Lee Anthony Barbero
Lucy Peros | All photos courtesy Barbero ‘Ohana
“We aren’t ‘step,’ we aren’t ‘half,’ we aren’t adopted, we are just family!” says this month’s featured Sakada Offspring, Lee Anthony Barbero. This is such a true statement as we continue to read Lee’s life story.
Lee was born on October 2, 1961 at Maui Memorial Hospital in Wailuku, Maui, Hawai‘i. He attended Christ The King School, Kahului School, Maui High and Maui Community College. His special interest in carpentry (because of his Dad’s influence) led him to complete vocational certification in Carpentry and Building Maintenance.
His Dad’s hard work ethics also led him to also try to be a hard worker. During high school, he worked at Woolworth’s as a stock boy. During summers, he worked on jobs with his Dad and his Uncle Joe (Dionisio) Villa as a carpenter’s helper. While attending community college, Lee worked in the maintenance department at Maui Lu Hotel. From there, he worked many years in grounds and building maintenance in South Maui, first at Hale Pau Hana Resort and Wailea Golf Club. Later, Lee owned his maintenance business, LTM Enterprises. He is currently working at St. Anthony School in the maintenance and custodial department.
Lee is married to Tanya Marie Alconcel Barbero, who works as the Director of Faith Formation and Family Life at St. Anthony Church. Their children are Marlena Barbero, a graduate of Chaminade University with a B.A. in Psychology, who works at Maui Medical as Purchasing Agent Assistant II. Isaiah is a student at Baldwin High School and Ivah attends Lihikai School.
Lee has five siblings: Bernard Barbero who works as Container Yard Supervisor with Matson, Kahului Harbor. Bernard and his wife Virginia have two adult sons and one grandson. Wilburt Barbero is in retail sales at Billabong in Lahaina and is an accomplished lei maker. Wilburt makes the most beautiful lei po‘o (head lei). Lisa Visitacion Moore, the eldest of the Visitacion children works for the County of Maui Prosecutor’s office. She is proud to say she has worked for the County for nearly thirty years because of the encouragement from Daddy Leo Visitacion. Lisa is married to Micah Moore and has two adult children and one grandson. Juliet Visitacion Hammonds lives in Virginia with her family and works in the healthcare industry. She has two adult daughters and three grandsons. Dan Leo Visitacion is the youngest of Lee’s siblings. He is a Security Professional and has worked with resorts and private properties in Wailea.
Lee and Tanya are very much involved in various ministries and committees at St. Anthony Church and School. They are in the Worldwide Marriage Encounter presenting team. They are also General Licensed Resource Caregivers (foster parents) for nearly twenty years and cared for dozens of children in sibling groups since 2005.
One of Lee’s favorite mottos is “I come to serve, not to be served.” He says service is his motivator. He spends a lot of time serving the church and the community. When he has time to spare, he enjoys watching cowboy movies.
Lee feels humbled and grateful when he thinks about the person he is becoming because of the love, sacrifice and encouragement from his parents and grandparents who came to Hawai‘i as Sakadas. Without them, he wouldn’t be here today, he says. His Sakada parents and grandparents are the late Crispulo Terradanio Barbero, Francisco Bio and Leonides Antolin Visitacion. Lee says “A Dad isn’t defined as the man who makes the child but rather the man who extends his hands and time to help raising the child and his heart to love the child through anything! Blood doesn’t always make you a Dad. Being a Dad comes from the heart. I am blessed to have the gift of two Dads!”
Lee’s grandfather Crispulo T. Barbero first came to Hawai‘i in the 1930s from Dolores, Abra, as a contract worker in the 1930s for the sugar plantation on the Hāmākua Coast, living for years in Pāpa‘aloa. After being in Hawai‘i for about twenty years, Crispulo returned to the Philippines for a visit. It was that time that Bernardo Guzman Barbero (Lee’s Dad) asked to come to Hawai‘i when Crispulo returned. Bernardo was educated (he was a teacher), so grandpa Crispulo brought Bernardo to Hawai‘i to further his education to find work in Hawai‘i. Bernardo attended Hilo Technical School studying business and became a respected accountant and worked at Pearl Harbor. He and Idalinda (Primitiva) Bio (Lee’s mom) met on Hawai‘i island and got married in 1957. They moved back to Maui and had three sons, Bernard, Wilburt, and Lee. Bernardo Barbero was an active and respected member of the Filipino Community. He worked for the Bank of Hawai‘i and was credited with helping to teach the Filipino plantation workers the importance of depositing their money into the safety of the banking system rather than hiding their money in their homes.
Sadly, after nearly six years of marriage and three young sons, Bernardo died from cancer. Lee was just two years old.
As a young widow with three young boys, Lee’s mom Ida, took her time to grieve and heal. As the Lord would have it, she met and married Leonides Visitacion six years later and the family grew with three more siblings, two sisters and a baby brother.
Leonides “Leo” Visitacion was from Bangui, Ilocos Norte, Philippines. He was petitioned by an uncle, Pedro Soriano, a Sakada who came to Hawai‘i in the 1930s. Leo came to Hawai‘i in April 1946 on board the S.S. Maunawili at Port Salomague. They landed on Maui a few weeks later. Leo was originally scheduled to work for the Lahaina Pioneer Mill but he was able to exchange places with someone else. Instead, he was sent to Maui Pine Plantation in Hāli‘imaile. At Maui Pine Plantation, for fifty cents per hour, Leo did such jobs as pick pineapple, gather pineapple tops and shoots for planting, cut grass, drive trucks and even did carpentry work, fixed homes that needed repairs when the pineapple was off-season.
At the Hāli‘imaile Camp, the Filipino Clubhouse was the center of gatherings, with lots of parties, practically every weekend. The men were the cooks at parties and Leo was one of them. They cooked the best Filipino food! Leo loved working in Hāli‘imaile but when Maui Pine became unionized, Leo moved to the Kahului Development, a subsidiary of HC&S as a carpenter. He worked there for one year. From 1961–1976, he joined the Sakata Construction. During President Jimmy Carter’s Administration, SCET (a training program) under the County of Maui came about. Leo took advantage of working under that program for three years. SCET stands for Super Cupboard Employment Training Program. It’s a program with a focus on self-improvement.
Always looking for opportunities, Leo took the Civil Service Test and he passed it with flying colors. This opened another door for him. Under the County of Maui, he got into the Building Maintenance Program. He worked there until his retirement in 1985 at age 63.
After two years of enjoying retirement, Leo decided to do something else, to give him some physical activity for health reasons. So Leo took a part-time job as parks caretaker for only fifteen hours a week and worked only on weekends. This worked really well with Leo because he still had time to enjoy his grandchildren on weekdays. Leo and Ida Visitacion are a couple who truly show devotion and commitment to each other and to their six loving and respectful children. Leo and Ida are devoted members of Christ The King Catholic Church. Ida served as a Eucharistic Minister. Now their children and grandchildren are devoted members of both Christ The King Church and St. Anthony Church. They are also serving in various ministries in both churches.
Lee shared his reflections of his Daddy Leo Visitacion: Dad died on November 25, 2015. We were grateful to have taken care of him. Daddy Leo was a man of action and few words. He could always be counted on, working hard, serving others without wanting to draw attention to himself. Qualities that I admire in him and hope to emulate: humility, reliability, loyalty, loving, supportive, simple, gentle, encouraging, generous with his talents, time in serving in the Filipino community and the community at large. He led by examples, loved and cherished his family (here and back in the Philippines).
Dad was very resourceful and was the quintessential handy man. As a journeyman carpenter, many of the projects he worked on are still standing to this day. In particular is our cottage he built for me when I got married and started my own family. It amazed me how organized he was with all his construction tools and supplies. One of my earliest memories of helping him is pounding recycled nails to straighten them out to be used again. I was fortunate to be the recipient of his personal tools.
I became interested in the carpentry field because of learning from Daddy Leo. My first summer job was helping him as a carpenter’s helper.
Dad volunteered many hours getting ready for the Barrio Fiesta when it was held at the War Memorial field helping to construct the stage and other booths. Dad was an awesome cook, and to this day, my brother Dan feels closest to Dad when he is cooking Dad’s favorite dishes. I am happy to have learned how to cook pansit from him (the way he learned from helping make pansit for Christ The King Filipino Catholic Club for many years).
Dad worked hard to bring his sister, Mercedes Visitacion Jamias and her family to Hawai‘i. It was special for him to have his family here on Maui too and gave us the chance to grow closer to them as well.
He was a loving grandfather to his grandchildren whom he helped take care of after retiring. I remember going to the beach at Camp One in Pā‘ia to gather pokpoklo (green seaweed) early in the mornings. He was easy to approach when I needed to seek his counsel and advice. He was not judgmental and loved unconditionally.
Dad loved to eat seafood and fish, so it was easy to give him birthday or Father’s Day gifts because we would give him his own platter of sashimi!
In my adulthood, I came to appreciate the way Daddy Leo honored my Daddy Bernardo by raising us. He never tried to take the place of my Daddy Bernardo but became the Daddy we needed.
I have a special affinity to St. Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters and also the foster father of Jesus. I think many of those characteristics and values of St. Joseph were lived out in by Daddy Leo Visitacion.
Thank you, Daddy Leo, for honoring Daddy Bernardo by loving me and my brothers and raising us as your own sons. Thank you for raising us to be such a strong family of faith.
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 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.