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The four surviving sakadas who were honored at the 3rd Sakada Day celebration on 20 December 2017 were: (Seated L-R): FLaviana Matute, Fermin Baguio, Tomas Agarpao (represented by son, Franklin) and Fred Camero, Sr. Behind them are (from L-R): Consul General Gina A. Jamoralin, Governor David Ige and Mr. Edwin Hawkins, Executive Director for Economic Development. City and County of Honolulu, representing Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

(21 December 2017, Honolulu, Hawaii) Four surviving sakadas (plantation workers) whose ages range between 92 and 104 were honored at the 3rd Sakada Day celebration held at the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu on 20 December 2017.

The celebration honored the sakadas, namely Tomas Agarpao Fermin Baguio, Fred Camero, Flaviana Matute, who came to Hawaii to work in the sugar and pineapple industries and eventually paved the way for Filipino migration to Hawaii. Of the four sakadas, Mr. Agarpao was unable to come as he was rushed to the hospital the previous day. His son, Franklin Agarpao, came on his behalf.

The 3rd Sakada Day celebration, which was also held in commemoration of the 1101h year since the arrival of the first 15 sakadas to Hawaii on 20 December 1906 paid tribute to the Filipino migration that was started by the sakadas who came to Hawaii to work in medical, hospitality, tourism, construction, and other service professions.

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. On 20 December 2015, the inaugural Sakada Day celebration was held at the Hawaii State Capitol. The following year, the Filipino American community in Hawaii held the 2nd Sakada Day on 20 December 2016 at the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu, Hawaii.

Attendees of the 3rd Sakada Day celebration include Hawaii State Officials led by Hawaii Governor David Ige and First Lady Mrs. Dawn Ige; Hawaii state legislators such as Senators Donna Mercado Kim and Will Espero, Representatives Romy Cachola, Ty Cullen, Gene Ward, Henry Aquino and Matthew LoPresti; Marshall Islands Consul General Neijon Edwards, members of the Filipino American community and the media.

In her remarks, Philippine Consul General Jamoralin expressed her appreciation to Hawaii Governor David Ige and the Hawaii State Legislature for unanimously supporting the signing of the Sakada Bill. She also mentioned that this year’s Sakada Day celebration was made more meaningful with the visit of Governor and Mrs. Ige to the Sakada Centennial Memorial at Port Salomague, Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, on 18 October 2017 during the Goodwill and Trade Mission to the Philippines.

She also remarked that as the sakadas over the years grew in number and have spread out to the various islands of Hawaii, the Sakada Day celebrations have become a statewide activity. The Filipino community in the Big Island, Maui and Lanai, for example have their own Sakada Day celebration every year to pay tribute to the sakadas and their legacy.

Governor Ige, in his remarks, expressed appreciation to the sakadas and the Filipinos, noting that they form the backbone of Hawaii’s economy and culture. Filipinos, he said, who make up the largest ethnic group in the state, are at the heart of Hawaii’s tourism and health industries, bringing with them the Filipino values of family, hard work and perseverance, which contribute to Hawaii’s development.

To honor the 4 living sakadas, certificates were given to each sakada by the Philippine Consulate General, the Government of the State of Hawaii, the Offices of US Representative Tulsi Gabbard and Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

US Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono and US Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa also sent their congratulatory messages for the occasion.

On behalf of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell, Mr. Edwin Hawkins, Executive Director on Economic Development presented a proclamation signed by Mayor Caldwell declaring 20 December 2017 as Sakada Day.

Council Chair Emeritus Ernie Martin of the City and County of Honolulu also presented to Consul General Jamoralin a certificate honoring and recognizing the 3rd Sakada Day in Honolulu.

To depict the lives of the sakadas, Gumil Oahu, or the Ilocano Writer’s Association on the island, performed a zarzuela in Ilocano, entitled “Hawayano”. A special video presentation was also shown to highlight the stories of the sakadas in Hawaii.

Mr. Tyler dos Santos-Tam, a fifth generation Sakada descendant and Hawaii’s 2017 delegate to the annual Filipino American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPRO) also said a few words on what it means to be a sakada descendant for today’s Filipino American youth.

Atty. Donnie Juan, Executive Director of the Filipino Community Center closed the program with a speech on the Filipino community’s relentless efforts to bring the annual Sakada Day celebrations possible. A rendition of an original piece, “The Sakada Song” by Marie Tedios concluded the celebration.

The Sakada Day celebration was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu and the major Filipino community organizations including the Oahu Filipino Community Council (OFCC), Congress of Visayan Organizations (COVO), the Filipino Community Center, the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii (FCCH), Aklan Cultural Society, Philippine Press Club of Hawaii, the Knights of Rizal (KOR) Hawaii Chapter, the Filipino Community Center and other sponsors. (END).