Carmen Ann Felipe Stuart
Lucy Peros | All photos courtesy Carmen Felipe Stuart
Most if not all of the Sakadas who came to Hawai‘i to work in the sugar and pineapple plantations had dreams of finding a better life for themselves and their families. Jorge Felipe was one of those Sakadas.
Carmen Ann Felipe Stuart is the oldest of seven Felipe children. She was born in Barrio Tuec, Camiling, Tarlac, Philippines. She was only three years old when Jorge Felipe, her father came to Hawai‘i in 1946, leaving her, her mom Alejandra, and three other siblings. In 1954, Alejandra, Carmen, Rudy, Janet and Eddie were able to follow their father to Hawai‘i on board the S.S. President Cleveland. Their Aunty Maxima and their cousin Virginia Felipe helped to process their passports to come to Maui.
Upon arriving on Maui, they settled in Keahua Camp, a camp that was located just below Pukalani. You still can see a road sign to Kahua Camp today on the way up country on Haleakala; Highway. There they met a lot of longtime friends. When the camp was closed, the Felipe family moved to Kahului, 6th Increment. The Felipe’s were blessed with three other children, Esther, Fely and Judy. All of the Felipe children graduated from St. Anthony High School. According to Carmen, her parents worked very hard and sacrificed a lot to give them good education.
After high school graduation in 1961, Carmen attended St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in Honolulu where she graduated as a Registered Nurse with honors in 1964. After graduation, she worked at Maui Memorial Hospital for six years. Then in 1970, she moved to California and worked at the Veterans Administration Hospital in the ICU/CCU Department for six years. After she left the V.A. Hospital, she started working for Kaiser Foundation Hospital in Martinez, California in the ICU Department. When this hospital closed in 1996, she transferred to Kaiser Hospital in Walnut Creek, California. Again, with her expertise, she worked in the ICU Department for several years until she retired in January in 2008.
Carmen met the love of her life John Stuart at her brother Rudy’s house when he was invited to Rudy’s wife’s birthday party. John and Rudy were co-workers at the Naval Weapon’s Station in Concord, California. John and Carmen had a Maui wedding at Christ The King Catholic Church on July 4, 1975. As the locals would say, they were Mauied.
John and Carmen are blessed with three wonderful children: Shannon, Christopher and Michelle. They are very proud of all of them.
Shannon attended Humboldt State University (HSU) where she received her Bachelor of Art, majoring in Psychology with a minor in writing and also a Masters in Counseling Psychology in 2004. She worked as Psychotherapist and adjunct Professor in Psychology at HSU until 2017, when she returned to School to pursue a Ph.D. in Counseling at the University of Iowa. Her husband Cairn (Cai) Maver also attended HSU and earned his Bachelor of Art, majoring in Studio Art, and post graduate education in Computer Science. He worked as an Academic Advisor at HSU and web designer. He is currently a Front-End Web designer at Leepfrog Technologies in Iowa. Shannon and Cai have two children, Ciaran, 8, and Finn, 7.
Christopher Stuart graduated from California State University in Hayward, California. He earned his Bachelor of Science majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Math. Chris operates as the system engineer for household computers. He helps his family a lot in troubleshooting their computer and television devices.
Michelle received her Masters Degree in Music Performance and Education at the University of Oregon in Eugene. She also graduated from the Royal College of Music in London in Performance Science. She now teaches Music in the Dublin Unified School District. She is a Professional Freelance French Horn Player. She also teaches piano to young students. Michelle has a thirteen-year old son, Ezekiel.
As a retiree, Carmen spends a lot of time working at home helping her family. She enjoys cooking, baking and working outdoors. She loves going to prayer novenas at her friends’ house. All of the Felipe siblings live in California except Janet who lives on O‘ahu.
The following are some highlights on Carmen’s siblings: Rudy Felipe is a retired Electrical Engineer. He and his wife Meda do a lot of traveling. They love to cruise with Crystal Cruise Lines. They also enjoy ballroom dancing. They are members of a dance club in the East Bay of San Francisco, “The Diablo Diggers.” They come to Maui often to spend time in their condominiums in the Wailea area.
Janet Simpliciano is a retired Nurse. She worked at Kapi‘olani Children’s Hospital in Honolulu for a few years, then transferred to Kaiser Medical Center on O‘ahu, where she worked for eighteen years. She enjoys babysitting, ballroom dancing, Hot Hula dancing and traveling with husband Joseph Simpliciano, Sr. They have three children: Joey Simpliciano, Nancy Quinn and Jeffrey Simpliciano. Joey and his wife Laurie have three children: Jayden, Jaycie and Jayslin. Nancy has a son, Dylan Quinn. Jeffrey and his wife Traci have a daughter named Kynzie Sachico Simpliciano.
Edward (Eddie) Felipe is a retired Engineer. He says that he enjoys watching his grandkids, playing golf and working out at the gym weekly and travel annually.
Esther is married to Ron Hart and they have two children Shaun and Heidi. She is retired after working thirty-three years in Silicon Valley and currently lives in Northern California. They are enjoying retirement life and spend as much of time traveling all over the world and the continental USA. In addition to traveling, Esther likes to garden and play golf with Ron. She said she is not very good at golf but enjoys the exercise of walking and being outdoors. They are proud of their two kids, Shaun and Heidi, who are working for High Tech companies and doing well. One lives in New York and the other lives in England, so it’s always fun to visit them in NYC and London.
Fely had this to say about herself. “As the second youngest, I still work in high technology as a Sales and Marketing Manager for one of the largest memory supplies based in Taiwan. My job allows me to travel the world doing what I love. My husband Kevin Krewell is a technology analyst and owns his own business. We live in the heart of Silicon Valley, Campbell, California, not too far from Rudy, Carmen and Judy. I have two sons, Brett and Zachary Lieberman and a daughter-in-law, Tiffany, Brett’s wife. We all work for High Tech companies. Kevin and I love taking European vacations because we love history, art, food, wine and learning different cultures. My passion for wine has led me to achieving a Certified Sommelier level 2. I plan to apply my wine knowledge to my next ‘fun’ part-time career after high tech.”
Judy Felipe, youngest of the girls, works at a Government Research and Development Institution for the past few years. She volunteers and helps at her church and with community events. She enjoys her true passion playing musical instruments, art, and floral design. She was motivated by her Dad being honored as a Sakada which inspired her to a write a children’s book of her relationship with her father and being a daughter of a plantation worker.
Carmen shared this poignant statement from her Dad: “When we were young and having life difficulties, my father would comfort us by saying, ‘Don’t worry. Just trust God. God always knows our problems, and He will help us.’ This thought inspired me and strengthened my great faith in God. Also, my parents always taught us to be kind and compassionate to other people. Perhaps, that’s the reason why I became a nurse to help others especially the sick and their families. I am proud of my Nursing Profession. I thank God for all the blessings He has given me and my family throughout the years.”
As mentioned by Carmen, her father Jorge Felipe was one of the 6,000-plus Filipinos recruited by the Hawai‘i Sugar Planters Association shortly after World War II to work as Sakadas (contract laborers) in the plantations of Hawai‘i.
This writer had the privilege to interview Jorge and Alejandra Felipe when they were still living. Therefore, all of the information that is included in this portion were shared by them in person.
Jorge Felipe said “The plantation companies recruited us the Sakadas because they know that we were hard and capable field workers. Most of us were farmers in the Philippines and most of us received only elementary education. The educated ones were not recruited because they would not be able to endure the back-breaking field work offered in Hawai‘i.”
According to Jorge Felipe, the voyage to Hawai‘i on the ship S.S. Maunawili was a challenging journey. He said the fresh water on board the ship was only for drinking purposes. They used the ocean water to take a bath with. They only ate once a day and that was lunch. They slept in a sleeping quarter, a community cabin where five bunk beds were stacked on top of each other to accommodate all of them. If the person on the top got seasick, all of the men below him would get affected.
When Jorge arrived on Maui, he worked for Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company until his retirement on July 1, 1982 while Alejandra worked at the Maui Land and Pineapple Company and at the Reynolds Food Company until she retired in February 1982.
In June 25, 1982, Mr. and Mrs. Jorge Felipe were chosen by the Philippine Cultural Foundations of Hawai‘i together with the Philippine Consulate in Honolulu as Filipino Parents of the Year. They were very active members of the Kahului Filipino Community Association and the Saranay Maui.
When Mr. Felipe was younger, he enjoyed fishing. He also enjoyed playing the violin, guitar, bass, accordion, and the kutibeng (a five-string instrument larger than an ukulele). In fact, he and four other Sakadas formed a band. He played the violin. They became so popular that they were asked to play music at Filipino parties and other functions.
A memorable advice that Jorge Felipe shared with this writer about raising children was “Love your children a lot and let them know that you love them all the time. You have to encourage them in whatever they decide to do. Listen to them and try to understand them. Lastly, you have to make them feel good about themselves. Too much talk talk, grumbling and yelling at them are no good.”
Jorge and Alejandra Felipe emphasized that God’s blessings really helped them a lot especially in raising so many children.
As a 1946 Sakada, Jorge and Alejandra Felipe desired and dreamed for a better life for them and their children. That dream turned into vision and that vision turned into a reality. Today, their children and their children’s children are now successful in their chosen paths. Such model parents!
Lucy Peros is a retired school teacher, having taught at St. Anthony Grade School and Waihe‘e Elementary School. Both of her parents, Elpidio Cachero Cabalo (a 1946 Sakada) and Alejandra Cabudoy Cabalo of Hali‘imaile worked for Maui Land and Pine Company. Lucy now enjoys retirement and has time to join other seniors in the Enhance Fitness Program under the Department of Aging three times a week. She also attends the line dancing class and other activities at Kaunoa and joins other Waihe‘e School retirees when help is needed at the school. Lucy also devotes some of her time to activities at Christ The King Catholic Church. She enjoys writing and reading in her spare time.