Oct 23, 2009

FRANCISCO MELCHOR: The Young Man from Laoag found a better life



By Lucy Peros, Sakada Corner
Fil-Am Observer October 2009 Issue
Sakada Feature, Page 8


A man from Tangid. Laoag Ilocos Norte came to Hawaii in search for a better life for himself and his family. Francisco Melchor was born on January 23, 1925 and came to Hawaii as one of the 6,000 cane cutters in 1946 on board the S.S. Maunawili.

The workers left the Philippines from Port Salomague in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur. They were sponsored by the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association [HSPA]. They landed at Port Allen in Kauai.

After dropping off several men on Kauai, the boat proceeded to Maui where there Francisco Melchor and some sakadas disembarked and landed at Kahului Harbor.

Francisco was assigned to work for Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company [HC&S]. He worked at the Chemical Department [Weed control] as a Supply Coordinator until he retired in 1987 at age 62. He lived at Camp 3, a camp located at the stoplights, by the intersection going to the airport by Hana Highway. Camp 3 is now a sugarcane field. Camp 3 was a fun place to live, according to Marina Melchor, Francisco's widow. They did a lot of fun activities like volleyball, baseball, and many others. Everyone for each other. They shared everything from vegetables, to fish, meats and other produce. Whoever cooked first, they invite everyone to join them to eat. Francisco was a very good cook. He often the main cook at big parties and always shared his catch with his neighbors.

In those days, at the different camps, there were a lot of social dances. It was one of those social dances the Francisco met a beautiful girl named Marina Rivera from Haiku, Maui. It was love at first sight! They got married soon after that social dance. They had grand wedding reception at the Baldwin Park Pavillion.

Marina was originally from Lanao, Bangui, Ilocos Norte. She came to Hawaii in 1946 at age 9 with her mother, Maria Baloaloa Rivera, a brother, and three sisters. They came on S.S. Marine Falcon. They were some of the first families to arrive in Hawaii. Her father, Buenaventura Rivera was also a 1946 sakada. Upon arrival in Hawaii, he petitioned for his family to come too. He worked for the Libby Pineapple Company in Haiku. Even though it was hard to support a family at that time, the Rivera's managed to bring up their families despite the challenges.

Francisco loved his family back in the Philippines. He wanted them to have a better life also. So he was instrumental in bringing his four brothers Lorenzo, Benjamin, Vicente, and Simeon and their families to Hawaii. His sister Quirina Fermin comes to Hawaii often on a visitor's visa.

Marina and Francisco were blessed with five children.

Reverend Ricky was eldest. He worked for the State of Hawaii as a Counselor. He is a Deacon at Good Shepherd Church in Wailuku.

Lawrence [deceased] was their second child. He was married to Shari. They have one daughter.

Rudy is their 3rd child. He is married to Christina. He works at Grand Wailea. They have two children, Christopher and Michele.

Susan Idica is their 4th child. She is married to Daniel. She works at home. They have two children, Danny and Nicholas. They live in Florida.

Nelson is their youngest child. He is married to Serena. He works at the California Hotel in Las Vegas.

In Spring of 1996, Francisco's son Ricky, while attending the University of Hawaii as part of his requirement for his class Ilokano 202, wrote about his father, Francisco in Ilokano. This is what he wrote: My dad told me a story about a sakada who came to the same time as him in S.S. Maunawili. He was so seasick that he couldn't eat. My brought him his food and fed him so that he would feel better. My dad also told all of us his children that we must go to school and receive a good education because he wanted us to have an easier job compared to him who worked hard in the sugarcane field for 41 years." Unfortunately, Francisco passed away in 1992.

With similar idea as Francisco's, Marina's advice to young people today is to go to school and have a good education in order to find a better job. Her advice to her contemporaries is to help one another and enjoy life.

Marina and Francisco were very active members of the United Sons and Daughters of the Ilocano Region [USDIR] and at the Good Shepherd Church where Marina is Eucharistic Minister.***
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