Saluting The Very Best Of Parents

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - July 14, 2005
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Diligence. Love. Unconditional sacrifice. Throw in some perseverance and values and you have the makings of a parent. Not just any parent, but a good one. Maybe an awardwinning parent.

I was asked recently to be a judge for Philippine Cultural Foundation of Hawaii Parents of the Year award. I was honored to accept, but a little apprehensive. After all, I am no expert. Like many parents, my husband and I are learning as we go. But, hey, how hard could it possibly be?

Well, it did turn out to be somewhat difficult. But only because after reading about the nominees I wanted every one of them to win.

A couple of themes run through most of the essays. The most impressive was the sense of determination these couples all shared to instill in their children the values that would ensure successful lives — values like respect and hard work and education. They taught mostly by example. Most of them have endured hardship and many setbacks. All emigrated from the Philippines and had to start over in this country. Many worked two and three jobs apiece in order to make ends meet. And they sent all their children to college. Impressive, because they have large families.

Cecilia Villafuerte, vice president of the Cultural Foundation and chair of the event, says that’s not unusual.

“Filipinos from the Philippines have large families,” she told me. “Lots of kids. And we all try hard to send them to college.”

Villafuerte should know. She’s one of eight children, and every single one of them has a college degree.

The judging criteria were pretty straightforward. The parents had to have at least three children who have graduated from a four-year college and are now employed. And they must be role models in the community as well— and actively involved in community service.

When I read the descriptions I realized I really had a lot to learn. These strong and determined people put most of us to shame.

Jaime and Natividad Alscisto were married in 1970. They decided when they had their three children that they would each hold more than one job in order to give their children every chance at life. They’re still working hard today, even though they have raised a social worker and two engineers.

Felicitas Beltran Alejandro met her husband Isedoro Alejandro while he was vacationing in Laoag City in 1960. Isedoro was already a part of Hawaii’s colorful plantation history — a “Sakada” who arrived in the islands in 1930 to work on a sugar plantation. They went on to invest in real estate and start a travel company. Isedoro passed away, but their three successful children are their enduring legacy.

Leopoldo and Alma Antonio have been married almost 50 years. They are blessed with 10 children — five boys and five girls. Leopoldo was the breadwinner. Alma stayed home to raise the children. She augmented their meager income by raising livestock and growing vegetables for food. The sacrifices paid off. All 10 kids have college degrees.

Osler and Trifona Andres left behind lucrative careers in order to give their children better educational and life opportunities in the United States. It paid off. Their seven children are scientists, teachers, nurses and engineers.

Filomeno and Lasting Bartolome also left behind careers in the Philippines in order to give their children opportunities in America. They joined Hawaii’s work force at entry level and worked their way up. Of course, all of their five children are well-educated and successful.

Benedicto and Adelaida Galindo married very young. Adelaida had a job as a secretary and Galindo worked nights and weekends while going to school. He became a doctor and all three of their children are now professionals.

Angel and Anita Manuel came to Hawaii in 1966 and used higher education to improve their lives and that of their three children. Angel worked for the U.S. Postal Service for 31 years.

And finally, Leonora Ortal Parubrub — who may epitomize the courage of all who struggle for their children’s lives. Leonora stayed behind with eight children while her husband went to America to work. When she finally reunited with her husband, Crispulo Parubrub, here in Hawaii, it appeared their sacrifices had paid off. But Crispulo had a stroke and it was left to Leonora to carry on. She cared for him until his death, while supporting their children through college.

Their stories are inspirational because they show us that the American dream is alive and well. Parents who are strong and steadfast are the most important influences in the lives and futures of their children.

In a future column, I’ll profile the winners.

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