Hawaii Filipino Chronicle - March 9, 2024

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MARCH 9, 2024
Improve HawaII HealtHcare vIa Get exemptIon
concludes Its 31st trade mIssIon to tHe pHIlIppInes
HousInG Issues ImpactInG FIlIpIno survIvors oF
NEWS press conFerence HIGHlIGHts current
tHe laHaIna
some tHouGHts on ImmIGratIon


The Community Will Always Remember

Emme’s Contributions and Trailblazing, She Was an Inspiration to Many

The Filipino community, Filipino ethnic media join the rest of Hawaii in mourning the loss of Emme Tomimbang Burns who was a pioneering local broadcaster for women and Filipino journalists. Tomimbang Burns, mostly known to her friends and the public as simply Emme, was a larger-than-life individual who wore many suits as a news broadcaster, producer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and community leader.

She broke ceilings in journalism by becoming one of the first women and ethnic in local broadcast TV in the 1970s. She started doing weather and gradually worked her way up to anchoring at several news stations by the 1980s. Her career lasted decades and she had become a household name by the time she left the newsroom to start her own media production company where she produced the popular Emme’s Island Moments that lasted more than 20 years.

Emme was a talented storyteller who had a natural gift to make those she interviewed comfortable enough to share details in their lives that other journalists couldn’t. This gift and breezy feature-style interviews on personalities that Emme possessed drew comparisons to another pioneering journalist, the late Barbara Walters – with some calling Emme the Barbara Walters of Hawaii.

While that is a highly esteemed comparison, Emme was unique and certainly a legend of her own, a local leader who’ve given back graciously to the greater Hawaii community through scholarships at Farrington High School (her alma mater) and the University of Hawaii’s medical school, the John A Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM). JABSOM is named after the late Hawaii Governor, the father of Emme’s husband the late Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Judge James S. Burns.

To the Filipino community, Emme will always be remembered for her decades of contributions to various projects and philanthropy. She’s helped raise tens of thousands of dollars for the Filipino Community Center. She’s led public awareness campaigns, one example, the need for our community to get the COVID-19 vaccination in the early days when it took convincing by people who the public trusted. And Emme was such an individual that our community trusted.

Role Model in media

Emme was an inspiration to many Filipino journalists over the years. Some veteran Filipino journalists who were pioneers in their own right looked to Emme as a role model because she was the first Filipino in mainstream local news. This holds true for women journalists in Hawaii as well as Emme was among that first group of women TV journalists in the state.

What we hear from some Filipino journalists who’ve worked in the 1990s, 2000s and present is that while Emme no longer was in the news stations with them, she made herself available to them, offering helpful tips, guidance, and contacts. That was simply Emme’s nature as a force of positivity, a human being with attributes of kindness, someone wanting to help others, these journalists say.

Another common comment Filipino journalists and Filipino leaders in the community would say is Emme was always proud of her ethnicity and the community she grew up in. Emme was concerned about our community, others perception of our community, and she did all she could to help uplift that perception by highlighting areas and contributions Filipinos of Hawaii could be proud of.



or decades, Hawaii locals and long-time residents watched Emme Tomimbang Burns on television delivering news or interviewing local personalities on her popular Emme’s Island Moments. She was a familiar face at events around town, from Filipino social functions to benefits and concerts. We were all sad to hear of Emme’s recent passing and wanted to pay tribute to a very caring woman who did so much for our community.

For our cover story, associate editor Edwin Quinabo takes us way back to Emme’s early days from her childhood and humble beginnings to her trailblazing years in the 1970s as one of the first women and the first journalist of Filipino ancestry in Hawaii broadcast news. Then we move into her years as a philanthropist and active member in our Filipino community. Several journalists of Filipino ancestry who knew Emme reflect on what she meant to them personally in the way of inspiration, friendship, and her commitment to making a world a better place. We hope you enjoy this special tribute cover story on this icon in media who touched many lives in our community. We also extend our deepest condolences to Emme’s family and friends.

One of Emme’s latest concerns that she encouraged news colleagues to highlight was the plight of Maui wildfire survivors, many of whom are Filipinos. In the news this issue, we have an article on the recent press conference on the rebuilding challenges these survivors are facing, from mortgage forbearance to FEMA appeals to ongoing evictions despite the moratorium, and housing shortages and displacement.

Also on the Maui fires aftermath, we have another article on Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg’s recent visit to Maui to assess the progress made by FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency. As we’ve pledged last year after the outbreak of the fires, we are committed to reporting on updates happening in Maui.

In community news, HFC columnist Rose Cruz Churma writes about the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii (FCCH) 31st Trade Mission to the Philippines. We’ve provided a pictorial of the event featuring the Hawaii delegation meeting with Philippines government officials, including President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. By the way, upon hearing of Emme’s passing at the event, the President remarked that she was planning to interview him in Malacañang.

Speaking of Philippines presidents, HFC columnist Elpidio Estioko submits “Magsaysay Is My Guy!”: A Reflection on Our Late Former Philippine President.” It’s interesting to note how President Magsaysay’s life contrasted that of the Marcoses. Find out how in the article.

In our Hawaii Workers Corner this issue, Arcelita Imasa, M.D. contributes “What is the Tipped Wage About?” The issue of tipped wages based on Hawaii’s tip credit law is about the practice of paying employees less than the minimum wage because restaurants want customers to make up the difference. This is met with controversy as Hawaii law is different from other states where restaurants pay their employees the minimum wage plus tips.

Lastly, remember years ago when we did a story on Hawaii Filipinos offended by comic Frank DeLima’s racial jokes on Filipinos and their calling for him to be cancelled. In HFC columnist Emil Guillermo’s latest article, he addresses this topic on how comics poking fun on other races besides their own does not sit well, while comics joking about their own race is laughable. Should such comics doing the former be cancelled? That’s a sensitive topic Guillermo explores as the line of free speech often is crossed when jokes are bitterly offensive.

Be sure to read our other columns and news this issue, including our new column Bible Reflections written by Bernie Di-



Belinda Aquino,


Junggoi Peralta

Photography Tim Llena

Administrative Assistant

Lilia Capalad

Editorial & Production Assistant

Jim Bea Sampaga


Carlota Hufana Ader

Rose Cruz Churma

Elpidio R. Estioko

Willie Espero

Perry Diaz

Emil Guillermo

Arcelita Imasa, M.D.

Seneca Moraleda-Puguan

J.P. Orias

Charlie Sonido, M.D.

Emmanuel S. Tipon, Esq.

Contributing Writers

Clement Bautista

Edna Bautista, Ed.D.

Teresita Bernales, Ed.D.

Sheryll Bonilla, Esq.

Serafin Colmenares Jr., Ph.D.

Linda Dela Cruz

Carolyn Weygan-Hildebrand

Amelia Jacang, M.D.

Caroline Julian

Max Levin

Raymond Ll. Liongson, Ph.D.

Federico Magdalena, Ph.D.

Matthew Mettias

Maita Millalos

Paul Melvin Palalay, M.D.

Renelaine Bontol-Pfister

Seneca Moraleda-Puguan

Mark Lester Ranchez

Jay Valdez, Psy.D.

Glenn Wakai

Amado Yoro

Philippine Correspondent:

Greg Garcia

Neighbor Island Correspondents:

Big Island (Hilo and Kona)

Grace LarsonDitas Udani


Millicent Wellington


Christine Sabado

Big Island Distributors

Grace LarsonDitas Udani

Kauai Distributors

Amylou Aguinaldo

Nestor Aguinaldo

Maui Distributors

Cecille PirosRey Piros

Molokai Distributor

Maria Watanabe

Oahu Distributors

Yoshimasa Kaneko

Shalimar / Jonathan Pagulayan

Advertising / Marketing Director

Chona A. Montesines-Sonido

Account Executives

Carlota Hufana Ader

JP Orias

Publisher & Executive Editor Charlie Y. Sonido, M.D. Publisher & Managing Editor Chona A. Montesines-Sonido
QuinaboDennis Galolo
(continue on page 3)
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After This Week’s Primaries, Here Is Why Trump Has the Advantage Over Biden Going into the General

Prior to this week’s Super Tuesday national primary election, politicos have been relying on soft data in polling to assess this year’s presidential race. After this week’s elections we have hard data on voters’ preferences. What can we infer from both (polls and primaries) at this juncture?

The obvious which was never really a cloud of doubt is that Joe Biden and Donald Trump would be the standard bearers of the two dominant political parties. Barring potential legal proceedings that would prohibit Trump from staying in the race and that Biden decides to push forward with his candidacy despite dismal polling, Americans can expect round two of Trump vs Biden in the General Election.

That we already knew and all previous polls prior to Super Tuesday were correct.

Protest votes, Advantage Trump

The haze in the crystal ball going forward is how many of the protest votes in the primary will fall in line behind the respective candidates. For Trump, the big question mark is, will the more centrist, independent-leaning supporters of Nikki Haley turn out for Trump, jump ship, or sit out in the General. As for Biden

New role models on different frontiers of media

Since Emme’s early years in the newsroom that she’s helped to shepherd in a new era of Filipino and women journalists, media has changed dramatically. Technology and social media have expanded how people get their news wherein traditional sources of media share the limelight with new media outlets and organizations on the internet.

In this new frontier of podcasts, live streams, social media accounts on YouTube, etc. there is a jockeying for: 1) viewership, 2) legitimacy and 3) credibility. There are a few independent news programs

based off primary results of “uncommitted voters” – an important factor in battleground states where the margin to victory is razor thin – the big question is, will these voters turn out for Biden, jump ship, or sit out in the General.

Despite the swirling legal battles for Trump, MAGA supporters haven’t wavered since Trump broke into the political sphere. So, Trump already has a guaranteed base. With some states allowing political party crossvoting, the states where Haley performed best, her actual base support is questionable as it’s likely that some centrist independent Democrats cross voted in the primaries. This would mean that protest votes for Haley in the primary are less significant. Advantage Trump.

For Biden, who are these uncommitted voters? A late campaign push starting from the Michigan primary had Americans upset with Biden’s approach to the war in Gaza voting “uncommitted.” Based off battleground states like Michigan, unless Biden does a 180 in the direction of his foreign policy in Gaza, these voters (compared to Trump’s protest votes) more than likely will sit out in the General. Why?

First, many of the uncommitted voters said so in interviews. Second, historically the

that have met all these requirements and produce weekly, even daily content. Communications experts say this is the wave of the future that even traditional media are starting to replicate as they hire social media journalists and podcasters to prop up their news content.

In this new frontier, we have yet to encounter a trailblazer like Emme. As independent digital news becomes even more entrenched in news broadcasting, we encourage our Filipino community to be a pivotal part of this movement. We will need more tech savvy, trained, and educated Filipino journalists to make their mark in this new frontier

voting bloc of those opposed to war are passionate about their convictions and are not easily swayed to political forgiveness on this issue. And this war on Gaza is arguably the most polarizing in modern history, especially with it being the first virtual war of our time. Furthermore, there has never been in modern elections a campaign that had voters rally behind a single issue to vote uncommitted, until now. Here, again, advantage goes to Trump, as the uncommitted voters in the primary most likely will remain uncommitted in the General.

Third party factor, Advantage Trump

Besides these question marks on protest voters, two independent party candidates -- Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Dr. Cornel West -- could affect the margin, with RFK Jr.’s campaign in particular, sounding loud alarm bells that could undermine Biden’s candidacy, many politicos are already saying.

RFK JR. has already qualified to be on key battleground states including Arizona, Georgia and Nevada, and the list is growing. RFK Jr. has even qualified to be on Hawaii’s ballot for the General. Historians point to two third-party candidates in Ralph Nader and Dr. Jill Stein who likely could

of media as Emme had done in traditional media. And to take it one step further as Emme had done as an entrepreneur in traditional media, for future Filipino journalists in this new frontier to become entrepreneurs in new media.

When you look at this futuristic goal where pioneers of new media are beginning to make their mark, we are reminded of the truly remarkable accomplishments Emme has achieved as a pioneering broadcaster starting in the 1970s.

The ethnic media that we are a part of is rooted in more independent news delivery. We share fundamentals in journa-

have thrown the election to Republicans.

Both of them, Nader and Stein, prior to the General in those respective years were garnering 2-3% (general election results mirrored those polling). But we see RFK Jr. doing far better with a hefty double digit backing, and among young voters, he is leading both Trump and Biden, which is a historical first in modern elections for a third-party candidate to be doing so well. Politicos can agree that RFK Jr.’s backers are siphoning votes from the Democratic party. The conclusion here, give another advantage to Trump.

Battleground states, Advantage Trump

Trump is leading Biden in seven key battleground state. Trump is besting Biden among registered voters in Arizona (49%-43%), Georgia (49%43%), Michigan (46%-44%), Nevada (48%-42%), North Carolina (50%-41%), Pennsylvania (49%-43%) and Wisconsin (46%-42%), according to a Bloomberg News/Morning Consult swing-state voter survey published last week.

Michigan and North Carolina have had large uncommitted protest votes. Other battleground states either have not held their primaries yet as of press time or their state did not have an uncommitted vote option.

lism as mainstream, larger corporate news organizations. But we are unique in our advocacy as a niche media outfit, which actually is what most news organizations have been transitioning into these past decades. In this respect, the ethnic media is pioneering in our own ways.

We know historically that battleground states are where presidential elections are won or lost. And these numbers in this 2024 election cycle have been steady. This is yet another area that suggests an advantage goes to Trump.

Biden going forward

Besides Biden’s age, which he cannot doing anything about, there remains hope for him to turn things around. But that would mean making dramatic changes and time is running out.

Super Tuesday added hundreds of thousands of voters to the uncommitted movement. Biden cannot afford to cover his ears and ignore the message sent to him that they (Democrats) do not want unconditional support for Israel and are demanding a permanent ceasefire. Foreign policy is historically not a top priority among voters. But in this case this election cycle, it is. And where the margin is razor thin as we are seeing, Biden will need to bring all factions of the Democratic Party back in line. On this issue, Biden has been stubborn and negligent in hearing Democratic voters’ demands. Biden: turn around this gross failure in foreign policy, and perhaps, that could be a start for you to climb back into the race.

But even those of us in Hawaii’s ethnic media can appreciate the significant role Emme has had in local media that served the larger community. We pay tribute to Emme and her legacy. Mabuhay Emme!

zon. In his second article for the Chronicle, he writes “God Cares About You.” Dizon is a former pastor and writer for USA Tribune. Welcome to our staff, Bernie.

A reminder, for your convenience, our website has the latest and archived issues of our newspaper. Get your free e-copy at www.thefilipinochronicle.com. Thank you for supporting the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle. Until the next issue, Aloha and Mabuhay!

(The Community ....from page 2)
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Hawaii Has Lost a Media Icon, Emme

Tomimbang Burns, Dies at 73

Emme Tomimbang Burns, a veteran broadcast journalist, passed away while undergoing open heart surgery at the Queen’s Medical Center on Feb. 19, 2024.

Considered by many as a trailblazer for women and the Filipino community, Emme paved the way for a new era of greater diversity in local Hawaii media. The media icon’s career spanned decades – her face and voice recognizable as she’s broadcasted news and interviews at various TV and radio stations.

Emme was also an entrepreneur with her own production company, Emme Tomimbang Multi-Media Enterprises. She produced the popular Emme’s Island Moments that had a run for more than 20 years. By the time that program was launched, Emme was already a household name, which helped her to attract sponsors and land inspiring guests to interview.

Her many highly visible projects over the decades cemented her as a local celebrity. When the name Emme was mentioned as a project participant, everyone knew it to mean it was Emme Tomimbang.

In the Filipino community when Emme got involved in a project, it was like a living, walking breathing institution coming to help your cause. Her participation was a magnet that drew sponsors and other highly visible leaders to projects.

In journalism, Emme helped shepherd and inspire new generations of young journalists and she gave helpful tips to veteran journalists new to Hawaii.

Annalisa Burgos, a local journalist and anchor, met Emme soon after moving to Hawaii in 2019 while working on a story for KITV, a special on civil rights. Her colleagues suggested she interview Emme as a long-time community advocate. She was introduced to Emme by mutual friends. “When we met, we talked story about her career as a prominent Filipina anchor/reporter in Hawaii and our family connections to the Philippines,” Burgos told the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle.

Burgos said Emme was kind and nurturing. “She gave advice to me -- a recent transplant -- for getting to know the islands and meeting new people.”

Caroline Julian-Freitas, a former assignment editor and news producer at various local TV stations, told the Filipino Chronicle, “As a little girl, I remember seeing Emme

reporting on the local TV station. I enjoyed her delivery, storytelling and skillfulness as a journalist. Emme was one of the firsts who represented our community to a broader audience. She was highly respected by all communities in Hawaii. She was a role model to the Filipino community as one of the firsts who became successful in an industry where there were very few Filipinos.”

Tomimbang, or known to most as just Emme, was a force of philanthropic causes. She was the widow of the late Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Judge James S. Burns, son of the Hawaii Governor John A Burns, after whom the UH Medical school is named (JABSOM).

JABSOM said Emme established endowments and scholarships. She honored the Kahanamoku legacy with scholarships for Native Hawaiian students and created the Burns-Tomimbang scholarship for JABSOM medical students committed to serving the Filipino community.

Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, interim dean at JABSOM, described Tomimbang Burns as “a huge supporter” of the school. “She was always working so hard to give opportunities to our kids from underrepresented communities,” said Dr. Buenconsejo-Lum.

Chief Justice of the Hawaii Supreme Court Mark Recktenwald said in a statement that Tomimbang Burns was “a force of nature. From her work in the media to her support of the medical school, her warmth and passion energized all who came in contact with her.”

Her gift of storytelling and contributions to the community garnered admiration and respect from Hawaii politicians. Gov. Josh Green said “Emme told stories from her heart. She tackled some tough subjects as a broadcast journalist, but also shared stories of compelling island people.”

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz said in a statement to the Filipino Chronicle, “I join people across Hawai‘i in mourning the loss of my friend and beloved local broadcaster, Emme Tomimbang Burns. Emme was a fixture of Hawai‘i TV and radio for decades and devoted her later years to expanding opportunities in medicine and journalism for students, particularly in the Filipino and Native Hawaiian communities. She will be dearly missed – but her impact across the state will live on.”

U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono wrote on X, formerly Twitter, “A talented journalist and beloved community leader, my friend Emme Tomimbang Burns helped tell the stories of Hawaii for decades.”

Bennette Misalucha, a former state senator and journalist, has been friends with Emme for more than 30 years. Emme is the godmother of her daughter Danille. She told the Filipino Chronicle, “Emme was the first Filipino American to sit at an anchor chair in the entire United States. It heralded that we, as a community, now belonged; that we had arrived in this new land, that we have now called ‘home.’ It was not just the fact that Emme opened doors for those who came after her, but she kept the door open for those that followed.

“She was always interested when there was a new Filipino face in TV news, and she made it a point to counsel them. Emme was good at what she did. She was respected and well loved,” Misalucha said.

Nestor Garcia, a former Honolulu City Council member and journalist, told the Filipino Chronicle, “As Emme the person, I remember her as someone who was gracious and kind, willing to go out of her way to help you, whether helping to promote a great cause, or making the time to offer helpful and thoughtful advice.

“As Emme the journalist, she had the talent to somehow get her interview subjects to share something about themselves that they would otherwise not share with anyone else but would do so for Emme and her audience. That is the mark of a master storyteller.”

Emme’s ability to get those she interviewed to feel comfortable and share infor-

Emme Tomimbang and Annalisa Burgos during the Imee reception at Hilton Hawaiian Village on October 5, 2023. Photo credit Mark Salondaka
on page 5)

mation is a gift that the late journalist Barbara Walters was able to do, said Olivia Holm, a former Hawaii resident now living in California. “I got news of Emme’s passing on social media. I grew up watching Emme on TV and always thought she was the Filipina Barbara Walters in Hawaii. Emme was an inspiration not only to journalists, but all Filipinas growing up in the 1980s.”

Emme made her TV debut in the 1970s. Early in her career, Emme met Barbara Walters and got valuable tips from Walters while in New York. Emme said Barbara told her, “You should be glad you’re doing features; [they’re] happy, glad [stories].”

Emme’s done serious news as well. Years later after meeting with Walters, Emme would go back to New York to do a special after the horror of 9/11. Misalucha said her series on 9/11 NYC and Washington DC survivors are still

Pioneering days in journalism

In the 1950s and 1960s, news anchors and reporters were predominantly Caucasian men nationally and locally. In the early 1970s, Linda Coble and Barbara Tanabe were the first women anchors on local Hawaii television.

In 1975, Emme debuted her TV career doing weather reports. “I think the diversity of our team [at KITV] showed we could do it and that we were groundbreaking. Before that no local ethnic minorities were on the air. Other stations began following suit. KITV stuck their necks out and were ahead of everyone else in testing the waters and going where no one else had gone,” Tomimbang told A.J. McWhorter, a writer and researcher for local and national media.

Tomimbang said during that time there was also a Hawaiian renaissance of music, comedy and entertainment beginning. “We were all riding the same wave,” said Tomimbang, as local personalities and local broadcast journalists started to become more visible on television.

In 1985, she became KITV’s 10 o’clock co-anchor with Tim Tindall. Tomimbang told McWhorter that she credits then KITV news director Stewart Chiefet for his vision for “island television” back

being talked about.

“Emme was also the first one to highlight the Hawaii regional cuisine and the chefs Alan Wong and Roy Yamaguchi when she saw the value of ethnic food blended with the traditional fare,” Misalucha said.

Emme not only interviewed Hawaii personalities like navigator Nainoa Thompson -- the first Hawaiian to practice the ancient Polynesian art of navigation since the 14th century, having navigated the canoes Hōkūleʻa and the Hawaiʻiloa from Hawaiʻi to other island nations in Polynesia without the aid of western instruments -- but she also interviewed national newsmakers like Muhammed Ali and Jane Fonda and international figures like Imelda Marcos. Emme had connections and profiled famous and not-so-famous people with intriguing stories that many will always remember.

in the 1970s. “Today, look at all the local faces on KITV, the local teams on HNN and KHON. It began with us,” said Tomimbang.

Waters remembered Tomimbang Burns as the only person who welcomed her when she came to Hawaii in 1981 to anchor the KITV news. She told the Star-Advertiser, “The only person who was nice to me was — literally — Emme. Over the years she became my best friend in Hawaii. I can’t imagine a world without her.”

After KITV, Emme moved to KHON Channel 2 where she launched the Morning News as a co-anchor. She later produced independent news features for KHON.

Before television, she hosted a radio show as a teenager on KNDI.

Julian-Freitas said, “As an elementary school student and aspiring broadcast journalist, I remember watching Emme report and deliver the daily news and feeling that...that could be me one day. Emme was the epitome of success and a trailblazer in a world when there were very few or not any Filipinas in Hawaii’s broadcast TV industry.

“She broke the glass ceiling, opened doors and paved the way for many aspiring Filipinas, like me, who wanted to pursue a career in television. I

“Emme showed that anyone – even someone from a humble background –can make something of herself or himself if you worked hard and believed in what you are capable of doing. She made us all proud. For young Filipinos, she was a trailblazer and a role model, someone who demonstrated that you can be seen as a talented and respected journalist who just happens to be Filipino.”

– Nestor Garcia former veteran journalist and politician

eventually landed a career in TV and have her to thank for making it possible for me and the many generations that followed. I wish I had the honor of meeting her so that I could thank her for her bravery and for being someone who represented our community well.”

Advocate for the Filipino community in Hawaii

To the Filipino community, Emme was admired for her years of advocacy for the Filipino community and culture. Burgos said, “I would see Emme at Filipino community events and learned more about her work telling the stories of the Filipino diaspora, which was a mission I shared. We became friends and when I moved to Hawaii News Now (HNN) in 2022, I was honored when she told me HNN was lucky to have me and she was proud of my work covering the Filipino community, including my Focus on the Philippines series. She also told me she was a huge fan of HNN’s Sunrise Weekends, which I helped launch in January 2023.

“Emme often called me to share story ideas and comment on stories and interviews I did about the Filipino community. Most recently, she shared her frustrations with the Philippine government’s response to helping the Lahaina wild-

fire victims -- nearly half are Filipino -- and asked me to stay on top of the story and cover the community there,” Burgos said.

She elaborates that Emme worked to combat negative perceptions of Filipinos. “Emme and I would reflect on how Filipinos continue to lag compared to other ethnicities with far fewer numbers, when it comes to having a seat in the C-suite and on various boards. We talked about how we as TV journalists could support and inspire Filipinos so they could achieve power and influence.”

Emme spearheaded and embraced various initiatives

to benefit the Filipino community. She was a recipient of awards by various Filipino organizations, including receiving the Community Service Award from the FilCom Center, which she helped to raise funds for. At a gala event “Sharing Memorable Moments with Emme Tomimbang & Friends” to raise funds for the FilCom Center, Emme helped raise more than $150,000.

At the 2013 event, Edmund Aczon, chairman of the FilCom Center board of directors, said “Emme’s stature in the community was able to attract an eclectic group of (continue on page 6)

(Hawaii.....from page 4) Emme with Nestor Garcia, Manolo Morales and Bernadette Caalim. Emme and Bennette Misalucha, Emme’s former KHON Channel 2 colleague and lifelong friend.

Some Thoughts on Immigration

The agricultural industry relies heavily on immigrants.

They take smelly, physically hard, low-paying jobs cutting chickens, beef, and pork, and packaging the meat to send to stores, or to other food production facilities to be used in making soups, frozen entrees, and other products.

The quotas they work under are stressful.

Those processing lines are crowded and high-pressure. Immigrants also take sun-intense, back-breaking jobs harvesting onions and potatoes and other produce out of the ground at 75 cents a bucket or harvesting crops in the sweltering heat.

Immigrants work long hours for low wages, without benefits.

individuals from celebrities, entertainers, elected, corporate and religious leaders to justices of Hawaii court.”

Emme said that evening, “It was a magical night seeing all my friends in the audience. After all my husband, Jim Burns, and I have been through to survive personal medical challenges, we felt the evening was truly a celebration of life.” In 2011, her husband was diagnosed with throat cancer. Emme became his chief caregiver. But in 2012 she suffered a brain aneurysm, and he became her caregiver. Burns died from

These are not desirable jobs, so the farm owners have a difficult time getting citizens to take the jobs. Farms rely on immigrants, and so, we Americans, in turn, rely on them to provide food for us.

It’s not just agriculture. It’s hard to find workers willing to wipe the poopy butts or change the pee-pee diapers of the frail and elderly. Most of us know someone who is or was in a nursing home.

Next time you visit, see how many of the staff are immigrants. Think of how families would be affected if those immigrants were not available to take care of persons in care homes.

Then think of how businesses would be affected if families had to decide who must give up a paying job so they can stay home to take care of that elderly relative because no immigrants were available to staff nursing facilities.

cancer in 2017.

She elaborated, “It’s such an honor and a privilege to support the FilCom Center and bring people who wouldn’t otherwise have ventured to this historic plantation town of Waipahu in order to see this beautiful center inspired by colonial Spanish design.”

During the early stages of the COVID-19, Emme worked with Filipino leaders, health professionals, community members, and University of Hawaii-Manoa faculty, staff, and students in the FilCom CARES public-information campaign to address the need for Filipinos to get vaccinated.

Emme, a co-chair of the FilCom CARES public-information campaign, along with Agnes Respicio, Malate Ph.D. and Dr. Lyla Prather, said in a joint statement, “Our call to action is this: We cannot sit back and be disengaged from this worldwide/statewide struggle. We must educate ourselves on the facts through native/non-English speaking languages and dialects. We should check with our doctors first for what’s best for us. And

If employers think they have a worker shortage now, imagine how much worse it would be if the labor pool shrank due to people staying at home caring for elderly or frail relatives because there were no nursing home staff to perform these tasks.

As my dad once told me, don’t look down on immigrants – they take jobs that other people are unwilling to take. Immigrants provide an important source of labor because all too often those jobs

we should not be afraid to step forward and do right by our loved ones and the world.”

At the time, Filipinos were the fastest growing sector with COVID-19 infections, comprising 21% of confirmed COVID cases and a death rate from the virus at 24% in Hawaii. There was apprehension then among some Filipinos to get the available COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Now is the time to reach out to our fellow Filipinos, determine what their concerns are, and provide them with accurate information to make the best choice for them, their families, and the community at large,” the statement said.

As a journalist, Emme reported on the Filipino community in the late 1980s when President Ferdinand Marcos and family were in exile in Hawaii. It was a divisive time in the Filipino community and Emme helped to make sense of it all in her coverage, providing insight to the larger Hawaii community as someone who grew up in the Filipino community.

Misalucha, a long-time advocate in the Filipino com-

are ones that citizens find undesirable.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) negotiated with the Democrats a border protection bill that gives Republicans everything they’ve wanted for years.

This bill funds enough judges to cut the wait time to six months so asylum seekers don’t linger for years awaiting a decision.

It gives President Joe Biden the power to shut down the border now if there are too many people coming across the border. It funds legal assistance for children – as young as three years old, imagine if they were your precious babies – who were separated from their parents at the border, so the children are protected.

Senator Lankford got all these Republican wish list provisions on immigration in exchange for the Democrats getting funding to help Ukraine

munity, said Emme “wore her culture proudly on her sleeves. She always advocated that children born in the U.S. with Filipino roots should touch bases with their roots. She did that. I think one of her proudest moments was when she did a documentary about the 100th anniversary of Filipino immigration to Hawaii. It allowed her to showcase all that was near and dear to her heart. Emme’s legacy will live forever.”


Tomimbang Burns was born in October 1950 and grew up in the Kalihi-Palama and Kaka’ako areas. She attended Central Intermediate School and Farrington High School and later gave back to her high school alma mater, funding programs for aspiring Filipino doctors, nurses and journalists. At Farrington she was a cheerleader.

She attended Leeward Community College and graduated from UH Mānoa in 1973 where she received a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. In 2014, she was honored with the UH Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Awards in

continue fighting off Russia.

To his great consternation, after getting a conservative’s dream bill, Trump commanded the GOP in the House and Senate to kill the bill so he could run on “protecting the border.”

Sen. Lankford urged his fellow GOP senators to back the bill – one that they could not even get when the Republicans controlled the House and Senate under Trump.

The GOP response was to threaten Sen. Lankford severely if he didn’t drop it.

Immigration does not have to be an issue in the 2024 election. The GOP in Congress simply has to say, “Thanks for giving us everything we’ve ever wanted on immigration, let’s get this bill passed!”

The GOP killed their own bill 50-49, to keep immigration as an issue, even though the bill would assuage the concerns of so many voters across the country.

recognition of her outstanding alumni accomplishments.

At the event she said, “The AA degree means so much to me because those two years at Leeward really defined my life and got me to UH and got me through the UH. So, I am grateful to the community college system,” she said. “Having gone to Leeward and going to the UH, a great institution with everything that armed me for who I am and what I have done in my life. I think that was the real prize.”

Emme was raised by her father Tommy Tomimbang, after her parents’ divorce. Her father was the founder of the first Filipino-language radio station (KISA) in the U.S.

On her legacy, Garcia said “Emme showed that anyone – even someone from a humble background – can make something of herself or himself if you worked hard and believed in what you are capable of doing. She made us all proud. For young Filipinos, she was a trailblazer and a role model, someone who demonstrated that you can be seen as a talented and respected journalist who just happens to be Filipino.”

Sen. James Lankford
COVER STORY: Hawaii....from page 5)

Ijust got back from a President’s Day Weekend in Los Angeles where I did five minutes of standup at the Hollywood Improv.

Unlike my solo one-man theater shows (which I will do March 2-9 at the Rogue Festival in Fresno, and April 5-21 at the New York City Fringe), standup is pure crack. The concentrated Emil Amok experience.

This weekend I told jokes about Filipinos. And people laughed. A lot. Great, because I’m Filipino.

Someone non-Filipino told a joke where Filipinos were the punchline, and I’ll admit I didn’t like it.

But on the show, people had seen me, so when that

Shane Gillis? Don’t Cancel Racist Comedy, Debate It

person told the Filipino joke, at least there was some counter-balance.

Then I watched a popular internet comedy podcast, where a once-canceled comedian introduced a Korean American comic, who told this joke:

“I think abortion is pretty cool. You know men have been killing things for years. It’s time the ladies took a crack at it to start with fetuses and work your way up to Filipinos.”


Killing Filipinos is NOT funny.

Abortion is borderline enough. That the Asian comedian was Asian doesn’t give him license or forgive him. He’s not Filipino

Better if he turned the joke on himself and said, “Work your way up to Koreans.”

But he said Filipino. Not cool.

But I don’t want to censor a comic’s jokes. In a freespeech America, the price to play is to be subject to debate.

More speech not less.

That’s why racial humor is always a touchy subject. And that’s why it’s a big deal that Shane Gillis is hosting the Feb. 24th episode of Saturday Night Live on NBC.

Activists rev your engines? Or not?

Boycott the show? Or hope Bowen Yang and Shane Gillis mud wrestle for supremacy on

national TV?

If you’ll recall five years ago, Gillis was hired as a cast member and then fired after some of his anti-Asian jokes were exposed.

That was 2019. Now SNL wants him back to host?

SNL announced plans to bring him back more than a week ago, perhaps to warn us, or to see if there’d be any blowback

Frankly, I haven’t seen much anti-Gillis buzz.

We’re busy. There’s a lunatic with 91 felony counts who could be president again. He’s been fined nearly a half-billion for fraud and civil liability on rape. It’s not a beautiful thing.

Maybe bringing Gillis back is an acknowledgment of the Trump effect on our culture. We’ve become inured to all the micro and macro aggressions, and perhaps the fear of assaults, verbal or physical, has been normalized.

Has it? I’m not sure.

The era of #StopAAPIHate peaked during the pandemic, but the hate lingers behind a false sense of acceptance. The fact is thousands of instances of pain have come our way since 2019. Asian America remains scarred and traumatized.

Is it really time to forgive?

Let’s see, I think Gillis is Catholic. There are 27 million Asian Americans in the U.S. His penance should have been 27 million Our Fathers, and 27 million Hail Marys.

I think that means he’s still got some time on his knees.

Or maybe SNL is setting the standard for bigoted jokery at however many Our Fathers or Hail Marys you can say in five years.

Shouldn’t it be up to those he offended?

Does Gillis get us?

If you don’t recall exactly what Gillis said to make him week-old takeout, here’s a summary.

Gillis routinely dissed gays and disabled people with

(continue on page 10)

Shane Gillis

FCCH Concludes Its 31st Trade Mission to the Philippines

The Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii (FCCH) just completed its 31st Trade Mission to the Philippines and met with business counterparts in

several cities in the Philippines.

It started with Sorsogon City in the Bicol Region, Santa Rosa and Los Banos in Laguna, Candon City and Vigan in Ilocos Sur, Angeles City in Pampanga, and concluded at

the Metro Manila area where the Aloha Night was held. The delegation met with several government officials and investment officers.

Highlights of the trip were the receptions hosted by Ambassador Mary Kay Carlson of the US Embassy in Manila and the audience with the President of the Philippines at

the Malacañang Palace.

The primary goal of the mission is to increase the exchange of goods and services between Hawaii and the Philippines, especially in the export-import of food products, gift items and home/personal accessories. Another is the facilitation and recruitment of workforce for the health-

care and visitor industries, as well as teachers for Hawai’i’s public schools.

The resulting metrics gained by the Trade Mission will be part of a report that the organizers will issue in March during the symposium.

FCCH visited the Cambaluga Elementary School and donated books and school supplies provided by community organizations in Hawaii. HPBEC Executive Director Rose Mendoza informs the President of the passing of veteran broadcaster Emme Tomimbang, one of his good friends from his Honolulu days. “She was planning to interview me here in Malacañang,” he said. Melody Calisay, chair of the 31st Trade Mission and the FCCH’s president-elect, admonishes the President to provide more support to farmers in the countryside. The delegation’s audience with Philippine President Bongbong Marcos was one of the highlights of the 31st Trade Mission. (Photo from Rising Tigers Magazine FB Page) The delegation poses with Candon Mayor Eric Singson and his wife Grace Singson in front of the newly built Candon Arena where the business meetings with Ilocos Sur entrepreneurs were held. Delegates participated in a bougainvillea planting ceremony at the new Coastal Road in Sorsogon City. Sorsogon City Mayor Ester Hamor hosted a “white party” in a mountain resort for the Hawaii delegates and members of the Bicol Association of North America. Ilocos Sur Governor Jerry Singson poses with the delegation at the provincial capitol after showing highlights of the festival held in the province. Mayor Bonito Singson of Vigan enjoys a merienda-cena held at the historic Quema House which was built in 1814, hosted by Margot Quema Adair and her sisters. The owners of Enchanted Kingdom in Santa Rosa, Laguna were presented with replicas of Kim Taylor Reece’s sculpture called Kilakila depicting a hula dancer. This replica was the gift of choice by FCCH president Susie Berardy to all the hosts at all cities visited by the delegation. The delegates pose in front of the massive gate of Intramuros, a seat of religious and political power during the colonial period. Knights of Rizal-Aloha Chapter member, Gino Soqueno, and FCCH president Susie Berardy led the wreath laying at the Rizal Monument, with the 31st Trade Mission delegates.  SMSE entrepreneurs showcased their products. A big hit was vegan cracklings made in Los Banos, Laguna.

Fellow Filipinos in Hawaii, did you know that our late former Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay had no bank account? And when he died, he left his family only Php 2,000 in his vault.

Magsaysay was born on August 31, 1907, and died on March 17, 1957 as a result of a plane crash near Cebu. As president, he was best known for successfully defeating the communist-led Hukbalahap movement.

My friend, who is my Beta Rho Omega Fraternity (BRO) brother from the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Atty. Isagani “Gani” Ramos reminded me of the late President Magsaysay’s simple and frugal lifestyle, even when he was already the head of state.

This information struck my attention because if we look at the present government,

“Magsaysay Is My Guy!”: A Reflection on Our Late Former Philippine President

it’s full of lavish spending with the Office of the President expanding government expenses, unlike in Magsaysay’s term in the 1950s.

Of course, Magsaysay’s modest spending at the time was in the past but it is still worth mentioning because even in the exercise of his duties, Magsaysay had to charge it to his salary, not through Malacañang’s expense budget. That’s something different, I guess!

In our group chat conversations, BROd Gani was wondering how far-removed government officials are nowadays, especially the country’s President, from their version of yesteryears in terms of integrity, honesty, and decency particularly in spending public money may be reflected in this story.

A Philippine Free Press Online article stated that: “When President Magsaysay died on March 17, 1957, all that he left to his family was P2,000 in his vault, He had no bank account. When the family left Malacañang, there was no house where they could

words like “retard” and “faggot.” He disparaged women by calling them “flat-chested bitches.”

So misogynist, homophobic, and an ableist. And then Gillis’ racism toward Asians.

On a bit about Chinese restaurants from a Sept. 2018 podcast, Gillis talked about Chinatown, saying “Why do the fucking chinks live there?”

A simple “Why do the Chinese live in Chinatown?” would have sufficed.

In another instance, he comments on the video game “Clash of Clans” and mockingly uses a fake Chinese accent to call it “Crash of Crans.”

Uh, an “r” sound for an “l” sound isn’t ethnically accurate and just broadly pan-Asian racist.

Back in 2019, I didn’t call for Gillis to be fired. I merely said we should let SNL know that kind of humor “doesn’t work if it’s interested in the largest possible audience in a diverse America.”

transfer to because the modest house built by Magsaysay in the 1930s on Arellano St., Singalong, Manila was being rented out to a Chinese while they were in Malacañang.”

This is definitely something to ponder! When he was in office, his daughter was a working student. And his son never had a car until Magsaysay died.

In another instance, whenever his children’s friends would come over to visit, the food served to them was charged to Magsaysay’s salary and not from the Malacañang’s budget. But nowadays in Malacañang, they would rather have food catered and cooked by expensive hotels and restaurants.

In a similar story, the Douglas C-47 military cargo transport plane Magsaysay used in his Cebu trip in 1957 didn’t have air-conditioning. When other high government officials complained of heat, the then-President told them he had the aircon removed so there would be no public criticism.

This isn’t about social justice. It’s about what’s genuinely funny to most people in modern America.

Gillis is every bit as bad and hackneyed in his Asian jokes as the standard morning deejay’s “ah-so” BS. He has the attitude of Trump’s ignorant white base.

Even his response back then was clueless. “Happy to apologize to anyone who’s actually offended by anything I’ve ever said,” he said.

Let’s see. He says, he apologizes if you’re “actually” hurt. Otherwise, for the rest of you, let’s party? That’s not much of an apology.

Gillis added that his intention was “never to hurt anyone.” But he says, “I am trying to be the best comedian I can be, and sometimes that requires risks.”

Lazy racist comedy is not risky.

Instead, why not risk actually being funny without denigrating people based on race,

Another fraternity brother, BROd Pioneer Edilbeto “Bert” Cabardo said that former Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was the one who set the austere norm.

In a 2018 Philippine News Agency article, then-Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that “President Rodrigo Duarte’s decision to take commercial flights would be the new norm to presidential travels. It is intended to save taxpayer’s money.”

However, BROd Gani and I asked: “Will we still have a President like that?”

As I see it aside from the fact that the political landscape is no longer the same, the mindsets of previous and present presidents are far different from that of Magsaysay.

They don’t have a lifestyle that is frugal and modest, but expensive and lavish. Even their personal activities are classified as official duties, so expenses are under Malacañang’s budget.

Vice President Sara Duterte used a private jet to attend

color, creed, or sexual orientation? Or just keeping the target on yourself?

Self-denigration is always funny.

When SNL fired him, frankly I was surprised and said as much. We let them know what we thought.

And our voices were heard.

So what now?

But I want to be fair too in 2024.

As I said, I don’t believe in cancellation.

As a First Amendment absolutist, I want Gillis to feel free to say what he wants.

We should all know that racist jokes don’t demand censorship, they demand debate. You match racist speech with more speech, not less.

A lot has changed since 2019. Gillis has actually become a better comedian. He targets himself now more than he goes after Asians. And he’s funny making fun of dumb

a birthday party on Balesin Island. President Bongbong Marcos used a 300-plus-person-capacity Boeing 777 to fly a 70-person delegation to Davos, Switzerland.

BROd Gani replied, which I concur:

“If Filipinos who found out about this are not yet convinced or enlightened about the kind of leaders that they have now, then they deserve the difficult life and hardships that they’re going through now and, in the days, ahead. As they say, you deserve the leaders that you elected. Unfortunately, and tragically, they’re bringing with them the rest of the Filipinos with their ignorance and pathetic judgment.”

Fellow Americans and Filipinos, let the Magsaysay lifestyle define our lives. We should not live beyond our means!

ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments… please email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com

white people. He has plenty to choose from.

But he also hasn’t changed all that much, according to comedian/journalist Seth Simons, whose investigation for the Los Angeles Times into Gillis revealed the comedian is still just as racist behind a paywall ever since his 2019 takedown.

On his Matt and Shane’s Secret podcast, he is the number one podcast with nearly 84,000 paid members. If he gets even a dollar a month, that’s a lot of revenue for racist comedy.

Also in five years, the business climate is different. The trend now is for corporates to loosen up or abandon Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) standards.

It’s the green light that enables SNL to tap into the banished Gillis, who has suddenly become a hot comic. NBC just wants the biggest audience. They didn’t want to cross us in 2019. Now they don’t care.

There are more racists.

On the plus side, there are also a lot more prominent Asian American comedians out there. Jo Koy, despite of the Globes, is still big-time funny.

Even on SNL, Bowen Yang has come to prominence on the awards scene and in movies. Asian American comedians represent and “talk back” for us just by being there. There are Asian comic voices like the Emmy-winning Ali Wong.

People see “us.”

We don’t have to be hurt by what other non-Asian comedians say. We simply can refuse to patronize them.

Besides, activists have bigger fish to fry.

Immigration and DACA policies remain unresolved. Trump wants to be dictator for a day and says immigrants poison the blood supply of America. No one is moving fast enough in Gaza. AI makes us doubt what’s real, and what’s fake.

Nothing Gillis says can (continue on page 12)


Arts education can play a significant role in the development and life of a child.

Because of future opportunities, arts education should be made available to every child in public schools from kindergarten to 12th grade in high school.

Art education can also give students a sense of accomplishment and build confidence as they experiment with their creative side and untapped minds.

Drawing, coloring, singing, and dancing are already available to the youngest of students starting in pre-school.

As they get older, playing an instrument, acting, and oil painting can be offered. By their senior year, many students could be very talented artists in specific fields or areas if offered

The Case for Arts Education

and taught over the years in a public school setting.

Ceramics, pottery, woodworking, glasswork, jewelry making, sewing, jazz band, chorus, creative writing, painting, sculpting, solo singing, and fashion design are examples of the plethora of creativity that could be unleashed in our youth.

With these artistic skills learned in public schools, artisans could continue into their adult lives and possibly earn a living from their arts education.

This idea has much more meaning in Hawaii where the cost of living is one of the highest in the nation.

With a population of about 1.4 million residents, buying local art and supporting local artists would certainly help our economy and residents.

Every day and every week, residents spend their hardearned dollars on art and artistic expression.

Buying local fashion, drawings, paintings, music, books, photographs, jewelry, CDs, and home decor would assist homebased industries and could cre-

ate a second income for someone.

If one is worthy to be an artist full-time, the rewards and success could become global as we live in a technological society.

The ability to market and promote one’s artistic abilities throughout the world is now at our fingertips thanks to computers, cellphones, and the internet.

The skills and talent we learned in public schools may now transfer to our adult lives and allow us to share with many. It’s a different world compared to just 20 years ago.

A viral environment and online messaging to millions allows artists to see, listen, share, and experience things instantaneously, and at a low cost.

Performing artists can also benefit from a public school arts education program bringing entertainment via dancing, singing, acting and community theater.

Whether performed live or pre-taped, technology has changed the landscape offering on-demand services and con-

tent. Our students and youth need to know that learning a craft is not only fun and enjoyable, but a possible career path.

Bruno Mars, Jason Scott Lee, Henry Kapono, Ann Namba, Kim Taylor Reese, Jason Momoa, Jake Shimabukuro, Jack Johnson, Bette Midler, and Kelly Hu are wellknown artists with a Hawaii connection who are household names around the world.

There are also many talented local visual artists who are becoming known in their own right such as Lauren Hana Chai, Tim Nguyen, Solomon Robert Nui Enos, Lauren Roth, Shar Tui’asoa, and Walfrido Garcia.

Students don’t need to be graded in the arts, but rather motivated, encouraged, inspired, and uplifted. Some artists are certainly better than others, but in school, the arts could be a way for someone to find or create an identity. Luca might be a great ukulele player but a terrible singer.

One student might be a wonderful hip-hop dancer but a bad painter. While the other student could be a great actor and won-

derful opera singer. Whatever the situation, arts can be a positive outlet and an enjoyable experience with the right teacher.

Offering options is key to unlocking the potential of every child as the world needs artists along with scientists, engineers, lawyers, doctors, athletes, businesswomen, and laborers.

Government and the private sector must always support the arts through funding, programming, and facilities.

It’s a sure way to develop and teach our children to become well-rounded members of society through culture, imagination, and history. It stimulates creative thought and thinking, and it connects us to our past.

Arts education is a lifetime journey with generational benefits, memories, and pleasantries for all. We can learn a skill or talent that stays with us forever.

WILL ESPERO retired from the Hawaii legislature after serving 19 years in the state House of Representatives and state Senate. He is currently a novelist, poet, and supporter of the arts. Lingering Thoughts provides a glimpse of his perspective on current events and issues.



We Were There

This book is a selection of stories gathered from the members of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) staff who found themselves joining the ranks of supporters at EDSA during the People’s Revolution of February 22 to 25, 1986.

As noted in the book’s introduction, the term “People Power” entered the world’s vocabulary in February 1986, which was 38 years ago. It is now defined as an unprecedented act of faith and courage by the Filipino people.

On that fateful weekend of February 22 to 25—the Filipino people toppled a tired and discredited leader and replaced him with a new president—the widow of the well-loved opposition leader, Ninoy Aquino.

Behind the strength and spirit of People Power are the millions of individuals from every walk of life who were brought together by their love of country and dedication to democracy.

We know of the power it wielded and the changes it has achieved but know little of the people who welded themselves into a massive force that could change the course of history.

This collection of stories provides a window to the hearts and minds of these people by sharing their stories in their own words.

It is storytelling at its best as ordinary people who lived those events share their experiences during those historic moments.

As the book’s preface states “ In this way, the full flavor of their courage, conviction, and devotion to God and country can be savored firsthand.”

They hope that their children and children’s children could understand and be inspired—and moved by the dedication, faith, and love of the country of the ordinary Filipino. This was the driving force that made this book possible.

Twenty-nine individuals contributed their stories to this collection, mostly Filipinos— and one American whose article is titled—“ I am proud to be married to a Filipina” as he recounted his and his wife’s experience as they helped “secure” Camp Aguinaldo where his wife was part of the human cordon that facilitated the transfer of then Minister of Defense Juan Ponce Enrile to Camp Crame, where then Lt. General Fidel Ramos was situated

(he would eventually be elected president after the term of Corazon Aquino).

Each of the stories were first-person account of their time during those critical days in February 1986 and also illustrated by pictures taken during those days, unfiltered photos, and candid descriptions of what they saw and felt.

For example, Maripe G. Juliano describes how she threw a can of biscuits at a

tank—while her husband raised his hand with the laban sign calling out to the marines in full battle gear “kapatid, kapatid”—to plead with them not to shoot.

Other folks were sharing cigarettes, flowers, and other offerings to convince them not to fire at the crowd. She threw a can of biscuits which a soldier caught—and to her surprise—kept with him.

I write this book review while still in Manila, as Hawaii’s 31st Trade Mission winds down. Today is our last day, and tomorrow I hope I can visit the EDSA monument, the lasting symbol of where People Power occurred.

Yesterday when the delegation visited Malacañang Palace for an audience with the country’s current president, I reminded the delegation that it was Hawaii where the discredited President Marcos and his family sought refuge and where his supporters mostly from the Ilocos region provided the comfort and care during their time of need.

To his credit, the current president recognizes this. He is quoted as saying in his speech when he visited Hawaii last November: “We landed with nothing and you kept our body and soul together.”

Thirty-eight years ago, it probably would not have crossed the minds of those who joined People Power that the very same folks they booted out of the country would be in power once more. It has come full circle.

As such, it is important to understand the cycle of life, the importance of documenting history as it happened, and to ensure that these events in our collective story are not forgotten.

ROSE CRUZ CHURMA established Kalamansi Books & Things three decades ago. It has evolved from a mail-order bookstore into an online advocacy with the intent of helping global Pinoys discover their heritage by promoting books of value from the Philippines and those written by Filipinos in the Diaspora. We can be reached at kalamansibooks@gmail.com.


Gov’t Officials Tour Lahaina Recovery Efforts for Safer, Accessible, Resilient Infrastructure

In the ongoing recovery efforts from the wildfires in Lahaina, government officials Senator Brian Schatz and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited Maui recently to view the updates from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency. They also received an update on the Honoapiilani Highway realignment project.

“The recovery effort in Lāhainā is making good progress, but there is much more

hurt us as bad as any of that. He’s just the entertainment. The clown with the rubber knife. When he hosts SNL, we can always watch Netflix.

Or, if we choose, we can monitor, and if he upsets us, we can exercise our First Amendment rights. We can debate.

work left to do,” Schatz said.

“Debris removal has come a long way and is on track for completion. A temporary school for students is also on the verge of opening on April 1. But housing continues to be the most pressing priority and we need to urgently build units to provide survivors with long-term certainty. The federal government has and will continue to play a key role in supporting the recovery for as long as it takes and helping get people back on their feet.”

Not cancel. More speech not less. That’s the American way.

Also in the last five years, now I have gone on stage and sought laughs. So, I empathize. I’ve also seen a couple of his specials. I can say this: He’s funnier when he’s not racist.

But has he spent enough

Schatz helped secure grants for the highway realignment project including a multi-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The project will realign 4.5 miles of the highway from Ukumehame to Launiupoko and help protect the highway from sea level rise and coastal erosion which will ensure its safety and accessibility for decades.

“We’re going to continue fighting to get federal resources to make infrastructure on Maui and across Hawai‘i safer, more accessible, and more resilient,” Schatz said.

time on his knees?

I’ll catch a recording to see if Gillis has learned his lesson. If not, the debate continues, I assure you.

EMIL GUILLERMO is a journalist and commentator. His talk show is on www.amok.com.

(CANDID PERSPECTIVES: Shane Gillis....from page 10)


Letting Go


will miss you mom!”

With a kiss on my cheeks and a hug so tight, these were the sweet words uttered by my four-year-old boy, Yohan, as I put on his clothes for a milestone in his life: his first day in a big school as a kindergartener.

He went to his dad and did the same. My heart melted and my eyes teared up. He had been excited about the thought of making new friends since we arrived in Switzerland. He couldn’t wait for his new adventure!

The day before, we also sent off his older sister, Callie, to a traditional school as a second grader. What a thrilling moment, not just for our children, but for me and John, as their parents.

We have been homeschooling Callie, with Yohan as her playmate, for the past three years. We would pray, read the Bible, dance, and sing together.

I would tell them stories and hear their thoughts. We would go explore nature and learn about the world as a


We loved homeschooling and it had brought us closer as one unit. But our move to Switzerland changed our everyday routine and our plans of homeschooling our children until they finished their primary years.

Education in Switzerland is obligatory, free, and open to all children. Homeschooling is permitted but with restrictions and regulations.

We opted to take advantage of the free education Switzerland offers so that Callie and Yohan will be able to learn French and German, and build wonderful relationships with the locals, which we were not able to do when we were in South Korea.

This decision was a big adjustment for our family but we knew that it would be for their good, and for mine too.

On the day we walked Callie to her new school, I felt nothing but excitement for my little daughter.

Our princess enjoys reading books. She loves discovering things. She is hungry to learn new things.

Releasing her to a big school and the real world was

relatively easy for me. She’s responsible, mature, and independent.

We were confident that she would do great in a traditional school because we prepared her at home. My heart felt at peace when we kissed her goodbye.

Letting go of our little boy, on the other hand, was a different story. Days before his first day of school, my mind’s been filled with anxious thoughts and my heart felt uneasy.

Yohan is very playful, tends to be impatient, possessive of his things, and still depends a lot on his mom.

Will he be okay in school?

What if he throws tantrums?

What if he gets into a fight? Will he respond gently when

Hawaii Senator Introduces Legislation to Prevent Youth Suicide

To prevent youth suicide, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced the Child Suicide Prevention and Lethal Means Safety Act that would fund suicide prevention initiatives and ensure healthcare providers receive training to prevent intentional harm.

Moreover, the bill aims to create a centralized hub to provide safety information and support to at-risk youth.

Youth suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged 10-24. Between 2000 and 2021, suicide rates among young Americans increased by 52% according to the Centers for Disease Control and Pre-

vention (CDC).

During the pandemic, the CDC also found a significant increase in emergency department visits for suicide attempts among young adolescents aged 12-17.

The bill prepares healthcare professionals to identify and respond to early warning signs through evidence-based suicide prevention training and providing funding to connect at-risk patients with crisis support resources.

“Youth suicide is a crisis in Hawai‘i and across America, and we need to do everything we can to get young people help when they need it,” said Sen. Schatz.

threatened? Will he treat others with kindness?

But when we met his teacher, Yohan held on to her hand and smiled at me, it was as if he was telling me, “I can do this Mom!” I was assured he’ll be okay.

As I walked home, with Callie and Yohan safe in their classrooms, my heart wanted to burst. Tears were ready to flow from my eyes but only when I reached home did, they fall.

I sat down for a long time, looked outside our window, and talked to God. A small but powerful bird passed by, flapping his wings across the sky.

There, God spoke to my heart, “It’s time to let go, my daughter. It’s time for Yohan to flap his wings. Let him fly!”

For several years, my children were with me 24/7. I can only count the hours I was away from them.

I got so used to their voices–laughing, shouting, bickering at each other, always calling my name–that the thought of being alone and hearing nothing but the cooing of the birds outside our window felt new and strange.

The quietness was refreshing, but deafening. On that day, l entered a new season of navigating what to do being alone, embracing freedom for a few hours, and enjoying “me time” even for just a while.

As I went on to do my chores, I found myself bursting into tears now and then. I was so happy for my children but at the same time, I missed them.

When they went back home, telling me eagerly and excitedly all the things they did, the new lessons they learned, and the new friends they made.

I knew in my heart they will do great. Callie will shine. Yohan will fly.

Letting go is never easy. It’s terrifying. It sometimes hurts. But it is inevitable. In life, we will let go of many things.

For me, it’s letting go of my children from my sight, my protection, my guidance and turning them over to their teachers.

Maybe for you, it’s something deeper and greater–your dreams or relationships, or maybe your past hurts, present comforts and future expectations.

But grace is always available. The hope for better things is promised.

My son said, “I’ll miss you, Mom!” It broke and melted my heart big time. But my response was this, “Fly high, my little one!”

This is my prayer for you, too. As you let go, may it catapult you to greater heights. Soar high!

“This bill provides important training and resources to medical professionals who will be able to deliver timely help and prevent these tragedies.”

The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

Additionally, a companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) and Kim Schrier (D-Wash.).

Yohan and Callie walking to school.

My sister works in a restaurant, and she receives tips. Can you please explain what this tipped wage is about? What does the law say about tipped workers?

– Reader

Dear Reader,

The issue of tipped wages based on Hawaii’s tip credit law is about the practice of paying employees less than the minimum wage because restaurants want customers to make up the difference.

While some legislators and restaurant owners say there is only a small difference (currently $1.25 an hour) between the tipped wage

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

But in Hawaii, it’s actually the general excise tax that keeps doctors away, and the reason is our state’s general excise tax.

Private practice physicians in Hawaii have been complaining for years that the GET is a heavy financial burden for them, and that, for some, it has been the difference between continuing to practice in Hawaii, retiring or packing up and moving to another state.


What is The Tipped Wage About?

($12.75 per hour) and the minimum wage of $14.00, when you add that up over the year it’s actually around $3,000.

Therefore, tipped wages are about tip rip-off! Many states such as Nevada, California, and Washington state pay the full minimum plus tips.

Hawaii Workers Center also thinks that most employers in Hawaii are likely not implementing its tip credit law correctly as will be demonstrated in this news story: The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigated and found L&L Hawaiian Barbecue on Kahului, Maui violated the law by illegally keeping a portion of its employees’ tips and depriving them of their lawful overtime wages.

“This restaurant employer willfully violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by deliberately underpaying workers their overtime wages and pocketing a portion of the tips

they earned,” according to the Dept. of Labor. Back wages recovered included $58,600 in unpaid overtime wages and $8,791 in withheld tips for 21 employees.

Hawaii Workers Center thinks through the tip penalty “credit,” business owners are putting themselves in jeopardy of committing wage fraud. So, let us save employers from making this mistake and save employees from suffering from wage theft!

Hawaii Workers Center pushes for the elimination of the tip credit.  Unfortunately, for this year, our tip credit bill did not pass.

Despite in-person testimonies from members of our Restaurant Workers United and the over 100 pieces of written testimony in support of ending the tip credit, the bill was eventually deferred.

We, however, thank Sen. Henry Aquino, chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Technology, and Senator Kurt Favella for their efforts


in introducing and championing this bill.

In the end, the lack of support from their colleagues showed how strong the business interests were in opposing it.

“Although I am of course disappointed, I believe the opportunity now exists, with the recent news of another dining establishment found by the U.S. Department of Labor to have committed wage theft over tips, that employers will realize it is much easier to simply pay the full-minimum wage plus tips rather than risk miscalculating the tip credit and committing wage fraud,” says Hawaii Worker Center’s director Sergio Alcubilla.

However, we must continue our organizing until the bill eliminating the tip credit is passed.

The news above on the Department of Labor’s investigation regarding rampant wage theft in Hawaiʻi restaurants demonstrates that a One Fair Wage law is needed!

If the U.S. Department of Labor is truly determined to fight wage theft in restaurants, it should be on our side to work to pass the One Fair Wage law and eliminate the tip rip-off for tipped workers.

Have you experienced wage theft? The Hawaiʻi Workers Center is here for you; reach out to us at phone number (503)967-5377 or (503)WORKERS).

We have helped workers across several industries fight and win back wages from wage theft and discrimination. We also offer Know Your Workers’ Rights trainings. Contact nelson@ hawaiiworkerscenter.org to request training.


Hawaii Workers Center

Dr. ARCELITA IMASA is a practicing family physician and the secretary of the Hawaii Workers Center’s Executive Committee of the Board. She grew up in the Philippines before migrating to Hawaii with her family more than a decade ago.

Improve Hawaii Healthcare Via GET Exemption

At the same time, it is common knowledge that Hawaii has a doctor shortage, and luckily, legislators at the state Capitol now seem to be poised to do something about it.

As the first half of Hawaii’s 2024 legislative session came to a close late last month, the House Finance Committee passed HB1675, which would provide a GET exemption for primary care medical services.

This means there still is an opportunity for Hawaii voters to weigh in on this issue.

One astounding fact to perhaps remind legislators about is that Hawaii is the only state to tax doctors in this way. Yes, that’s right — the only one.

Specifically, nonprofit medical facilities in Hawaii

are exempt from the GET, but private practice physicians are not. Private practice doctors and clinics must pay the state’s 4% GET plus any county surcharge.

In some cases, doctors can pass along the tax to their patients — which increases the cost of healthcare for Hawaii residents. But federal regulations prohibit doctors from passing along the GET to Medicare and TRICARE patients, which means Hawaii’s doctors have to pay those GET costs themselves.

According to a 2023 Grassroot Institute of Hawaii report, this comprises a significant expense, making it difficult for private medical practices to thrive in our state.

The state Department of Taxation testified that lifting the GET on primary care

providers would cost the state only about $35 million a year in “revenue losses,” which would be a small price to pay for alleviating Hawaii’s acute doctor shortage.

And the state could certainly afford it. The state Council on Revenues, for example, estimated in January that the state general fund is expected to bring in more than $9.5 billion in fiscal 2024.

The fact remains that without a GET exemption, many Hawaii doctors will continue to struggle financially, and Hawaii residents will continue to suffer as more and more doctors either retire or take their medical skills elsewhere.

HB1675 is a good bill that our state needs to improve healthcare access, and my hope is that legislators will approve it and send it to

the governor for his approval as well.

The governor is a doctor, after all, so the chances are good that he would sign it — if the bill were to make it that far.

If you would like to help make sure this bill makes it into law, consider writing an email to your elected representatives.

One easy way to do that would be to go to the Grassroot Institute’s “Take Action” page at GrassrootInstitute. org/action where you can easily and quickly customize a letter that you can send.

It would be great to have more doctors in Hawaii. Exempting them from the GET is one way to make that happen.

TED KEFALAS is director of strategic campaigns for the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.


LET’S ZUMBA | Filipino Community Center | Every Monday starting January 8, 2024 at 6:15pm | FilCom Center, Consuelo Courtyard, 94-428 Mokuola Street, Waipahu | Need to unwind in movement and dance after a long workday? Join the community as we Zumba through the evening. Only $5 per class. Proceeds go to support these program-types for FilCom Center.

HAWAII-PHILIPPINES SISTER PROVINCE BUSINESS SYMPOSIUM | Filipino Chamber of Commerce Hawaii, Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism | March 13, 2024 at 2-9pm | Garden


Lanai Ballroom, Ala Moana Hotel, 410 Atkinson Drive, Honolulu | Join Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii for this in-person and virtual event to increase trade and facilitate the exchange of ideas between sistercities of the counties of Hawaiʻi and sister-provinces of the State with different provinces of the Philippines. Visit http://cochawaii.chambermaster.com/events/details/ hawaii-philippines-sister-province-symposium-1114449.

FLORES DE MAYO & FILIPINO FIESTA | FilCom Center, Filipino Jaycees of Honolulu | May 4, 2024 | FilCom Center, 94-428 Mokuola Street, Waipahu | The community is urged to save the date for this year’s celebration of Filipino culture and heritage!


God Cares About You

Irecently was talking to someone who was feeling a little discouraged because he felt that God does not really care about him.

He believes that God only works with great people with great projects. He said that he can never attain the faith of Abraham, David or the apostle Paul.

In his thinking, God seems so far away.

But that is not the God of the Bible. The scriptures tell us that God doesn’t just do really big and amazing things; He also does a lot of stuff that might not seem exciting or get a lot of attention.

Some of the coolest things He does happen on regular days, in normal places, and through regular people like us.

Sometimes, we try to fit God into what we think He should be like, and we want Him to only do super fancy and unbelievable things. We create these boxes for

God in our minds, hoping He fits inside comfortably. But these boxes limit us from understanding who God really is.

Thinking God only does really amazing things is kind of like thinking He only cares about really important problems.

But the truth is, God cares about everything in our lives, even the small and normal stuff.

He’s with us when we’re working, playing, eating, and just going through our regular days. He cares about you very


Press Conference Highlights Current Housing Issues Impacting Filipino Survivors of the Lahaina Wildfires

The Hawaii Workers Center, Kaibigan ng Lahaina, Hawaii Community Lending and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns held a press conference at Kelawea Mau ka Makai Park on February 29 to tackle the pressing issues impacting the Filipino survivors of the Lahaina wildfires.

Survivors shared their issues ranging from lack of information regarding mortgage forbearance and FEMA appeals to the ongoing evictions despite the moratorium. The speakers highlighted the struggles of the working class families from Lahaina that are contemplating leaving Maui due to its current challenges.

“In our efforts, we have uncovered a distressing situation, particularly in the

Filipino community, where tenants are being displaced to accommodate FEMAʻs fire survivors,” said Krizhna Bayudan, community organizer for the Hawaii Workers Center whose family survived the Lahaina wildfires.

“This is fundamentally unjust. It’s a mere shuffling of problems without addressing the root causes. We all know Lahaina is grappling with a severe housing shortage and it’s disheartening to see our fellow community members facing eviction… Language accessibility is a barrier, particularly within the Filipino community, often resulting in delays and deterring immigrant communities from seeking assistance.”

Another survivor of the Lahaina wildfires and Kaibigan ng Lahaina represen-

To stay up to date with new information, visit filcom. org./2024filipinofiesta.

31ST ANNUAL PISTAHAN PARADE AND FESTIVAL | Filipino American Arts Exposition | August 10-11, 2024 | Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco, California | The Filipino American Arts Exposition (FAAE) of the rich tapestry of cultures and ethnic communities of the San Francisco Bay Area through its promotion of Filipino American art, music, film, dance, cuisine, history, and more. FAAE celebrates its ancestral heritage and contemporary traditions, broadening awareness and understanding of Filipino history, achievements, and culture. For more information on the festival, visit www.pistahan.net.

personally. Understanding that God is involved in our everyday lives doesn’t make Him less important; it actually shows how detailed and caring He is.

The same God who did incredible things like parting the Red Sea also notices when a little bird is lost and even counts the hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:29–30). He knows when we’re

going through tough times, just like He knows when we’re having a really hard morning. Nothing is too small for Him to notice, and He cares about every little thing in our lives, no matter how big or small.

BERMIE DIZON is a retired pastor of Grace Communion International at Glendora, California and a former writer for USA Tribune for 9 years.

tative Sieny Corpuz said that it’s important for Filipinos to stay in Lahaina despite the challenges.

“Our Filipino community will be hurt [if we leave]. We are committed to rebuilding Lahaina throughout our Filipino community. We envision a Lahaina where Filipinos thrive socially, economically, politically, and culturally. Lahaina Filipinos need to remain in Lahaina. Filipinos, we are Lahaina,” said Corpuz.

Kami Yamamoto of National Alliance for Filipino Concerns seeks to bring these issues at a national level. “At the Filipino resource events, we spoke to several Filipino community members who were denied by FEMA and did not know they could even appeal their denials,” said Yamamoto. 

MARCH 9, 2024
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