Onomea Plantation Camp
Our Home Town by, Tadao Okimoto
In those days, housing for Onomea plantation workers were divided into separate camps- Japanese camp, Filipino camp, and Portuguese camp. We have very fond memories of a friendly and warm community.
Public School- Children of the plantation workers attended Pepeekeo School. Free bus transportation was available if the walking distance was at least 3 miles, though it would seem far, we certainly had lots of pleasant memories walking, making stop overs for sweet guavas, chewing sugar cane or swimming in the ditches. Our memorable school event was the May Day Program where the whole school performed songs and dances, many wearing leis and costumes with our parents in attendances.
In those days, Japanese students came to school with Japanese names, Filipinos had Filipino names, Puerto Ricans had Spanish names, and even the Portuguese children had Portuguese names. For many of us our teachers gave us English names, or we named ourselves. Takayoshi named himself James, Akiko-Alice, Florentino-Clarence and so on. Then when we in turn became parents, we gave our children haole names on their birth certificates.
Growing our Vegetable- The plantation provided garden space for families. The Japanese grew daikon (turnip), beans, taro, chicken, and some had pigs and bamboo patches. Filipinos grew marungay, bitter melon and fighting chickens, pigs and goats.
We grew up going to different churches in the camp. We celebrated many different kinds of holidays because we were multi-cultural, and got to taste foods from all kinds of ethnic kitchens.
Our days were tough too, but we remember the struggles of our parents who were the first immigrants who came to the land of opportunity. Who came from our ancestral homelands, it made us appreciate our culture and help to build a future for ourselves in Hawaii, with sugar plantation as our common bond.