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Filipino Piecemeal Sugar Strike of 1924-1925

Filipino Piecemeal Sugar Strike of 1924-1925

John E. Reinecke
Copyright Date: 1996
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    Filipino Piecemeal Sugar Strike of 1924-1925
    Book Description:

    The 1924 Filipino sugar strike came as a shocking blow to Hawaii's self-image. The tragic deaths at Hanapepe were regarded as an anomaly in Hawaii's peaceful, idyllic image. Yet as Reinecke's research clearly indicates, the sugar industry was building to a climax in the 1920s.

    In the traditional sense, the strike was a "piecemeal" affair, lacking clear goals and having virtually no leadership or plans. These young, largely illiterate, Filipinos wrought massive changes into a more modern, industrial mode; into what was widely known thereafter as the Big Five. Evidence from the University of Hawaii's new archive collection, the H.S.P.A. Plantation Archives, not available to Dr. Reinecke completes the picture of the strike with evidence of the massive changes in management, recruitment and labor policies. The strike remains as he described it in his title: "The Piecemeal Strike." The new evidence rounds out the transformation of the industry.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6253-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-viii)

    John Reinecke had largely completed the manuscript of “The Piecemeal Filipino Sugar Strike of 1924” in 1976. He paused at that point as new material was coming to hand from the survey of plantation materials carried out under the National Endowment for the Humanities grant to the Hawaiian Historical Society. That survey was then carried to a completion by the Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association with an additional grant from the N.E.H. The Ethnic Studies Oral History Project (ESOHP, now the Center for Oral History of the SSRI) of the University of Hawai‘i completed the oral history project, “The 1924 Filipino...

  4. Publisher’s Note
    (pp. ix-x)
    Donald M. Topping
  5. 1 The Filipino Piecemeal Sugar Strike of 1924–1925
    (pp. 1-14)

    The piecemeal strike of Filipino sugar plantation workers in 1924–1925 instigated and led by Pablo Manlapit, is unique in Hawaiian labor history. No other major strike was so haphazardly planned and conducted or failed so completely. To determine why and how each local segment of the strike began and how many workers were out at any given time is difficult when not impossible, and no segment of the strike had a clear-cut end.

    This was also the most tragic of Hawaiian strikes. It cost the lives of twenty men killed in battle at Hanapepe, Kauai. To these should be...

  6. 2 Cayetano Ligot versus Pablo Manlapit
    (pp. 15-26)

    Even before he and Wright launched the High Wages drive, Manlapit had begun agitating for creation of the post of Resident Labor Commissioner for Hawaii, ‘who shall reside in the Territory and serve the interest of the Filipino laborers,’ thus avoiding misunderstanding and friction between them and their employers. This was an old idea revived: immediately upon his arrival in 1920 Varona had proposed appointment of a resident commissioner.¹ At meetings on August 13 and 20, 1922 in Aala Park, a petition was circulated and a resolution passed to that effect, and on September 19 Manlapit wrote to Manuel Quezon,...

  7. 3 A Hopeless, Irresponsible Strike
    (pp. 27-29)

    TheHawaii Shinpo,most labor oriented of the Japanese papers, worried about the strife between Manlapit and Ligot and about the Filipinos’ tendency to strike without preparation.

    Filipino laborers move like lightning. Without any calculations or preparations, they declare strike, and fight the capitalists. They do not seem to be concerned whether they attain their objectives, or not. What they care most is to cripple or cause inconvenience to the capitalists temporarily or permanently.¹

    TheShinpo’sworries were well grounded. The strike was hopeless from the start.²Allthe odds were against the strikers. As an existential act of rebellion...

  8. 4 The Course of the Strike
    (pp. 30-34)

    The available material on the course of the strike is a jigsaw puzzle with many pieces missing. Even the dates on which a few plantations were struck are in doubt. Table 1 gives the present writer’s best estimate—or guess—as to the maximum number of strikers on each plantation. Sometimes one has to choose between the childish exaggeration of Manlapit and the bland untruthfulness of Butler.¹ For a few plantations exact information is given in the annual reports; for some others estimates by the police or the local press appear to be reasonably accurate. But, since workers kept joining...

  9. 5 HSPA Law and Order
    (pp. 35-37)

    The 1924–25 strike is remarkable for the range and severity of legal, and sometimes extralegal, action taken against the strikers by the executive authorities and courts of Hawaii. As in the 1909 and 1920 strikes, prosecutors and police acted baldly and openly as agents of the planters, and the courts in general were hostile to the strikers. George W. Wright, toward the end of 1925, estimated that about 50 Filipinos were still in prison, serving terms for strike-related offenses.¹ Scores of others had served their terms and had been released.

    The authorities had at hand a wide variety of...

  10. 6 The Strike on Oahu
    (pp. 38-49)

    A really large-scale strike of Filipinos might have impressed both the planters and the laborers of other nationalities. Reflecting union boasts, theNippu Jijihad predicted a strike of 15,000 men and theHawaii Shinpoan active strike on nine plantations and an effective slowdown on 25 others.¹ But such a beginning was too much for the Movement’s resources. The strike began on April 1 not with a bang but with a barely audible whimper.

    Only three Oahu plantations were affected. Somewhat more than half the Filipinos at Kahuku walked out, five or six small camps at Waialua, and a...

  11. 7 The Strike on Hawaii
    (pp. 50-67)

    Hilo apparently was the only place besides Honolulu where there was a Movement headquarters before the strike. Whatever the reasons, organizational or psychological, Hawaii turned out to be the only island where the strike turned out to be truly largescale, prolonged, and relatively well led.

    That Hawaii was considered a crucial island is clear from Ligot’s activities. On June 8, 1924, after ten days’ preparation, he held a convention at Hilo attended by over 80 delegates from East Hawaii plantations. It passed resolutions supporting Ligot and requesting the $l.25 daily minimum and the other points of his November 1923 convention.¹...

  12. 8 The Strike on Maui
    (pp. 68-70)

    The strike at Kohala on June 19 triggered not only the East Hawaii walkouts but strikes at Lahaina and Wailuku on Maui as well. On June 21 Maui workers were reported ready to go out, and a strike of Lahaina mill hands was—erroneously it appears—reported on July 3.¹ Agitation and meetings continued and some men were paid off when they did not work, but an acutal strike did not begin until July 11, coinciding with Manlapit’s departure for Maui. TheMaui Newsreported only 50 to 75 men out at Pioneer Mill but a larger number at Wailuku...

  13. 9 The Strike on Kauai
    (pp. 71-74)

    Although the 1924–25 strike is remembered mainly for the battle at Hanapepe, the strike on Kauai was less extensive and effective than on any of the other islands. It was also the last to develop. Kealia (Makee Sugar Company) was one of the plantations on which Manlapit had counted; but there, one night about April 11 or 12, some 400 workers slipped by the police (itself a note-worthy feat) and met secretly in the Kapaa homesteads, where they voted overwhelmingly against striking.¹ Not until July 18–26 did Manlapit think it worth while to come to Kauai and agitate...

  14. 10 The Battle of Hanapepe
    (pp. 75-87)

    Early on September 8 two youthful Ilocanos, Marcelo Lusiano and Alipio Ramel, perhaps waverers on the question of striking, bicycled from Makaweli to buy some shoes. Only six days before, a small number of Visayan laborers from Makaweli had joined the Koloa contingent in the strike camp. As Lusiano and Ramel repassed the camp they were hauled inside, beaten a little, threatened with death, and detained. Friends notified the police late in the day. Some time that evening, past midnight according to the Ilocanos but certainly much earlier, Deputy Sheriff Crowell and Captain Harry Oneha visited the camp to investigate....

  15. 11 Pantaleon Inayuda and the Criminal Libel Case
    (pp. 88-91)

    Pantaleon Inayuda was a Cebuano Visayan about 24 years old, in Hawaii since July 1919, married, with four children, the youngest being a son, Eugenio, born on January 10, 1924. He had worked for Oahu Sugar Company as a cut-cane man for 16 months, but in March 1924 he worked only four days because of illness, although he did not surrender hisbango(work tag) until he was paid off on April 9. For some reason he had moved in February from a free plantation house to one rented for $3.50 a month from Mrs. Kiku Nakamura, who in turn...

  16. 12 The Conspiracy Trial
    (pp. 92-105)

    The trial of the two leaders took place three months later, on September 15–27. William B. Pittman, a Democratic politician, was their attorney, assisted on the appeal by Clement K. Quinn and Carrick H. Buck. Judge James J. Banks presided. His sympathies as indicated by his rulings on objections and especially by his treatment of government witness Montecillo were pretty clearly with the prosecution.¹

    The Territory was required to prove beyond what the jury would consider a reasonable doubt, first, that Inayuda had perjured himself regarding his child’s removal from the Waipahu hospital and his own departure from his...

  17. 13 Oxiles, The Government Witnesses, and Amnesty
    (pp. 106-108)

    Although Judge Banks saw nothing suspicious in the behavior of detective Juan M. Oxiles and the Territory’s three Filipino witnesses in the subornation case, certain later events in their lives are of interest.

    Oxiles did not share the judge’s high opinion of court interpreter Alfredo F. Ocampo, Manlapit’s brother-in-law. According to witness Pedro Victoria, Oxiles had threatened to ‘get’ Ocampo.¹ His opportunity came on March 1, 1925, when he arrested Ocampo following a raid on a gambling game, had him held incommunicado until Judge Oliver P. Soares obtained his release, and then charged him with having been present at the...

  18. 14 Manlapit’s Parole
    (pp. 109-111)

    Not until August 13, 1927, after serving more than seven months beyond his minimum term, was Manlapit paroled, and then only on condition that he exile himself to the mainland United States for the remainder of his sentence. The Board of Prison Inspectors, or parole board, felt that his release locally would be ‘incompatible with the welfare of society.’ Three times Manlapit had petitioned for parole, and each time it had been granted on condition that he return to the Philippines—never to return, the board specified in its third reply. At first Manlapit refused, then he accepted the terms...

  19. 15 A Decade of Little Change
    (pp. 112-114)

    The Filipino community of Hawaii did not change in any essential way during the decade following Manlapit’s imprisonment. While the Japanese and other Oriental groups, no longer fed by substantial immigration, steadily became Americanized and were laying the foundations of a middle class, the Filipinos remained a foreign agricultural proletariat, still with a full measure of the handicaps listed at the beginning of this study. The Filipinos could scarcely be said to inch ahead: their advancement was measured in millimeters. Although the 1930 census lists 60 Filipino retail dealers as against 6 in 1920, that number was only .00129 per...

  20. 16 Manlapit, Taok, Ligot
    (pp. 115-118)

    Pablo Manlapit did not plunge directly into union affairs upon his return to Hawaii. In the 1932/33 Honolulu directory he appears as president of Territorial Finance & Investment Co., Ltd., obviously a figurehead in a firm owned by the Yap brothers and aiming at the Filipino trade.¹ Epifanio Taok, for whatever it may have been worth in prestige and income, retained the presidency of the Filipino Labor Union, in which there was no talk of strikes or organization. But Manlapit, while not officially connected with the union, took a prominent part alongside Taok in agitating for alleviation of the plight of...

  21. 17 Jose Figueras’ Tour of Inspection
    (pp. 119-123)

    Inspector general Jose Figueras arrived in Honolulu on December 15, 1933, not to take Ligot’s place but for a three months’ survey of the condition of Filipinos.¹ Figueras, an unknown quantity in Hawaii, had come up the hard and probably the strongarm way to be head of a longshoremen’s union and a Manila city councilman. Obviously he had good political connections. Speaking only Tagalog and a little English, he had to use interpreters in communicating with the Ilocanos and Visayans who made up the bulk of Hawaii’s Filipinos.² Butler of the HSPA looked forward to his arrival with unease and...

  22. 18 Exeunt Taok, Manlapit, and Butler
    (pp. 124-128)

    Whether or not Figueras had any part in planning a general strike, as Butler and Military Intelligence thought he had, he had warned of one as early as mid-February. Though publicly he urged the Filipinos not to strike, the intelligence report avers that just before his ship cast off,

    Figueras was overheard telling Manlapit not to forget to carry out their prearranged plans. Manlapit replied, “Don’t worry; I won’t forget anything we have planned to do.” This office has no definite information as to what these plans are.

    On the night of March 8, the same report continues,

    Manlapit addressed...

  23. 19 Epilogue
    (pp. 129-130)
    Edw. Beechert

    On May 9, 1934, longshoremen of the Pacific Coast ports went out on a strike that was to usher in a new era in labor-management relations and one that would touch a burgeoning labor movement in the maritime industries and the principal agricultural industries, sugar and pineapple.¹ Workers involved in that strike returned to Hawaii, determined to bring the modern labor movement to Hawaii. Maritime organizing began in 1935 when Harry Kamoku of Hilo returned from San Francisco to begin organizing longshoremen in Hilo.²

    Their applications for charters from the International Longshoremen’s Association were caught in the growing conflict between...

  24. Postscript
    (pp. 131-138)
    Edward Beechert

    Reinecke’s analysis of the 1924 strike was based upon a thorough synthesis of the available information. His model was that of a typical American labor action. His analysis of the leadership, the organizational structure, the course of the strike, and the outcomes, measured by the achievement or failure of the goals at the end of the strike, follow a traditional, American Federation of Labor pattern for a labor action.

    Viewed from this perspective, the strike was, indeed, piecemeal, tragic, and a failure. One is left, however, with explaining why the strike continued over the months from April through November of...

  25. APPENDIX A PANTALEON INAYUDA’S TESTIMONY on April 7 and 10 conversations
    (pp. 139-142)
  26. Notes
    (pp. 143-185)
  27. Note on Sources
    (pp. 186-188)
  28. Bibliography
    (pp. 189-192)
  29. Index
    (pp. 193-197)