The Baraquio Bunch

Nine Baraquio siblings - clockwise from top right, Bernadette, Rose, Lucy, Gloria, Cecilia, John, Angela, Tess, Jerome - release an album dedicated to their brother who died a year ago, and as a tribute to parents Claudio and Rigolette

Melissa Moniz
Friday - November 16, 2007
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September 2007 at Jerome's house
September 2007 at Jerome’s house: (front) Echo, Zoe, (seated) Blaze, Claudio, Seth, Rigolette, Zachary, (middle) Bernadette, Tess, Mel (John’s wife), Sterling, Luke, Rose, Gloria, (back) Rick Hamada (Bernadette’s husband), John, Jerome and John Harman

from noon to 1 p.m. at Ala Moana Centerstage, where they will for the first time come together to perform the songs from their album. The emotional reunion will be one more step in the healing process for the family.

“As the date gets closer to his anniversary date a lot of us are getting more and more emotional because once the holidays hit, it’s natural for people to remember previous holidays and how we had such a great time last Thanksgiving,” says Bernadette. “Everybody was together, and it will be so noticeable that he isn’t going be here this year. And yes, we have been in the studio for hours and hours playing the same songs, but when I hear it as it gets closer to the date, how I felt when I wrote it and how I feel when I hear it, it’s going to be very emotional and it’s going to be very important for all of us to be together that week. Anyone who has lost someone during the holidays will understand.”

Just as music filled their lives as children, the Baraquios hope that their music also filtrates to the hearts of those who hear it.As children, Rose recalls their mom’s firm beliefs about piano lessons and singing.

“My mom was very adamant about having all of us take piano lessons; she forced us pretty much,” says Rose.“And she forced us to sing in church. We’ve been doing that since we could barely walk. We were at Saint Augustine singing as a family for about 15 years until it became too much to handle with all the kids and people living other places. The congregation got to know us as the family that sang together. And everyone would always ask us when we were coming out with a CD.”

With 14 of their own children, busy work schedules and siblings scattered throughout California and Hawaii, the Baraquios found that time seemed to be the primary obstacle in their hopes to one day make an album together. After Albert’s passing they were instantly reminded that life is too short to put anything on the back burner. So they took their experience from performing at church, their God-given talents, the piano lessons and their heavy emotions to create what many church friends often described as “angels singing.”

Although they modestly admit that they don’t exactly sound like angels individually (just collectively), Bernadette says that everyone can “at least carry a tune.” This makes karaoke time at their weekly family parties as competitive as it is fun. As Jerome puts it,“It’s a battle and if you don’t get 100, you’re not even worthy. You’ve gotta give the mic up to the next person.”

But before there was music in the Baraquio household growing up, one other thing came first - education. Their parents, Claudio and Rigolette, put every penny that they earned into their children’s Catholic private school education.

“Our parents are the pillars of the family,“says Bernadette.“They taught us everything we know, and if they didn’t teach us directly, they found the people to help us get educated. Everyone is college-educated and everyone has been able to accomplish their dreams because of what my mom and dad sacrificed.”

The Baraquios' album, Lost and Found
The Baraquios’ album, Lost and Found

Cecilia is a licensed marriage and family therapist in California, Jerome is a commercial account manager for Grainger Industrial Supply, Lucy is a senior design manager for Starbucks Coffee International in Washington, John is president of Able Pest Exterminators, Tess is president and owner of Harmony Productions, Bernadette is manager and owner of Just a Girl Productions, Rose is manager of consumer affairs at Hawaiian Airlines, Angela (the former Miss America) is an inspirational speaker, writer and talent/model in California, and Gloria is working with the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences on the Big Island. Before his passing, Albert was a loan officer at Wells Fargo Bank in California.

“As a family, this album is the biggest achievement that we’ve done together,“says Tess.“The fact that we all got together in different parts of the world, with all of our families and all of our schedules, to put this project together as a family was truly an amazing feat for all of us.”

The writing, recording and now release of the album has truly been a healing process for the Baraquio siblings. They have channeled their grief, confusion and disbelief into something positive that they hope will help others who have been through similar experiences.

“There’s such a taboo against suicide, and people’s loved ones who have committed death by suicide want to keep it hush hush,” says Rose.“And, as we said, we don’t want to proclaim it to the world, but for people who have been through it to say to them,‘it’s not your fault.’ So many people want to take the blame and take the guilt, and question through their whole lives,‘how could I have stopped that from happening?’ It’s not about that. They made a choice. Now, what can I do to move on?

“This CD is a great way to say that we’re not going to carry the guilt, but we are going to put out the word and hopefully some good comes from it.”


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