Jul 20, 2009

Felicisimo Manuel Coloma: A Worker from Pinili

By Lucy Peros
July 2009 Issue, Fil-Am Observer
Sakada Feature, Page 7

IN 1946, many sakadas left Pinili, Ilocos Norte to find a better life in Hawaii.

One of them was Felicisimo Manuel Coloma. Born on August 1, 1923 in Barangay Pusol, he left the Philippines via Port Salomague in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur in April 1946 aboard the S.S. Maunawili.

Upon arriving on Maui, Felicisimo worked for the Pioneer Mill in Lahaina. He did odd jobs such as cutting seed for three months at a time. He earned a measly dollar for each day of backbreaking labor in the fields.

A relative , Lloyd Labasan, invited Felicisimo to work at the Paia Sugar Company. He worked there as field maintenace man. He then moved to the mobile irrigation department and worked there until he retired in 1985.

While at Paia Mill, he lived at Orpheum Camp where many sakadas like him lived. Paia Merchantile, a supermarket and a variety store where they shopped the most. The sakadas were able to shop there by credit, their credit deducted from their paychecks. Sometimes at the end of the month, they only had a few dollars left on their paychecks.

Usually, many single sakadas went back to the Philippines to find a wife and bring them back to Hawaii. In Felicisimo's case, it was a little different.

On June 12, 1961, there was a beautiful young lady by the name of Lydia Tacob Agaran who came to Hawaii on a visitor visa. She lived on Oahu upon arrival. Lydia knew Felicisimo's family in the Philippines especially her sister. His sister wrote to him prior to Lydia's trip to Hawaii telling him about Lydia. That same sister gave a letter for Felicisimo to be delivered by Lydia not knowing that Maui and Oahu are two islands. Instead delivering the letter, Lydia mailed it to Felicisimo. Upon receiving the letter, Felicisimo decided to visit Lydia on Oahu. That was the first meeting of both. Lydia then moved to Hilo. Felicisimo followed her there and decided to propose. Lydia did not accept that proposal. Lydia moved back to Oahu and Felicisimo found out. Felicisimo proposed again to Lydia with the presence of Lydia's uncle and auntie, Mr. and Mrs. Quirino Bugarin. Lydia finally accpeted that proposal.

On January 27, 1962, a grand wedding was held in Maui. The ceremony was held at the Good Shepherd Church and the reception was held at the Paia Clubhouse. In those days, the men, great cooks they were, did the cooking. Several pigs and cows were slaughtered for the occasion. Lydia and Felicisimo's wedding was attended by many friends and relatives.

After the wedding, Lydia and Felicisimo lived in Orpheum Camp in Paia for three years. Then they bought a house in Lower Paia and lived there until 1972 prior to moving to Kahului.

Lydia and Felicisimo enjoyed going to the Paia Theatre that was next to the Ikeda Store to watch their favorite movies. They enjoyed shopping at the Ikeda Store, the Bersamin's Fish Market and Nagata Store in downtown Paia. Today, these stores are no longer in existence.

They aslo enjoyed going to Baldwin Beach and the Sprecklesville Beach to pick limu or seaweed. The pukpuklo and ar-arusip were in abundance at those beaches. Lydia claims that she enjoyed picking the pipipi [seashells on rocks]. Going to biangan [chicken fight], play card games, and gardening were Felicisimo's favorite past time. Felicisimo passed away on April 29, 1998.

Lydia and Felicisimo were blessed with two children. Their first child is Representative Gilbert Coloma Agaran. He was appointed by Governor Lind Lingle to take the place of the late Rep. Bob Nakasone. He is married to Kallie Agaran.

Their second child is Velma Coloma. She works at the Hawaiian Helicopter Company.

Felicisimo and Lydia Coloma were active in these organizations: USDIR [United Sons and Daughters of Ilocano Region], Pinili-Badoc Maui Association, KFCA [Kahului Filipino Community Association], and Saranay Maui. Lydia is presently active in the Kahului Filipino Senior Club, ILWU Local 142, and the Good Shepherd Women's Dance Group. Lydia and her dance group danced at the Barrio Fiesta last May.

Lydia advice to the youth: "Go to school and get a good education so that it easier to find a better job. Join the extra curricular activities in school. It helps later on when applying for scholarships and applying for jobs. Keep up the good work at all times."

Lydia's advice to older folks is: "Be active and join in organizations. Socialization is one way to keep the mind healthy. Be friendly to everyone you meet. Eat healthy foods like fish and vegetables like marunggay, paria and utong."

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