Grace Nefulda Motonaga
Lucy Peros | All photos courtesy Nefulda Motonaga ‘Ohana
This month’s Sakada Offspring is a Hawai‘i born whose father came from the Philippines as one of the old timers Sakada in the 1920’s.
Grace Nefulda Motonaga was very happy to share whatever she remembers about her parents especially about her father, Ciriaco Nefulda.
Grace was born in March 1965 at the Maui Memorial Hospital in Wailuku. She attended Wailuku Elementary, ‘Oao School, Baldwin High School, Maui Community College and the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa.
She presently works at Kaiser Permanente as Sr. Trainer for the EMR (electronic medical records) system for the last twenty-five years. She is primarily responsible to train nursing and ancillary staff as well as support new providers when they start at any of the Maui Kaiser clinics. Grace is certified in Epic Care Ambulatory. She started as an appointment clerk, became lead appointment clerk, then lead schedular and lastly for the EMR system.
Grace’s prior employment were Maui Medical Group – front desk; International Savings and Loan – bank teller; Monarch Building Supply – retail cashier; and Waiehu Liquor Store (aka: PC Trading Store) – a small family business.
Shawn Motonaga, Grace’s husband, retired five years ago from the County of Maui after thirty-two years service and is currently working with their son at his automobile repair business. Their daughter, Megan Won (spouse – Michael) is a fourth-grade teacher in Seattle. She is a graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University. Their son, Christian Motonaga (spouse: Chastity) is a small business owner (UTI – Universal Technical Institute).
Grace belongs to the Valley Isle Fellowship Congregation. She is very active and is involved in the music ministry (plays keyboard), Small Group (co-leader), Pastoral Search Team (member); and assists with Women’s Ministry, Neighborhood Outreach and Kūpuna Care. She is an active community volunteer through Kaiser Permanente and she belongs to Two Thirds World Network (board member, as a treasurer).
Grace received from Kaiser Permanente 5, 10-, 15-, 20-, and 25-years’ service awards besides the Friend of Nursing award.
Besides being a working wife, Grace enjoys watching Hallmark movies, listening to various genres of music, playing the piano, hunting, walking, and playing with her son’s dogs, and she loves to watch drag-racing. She is also a caregiver to her ninety-two-year-old mother-in-law who lives with them.
Grace has only one sibling, Josephine Muehi (spouse: Brian), both retired (no children).
Grace shared the following information about her parents, Ciriaco and Magdalena Nefulda. Ciriaco Nefulda, migrated from Paoay, Ilocos Norte, Philippines in the 1920s to work in the sugar plantation of Hawai‘i. This makes him one of the old timers of Sakadas who came to Hawai‘i as plantation workers. He had an opportunity to make a better life in the states. He lived in Spreckelsville in Pa‘ia and worked at HC&S for many years. He eventually retired as a Luna (Supervisor) sometime in the 1970s.
In the 1950s he longed for a bride so he reached out to his family and asked for a single female he could write to (pen pal). Eventually, he returned to the Philippines to finally meet his pen pal. Soon after that meeting, they fell in love and got married. That beautiful lady was the late Magdalena H. Velasco, Grace’s mom.
Here is a heartfelt reflection of Grace about her parents: I thank our good Lord for the parents He blessed me with. They were both strong in their Christian faith and raised my sister and I in the same manner. They were involved in the life of our church, Pu‘unene Evangelical Church, that eventually relocated to Kahului and renamed Maui Evangelical Church. They served in various positions over many years. And because of their deep faith, they were good respectable people who worked extremely hard, were honest and very humble.
In addition to Grace’s reflection, this writer testifies Ciriaco and Magdalena Nefulda were assets to the Filipino community here on Maui. They were very active in the different Filipino organizations like the USDIR (United Sons and Daughters of the Ilocano Regions) under the leadership of the late Cirilo Sinfuego.
Those of you who remember the old Territorial Building at the old County Fair Grounds, there during the annual Rizal Day Celebration around the end of December, you would see Ciriaco and Magdalena participating in the joyous event! One would see them dancing the iconic Filipino dance, Rigodon, together with other Filipino leaders like Elias and Catalina Evangelista, Isaac and Felipa Cacayorin, Cirilo and Catalina Sinfuego, Santiago and Lourdes Dagdag, and Domingo and Victoria Dagdag.
The lives of our Sakadas were not only full of work, work and more work but they knew how to have fun with their families!
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.