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Manong Elario Questas, 112 years old
Born Aug. 6, 1886 in the Philippines, Questas at age 15 stowed away on a boat bound for Kauai. He came to Hawaii after being promised free rent, free water and $20 a month in plantation wages.
He worked in the sugar and pineapple fields in Hawaii and the Kona coffee fields before making his way to Maui, where he began working for Pioneer Mill in 1914.Questas was amazed at the sights at the Maui Ocean Center, where he spent his 112th birthday. Elario Questas was not only Maui's oldest resident, this living legend had also made famed by being the oldest resident of the United States. Questas has lived on all then islands, fought in two World Wars and watched as Hawaii went from an independent monarchy to a territory, to a state of the union. He lived on all the major Hawaiian Islands before settling in the Honokohau Valley 70 years ago. Questas lived a simple existence in the valley in a small home with no power.

Brockmann said he will remember Questas for his wisdom.

"He taught us if you can listen, you can hear," he said.

"God talks to all of us," it's just that people move too fast to grasp it.

"He liked rice and tuna, rice and sardines, mixed them up. He liked Carnation milk with vitamin D; he'd drink one of those every day."

Questas died Friday at Maui Memorial Hospital.He kept fit well into his 90s, riding a bicycle several miles between Honokohau Valley and Lahaina. On his rides, he frequently wore a pointed army hat from World War I.

"He would cross the stream to get to his home across the road," recalled Edwin Lindsey Jr., who was raised in west Maui.

He lived a simple life and cooked his meals outside his home, using wood on an open fire. His secret to long life was no secret to those who knew him. "He was a very religious person,"

Questas received about $800 a month from Social Security and the Veterans Administration, which Brockmann handled to care for Questas and his family. It was an old-fashioned, word of mouth agreement, Brockmann said, and the state questioned how Questas' money was being spent.

Lindsey said (Lahaina News). "He said his good friend is God."

Steve Dabney of Maui Time Magazine wrote:

So close, yet a little bit far, Elario Questas' last goal was to live through three centuries. On February 5, he was cut short by a mere 11 months, living more years than the average human being can fathom: 112.5 years. Inspiring all those whose lives he touched, his simple way of life is an inspiration not to forgot, I feel honored to even be able to write about this man. The earliest memories of him span three decades when he was a spry 80 and riding his stingray bicycle to Honolua Store and back for provisions. How's that for self sufficiency?

In 1975 Steve moved up to Honokohau Valley and got to actually meet this awesome human being as we were now neighbors. Shortly thereafter, I discovered Elario could let me know how the weather was going to be for the next year or so, never failing to accurately predict the high waters, dry seasons, and so forth; after a half century I suppose one would find out how the Valley's weather patterns worked.

Another thing that strikes Steve's memory banks of back then is that event though this apparently harmless kindly old man rode his bike so far, he never failed to have his trusty switch-blade tucked into his sock - no fool this Papa-san. And probably the most significant memory of all was a Thanksgiving dinner at the Brockman's with Elario and other various Maui characters. During the before kau-kau prayer we all stood in a circle and held hands. Just before Dan could utter a word, Papa breaks wind loud enough for all to hear. Den says,

"well, that about says it all...lets eat." Good prayer, Elario.

Jan said Papa would tell her to 'listen to the Lord, don't get loud, be quiet so you can hear him'. He also related, "certain people, you leave them alone". In the same vein he told them to "listen to the Lord, can you hear he talking?" Papa-san actually was at times a little hard to understand, unless you can get some practice by being around him for awhile.

On Feb 20th, its a come-one come-all gathering in Honokohau Valley to pay last respects and celebrate the life of Hawaii's oldest man. Pu-pus, music and manners will be the order of the day. This is a cordial invitation to partake in this once-in-a-lifetime event. It won't be hard to find. It's a bring your own to share kinda thing. If you can't make it, it's like Elario's buddy Willie Donkey used to say, "I wish you good luck and many more".

On Feb 20, 1999 we say, "Manong good bye"

(from the combined AP, Honolulu Star, Lahaina News, and Maui Time Magazine Magazine)

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phix7@yahoo.com Nestor Palugod Enriquez
Nestor Palugod Enriquez