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Swap meet shopper reunites brothers with their long-lost family mementos

As a part-time pleasure, Manu Pagaragan scours swap meets for hidden treasures that he sells on eBay.
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 4:14 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As a part-time pleasure, Manu Pagaragan scours swap meets for hidden treasures that he sells on eBay.

But he couldn’t bring himself to do that with one collection he came across at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet.

“I bought it all. Took it home. Seen all of this. Oh, this is money! But then I came across the letters and I changed my mind,” he said.

The letters were just part of a mountain of items that belonged to the Takano family from Nuuanu. Boxes and bins were filled with photo albums holding pictures that date back decades. There were black and white portraits of the Takano clan, and pictures of the Takano brothers when they were younger men.

“With the power of social media, I got in touch with Gerald Takano. He gave me his address and his contact information. So I’m returning everything to him,” Pagaragan said.

Gerald Takanao was an architect and instructor in Hawaii before he moved to the mainland. The goods include some of his old architectural drawings, notes to students, and his diary.

“It’s a great Christmas present,” he said from his home in Northern California.

He suspects the items were tossed out when his brother, Bert, moved into an adult foster home. He’s glad they haven’t been lost.

“Don’t take your family for granted. The memories, they’re not junk. They’re really very precious,” he said.

What caught Pagaragan’s eye were Bert’s military uniforms.

“This is one. Really nice,” he said, holding up a dress uniform adorned with Takano’s name tag, sergeant stripes and ribbons for his service during the Vietnam War.

Pagaragan said collectors pay a lot for military uniforms.

“That’s big money,” he said.

He’s returned them all to Bert. He said the cards and letters to the Takano’s parents are priceless keepsakes for that family.

“These letters addressed to dad, it reminds of my dad who passed away decades ago,” he said.

“I’m hoping in those letters there are things that my brother wrote from Vietnam or from East Africa. I would love to know more. He sort of has never really told me what he really did,” Gerald Takano said.

Pagaragan enjoys reuniting people with their long lost items. He’s done it several times. But coming before Christmas, this one was extra special.

“I feel happy! Really happy!” he said.

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