Filipino Council of Hawaii; Justo dela Cruz, first president of the Oahu Filipino Community Council, 1959-1961, also served UFCH president, 1961-1962, then elected OFCC president, 1968-1969;

Dr. Gregory dela Cruz, first Filipino to serve a member of the Board of Regent, University of Hawaii, a son of Justo Dela Cruz, a community leader and administrator; Joe Blanco, first Filipino to chair the Board of Regent, University of Hawaii, a son of businessman Fred Blanco; Roland Sagum, first UFCH convention Chairman and first president of the United Filipino Council of Hawaii, 1959-1960; first Commander of the Hawaii Chapter Order of Knights of Rizal, 1971-1984. On January 7, 1959, Ambassador Juan C. Dionisio, Sr, appointed Sagum as General Chairman to assist a Statewide fund drive for a Rizal shrine in memory of the 100th anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal. By September 15, 1961 a total of approximately $10,000.00 as part of a US Army Friendship Mission to the Philippines, where Sagum deeply involved in Knights of Rizal;

Honorable Lorraine Rodero Inouye, first Filipina (Piddig, IN & La Union) served as mayor for the Big Island County, now a State Senator; Consul-General Solita Aguirre, first Filipina (Manila) to become Consul General at the Philippine Consulate General, Honolulu; Hon. Modesto Farolan, first Ilokano and first Consul General, Philippine Consulate General, Honolulu, Hawaii 1946-1948; Ambassador Minerva Jean Falcon, first Ilokana (Lallo, Cagayan) to serve as Consul General, Philippine Consulate General, Honolulu 1996-1999;

Honorable Daniel Kihano, first Filipino Speaker of the House of Representatives, State of Hawaii (Emilio S. Alcon, Vice Speaker); Mr. Lito Alcantra, first Filipino contractor who was awarded as Minority Contractor of the Year, Hawaii, Guam and California; Mr. Tony L. Sagayadoro, first president of Isabela Hawaii Association, during his term, he coordinated the Aloha Medical Mission to Isabela. He is now at KNDI Radio as a DJ and Account Executive; Pride in Waipahu; UFCH Progress Awardee 2001, now Hawaii Program Coordinator MOTTEP;

Acela Garcia, first Mrs Hawaii Filipina, United Filipino Council of Hawaii, thereafter, she was very much involved with the community, served in various capacities with OFCC board and UFCH; Albert Ugalino, UFCH president who first to formulate Mrs. Hawaii Filipina Scholarship Pageant, involved with Tri-Media Council, a comedy-drama writer; Pastor Pablo, first president of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce; Isabel Tagala, first woman president of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce; Dr. Henry Manayan, first Ilokano who owned and managed first Filipino Radio Station, KISA. Dr. Manayan served UFCH President, 1973-1975 (His son Rick Manayan also served UFCH president 1994-1995. His other son Henry, Jr. became mayor of Milpitas, California);

Modesto Salve, first born to graduate from Honolulu public school; Leticia Quintal, first Miss Hawaii Filipina, 1959, followed by Lilian Gabuco, 1960;

Carmella Barut. First Miss Oahu Filipina 1973, but won for Miss Hawaii Filipina; Ludivina de Castro, first first runner-up for Miss Oahu Filipina Pageant that was automatically Miss Oahu Filipina; Honorable Rudy Pacarro, first Filipino to serve as Chair, Honolulu Council;

Donovan Dela Cruz, youngest Filipino to serve as Chair, Honolulu Council, 2003; Bella Ortega Tomas, first Filipina selected a s Mrs. Hawaii, and first Filipina who won 3rd placer of the Mrs. America; Richard Ato, first Filipino to serve as Asst Chief of Police, Honolulu Police Department; Pacita Saludes, first president of Gumil Hawaii; Annak ti Kailokuan, first Hawaii writer awardee as Leona Florentino, highest award given by Gumil Filipinas; UFCH Progress Awardee 2001;

Fortunato Teho, first Filipino graduate from University of Hawaii; Norberto Villanueva, first Filipino Radio Announcer in Hawaii; Leonora Albayalde, first organizer of Kauai Filipino Women’s Club. One of the first 5 Bishop’s Awardee, St. Paul’s Church 2001, others are Gloria P. Yoro, Albina Gamponia, Gregorio Guerrero, Miguel Pascua; Diosdado Avecilla, first Filipino travel organizer/agent and also known as “Dean of Filipino Travel Agents”;

Faustino Respicio, ran the longest radio and TV program for 55+ year the “Filipino Fiesta”; Felipe P. Abinsay, Jr., first president of Vigan Association of Hawaii, 1983. a business man and community leader now Member, State House of Representatives; Senator Robert Bunda, first Filipino Senate President. Hawaii State Senate since 2000; Angela Baraquio, first Filipina and Asian won Miss America 2000;

As the preparation is in full swing, invitation to Hawaii and the general Filipino-American community has been extended for them to share, contribute and they may call the appropriate committee members and liaison in their respective island:

Members of the Commission: Mr. Elias Beniga – Chair; Mr. Jake Manegdeg – Vice Chair; Mr. Eddie Agas, Sr. – Oahu Community Liaison; Ms. Cornelia Anguay – Big Island Community Liaison; Dr. Belinda Aquino – Chair, Global Conference & Trade Expo; Judge Artemio Baxa – Maui Community Liaison; Mrs. Leticia Castillo – Lanai Community Liaison; Dr. Serafin ‘Jun’ Colmenares –Chair, Opening & Closing Ceremonies; Mr. Leo Rojas Gozar – Chair, Festival & Cultural Arts; Dr. Raymund Liongson – Chair, Logo/Theme & Commemorative Book; Mr. Oscar Portugal – Kauai Community Liaison; Mr. Homer Rabara – Chair, Historical; Mr. Ben Saguibo – Treasurer & Finance Chair; Mr. Anacleto “Lito” Alcantra – Member; Mr. Amado I. Yoro – Chair, Media, Communication & Publicity;

Closing programs will be on December 17, 2006 with a grand finale.

(The author, Amado I. Yoro, is an immigrant from Sinait, Ilocos Sur, Philippines in 1971, a son of an immigrant watercress and taro worker and a grandson of a Sakada sugar plantation worker and he himself worked at one of Oahu’s sugar plantation for 19 years. He now currently lives in Ewa, Hawaii.)

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