Dateline Hawaii – Crossing Shores with Cool Pinoys

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By Art Tibaldo

Consumer Atbp.

Monday, October 28, 2013


MY SECOND sponsored travel to Honolulu Hawaii which is art and academic related is part of the state’s observance of the Filipino-American History Month and I am truly thankful to Filipino friend who made it more memorable.

With multi-awarded Photojournalist, Dave Leprozo Jr., we were practically brought to Honolulu through Councilmember Joey Manahan who laid the necessary groundwork for our exhibit, film showing and lectures. We came to meet and interact with students, professors, department head and librarians at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and they made our stay truly meaningful. Prior to our photo exhibit and lecture series, we were ushered to the Philippine Consulate to meet with the current Consul General, well wishers and other Filipinos and Joey practically became our special driver and tour guide.

Joey Manahan is the newest member of Honolulu City Council who was sworn into office on November 14, 2012 after winning in an election. He represents Honolulu City Council District 7 which is also widely populated by Filipinos from Northern Philippines. Manahan was formerly a state representative and Vice Speaker of the Hawaii State House of Representatives. He was first elected to office in 2006 serving under the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging in Place and Legislative Management. Joey has worked hard to avoid unnecessary school closures and consolidations, and joined his colleagues to balance the state budget while facing the worst economic crisis the State of Hawaii.

During his first term, he secured $45 million in funding for schools, housing, harbors, health and social services, which included $100,000 in support for a multilingual effort to broadcast emergency messages to non-English-speaking residents and visitors in Hawaii. In 2010, he won the election for his third term as state representative with over 75 percent of the vote. As a State Representative, Manahan was instrumental in making the Hawaii State Legislature the first to designate October as Filipino-American Heritage Month. Also, Joey is a strong advocate for Filipino Veterans’ benefits and reunification efforts. His priorities are in the areas of education, health and human services, and housing, as well as tourism and economic development. Manahan was selected as Legislator of the Year by the Hawaii Medical Association in 2011 and recognized for his assistance in the improvement of and access to healthcare for the people of Hawaii.

Now, one of the nine council members of the City and County of Honolulu Council, Manahan is Chairman of the Committee on Parks and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Transportation. A grandson of the late great Filipina TV personality Elvira Manahan, Joey immigrated to the United States when he was 10 years old and attended the University of Hawaii and is now married to Mary Ann Santos-Manahan.

When I first came to Hawaii in 2006 through the invitation of the East-West Center mount an exhibit about Upland Philippines, I met Belinda A. Aquino, the notable and internationally recognized expert on contemporary Philippine society, politics and culture. At that time, Lindy as she was called by many was the Director of the Center for Philippine Studies of the University of Hawai?i at M?noa. The first-ever awardee of the prestigious Dr. Jose Rizal Award for Peace and receiver of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award, Aquino is one of the most distinguished and renowned Filipino academics and experts of her time.

An alumna of both University of the Philippines and University of Hawaii with a doctorate degree from Cornell University, Dr. Belinda Aquino has established the Belinda A. Aquino International Philippine Studies endowment. This fund will promote and enhance academic and professional studies at UH M?noa on the Philippines and Filipinos from an international, comparative, cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. According to Edward J. Shultz, dean, School of Pacific & Asian Studies said, the endowment will encourage and support the study of diasporic and global issues affecting Philippine society and culture, and Filipino communities overseas.

Filipinos are playing an increasingly important role in Hawai?i and in other parts of the world and Aquino believes that there is a need for students to be at the cutting edge of this new wave hence the Belinda A. Aquino endowment moves towards this direction.

Now serving as a Professor Emeritus at the School of Pacific and Asian Studies where she was Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies, her intellectual leadership was instrumental in developing the Center as the leading institution in the United States for academic and comprehensive studies on Philippine society and culture.

Dr. Aquino hopes too that this endowment will support efforts to energize and strengthen the Philippine homeland itself by supporting initiatives such as scholarships, fellowships, research and publications, library materials, exchange programs, visiting scholars, conferences, workshops, websites, educational travel and other opportunities aimed at achieving sustained academic and professional interest in Philippine Studies.

With Joey Manahan and Belinda Aquino making waves outside Philippine shores, I also tap my hat to Imelda Fines Gasmen of the UH for her recognition by the Hawaiian State Legislature as “Hawaii's Outstanding Advocates for Children and Youth 2013.” Mahalo!

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 29, 2013.

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