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Making a Connection: Hawai'i Island delegation travels to Philippines

Members of the Hawai'i Island delegation stand in front of the Sakada statute created in Cabugao at Port Salomague where the Sakada departed for Hawai'i to work on sugar plantations.

Representatives from Hawai‘i Community College, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, the County of Hawai‘i, and the Big Island Filipono Club traveled to the Philippines in February as part of an effort to establish a sister city relationship with Cabugao, Illocos Sur.

Sandi Claveria, Assistant Professor of Human Services, represented Hawai‘i CC.

The main purpose of the trip was for Mayor Harry Kim’s Executive Assistant, Rose Bautista, along with County Council member Valerie Poindexter, to sign the documents to create a sister city relationship between Hilo and Cabugao.

Another focus of the trip was to visit the Salomague Port located in Cabugao to make the connection to the Sakadas, the Filipino immigrants who left the port and came to Hawai‘i to work on the sugar plantations. For Claveria, the daughter of a Sakada, it was the first time any of her family members touched the land their father comes from.

The Hawai‘i Island representatives visited with members of the delegation who came to Hilo last fall, including Mayor Josh Cobangbang.

Other highlights included visiting with students from Cabugao National High School and University of the Northern Philippines.

“The group truly appreciated the hospitality given to us by the people and Mayor Josh and his administrators from the city of Cabugao,” said Claveria.