Aug 11, 2011

Sakada Feature: GEORGE GUERRERO, Life's Warrior from Bacarra

George and Mary Guerrero

By Lucy Peros

Sakada Corner
Columnist/Fil-Am Observer August 2011 Issue
Sakada Feature, Page 8

The 1920s wave of Ilokano workers coming to Hawaii was of a different breed.

Warrior of life all, they came armed with dreams, lots of them, of the good life they hardly knew from their birthplaces.

One of those men was George Guerrero. Born on November 17, 1901 in Bacarra and lived there until he was 25, he sailed for Hawaii from Port Salomague in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, in 1926.

George came with his two brothers; in 1928, another brother and a sister followed him to Hawaii.

His boat landed on Kauai.  Upon arrival there, he worked in one of the sugarcane plantations for a year. From there, he moved to Maui and worked at the HC&S. He cut grass and loaded sugarcane stalks into trucks. The backbreaking work paid him a dollar a day.

When Nagatani Store at Waikapu opened a position for a sales clerk, he applied for that position and was taken in. He enjoyed that work immensely, and delighted in delivering groceries to people’s homes.

Nagatani closed shop after a few year, and George went back to work fro HC&S as a laborer/irrigator. By 1941, he learned to drive tractors, and was a driver for a time until he moved to drive a school bus. In 1944, he worked for Camp 5 Plantation Store which at the end of  Spanish B Camp in Puunene.  In those days, everything you bought was on credit.  They usually take it out from your paycheck.  Sometimes very little amount of money is left on payday. The jobs that George undertook were blessings in disguise.  They became the stepping stones for George to be an entrepreneur.  He was one of the first Filipino businessmen here on Maui.

In 1950, George decided to purchase a land to build a home and a store. This was located at the end of Market Street in Happy Valley across the former T. K. Supermarket. Upstairs became the family’s living quarters and the bottom floor was the store.  It was spacious so George divided it into two sections. One section was the grocery store and the other became a rental space.  Crispulo Evangelista’s Tailoring occupied the space. At one time, Naomi’s Beauty Salon also occupied it at one time.

George retired in 1970 and the family moved to Kahului. In 1993, he passed on to another life.

A gregarious person, he was a member, and an officer, of a number of organizations such as Maui Filipino Community Association, Maui Filipino Catholic Club, and the Maui Merchants Association.

He enjoyed going deer hunting and owned a collection of guns that were kept safely from anyone especially his children. But his main love was the game of bowling, which he immensely enjoyed for thirty years.

George married the former Maria “Mary” Acoba Cabacungan, a Maui-born former beauty queen, and daughter to Ruperto and Dionicia Cabacungan. Mary worked at, and retired from, the St. Anthony School Cafeteria.
Back L-R: Patrick Guerrero, Benjamin Guerrero, Philip Guerrero; Front L-R: Ellena Borling and Rosaline Sagucio

Mary and George were blessed with five children.  Their first child is Phillip, now deceased, and married to Felisa Cacal by whom they have four children and nine grandchildren.

The second child  is Rosaline, or Saling, and married to Lolito Sagucio by whom they have three children and four grandchildren.

Benjamin, the third, now deceased, was married to Olga Patricia Buen by whom they had four children.  One of who is Na Hoku Award Winner Recording Artist Kumu Hula Uluwehi Guerrero of Halau Hula Kauluokala.  Benjamin was also married to Joii Patricia Harrington; there was no child from that union.

Their fourth child is Ellena, who was married to Librato Borling, now deceased. They have three children and six grandchildren.  Ellena is a very active member of Christ The King Church. 

Patrick, the youngest of the children, was married to Carol Marie, now deceased. They have a child and four grandchildren.

 Ellena Borling had these heartwarming words about her father:
“My dad was very hardworking and conscientious.  He loved his children and grandchildren very much.  He was a very thrifty person and always advised us to save.  He never borrowed money.  He advised us to love and care for our children and for one another.  He taught us to have good work ethics, set goals for ourselves and shoot to reach that goal.  He taught us the importance of education.  We are very grateful for all of the advices that dad shared with us.  He had a very generous heart.  He would have been 110 years old this year.”

Kumu Uluwehi Guerrero also had these kind words to say about his grandfather:  “My grandfather George worked hard all his life to provide and care for his family. He never took anything for granted. Each time he had the chance, he would always remind me to be honest and be dedicated to what I believe in.”
Thank you Ellena and Kumu Uluwehi for sharing with us your story about your dad and grandfather.

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