ELEELE — He makes better pancakes than I can cook, Gilson Aguillermo said Sunday while preparing to dive into his plate at the St. John’s pancake breakfast.
Aguillermo joined his sister, Micah, and the Waimea High School Bayanihan Club in volunteering to help serve and run the keiki games at the Eleele Elementary School cafeteria for the Episcopal Church of West Kauai.
“These pancakes are amazing,” said Rachelle Alicante, another Bayanihan Club volunteer. “They taste really good.”
Arnold Leong said Kaoru Fujita is the master pancake maker, getting his start back in 1935.
“He’s got an educated grill,” Leong said. “The grill being manned by Earl Kaneko used to be a printing press they found in the weeds and cleaned and fixed to become a grill. We already got two complaints about the pancakes being too big.”
Richard Hilgendorff of Richardgayle Photography in Kalaheo said he was supposed to go to the breakfast, but had to man his exhibit at the Coconut Festival.
“Kaoru makes really big pancakes,” Hilgendorff said. “I’ve been there before, and if he had his way, he would make one per grill. They’re really good.”
Roy Miyashiro said he was helping after the passing of Dr. Ben Hirano.
“My wife is a Hirano girl,” Miyashiro said. “When Dr. Ben passed, she told me I had to come help and take Dr. Ben’s place. But we’re losing more people since Mike Kikugawa, one of the original pancake makers, passed away this year.”
Ben’s widow, Elaine, was helping collect the “eat in” tickets along with Lyn Farman, and her son, Dr. Timmy Hirano, was on duty in the kitchen.
“We couldn’t do this without the Bayanihan Club,” Farman said. “They do all kinds of activities to help the church, including helping at the movie night, running the Easter Egg hunt, and helping at the breakfast.”
Asieigh Soller, president of the 29-member Bayanihan Club, said their advisor, Kristal Daligcon, is a member of the church and attends the Ilocano service.
“We want to learn about the Filipino culture and get to meet other people who share the same culture,” Soller said. “We do a lot of volunteering at the care home in Waimea, beach cleanups, Adopt-A-Highway, and helping feed the homeless at The Salvation Army, Hanapepe Corps. We’re trying to set up something to help the homeless at Nana’s House in Waimea.”
Ora Tashiro, of Kalaheo, said the St. John’s pancake breakfast is one of three breakfasts she attends.
“I buy tickets from my neighbors,” Tashiro said. “This is a good way to support the church because I attended the St. John’s Preschool when we lived in Hanapepe. During the war (World War II), kindergarten in the schools was suspended and we had to go to preschool.”
Tashiro said she also makes it a point to take in the Hanapepe United Church of Christ breakfast in July, and the East Kauai Lions Club pancake breakfast, held in either February or March.
Bernie Taniguchi is a cook at the Eleele School, joining baker Debbie Pimental in helping the St. John’s volunteers.
“This is my first year, so I’m here helping make the miso soup,” Taniguchi said. “We come because they need help operating the equipment and making sure everything goes smoothly.”