Sakada Corner, Fil-Am Observer December 2010 Issue
Sakada Feature, Page 8
VICTORIO Palaslas Layaoen came all the way from Batac, moved to Oahu, then to Kauai, then to the Big Island, and then finally to Maui, and never left until he passed on to the next life.
It is a story of courage. It is also a story of a life lived to the fullest.
Born on August 28, 1908 in then a very rural Batac, a town south of Laoag City, in the Philippines, at 19 and restless for something bigger and grander than what Ilocos in those days could offer, he took the plunge to go to Hawaii.
That was in 1928. From Port Salomague in Cabugao, he took the S. S. President Lincoln, and in the rough seas, thought of a peaceful, productive life somewhere in the islands yonder where sugarcane plants and pineapples grew in abundance.
He landed in Oahu, worked there some time; he moved on to Kauai, worked there for some time; he moved to the Big Island, worked there for some time; and then finally, moved to Maui where he worked forever until he retired in 1974 at 65.
Maui was his kadagaan—that Ilokano mindset that talks about the land that is yours for the keeping, at least metaphorically, if not literally. He worked for the HC&S and lived at McGerrow Camp. Later on, he transferred to Maui Pineapple Company at Haliimaile. There he worked odd jobs such as spraying, carrying boxes of fresh pineapples into delivery trucks, and driving trucks delivering pineapples to the cannery.
He lived with other single men in Haleakala Camp “Corn Mill” located in Makawao. In 1963, at age 55, Victorio decided to go back to the Philippines to find the right girl to marry.
It so happened that he had friends by the name of Ruperto and Venicia Guila who were also from Batac.
Venicia had a sister back in the Philippines. Her sister, Adelaida Damasco, was beautiful and young and was a teacher back then. Before long Victorio and Adelaida were writing to each other as penpals.
In February 1963, he went to the Philippines to meet Adelaida in person. When they met, they both knew in their hearts that they were meant for each other. They decided to get married on April 28, 1963 at the town’s Catholic Church, the Immaculate Conception.
Soon after, the couple worked on the travel documents of Adelaida so she could join Victorio in Hawaii. In June that year, Victorio went back to Hawaii with Adelaida to start a new life in Maui.
Raising a family was very important to Adelaida and Victorio. So she did not join the workforce until 1971 when their two sons were of school age.
While they were raising their children, they lived in Haliimaile Village where many other plantation workers also lived with their families. They enjoyed living there where there were many fun activities such as July 4th celebration, Christmas, New Year and Rizal Day Celebrations.
To help out Victorio financially, Adelaida worked at various places of employments. She cleaned homes, worked at Ron Terry’s and Howard’s Nurseries until she retired in 1989. Even after retirement, she continued working part-time at Howard’s Nursery for a short while.
To while away his time, Victorio enjoyed playing cards, gardening, and even watching “biagan” cockfights once in a while. In 2004, at 96, Victorio passed away.
Victorio and Adelaida were blessed with two sons, Ronald and Gilbert.
Ronald, is married to Cory Iwasaki; the couple has two children. A mechanical engineer, he works for Okahara and Associates Engineering Consultants in Honolulu.
Ronald shared with us his fond memories about his Dad: “My Dad was a man of few words but when he spoke, we listened because he meant business and what he had to say was of great importance. He disciplined and taught us by sharing his own life experiences. When I got older and now that I have a family of my own, those pieces of advice became even more meaningful and I truly appreciate them. Dad had a very good work ethics; he influenced my way of thinking about work. Mom and Dad took us to the beach for a picnic, swimming or just have fun with other family friends. They both shared cooking duties. It amazed me because when they cooked, they did not measure any of the ingredients they used. I learned to do the same now. They were my models. Dad helped a lot in cooking during the many celebrations that we had at the Haliimaile Clubhouse. Although he did not say it in words, I could tell that my Dad was very proud of my accomplishments, my family, and especially of his grandchildren.”
Adelaida and Victorio were active members of the Haliimaile Filipino Community Association, the St. Joseph Filipino Catholic Club, and the Haliimaile Seniors Vita Gold Club, this last one as its secretary since 2001.
Adelaida’s advice to the young is for them to study hard so that they will find a better job. She also says that they need to select their friends and not just to go with anyone down the road. Her advice to her contemporaries is to be active. She say, “Go walking, clean the yard, do gardening, and join the Senior Citizens group. It is good for socialization and fellowship.”
Adelaida enjoys traveling. She has gone on with an Alaskan Cruise; likewise, she likes to go to Las Vegas. She has also been to Morocco, Spain, and Portugal.
Thank you, Nana Adelaida, for sharing with us your story and that of Tata Victorio. Thank you, Ronald, for sharing with us your fond memories of your Dad.