MARCH 16, 2019



Have a Day of Fun and Culture at the 5th Annual Great Malunggay Festival and Parade



The sugar plantations have all closed in Hawaii. Plantation farming life gone by.

But one of the last links to that golden sakada agriculture past, lives on in the malunggay tree.

Early Filipino plantation workers brought over the malunggay tree native to Southeast Asia. Today, the sturdy tree with its elongated seed pods and delicate bitter leaves are still grown in the backyards of Filipino homes from Waipahu to Kalihi; and still used as a savory ingredient to a few Filipino comfort dishes like the celebrated chicken malunggay.

Food, Culture, Community

In its 5th year, the annual Great Malunggay Festival and Parade will take place on March 16, 2019, 9:30 am-4 pm at the FilCom Center in Waipahu.

The family-friendly event will donate part of its proceeds this year to the Youth and Young Adults Program of the Filipino Church of Christ, Waipahu and the Agape Youth and Young Adult Ministry of St. Joseph, Waipahu. In the past, organizers have donated to other worthy causes, including assisting Filipino students with their educational needs at Leeward Community College.

The public is welcome to attend this free event.

Al Simbahon, producer of the Malunggay Festival and Parade said, “The Malunggay Festival should bring all Filipinos together to celebrate our proud heritage and wonderful and diverse culture. There will be great Filipino food, variety of vendor products, a parade, excellent entertainment, and of course, malunggay.

“Our first four years have been remarkably well attended and received by all who attended,” he said, and he hopes the public will come out again in a big way for a day of fun and culture.

Simbahon explains why he put together the event, “Since 1995 and the recent closure of Maui’s sugar plantations, reality and sadness struck, changing a way of life for so many. We lost our beloved sugar cane, but not our malunggay trees which were brought here to the islands by our elders in the Philippines.

“I envisioned on old Waipahu Street, a parade flotilla graced with the branches of the malunggay, cheering on as the parade passes by with a king and queen, their court and parade-goers. It has become a reality, beginning with our very first Great Malunggay Festival and Parade.”

He adds that the celebration is also a way to remember the shared history of many Hawaii Filipinos whose parents and grandparents “ventured from their homeland of the Philippines, to start a new life, choosing to work in the sugar fields of Hawaii in the early and mid-1900s.

“I’ve always dedicated this event to my father in-law Maximino Galapia Sr., Oahu Sugar and my grandfather Gaudencio Dumadag, Honokaa Sugar. Both now deceased, braved for a better life for their families to come to Hawaii, a place they loved.”

What better place to hold a celebration that honors Hawaii’s plantation era than in the community of Waipahu where in 1897 the Oahu Sugar Company opened a sugar mill and a thriving community of immigrant laborers commenced. Filipinos were among the major ethnic groups of imported labor to Hawaii.

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