Hawaii Filipino Chronicle - May 18, 2024

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aanHPi mOnTH is aLmOsT HaLf Over, HOW dOes may feeL sO far?

HAWAII-FILIPINO NEWS sTaTe marks THe sTarT Of ka La’i OLa, a majOr HOusing iniTiaTive fOr maui survivOrs

FEATURE HfC’s LasT jOurnaLism sCHOLar, LizeTTe nOLasCO, graduaTes WiTH HOnOrs frOm CHaminade universiTy

2024 OPEN FORUM Huge Tax CuT Leads Way
MAY 18,


It’s Important to Work on Making Hawaii More Affordable and Livable, But Outmigration Is Likely to Continue

When Ben Cayetano ran for Governor in the state of Hawaii – his first try and reelection – even way back then the issue of giving Hawaii locals incentives to stay on the islands and remain with family was a campaign talking point. Cayetano, on the other hand, would remark that only in Hawaii is moving out of state a big concern.

Cayetano was mostly right as others on the mainland will move without painstaking apprehension. But the reason Hawaii locals take issue with “leaving out of necessity” is that Hawaii is not like many other states – it’s “paradise;” and there is a strong cultural bond for the ohana to stay together. In this election year as it was two years ago, there is still political pressure placed on lawmakers to make the islands more affordable so that locals can remain in the state.

Since the 1990s and early 2000s when Cayetano was governor up until today, the high cost of living in Hawaii and lack of affordable housing haven’t changed much– both annually coming in the top three in the nation. Hawaii’s high tax burden and price of goods also rank among the highest in the nation.

It’s been over three decades of lawmakers making promises to improve the conditions with little progress because in many ways Hawaii as a desirable location keeps driving up housing and living costs. The fact that Hawaii is an islands-chain, isolated, and must have most goods shipped over also contributes to the staying power of high food prices.

While Gov. Josh Green is taking aggressive and innovative measures to expand the state’s housing inventory – arguably more than any previous administration – the realistic outcome most likely will be marginal with increased numbers of locals having opportunities to buy an affordable property but a majority of young adults (who do not have property to inherit) will move to the mainland just to be able to afford a place to live without having to work two-plus jobs.

The cumulative years of Hawaii’s net outmigration – now seven years consecutively – could suggest that the affordability situation has worsened. Besides some local residents’ complaints of being outpriced in Hawaii, economists and researchers say the outmigration is taking a toll on the economy in the way of a shrinking tax base, consumer base, workforce. There is also evidence of a “brain drain” as Hawaii’s most educated are opting to leave for mainland universities and stay there.

Focus on improving Hawaii’s job market

While it’s still important for lawmakers to work on affordable housing and easing the cost of living, the reality is these are mostly market driven and fixed to the extent that Hawaii will always rank high nationally in these areas.

Where lawmakers should put increased efforts into and working with the private sector is to attract higher paying and quality jobs that will enable locals to afford to live here. Researchers point to the double whammy effect burdening residents: having to live in a state that has one of the highest costs of living but also a median pay that does not match other states with similarly high living expenses. In other words, Hawaii has big city costs, but small state salaries.

The commonsense aim then is to boost the second part that can only be accomplished by attracting industries like high tech-information industry. The tech industry is a $4.6 trillion industry, up from $4.4 trillion in 2022. Software development, cybersecurity and the progression of cloud computing and AI advancements are all lucrative areas to count on well into the future.

New York is the center of finance with Wall Street and northern California has Silicon Valley. Hawaii can capitalize on its strength


Publisher & Executive Editor

he extended family – grandparents, parents and children living in a single household – typical of Filipino life here that many of us grew up with is changing. For those of still living in Hawaii, this tradition largely remains intact. However, with many of our adult children leaving for the mainland and not returning, we are seeing this family model gradually slipping away.

For our cover story this issue, associate editor Edwin Quinabo reports on the massive outmigration of Hawaii locals to the U.S. mainland to places like California, Washington, Texas and Nevada. Each year about 67,000 residents leave the islands-chain to be replaced by approximately 55,000 mainlanders and a few returning kamaaina. How is this affecting the state’s economy? Who and why are residents leaving? How are our mainland transplant families faring in their new communities? What do they miss about Hawaii? And what are Hawaii lawmakers doing about this mass exodus of locals? In this cover story, several Filipinos from all walks of life and ages share their experiences of moving away and what has come of their journey from missing their families to enjoying newfound opportunities. Our Hawaii Filipino community has been and is changing by the year because of this increasingly common phenomenon.

In news, Gov. Josh Green and community members officially broke ground on the Ka La’i Ola temporary housing project designed to help Maui wildfire survivors ineligible for FEMA aid. The project will create 450 temporary studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom housing units across 54 acres of land. The temporary homes can be occupied for up to five years. To our Maui readers: get the details and find out if this project works for you.

In Filipino community news, we have two articles recapping the signature Filipino Fiesta and Flores De Mayo Parade that occurred earlier this month. First, HFC columnist Rose Cruz Churma contributes “The Flores de Mayo-Filipino Fiesta 2024 —A Postscript.” In it, she goes back to the origin of the Fiesta to the passing of the torch to this year when a new generation of organizers spearheaded the event. She mentions Eddie Flores Jr., Roland Casamina, and Harry Alonzo among the pioneers of the Filipino Fiesta and Parade. Second, HFC contributor Edna Bautista, Ed.D. gives us a recap highlighting some in our community enjoying the various featured exhibits and booths.

Addressing our larger community that we are a part of, the Asian American community, HFC columnist Emil Guillermo contributes “AANHPI Month is Almost Half Over, How Does May Feel So Far?” that discusses the importance of bloc voting in the upcoming election. He writes that the AANHPI comprises about 6% or 25 million of the electorate and that we are large enough to be a pivotal swing vote. He also raises an interesting point that if Western Asians (Middle Easterners) are included in the Asian bloc, that brings our community’s number up to around 30 million.

Be sure to read our other interesting columns and news including an opinion piece “Hawai’i Must Lead - Thinking Global, Acting Local” written by HFC columnist Gary Hooser.

Lastly, we have a feature on Lizette Jelena Nolasco of Aiea, winner of the 2022 Hawaii Filipino Chronicle (HFC) journalism scholarship, who was honored as Chaminade University of Honolulu’s Outstanding Graduate in Communication. Congratulations Lizette.

Thank you to our readers and advertisers for supporting the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle. Visit our website for your e-copy of the Chronicle. Feel free to send us your upcoming events for our community calendar. Until the next issue, Aloha and Mabuhay!

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

Rose Cruz Churma

Elpidio R. Estioko

Willie Espero

Perry Diaz

Emil Guillermo

Gary Hooser

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.

Dr. Dylan Bothamley

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

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Could Toxic Politics and Deepening Sectoral Division Lead to Widespread Violence Under a Trump Dictatorship?

Perhaps more so this election cycle than any has the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle showed its true color of independent reporting and editorializing. We’ve already ran critical editorials on Joe Biden’s shortcomings as a leader and his C-grade policy accomplishments in his first two years and F-grade this past year-and-half going into the General.

We’ve also ran editorials on Donald Trump’s legal troubles, his divisiveness and anti-immigrant rhetoric of the past. What we haven’t tackled – largely because this topic is being exhausted in mainstream media – is the potential for Trump becoming a dictator and a threat to democracy.

Instead of regurgitating mainstream media’s fearmongering of Trump as dictator – which is a valid possibility which reasons why, most have already heard – an editorial here on the appendage of what a dictatorial rule would bring is a topic equally important to discuss that’s getting partial, but not full-blown coverage. What is it? The potential for political violence, sectoral violence, or even the taboo subject (now being seriously discussed by political scientists) of civil war.

Threat of political violence

Since Jan. 6, 2021, the

of natural resources and develop alternative energy that could be a boon in producing highpaying careers and jobs.

Virtual work is another area for young adults to tap, get high salaries and enable them to make a good living in Hawaii. The problem is helping locals learn where these remote jobs are and providing a network base showing the world that workers here have the skills and smarts to do these jobs from data scientists and AI engineers to hedge fund managers and private equity associates. There are endless possibilities that have opened with virtual work. Leaving Hawaii can be ben-

storming of the U.S. Capitol, talks of political violence most can agree is a legitimate one. The elements that fueled that violent insurrection haven’t gone away. There is continued proliferation and pervasiveness of political divisions and conspiracy theories. Both racism and xenophobia – not quite to the extremism as it were under Trump’s presidency – remains real and exploited by demagogic politicians on both sides of the political spectrum.

Even now, Trump is a prognosticator and provocateur of political violence, who has warned there would be “bedlam in the country” should the criminal charges against him lead to a 2024 election loss. This is the same kind of rhetoric Trump weaponized prior to Jan. 6.

With far more at risk this time around for Trump – his losing would most likely mean jailtime, which is why he’s running for a second term in the first place – it doesn’t take a political scientist to tell you this kind of rhetoric will only worsen.

Not only is the “bad political actor” in Trump still in the picture, but it’s also clear MAGA hasn’t gone anywhere. MAGA hasn’t received the same intensity and frequency of coverage by the mainstream media of late. But Trump’s polling indicate MAGA is alive and well, even the most extremist of them like the gun-toting, mili-

There are many locals who’ve left Hawaii and say it was all worth it for reasons besides affordability. Just as many of our immigrant parents and grandparents who left their home countries in Asia primarily at first for economic opportunities then later discovered Hawaii offered so much more than better financial outcomes, Hawaii transplants to the mainland are saying the same.

New experiences, personal growth, cheaper means to travel state-to-state are just some of the reasons why former Hawaii residents choose to stay in the mainland. For the same reason that Hawaii is attracting mainlanders as new residents who

tia-type white supremacists.


Political scientist Barbara Walter wrote in her 2022 book How Civil Wars Start: And How to Stop Them, “we are closer to civil war than any of us would like to believe” because of a toxic mix of political extremism and polarization, social and cultural tribalism, the popular embrace of conspiracy theories, proliferation of guns and well-armed militias and the erosion of faith in government and the liberal, Western democratic state.

She cites this concept “accelerationism” which is not an original idea espoused by her but already known among political academics. What is it?

It’s the belief that modern society is irredeemable and that its end must be hastened, so that a new order can be brought into being.

Accelerationism has long been embraced by right-wing, fringe groups, militias in the South and Midwest, predominantly among groups wanting the breakup of the United States, those advocating secession. These groups – often featured by mainstream media since Jan. 6 – are ready to exact violence towards this goal.

A new development, but without advocacy for violence as the far-right, is that there are sectors of the political far left

come for new experiences here that their home states cannot offer, we see Hawaii locals likewise leaving.

Some local residents will choose to leave Hawaii no matter if it is affordable or not.

Curiosity and a yearning for an eventful journey in life will compel locals to leave not just to the mainland, but with the global economy and the rise of new robust markets in Asia and the Philippines included, more Hawaii people could, in fact, find themselves returning to their ancestral countries.

Ultimately, the goal should be to provide our local residents options to stay, leave or to return in retirement when that journey is over.

who are also adherents to accelerationism, in that they are willing to vote independent and abandon Biden and the Democratic Party to bring about a new order of new Democrats after a would-be Trump dictatorship.

And both the far right and far left want the collapse of (at least in degree) the existing order for different reasons and opposing goals.

Extreme political toxicity

The unstable, chaotic political climate has even caught the attention of Hollywood with one studio releasing earlier this spring the movie “Civil War,” which is as the title suggests, but more of a warning of what the aftermath of toxic politics and deepening sectoral divisions could look like, especially if a demagogue leader like a Trump comes to power.

Biden could be accused of many things like exploiting racial divisions in this country as many Democrats do, but at least, Biden is not a Trump being a provocateur of political violence to save his behind.

Is political violence alarmist? Two polls conducted by the University of Maryland’s Center for Democracy and Civil Engagement and the Washington Post suggest otherwise. Both polls, conducted in 2021 and 2024 show Republicans be-

lieve the use of violence against the government is “somewhat justified” at 40%. In the second poll, it found “Republicans are more sympathetic to those who stormed the U.S. Capitol and more likely to absolve Donald Trump of responsibility for the attack than they were in 2021.”

There are other more dismal assessments from other political scientists who link increased political violence as an inevitable symptom of a superpower reaching its downfall, stating also that the excessive number of firearms in private hands in the U.S. could facilitate such widespread violence.

Not prophetic

While there are clear elements in our nation that could spark political violence (stated above) particularly with a leader in power who has demonstrated its use for political gain (Trump), Americans have the power to avoid it. Nothing is prophetic. There is always another way out, especially with violence looming as a deterrent. Passion and advocacy are fair game in this election cycle as it has been prior. But let us remember that our country’s greatness has always been tolerance (unity is mythical) of each other’s differences in the hope of personal gain. And nothing squashes more in personal gain and advancement than violence and destruction.

(It’s Important ....from page 2)

Hawaii Filipinos Adjust to Their New Communities – Life as A U.S. Mainland Transplant

Almost everyone in Hawaii has a sentimental story to tell of at least one member of the family moving away to somewhere on the mainland. Oddly, having a loved one leave the Hawaiian Islands is so common that it’s become part of Hawaii culture.

Hawaii residents are leaving at every stage of life: as recent high school graduates, middle-aged working adults relocating their entire family or retirees wanting to settle on the mainland hoping to stretch their fixed income.

For a seventh consecutive year, Hawaii’s population has been in decline. The U.S. Census Bureau reports between 2021 and 2022, more than 67,257 people left Hawaii or about 4% of the population. While the population loss might not be substantial because in the same period, 56,209 people moved to Hawaii (a 11,048 net migration loss), for thousands of Hawaii families their loss is personal and irreplaceable.

To get an idea of how large 67,267 is when it comes to outmigration, comparatively the U.S. Census Bureau reports 75,423 Californians left the Golden State in 2023. Only Washington, D.C., New York and Illinois lost more people than Hawaii as a percentage. Hawaii ranked fifth in the nation for the biggest decline by total population, behind West Virginia at -0.6%, Louisiana and Illinois at -0.8%, and New York at -0.9%.

In the previous years since 2018, the out-migration were also roughly 4% of the total Hawaii population of about 1.4 million and being partially replaced by slightly less new residents. While Hawaii’s total population hasn’t changed much, the pattern has been out with Hawaii locals to be replaced by mainlanders and a smaller kamaaina returning home.

Where are Hawaii residents moving to? The top five mainland destinations are California, Washington, Texas, North Carolina, and Nevada.

Economic impact

The annual net migration losses are having an economic impact, economists and researchers say.

Carl Bonham, executive director of the

University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization (HERO), points out losing the state population means a loss of the state’s tax base, workforce and economic activity. To fill the gap, Bonham suggests for Hawaii and the U.S. as a whole, to change immigration policy to make it easier for foreign workers to migrate to Hawaii.

Peter Ho, chairman and chief executive of Bank of Hawaii, told Civil Beat -- Hawaii’s population decline reflects a hollowing out of the state’s middle class, which he calls “an existential economic issue for the state.” He asserts that an economy needs either greater productivity and/or a growing population-workforce to have a vibrant economy.

Ho explains, while healthy retirees moving to the state and buying real estate boost Hawaii’s economy, they aren’t the same as younger people moving here, building companies, raising families and doing community service. “The middle class really punches over their weight economically,” he said.

Who is leaving?

In a Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) report titled “Brain Drain: Characteristics of Hawaii-Born Adults on the U.S. mainland,” it found that those leaving for the mainland are both younger and more educated.

The study found that almost 15% of Hawaii-born people living on the mainland are between the ages of 18 and 44 and have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 7.7% of those remaining in Hawaii. There are more Hawaii-born people with a bachelor’s degree or higher living on the mainland than there are who stay in the state.

DBEDT economist Wayne Liou wrote in the study, “Thus, brain drain of young, educated working-age adults appears to be non-trivial.”

Residents with higher levels of education, such as a master’s degree or beyond, were more likely to move out of the state, while those with education less than a high school diploma were the least mobile.

Why leave?

Hawaii residents list several reasons

for leaving, typically for expanded career-work opportunities, more affordable housing (especially for first-time home buyers), lower overall cost of living, less taxes to pay, personal growth, or for family and relationships.

According to real estate firm Locations Hawaii, the median price of a home in Hawaii is one of the highest in the nation at $1.06 million last year. The median fluctuates and is back on the rise, realtors say. Depending on how taxes are assessed, Hawaii usually comes in first or second in the nation. Hawaii’s cost of living also usually comes in the top five annually. The Living Wage Calculator from MIT states that an adult in Honolulu needs to make $22.76 per hour for a living wage. For a couple with 2 children, each adult needs to make $30.32 per hour.

Keli’i Akina, president and CEO of conservative think tank Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said “For some time now, our neighbors, family and friends have been moving away to states such as Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Texas, which have lower taxes and fewer regulations, and offer residents more freedoms and opportunities.”

Researchers believe as housing and other living expenses continue to rise, the trend of outmigration to the mainland will likely continue, and to be offset by slightly less incoming residents.

Hawaii’s outmigration has been ongoing for decades. One example, a Hawaii community has entrenched in Las Vegas, Nevada (known as Hawaii’s 9th island) that a substantial part of that city’s 12% Asian, mixed race and Native Hawaiian

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.....from page 4)

population are believed to be former Hawaii residents.


Mainland college recruiters have been successful in convincing Hawaii high school students to enroll on the mainland. In most big universities and colleges on the west and east coasts, there’s a Hawaii club. Wherever a University of Hawaii sports team plays on the mainland, they are supported by a large contingent of fans comprised of former Hawaii residents. Mainland job recruiters in trade, medicine and the police force among other industries have been known to tap into Hawaii’s workforce.

Maria Ramos, San Antonio, Texas is originally from Ewa Beach, Hawaii. Ramos told the Filipino Chronicle she’s been living on the mainland for over 30 years. She first left Hawaii in the early 1990s to attend college in the Midwest and met her future husband. After she graduated, she moved back to Hawaii while he finished up his degrees. She had part-time teaching jobs in Hawaii, but her future husband landed a full-time engineering position after graduating. They got married in Hawaii in the late 1990s. A week after their wedding, she moved back to the mainland to live with him.

“It was economically better for us to be on the mainland, especially as newlyweds starting our lives together. It was an adjustment but an adventure, too, and I ‘bloomed wherever I was planted.’ There is a bigger world out there to see and experience; leaving Hawaii was a great opportunity to grow,” Ramos said.

Michael Santo, formerly of Mililani, now lives in Seattle, Washington. Santo told the Filipino Chronicle he’s been away from Hawaii for 24 years. He left Hawaii in 2000 for a job promotion with his company. “I had been wanting to live on my own since graduating from college and this was a perfect opportunity as my company paid all my moving expenses and even helped me sell the condo I owned in Hawaii before moving.”

Marly Galindo, Bremerton, Washington, was born and raised in Wahiawa. “Growing up, I never had the opportunity to visit any place outside of the state, so studying hard and attending a mainland college was a goal of mine. I applied and was accepted to the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California, where I graduated in 1983 with a civil engineering degree. I hoped

then to return to Hawaii to apply for a permanent job.

“However, while attending college, I had the opportunity to work as a co-op student at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington. I loved working with the people there and chose to stay as a naval architect because of the job security in the civil service,” said Galindo.

Carla Ramirez, San Diego, California, grew up in Honolulu, left Hawaii 18 years ago to attend the University of San Diego, where she got her civil engineering bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She told the Filipino Chronicle “It was almost expected that I would leave for college on the mainland. I graduated from a private high school in Hawaii where most of my friends in high school left as well.”

Christopher Peralta, a former Honolulu resident now living in Portland, Oregon left Hawaii in 2009. Peralta told Grassroot Institute of Hawaii he left “because I was working three jobs and had nothing much to show for it. My home was a cinder block apartment with jalousies and my ride was a moped. I was working just to pay off the essentials: rent, bills, groceries and gas. Any savings I earned were easily swept away. I had time for friends and surfing, which I miss the most, but even that couldn’t keep me in the city. My move to Oregon was simply a financial one.”

State efforts to incentivize staying in Hawaii

Gov. Josh Green has made making more affordable housing one of his top priorities for his administration. He’s issued an emergency proclamation on housing and has aimed to streamline regulatory processes for the development of 50,000 housing units.

State Sen. Stanley Chang

told Hawaii News Now, “The fundamental problem here in Hawaii is that every year we have about 13,000 high school seniors graduating. They’re adults, they’re ready to start their new lives. Unfortunately, every year we build about 2,000 units of housing,” Chang said.

“So, what we’re saying to our graduating seniors is, ‘It’s great that you may have been born and raised and educated here, but now that you’re an adult, you have to leave and you can never come back because this is not your home and will never be your home again,’” he said.

Chang explained that according to Hawaii’s current rate of building homes and units, “we don’t even build enough for even 20%” of the state’s graduating seniors.

“So, that’s why I’ve been so focused on increasing housing supply, even though I know there’s a lot of questions out there about how we can restrict demand,” Chang said.

“It will take time. None of this will happen overnight. But I do hope that in 5, 10 years — at some point, some number of years in the future, that we will have a pipeline of 10,000 or more units a year so that we’ll never be forcing people to make that horrible decision ever again,” Chang said.

Since 2020, DBEDT has aimed to create 38,000 new remote-work jobs through their Hawaii Remote Work Project, a pilot program meant to connect Hawaii residents and outof-state employers.

Hawaii’s private sector is also working to keep locals at home. One program is called Movers and Shakas, that’s designed to attract, integrate and retain talented workers, especially returning kamaaina. The organization’s parent is the Hawaii Executive Collaborative. The Movers and Shakas

“My parents visit me several times a year. I also have siblings, cousins and uncles all from Hawaii who’ve made it here to settle in all parts of California, both in northern and southern Cal, so I’m not homesick for family in between my busy work schedule. We have many food establishments that cater to the Hawaii locals here so it’s easy to get Hawaii and Filipino food. But Hawaii is still very special. It’s where I have loads of memories growing up. What I miss is the Hawaii culture. California is diverse also. But Hawaii culture, that sense of aloha, there’s nothing like it elsewhere. I’m fine the way it is right now and I’m too young to be thinking about retirement. But, of course, I’d never rule out returning to Hawaii in my retirement with my husband. It’s still paradise for me.”

– Carla Ramirez, San Diego, CA, former Honolulu resident is geared towards retaining and recruiting business talent.

To retain Hawaii workers in areas of critical demand, the Hawaii State Legislature signed into law a pilot program for residents to get a low-interest loan to bring down the cost of buying a home.

State Rep. Troy Hashimoto said, “We focused specifically on those who are in high need areas, teachers, farm workers, nurses, [etc.] because we wanted to make sure we keep those essential to our community here in Hawaii.”

Hawaii vs mainland

In an assessment comparing Hawaii to the mainland, LIVINGHAWAII.COM found that “The ‘middle class’ in Hawaii lives at what their mainland counterparts would consider poverty levels. Many Hawaii families work several jobs, live paycheck to paycheck, have substandard (by mainland comparison) housing conditions, very little expendable income and at any moment are living on the financial edge.

“Put it simply, in Hawaii as of 2023 you need to be earning at least $150k a year to have what on the mainland can be had for $75k/yr. And if you have a larger family, you’ll need more and possibly a lot more income.”

The assessment stated Hawaii’s median pay is about 20%

lower than what can be earned on the mainland. “So, you really end up taking a double hit: first you get hurt due to a much higher cost of living than nearly any other city and then you get whacked with a pay cut. Hawaii has the high costs of big mainland cities with pay scales of small, isolated towns and that’s a double whammy that’s hard to swallow.”

Assessing financing for a single-family home or condo in Hawaii, LIVINGHAWAII. COM stated “Unless you can put down approximately $200k and carry an $800k mortgage for a home (and that’s a “median” home) or come up with $130k and carry a $500k mortgage for a condo, forget about it.”

Ramos said of the benefits living on the mainland, “My dollars stretch more on the mainland than in Hawaii. There are also cheaper and more selections in stores, better access to health care, travel opportunities (Hawaii is so isolated!) and exposure to different cultures and experiences.”

She said some disadvantages on the mainland are “the unpredictable weather (although I look forward to the four seasons), sometimes the lack of Filipino and Asian restaurants (but I could buy ingredients online or my family and friends send me care packages from Hawaii and I cook (continue on page 6)

(Hawaii Filipinos


Hawai’i Must Lead - Thinking Global, Acting Local

The 2024 legislative session is over.

Thousands of bills were introduced, and hundreds were passed into law.

Surprisingly, state lawmakers took a meaningful step in the right direction on what I believe is the most important issue of our time.

During the final weeks, the legislature debated and passed SCR13, a Resolution stating Hawaiʻi’s official position on war and peace in Israel and Gaza - supporting a full and permanent ceasefire in the region.

SCR13 was introduced by State Senator Maile Shimabukuro and supported by well-organized grassroots citizen advocates.

Regular folks in the community helped write the early

drafts and then pushed hard, and kept pushing hard, and then pushed hard again, and again - until the Resolution was passed.

Our legislators took a rather bold step by passing the Gaza ceasefire Resolution and we should thank them profusely for that.

We should say mahalo plenty, and we should ask them to now go a step further and declare their support for reducing the U.S. military footprint globally - starting here at home with closing down completely the U.S. Army Pōhakuloa Training Area on the Island of Hawaiʻi, and the lands at Kahuku, Kawailoa-Poamoho, and Mākua.

The same request must be made to our 4 member Congressional delegation as well.

Hawaiʻi can, should, and must say officially and out loud what most people are

(COVER STORY: Hawaii Filipinos....from page 5)

the dishes myself) and racism. I think the latter is out of some people’s ignorance or curiosity. Some have never met a Filipina before and guessed that I am Mexican because of my Spanish colonial name. Some thought I was exotic because I come from Hawaii, and I brought back good memories of their vacations.”

Santo mentioned as benefits, “The cost of living, while high in Seattle, is still lower than in Hawaii. Here I can buy a single-family home on one income while in Hawaii I could only afford a condo. I have easier access to other parts of the country, so traveling is cheaper. There is also a sizeable population of Hawaii transplants here though most all seem to be private school graduates who are here for work opportunities. I haven’t met very many public-school graduates or people not from Hawaii Kai, Mililani or somewhere town side. By the way I went to private school and graduated from Loyola Marymount University. It’s not hard to find good local style food here, there are plenty of Hawaiian eateries and decent poke places as well. We even

thinking in every corner of our world.

“Thinking global and acting local” is more relevant now than ever before.

We must get off this dangerous path of mutual destruction. Our global conversation must shift to discussions of peace, diplomacy, mutual aid, and friendship.

If you’ve read this far, then it’s clear we share a common goal - to help make our community and our planet a better place.

So please, help me with these two “next steps.”

First: Contact our 4 person Hawaiʻi Congressional delegation and ask them to support ending the military leases at Pōhakuloa, Kahuku, Kawailoa-Poamoho, and Mākua.

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono 808-522-8970, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz 808-523-2061

have four L & L Drive Inns here.”

As for disadvantages Santo said the traffic in Seattle is pretty bad and is worse than Honolulu. “It can also get pretty cold here and it rains a lot which makes part of the year pretty dreary,” he said.

Galindo said the mainland has economic advantages, mainly that housing is more affordable and there is no state income tax in Washington. “I have been blessed in my career to be able to travel throughout the mainland and a few foreign countries. I think if I had returned to Hawaii, the cost of housing and goods would have been a burden for me, and it would have restricted my ability to travel.”

Ramirez is enjoying her time on the mainland, starting a family and building her career. “There are abundant development and construction projects in California while in Hawaii because of limited land space it would be far less opportunities there.”

Family in Hawaii and chances of returning

What most Hawaii main-

U.S. Rep. Ed Case (CD1 urban Oahu) 808-650-6688

U.S. Rep. Jill Tokuda (CD2 rural Oahu, neighbor-islands) 808-746-6220

Next: Identify your district State Representative and Senator and reach out to them with the same message. Here’s an easy tool if needed: https:// www.capitol.hawaii.gov/fyl/

Remind them if necessary that there are already 14 different military bases in the islands, over 750 U.S. military bases in at least 80 countries around the world, and the U.S. spends more money on guns, bombs, missiles, ships, and soldiers, that any other country on the planet - more than China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia, the U.K., Germany, France, South Korea, Japan, and Ukraine combined (according to globalaffairs.org).

Remind them also about the thousands of acres of once pristine Hawaiʻi lands now

land transplants tend to miss most is the family they left behind. Some transplants now find themselves with other family members who also moved to the mainland. Others plan to return to their land of birth and youth to retire; while most have decided that they will stay on the mainland. Ramos recalls when she first moved, “my parents and I missed each other when I moved far away from them! I was extremely homesick— and this was during a time before technology allowed us to communicate conveniently via email, text and videochat! But life must go on and we keep in touch as much as we can. We visit Hawaii on occasion, and they visit us on the mainland.”

She established a comfortable life and successful career on the mainland for 30-plus years and prefers to stay there and just visit Hawaii. “However, my parents are elderly and don’t have extended family so I would like to check on them frequently to make sure they are doing okay. Being closer to them is a deciding factor to come back. Overall, if Hawaii was affordable with

littered with unexploded ordinances and the discarded toys of war.

Show them the recent headlines detailing the contamination of our drinking water, the travesty that defines Red Hill, and the long list of broken promises made by the U.S. Military.

Please take note of their response. Call them back a second, or third time if necessary to get one.

Every single person serving in public office will say they support affordable housing, education, and environmental protection. It’s only a rare few who will have the courage necessary to publicly support reducing the U.S. Military’s footprint in our islands. And those few are the ones we desperately need.

GARY HOOSER is a former Hawaiʻi State Senator and Majority Leader.

more resources for local people, my husband and I would come home.”

Santo said the separation from his family was harder at first, but it has gotten a lot easier since the many available ways to communicate nowadays. His family goes to the mainland every year to visit him, or he will go back to Hawaii to be with them, he said. “It also helps that I have a nephew at Loyola Marymount University now, so I’ll go down to Los Angeles (closer to visit L.A. than Hawaii) a couples times a year to see family.”

Santo has grown accustomed to living in Seattle and enjoys it, he said. “I may just have residences in both Hawaii and Washington and shuttle between them during the year.”

Galindo is retired and still has family in Hawaii. “I am looking for an opportunity to return, once I decide to sell my house and move back in with my mother and sister. Part of what’s holding me back is that I will need to find a new health insurance plan because the one I have now is not applicable to

many doctors in Hawaii. I left Hawaii for higher education and took advantage of the opportunities here on the mainland. There’s no place like Hawaii. It is still my dream to spend my last chapter on earth there,” he said.

Ramirez frequently flies home to Hawaii. “My parents visit me several times a year. I also have siblings, cousins and uncles all from Hawaii who’ve made it here to settle in all parts of California, both in northern and southern Cal, so I’m not homesick for family in between my busy work schedule. We have many food establishments that cater to the Hawaii locals here so it’s easy to get Hawaii and Filipino food. But Hawaii is still very special. It’s where I have loads of memories growing up. What I miss is the Hawaii culture. California is diverse also. But Hawaii culture, that sense of aloha, there’s nothing like it elsewhere. I’m fine the way it is right now and I’m too young to be thinking about retirement. But, of course, I’d never rule out returning to Hawaii in my retirement with my husband. It’s still paradise for me.”


n Hawaii, it may seem like its AANHPI Month every month. But on the mainland, May is when we make sure everyone knows we’re here, that we count, that we matter.

IToo often people forget. And that includes even us.

So, as we approach the half-way point of the month, how does it feel? Are you empowered? Do you feel like a full participant in America? Or do you feel left out?

Those are among the reasons for AANHPI, Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. AANHPI is not a social term; it’s purely political.

The name reeks of inclusion, and yet there’s so many

AANHPI Month is Almost Half Over, How Does May Feel So Far?

more of us we don’t see in the name. It’s a prompt to make sure we remember the incredible potential of our large, diverse community.

We’re more than 25 million strong. And as I like to point out, if you include West Asians, like Arab Americans, at around 5 million strong, our numbers are around 30 million plus.

How can U.S. policy makers ignore a coalition of 30 million people that have all of Asia as their common ground? They can’t.

Unless we don’t vote.

And this is our real power, especially in 2024.

If you’re not registered to vote, do so. And if you don’t have voting as an automatic things like California’s permanent vote by mail, sign up. That way, you don’t have to worry about long lines, or all the other reasons that keep people from voting. Like for-


Make it a priority to fulfill the democracy part of being an American.

Then, after greeting people saying Happy Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, make sure they know the significance of our coalition—as a political force of voters.

The numbers are clear. Around 15 million Asian Americans are projected to be eligible to vote in 2024.

This is an increase of 15% from 2020, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s a larger projected increase than for Hispanics (12%) and Blacks (7%).

Asian Americans went from 3% of the electorate in 2000 to double that in a generation.

A lot of talk this year has centered so far on Black and Hispanic voters defect-

ing from the Democrats in 2024. Hardly any talk about the Asian American vote. So, let’s start talking.

Seventy-two percent of English-speaking, single race, non-Hispanic Asian voters went for Joe Biden in 2020 vs. 28% who voted for Donald Trump, according to Pew.

Will we see Asian Americans continue to show up for Biden at the 72% level, or will that number erode? Biden can’t afford to lose any votes anywhere.

Considering the efforts of Biden in the past year from day one to be inclusive about

Asian Americans, I have a hard time seeing our community turning from Biden. If anything, the numbers may go higher if Republican members of our community (around 30%) understand what’s at stake and abandon Trump.

The list of White House initiatives to help Asian Americans is long. I don’t think there was even a web page for Asian Americans during the Trump White House.

Just think about how Donald Trump treated his lone Asian American cabinet member Elaine Chao, and see if there’s any reason for MAGA-AANHPIs to stick with their 2020 choice.

Here are some key things about Asian American eligible voters that are also worth noting.

We’re 6% of the electorate, which means as a bloc, it has the potential to be a real swing vote.

(continue on page 10)



A Recap of the 2024 Flores de Mayo & Filipino Fiesta

Pinoy pride was everywhere at the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu on May 4, 2024, as this year’s Flores de Mayo and Filipino Fiesta showcased the best of

our culture and traditions and the resilience of our community.

The annual event was organized by the Filipino Jaycees of Honolulu and sponsored by L&L Hawaiian Barbecue, Hawaii Tourism Authority, HEI, Kaiser Permanente, U.S. Renal Care and Y.Hata & Co.

Despite intermittent showers, an estimated 8,000-10,000 attendees enjoyed browsing at the Habi at Baro (exhibit of artifacts, clothing and textiles curated by fashion designer Iris Gil Viacrusis); observing the Santacruzan procession; watching the martial arts demonstration; shopping at the Filipiniana market, sari-sari store and various vendor

booths; and eating tasty festival foods.

Other Fiesta features included a balut speed eating contest, children’s cultural activities and games, informational booths for community and service groups, generous door prizes and lively entertainment, such as folk dances and musical performances.

Reggae artist and former


Several beauty queens, local media personalities, government officials and VIPs attended, including Philippine Consul General Emil T. Fernandez, Hawaii Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke and L&L restaurant and Filipino Fiesta founder Eddie Flores.

Idol contestant EliMac (Camile Velasco) was the headliner. The FilCom courtyard filled with attendees exploring various booths showcasing Filipino culture and heritage. The courtyard is decorated with fiesta streamers. The staff of L&L restaurant ready to serve attendees at the Filipino Fiesta. Event organizer, the Filipino Jaycees of Honolulu. The Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii booth showcasing Filipino products. The street beside the FilCom Center was closed off to host the numerous booths and food trucks serving the attendees. Cools in Catering by Sinublan serving various Filipino dishes at the event. The event’s Santacruzan parade honors Queen Helena of Constantinople, mother of Constantine the Great. Sari-sari (means variety stores) are traditional Filipino convenience stores throughout neighborhoods in the Philippines. The Filipino Fiesta recreated a sari-sari store where attendees can buy various Filipino snacks, seasonings and more. Dr. Lindy Aquino holding a Hawaii Filipino Chronicle newspaper in front of the exhibit titled Urban Philippines: Looking Out of A Window. Filipino American singer Eli-Mac performs at the event. An exhibit inside the ballroom that showcase Filipino fashion, accessories and textiles.


The Flores de Mayo-Filipino Fiesta 2024 —A Postscript

his year 2024, the iconic Filipino Fiesta is now on its 31st year as a staple among the cultural events held on Oahu. While Maui’s Barrio Fiesta has been around much longer—55 years this year.

TWe must give credit to Eddie Flores Jr. for starting the first Filipino Fiesta in 1993. As he notes in his upcoming memoir, as a hapa Filipino-Chinese he did not know any Filipinos (except perhaps his dad) and barely could understand simple Tagalog, but in 1991 he decided to reconnect with his Filipino roots by joining the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawai’i (FCCH).

In 1992, when Lito Alcantra was the FCCH president, he formed a committee “to look into the feasibility of building a Filipino Community Center” and asked Roland Casamina to chair it, with Eddie as the co-chair.

One of the events formed to “unite the Filipino organizations and increase Filipino visibility” was the Filipino Fiesta which was held on May 15, 1993 at Kapiolani Park.

Eddie, a savvy businessman, also wanted to use the fiesta proceeds to help defray pre-planning costs for the project—and that first fiesta earned $9,000!

As Eddie says, “Everybody else has a festival at Kapiolani Park. Why not us?”

The following year, he added the parade component.

The parade started at Fort DeRussy, wound down Kalakaua Avenue, and ended at Kapiolani Park to officially start the fiesta.

The addition of the parade ensured that a large crowd was present when the fiesta opened, and to ensure that the crowd remained until closing, movie stars from the Philippines were recruited to perform as the finale.

By its third year, the Filipino Jaycees were much involved when one of its members, Harry Alonso served as the overall chair.

Since event planning is Harry’s cup of tea, I suspect that the playbook that was used then, remains to this day— aside from the typical booths, including food vendors, there was a “cultural village” with its mini-stage and organizations were encouraged to decorate their booths with regional decor.

The fiesta and parade for two decades were held, for the most part, in Waikiki, with the Filipino Jaycees taking the lead (with Eddie still monitoring the process).

When the cost of running the parade became untenable, that was discontinued, and the Filipino Jaycees got burnt out running it. The fiesta location got moved around too. One year it was held at Honolulu’s Civic Center; then it was moved to Kakaako Park.

Some years ago, right before COVID hit, the fiesta was relocated to the grounds of the FilCom Center.

I asked Eddie why he moved it to Waipahu. He says, “I felt that part of the mission of FilCom is to serve the Waipahu community. There is no better place to bring the non-Filipino community to visit the pride of the Filipinos. In addition, the cost and logistics to run the fiesta is lower than the other places.”

As a major sponsor, I suppose he has the clout to make these changes—aside from adding the “Flores de Mayo” to the event’s name.

Last year’s fiesta was once more chaired by Harry Alonso, and he asked Su Lazo, an officer of the Filipino Jaycees to co-chair.

Su narrates: “When Harry asked me to co-chair last year’s Fiesta, it was an opportunity to observe how it was run and inform the Filipino Jaycees’ decision on whether to organize once again. As you alluded to, our young leaders

should have a seat at the table. It is mutually beneficial for both FilCom and the Jaycees. Our board agreed it was worth pursuing and so planning started in July.”

The Filipino Jaycees were once more involved in planning the fiesta, with Su Lazo as the overall chair this year. She notes that the best part of the event for her is seeing how it brings the Filipino Community together and adds that: “It is humbling and inspiring to witness this community, all driven by a shared commitment to preserving Filipino culture, create such a memorable experience for everyone that attends the Fiesta. It is the epitome of the Bayanihan spirit.”

Although a similar playbook was used for this year’s fiesta, the “cultural village” had a unique addition.

The last organization to get the “free” cultural booth is the newly-formed Hawaii Filipinos for Truth Justice and Democracy (or HFTJD). Its booth had a sign that said “Urban Philippines: Looking Out of a Window.”

When one

looks into the window, one can see the shanty towns prevalent in urban centers framed by the high rises where the rich lived. And in front of the booth is a kariton—that ubiquitous symbol of the resilience of the urban poor.

Dr. Arcelita Imasa, its president notes: “Our booth features urban working-class communities, the challenges they face: poverty, lack of services, homelessness, but we also want to highlight how these communities are able to help each other and fight for their rights.”

In my 31 years as an observer/participant of the fiesta, this is the first time I’ve seen a booth (and an organization) raise social awareness and encourage civic engagement at the fiesta.

As part of their cultural presentation, the group sang songs of resistance and protest such as “Bayan Ko,” “Bahay,” and “Di Nyo ba Naririnig.”

As one of the members noticed—the entire Consuelo Courtyard where the cultural village was located had its noise level go down a few notches as the audience listened intently.

Times are changing and so with the fiesta.

Finally, the young people have taken over, as it should be.

As Eddie Flores says “... They did a great job. I plan to spend more time with them. They are the future of Filipinos in Hawai’i.”

Yes, Eddie—you may learn something from them!


espite living in a digital world of convenience in the 21st century, the public library is still vitally significant in serving the community, so we need to patronize them.

DWith virtual platforms for community engagement, internet search engines, media streaming platforms, and digital and audible books, one may ask, in fact, I too personally ask, “What is the current day significance of a public library?”

According to an article by Georgia Public Broadcasting, there are four reasons why public libraries are vitally important and why we should continue to patronize them.

First, public libraries are one of the few spaces the public can access information and services free of charge no matter where you are from or your social and economic status.

Second, public libraries also offer essential resources such as high-speed internet access, computer rentals, e-books, printers, films, games, music, and more. Additionally, they also offer one-on-one and group services for school homework support, after-school and summer learning programs, job training, employment ser-

Continue Moving the Library Forward in the 21st Century

vices, and study spaces.

Third, public libraries support and empower the local community’s social, political, and personal well-being.

Lastly, public libraries offer refuge for vulnerable populations and they also preserve historical records available to the public.

I wholeheartedly agree with the article. We need to continue patronizing our public libraries at a time of modern technology and social media. We need to promote and emphasize the benefits of using the public library.

As such, the Santa Clara County Library District (SCCLD) is proud to announce that two librarians have been recognized with the Movers & Shakers Award by the literary publication, Library Journal (LJ).

This honor highlights 50 individuals who are advocates, community builders, change agents, innovators, educators and “ban battlers” who help move library work forward.” The recipients were announced in the May issue of Library Journal.

“Our 2024 Movers represent a range of innovative, proactive, and supportive work; they are imaginative and kind and brave in a world that needs those qualities— and the results they produce—very much,” said Library Journal Executive Editor Lisa Peet, according to Mariana Walker, Associate Communications Officer for


When you see poll numbers at a dead heat with the margin of error at 3-5%, imagine Asian Americans making up the difference. That’s how critical our vote is.

Gender-wise, the demographic breakdown is also significant: 53% women, 47% men. Which party has women’s best interests at heart?

By age, 22% of us are 1829 years old. The biggest demo


Library Services Manager Clare Varesio, the first recipient, served as the point person on two major health-related initiatives in 2023.

One of these projects was to partner with the County Behavioral Health Services Department and bring Mental Health Access programs to our libraries, empowering the public to access mental health services.

In addition, Varesio also helped to organize community workshops regarding naloxone (also called Narcan), the anti-opioid overdose drug that can save lives if given to someone experiencing an overdose.

Nearly 400 community members learned how to recognize an opioid overdose and how to safely administer the life-saving nasal spray.

Varesio has been with SCCLD since 2007, first as a Children’s Librarian, next as a Supervising Librarian, and then as the Community Librarian responsible for Cu-

pertino Library, which is one of the largest and busiest in the SCCLD system. She currently works out of the Services & Support Center as a Library Services Manager over Organizational Development and Partnerships.

Elizabeth Muñoz-Rosas, the second recipient, is one of the most popular librarians at Gilroy Library, where she serves as the Children’s Supervising Librarian.

Muñoz-Rosas has advocated effectively to bring materials, services and programs to her community that reflect the interests of all residents. Her advocacy for Spanish language materials ensures that library patrons see their lives and stories reflected in the collection.

She has also spearheaded programs of great relevance to the community of Gilroy. This includes working with the Smithsonian Institution’s Traveling Exhibition Service to bring the bilingual exhibit Dolores Huerta: Revolution in the Fields to the Gilroy Library. More than 1,300 total visitors were able to enjoy this free exhibit.

To coincide with the opening of the exhibit, Muñoz-Rosas organized a panel of distinguished speakers, including Dolores Huerta, to discuss the plight of the farmworker and Huerta’s legacy. More than 600 community members attended the program.

Muñoz-Rosas first began her career with SCCLD in

2007 as a part-time librarian at the Campbell Library. County Librarian Jennifer Weeks said:

“Clare and Elizabeth are truly talented and dedicated library staff who have worked tirelessly to improve their communities’ quality of life. While this is something we have always known, we are thrilled that they are both getting nationwide recognition. We hope their groundbreaking and inspiring work and advocacy encourage other library systems across the country to campaign for their patrons’ well-being, just as Clare and Elizabeth have done.”

In the state of Hawaii, the Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS) is the only statewide public library system in the United States.

With 51 branches across 6 islands, HSPLS serves as a pillar of our community helping to nurture a lifelong love of reading and learning through its physical and digital spaces.

The site is more than just books — you can access quilt patterns, yearbooks, eBooks, talking books for the visually impaired, take free online classes, learn a new language or visit one of the 10,000 events they put on each year.

Let’s continue patronizing the public library. They are here to serve us!

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

is 30-49 at 36%. Add ages 5064 at 23% and the core 30-64 working age demo is almost 60% of our community.

The wise owl 65-plus community is at 18%. We are younger community than we think.

The majority of us are also naturalized citizens, 56%, vs. U.S. born at 44%. Asian America was created by the 1965 Immigration Act.

For me this is always where I see some of the biggest fissures within our community. Who was pushing for affirmative action and who was against?

Naturalized citizens, immigrants generally led the fight against affirmative action. It remains a flash point. Might it also define a new dividing line between Asian American red and blue?

One other distinction about the Asian American voter is that we do like education. 74% of us fall in the spectrum of having two-year degrees, some college, bachelor’s or some post-graduate degrees. Compare that to all U.S. adults at just 64%.

So this month, let’s do the fun cultural things; share our stories, our food, all the Asian parts. Celebrate us all. But

don’t forget to ponder the inclusiveness of the term AANHPI, our political umbrella in this critical 2024 year. The umbrella is our tool. We can stay dry and weather all the storms, but only if we stand together and vote our common interests.

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

the Santa Clara County Library


ayor Blangiardi has announced that the removal of the controversial Haiku Stairs has begun, and I do believe this is a terrible mistake the City and County are making.

I understand the complaints of residents and homeowners whose neighborhood gets unwanted hikers and adventurers due to no open legal public access to the Stairs.

No one wants people climbing their fences or walls, trespassing on their property, or using hoses or faucets without permission.

Tourists, local folks, and strangers have no business interrupting the tranquility of one’s community. Safety and security issues are real for homeowners in the area, and that’s enough to warrant keeping the stairs closed and having them removed.

However, the Haiku Stairs is one of the best hikes in the

The Haiku Stairs, the Natatorium, and the Superferry

world with a breathtaking view that is one-of-a-kind and second to none.

I haven’t been up the stairs myself, but I have seen the photos and videos that showcase majestic mountains, scenic vistas of Kailua and Kaneohe, a multi-blue ocean, and a look at Mother Nature that inspires spiritual and inspirational moments.

Unfortunately, the Haiku Stairs experience will be lost due to the Mayor’s and county’s lack of creativity and lack of desire to find a compromise opponents and supporters of the Stairs could live with.

The state of Hawaii and other landowners and stakeholders also have a voice on the matter, and it appears like there is no strong political will to keep the Haiku Stairs open for future generations to enjoy. That’s a shame.

If the City and County hired a private contractor to bring hikers up the Haiku Stairs, I believe a fee of $1020 would be reasonable to help pay for the upkeep.

I’ve spoken with many people who would happily pay to legally climb the

stairs. A monthly or annual pass could also be created for those who want to ascend this magical creation on a regular basis.

Hikers could meet at a specific location and be driven to an entry point away from the homes and neighborhoods that have been invaded by rude, ill-mannered hikers.

I also understand there is a way to access the Haiku Stairs via Moanalua Valley, and this could have been a legitimate option. It is a little longer than a hike beginning on the windward side, but any way to keep the Haiku Stairs open should have been seriously considered.

The Haiku Stairs is a gem and a treasure for Hawaii, and it will be a huge loss once the stairs are gone.

If there is something that the state and county should


State Marks the Start of Ka La’i Ola, A Major Housing Initiative For Maui Wildfire


Last month, Governor Josh Green, M.D. and community members officially broke ground on Ka La’i Ola.

Ka La’i Ola means “The Place of Peaceful Recovery” and it is a pivotal housing project on Maui designed to support wildfire survivors ineligible for FEMA aid.

“From the moment the wildfires began, our commitment to the recovery of every affected individual and family has been unwavering,” said Governor Green. “We are especially glad to bring this project forward because

it will serve a community that has not been able to receive disaster aid from FEMA. These residents have been especially vulnerable after the wildfires and to offer them this hope in the form of housing is particularly rewarding.”

The project will create 450 temporary studios, one-, two,

and three-bedroom housing units across 54 acres of land. The temporary homes can be occupied for up to five years.

The project brings together the state of Hawaii, Maui County, the state Department of Human Services, the Hawaii Community Foundation, and HomeAid Hawaii.

“As we move into the ninth month of recovery efforts since the August wildfires, we are navigating some of the most difficult times Maui County has ever faced, but we are making progress. Ka La’i Ola is a huge step forward in recovery efforts,” said Maui Mayor Richard Bissen.

garding the Natatorium, but I hope one or more of our political leaders will step up, take the stage, and help figure it out. The ugly, crumbling memorial needs to be relocated or rehabilitated, and it needs to begin as soon as possible.

remove, it’s the Natatorium at the edge of Waikiki. I know the Natatorium is a memorial honoring those who fought during World War I, but its deteriorated state is an embarrassment for Hawaii.

My dad was a veteran, and my brother is a veteran, and I have the greatest respect for our military and those who served our country. But the Natatorium has been a dangerous eyesore for decades, and it seems like our elected officials don’t care about fixing the problem.

I say remove the Natatorium and pool from the beach now and reclaim the area for beachgoers. Pieces or remnants of the Natatorium should be moved inland, and a new memorial should be created close by. It would be a win-win situation, and the new coastal area will enhance the beauty and allure of our state’s number one tourist destination, Waikiki.

I don’t know what the problem or hang-ups are re-

Government decision-makers must make difficult decisions at times, and the elimination of one of the world’s best hikes (Haiku Stairs) is a bad decision in my opinion.

I see the action as similar to the SuperFerry debacle. The majority of the people I know supported the SuperFerry in Hawaii. Bad implementation by the Lingle administration doomed the ferry. Many people who I’ve spoken with support the Haiku Stairs being open to the public, but it is also doomed at this time.

I do wish a miracle could happen, and the Haiku Stairs could be saved. This is highly unlikely, and Mayor Blangiardi will have to live with the fact that this popular and amazing hike was lost on his watch.

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.



HFC’s Last Journalism Scholar, Lizette Nolasco, Graduates With Honors From Chaminade University

izette Jelena Nolasco of Aiea, winner of the 2022 Hawaii Filipino Chronicle (HFC) journalism scholarship, was honored as Chaminade

LUniversity of Honolulu’s Outstanding Graduate in Communication.

The award is presented to the graduating senior who has best exemplified academic excellence in the Communication program, is exceptional in his/her academic work and has demonstrated capabilities of critical thinking through his/ her coursework.

Last month, Nolasco graduated cum laude from Chaminade, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a Mass Communication concentration.

“I graduated on May 4th, which is Star Wars Day. I love Star Wars, so this made my graduation day even better. I even decorated my cap with Star Wars decorations and got some Star Wars-themed lei after the ceremony,” she said.

Chaminade’s commencement ceremony took place at the Waikiki Shell, with around 600 graduates in the Class of 2024.

“The ceremony itself was incredible,” Nolasco recalled.

“I absolutely adored the speeches made at graduation. The speakers talked about using what we’ve learned to better our communities and those in need. They also talked about recognizing our prejudices, understanding others different from us and reforming our thoughts and actions to create a more inclusive and uplifting society.”

Graduation gratitude

Nolasco herself was uplifted when she saw all the people whom she cared about come to commencement.

“My heart was full of love and support from people who had been with me through every stage of my life,” she said. “My family attended, and I had friends from elementary, intermediate, high school and college who came to my graduation.”

She wanted to express her gratitude to those who have helped her get to graduation day.

“There are so many people who have helped me along the way. I want to thank my mom and grandparents for being supportive and encouraging me to pursue anything I set my mind to. They serve as role models and have the most upstanding character and values. Time and time again, they show integrity, strength and

kindness, and I am grateful to have them in my life,” she said.

“I’d like to thank my friends for creating a positive and healthy environment as we navigate our early adulthood. I’d also like to thank my professor, Kim Baxter, for her knowledge, refinement of my skills and encouragement to become a better writer throughout the past few years.”

Nolasco reflected on her time at Chaminade, saying she was both excited and sad to graduate.

“I loved my time at Chaminade and felt that it was the perfect college for me. It’s a service-oriented university with strong community values. The campus environment was so inclusive and friendly that I will miss it,” she said.

“However, whenever I feel sad about leaving, I think about how lucky I am to have loved my college experience so much that parting would be this difficult. Although I’ll miss university life, I’m excited for a new chapter to start.”

Like many graduates going out into a competitive world of work, she is in the process of looking for a full-time job in a communications-related field.

She admitted, “I have many interests, and there are a lot of interesting jobs out there, so I’m excited about what the future holds!”

Communications experience and cultural connections

Nolasco, the only junior out of the other senior scholarship winners, is also grateful to

the Chronicle for awarding her a $2,500 journalism scholarship a couple of years ago

Not only did the program help her financially with her private school tuition and give her practical experience in communications, but it also provided her with an opportunity to discover her Filipino culture.

“Thank you so much for all [that] the HFC [has] done to help and assist me on my academic journey. I loved this experience and am so grateful for the growth and knowledge I’ve received through this scholarship,” she said.

“Before the scholarship, I felt disconnected from my Filipino heritage, and writing for the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle has brought me pride and an understanding of where my family comes from…. It’s allowed me to make meaningful connections and learn about aspects of my culture that I didn’t grow up with but am proud to know now,” Nolasco added.

“[It] provided me with opportunities to connect with my culture through interviews and sharing stories related to Filipinos in Hawaii. It connected me with community members with prominent achievements who uplift and inspire others.”

Nolasco has learned a lot from her college and Chronicle adventures. The Star Wars fan’s future may still be unknown, but she is ever optimistic.

As Jedi Master Yoda would say, “Mind what you have learned. Save you it can.”

Lizette Jelena Nolasco

Heatwave Means No Classes

ne of my fondest childhood memories in the Philippines was having summer vacations in the Bicol province where my parents are originally from before moving to Baguio City.

OTo beat the heat, we would go to the beach and have a huge salo-salu meal with my cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents.

I can still vividly remember the laughter and the fun we all shared as a family, not to mention the sumptuous fresh seafood we ate using our hands.

We would make the most of May before going back to school in June.

Oh, I miss those days!

But summer for many Filipino students is different now. Instead of enjoying

a supposed vacation season, they are learning in classrooms.

Classes in the Philippines usually begin on the first Monday of June and end in March, as mandated by Republic Act 7797.

But in 2020, this has been amended due to the impact of the pandemic and the months of June and July coinciding with the typhoon season, resulting in class disruptions.

Since then, classes commence in August and end in May. This means that during the hottest times of the year, students are in school.

This year, the Philippines has recorded its highest temperatures reaching up to 43°C, with some areas recording temperatures of up to 48°C.

Because of this, local authorities and educators


canceled classes throughout the archipelago because of reports of fainting, dizziness, and high blood pressure among students and teachers.

With many classrooms crowded and without air conditioning, especially in public schools, long exposure to extreme heat can have dramatic consequences for children’s health and well-being.

Not only can high temperatures cause heat cramps

Hawaii Reach Settlement with Wireless Carriers Over Deceptive,


Advertising Practices

The Hawaii State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection announces that the 50-jurisdiction settlement worth $10.25 million resolves the general investigations into the Wireless Carrier providers’ deceptive and misleading advertising practices.

The Wireless Carriers are AT&T, Cricket Wireless, T-Mobile, Cellco, Verizon Wireless and TracFone Wireless.

“This settlement holding wireless carriers accountable for misleading advertising sets a precedent for transparency and honesty in the industry,” said Mana Moriarty, executive director of the Hawai‘i Office of Consumer Protection.

“Moving forward, consumers can expect clear disclosures and truthful representations in advertisements and offers.”

Hawaii will receive $79,928.66 as part of the 50-jurisdiction settlements

with the Wireless Carriers. These payments may be used for consumer protection enforcement and consumer education.

As explained in the announcement, there are four ways Wireless Carriers are misleading their customers:

(1) “unlimited” data advertisements, which failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose material limitations;

(2) “free” phone offers, which failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose material conditions;

(3) monetary incentives to “switch” wireless networks, which failed to clearly and conspicuously disclose how the monetary incentives would be provided; and

(4) wireless carrier plan comparisons, which failed to disclose material differences.

As part of the assurance terms, the settlement will require the Wireless Carriers to adhere to rules to ensure the safety and protection of consumers against misleading advertising.

and heat stroke, but these make concentration and learning extremely difficult for children.

While reverting to the old academic calendar is one solution to the heat problems, I believe there are other things to consider such as the condition of the classrooms.

Classroom shortage in many schools has been a perennial problem. It has been an issue ever since I was young.

With limited classrooms, they pack up to 70 students in a room that is just meant for 40. Congestion must be addressed.

Aside from this, many rooms in public schools don’t have air-conditioning and proper ventilation. Not only is this unconducive for learning, but it’s also not healthy for students who stay in school for several hours.

I believe that the gov-

ernment should prioritize looking into solving this concern. And instead of being physically present in schools, learning from home can also be considered.

Climate change is real. Weather patterns have become crazier and weirder.

It seems like every year, it will become hotter in summer, even wetter during the rainy season, and colder during the wintertime.

We just have to brace ourselves and cope with the changes. Given the intense heat from March to May and the nonstop rains from June to July, I hope that the Philippine government will consider giving its youth better solutions to such a dilemma rather than experimenting with schedules at the expense of the students.

Children require stability in education. They are the future leaders of the nation. Therefore, they deserve the best from their leaders.



Huge Tax Cut Leads Way of Legislature’s Achievements

Idon’t often get the opportunity to mark the end of Hawaii’s annual legislative sessions with applause. Usually, I simply celebrate that the session has finally ended and offer a bit of criticism, a few words of praise and a sigh of relief.

But this year is different. This year, there are four big reasons to say “Thank you” to our legislators, our legislative leaders and Gov. Josh Green.

Best of all, your wallet is going to be saying “Thank you” too.

The biggest news of the session has to be the passage of HB2404, which after being signed by Gov. Green will comprise the largest income tax cut in state history. The bill will offset the crippling inflation of the last few years and help lower our ridiculously high cost of living.

My colleagues and I at the Grassroot Institute have been advocating tax cuts for as long as Grassroot has existed. When Gov. Green unveiled his tax reform plan last year, we immediately began pushing for its passage. Now, Hawaii will no longer be one of the three worst states in the country for income taxes.

Approved unanimously by the Legislature, this historic tax measure will affect everyone, but it will be especially good for working families. A local family of four making $91,000 a year currently has to pay $5,300 in income taxes. For tax year 2025, that amount will drop to $3,800, and by 2031, to about only $1,600.

That’s a 69% tax cut.

And that’s not all. The Legislature also unanimously approved SB1035, which will exempt Medicare, Medicaid and TRICARE payments to doctors and dentists from the state

Daniw Idiay Tapao

ADgeneral excise tax.

The Grassroot Institute issued a policy brief last year about how such an exemption would ease the burden on both doctors and patients, and it’s good to see that the Legislature is listening.

Another important healthcare reform was embodied in SB63, which will provide a path for the state to issue temporary nursing licenses.

This is a stopgap approach in light of the failure of a bill that would have allowed Hawaii to join the National Nurse Licensure Compact. But it is a step in the right direction, and the legislators who resurrect -

ed SB63 deserve praise for finding a way forward.

As for other milestone measures that reached the governor’s desk, two of the most transformative involved housing. Both will help ease the state’s housing crunch, which study after study has shown is directly related to Hawaii’s excessive regulation — the most of any state in the country.

One of these bills, SB2090, passed easily and will expand mixed-use zoning and make it easier for homebuilders to convert underutilized commercial buildings for residential use.

The other bill, SB3202, will let homeowners build two accessory dwelling units on qualifying residential properties, but its passage was not a cakewalk. It encountered controversy and opposition from very vocal NIMBY (not in my backyard) groups.

Working in its favor were a few courageous and tenacious legislators who


aniw Idiay Tapao: Kayarigak ti Maysa a Mula a Nagallatiw iti Sabali a Similia (Kabayatan iti Kaaddak iti Nakayanakak a Brgy Tapao, Sinait, IS)

rigko iti mula a nayallatiw iti similia Ti panagdakkel; ti pannakaitukit manen Barukong daga a nagpuonan ti amin.

Ditoyak a nayanak, a nagubing iti kinaagtutubok Subliak kadi manen nga iladawan dagiti garaw Ti kinasiak iti nasurok uppat a dekada a naipusingak?

Birokek kadi pay laeng ti daan a salamagi wenno duog a Mangga a nagbitinan ti kadkaduak iti diak ammo no karatay Wenno damili tapno baliwak ti maipasngay manen?

Duogen ti singin nga algarroba ti pagilasinak duog a dadapilan

Dagiti nasapa a parbangon a panagdakiwas ni sawak

Iti nakedkedngan a dalan ti panagbaniaga sidiran ti anawang.

drew support from a broad coalition of housing reform groups, including Grassroot.

Both bills have been singled out for praise by a national housing advocacy group as the “first major pro-housing reform bills” to be passed by state legislators anywhere in the U.S. this year.

In short, it’s not every year that you see landmark tax cuts and housing reform in Hawaii. But having come through for Hawaii residents this year, the 2024 Legislature deserves our thanks.

We also need to thank every Hawaii resident who sent testimony or messages to their legislators this year. The results are proof that your voice matters.

Now, as we prepare for the next legislative session, let’s imagine what we might be able to accomplish in 2025. 

KELI‘I AKINA is president and CEO of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.

Panaglupos kunak man ta awanen ti daan a pinan-aw a kalapaw

Ngem dagiti irik a nayaplag iti daga kasda balitok iti kainaran

Iti sidiran daydi bunton ken pinullo a burnay-basi a lemma ti napalabas

Maysaak a mula iti umuna nga aldaw sulnitanna ti laglagip

Iti pannakayallatiw iti maikadua nga aldaw dagiti ibabangon

Iti maikatlo nga aldaw mapasubli ti baro nga init iti baro a bigat.

Agtigtig-ab idi dagiti sarusar iti kinamalig a binettek a dawa

Sabali itan ta naibartayen dagiti bimmalitok nga irik

A bilagen ti darang ti init sadanto manen maisako iti supot ti biag.

Ti kaaddak ita a simmubli, ammok, ti immuna a kunnot ti biag

Ti mula surotenna ti dam-eg ti daga a nagramutan

Ti panagsubli maysa a panangtaliaw ti kalman: rumukbos pay ti ayat

Addaak manen Sta Romana: adtoyak a nagsubli iti saklotmo.

Naidaniw kabayatan ti miting dagiti dadaulo ti barangay ken Assn of Barangay Captains nga idauluan ni ABC president Glenn Guzman ken Ex-Brgy Captain Federico Yadao ken agdama a Tapao Brgy Captain Sabino Rosete iti sango ti taengmi idi rabii ti Nobiembre 14, 2012.


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.

SPECTACULAR SANTACRUZAN | Filipino Catholic Ministry | May 31, 2024 at 5pm | Saint George Church, 41-1323 Kalanianaole Highway, Waimanalo | Experience the beauty of the special


mass and gala of Santacruzan. All are welcome to partake in this cultural celebration and honor our rich heritage.

13TH ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF PACIFIC ARTS & CULTURE | The Pacific Community – SPC, Gravitas Pasifika | June 6-16, 10am-4pm | Hawaiʻi Convention Center, 1801 Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu | The festival is the world’s largest celebration of indigenous Pacific Islanders. For more information, visit https://www.festpachawaii.org/.

A Widow’s Testimony

When I got married to Jose Anacleto Montesines, I expected to live a quiet and stress-free life as a wife and mother to our children.

I immersed myself in what I called “no-brainer jobs”: cooking, cleaning, and taking care of my family. My hobbies included reading, listening to soap operas on the radio, writing essays, and doing handicrafts.

31ST ANNUAL PISTAHAN PARADE AND FESTIVAL | The Pacific Community – SPC, Gravitas Pasifika | 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 and culture. For more information on the festival, visit www.pistahan.net.

It seemed to be beyond my capacity to bear the sense of permanent loss of my husband. I thought there had to be a way of containing the deluge of heavy emotions and tears that came my way almost without letting up.

So I decided to get out of bed at dawn every day to pray and read the Bible. I begged God to give me His answers to my raging questions.

I took notes of verses that could help me deal with grief and heartache, and gain strength. Then I began writing down my thoughts and prayers in a journal which included this prayer:

Indeed, it was a simple and stress-free life. On October 20, 1989, an unexpected loss changed my life completely. I became a widow at 43, with three children aged 16, 14, and 12 to take care of.

“Father God, hold me, please! I feel so helpless! How can I go through this time of sorrow without You? Close this episode gently, Lord. Keep my faith and hope intact.”

I moved on trying my best to be a better mother than I had been before, with the hope that my children and I could go through life without an earthly father because we have a Father in Heaven to love and care for us.

Then five months later, the Lord gave me a job in Technology and Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), a government corporation. My work involved writing for print and broadcast media, and line producing for a

television school-on-the-air program.

In the course of my journey as a widow and single mom, God was my Source of strength and resources throughout. He used my trials to open new avenues where I could serve others and glorify Him.

After 25 years of widowhood, I remarried Constante Espino Torrechante, my high school sweetheart Constante said, “God blessed Prosy and I to be

reunited after 50 years to love and take care of each other, discover the ultimate meaning of the sunset years, and serve Him together.”

PROSY BADIOLA TORRECHANTE self-published what she calls her modest legacies as a writer: “Solo”, a magazine for single mothers, in 1999 and “When Life Begins at Sunset”, a book about aging gracefully, in 2014. She continues to write once in a while for Archikonst, an architecture magazine. As a freelance writer, she also contributed feature articles to the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

NYMWPS Supports Philippines-Japan-US trilateral Initiative

The National Youth Movement for West Philippine Sea (NYMWPS), a peaceful, non-partisan, and transglobal organization that advocates for the preservation of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity, welcomes the landmark trilateral meeting among the Philippines, Japan, and the United States toward an independent and progressive Indo-Pacific region and extends its solidarity towards the like-minded Japanese and American people.

The historic trilateral meeting held in Washington DC on April 11, led by host US President Joseph Biden Jr., Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Japan

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, discussed matters related to security and economy.

NYMWPS Founder and Global Chair, Dr. Celia Lamkin said they believe, this renewed and stronger alliance “will be a formidable asset in keeping the self-serving Chinese interests in check.”

In an official documentation of the White House, Marcos illustrated the relationship between the three countries, before the meeting proper, as “...a partnership borne not out of convenience, nor of expediency, but as a natural progression of a deepening relation and robust cooperation amongst our three countries, linked by a profound respect for democracy, good gover-

nance, and the rule of law.”

Biden for his part reassured his Filipino and Japanese counterparts of his country’s unwavering support in their struggle against the unlawful aggression of the People’s Republic of China (PROC) in the two countries’ sovereign rights and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and described their defense commitments to the two allies as “iron clad.”

“I want to be clear, the United States’ defense commitment to Japan and the Philippines are iron clad. As I’ve said before, any attack on Philippine aircraft, vessels, or armed forces in the South China Sea would invoke our mutual defense treaty,” Biden said.

Meanwhile, Kishida, in his later speech on the same day, warned the US Congress of China’s current maneuverings.

Lamkin lambasts China for its illegal and dangerous actions on the West Philippine Sea including harassments of Filipino fishermen, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Coast Guard. She called on “other countries to join in exerting greater international pressure against foreign incursion in sovereign waters.”

More than anything else, the group rallies every Filipino citizen, who is patriotic and holds onto the ideals of our nation, to join the efforts in protecting what is rightfully ours and continue rejecting treasonous elements.

Para sa isang malayang Pilipinas, mabuhay ang West Philippine Sea! 

HOUSEKEEPER/ HOUSESITTER We are seeking an individual or couple to take care of our home near Hilo. Duties include taking care of two dogs, cleaning and maintaining the home, etc. If a couple, yard work is also required. Live in. Salary commensurate with experience. References required. Please call Mia at (646) 415-2900
MAY 18, 2024
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