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Press Release

(21 December 2015, Honolulu, Hawaii) Before an audience of nearly 350 individuals comprising of US and Philippine government officials, Hawaii legislators, military officials and members of the Filipino community in Hawaii, fourteen (14) living sakadas, who were in their late 80s to 90’s, were honored during the inaugural Sakada Day Celebration held at the Hawaii State Capitol on 20 December 2015, 109 years after the first arrival of sakadas, or plantation workers, in Hawaii in 1946.

House Bill 604, “Relating to Sakada Day” was signed on 9 April 2015 by Hawaii Governor David Ige. The said bill, which designates December 20 of every year as “Sakada Day”, recognizes and honors the pioneering achievements and courage of the first Filipino sakadas and their contributions to the history and development of Hawaii. An enactment ceremony of H.B. 604’s signing was held on 22 May 2015.

Hawaii Vice Speaker John Mizuno authored HB 604 in 2014 with inputs from Dr. Belinda Aquino, Professor Emeritus of the University of Hawaii, at the initiative of Philippine Consul General to Honolulu Gina A. Jamoralin who first suggested the idea of a special “Sakada Day” in Hawaii to Hawaii House Speaker Joseph Souki. The said bill received unanimous support from both the Hawaii State Senate and House of Representatives which led to its signing into a bill.

The Sakada Day celebration was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu and the major Filipino community organizations Congress of Visayan Organizations (COVO), Philippine Celebrations Coordinating Committee of Hawaii (PCCCH), Oahu Filipino Community Council (OFCC), United Filipino Council of Hawaii (UFCH), the Filipino Community Center, the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii (FCCH) and the Knights of Rizal (KOR) Hawaii Chapter and other sponsors.

During the Sakada Day celebration, Consul General Jamoralin, Hawaii Governor David Ige, US Representative Tulsi Gabbard, Representative Eric Singson of the 2nd District Ilocos Sur gave remarks expounding the significance of the occasion and highlighting the contributions of the sakadas to a modern, multicultural and multi-ethnic Hawaii society.

An unveiling and ceremonial turnover of a painting entitled “First Migrants” by celebrated Philippine National Artist for Visual Arts Benedicto “Bencab” Cabrera also took place during the program. Bencab donated his art work to the Philippine Government through the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu which will serve as the caretaker of the special work of art.

Ms. Emme Tomimbang, a multi-awarded broadcast journalist, herself a sakada descendant,showed excerpts of her film “Aloha with Mabuhay” which described the history of sakada migration in Hawaii.

To honor of the living sakadas, certificates were given to each sakada by the Philippine Consulate General, the Government of the State of Hawaii, the Offices of US Senators Brian Schatz Mazie Hirono and Representative Gabbard, the Hawaii Legislature, the Office of the Mayor of Honolulu and City Council of Honolulu. In addition, the descendants of sakadas, who attended the program were also recognized.

The 110th celebration of the arrival of sakadas in Hawaii is being planned for 20 December 2016. END.

Photo credits: Gabe de Liso

Hawaii Governor David and Mrs. Dawn Ige pose with the living sakadas and representatives.

Philippine National Artist Benedicto "BenCab" Cabrera (extreme right) donates a special sakada painting called "First Migrants" to commemorate the occasion. Joining him on stage are Vice Speaker of the House John Mizuno (center) and Philippine Consul General Gina A. Jamoralin.

US Representative Tulsi Gabbard gives her remarks during the event.

Consul General Jamoralin presents a certificate a recognition to one of the sakada honorees.