Alfredo G. Evangelista
Editor’s Note: Many of The Fil-Am Voice’s staff have connections to Sakadas and the plantations. Although we generally hate to be the subject of the articles/columns, this is a third in a series focusing on the Fil-Am Voice’s staff’s Sakada offsprings.
Lucy Peros | All Photos courtesy Alfredo Evangelista
Our featuring of The Fil-Am Voice’s staff who are offspring of Sakadas is a good way of getting to know us who write for your monthly reading enjoyment. We hope you enjoy reading our paper as much as we enjoy writing for you.
This month’s featured Sakada Offspring is an individual who has been involved in Maui’s Filipino community since he was a youngster. His family name is a household name here on Maui. He is none other than our Fil-Am Voice Assistant Editor/Co-Publisher, Atty. Alfredo Evangelista.
Alfredo was born on May 19, 1958 in Wailuku, Maui, Hawai‘i. He is married to the former Basilia Tumacder Idica. His children are Christian Allen Evangelista and Danielle Anne Evangelista. His step children are Brandon Cacayorin, Bradley Cacayorin, and Brittany Cacayorin.
Alfredo’s father Elias Acang Evangelista was from Sungadang, Paoay, Ilocos Norte, Philippines while his mother Catalina Gonzales Evangelista is from San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines. Elias arrived on Maui on April 26, 1946. He used to dream of coming to Hawai‘i to make a better life for his young family. Elias’ father, Cirilo Evangelista came to Maui in 1927 when Elias was only nine years old.
Cirilo’s wife Petra was pregnant with Elias’ brother, Pascual. Cirilo worked for H.C.&S. in Pu‘unene until he moved to the Big Island to work for Puna Sugar. Cirilo returned to the Philippines in November 1937 and would tell Elias stories about Hawai‘i and that Maui had good weather just like Paoay.
“Growing up, we used to ask my Dad why he came to Maui and he would repeat the story about his Dad,” said Alfredo. “But it never really struck me that my grandfather Cirilo actually was a Sakada until 2011 when I was at the Alexander & Baldwin Sugar museum in Pu‘unene and I found my grandfather’s plantation record. That was a chicken skin moment for me.”
In Paoay, Elias was an average student so when the family needed him to work in the rice fields, he stopped going to school after the third grade. Elias enjoyed swimming with his carabao in the famous Paoay Lake. However, when World War II began, Elias became a guerilla fighter, engaging in combat against the Japanese in the Paoay hills.
After the war, the Hawai‘i Sugar Planters Association was recruiting young single males to work in the plantation fields. Elias’ first cousin, Vivencio Acang was chosen but he got cold feet and changed his mind. Elias decided to come to Hawai‘i in his cousin’s place, leaving his wife Catalina and son Rogelio, who was only two years old. Together with his cousins, Antonio Acang and Juan Espirito (who also left their wives and children), Elias went to Port Salomague in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur to board the S.S. Maunawili on their way to Hawai‘i.
Elias was assigned to H.C.&S. doing a variety of jobs earning very minimal wages as low as 89 cents an hour. After working for 36 years with H.C.&S., Elias took early retirement in 1982. At that time, he was earning $7.97 per hour. “I didn’t realize how hard my Dad worked and for a very low salary,” said Alfredo “until I earned my first bonus with my first job out of law school.”
After becoming a U.S. citizen, Elias petitioned Catalina and Rogelio to come and join him in Hawai‘i in 1953. Their three younger children, Gloria, Estrelita, and Alfredo were born on Maui. The Evangelista family lived in Camp Four in Pu‘unene, moved to Paukukalo in 1960, and in 1970, they moved to South Papa Avenue in Kahului (the 11th increment). “Because I was two when we moved from the plantation camp, I have no recollection of how it was to live in Pu‘unene” recalls Alfredo.
“But I remember spending a lot of time visiting with my parents’ friends as well as going to a lot of functions at the old Pu‘unene Filipino Club House. My favorite recollection is going house to house with Mom in search of someone who would give us jackfruit from their tree.”
Elias and Catalina were very active in the Filipino Community, participating in many activities/festivities especially with the United Sons and Daughters of the Ilocano Regions (USDIR) under the leadership of the late Cirilo Sinfuego and the Paoay Currimao Hawai‘i-Maui organization. They were also members of the Lucio Nefulda Filipino Folk Dance Troupe. “I remember how they used to practice at our garage in Paukukalo,” recalls Alfredo. “Sometimes they would argue about the steps or scold those who couldn’t get it right!”
Alfredo also remembers his Dad’s favorite sayings while he was growing up. His Dad said: “Lucky I came Hawai‘i” and “Study hard so you don’t have to work in the fields like me.” Alfredo truly lived his Dad’s sayings to heart!
Alfredo graduated from Maui High School in 1976. He was Co-Captain of the Debate Team, Vice President of the Speech Team and Secretary of the National Forensic League—the honor society for debate and speech. During high school, he was active in his church, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, where he was president of the youth group. Alfredo was also a member of the Board of Directors for the Maui Filipino Community Council (MFCC). He received scholarships from MFCC, USDIR, and the Kahului Filipino Community Association (KFCA).
After high school, Alfredo enrolled at Ripon College in Ripon, Wisconsin. “It’s a little crazy story how I ended at Ripon College,” explains Alfredo. “I sent my test scores to the University of Southern California (USC) and applied to a few smaller schools in the Midwest and the West Coast. I got accepted at the small schools early in the year and later received a letter from USC that my test scores were good enough to admit me but they needed me to complete an application. By that time, I had really bad ‘senioritis’ and based on my speech teacher’s recommendation—she went to a smaller school in the Midwest—I decided to go to Ripon.”
Alfredo tells the story of how far Wisconsin was, how afraid he was when there was a tornado watch in August and no one seemed to care, and how snow fell during the first week of October. “I used to tell folks that when I came back from the cafeteria during Thanksgiving, I saw everyone gathered around the TV set watching a USC football game and I saw the USC song girls and said I would transfer there,” Alfredo says with a laugh. “But the real reason was I missed my girlfriend and wanted to be closer to home. So I applied for a transfer and got accepted at USC.”
Three years later, Alfredo received his Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, Political Science from USC in 1980. While at USC, he was on the Dean’s List and a member of the Alpha Mu Gamma and Blackstonians—honor societies for Foreign Languages and Pre-Law, respectively. He was also selected to participate in USC’s prestigious Washington, D.C. semester during which Alfredo interned at the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Office of Special Litigation.
During college, Alfredo also received several scholarships, including the Elmer Cravalho scholarship for children of Sakadas. “That was the first time I learned my Dad came under his cousin’s name,” recalls Alfredo. “Mayor Cravalho called us in and told us I couldn’t be awarded the scholarship because my Dad was not listed as a Sakada. My Dad had to prove that he came under his cousin Vivencio’s name and I received the $1,000 scholarship.”
After college, Alfredo enrolled at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law. “When people hear I went to both USC and UCLA which are intense rivals, they wonder why,” says Alfredo. “I tell them it was because UCLA guaranteed me a scholarship during all three years of law school but USC had requirements of a certain grade point average or I would lose my scholarship. But all of my allegiances are to USC.”
During his last year of law school, Alfredo spent a semester in Honolulu on an externship with the late Benjamin Menor, the first Filipino Associate Justice of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court. After earning his Juris Doctor from UCLA in 1983, Alfredo was admitted to practice law in Hawai‘i. He is also admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court (1988), and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (1989).
Alfredo joined the Schutter Pavey Cayetano law firm (1983–1988). After five years, Earl Anzai, Harriette Holt and Alfredo formed Anzai Holt & Evangelista.
In 1994, Alfredo joined Reynaldo Graulty and Pablo Quiban to form Graulty, Evangelista & Quiban. Alfredo was a partner with Quiban until 2006, when he became a solo law practitioner: Law Offices of Alfredo Evangelista, A Limited Liability Law Company. His areas of practice include estate planning, business formation and counseling, nonprofit corporations, and civil litigation. Since 2010, Alfredo’s law office has been at 24 Central Avenue in Wailuku but he still travels to O‘ahu to service some longtime clients.
Besides being very busy with his law practice, Alfredo still finds the time to be involved in the community and church. When he practiced on O‘ahu for twenty-seven years, he was active with the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i (serving as president in 1994), the O‘ahu Filipino Community Council (serving as Legal Counsel from 1992–2012), the Filipino Community Center, Inc. (serving as Legal Counsel from 1995–2004), and the Episcopal Diocese of Hawai‘i, among others.
Alfredo returned home to Maui in 2010. “It was the right time for me to come home,” he explains. “My Mom was getting older, my brother Rogelio suffered a stroke in 2009, and I also came home to marry my high school sweetheart Basilia.”
Alfredo quickly immersed himself again at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church and the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce. He did the paperwork to establish the Maui Filipino Chamber Foundation and created the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival, held during the month of October to celebrate Filipino-American History Month. “For me, Alfredo’s clarity about priorities makes decisions easy,” said Elizabeth Ayson, who was president of the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce when the Foundation and the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival were established. “His brand of leadership benefits the communities he touches. Thank you, Alfredo!”
Alfredo also received several awards: Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce Gintong Pamana Leadership Award (2014), Maui Filipino Community Council Outstanding Citizen Award (2014), United Filipino Council of Hawai‘i Progress Award in Law and Jurisprudence (2015), and Dance International Production Leadership in Philippine Culture and the Arts (2015). He also received the Outstanding Member Award for the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, and 2006.
At present, he is very instrumental in helping with the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the Annual Barrio Fiesta.
Alfredo became involved with the Barrio Fiesta from an early age. He attended the first Barrio Fiesta in 1970. In 1973, he became the president of the Good Shepherd Church Filipino Youth Choir, so he became more involved by selling Filipino goodies. In 1976, the youth started selling chow fun as a means of fund raising to help the youth group to go to the mainland to perform. Since then, their chow fun became one of their signature dishes at their concession booth and became their best seller every year. The youth also participated in the Filipino Folk Dancing contest under the direction of Aggie Cabebe, a Master Filipino Dance Instructor. They won several first places.
While Alfredo was away for school and on O‘ahu, he rarely came home to attend the Barrio Fiesta. But he came back in 2009, the year the Barrio Fiesta was dedicated to the late Nancy Andres, who created the Barrio Fiesta. “Manang Nancy was a very instrumental part of my life,” explains Alfredo. “She was the second Mom to all of us Good Shepherd youth and she taught us how important it was to be involved in the Filipino community, even at a very young age. If it wasn’t for her getting Ninang Cabebe to teach us Filipino folk dances, I would not have learned about my parents’ culture and become active in the Filipino community. Manang Nancy and Ninang Cabebe are the reasons why I’ve been so involved in the Filipino community.”
“I appreciate how seriously Alfredo honors his Filipino cultural heritage and respects his local plantation roots,” said State Senator Gilbert Keith-Agaran, who served as Alfredo’s best man. “It’s why he takes such joy in perpetuating and sharing Filipino folk dances that he learned as a youth, and why he’s such an active member and leader in so many community and cultural activities. He appreciates and takes seriously the journey that brought his parents to Hawai‘i and the sacrifices and hard work that they experienced in order to give him and his siblings all the opportunities they have enjoyed. It’s why he feels obligated to pass that knowledge on. I also suspect that he has part-ownership in many of the Filipino restaurants on Maui because he always seems to be eating at one of them daily.”
After the Barrio Fiesta moved to Binhi at Ani in 2016, Alfredo decided it was important to make the Barrio Fiesta more cultural and proposed to the Binhi board to create The Barrio Fiesta Experience featuring cultural villages and a replica Bahay Kubo in the hall while moving the entertainment outside near the food booths. “It was kind of disjointed to have the entertainment in the hall while the food booths were outside,” Alfredo explained. “And we needed to return to sharing the culture by creating these cultural villages, which was lost when the Barrio Fiesta moved to Binhi.”
“I enjoy working along side with Alfredo,” said Nora Cabanilla-Takushi, president of the Binhi at Ani. “His assistance to willingly help to coordinate The Barrio Fiesta Experience as well as his time lines and detailed planning… other times he surprised me with his candid ideas that he will email or test late at night LOL (this is true dedication). Alfredo is orderly not to mention very punctual when it comes to our monthly meetings. Attorney Alfredo, it is a privilege to be working with you. Salamat for all that you do to make this Barrio Fiesta the ultimate experience for our community. Dios ti agngina, Attorney.”
After The Barrio Fiesta Experience was started in 2017, Alfredo became more involved with the program and has worked to create more contests (with prizes up to $500). He has also taken the responsibility of coordinating, along with Ryan Sagayaga, the Veteran’s Memorial Service which his late brother Rogelio started ten years ago. “I think that’s one part of the Barrio Fiesta that has a lot more meaning to me,” explains Alfredo. “When my brother was alive, I only helped him with typing the paper work and carrying some of the flags. When he passed away in 2013, I took it upon myself to work with Ryan to make sure we continue to honor the Veterans during the Barrio Fiesta, which is held during Memorial Day.”
When he has time for pleasure, Alfredo loves to barbecue and host gatherings (including an occasional kamayan) for family and friends. A kamayan is a way of serving, food spread on the table and everyone eats with their clean hands using no utensils or plates. It’s really fun. Try it with your family and friends sometime.
Alfredo expresses his gratitude to his Mom and Dad for their sacrifices. “My Mom cooked the best cancanen on Maui. My parents would sell Mom’s cancanen and a bunch of vegetables at the biagan—the chicken fights. They would also run the food concession at the Pu‘unene Filipino Clubhouse when USDIR held their dances for the Miss Philippines contests as part of the Rizal Day celebration. Growing up, my weekends were spent grating coconuts, wiping banana leaves, and wiping tomatoes to sell. But my parents’ hard work paid off because they were able to send me to college and law school on the mainland, for which I am forever grateful. Yes, I am lucky that my Dad came to Hawai‘i and yes, I studied hard so I didn’t have to work in the fields like him.”
Lucy Peros is a retired school teacher. She taught at St. Anthony Grade School and Waihe‘e Elementary School. Both her parents, Elpidio Cabalo and Alejandra Cabalo of Hali‘imaile worked for Maui Land and Pine Company. Her Dad was a 1946 Sakada. She is now enjoying retirement. She now has time to join the other seniors at the Enhance Fitness Program under the Department of Aging three times a week, attend the line dancing class and other activities at Kaunoa, and joins the 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.