Mar 31, 2010

RYAN M. SAGAYAGA: Building Homes, Building Communities

By CJ Ancheta
Cover Story
Fil-Am Observer April 2010 Issue

He does not only build homes, repairs them, and provides better living spaces for those wanting to sit back, relax, and enjoy in their abode.  He is also one of those committed to build communities, and the more, the better.
And he is there in the forefront of building one abstraction that is as concrete as the urgency of our needs: the building up of the imagined Filipino American community in Hawaii—or, in a more specific sense, in Maui.

He is Ryan M. Sagayaga:  a carpenter, plumber, electrician, and a building contractor.

He is all of these—and more as he keeps on doing his bit supporting the community of Filipinos in Maui.

Because of his expertise in building and construction, documentation, and dealing with various agencies of the Maui County in the meeting of requirement for the putting up and construction of booths, Sagayaga was appointed chairperson of the Barrio Fiesta in 2009. The fiesta ran for three days, and the biggest community event of that kind ever held in the county. Binhi at Ani coordinated that event.

For this year, he joins forces with Flor Garcia, event chairperson, as the co-chairperson. The fiesta will be held May 28-30.  Sagayaga says that the necessary documents have been submitted and the master plan drawn up.

“The thrill of doing something worthwhile and helping others come up with a finished product motivate me in getting involved with the community,” Sagayaga says. “It also gives me the feeling of contentment knowing that I was able to make a difference no matter how insignificant it maybe.”

Ryan hails from a small village in Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. He is the son of the late Marcelino Mendoza Sagayaga, a sakada, and Hilaria Macadangdang Sagayaga.

He immigrated to Hawaii in 1959. He continued his education at St. Anthony Boys School. With a desire to acquire new skills, he took automotive elective courses at Maui Technical School, now Maui College.

During that time, Hawaii’s construction industry was booming and he didn’t have a problem in getting a job.  He was a carpenter apprentice for four years with the Hawaii Carpenters Union Local 745.

Meanwhile, he went back to school and took other courses to further his technical skills. As a self-motivated person, he took the initiative in learning the nuts and bolts of the trade.  All these paid off and he became a journeymen carpenter. He then took a qualifying test and successfully upgraded his status to be a certified journeyman.

During his tenure with the building trades, he became a foreman and then a general foreman.

With hard work, determination, patience, and perseverance, he passed the exam as a licensed general contractor.

With this success, his dream of having his own business came into fruition when he put up Ryan Sagayaga, dba Humble Services in 1979. He had this business until 1997.

Thereafter, be became a freelance service provider.

“Even though I retired in 2009, I still extend my services to my friends and former clients,” Sagayaga said.

Ryan is happily married to Lilia who works at Fairmont Kealani Hotel as a PBX Operator. She loves to tend to her cactus garden.

The couple has two sons, Bryan and Tyron. Bryan is a technical staff sergeant of the Hawaii National Guard while Tyron is a cook at the Grand Wailea Resort.

Ryan’s community involvement dates back as early as 1972.     As a member of the Filipino Cultural Organization, he was instrumental in joining the first Barrio Fiesta. In that year, the organization’s booth garnered 2nd place and 3rd place in the display of cultural artifacts.

He was a president of the St. Theresa Filipino Catholic Club and the Maui Council of Filipino Catholic Club. All these involvements led him to receive various recognitions, trophies, and commendations.

Asked about his perceptions of a community, Ryan tells us, “I compare a community with a car. In order for a car to function properly, all the cylinders must be firing accordingly. Likewise, the members of a community must be in accord in performing a certain task.  As such, the community can be more productive.”

Through the years, Ryan has witnessed the increased involvement of the youth in the community.

He shares this piece of advice to them: “To the young ones today, use your skills and talents to follow and fulfill your dreams. Don’t throw a curb ball on your pathways. Believe in yourself and be partakers in building a vibrant and caring community.”

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