Wordless Wednesday – 8 1/2 Mile Camp

The other day I took the time to shoot off of Highway 130 near Milo Street and I turned down by Christian Liberty School into this small Filipino Community of older run down houses known as 8 1/2 Mile Camp.

Alan McNarie wrote an article about this place a few years back in the Hawaii Island Journal (no longer published) and I learned more about the place after doing a bit of research of my own.

Unfortunately it appears the folks that live there are subjected to very high arsenic levels from the old sugar plantation:

…Arsenic at about four times the recommended limit was found in the soil at community gardens in two plantation communities known as 8 1/2 Mile Camp and 9 1/2 Mile Camp, according to Peard. There are fewer than 100 homes in the two camps altogether…

Keaau is Warned of of High Arsenic Levels at Garden

On my short drive through part of the “camp”, I took this video of the place:


I felt very out of  place as folks were coming out of their houses to see who I was as obviously I was in a car that the folks in the community hadn’t seen in the camp before.

In another article published, Big Island Sculptor Fred Soriano had this to say about the place:

…The story has been told that the workers came to Hawaii to escape poverty, found a life of hard work and often spent their lives here without wives and family, Soriano said.

The story is only partly true, said Soriano, an amateur sculptor and sociology professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Workers were already moving from one plantation to another in the Philippines in 1906 when the first sakadas came to Hawaii. Often the motivation was not poverty, but adventure, Soriano said…

Sculptor Forges History

To say this is quite a unique little village would be an understatement.  While the houses may be a bit run down… the folks in the community are very open and friendly and the spirit of the Filipino Community is alive and well!

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