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Saturday, September 9, 2000

Associated Press
Philippine President Joseph Estrada arrives
in Hawaii early Monday morning.

Filipinos to offer
Estrada aloha
and questions

They hope the Philippine leader
will address their concerns
while here

By Treena Shapiro

Hawaii's Filipino community is geared up to give Philippine President Joseph Estrada a warm welcome Monday. But while many praise his administration, their praise is mixed with apprehension that he won't live up to his campaign promises.

Estrada, a former movie actor, received the highest popular vote for president in Philippine history for his alleged support of the poor and the common people. However, two years into his term, people are expressing even more concern about the economy, safety and security, corruption and cronyism.

Some will have the opportunity to address these issues when Estrada and members of his cabinet stop in Honolulu Monday through Wednesday, on their way from the mainland back to Manila.

"We have a lot of goodwill and aloha and we're glad that they're visiting here," said Dean Alegado, a University of Hawaii ethnic studies professor.

Estrada's schedule


Bullet 1:15 a.m. Arrives in Honolulu
Bullet 12:30 p.m. Wreath laying at the Arizona Memorial
Bullet 5:30 p.m. Governor's reception at Washington Place
Bullet 7:30 p.m. Filipino community dinner at Hilton Hawaiian Village Tapa Ballroom


Bullet 9 a.m. Business opportunities breakfast, Hilton Hawaiian Village South Pacific Room I and II


Bullet Early morning departure

But Alegado pointed to several issues of concern, including the lack of promised justice for victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime and hostility created by a three-and-a-half-month-long hostage crisis in the southern Philippines.

"The image and the news that comes out is not good," he said.

Fears of violence, corruption and cronyism have made many reluctant to return to the Philippines and foreign investors reluctant to put their money into the country, Alegado said.

But the Filipino Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring a Business Opportunities Breakfast Panel Tuesday morning, still encourages business in the Philippines.

"We're very supportive of any opportunities in the Philippines, as well as providing technology transfer from Hawaii to the Philippines," said Chamber President Rey Prado.

Numerous companies from Hawaii have already set up shop in the Philippines, he said. "We still feel that of all the Asian countries, it's probably one of the best bets at this point for investments in Asia."

While the chamber is concerned about violence, particularly in the southern part of the country, Prado said those concerns aren't going to prevent it from planning and continuing its 17th annual trade mission to the Philippines in November.

Eddie Agas, owner of Kapalama Butcherman Meat Company, is looking forward to meeting his boyhood movie star idol. Originally from Ilocos Norte, Agas identifies himself as a member of the working class Estrada vowed to support.

"I like him because he's with the masses," Agas said. "I should give him more time to make the nation better. Hopefully all the citizens of the Philippines will be patient and let him develop more. It's not just overnight that he can do better."

Agas will be one of three community members invited to greet the president on Monday, when he attends a Filipino Community Dinner at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Approximately 900 people will be in attendance, according to the Philippine Consul General's office.

Jacinto Pablo of Waipahu will be there with four of his children, ranging in age from 13 to 7. His wife will stay home with their 1-year-old, he said.

Estrada "is doing an excellent job for the Filipino people in the Philippines," Pablo said. "I observe it. I see the difference. He's one of the best presidents also."

At $50 a seat, taking four children to the dinner is a hardship, even with two complimentary tickets, but according to Pablo, "The dinner is expensive, but the aftereffect of seeing people of high caliber will be an inspiration to the kids. When you encourage your kids to get involved in community activities, they may be a good leader in the future or a good citizen in the future."

But high admission is preventing many people from making contact with Estrada.

For example, Mario Sencil of Kalihi said he would have paid $25 to $30 for an opportunity to see the president, but no more.

"He's OK, but then $50 is kind of high," he said. "I already have my picture with him."


Date of Birth

April 19, 1937

Place of Birth

Tondo, Manila


Attended Ateneo de Manila University and Mapua Institute of Technology


Married to Dr. Luisa 'Loi' Pimentel, with children: Jinggoy, current mayor of San Juan; Jacqueline; and Jude.

Film Career

Five-time awardee for best actor, five-time awardee for producing the best picture and induction into the FAMAS Hall of Fame in 1981 and 1984.

Political Career

Elected mayor of San Juan in 1967
Elected to the Senate in 1987
Elected vice president of the Philippines in 1992
Elected ninth president of the Philippines in 1998


As Mayor: Establishment of the first San Juan Municipal High School, Agora complex, modern slaughterhouse, Government Center with a post office, and concreting 98 percent of San Juan's roads and alleys.

As Senator: Appointed Chairman of the Committee on Cultural Communities, the Committee of Community on Rural Development and Committee on Public Works. One of the so-called 'Magnificent 12' who voted for the termination of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement, leading to the American servicemen's withdrawal from the Clark Air Base in Pampanga and the Subic Naval Base in the Philippines.

As Vice President: Chairman of the Presidential Anti-Crime Commission.

As President: Created the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force.

Source: Consulate General of the Philippines

E-mail to City Desk

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