Jan 18, 2009

Sakadas Remembered with Ringing of the Centennial Bell

Adlaw Ug Gabi'i
by Yungib A.V. Ramil
Opinion Section, Page 5

WHAT a wonderful sound, the ringing of the centennial bell, as the sakadas were remembered last December 20, at the morning program held at the Binhi at Ani Center, in Kahului.

The first 15 sakadas, the pioneer field laborers by the Hawaii Sugar Planters from the Philippines, arrived in Honolulu on December 20, 1906. Their arrival did not make much news. In its issue of December 22, 1906, The Maui News reported their arrival with one sentence. "Honolulu, Dec.21-- A.F. Judd returned yesterday from the Philippines bringing with him a small party of Filipino test laborers."

The sakadas proved to be excellent plantation workers, and recruitment of Filipino laborers continued until 1946 when the last group of 6,000 sakadas arrived in the islands to fill shortage of workers in the plantations following World war II.

The number of living sakadas iis dwindling with its passing year. The few remaining ones are in their 80's and 90's. Some still show up at community gatherings. Among them are Pepito Ragasa, Danny Tabangcura, Antonino Bernardo, Pedro Macadangdang and Pete Cortez. In their twilight years, most of them prefer to stay home. A few are still seet at programs, dancing waltz, cha-cha or rhumba, in slowed cadence but much aglow with life.

Ah, the ringing of the centennial bell, which was acquired by the members and officers of Binhi at Ani in 2006 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first sakadas-- what a wonderful sound! The sound of the bell echoed over the island, carried by the wind, all over the earth in ever widening circle, unto eternity, in remembrance of the sakadas.

Especially if you are the descendant of one who labored in Hawaii's sugar and pineapple plantations, in stillness, in the depth of your heart, you might hear the laughter of a sakada in a moment of joy, or on the screen of your mind, you might see one shedding tears in his eyes in time of sadness.

You might also hear on screaming in the ocassion of jubilation or in an ocassion of protest, anguish and pain. Or you might see one stoically calm and quiet, and you left wondering what's going on within him-- after all, most of the sakadas were inarticulate even as they took pride in their songs, music and folkdances but told others much who they were.

The sakadas have their virtues, and they had their faults. They had their merits, and they had their follies.In the ringing of the centennial bell, the message is clear for us to hear: "There is dignityin work, and countless blessings flow from work."

The Binhi at Ani Center was established with the sakadas as the primary inspiration. And the centennial bell is meant to be an integral part of the Center. The Center's overriding reminder to all is: "You reap what you sow. If you don't sow anything, there is nothing you are going to reap."

What a wonderful sound, the ringing of the centennial bell, in remembrance of the sakadas-- and also announcing the approaching end of the old year, and the dawning of the new one!

[See related article in www.dagitikappurosadamdamagitihawaii.blogspot.com]
[**Posted by Rudy Ram. Rumbaoa]

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