Filipinos in Hawaii

10 11 2009

   

              Just the other day I was talking to my dad and mom on the phone.  I had the usual conversation on how I was doing and of school.  When I started to tell them about my Philippines studies class, my dad told me about my great-grandpa, who was one of the first 15 “sakadas” in Hawaii.  I remember him telling me this before, but it never crossed my mind on how important my great-grandpa is in the Filipino history.  It was on December 20, 1906 that my great-grandpa arrived in Hawaii with 14 other young men to become the first Filipino plantation laborers.  These young men were responsible for the growth of the plantation industry in Hawaii, as well as the success in the labor movement at that time.  A year after, 150 more laborers were sent to the islands to work on the plantation fields.  A typical day for the laborers would be getting up early to be transported to the cane fields to plant, fertilize, and harvest the sugar canes at 6am.  They would have a lunch break in between, many carrying their food in a tin can.  After lunch then they would resume in the field.  Not only was it blazing under the sun, many of the labors worked so rigorously that many of them got hurt.  For instance, many cane carriers developed hunched backs as a result of hauling large loads of sugarcane stalks to the trucks.  The Filipino plantation laborers worked really hard to make a living, not knowing that their hard work impacted the history of Filipino migration to the United States.  That’s why I am proud to say that my great-grandpa was a part of the first 15 sadakas that pioneered plantation work in Hawaii, who will forever be acknowledged and appreciated by many. 

-April T.

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