Precila Paet Peros
Lucy Peros | All photos courtesy Paet Peros ‘Ohana
There’s an extremely popular Chinese proverb: “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.”
The parents of this month’s featured Sakada Offspring, Precila Paet Peros, took this proverb to heart when they started their big family of thirteen children!
Precila Paet Peros is the daughter of the late Lucia and Quirino Paet, originally from Bantay, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. She was born on January 16, 1946 in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. She came to Hawai‘i when she was just four months old with her mother Lucia, together with her Aunty Teresita (five years old) and her brother James (three years old). Brave Lucia, with three babies in tow, boarded the S.S. Marine Falcon from Port Salomague in Cabugao, Philippines. The journey to Hawai‘i was a rough fourteen-day journey because of the rough seas. Lucia was seasick most of the time during their journey but she had to be strong to take care of her babies. Lucia considered Tessie as one of her biological children since she took care of her from an early age.
At school age, Precila attended Pu‘unēnē School, St. Anthony High School and Kapi‘olani Community College. She is a retired Licensed Practical Nurse. She was a nurse at Dr. Michael Savona’s clinic.
Precila is married to James “Jimmy” Peros, a retired Postal Worker. They have two children, Jason Peros and Melissa Peros Perez.
Jason graduated from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in Reno, Nevada with a degree in Travel and Hotel Management. He is employed at Southwest Airlines. He is married to Cecilia Peros, a registered nurse at the Veterans Hospital in Reno, Nevada. Their son, Marley is a Freshman at the University of Nevada, Reno and plans to go into the medical field. Their daughter Nyree is a Junior at Reed High School in Sparks, Nevada and plans to become a Dental Hygienist.
Melissa Perez is a teacher at Wailuku Elementary School. She graduated from Oregon State University with a Master’s in Education. She is married to Dr. Alfred Perez, BKM (Baldwin, Kekaulike, Maui High) Complex Resource Teacher. They have one son, Alfred James (AJ) Perez, a first grader at St. Anthony Grade School.
Precila is a very vivacious and active member in church (St. Ann, Waihe‘e) as well as in the Maui community. At St. Ann, she is in the bereavement, church cleaner, bread baking and church hospitality ministries. She received many awards for her efforts. She received the Fr. Ernest Claes Award for outstanding member of the Maui Council of Filipino Catholic Clubs. She was honored numerous times by Nā Hoaloha (Helping Hands, Loving Friend), a non-profit organization on Maui to help seniors remain independent by providing services such as telephone reassurance, rides to medical appointments and family respite. She was awarded the Catholic Charities Island Treasure in recognition of her generous service to St. Ann Parish. The Bantay Association of Maui recognized her for exemplary service and support to the organization. She was honored for many years of service with the County of Maui Outstanding Older American Award. She was one of the recipients of the Gintong Pamana award from the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce. In Dr. Patricia Brown’s book, Filipinas! Voices from Daughters and Descendants of Hawai‘i’s Plantation Era, her story about her mom, Lucia was featured.
Precila enjoys raising orchids, cooking, traveling, and volunteering.
The Quirino and Lucia Paet family was one of the very few families who came to Hawai‘i during the influx of the Sakadas coming to Hawai‘i to work in the sugar and pineapple plantations in 1946. They came from Bantay, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. They were truly the family Sakada pioneer because it wasn’t easy to raise a family in those days, more so with thirteen children.
The Paet family lived in Spanish B Camp in Pu‘unēnē with other Sakadas like Johnny Fontanilla, Claro Ramos, Ciano Fontanilla etc. Quirino’s job was at the sugar mill at the crystallization of molasses department. After twenty-two years, he decided to work in the Pacific Construction Company. Following that, he worked at the Kā‘anapali Golf Course (AMFAC), helping to plant the grass while they were building the Kā‘anapali Beach Resort Hotel. At the same time, he owned a yard maintenance as his side job. Lastly, he worked for Maui Sunset as a grounds keeper and retired from there for medical reasons. Unfortunately, Quirino died on August 9, 1992.
The Paets raised and slaughtered their own animals for their own consumption. They also sold them to their neighbors, uraga style (divide the meat into several small portions for the people to buy). They raised their own vegetables and picked from the fields. In those days, they were allowed to plant vegetables in the fields. This was a good supplement to their income.
Quirino and Lucia Paet were blessed with thirteen ambitious, community-oriented children. Their first child is Teresita Fontanilla (deceased), married to Clemente Fontanilla on O‘ahu. She was the Executive Secretary for the late Mayor Hannibal Tavares when he was still living in Honolulu working for the Hawai‘i Sugar Planters Association. Teresita retired from the Diocese of Honolulu as a Secretary for the late Sr. Grace Dorothy Lim. They have two children and three grandchildren.
The second child is James Paet (deceased), married to Kathleen Paet. He retired from Honolulu Electric Data Processing. They have three children and five grandchildren.
The third child is Precila Peros, married to James Peros.
The fourth child is Gloria Filo, married to Ongalea Filo. She is a retired Executive Secretary at Hale Makua, Kahului.
The fifth child is Sally Paet (single). She retired from Young Brothers stevedores.
The sixth child is Lucille Paet Smith (deceased), married to Larry Smith. They have one son, Travis Araki, no grandchildren. She retired as a Customs Service agent at United Airlines in Chicago.
The seventh child is Shirley Paet Ponciano. She has two children and one granddaughter. She retired as a bookkeeper from the Salvation Army on Oahu.
The eighth child is Victoria “Vicky” Paet Fukumoto, married to Wayne Fukumoto. She is a retired Special Ed teacher Assistant, K–5 on O‘ahu. They have two children and two grandchildren.
The ninth child is Rene Paet Akina. She is married to Thomas Akina. She is a retired LPN Director of the Day Care at Hale Makua, Kahului. They have three children and four grandchildren.
The tenth child is Teresita “Tessie” Paet Piquet. She is married to Gary Piquet. She retired from their family Landscaping Business. They have one child.
The eleventh child is William Paet (deceased).
The twelfth child is Amelia Paet Lee. She is married to Steven Lee of Honolulu. She is a retired Special Ed Pre School teacher on O‘ahu. They have two sons.
The thirteenth child is Joseph Paet (Single). He is a house painter.
Quirino and Lucia Paet believed and favored Catholic School education for their thirteen children. All thirteen attended Christ The King School and St. Anthony High School. To help defray the cost of their tuition, they did different jobs at the school such as cleaning the classrooms, the cafeteria, the bathrooms, etc. With the understanding of all the children, Quirino and Lucia created a family tradition where they sent their older children to college and in turn after they graduate and find a job, they helped their parents support the younger ones so they could also receive a college education.
Every year before the pandemic, the Paet family held a family tradition. Every Christmas, they all get together as a family including those who live on the other islands and on the mainland, cook lechon as their main dish on their dining table. This lechon would be eaten after attending the midnight mass. They also created other activities as well.
When the late Monsignor Osmundo Calip, the founder of the Filipino Catholic Clubs came to evangelize the Filipinos on Maui in 1950, Lucia and Quirino together with others took him around the camps to remind them to go to church and to not forget their loved ones back in the Philippines. Monsignor Calip formed the Filipino Catholic Club seventy-two years ago on Maui.
Several of the Paet children shared their happy memories about their parents. Gloria Filo lovingly said, “I would go with my Dad to sports events, watch dancing at the clubhouse and I even went with him to biagans (chicken fights). I even helped him in slaughtering animals in our backyard.” Rene Akina said “Mom and Dad were very accommodating when people came to our house. They welcomed everyone. Even though our family is big, Mom and Dad always shared what we had. They expected us to always look neat, go to mass, receive the sacraments and showed us good work ethics. They both expected us to behave well.” Sally mentioned they took their Dad to the Philippines in 1986 after so many years of being here in Hawai‘i. He was able to use his free round-trip ticket that was part of his contract when he was recruited in 1946. He was able to see his siblings and mother-in-law before they passed away.
Precila summed up her parents’ hopes and dreams for their thirteen children. “We owe it all to our parents who we are today, especially our mother Lucia Marinas Paet. She was the driving force behind encouraging us to study hard so we can attend college. From the time we were little, it was drilled into our being that we need to help each other financially to attain a college education. When the older child finished college, it was his or her obligation to help the younger sibling with tuition, school supplies, fees, etc. until every sibling graduated from college with a degree. There was no debate on the subject as it was expected of each child to abide to our mother’s wishes. That’s why all thirteen children were successful in their careers today.”
Lucia’s and Quirino’s thinking on education is such a good representation of a Tibetan Proverb: “A child without education is like a bird without wings.”
Lucy Peros is a retired schoolteacher, having taught at St. Anthony Grade School and Waihe‘e Elementary School. Both of her late parents, Elpidio Cachero Cabalo (a 1946 Sakada) and Alejandra Cabudoy Cabalo of Hāli‘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 Senior Center 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.