Far from home, nursing course offers chance for a new life
ON A RECENT Wednesday evening, Franklin Tumamao sat in the ballroom of the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu with his hands clasped on his lap, a cup of decaffeinated coffee and a black folder on the table in front of him.
DAY 1 | SUNDAY
Community Kalihi is home to a community of small businesses that cater to Filipino immigrants.
DAY 2 | MONDAY
Citizenship After four decades in Hawaii, the wife of a sakada is fulfilling a dream: to become a U.S. citizen so she can vote in the next election.
DAY 3 | TUESDAY
Caring A doctor serves her community through an organization that treats some uninsured immigrants for free.
DAY 4 | WEDNESDAY
Patriotism Filipino veterans who fought with U.S. soldiers during World War II are hoping their sacrifices are remembered during the centennial as they continue to push for full veteran's benefits from the U.S. government.
DAY 5 | THURSDAY
Thanksgiving When the Manuel family first moved to Hawaii in 1923, they didn't celebrate Thanksgiving. Sometimes there wasn't enough food on the table. But now the holiday is an important family tradition.
Tumamao listened as volunteer instructor Connie Gazmen of the University of Hawaii at Manoa lectured on patients with gastrointestinal problems.
The 26-year-old nurse, who arrived in Hawaii seven months ago from Batac, Ilocos Norte in the Philippines, said he is taking nursing review classes to prepare for the state board exam next month.
Tumamao and about 30 other participants attend weekly nursing review classes held by Nursing Advocates & Mentors Inc. Most who take the three-hour classes are recent immigrants from the Philippines who already have a bachelor's degree in nursing and have worked in the profession in their native country or abroad.
Their goal is to refresh their knowledge before taking the exam that will allow them to work as registered nurses in Hawaii. The class is free and open to the public.
Belinda Aquino, director of the Center for Philippine Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said nurses from the Philippines immigrate to the United States in search of economic opportunity.
Tumamao graduated from Mariana Marcos State University in 2000 and worked as a volunteer nurse at Mariana Marcos Memorial Hospital. While he waited to join other family members in Kalihi, Tumamao obtained his master's degree in nursing and briefly worked as an instructor at a private college in Ilocos Norte.
Tumamao said he always aspired to be a nurse after watching health-care professionals at the hospital where his mother, Carrasca, worked as a secretary. "I grew up in the hospital," said Tumamao. "My friends were doctors and nurses."
Bea Ramos-Razon, a 34-year registered nurse and one of the founders of the nonprofit group, said they hold the classes to help with the nursing shortage in Hawaii.
More than 25 instructors -- all registered nurses -- volunteer as lecturers.
Mae Carag of Royal Kunia, another participant in the class, jotted notes on a review sheet while Gazmen lectured.
Carag, a native of Quezon City in Manila, said she followed in her father's footsteps and became a dentist, working as a solo practitioner and for the Quezon City Health Department for about 10 years.
Carag said she did not plan to move to Hawaii until her father, Valentin Corpus, was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1999. Carag decided to pursue nursing so she could care for him. Carag, 39, continued to work as a dentist while she studied for a degree in nursing at J.P. Siofon General Hospital and Colleges Inc. in Quezon City.
In July, Carag, along with her husband, Ronnie, and two sons, Justin and Joseph, moved to Hawaii. She and her family are staying with her sister to tend to her father, who is bedridden.
"I'm his private nurse 24/7," Carag said. "I'm doing this for him. ... He's my dad."
First Filipino nurse in Hawaii
DR. DANELO CANETE: Cardiologist leading a group of doctors to buy the St. Francis hospitals
DR. JORGE CAMARA: Above, ophthalmologist and vice president of the Aloha Medical Mission
DR. RAMON SY: President of Aloha Medical Mission*
First Filipino American to be appointed U.S. district judge
BENJAMIN MENOR: First Filipino-American Justice of state Supreme Court
SIMEON ACOBA: Above, associate justice of the state Supreme Court
MARIO RAMIL: Associate justice of the state Supreme Court
DAROLYN LENDIO: First Filipino-American woman named as Honolulu corporation counsel*
Wahiawa native and Pulitzer Prize winner
STEPHANIE CASTILLO: Emmy-award winning documentary filmmaker and former Star-Bulletin reporter
EMME TOMIMBANG: Above, first Filipino-American female anchor of a TV newscast in the United States
"CORKY" TRINIDAD: Star-Bulletin and syndicated cartoonist
COMING TO HAWAII
There have been three waves of Filipino migration to Hawaii:
Between 1906 and 1934. About 120,000 Filipino plantation workers arrived in Honolulu during a drop in Japanese immigration.
Between 1946 and early 1960s. About 10,000 to 12,000 Filipino military personnel and their wives and laborers arrived to Hawaii.
In 1965. The U.S. government passed the Immigration and Nationality Act that allowed reunification of family members. Filipino-Americans started petitioning their siblings and children to come to Hawaii. Professionals and skilled workers from the Philippines were also allowed entry into the United States, according to Belinda Aquino, director of the Center for Philippine Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Tonight on KITV-4 News at 10...
» Island Television News at 5: Gary Sprinkle takes you to the backwoods of the Philippines' last frontier.
» Island Television News at 10: Filipinos play a huge role in today's nursing community. We'll look back at the pioneers ... the first Fili-pino nurses. They came to Hawaii to help the sakadas, the Filipinos who came to work on the plantations.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
» Dr. Ramon Sy is president of the Aloha Medical Mission, not the Philippine Medical Mission, as incorrectly listed on Page A7 in yesterday's early edition. Also, Darolyn Lendio was the first Filipino-American woman named as Honolulu corporation counsel. A Page A7 item in yesterday's early edition wrongly said she was the first Filipino woman appointed to a city Cabinet post.