Pablo Manlapit continued:

In his attempts to unify the Filipino workers he ran across the problem of communicating effectively with Filipinos that spoke 3 different dialects. He had to bring an interpreter with him to translate his Tagalog to Visayan and Ilokano. Obviously, there was already mistrust between the different factions just from the fact that each group kept to themselves by dialect. Put yourself in their shoes, you're in a new country with limited broken English, so of course you congregate with those you understand. This posed a problem when trying to unite the Filipino workers and because of this his leadership skills were criticized. Unlike the Japanese who were more established then the newly arrived Filipinos, the Japanese labor unions had a representative in every branch. Manlapit was running the show by himself. The Japanese had no problem communicating, they all spoke the same language but Filipinos spoke Tagalog, Visayan, and Ilokano did not understand each other and were not united.

Too many Chiefs and no Indians

Undermining what Manlapit was already trying to achieve, the Visayan laborers from the Koloa and Makaweli plantations went on strike with little effectiveness. The HSPA must have seen the lack of unity amongst the Filipinos and before the 1924 strike started had contacted a Philippines labor commissioner and popular former governor of Ilocos Norte, living in Honolulu, Cayetano Ligot, who came to the island and assured the HSPA that Filipino workers would not strike. He was only successful in persuading Ilocano workers not to strike.

Poor planning and without a strike fund to fall back on the striking Visayan laborers were left out in the cold. As money was running out, they relied on fishing in the Hanapepe river and food contributions from the town folk to feed themselves. Outcast and frustrated the Visayan strikers congregated at their strike headquarters, a Japanese language school they rented in Hanapepe, a town on Kauai that was not influentially controlled by the HSPA. Tensions were high and bad feelings from the Visayans towards the Ilokanos was brewing. This led to the worst massacre in Hawaiian labor history.

The Hanapepe Massacre

On Sept. 8, 1924, two Ilokano boys from the Makaweli plantation rode into town on their bicycles to buy a pair of boots for work. Both were about 18 years old. My dad could have been one of them, he was around 18 and he worked and lived on the plantation. More than likely my dad was a non-striking Ilokano. So as the two Ilokano boys were on their way back, they passed the Visayan striker's headquarters where they were abducted by some angry Visayan strikers. Back at the plantation they noticed the two boys went missing and called authorities. They reported the missing boys to the Kauai Sheriff's office.
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Deputy Sheriff William Crowell found out the two boys were roughed up and being kept at the Visayan strike HQ. He issued a warrant for the missing boys, not to arrest them, but as an attempt to get the boys freed from the strikers. He had 40 deputized officers, 3 went with Crowell to retrieve the 2 boys and the others waited in nearby cars and some were perched up on a hill in clear site of the HQ. Most were well trained sharpshooters on payroll with the HSPA. A few were hunters. As the sheriff went in to get the boys out the Visayan strikers started heckling them violently following them out. Upon seeing what seemed to be an attack the deputies opened fire. In the melee there were 4 sheriffs who were hacked up by the strikers with cane cutters and later died from their wounds. After the smoke had cleared from the melee 16 of the strikers were shot dead. The rest fled to get away from the flying bullets. The sheriffs rounded up around 100 of the strikers and transported them to the main prison in Līhu‘e. The injured and dead were taken to a nearby hospital.

There were two funerals held in the following days after the massacre, one for sheriffs and another for the strikers. The HSPA provided a proper burial and $500 each for the families of the fallen sheriffs. The 16 striker's families had to split $75 barely $5 per dead striker, buried in a long unmarked trench in rough boarded caskets.

Ghosts of the Hanapepe Massacre

Somewhere within the city limits of Hanapepe there's a long unmarked grave site-trench where the 16 Visayan strikers lay to rest. A newspaper report from The Garden Island stated, “Rough board caskets were transported to Hanapepe on trucks where they were placed in one long trench.” To this day no one knows where the grave site is located. I've been to Hanapepe recently and I have noticed the town is still pretty much the same as back in the 1920s when this massacre took place. The town is a clean and tidy tourist attraction except for the old Hawaiian Plantation cemetery where it looks unkept. Being of Visayan and Ilocano heritage I can only imply that the cemetery may be haunted and hasn't changed too much because of those un-rested spirits. I can say that Visayans are very spiritual and superstitious and when scorned tend to resort to supernatural help of a shaman to invoke revenge. I've experienced this firsthand in my visits to Leyte.