Hawaii Filipino Chronicle - May 6, 2023

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Ligaya fruto: one Lingering Backward Look


Loida nicoLas Lewis shares Life

Lessons in new Book



Lowering ProPerty tax

BiLLs shouLd Be high Priority

MAY 6, 2023

Support Our Filipino Fiesta & Flores de Mayo, Attend the Event, May 6

Most things in life needs to be updated for fresh relevancy, even for events like the annual Filipino Fiesta & Flores de Mayo where celebrating cultural traditions by nature is aimed at preserving old, inherited customs. But promoting our ancestral culture doesn’t mean we need to approach this statically, in the same way repeatedly. We can achieve the same aim, and perhaps more effectively, by presenting new and contemporary events.

This is why excitement is swirling over this upcoming 2023 Filipino Fiesta & Flores de Mayo. Organizers have planned several new events and cultural exhibits. The entertainment format is also different with two stages and extended hours to accommodate more singers and cultural performers.

Another new event is the MaARTe Benefit Sale & Silent Auction that will feature Filipino artists’ and designers’ work. Filipiniana, barongs, Filipino-inspired paintings, sculptures and cultural artifacts will be on display and for sale. This new event promotes our culture by having Fiesta-goers view fine work and possibly bring home with them a Filipino-inspired artistic piece. It’s also an innovative fundraising event as proceeds from sales will go to the Filipino Community Center to support their cultural programs.

These and other changes bode well for expanding the Fiesta with new attendees and keeping the regular crowd stimulated and interested in returning.

With the Filipino Fiesta now having a new home in Waipahu at the FilCom Center (this is the second consecutive year for this venue), it makes sense for organizers to experiment and try new things.

Interestingly, like the changes we are seeing in business, government and other aspects in society with Gen X now having more control in running operations, it was bound to happen that special events like the Filipino Fiesta would reflect a Gen X spin.

A good number of those spearheading and coordinating today’s Filipino Fiesta are Gen X, people who were young adults and in their late teens when they first started to go to the Filipino Fiesta with their parents. It’s come full circle and this generation’s time to take over and promote the Filipino Fiesta that their parents started.

Active leaders who were instrumental in launching the first years of the Filipino Fiesta back then are pleased to see new leaders step up to continue this tradition. This handing over control is how a community grows and matures over many generations.

In a way, in this light, the success of the Filipino Fiesta is crucial for our community because the Fiesta’s growth should reflect the growth of our community.

And this generation cannot take it for granted and assume that this event will just continue because we’re now going into its 31st year.

We must change with the times and appeal to our new, younger generation. We must also do what our parents have done, take our children to the Filipino Fiesta and inculcate the importance of passing on our culture like we were taught as well as the value of having a strong community.

Growth of an ethnic community at times can have drawbacks like disinterest in ethnic ways and to be in favor of complete mainstreaming. Strength of ethnic communities often is powered by their immigrant population, which explains in part the Fiesta’s success.

Immigrants are drawn together because they’re still most comfortable with and psychologically and emotionally in need to be among other immigrants of their ancestral country. The found-


We are in the thick of spring which signals to our Filipino community what’s just around the corner – that it’s time for our annual Filipino Fiesta & Flores de Mayo, our community’s biggest and signature event. Preparing for the Filipino Fiesta involves arduous work and committed volunteering. And for the Filipino Fiesta to be in its 31st year, our community – those organizers of past and present – should be commended for the event’s longevity and success.

For our cover story, associate editor Edwin Quinabo gives the details of this year’s Fiesta – who are some of the food vendors, who are slated to perform, as well as the many cultural events planned. We also published the schedule of events for you to plan ahead that day, May 6. Harry Alonso, co-chair of this year’s Fiesta, informed us of several new events to roll out. Get the exciting details in the article. For the second consecutive year, the Fiesta will be held at the Filipino Community Center. There’s also extended hours, 10 am to 8 pm. There are several locations to park with free shuttle service. Find out where they are. Please support the Filipino Fiesta with your attendance and visit the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle booth. Also, the Bayanihan Clinic Without Walls will be there for their Community Health Fair. We hope you show your support to them as well.

Speaking of health, this issue we have a special health supplement. The cover story there is on the growing social media mental health crisis. We have other interesting articles including: “The Weighty Issue of Obesity” by Dr. Anna Lo, “Filipino Pride: Jessica Cox is the World’s First Armless Pilot” by HFC’s Jim Bea, and “What You Need to Know About Shingles” by Dr. Rainier Dennis Bautista, to name a few.

In our regular issue, HFC columnist Emil Guillermo writes about an amazing Filipina we’ve interviewed in the past, Loida Nicolas Lewis, who has a new book, “Why Should Guys Have All the Fun?” If her name doesn’t ring a bell, Lewis is a multi-millionaire businesswoman whose late husband founded and ran the giant company TLC Beatrice.

Also in this issue we have a feature on Ligaya Victorio Fruto who worked as a feature writer for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin from 1952-1968 and authored two books. The article was written by HFC contributor Renelaine Pfister.

Former State Sen. Will Espero is no longer in public office but he certainly still has opinions on politics and governance. This issue he contributes “A Bumpy Beginning, High Cost of Living, Mainland Lawmakers, A City Grows.” We have other interesting columns and news we hope you’ll enjoy.

Lastly, the month of May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. We join our fellow Asians and the Pacific Islander community in celebrating our presence in this country and the many contributions we’ve made and continue to make. More power to our AAPI community.

Thank you for supporting the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle. Until next issue,warmest Aloha and Mabuhay!

Publisher & Executive Editor

Charlie Y. Sonido, M.D.

Publisher & Managing Editor

Chona A. Montesines-Sonido

Associate Editors

Edwin QuinaboDennis Galolo

Contributing Editor

Belinda Aquino, Ph.D.


Junggoi Peralta


Tim Llena

Administrative Assistant

Lilia Capalad

Editorial & Production Assistant

Jim Bea Sampaga


Carlota Hufana Ader

Elpidio R. Estioko

Perry Diaz

Emil Guillermo

Melissa Martin, Ph.D.

Seneca Moraleda-Puguan

J.P. Orias

Pacita Saludes

Reuben S. Seguritan, Esq.

Charlie Sonido, M.D.

Emmanuel S. Tipon, Esq.

Contributing Writers

Clement Bautista

Edna Bautista, Ed.D.

Teresita Bernales, Ed.D.

Sheryll Bonilla, Esq.

Rose Churma

Serafin Colmenares Jr., Ph.D.

Linda Dela Cruz

Carolyn Weygan-Hildebrand

Amelia Jacang, M.D.

Caroline Julian

Raymond Ll. Liongson, Ph.D.

Federico Magdalena, Ph.D.

Matthew Mettias

Maita Milallos

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

ers and active supporters of the Filipino Fiesta decades ago were mostly immigrants from the Philippines.

The Fiesta provided a special kind of immigrant camaraderie like when locals from Hawaii now living on the mainland are drawn to other Hawaii locals.

At our Filipino Fiesta, immigrants hear their language, see people from their former cities and towns in the Philippines, enjoy ethnic food like those served back home. The Fiesta is nostalgic and not just about “fun” but truly emotionally and psychologically “filling” a part of what they’ve lost through immi-

Carlota Hufana Ader

JP Orias

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2023 State Legislature Should Have Done More to Address Hawaii’s


Hawaii lawmakers agreed to raise the Medicaid reimbursement rates for all providers. As of press time, the Hawaii State Legislature hasn’t adjourned, but funds have already been allocated for the Medicaid reimbursement and added to the state budget, which should pass.

Medicaid reimbursement will be raised to match the Medicare reimbursement rate. That means physicians who accept Medicaid would see their reimbursement rate rise by 40%. This is substantial.

There are 450,000 people in Hawaii on Medicaid (medical coverage for low-income residents). That’s an enormous size, one-third of the state’s population. But because Medicaid reimbursement at the current rate is low, many doctors do not accept Medicaid patients.

This new rate, most likely, will change that and incentivize more doctors to accept Medicaid patients. With a pool of 450,000 people, it could be a windfall for Hawaii doctors struggling to make ends meet.

Doctors with medical practice in lower income neighborhoods and higher enrollment in Medicaid, they

grating and assimilating. Now that’s a powerfully satisfying feeling,

In this regard the challenge for organizers of today’s modern Filipino Fiesta is actually a difficult one – how can they capture this fulfilling satisfaction that kept their immigrant parents regularly attending the event?

In our favor immigration from the Philippines to Hawaii is still relatively high.

The second challenge is to find ways to appeal to today’s non-immigrant Filipino population in Hawaii, which explains some of the added and new features this 2023 Filipino Fiesta.

Another incentive to attend the Fiesta in the early years was to raise funds for a community center we can call


could see their bottom line improve substantially. It’s a win-win situation for Medicaid patients and doctors who treat them.

Lawmakers added the Medicaid-to-match-Medicare reimbursement to the budget to help alleviate the physician shortage in Hawaii.

The raised reimbursement will cost a total of $73 million a year ($30 million from the state and a matching federal fund of $43 million).

Insurance reimbursement is lower in Hawaii compared to other states. Some experts say the rate hike will make a difference. Others say it could, but only hold off a physician from retiring or moving in the short term. Others point out raising Medicaid to match Medicare reimbursement is still playing catch up because Medicare reimbursement rate is already behind inflation. Congress should be raising Medicare reimbursement.

Most agree that the reimbursement hike will have some improvement, but more needs to be done for a more permanent fix.

For example, with regard to insurance reimbursement, changing some of the requirements by insurance companies and government would help physicians. As it is now,

our own. Besides perpetuating our culture, the Fiesta originally was a fundraising event to help build the Filipino Community Center.

Like the sense of ethnic pride and joy brought on by the Filipino Fiesta, having a FilCom Center was the physical manifestation of that pride and joy. We were passionate back then to have a FilCom Center.

With the FilCom Center already having been built, the key for organizers is to maintain passion for keeping the Center financially robust. Like anything in life, sometimes we take for granted what we already have.

Our community must remember that the success of the Filipino Fiesta aids in helping

requirements are too complex and require a large, costly, and specialized administration staff.

This is not to say that government should not have regulations. Checks and oversight on industry are important, especially when it comes to healthcare. But requirements shouldn’t be extreme that doctors are closing their practice to join physicians groups to avoid doing their own insurance paperwork.

Assistance in paying down educational loans

Lawmakers this session also agreed to spend $10 million in 2024 and $20 million in 2025 to help medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and social workers to pay down educational loans. This funding is also aimed at improving Hawaii’s physician shortage.

Medical school students upon graduating are facing a quarter-to-half a million dollars in debt. Assistance to pay down educational loans could incentivize new medical graduates to practice in Hawaii.

Pass the GET Exemption

What would have been more effective in physician retention and recruitment than the Medicaid reimbursement

the FilCom Center financially. The younger generation should be aware of this and understand the history behind the Fiesta. While the Fiesta is about fun and celebration, it was never just about that in the early years.

We thank the Filipino Community Center, the organizers and sponsors of the Filipino Fiesta for presenting this annual event. Your hard work and commitment are completely appreciated and recognized.

To our Filipino community and Hawaii’s diverse multicultural community, we hope to see you at the Filipino Fiesta. The Hawaii Filipino Chronicle will have a booth there.

Mabuhay to the Filipino Fiesta. Mabuhay to the FilCom Center.

hike and educational loan assistance combined is passing the GET on medical services provided by primary care physicians and APRNs.

It was a bill many in Hawaii’s medical community had high hopes for and confidence that it could have passed this session. But it will need to be revisited next year.

Under Hawaii’s current law, the state general excise tax (GET) applies to health care services provided by group and private practice physicians. According to the bill’s text, Hawaii is the only state in the country that taxes medical services in this way.

Hawaii’s physician shortage is worsening

According to data compiled by Dr. John Lauris Wade, a member of the Hawaii Physician Shortage Crisis Task Force, Hawaii’s physician shortage has increased for more than 10 years.

Based on preliminary numbers, in 2019 there was a 24% physician shortage (820 doctors) statewide. This year, the shortage has grown to 29%, or 1,014 physicians. It is unlikely that the trend will reverse itself as Hawaii also has the second oldest physician workforce in the nation, with 37% age 60 or older, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

2023 State Legislature’s response to the physician shortage

Lawmakers this session did make marginal prioritization in getting at least a few initiatives passed to address the physician’s shortage. But the GET exemption should have passed which would have sent a clear message to the public that they fully understand the magnitude of today’s medical workforce shortage.

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New Events Aim to Reinvigorate the 2023 Filipino Fiesta & Flores de Mayo

It’s that time of year again, when Hawaii brings together all that is beautiful about Filipino culture for a daylong extravaganza that usually draws 10,000 people.

That signature event – in its 31st year -- is the annual Filipino Fiesta & Flores de Mayo. For a second consecutive year, the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu will host the Fiesta this May 6, 2023, 10 am to 8 pm. The 2023 Fiesta’s theme is “Itan-ok Tayo Ti Masakbayan” or “Looking Ahead with Pride.”

Slated for the day is the FilCom Center’s typical blueprint for success that has made the Fiesta a popular draw and one of the biggest Filipino festivals in the world outside of the Philippines. They’ll have heaps of hearty authentic Filipino and local food, cultural and educational booths, non-stop riveting entertainment.

But organizers are taking the Fiesta to new heights with the introduction of new features.

“There will be different features in the Fiesta this year that we are excited about.

We have extended the hours until 8 pm so we have great entertainment - from morning to night! We will have the MaARTe Art Gallery & Auction which will showcase several designers and artists as well as having an auction for art pieces. The funds generated here will go towards the FilCom Center’s programs,” said Harry Alonso, Co-chair of 2023 Filipino Fiesta.

Another first, there will be an exclusive cultural exhibit, the Habi at Baro Collection, to be held in the Flores Ballroom which will feature the works of designer Iris Gil. It will be displayed during the Fiesta and be open to special tours for groups or schools starting May 1st. Unique to this year as well, there will be two entertainment stages: the main stage located in the heart of the event and the Filipino Village stage located in the Consuelo Courtyard.

Organizers encourage Filipinos and Hawaii’s culture lovers to come out and enjoy these as well as other firsts like new food and business vendors, as well as entertainers making their Fiesta debut. They want to remind fiesta-goers that the

event is free and open to the public.

It’s like going to a new Fiesta and establishing new traditions in the Fiesta’s new home at the FilCom Center. For decades past venues were held at Kapiolani Park and the Ala Moana area.

One concern expressed over moving the festivities to Waipahu is finding parking. Organizers say they’ve got that covered. Parking will be available and free at YMCA, Milltown, Waikele Center, August Ahrens Elementary, and Waipahu High School. There will be a shuttle service every 10 minutes to and from these locations.


of events at the Fiesta

*Adobo Cookoff

Best of Da Best Adobo

Cook Off is open to the public but competitors must sign up for it. Visit filcom.org for

details. A cash prize will be awarded to the winner.

*Nayong Pilipino

Cultural exhibits and presentations will be in the FilCom Center’s Courtyard. Experience

the beauty of Filipino culture. Visit the Filipino Association of University Women’s Habi at Baro Cultural Exhibit Clothing & Wearing Collection. Iris Gil creations will be featured. Gil is a designer who studied Fashion design in Los Angeles and Paris, trained in Interior Design in Dallas. He uses one of a kind hand-crafted material from India, Japan and the Philippines, like juzi (Pinoy silk), pina (pineapple fabric), Hawaiian kapa (bark cloth), and abaca (banana fabric).

Shelly Carmona, Events & Programs Director, FilCom Center, said “the cultural booths will also feature Alpha Phi Omega-Hawaii, UH-Katipunan, Fil-Am Club Farrington HS, Bibak-Hawaii, UPAA-Hawaii, Bicol Club-Hawaii, Kahirup Ilonggo, Dabawenyos-Hawaii, DOCE Pares & Hawaii Defense Academy, and

Filipino-American Historical Society of Hawaii (FAHSOH). While supplies last there will have a Filipino Village Passport for participants to use as they visit a regional exhibit. There will be prizes for completed Filipino Village Passports.”


Visit MaARTe Benefit Sale & Silent Auction on inspired art, fashion and preloved items will be available to support the FilCom Center’s cultural and educational programs. MaARTe will be at the FilCom Center ballroom. There will be featured pieces from Eduardo “Eddie” Joaquin, artist and BFA candidate at UH Manoa; Iris Viacrusis, international fashion designer; Leni Acosta Knight, international symbolist artist; Zach Angeles, artist, educator and broadcaster. If you

would like to donate vintage Filipino-inspired jewelry and accessories, Filipiniana and Barong, paintings, sculptures, and cultural artifacts for MaARTe, contact Shelly Carmona at 808-680-0451.


With this year’s two stages for entertainment, this set up can accommodate more entertainers. “The main stage will be located in the heart of the event, the Filipino Village stage will be located in the Consuelo Courtyard,” Carmona said.

Jules Aurora and Ten Feet will be featured during the Fil-Am Music Hour (which will be from 6 pm – 8 pm. Vhen Bautista, prince of Ilokano songs and YouTube sensation, Dyezebel Alonzo, Angelica Morales, Rosanna

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(New Events....from page 4)

Sarmiento Laroco and Joel Tolentino will be featured at the Ilokano Music Hour from 4 pm to 6 pm.

Carmona said, “There will be performances from all regions represented by participating organizations. This schedule will start at 10 am with a performance from the region of Ilocos performed by UH-Katipunan. On the main stage, we will kick off Filipino Fiesta with a chant by Aunty Iwalani followed by Choro Filipino performing Filipino National Anthem. The Best of Da Best Adobo Cook-Off will be at 12:15 AM on the main stage.”

Kabataan Barangay

There will be Filipino games with limited edition prizes and a scavenger hunt.

Filipino Neighborhood Bazaar featuring the Sari-Sari Store

A variety of Filipino products will be sold at the Sari-Sari store. Products from Filipino snacks, seasoning, food and household items will be priced below retail cost. The sari-sari store (tiangge) is a variety store, a place to hang out, make friends. It is known as the heart of retail culture in the Philippines. A practice in a typical sari-sari store there is to sell items repacked in small quantities to enable the price of goods to be lower and serve the needs of the neighborhood.

Food vendors

This year’s food vendors are Sinublan, Chubby Fries & Wings, Kahirup Llongo, Island Sausage, Local Poke Bowl, Corn Onoz Hawaii, Sweettreats808, Otay Thai Lao Express. The food trucks are Da Hub, Sama Sama, Ubae, Kaiser Health Trailer.

Bennette Misalucha, community leader, has been going to the Fiesta since it came into existence. Her favorite thing at the Fiesta is the food. “The food definitely! Food unites us! It’s not just a way to taste the familiar flavors of our childhood, it’s also an opportunity for us to share our favorite recipes with our non-Filipino friends. In addition to the food, I love how

a festival like this gathers our community together to celebrate common traditions and practices.”

Misalucha was a member of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce during the first ever Filipino Fiesta, which was then held at Kapiolani Park. “I’m so proud of how it has evolved into a signature event. I usually bring my family along!”

Business vendors

“There are Pop-Up Shops where local vendors are selling their products and services. This year we have over 75 plus vendors!” Alonso said.

Naming only a few of the business vendors: ILWU, Filipino Chamber of Commerce, United Filipino Council/Lions, Philippine Airlines, Hawaiian Honey Cones, Teapresso, Kolohe Sweets, Churro Corer, Sugah Daddeh’s Cane Juice, First Hawaiian Bank, Hawaii Filipino Chronicle, Sweet Treats by CDash, Hawaii Candy Factory, AT&T, Wicked Essentials, Magnolia, Knights of Rizal, Manang Mochi, Ever Chocolate.

Ruby Sarmiento, East Oahu, is a frequent Fiesta-goer. She recalls back in 2000 when she was a business vendor at the Fiesta. At the time she owned a store in Waipahu named Yellow Ribbon. “I sold and distributed Goldilocks products to different local stores here in Oahu. I got a booth and brought the pastries at the Filipino Fiesta. It was a hit and a huge success because it was a rare commodity back then. Our kababayans really enjoyed having these products available here in Oahu.”

What she looks most forward to at the Fiesta now are both the Filipino food (merienda, kankanin) and entertainment.

Community Health Fair

At the Fiesta, the Bayanihan Clinic Without Walls (BCWW) will be having a Community Health Fair. Jay Flores, President of BCWW, said BCWW’s aim at the Community Health Fair is to make the public aware of the services their not-forprofit organization has to offer, specifically medical and dental care for uninsured immigrants

and the indigent population of Hawaii. He said,” I will do my best

to answer questions that people may have regarding our

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“The Filipino fiesta is more than just a festival. Yes, it gathers us all together as a community to celebrate our shared heritage. But I think, the value it brings is that it serves as a statement that we have ‘arrived’ and we are part of the colorful and intricate tapestry that makes Hawaii special.”

As Joe Biden announces his run for a second term for the presidency, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Filipino American more important to him than Loida Nicolas Lewis.

Not if, as the saying goes, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

Lewis–the Filipina who married the African American business leader Reginald Lewis, the late deal maker behind Beatrice, the International brands juggernaut–is a mother, grandmother, and a multi-millionaire.

That’s the combination that has helped Lewis make Asian American Filipinos a louder blip on the national political radar. She was behind the push for Biden in our community in 2020, and before that Hillary Clinton, and before that Barrack Obama.

Loida Nicolas Lewis Shares Life Lessons In New Book

Ask her how she feels about Biden today, and she’ll let you know by how she refuses to call his predecessor, the prior president, by his given name. You know, the guy whose legal name rhymes with “rump.”

Lewis is not officially in campaign mode yet for Biden. She is, however, on a campaign to sell her winning new book,

“Why Should Guys Have All The Fun?”

If you want to know how Loida Lewis got to where she is, you’ll find the secret sauce in her book.

I couldn’t be at her recent San Francisco book launch, but then again, I shouldn’t be greedy.

I saw Loida twice in New York City, once when she came to see my show, and another at the east coast launch when I got her book and she introduced me to her co-writer Blair S. Walker, as “one of our great comedians.”

That’s one of her basic tips. Be flattering and supportive of others.

I was flattered that I had

(COVER STORY: New Events ....from page 5) to reach population such as the newcomers.

organization and refer them to participating providers in our organization who can help them with their medical or dental needs.”

Dr. Arnold Villafuerte, BCWW, said his role in the Community Health Fair is to coordinate with the planning committee what BCWW wants to do at the Fair, which is to make BCWW known and to be visible to the public.

To name a few of the health companies and organization participating in the Filipino Fiesta and Community Health Fair: 5-Min Pharmacy, Waianae Comprehensive Health Center, Humana, WellCare Ohana, UHA Health Insurance, San Diego Dentistry.

“Community Health Fair is an innovative way to educate, promote healthy lifestyle changes, inspire, and disseminate health education materials to underserved and hard

“Filipinos comprise about 80% of newly arrived immigrants and because they don’t have any health insurance coverage yet, it is a “blessing” that programs such as the Lanakila Easy Access Program (LEAP) at the State Department of Health in cooperation with the BCWW providers is available to address the health access needs of underserved population,” Dr. Villafuerte said.

Why the Filipino Fiesta matters

Filipinos have mentioned a myriad of reasons why an event like this has benefited the community – from its uniting Filipinos to giving them a deeper sense of ethnic pride.

Misalucha said, “The Filipino Fiesta is more than just a festival. Yes, it gathers us all together as a community to celebrate our shared heritage. But I think, the value it brings

It’s just good to have someone like her on our side. An actual fighter. With means. And a sense of real grace.

For whatever the former Philippine first lady stands for, in heels or flats, the glorification and the positive spin of the martial law era, you know Loida Lewis is the opposite. For the good.

sues like Filipino veterans’ equity pay. She also spearheaded the drive for dual U.S./Filipino citizenship.

made her laugh enough in my show to say that. “Comedian, par excellence,” she wrote on my signed copy of her book.

But I know I’ve also made her think in my day as a writer, journalist, columnist, broadcaster, narrowcaster, raconteur and raccoon lover.

I’ve since thought about our exchange in that New York bookstore, and I’ve come to the conclusion that we can be many things, all at once.

And Lewis, as her book proves, is so many things. To me, Lewis is no less than the Filipino community’s Anti-Imelda Marcos. And I don’t know how many shoes Loida owns.

is that it serves as a statement that we have ‘arrived’ and we are part of the colorful and intricate tapestry that makes Hawaii special.”

She also believes in giving credit to those who’ve helped to launch the Fiesta. “I think it’s worth recalling the first Filipino Fiesta under the leadership of Eddie Flores. It was his vision to celebrate Filipino heritage as a way to focus attention on the Filipino Community Center which was then just a dream. That first Fiesta was full of hope and promise for the future.

We were all inspired! The attendance was not yet as large as it is now, but nevertheless, we knew we had a good thing coming. I think a parade was added the following year. Those early days are now part of our history but recalling them always gave me a warm feeling of gratitude for a community that nurtured our dreams.”

The Fiesta triggers nostalgia among many early leaders

For as long as I’ve known her, Lewis has been a dual force for the Filipinos in the Philippines as well as for Filipinos in America.

She’s an American, after all. Born in the Philippines, but actively trying to lift up the political well-being of Filipinos in the U.S.

Loida was one of the founders of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, an organization that dared to harness the power of a community that was too much like the mother country—a long archipelago of groups at odds with each other.

Along with the group’s co-founders, among them the esteemed late newspaperman and rabble-rouser Alex Esclamado, Loida helped lead the charge on U.S. Filipino is-

like Misalucha who were active in birthing this now revered event. Alonso recalls the last time he chaired the Fiesta was over 20 years ago.

“I had the honor of chairing the weeklong Mabuhay Festival that encompasses the week-long celebration of the opening of the FilCom Center. From the dedication of the Center on the beginning of the week to the Filipino Fiesta at the end of the week.

I miss having the Fiesta in Kapiolani Park. I miss having the parade which was an integral part of the Fiesta and showcased Filipino pride going down Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki to the park. Before the center was built, there was overwhelming enthusiasm in the Filipino community. The unity of the groups to come together to get it built was both awe inspiring and memorable. I hope to see something like this again in our community,” Alonso said.

That in turn led to her playing a role in presidential politics here and there. As I said, Loida refuses to mention the name of that other former president, she simply calls 45. The indicted one. The lying one. The man behind the downfall of Fox News, Channel $787.5 million, the Lies R’ Us Network.

You definitely know Loida by her politics. She is a woman of the people, a people person, of the kind that belies her status among the wealthy.

You’d like her even if she were poor. But she is definitely more effective wealthy.

And that is the power of Loida Lewis. She is the heart of capitalism. But still a capitalist. How do you deal with the contradictions therein and still be true to what’s good?

It’s one of the messages of Loida’s book. You deal with the contradictions as they come up in life.

Example: How does a young woman from the Philip(continue on page 15)

Sarmiento said community events like the Fiesta is great at helping Filipinos understand their culture. She adds, “It also provides opportunities for volunteering, as well as cultural, and economic developments for Filipinos to benefit from. It serves as a vehicle to connect people, build relationships and create a sense of common identity.”

The abundance of positivity surrounding this event could be why the Filipino Fiesta lasted as long as it had. And this year – based on ambitious planning of new features – it looks to be the year the Fiesta returns in full force, to pre-pandemic hoorah.

“A huge mahalo to all our community volunteers for putting this event together. Many hours of planning and coordination to pull this off. Please come and celebrate with us on May 6. We also want to thank our loyal sponsors,” Alonso said.

Loida Nicolas-Lewis

ut you were so persistent, You wore down my resistance, I fell and it was swell.” - I’ve Got a Crush on You lyrics by Ira Gershwin and sung by Frank Sinatra

“I would sacrifice anything come what might, For the sake of having you near.”I’ve Got You Under My Skin lyrics by Cole Porter and sung by Frank Sinatra

“Once you have found her, never let her go, Once you have found her, never let her go.” - Some Enchanted Evening lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers and sung by Ezio Pinza

Singer Frank Sinatra is the


Courtship And Immigration – Necessity Of Patience, Persistence, Perseverance, And Passion

most famous and most persistent suitor in modern times as he pursued the breathtakingly beautiful movie star Ava Gardner with passion. But Frank had a very difficult time.

I met Frank Sinatra at the Circle Theater near San Francisco in the 80s. He does not exude the charm of Bongbong Marcos, the machismo of Clark Gable, Ava’s co-star in Mogambo with whom she allegedly had a romantic interlude, and the charisma and sense of humor of the popular Mickey Rooney, Ava’s first husband when she was only 19.

Frank’s travails are memorialized in the song in which he wrote “I am a Fool to Want You.” But Frank persisted –and he won - by wearing down the resistance of Ava. His success is immortalized in the

song which he sang: “But you were so persistent, you wore down my resistance.” Patience and perseverance, indeed, pay off.

Meaning of patience, persistence, perseverance, and passion

According to Merriam-Webster, patience means to be “able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.”

Persistence is defined as “continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty opposition.”

Perseverance means continuing “in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.”

Passion means “ardent affection; a strong liking or de-

sire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept.”

Those who have been told “No” should hearken to the fact that a “No” could mean “not right now.”

However, even if a suitor has all the 4 P’s if he has little or nothing to offer to the object of his affection he will not succeed. If the suitor has rivals, he should have something to compensate for or even overcome what the rivals have.

Frank had a lot to offer. He was a popular singer and had money. And if the following is not a “cock and bull” story, Frank had more. In 1952 a reporter asked Ava “What do you see in this guy? He’s just a 119 pound has been!” Ava reportedly quipped: “Well, I’ll tell you – 19 pounds is cock.”

The suitor must have confidence, without actually bragging about it, unlike Muhammad Ali who said “I am the

greatest. I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Saying a little prayer might help. That would be the 5th P.

Not all 4 Ps needed all the time

In many situations, a suitor might need all of the above-mentioned traits to succeed in love, but in other situations, he does not need them. It depends on the suitor and the object of affection. There are situations when the suitor has not even started to court the lady and he is already on the road to victory.

An Ilocano lawyer was at a party with the most beautiful woman he had ever met. He sat at the head of the table and the lady was on his right. The woman, a mestiza, was very attentive and kept serving him food and wine.

He asked, “Do you be-

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The Hawaii legislative session was recently in its final month, and my past colleague, Governor Josh Green, has experienced a new perspective from his former colleagues after serving in both the House of Representatives and the State Senate before being elected as Lieutenant Governor and Governor.

Several of his appointees for departments were roughedup in the Senate and rejected for various reasons leaving the governor looking for replacements to be on his cabinet. Past experience and history with the governor may have given senators an inside look at his style and abilities, and their rejections have given the governor

A Bumpy Beginning, HIgh Cost of Living, Mainland Lawmakers, A City Grows

a glimpse of future interactions and expectations.

Let’s hope the governor and state senators are able to create and approve a strong executive leadership team. Our state has many problems and issues that need collaboration and action which will entail working together in the spirit of trust, faith, transparency, and inclusivity.

The cost of living in Hawaii is expensive and will likely continue to be a problem for many families. I’m afraid our state has become a place of haves and have nots, and the lack of affordable housing has become a major concern on all islands.

Throughout our state, the only place one can get for under $1,000 is a room, and if one is lucky, a bathroom is attached to it. There are many people working tirelessly on housing solutions, but the lack of land for housing, infrastructure, labor, and timely permits can get in the way of good intentions

and ideas.

Due to their power and authority, state and county governments are the key to building more housing units for our local population. Transit-oriented development, tiny home communities, accessory dwelling units, high density buildings, and dormitory-style housing for adults are a few solutions I believe can have an impact on our housing crisis.

If the cost of living and housing issues are not aggressively dealt with, expect more local residents to move away.

For the wealthy and well-to-do, Hawaii will continue to be one of the best places to live despite our geographic isolation.

Nationally, crazy things have been happening in politics.

Republicans have launched an assault on many fronts with a recent high-profile case involving a Filipino state representative from Tennessee who protested about gun violence after a tragic shooting in his state.

I was irked when the national networks referred to Representative Justin Jones as a Black lawmaker when he is half Filipino due to his mother. By his looks, one can clearly see he is of mixed heritage, and identifying him as only an African American certainly rubbed me the wrong way.

Representative Justin Jones was ousted by his predominantly Republican colleagues from the Tennessee state legislature for his protest against gun violence, but thankfully, his con-

stituents and friends were able to get him reinstated as a state representative in spite of the anti-democratic ways of his opposition.

Other issues targeted by the grand old party include banning books in libraries, gender identification, FDA regulations, and critical race theory.

In the state of New York, Congressional Representative George Santos won his first race for Congress representing the third congressional district. Upon further review, allegations surfaced that Congressman Santos lied his way to office by fabricating many stories about himself and his experiences.

The plethora of false statements, lies, and questionable facts included where he attended high school, his college background, his work experience on Wall Street, his religious affiliation, his personal finances, his charitable work, and even his marital status.

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While business is now very competitive due to the latest developments affecting the country today, there is a way to sustain business growth and success through training and development!

It should be an all-yearround company activity because training is not only for new staff. It’s for everybody, old or new. This is the way to stay in the 21st-century business and educational environment characterized by global issues such as the Russia-Ukraine War, COVID-19, and advanced technology, among others!

So, believing that training the staff is the greatest company asset, the San Jose Job Corps Center (SJJC) held its second All Staff Training Day for this year at the center’s Gymnasium in its 11-acre campus which started with Quarterly Awards for Outstanding Employees.

SJJC believes that continuous training is a must to be able to survive the 21st-century educational challenges.

Training and Development: Key to Sustaining Business Growth and Success

In her opening remarks, Center Director Davina Hernandez recognized all the center employees and reiterated her “open door policy.” She also expected that all staff offices will likewise adopt the “open door policy” for staff and students.

The awardees are property assistant, Irene Eugenio, academic instructor Annie Zachariah, counselor Debbie Chen-Tam, Fresno Office admissions counselor Kee Yang, and Linh Hoang.

Investing in training and development is key to sustaining business growth and success. This commitment should not end after hiring. Training should be whole year-round for all employees, old and new, tackling the latest trends and best practices.

The SJJC all-staff training day covered the topics on Crisis Intervention given by TEAP Specialist Leslie Duldulao; Bloodborne Pathogens & NonHealth Standing Orders by RN Mary Mendoza and RN NhatTien Lu; EEO, Civil Rights, Sexual Harassment, & Ethics by Records Manager Mary Eros; and AG & D: Boundaries by Dr. Janet Nagley.

Studies show that organizations engaged in employee development see increased sales

and doubled profits compared to organizations not committed to employee engagement.

Dedicated training and development foster employee engagement, and a more efficient, competitive, and engaged workforce is critical to the company’s financial performance. Furthermore, statistics show that 93% of employees will stay longer when a company invests in career development.

Training and development help companies gain and retain top talent, increase job satisfaction and morale, improve productivity, and earn more profit.

Additionally, businesses that have actively interested and dedicated employees see 41% lower absenteeism rates and 17% higher productivity.

Statistics in educational institutions also showed that schools engaged in training and development stayed very competitive and maintained success in retaining their staff and students.

In my 26 years of employment in various businesses and educational institutions, employees who were trained regularly stay in their respective companies, compared to those who don’t have training at all.

As I See It, regular training is a prerequisite for man-

agers and supervisors. This will hone their knowledge and keep them updated on developments in the workplace.

Moreover, leaders who feel empowered within the workplace will be more effective at influencing employees and gaining their trust. Employees feel a greater sense of autonomy, value, and confidence within their work.

Yes, this is the environment employees need for them to stay longer in their companies. If one is given the leeway to achieve their goals, the feeling is greater in building up confidence and self-respect.

Another benefit derived from training is it boosts workplace engagement. Finding ways to bolster the consistent engagement of employees can diminish boredom in the workplace, which left unchecked can create feelings of dissatisfaction and negative working habits.

Regular training and development initiatives can prevent workplace idleness and in turn will help businesses establish regular re-evaluation of their employees, skills, and processes.

This benefit will keep the employees busy and always on the alert to learn more and adjust to real company problems.

Training and development

likewise build workplace relationships. Providing opportunities for employees to explore new topics, refine their skills and expand their knowledge can help team members bond with each other tackling new challenges together.

They can also lean on one another for various learning opportunities by collaborating with colleagues who have specific areas of expertise. Research has shown that peer is actually their preferred method of learning.

Learning from each other’s strengths not only leads to a more well-rounded workforce, but can also improve retention and engagement.

As I See It, yes, training sessions develop camaraderie and respect among employees who are at the same time developing close relationships while engaging in discussions and exchange of ideas during training time.

Business leaders, educators and managers better take note of the greatest asset for progress and success: training and development! 

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.

FilAm Entrepreneurs in Hawaii Encouraged to Explore Opportunities in Ilocos Sur in Business Forum

The Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu (PCGH) briefed Ilocos Sur officials on business innovations by Filipino American entrepreneurs in Hawaii on April 21 during a business forum at ‘A’ali’i at Ward Village, Honolulu. Led by Consul General Emil Fernandez in collaboration with Filipino Chamber of Commerce in Hawaii and Hawaii Philippines Business Economic Council, the PCGH celebrated the success of Filipino American entrepreneurs in Hawaii while noting that it’s a great time to invest in the Philippines through trade and supplier partnerships interested in entering the Hawaii market. Photo by PCGH. Forum attendants include Consul General Fernandez (third from right, standing), Mayor Eric Singson of Candon City, Ilocos Sur (fourth from right, standing), Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Kristine Singson-Meehan (leftmost, front row, seated) and former Finance Undersecretary Karen Singson (right, seated).

LIGAYA FRUTO: One Lingering Backward Look

to the Philippines after a long absence, and the dual life of an immigrant.

Ligaya Victorio Fruto said in an interview for the Watumull Foundation Oral History Project.

The transcript for the interview is dated March 12, 1986 and can be found online. The subjects for the project were Hawaii residents who contributed in some way to the history of Hawaii.

Fruto worked at Honolulu Star-Bulletin as a feature writer from 1952-1968. She was active in the Filipino community and she and her engineer husband established a scholarship fund for civil engineering students.

Fruto was born in the Philippines in 1914 and died at age 87 on July 18, 2001 in Redwood City, California. In the course of her life, she assumed many roles: journalist, writer, teacher, wife, mother and even guerilla.

She was in living in Caloocan during the Japanese occupation in World War II when she was recruited to edit a women’s magazine that was owned and run by the Japanese.

Her editorials made her friends nervous; they told her she could be next on the list for Fort Santiago where prisoners were tortured and killed—one of her own brothers was killed there. But Fruto said, “By then I no longer cared for my life.”

She wrote two books: “Yesterday and Other Stories (1969)” and “One Rainbow for the Duration (1976).” She was awarded the Jose Garcia Villa Roll of Honor of Short Stories from 1926 to 1940.

Her life was like the stuff of her own fiction. In her short story “One Lingering Backward Look,” Fruto mirrors and fictionalizes her own experiences during World War II: escaping with her young son to join her relatives in the province, the feeling of returning

Nothing she has done was planned, she claimed. When she was young, she never studied yet always got honors. She attended Far Eastern College (now Far Eastern University), where, at age 13, she was reading Chekhov, Tolstoy, and de Maupassant thanks to a teacher who gave her access to his home library.

Her stint as a young teacher at Normal College in Baguio City was by pure chance. She took the entrance exams just to go along with her friends and ended up having better marks

than them. She had to teach at Normal College for two years as required by the government which was her employer. She looked like a school kid but was taking graduate

studies in English and Spanish literature and was writing. She was always surprised when magazines published her stories.

“I’m the only one (among five girls) with a Filipina name; the others had Spanish names,” she said. Her “father quarreled with the priest” and she was baptized at an independent church. Her father was gentle but very protective—he did not like his daughters having suitors, their windows were locked and no serenaders were allowed in the middle of the night.

To gain more freedom from her father’s house, Fru-

to got married. Luckily, her first husband, Ramon Reyes (whose father went to school in Madrid with Jose Rizal) was a kind man and allowed her all the freedom she wanted. He didn’t mind that she worked at the same newspaper he did— he was a commercial artist.

Tragically, towards the end of World War II in 1944, Ramon Reyes was killed by a guerilla bandit, shot at their doorstep. Their son Ramon Ray was still small.

After the war, in 1946, Fruto joined the press office of the Philippine president, Manuel Roxas. After that, she

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othing that I have done, it seems to me, was planned,”


Jake Zyrus, when still known as Charice Pempengco, first burst into the American consciousness when he sang at the Ellen DeGeneres Show in December 2007.

Prior to this, he made a few recordings in Sweden that were posted online that caught the attention of the talk show host. The following May, he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show— where his talent so impressed the media icon that she contacted David Foster “to see what the music producer could do for Pempengco.”

With this mentorship, Zyrus widened his reach, performing concerts with Andrea Bocelli, among others. His album “Char ice” released in 2010, en tered the Billboard 200 at number eight, the first album of an Asian solo singer to land in the top 10. He released two more albums after that before crossing over to television where he was cast in the TV series Glee as Sunshine Corazon.

In 2013, he came out as a gay woman and transitioned into a transgender male in 2017 and discon tinued the use of the name “Charice Pempengco.”

In this book, he chronicles his journey. Born in Cabuyao, Laguna province in the Philippines, he was raised by a single mother Racquel, who he claims served as his first musical influence, but also his harshest taskmaster—the ultimate “stage mother.” He helped support his family by entering singing contests as early as seven years old, eventually competing in hundreds of these contests.

memoir consists of eight chapters, where the first one titled “Awakening” describes the initial days after his operation and the process he went through in deciding in going through the procedures to change his gender completely.

The first few sentences in this chapter is telling: “When I woke up in the hospital, my first impulse was to look down at my chest. They were gone.”

In most of the chapters, he relates episodes that describe his relationship with his mother. He recalls how his mother often hit him in the head with her high

heels—the reason why his scalp is covered with scars that have formed bumps and valleys on his head.

Despite the abusive behavior, he reasons that: “She’s not a bad person. Her own difficult experiences with her family contributed to the kind of person she is.” He surmises that his own mother went through the same abuse from his grandmother. He devotes another chapter to his father, who was killed by an icepick-wielding man while buying something at a store. He recounts how he, with his mom and younger brother, lived with his dad until he was four years old and the years he experienced what it was like to be a child.

He felt that the absence of his father enabled the abusive behavior of his mom to happen, as well as the sexual abuse he suffered from a male relative when he was still a young girl.

Despite a harrowing childhood and early adulthood, the last chapter is filled with hope and acceptance. His last sentence says it all: “I have lived my truth.

(LINGERING THOUGHTS: A Bumpy.....from page 8)

Other alleged lies involve his mother and 9/11, the Holocaust, the Pulse nightclub shooting, and his time in Brazil. There are also allegations of criminality involving a GoFundMe account and credit card fraud.

The plight of George Santos should be a wake-up call for everyone to do their research and due diligence when reviewing political candidates. The recent cases of bribery by local Hawaii state legislators in key legislative positions clearly show the need for and importance of honesty, ethics, and integrity in our elected officials.

Finally, as I drive around

And that is all that matters.”

Through all that, he maintains his sense of humor. To all the folks who miss Charice—her magnificent voice, her long hair and pretty face—he proposes a solution: “Go on YouTube.”

Senator Risa Hontiveros, who championed the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill (also known as the Anti-Discrimination Bill) in the Philippine Congress writes in the book’s back cover:

“Touching. Vivid. Heartfelt. Here for the first time is a deeply personal account of Jake Zyrus’ ordeals with abuse, poverty and gender discrimination. But more than a tale of struggle, it is ultimately one person’s inspiring, continuing journey to solve the greatest mystery in life—the question of who we truly are.”

Jake Zyrus is here to stay, living the life he wants!

ROSE CRUZ CHURMA established Kalamansi Books & Things three decades ago. It has evolved from a mail-order bookstore into an on-line 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.

the second city of Kapolei, it’s wonderful to see the vision becoming a reality. The administration of Waihee/Cayetano started the villages of Kapolei which has blossomed into a vibrant, attractive place to live, work, play, and be educated.

The University of Hawaii at West Oahu is providing opportunities for many and helping students and families realize their dreams and goals. New lovely homes (although some rather expensive) and flourishing businesses and government services have minimized the need to drive to downtown Honolulu.

Many workers still have the daily commute into town,

but a special place continues to grow and develop on the west side with the best yet to come. A new controversial rail system to support our future transportation needs is about to be operational from Kapolei to the stadium (Phase 1), and in my opinion, it will enhance and benefit the island of Oahu. I will write more about the rail system in a future column.

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.


Hands, Mind, Heart: An International Workers’ Day Tribute

“No human masterpiece has been created without great labor.”- Andre Gide

While Labor Day is celebrated every September in the United States and Canada, most countries around the world celebrate a worker’s day on the first of May.

According to Britannica, International Workers’ Day, also called May Day or Workers’ Day, commemorates the historic struggles and gains made by workers and the labor movement.

In 1889, an international

federation of socialist groups and trade unions designated May 1 as a day in support of workers, in remembrance of the Haymarket Riot in Chicago that happened three years earlier.

Industrial workers across the US went on strike, demanding an 8-hour workday on May 1st of 1886. A bomb was detonated on May 4th while the police were trying to disperse the meeting of the labor activists, killing some strikers and police officers, and injuring many. Thousands of American workers fought for a right that we now have come to enjoy as standard: the eight-hour workday.

While the Haymarket In-

cident is a tragic reminder of the oppressive conditions that marked the late 19th and early 20th-century workplace, it is a symbol of workers’ struggles and battles that led to an establishment of an important day of remembrance. It is only rightful to recognize and honor our laborers throughout the world.


For your diligent and skillful hands, you are worth honoring. For your blood, sweat and tears, though many times unnoticed and unrewarded appropriately, thank you. You may not see the results of your hard work but know that they impact many generations in fact. You are not just a blessing to your family, but communities and nations benefit

from your labor. Keep persevering and everything will pay off.

INQUISITIVE MIND. For your curious and great mind that always looks for ways to create things, address issues and solve problems, thank you. Your ideas turning into products and your visions becoming reality make this world a better place. What will our world be like without you?

SELFLESS HEART. You labor, not just only for yourself, but for your family and your community. It takes a selfless heart to rise early in the morning and rest very late at night (or even endure sleepless nights) just so you can provide and give a better life for the people you love and the nation you serve. Thank you for laying down your life. Thank you for giving your

Lowering Property Tax Bills Should Be High Priority

Property assessments are up across the state — and they threaten to create a “silent” tax hike for Hawaii residents.

That’s because property tax bills in Hawaii’s four counties are linked to property assessments, so tax bills can increase even if the tax rates stay the same.

On Oahu, assessments for the fiscal 2024 budget were up 12.4% compared to the previous year. Assessments increased by similarly high percentages on each of the neighboring islands.

As a result, many homeowners and landlords statewide are concerned that this year’s higher assessments will mean higher property tax bills — again.

Across the islands, higher property taxes could make

homeownership unaffordable for some residents; landlords might have no choice but to increase what they charge their tenants; and businesses might have to raise prices or cut back on salaries or other expenses.

Many county lawmakers have taken notice and would like to keep the cost of living down for constituents who already are living on the edge. To help out, the Grassroot Institute recently released a new report, “How Hawaii’s county lawmakers can provide tax relief to offset higher property assessments.”

As this new policy toolkit notes, lowering tax rates in response to higher assessments is the simplest way to lower tax bills, but it is by no means the only way.

Homeowner exemptions, tax credits and other

specially designed relief programs can also help offset higher assessments. In fact, many such policies already exist in some form or another in each of the counties but could stand to be updated.

Two of the counties, Kauai and Maui, are already looking to simply change tax rates. Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami has proposed a 10% rate reduction for homeowners and residential properties, while Maui Mayor Richard Bissen has asked for a lower rate on certain owner-occupied properties and a higher rate on other high-value owner-occupied properties.

As for other types of relief, the Honolulu City Council is looking at increasing the value of its homeowner exemption — which deducts a certain percentage or dollar amount of a house’s value for tax purposes — from $100,000 to $120,000, while Maui acted last year to increase its exemption from

heart to all that you do. Remember this, generations are blessed because of you.

To all our workers–whether you’re at home or in school, office or street, factory, or field, indoor or outdoor, underground, or top of a mountain–wherever you are, whatever you do, THANK YOU. For your skillful hands, inquisitive mind, and selfless heart, you are deeply appreciated. We recognize your hard work, and we honor you for all that you do. May your hands always be blessed, your mind always be filled with new ideas, your heart always be joyful, and your soul refreshed.

Your toil is not in vain. Your labor is worth it. The seeds you sow will bear fruit. We celebrate you. We honor you. Maraming Salamat, manggagawa! Mabuhay ka!

inflation and higher property values.

$200,000 to $300,000 for the upcoming tax year.

Honolulu, Kauai and Maui also offer property tax credits, or “circuit breakers.” These programs are especially helpful for individuals on fixed incomes, such as retirees, whose ability to pay might not be able to keep up with ever-increasing annual property tax bills.

In addition, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi has proposed a one-time $300 tax credit for all homeowners, regardless of income.

All of these tax-relief ideas, if enacted, would help offset this year’s higher property tax assessments. However, the question is: Will they be enough to offset future increases in property tax assessments?

By law, the councils are required to set the property tax rates every year. But ideally, they could adopt policies that take a longer-view approach to avoid tax bills going up simply because of

As Kauai County Council Chair Mel Rapozo said during a recent radio interview, Hawaii’s property taxes “should be a formula based on the assessments at the time, so it’s much more fair and productive. Because, you know, we don’t touch tax rates, but the assessments go up. It is a tax increase… I want to see a much more objective way of setting these thresholds and exemptions that would relate to the market and not where it is just a method of collecting revenues for the county.”

If more of Hawaii’s county council members would think this way, Hawaii residents could maybe someday feel more assured that they will not be chased out of their homes, businesses or other properties just because they were unable to keep up with the state’s continually increasing real estate values.

KELIʻI AKINA is president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

Estate Planning Documents: Power of Attorney

Apower of attorney is authority granted under the Hawaii Uniform Power of Attorney Act, H.R.S. Chapter 551D.

It is a useful document that allows a person to delegate authority to act on his or her behalf and for his or her benefit in case the person becomes incapacitated, such as under dementia, stroke, etc.

The legal fees for preparing a power of attorney are much less (a few hundred dollars) than having to go to court to obtain a conservatorship (a few thousand dollars).

To prepare a Power of Attorney, a person must know who they trust to act for their benefit if he/she loses mental capacity and what authorities he/she wants to grant.

It’s a relatively quick process: give the information to the attorney, the attorney drafts the POA, and the person signs the POA in front of a notary. Here are some quick points about POAs.

Your Power of Attorney dies with you

Often enough, I’ve heard people say, after someone has died, “I have his power of attorney. Doesn’t that make me the executor?” No. When a person dies, that power of attorney dies with them. The agent no longer has any authority when the principal dies. The agent only has authority while the principal is

alive and under incapacity.

It’s not immediately usable

I’ve seen people frustrated with tellers because they can’t use the power of attorney at the bank. If you make a power of attorney, be sure to send a copy to your financial institutions.

Their legal departments need time to review the document. Then the institution will place the POA in your file for the time when you become incapacitated. Make sure to instruct your agent that they need to have a letter from your physician certifying your incapacity and to attach a copy of that certifying letter to the back of the power of attorney when presenting it to the institution to do any transactions.

Proof of your incapacity is required for that power of attorney to take effect, and that doctor’s letter is the proof. Again, the institution may need to review the letter before it can allow any transactions to be done using the POA.

A Power of Attorney can only be made by someone with mental capacity

A power of attorney can be made only by someone of sound legal mind. The principal must know what they are doing by executing a power of attorney and who they are appointing. Once a person loses mental capacity, they cannot execute a power of attorney. The family has to go to court

to obtain a conservatorship, a process that can take months.

What are the fiduciary duties of an agent?

A fiduciary is a special role under law. This means the agent must:

(a) Act loyally for the principal’s benefit;

(b) Avoid conflicts that would impair your ability to act in the principal’s best interest;

(c) Act with care, competence, and diligence;

(d) Keep a record of all receipts, disbursement, and transactions made on behalf of the principal;

(e) Cooperate with any person that has authority to make health care decisions for the principal to do what you know the principal reasonably expects or, if you do not know the principal’s expectations, to act in the principal’s best interest; and

(f) Attempt to preserve the principals estate plan if you know the plan and preserving the plan is consistent with the principal’s best interest.

What are the duties of an agent?

When you accept the authority granted under this power of attorney, a special legal relationship is created between you and the principal. This relationship imposes upon your legal duties that continue until you resign, or the power of attorney is terminated or revoked. You must:

(a) Do what you know the principal reasonably expects

you to do with the principal’s property, or if you do not know the principal’s’ expectations, act in the principal’s best interest;

(b) Act in good faith;

(c) Do nothing beyond the authority granted in this power of attorney; and

(d) Disclose your identity as an agent whenever you act for the principal by writing or printing the name of the principal and signing your own name as “agent” in the following manner.


The person who makes the power of attorney is called the “principal.” The person who is given authority by that principal is called the “agent.” If you are using the power of attorney, you sign “(agent’s name), Agent for (principal’s name), Principal.” This shows you are acting under the authority of the power of attorney.

What terminates the agent’s authority?

You must stop acting on behalf of the principal if you learn of any event that terminates this power of attorney or your authority under this power of attorney. Events that terminate a power of attorney or your authority to act under a power of attorney include:

(a) Death of the principal;

(b) The principal’s revocation of the power of attorney or your authority;

(c) The occurrence of a termination event stated in the power of attorney;

(d) The purpose of the

lieve in love at first sight?” The lady answered: “No. How about you?” The lawyer countered: “I did not – until I met you.” The lady smiled.

There was dead silence among the other guests. The lawyer felt that he might have committed a faux pax, so he excused himself, saying he had to drive to Ilocos early the next morning.

Later that evening, the party’s host called the lawyer saying that the mestiza was inviting them all for dinner at her home on Valentine’s Day. The lawyer said that he would be in the Ilocos on Valentine’s Day to meet with an 18-year-old virgin, but that he

power of attorney is fully accomplished; or

(e) If you are married to the principal, a divorce or separation complaint is filed, unless the Special Instructions in this power of attorney state that such an action will not terminate your authority.

Should I update my Power of Attorney?

It’s usually a good idea to update your power of attorney if it’s several years old. Often parents made their trust set when their children are young, and the power of attorney is granted to aunties and uncles. The children are now grown, and the parents can delegate the authority to them, especially if the aunty or uncle is now elderly also. If a power of attorney is more than a few years old, it may be considered “stale” and the institution may have legitimate concerns over whether the POA has been revoked.

How do I revoke my Power of


Send a written notice to your agent that you revoke his or her authority. Make sure you also send a copy of that revocation to all the institutions that have a copy of the POA.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not to be constructed as offering legal advice. Please consult an attorney for your individual situation. The author is not responsible for a reader’s reliance on the information contained here.

would be happy to accept the invitation when he returns.

He returned and met the mestiza again, one thing led to another, they traveled abroad, and enjoyed life together. He was not really in love with her. But she was. And she would sometimes say with tears in her eyes: “Why did you make me fall in love with you? I wish I had never met you. I know I can never have you.” They were both married to others.

Immigration and the 4 P’s

In the immigration field, patience,

14 HAWAII FILIPINO CHRONICLE  MAY 6, 2023 LEGAL NOTES (continue on page 15)
(WHAT’S UP, ATTORNEY?: Courtship ....from page 7)

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pines meet one ambitious African American, Reginald Lewis from Baltimore, and fall in love despite her Filipinoness, her Catholicism, and her conservative family values?

Start with that tricky pre-marital sex question. As Loida shared with an audience in New York, if it happens naturally, it’s good because “Anything natural comes from God.”

It may sound like a rationalization, but don’t pass judgment. It’s an insight into how a successful woman maneuvers through the contradictory forces in life.

When in doubt, Loida chose love. “Use your head, but follow your heart,” she likes to say.


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It was how the couple worked together as they defied the obstacles that were in the way for an African American man married to a Filipina struggling to make it in the corporate world.

And then Reginald Lewis made it big. He was one of the first non-whites to break through the capitalist curtain to play the cutthroat game of leveraged buyouts in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

It’s really a simple business move. Borrow capital to buy a mature company. Then, by cutting costs to the bone, you can both service the debt and grow more equity, thereby enabling you to ultimately sell all or part of the company at a profit.

(WHAT’S UP, ATTORNEY?: Courtship ....from page 14)

persistence, perseverance, and passion are helpful traits to have. An 85-year-old nondescript Ilocano from Ilocos Norte met a town mate – an attractive 25-year-old virgin.

He bought her a cell phone. He returned to his California home. He called every day, sometimes twice a day, for almost four years. He won her and went home to marry her. He filed an immigrant visa petition for the virgin, it was approved, and the virgin was given an immigrant visa to come to the United States. I asked the girl if she really loved the man. She said “Yes.” Patience, persistence, and perseverance do work. Passion? The man did not look passionate.

A 90-year-old Ilocano U.S. citizen met a 50-year-old Ilocana who came to the U.S. on a tourist visa. They would take the bus to go around Oahu Island. He courted her and was very kind to her. He offered to petition for her children from her previous husband. They were married.

He filed an I-130 petition for her, and she applied for an adjustment of status. At the interview, I whispered to the immigration officer that if you ask

about sex, the man told me that even if he swallowed a handful of viagra he could not have an erection. The officer smiled and agreed. He approved their applications. Patience and persistence paid off.

In dealing with immigration officers, you must also have patience, persistence, and perseverance. They do not appear to like immigrants and want to deny them benefits and even deport them.

An Ilocano was petitioned by his U.S. citizen wife to immigrate to the U.S. The petition was approved, and he came to the U.S. One evening the wife arrived home and wanted to have sex with him. He told her to take a bath first. The wife was furious, quarreled with him, threw his clothes out of the house and told him to get out. She divorced him and wrote to USCIS to deport him because they never had sex.

The man remarried. His second wife filed an immigrant visa petition for him. He applied for adjustment of status. USCIS denied the petition saying his first marriage was not bona fide.

We represented him. We

That’s why Reginald Lewis asked in his book, “Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun?” He was able to get beyond the black/ white paradigm of corporate America by playing the “internationalist.”

And his Filipina wife Loida was instrumental in that quest.

At the time of his death at age 50 to brain cancer, Reginald Lewis was worth $400 million.

And then it was Loida’s cue to step in, take over, and ask: “Why should guys have all the fun?” A trained lawyer, but without formal business training, Loida followed her husband’s path and carved out her own as she brought the

challenged the USCIS decision, arguing that the first wife’s complaint was merely the raving of a scorned sex maniac for “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned,” quoting William Congreve.

We asked to see the previous wife’s letter and demanded that we cross-examine her otherwise he would be deprived of due process of law. We told USCIS that our client would show that they made love almost every night. USCIS refused. We appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals. We won.

The BIA ordered USCIS

(FEATURE: Ligaya ....from page 11)

came to Hawaii to work at the Philippine Consulate General as a cultural and social attaché. She then got married a second time, to engineer Lorenzo Fruto.

When she moved with her husband for a work assignment in Guam, she survived the worst typhoon in Guam’s history, a typhoon 250 mile per hour winds. The roof of their house blew off and they lived in the hospital for over a month. She said there was “not a single leaf to be found

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company, Beatrice, to even greater heights.

That’s the corporate story of Loida Lewis, with life lessons to boot. She put some of them into practice recently simply by being an audience member for my recent show, “Emil Amok: Lost NPR Host…”

It was not in a fancy Broadway theater. It was off-off-Broadway and under, a basement theater in New York City’s East Village. And there was Loida, laughing.

Not only did she see the show, but she was also part of a very impromptu “after-show party,” in the side room of a corner bar. Loida was there with her friends, and some of my friends,

to comply with our demands. USCIS approved the immigrant visa petition and the adjustment of status. The patience, persistence, and perseverance of the lawyer and client saved another Ilocano from deportation.

ATTY. TIPON was a Fulbright and Smith-Mundt scholar to Yale Law School where he obtained a Master of Laws degree specializing in Constitutional Law. He has a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines. He is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, New York, and the Philippines. He practices federal law, with emphasis on immigration law and

on those trees along the highways.”

One could say Fruto’s stories are not as dramatic as the events of her own life: natural disasters, violence during the war, and personal losses. Her stories are subtle and frequently have nationalistic themes such as “Home is Where…”

From her collection “Yesterday and other Stories,” one of my favorites is called “Tupada,” a story about illegal cockfighting in

one a writer, the other an Oscar-nominated music composer, their families, and some of my family.

We were all sharing a meal, conversation, and light beverages in what the late foodie Anthony Bourdain might have called an ichi-go ichi-e “once in a lifetime, never again,” moment.

It was just Loida being in support of me, another American Filipino storytelling voice. Her presence was such a gracious gesture. That’s the kind of person she is, and a key lesson in her book—to always show love and support for others.

Except, of course, for 45.

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

appellate federal criminal defense. He was the Dean and a Professor of Law of the College of Law, Northwestern University, Philippines. He has written law books and legal articles for the world’s most prestigious legal publisher and w rites columns for newspapers. He wrote the best-seller “Winning by Knowing Your Election Laws.” Listen to The Tipon Report which he co-hosts with his son Attorney Emmanuel “Noel” Tipon. They talk about immigration law, criminal law, court-martial defense, and current events. It is considered the most witty, interesting, and useful radio show in Hawaii. KNDI 1270 AM band every Thursday at 8:00 a.m. Atty. Tipon was born in Laoag City, Philippines. Cell Phone (808) 225-2645. E-Mail: filamlaw@yahoo.com. Website: https:// www.tiponlaw.com.

Hawaii and the boy who has an awakening in that cockpit.

I admire Fruto’s talent for evoking imagery. Some of her lines make me catch my breath, such as this one: “…love like a sword between them, hurting them exquisitely.”

She remained connected to the Philippines despite living in the U.S. for decades. The ending to “One Lingering Backward Look” is “…any sojourn in a foreign land–whether it lasted a moment or a lifetime–could be but temporary.”

(CANDID PERSPECTIVES: Loida...from page 6)
MAY 6, 2023