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Philippine Consul General to Hawaii, Gina Jamoralin joins Filipino-American community in Honoka’a Town in Big Island, Hawaii as they celebrate the 2nd Sakada Day celebration in Big Island on 18 December 2016. The Sakada Day commemorates the legacy of the 125,000 Filipino workers (“sakadas”) who arrived in Hawaii between 1906-1946  who were recruited by the Hawai’i Sugar Planters Association (HPSA) to work in Hawaii’s sugar and pineapple plantations. The Sakada Day celebration, now on its 2nd year, was made possible by Hawaii  House Bill 604 passed by the Hawaii State legislature in 2015 and  signed into law  by Governor David Ige on April 9, 2015 proclaiming December 20th each year to be Sakada Day in the State of Hawaii. The first  fifteen (15) Filipino sakadas recruited by HPSA,  sailed  from Port Salomague in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur and after almost a year of voyage over rough seas  aboard the  SS Doric, arrived in Honolulu on December 20, 1906 and were assigned in Ola’a (Keaau) sugar plantation  in  Hawaii’ Islands. By the mid-1920s  Filipino sugar workers formed more than half of the foreign workers in Hawaii. The last 6000 Filipino sakadas arrived in 1946  and dispersed throughout the islands with many assigned to plantations  North Hilo to Honoka’a in Hawaii  Islands.

The Honoka’a Sakada Day celebration  was organized by Hawai’i Island Sakada Day Committee, Hamakua Filipino Centennial Committee and the North Hawai’i Education and Research Center of the University of Hawaii –Hilo.

Three (3) surviving original sakadas who belonged to the last batch of sakadas who arrived in 1946 , now in their 90s,  attended the celebration and were given certificates of recognition by the Mayor of Big Islands, Mr. Harry Kim, who also graced the event. These surviving sakadas were Mr. Bernardo Abella, Mr. Pedro Dominguez and Mr. Marcelino Querubin.

Consul General Jamoralin delivered her speech encouraging  the present and future generations of Filipinos in Hawaii to share the story of the early Filipino  sakadas of Hawaii    as a story of survival,  sacrifice and pioneering spirit that  that spurred the succeeding waves of Filipino migration to Hawaii thereafter  creating the largest ethnic group in Hawaii state.

The celebration was capped by a Philippine cultural presentation by the Hilo Visayan Club, Philippine cultural and sakada exhibit by FilAm Hawaii-based  designer Iris Gil Viacrusis  and a luncheon consisting  of lechon and other Filipino dishes and desserts. END