Chair’s 3 Minutes: Council considers renaming ballpark after Caldito

On Thursday, the County Council will consider on final reading a bill renaming Waihee Ball Park as Richard “Pablo” Caldito Park.

Bill 52 (2013) provides more than just the authority to erect a sign with a new name. It’s a celebration of life for a pioneer in the Filipino community who served on the Maui County Board of Supervisors and Maui County Council for 15 years.

Known by many as “Tata,” Council Member Caldito remained an active leader until his death at 98 two years ago. His absence in the community has left a hole no one could ever replace. Tata Caldito was a man with a great deal of knowledge, and he was always eager to share his expertise with others, myself included.

He was first elected to the former Board of Supervisors in 1956. After the County Council was created by a 1968 charter amendment, he became a member of the first Maui County Council.

Council member Caldito was the first Filipino-American Democratic candidate elected to public office in the nation and was the first immigrant from the Philippines to be elected to any position in Maui County.

At first reading of the bill on July 5, former Council Members Danny Mateo and Joseph Pontanilla offered heartfelt testimony on their memories of and gratitude to Council Member Caldito. My current council colleagues described Council Member Caldito as someone who never wanted recognition, but merely wanted to help others.

He served many organizations, including the Maui Lions Club, Maui Children’s Home, Maui Adult Day Care Center and Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce.

Council Member Caldito was also an active member of the Diocesan Congress of Filipino Catholic Clubs and Boy Scouts World Jamboree, and was a founder of the United Filipino Council of Hawaii in 1959.

His success was a product of hard work and perseverance. He came to Maui at age 9 from Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, Philippines, and grew up without privilege. His rise to prominence should inspire those who don’t start life with power or prestige, but have the drive to serve others.

For community leaders of all ages and ethnicities on Maui, he was more than a mentor. Council Member Caldito served as something of a second father to many of us.

The council adopted Resolution 11-81, extending condolences to the family of Richard I.C. “Pablo” Caldito Sr. after he left us on July 25, 2011. The council meeting on Thursday marks the second anniversary of his death.

Three other bills will be heard on second reading Thursday:

* Bill 53 would codify an existing crosswalk fronting Paia Elementary School and amend the description of the crosswalk adjacent to the Alfred “Flako” Boteilho Sr. Gymnasium to reflect current geographic references.

* Bill 54 would clarify the Department of Public Works’ authority over the subdivision ordinance and update procedures for subdivision applications.

* Bill 55 would approve a zoning change for the Wells Street Professional Center parking lot in Wailuku.

Finally, Bill 52 is an opportunity to commemorate the life of a great man, “Tata” Caldito, by ensuring his name will be honored at a public park for generations.

A hui hou.

* Gladys C. Baisa is chairwoman of the Maui County Council and holds the council’s Pukalani-Kula-Ulupalakua residency seat. “Chair’s 3 Minutes” is a weekly column to explain the latest news on county legislative matters.