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Family learns about its Puerto Rican heritage at Santiago/Corniel reunion

Julia Piano (with orchid lei) celebrated her 97th birthday during the Santiago/Corniel family reunion. She was presented with a cake and birthday wishes.

The Santiago/Corniel family reunion took place the weekend of Nov. 23-24 at Kalama Park in Kihei. Approximately 275 relatives responded, according to Kathy Click, one of the organizers. Many live on Maui, and a few traveled from the Big Island, Oahu and Kauai. Several family members flew in from the Bay Area in California; Las Vegas, Nev., Olathe, Kan., and Killeen, Texas.

Attendees were treated to a catered meal on Nov. 23 of local island cuisine, and on Nov. 24 many cooked authentic Puerto Rican dishes, which included gandules rice, bacalao salad, pasteles stew and pasteles.

Nov. 23 was also a special day for one Santiago family member. Julia Piano turned 97 that weekend and everyone present joined in to wish her a very happy birthday.

Nov. 23 also marked a celebration of life for one family member, Alan “AC” Canon Sr. His wife, Selma Pruse Canon is the daughter of Christine Corniel and Albert Pruse. Family members paid their respects to the Canon family at the Binhi At Ani Filipino Community Center in Kahului.

Many out-of-town relatives who arrived early in the week, visited family graves, paying their respects to their ancestors, and toured Heritage Hall in

Dennis Pruse (left), son of Albert and Christine Corniel Pruse, is shown with Allen Corniel, son of Benjamin and Betty Galacia Corniel.

Paia where they read up on their Puerto Rican heritage, and enjoyed the sights at Iao Valley State Park.

On the evening of Nov. 23, family was invited to attend the Maui Puerto Rican Association Holiday Dance 2019 at the Hale Nanea Hall and/or had the opportunity to watch the Lahainaluna football game.

With the help of social media and Ancestry.com, Click was able to reach out to several relatives and was able to put together the reunion.

The last reunion was held March 22, 1975, and was attended by the Corniel family, children of the late Maria Isabella and John Corniel, with seven of the 10 children in attendance. The family is planning its next reunion in 2022.

Linda Saranillio (from left), Kathy Click and Nichole Saranillio Takahara are shown at the reunion. Linda is the daughter of Elisabeth Diaz Pagan.

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