Maui News

Scholarship fundraiser in name of “Mother of Filipino Folk Dance on Maui”

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Aggie Cabebe, who is often referred to as the “Mother of Filipino Folk Dance on Maui,” is shown performing one of the dances. Aggie Cabebe traveled to Oʻahu multiple times to learn Filipino Folk Dance from Aurelia Viernes, an UH-Manoa exchange student who started the Filipiniana Dance Academy on Oʻahu. Credit: Cabebe family photos

“A Bayanihan Christmas” dinner event, set for Dec. 14, will help raise funds for a scholarship in the name of Aggie Cabebe, who is often referred to as the “Mother of Filipino Folk Dance on Maui.”

The fundraiser for the Aggie Cabebe Scholarship begins at 5 p.m. at the Binhi At Ani Filipino Community Center, for which Cabebe was the first president in 1985. The scholarship for graduating high school seniors is sponsored by the Cabebe family and Binhi At Ani.

Agrifina “Aggie” Cabebe led or had a hand in many iconic Filipino events, including co-chairing the first Barrio Fiesta and helping to modernizeing the Miss Maui Filipina Scholarship Pageant and serving as president ofn the Maui Filipino Community Council and as Vice President of the statewide United Filipino Council of Hawaiʻi. She also was a contributing member of the general community, volunteering for positions on the Maui County Status of Women and the Maui County Charter Commission.

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But Cabebe is best known as the woman who brought traditional Filipino dance to Maui. It was a performance by Aurelia Viernes, an University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa exchange student who started the Filipiniana Dance Academy on Oʻahu, in the 1950s that inspired her calling. 

She traveled to Honolulu to learn the dances from Viernes and then began introducing them on Maui. Cabebe started by teaching her children, Raymond and Marcia, then progressing to their friends, groups in school, churches and the community. 

Eventually, Cabebe formed the Maui Saniatas, who began performing at the old Maui Palms and Maui Beach Hotels. 

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“She paid meticulous attention to detail to make sure everything, like costumes, music, dance moves, meanings were culturally authentic,” said Raymond Cabebe in an interview in the Fil-Am Voice. “This was not just for the dance as you witnessed it but to pass on to future generations of Filipinos.”

“We are honored Binhi at Ani will be able to perpetuate her name and her commitment to Maui’s Filipino community,” said Melen Agcolicol, president of Binhi at Ani.  “She was definitely a trailblazer in so many ways and we have been blessed by her leadership.”

“She set forth the foundation for Filipino dance on Maui,” said Marcia Cabebe Paranada.  “This scholarship will push our art and culture even further.”

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Born in Pāʻia, Cabebe lost her parents at a young age and lived with relatives in Corn Mill Camp and Hāliʻimaile. She attended Makawao Elementary and Maui High Schools and worked at Maui Pineapple Co. for 43 years before retiring.

She died on Dec. 14, 2020, at the age of 92.

Seats are limited for the fundraising event with table sponsorships of 10 at $500 and individual seats at $30. Donations to the scholarship fund also are accepted.

For more information or to purchase a sponsorship or seat, contact Event Chairpersonman Alfredo Evangelista by phone at 808-242-8100 or email at [email protected]

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