Lucy Cabalo Peros
Editor’s Note: Many on 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 the sixth in a series focusing on The Fil-Am Voice’s staff’s Sakada offsprings. This month, our Sakada Offspring columnist, Lucy Cabalo Peros, shares her first-person story as a Sakada Offspring.
Lucy Peros | All photos courtesy Lucy Peros
I was born on March 11, 1950 in Cagayungan, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, Philippines. My parents are the late Elpidio Cachero Cabalo and Alejandra Cabudoy Cabalo who will be 99 years old on August 7, 2019.
Dad was very determined to come to Hawai‘i to find a better life for him and his family even to the point of leaving his young family in the Philippines—his wife of only five years and two young sons, Ben (4) and Dominick (1). He and his younger brother Macario were two of the thousands of Sakadas who came to Hawai‘i in 1946, recruited to work in the sugar and pineapple plantations of Hawai‘i. These Sakadas came aboard the S.S. Maunawili, leaving the Philippines via Port Salomague in Cabugao, Philippines. My father was assigned to work at the Maui Pine Company (now Maui Land and Pineapple Company), from which he retired at the age of 62. My uncle Macario was assigned on Kaua‘i and worked at one of the sugar plantations.
Dad did most of the jobs that were offered to him by the Company. He planted pineapple, picked the fruits, cut grass in between the young pineapple plants, and drove trucks to deliver the fruits to the pineapple cannery for canning.
When he first arrived on Maui, he and many Sakadas lived at Haleakala Camp “Corn Mill Camp,” now the Pu‘ukoa Subdivision which contains many beautiful homes. His housemate was the late Mr. Lucio Ramirez. Dad mentioned they had so much fun at the camp. All of them were single men. They celebrated Rizal Day for not just a day but for several days.
In the early 1960’s, Dad and the other Sakadas had to move to Korean Camp, a camp just below Hali‘imaile Village because they were phasing out Haleakala Camp. In 1962, Dad moved again to Hali‘imaile Village because these homes were made for families in mind. Dad was able to buy his house for $2,000 at that time. It still stands today where my Mom lives.
These are the Sakadas who lived with my Dad at the same camp as well as Hali‘imaile Village: Felix Arafiles, Guilliermo Barut, Pedro Bernaldes, Antonio Cabalo, Teodorico Cabalo, Maximo Cabania, Lucio Calina, Anacleto Costello, Filemon Diego, Ireneo “Placo” Nallana, Isabelo Ordonez, Julian Palpallatoc, Pedro Paz, Pedro Soriano, and Simon Tabunda. Although they are all now deceased, their families are still living here on Maui today, many of them in Hali‘imaile. My Dad passed away on March 20, 2011 at the age of 89.
Dad missed his family so much that in 1949, he returned to the Philippines using his six months free trip vacation (given to the Sakadas when they were recruited as part of their contract). It must have been a lucky six months because it was then that I was conceived. I was born on March 11, 1950. Of course, my Dad was not around because he needed to be back to Hawai‘i to resume his job after six months.
Dad visited again in 1957 and it was then he told my Mom he was coming back to Hawai‘i for a couple more years, then return to the Philippines to stay for good. Well, his plan did not materialize. Instead, he petitioned his family to join him here in Hawai‘i.
Ben, my oldest brother, came to Hawai‘i in 1961 while he was still attending college in Manila. He continued his education at the Honolulu Business College and received his Business Administration Degree. He is now married to Connie Jumarabon Cabalo. They have one daughter, Dee and one grandson, Trey Dilwith.
My mom, my brother Dominick and I followed Ben in 1962. Dominick just graduated from high school at that time. He continued his education at Mauna‘olu College, a good Liberal Arts College located just below Hali‘imaile on the way to Pa‘ia. After Mauna‘olu, he continued his education at the Honolulu Business College, receiving his degree in Business Administration. He is now married to Virginia Laureta Cabalo. They have two sons Dominick, Jr. (Andrea) and Dylan Joshua with one grandson Nicholas Cabalo.
As for me, I was only 12 years old when I arrived in Hawai‘i on August 16, 1962. In the Philippines, after grade six, the next grade is first year in high school. There was no grade 7 and 8. After four years in high school, college is the next level. I was too young to attend high school so I attended 7th and 8th grade at St. Joseph School in Makawao under the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. They were terrific and very caring teachers. After St. Joseph, I attended St. Anthony High School, Class of ’68.
As a teenager, I washed some of the Sakadas’ dirty work clothes for extra spending money. I collected them on Saturdays to be washed and ironed and I delivered them on Sunday afternoons. They each paid me $7 a month. That was hard-earned money! During the summers of my high school years, I worked at the Maui Pineapple Cannery for five summers as a canner. We were paid $1.25 an hour. That was big money to me. At the peak of the pineapple season, I even worked by shifts, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and vice versa. Those were the days.
After high school, I attended the Maui Community College (now known as University of Hawai‘i Maui College) for two years and received my Associate of Arts Degree. I continued at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa in Honolulu, majored in Elementary Education and minored in Anthropology. I graduated in 1973 with my Bachelor in Education, Professional Diploma in Education, and Masters in Education. There were five of us from Maui who were fortunate enough to come home to Maui to do our Student Teaching requirement. We were able to stay at home and save money. I did my student teaching at Kula Elementary under Miss Mary Frances Watanabe (my CT-Cooperation Teacher). She was an excellent mentor for me as a student teacher. We both worked under our Superintendent Mr. Darrell Oishi. Until today, I still address him as “Boss.” He was instrumental in allowing me to teach in the D.O.E. until I retired after thirty-two years of service.
When I transferred to the University of Hawai‘i in the early 1970’s, there were very few Filipino students. When I graduated in 1973, there were very few teaching job openings. Many of my contemporaries ended working at different jobs/employment and they never taught. I was fortunate to have my first teaching job at St. Anthony Grade School, 2nd grade position. I owe the late Monsignor Charles Kekumano (Pastor of St. Anthony Church) for having faith in me. I taught at St. Anthony’s for eleven years before transferring to Waihe‘e Elementary School. The late Larry Libres, Principal, was instrumental in accepting me and offering me a job, 3rd grade position. At Waihe‘e School, I managed to teach different grade levels because I was not yet tenured. I needed to teach for two complete years plus one day before I received my tenure. I enjoyed teaching the different grade levels but my favorite was grade two from which I retired in 2005 at the age of 55, with 32 years of service.
In the summer of 1970, before I transferred to the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa to study, I was a Godmother for the baptismal of John Pacubas at Christ The King Church. It must have been fate because there was a man who was John’s Godfather there, Sylvester Peros, Jr. It was there that we first met even though we went to the same high school but we never met. Sylvester was already a student at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa. It must have been God’s divine providence that allowed me and Sylvester to know each other and our relationship blossomed while attending U.H. After we both graduated from U.H. we came back to Maui to work—me as a teacher and he at the former Maui Savings and Loan (now known as American Savings) as a Management Trainee under the late Mr. Sam Hironaka. We married on July 20, 1974 at St. Joseph Church in Makawao with Leonor Fontanilla, Nena Costello, Corazon Domingo, Rose Gabuat, Millie Fetalvero, Maxima Capili, Esmenia Ordonez as our Ninangs and Pepito Ragasa, Selberio Menor, Teddy Fetalvero, Ernest Gabuat, B. Baoec, Bernaldo Aganos, Johnny Fontanilla as our Ninongs.
Sylvester also worked at Maui Finance as a Manager and the County of Maui as a Real Property Appraiser before he founded his Real Estate Company in 1987, now in its 32 years of existence. Lianne Peros-Busch, our daughter is now the Broker. Sadly, Sylvester passed away unexpectedly fourteen years ago. Sylvester and I have two children, Lianne Peros-Busch and Sherman Peros. Lianne received her Master in Business Administration degree from Santa Clara University and Sherman received his Degree in Biology from the University of San Francisco. We have two grandchildren, Ava Elise Busch (7, 2nd grade, Pomaika‘i Elementary) and Olivia Cailin Busch (4, Pre-School, Christ The King Child Development Center).
Sylvester and I enjoyed taking Ballroom Dancing from instructors Jeffrey and Lydia Delacruz for eight years. It was such a great feeling to have Jeffrey and his wife teach us ballroom dancing. I babysat Jeffrey and his brothers and sister as young children in Hali‘imaile. Unfortunately, after Sylvester died, with no partner, I opted to take hula lessons from Kumu Hula Uluwehi Guerrero. In fact, at one of our concerts at the MACC, Steven Tyler (of the Aerosmith Band and an American Idol Judge) was one of the guests. I was very excited like a teen-ager to take pictures with him. He was a very nice and sweet person.
My father and mother always stressed the importance of education to us and we are doing the same to our children and grandchildren. My brother Dominick remembers this quotation from our Dad: “It is a jungle out there if no more education.” I also remember my Dad saying to me when he saw me doing my homework: “Pushing pencils or pens is easier than pushing a plow.” Today, I am humbled to share that all three of us children and five grandchildren all graduated from college.
In the past, my husband and I were very involved with the Filipino Catholic Club. We both held offices at the Unit, County and Diocesan levels. We participated at the Barrio Fiesta where we received prizes for the best booth and the Art Display Contest as well as the Barrio Wear Contest. At present, I serve at Christ The King Church as Lector, Grief Support Facilitator, Stewardship Committee, Bread making, Social Service, and Women of the Cross Ministry. I have served as Chairperson for both the 75th and 85th Christ The King Church anniversaries. I also served on the School Board, Baptism Ministry, Parish Pastoral Council, money donation counter, Kupuna Choir with the late Irene Cambra, Grateful Hearts Campaign, Santa Cruzan Committee, Bazaar Committee, and Xavier Club.
When I was younger, my hobbies were collecting stamps, postcards, shot glasses from my vacations, reading and writing. I also enjoy writing and sending congratulatory cards to celebrities, political winners, and other contest winners. Receiving a thank you note from them is my joy too knowing they received it and made them happy. The latest I received is a thank you card from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle) of England in thanking me for a congratulatory card that I sent when their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor was born. I was humbled to receive such a priceless card from the Royals thinking they must have received a massive number of cards from all over the world.
Traveling is another hobby of mine. With God’s grace, I’ve had the privilege to go on nine religious pilgrimages so far. I’ve visited most of the well-known religious shrines in Europe as well as Mexico, the Philippines, the Holy Land including Egypt and even Kalaupapa, Molokai (St. Damien and St. Marianne Cope’s shrines). Hopefully with God’s grace, I will be able to visit more in the future.
At present, just to keep up with my physical and mental health, I joined the Enhance Fitness Program under the Maui County Department of Aging, three times a week with our energetic instructor, Donna Chang Beal.
My personal reflection is that the past are just memories. Do most at the present time. Use and share your 3T’s: time, talent, and treasure every day. Be happy and grateful with what you are blessed with especially the blessing of a family. We are all human and we always think of tomorrow. We shouldn’t, however, think too much of tomorrow because tomorrow might never come.
From 2006 through 2011, I wrote for The Fil-Am Observer. My column was titled Sakada Corner. Many of the Sakadas were still living at that time and I was very fortunate to interview them in person and share their stories. Today there are very few of them left. I now write for this paper and my column is now titled Sakada Offspring, in which I write about the offspring of the Sakadas.
This is my story—a humble and proud Sakada Offspring.