Finding Family in the Lyman Museum Archives

Blog 1 imageMusicians:  Alfredo Casil (saxophone), Inocencio Agasa (clarinet), Greg Manzano (trombone), Tito Nicolas (tuba), son of Andres Baclig in checkered shirt.   Band and location unconfirmed.  (9/24/1958)
Thanks to Don Savella, Carol Brown, Julita Casil and daughter Gloria Sampaia for identifying the musicians.






Since the opening of our special exhibit, John Howard Pierce:  Photographs of Hawai’i Island 1958 to 1969, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald has been publishing a weekly photo from the Pierce Collection.  It is the most visible face of the Pierce Photo Identification Project, a multi-pronged strategy to recruit community help to solve the thousands of mysteries in the collection.  To date, the Archives has received approximately 350 calls, emails, or visits from Tribune-Herald readers eager to share.  We are grateful to the paper and its readers for their generosity and community spirit.

The first photo published in the Tribune-Herald brought back fond memories for many people, but especially for Julita Casil who called to identify her husband, Alfredo (the saxophone player in the center).  Unfortunately he passed away just a few months earlier at the age of ninety-three.  Mrs. Casil said she was surprised and overjoyed to open the paper and find her beloved husband as a younger man doing what he loved and now has the cut out picture hanging on her refrigerator so she can see it every day.

According to his wife, Mr. Casil came to Hawai’i from Ilocos Norte, Philippines, as part of the 1946 Sakadas (the last large group of Filipinos recruited to work the sugar plantations).  He had arrived in Honolulu and was invited to work as a musician after someone heard him singing.  He declined, saying that he had to honor his agreement to work on Hawai’i Island.  He often wondered what his life might have been like had he stayed in Honolulu as a musician, but he took pride in having honored his contract.  He did pursue music here, eventually joining the Hawai’i County Band in the 1950s.  He also played with Tabing’s Quintette and started his own groups, including an orchestra and a rondalla group (a Filipino ensemble of stringed instruments).

As has been the case since the launch of the Pierce Photo Identification Project, the more people share about a photo, the richer and more important it becomes.  And always, each personal story uncovered enriches and humanizes the larger story of Hawai’i.  Through Mr. Casil we not only learn about his life story, we also learn about the larger story of Filipino immigration to Hawai’i.