OUR HERITAGE: The Filipinos


“Filipinos…we’re always trying to avail ourselves, to make that difference in other people’s lives.”   ~ Danny A. Mateo, First council member of Filipino descent to be elected as Maui County Council chairman.

On December 20, 1906, onboard the SS Doric, the first group of 15 sakadas, or contract laborers, recruited by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association, arrived to work on the sugar plantations. They were not the first Filipinos in Hawai`i — others known as “Manila Men” were in Hawaii at the time of the monarchy. At least six were involved with the Royal Hawaiian Band.

But the arrival of the sakadas marked the beginning of an aggressive campaign to recruit Filipino plantation labor. When they reached Hawai`i the oppressive plantation system was already entrenched.

Between 1906 and 1930, the HSPA brought in approximately 120,000 Filipinos, and by 1930 the sakadas had become the majority of the plantation workforce, replacing the Japanese. The last group of 6,000 sakadas arrived in 1946, shortly before Philippine independence was regained from the United States.

After that the quota was limited to 50 a year, later increased to 100. It was only toward the late 1950s that immigration laws enabled Filipinos already in Hawai`i to get their families beyond the quotas.

And in 1965, immigration laws were liberalized to admit not only family members but also professionals, including doctors, nurses, engineers, lawyers, accountants, teachers, health technicians and others with college educations and marketable skills.

Today more immigrants come to Hawai`i from the Philippines than from any other country.

About 36,000 Maui County residents are of Filipino ancestry. For over a century their growing influence in labor, business, education, and government has enriched the unique fabric of our Maui Nui community.

“If there is any hope that we, as a unified, humble, and powerful Filipino community on Maui will grow and prosper, we must honor our past …”   ~Megan Bagoyo, Granddaughter of a sakada, From ANAKA Tribute to Maui’s Filipinos


6 responses to “OUR HERITAGE: The Filipinos

  1. Hello, my grandfather died in Hawaii in the 1930’s. He was buried there. I just found his name in the census of obituaries. He died as SAKADA. He is from Ilocos Norte

  2. Hello! Next week, first time akong pupunta sa Maui. Isasama ako ng kaibigan kong puti dahil gusto niya akong makarating duon. Sabi niya, I will feel at home dahil Filipinos are all over Mai. Excited ako. Wala pa kaming tutulugan pero sabi niya we can always find a place to stay because a lot of people rent the rooms in their homes. I’m not sure about that pero I trust him… so Maui, here I come. 🙂

  3. Ako Po Ay Pilipino and lived in this awesome country for 43 years. I am so proud of our richness of our Kababayan Pilipinos. Ipataas Po Ang Ating Bandila! The sharing and information for Maui Nui is awesome. Salamat Po!
    Ophelia Hodgson

  4. Agnes Macadangdang Hayashi

    This is a wonderful tribute to our immigrant Filipino ancestors who sacrificed so much for us. The success of our generation and future is attributed to the foundation of preserverance, steadfastness and determination that the Sakadas had in triumphing over the conflict and challenges they dealt with. Thank you for sharing this information and perpetuating our Filipino heritage.

    • Mahalo Agnes! Maui Nui is ‘no ka oi’ no just for its beautiful land and environment, but perhaps more importantly because of the richness of its people. The ‘OUR HERITAGE’ series of articles attempts to honor the cultural diversity that makes Maui Nui unique in the world! Aloha, Alexa

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