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Filipino Piecemeal Sugar Strike of 19241925

John. E. Reinecke & Edward D. Beechert

Publication Year: 1996

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.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. v-vi

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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 ...

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Publisher’s Note

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pp. ix-x

SEVERAL MONTHS after Dr. John Reinecke’s death in 1982 I received a well-worn, three-ring notebook containing the manuscript of this book, much of which was written on the back sides of old committee reports from the First Hawai‘i State Legislature. It was found among the items that John had left in his office at the Social Science Research Institute, where he worked during ...

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1. The Filipino Piecemeal Sugar Strike of 1924–1925

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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 ...

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2. Cayetano Ligot versus Pablo Manlapit

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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 ...

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3. A Hopeless, Irresponsible Strike

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pp. 27-29

The Shinpo’s worries were well grounded. The strike was hopeless from the start.2 All the odds were against the strikers. As an existential act of rebellion against the restrictive, exploitative, often humiliating plantation way of life, the strike might be justified; but not from a trade union viewpoint, in which a strike should be called only if there is a reasonable chance of success ...

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4. The Course of the Strike

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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 ...

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5. HSPA Law and Order

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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 ...

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6. The Strike on Oahu

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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, the Nippu Jiji had predicted a strike of 15,000 men and the Hawaii Shinpo an active strike on nine plantations and an effective slowdown on 25 others.1 But such a beginning was ...

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7. The Strike on Hawaii

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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. ...

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8. The Strike on Maui

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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 ...

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.9 The Strike on Kauai

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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 ...

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10. The Battle of Hanapepe

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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 ...

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11. Pantaleon Inayuda and the Criminal Libel Case

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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 ...

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12. The Conspiracy Trial

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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 ...

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13. Oxiles, The Government Witnesses, and Amnesty

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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’ ...

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14. Manlapit’s Parole

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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 ...

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15. A Decade of Little Change

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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 ...

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16. Manlapit, Taok, Ligot

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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

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17. Jose Figueras’ Tour of Inspection

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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

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18. Exeunt Taok, Manlapit, and Butler

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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, ...

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19. Epilogue

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pp. 129-130

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

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pp. 131-138

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 ...

Appendix A

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pp. 139-142


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pp. 143-185

Note on Sources

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pp. 186-188


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pp. 189-192


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pp. 193-197

E-ISBN-13: 9780824862534
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824818968

Publication Year: 1996