Filipino fish­ers left their mark

De­scen­dants tell of set­tlers who came to Kalk Bay

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - TANYA PETERSEN

FOR MANY peo­ple, Her­itage Day is about their South African roots. But

South African her­itage is com­plex and rep­re­sents a num­ber of cul­tures.

In the mid-1800s, Filipino sailors set­tled in Kalk Bay, where they in­te­grated into the fish­ing com­mu­nity. They be­came known as the Mani­las, af­ter the Filipino cap­i­tal. To­day, there are a num­ber of de­scen­dants of the set­tlers from the Philip­pines spread across the penin­sula.

Tony Trim­mel de­scended from the Erispe fam­ily, who set­tled in Kalk Bay. He still lives there and is a mem­ber of the Kalk Bay Ratepay­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion and the Kalk Bay His­tor­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion.

He said the Filipino her­itage was a rich one that should not be for­got­ten.

He ex­plained when the first Filipino set­tlers ar­rived in Kalk Bay, they found a place as fish­er­men.

“Many of them owned their own fish­ing ves­sels and owned their own prop­er­ties,” he said.

Al­though they adapted to life in

Kalk Bay, he said they brought their own lan­guage and cul­ture. They spoke a mix­ture of Span­ish and their na­tive tongue, Ta­ga­log.

Up to the 1970s, there were still full­blooded Filipinos, who spoke the na­tive Filipino lan­guage. “As the years passed they adapted to the Afrikaans lan­guage.”

St James Catholic Church was es­tab­lished in 1859 to serve the staunchly Catholic Filipino com­mu­nity but not where it stands to­day. It was where the St James rail­way sta­tion is now.

When the rail­way line was built, the church had to go and the new one opened its doors in 1901.

Trim­mel said al­though there were still a num­ber of Filipino de­scen­dants liv­ing in Kalk Bay, many had moved to dif­fer­ent parts of Cape Town.

Be­cause the Filipinos were avid fish­er­men, their diet was rich in fish.

“When there were scarce fish­ing days, we had ac­cess to klip­k­ous, which we would col­lect off the rocks,” said Trim­mel.

They would use it to make de­li­cious frikkadels.

“In Kalk Bay, we had the best of ev­ery­thing.”

He said a group was work­ing on doc­u­ment­ing the Filipino her­itage, so it didnt get lost through the gen­er­a­tions. “The elders are dy­ing out.”

Stephanie Eckardt, a de­scen­dent of Severo Pas­tor, who set­tled in Kalk Bay, ex­plained al­though the facts around her grand­fa­ther’s ar­rival were un­clear, there were a num­ber of sto­ries about it.

“As far as we know, my grand­fa­ther came to South Africa but he was sup­posed to go to Spain,” she said.

She said he was in his late twen­ties when he ar­rived in Kalk Bay in the late 1800s alone. He cor­re­sponded reg­u­larly with his fam­ily in the Philip­pines.

He was born in Leyte, in Palom­pon, in the Philip­pines on Septem­ber 27, 1866.

Eckardt still has a copy of her grand­fa­ther’s bap­tism cer­tifi­cate. He be­came a fish­er­man and stone mason.

He mar­ried a Filipino woman, the daugh­ter of one of his friends, in Oc­to­ber 1897 at St James Catholic Church.

“She was much younger than him.” Her grand­par­ents moved to Loader Street in Green Point, where the fam­ily lived for a num­ber of years un­til the Group Ar­eas Act came into ef­fect.

“I vaguely re­mem­ber my grand­mother. I was 6 when she died and my grand­fa­ther died in 1932. I never met my grand­fa­ther.”

She re­mem­bers her fam­ily mem­bers al­ways talk­ing about their Filipino her­itage.

Ev­ery few years, the Pas­tor fam­ily has a re­union to stay in touch with rel­a­tives from across the world.

In 2013, the re­union was in Cape Town. Next year, it will be in the Philip­pines.

“Our fam­ily in Cape Town is still very much in con­tact with each other.”

Eckardt said it was im­por­tant for peo­ple to know where they came from.

“I think it is quite some­thing to know your her­itage. I am happy we still have some doc­u­men­ta­tion that shows our her­itage.”

In 1944 her un­cle Apoli­nario Pas­tor – who was pres­i­dent of the Philip­pine Com­mon­wealth League of South Africa – wrote a let­ter, high­light­ing Philip­pine Com­mon­wealth Na­tional Day, which was to be cel­e­brated on Sun­day, Novem­ber 12, 1944, at St James Church.

An ex­tract from the let­ter reads: “I am hereby mak­ing an earnest ap­peal to all the fam­i­lies of Filipino de­scent to make a spe­cial ef­fort to at­tend. It is now more than ever, that you all should join to­gether in prayer for the suc­cess of the lib­er­at­ing armies now in­vad­ing the Philip­pines, to speed­ily clear the Ja­panese from the beloved home­land of our fa­thers. The ser­vice will serve a dual pur­pose, the mass will also be of­fered up for all those Filipinos now de­ceased in South Africa.”

To pre­serve the Filipino her­itage, a pro­posal has been put for­ward to name the steps near the Filipino ceme­tery in Kalk Bay the Manila Steps in me­mory of the “Mani­las”, the early set­tlers.

Brett Her­ron, chair­per­son of the city’s Nam­ing and Nom­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee, said the pro­posal had been sub­mit­ted by the Kalk Bay His­tor­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion.

“The as­so­ci­a­tion deemed it ap­pro­pri­ate to hon­our the con­tri­bu­tion made by these early set­tlers. The City of Cape Town’s Nam­ing and Nom­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee on March 8 dis­cussed the pro­posal and sub­se­quently rec­om­mended to the ex­ec­u­tive mayor Pa­tri­cia de Lille that the city un­der­take a pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion process for nam­ing the un­named steps the Manila Steps.”

The pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion process took place from June 15 to July 15.

“The re­port about the out­come of the process will serve be­fore the city’s Nam­ing and Nom­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee for con­sid­er­a­tion… The com­mit­tee will make a rec­om­men­da­tion to the ex­ec­u­tive mayor once the mem­bers have dis­cussed the re­port.

“Any pos­si­ble nam­ing process will only take place once these pro­cesses have been fi­nalised and once con­sid­ered and ap­proved by full coun­cil.”

The steps lead from Boyes Drive to the Filipino grave­yard at the cul-de-sac on the cor­ner of Quar­ter­deck and Kim­ber­ley roads.


Fish­ing boats docked at Kalk Bay Habour.

The stairs in Kalk Bay which it has been pro­posed be named the Manila Steps in hon­our of the first Filipino set­tlers who ar­rived in the area in the mid-1800s.

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