Dec 7, 2009

RICE FESTIVAL WEEK: Celebrating Family, Community, and Cultural Tradition

By Fil-Am OBSERVER Staff
Fil-Am Observer December 2009 Issue
Cover Story

            By proclamation of Mayor Charmaine Tavares, December 14 to 20 is
officially “Rice Festival Week” throughout the County of Maui. Mayor
Tavares presented the Proclamation to leaders of the Filipino community
at the Mayor’s Lounge, Kalani O Maui Building, Wailuku, morning of December 1. Accepting the  Proclamation were Mrs. Norma Barroga, president of Binhi At Ani, and
Tony Ramil, Festival general chairman. Binhi At Ani is spear-
heading the celebration.
            In the proclamation, Mayor Tavares notes that “rice fulfills a vital
role in many countries by providing nutrition and an economic
foundation for entire communities”, and “rice is a staple food for
people throughout the world, including many of the citizens of Maui
            The proclamation urges “all citizens to join the members of Binhi At
Ani in celebrating our community’s rich and diverse cultural traditions
relating to rice, and recognizing the importance of rice in our daily
            The Rice Festival is seen as a “first” not only in the County of Maui
but throughout the State of Hawaii.
            The celebration coincides with the anniversary of the arrival to Hawaii
of the first Sakadas, the pioneer Filipinos who were recruited to work
in the islands' sugar and pineapple plantations. The first workers
arrived in Honolulu on December 20, 1906, and were assigned to the
Ola‘a Plantation on the Big Island. The last of the Sakadas came to
Hawaii in 1946. Many of them were rice farmers in the Philippines.
Binhi At Ani will be holding a Rice Festival dinner and program, on the
evening of December 20, at the Binhi At Ani Filipino Community Center,
780 Onehe‘e Avenue, Kahului. It is billed as a celebration of family,
community, and cultural tradition. It is a celebration of
life--for to many people throughout the world, “rice is life”.
Admission and dinner tickets are $15 per person. Everybody is welcome.
            A significant feature of the program will be a donation of 1,900 pounds
of rice to the Maui Food Bank in support of its program to provide food
for individuals and families in the community who are in need.
Also a special part of the program will be the recognition of the
Outstanding Father and Mother. To be honored and presented the “Ama At
Ina” plaque are Elpidio Cachero Cabalo and Alejandra Cabudoy Cabalo,
who have been married for 68 years. Mr. Cabalo is 1946 Sakada from
Cagayungan, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, leaving the family behind. Both of
them worked for Maui Land and Pine Company. They have three successful
children and five grandchildren, all college graduates. The children
are Ben, married to the former Connie Jamorabon; Dominick, married to
the former Gini Laureta; and Lucy, married to the late Sylvester Peros,
Jr. The eldest son, Ben, joined Mr. Cabalo in Maui in 1961, and Mrs.
Cabalo and the two younger children followed in 1962.
The “Ama At Ina” award is an affirmation of the Filipinos' tradition of
respect for parents and elders, and of the importance of family.
            Maui County Council Chair Danny Mateo, son of a Sakada, will be the
guest speaker. Also slated in the program are Mayor Tavares, former
Gov. Ben Cayetano, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, and Richard Caldito,
Sr., the first Filipino to be elected into County office in all of
Hawaii and America.
            Also expected to make special appearances are Dr. Cathy Long, Mrs. Maui
Filipina; Mia Lidauvais, Miss Maui Filipina; and Victoria Cabalce
Alakai, Miss Barrio Fiesta.
            Various rice dishes and delicacies, including “rice farmer’s tea”, will
be on display or available for the guests to taste. Dinner will feature
a “dulang”, a traditional low dining table used in many parts of the
Philippines. Twelve guests and leaders of the community will be seated
at the “dulang” for the dinner.
            Led by the officers of Binhi At Ani, guests will be invited to join in
the community dance “kaniaw”. It is a native celebratory dance popular
among the Filipinos of the mountain provinces of Luzon, where the
world-famous Banaue Rice Terraces are located.
Scheduled to perform are the Bailes de Filipinas (Elsie Saribay), Dance
Interntional Production (Madelyne Pascua), Good Shepherd Church Youth
(Bessie Cacayorin), Maui Council of Filipino Catholic Clubs (Doris
Saribay), and Chirst the King Catholic Club (Alice Ragasa).
“Kunday Kunday” will be performed by a group headed by Luz Ramil.
Vocal renditions will be made by Nana Rosa Bagoyo (Ilokano song), Tata
Quintin Casio (Ilokano song), Ryan Sagayaga ("Sakada"), Jessica Adena
(Tagalog song) and Joy Fontanilla (Visayan song).
The December 20 program will open with the ringing the Centennial Bell
and singing of the Star Spangled Banner (Rowena Dagdag Andaya), Hawaii
Pono‘i (Rowena Dagdag Andaya) and Lupang Hinirang (Sammy Melchor and
Carmelita Fuchigami).
            There will also be a “parol contest”, and “sayawan” or ballroom dancing
for everybody.
            Closing remarks will be made by Kallie Keith-Agaran, co-chairperson of
the Rice Festival. Ryan Piros of KPMW Radio will serve as the master of

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