DISPATCHES FROM THE PHILIPPINES
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Gov. Linda Lingle posed for pictures yesterday after a ceremony unveiling stamps commemorating the 100th anniversary of Filipino immigration to Hawaii.
Lingle extends invite to Arroyo for isle visit
The governor and the Philippines' president discuss trade as well as the war on terror
MANILA » Gov. Linda Lingle has invited Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to visit Hawaii during the centennial celebration of Filipino immigration this year.
During a half-hour courtesy visit with the Philippine president yesterday, Arroyo told Lingle she would like to visit Hawaii again, but she did not commit to coming, the governor said.
Star-Bulletin reporter Craig Gima is on assignment in the Philippines, where Gov. Linda Lingle is leading an official visit to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Filipino immigration to Hawaii.
Lingle said she and the president touched on a variety of subjects including increasing trade opportunities between Hawaii and the Philippines, decentralizing government and the war on terror.
"She (Arroyo) said she was very appreciative of Filipino community in Hawaii and the broader community for all the success that has been achieved," Lingle said.
Arroyo helped Lingle unveil a Philippine stamp commemorating 100 years of immigration to Hawaii. The stamp design was selected after a national competition. Two designs -- one from a student and the other from a professional -- were selected.
Student artist Allen Moran said that in his design he tried to show sakadas, migrant contract sugar workers, as working hard in the cane fields and the friendship that resulted between Hawaii and the Philippines.
After the unveiling, Arroyo posed for pictures with some of the state and county lawmakers who attended the ceremony. State Rep. Dennis Arakaki gave Arroyo an orange ribbon lei. Arroyo asked many of the Filipino-American lawmakers about which province their families came from in the Philippines.
During a news conference with Philippine media after the unveiling, Lingle was asked about the four U.S. Marines who have been charged with raping a Filipino woman.
Lingle cautioned that people are considered innocent until proved guilty.
"I think everyone wants justice," she said. "We want to reserve judgment until trial occurs, but the bottom line is the agreement (between the United States and the Philippines) worked because these people will be tried in the justice system here in the Philippines."
The visit to Malacanang Palace was the highlight of a busy day that started with the governor laying a wreath at the monument in Manila to Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal and ended with a concert at a park fronting Roxas Boulevard featuring Jasmine Trias and Tihati's Polynesian Review.
At the concert, the governor was introduced as "Gov. Dr. Linda Lingle" because she was given an honorary Doctorate of Public Administration during a graduation ceremony at the University of Manila earlier in the day.
Today's schedule includes a speech at the Mandaluyong Chamber of Commerce on business and an appearance on the popular television show "Wowwow Wie."
The delegation then moves on to Ilocos Norte, where Gov. Ferdinand "Bong Bong" Marcos Jr. will host a dinner. About 80 percent of Hawaii's Filipinos come from the Ilocos Norte region.
CRAIG GIMA / CGIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Manila Mayor Lito Atienza showed aloha shirts given to him yesterday by Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle.
Manila's mayor brought inspiration from Hawaii
PERHAPS the biggest booster of Hawaii in the Philippines is Manila's colorful, aloha-shirt-wearing mayor, Lito Atienza.
As a young man in the early 1960s, Atienza lived in Hawaii for about a year and danced in the "Pearl of the Orient" show that performed Filipino dances at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and at weddings and other special occasions.
What he describes as "an extended vacation" had a profound impact on Atienza and his political vision.
"Hawaii then, and Hawaii still today, continues to inspire me as a place I can see the future of the city of Manila and the country," Atienza said. "In Hawaii I realized we Filipinos and the Hawaiians are almost the same. To me Hawaii is a prosperous Philippines."
His legacy as mayor is the Baywalk development on Roxas Avenue fronting Manila Bay. It is a more colorful version of what former Mayor Jeremy Harris did to Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.
Tall multicolored neon lights, a wide promenade, sidewalk restaurants and bars, and increased police presence have turned the former slum area into an attraction enjoyed by both tourists and locals.
Atienza said he saw the potential in the waterfront because he remembered what Waikiki and Ala Moana Beach Park looked like when he was living in Hawaii.
Atienza's get-things-done attitude is reminiscent of former Mayor Frank Fasi, and it might not be a coincidence. When Atienza was the public information officer for Manila, he hosted Fasi for a few days during a visit.
"He (Fasi) called me aside. He said, 'Young man, I've been watching you. You'll be mayor someday.' I thought it strange statement from a famous man, Mayor Frank Fasi.
"I didn't give it much importance, but that statement rings in my ears now and then," Atienza said.
At a dinner honoring Gov. Linda Lingle last night, Atienza told how the patriarch of the Filipino family he lived with held three jobs. Atienza would talk to him about the Philippines and why he worked so hard. "I learned more about our capacities and our character in Hawaii, much more than I was learning when I was in Manila as a young man. I appreciated our culture and our heritage even more when I was in Hawaii, seeing how Filipinos in Hawaii were appreciating what we have in the Philippines."
Hawaii's Filipino centennial, Atienza said, has an important message for Filipinos here. "We need to wake up that sense of confidence that we can do it."
Atienza grew up in a political family in Manila and returned, in part, to run for office. He said he lost his first election for mayor by just 700 votes and went to work in the winner's administration. He is now a three-term mayor and must retire or run for a different office.
"I'm open to it," he responded when asked if he will seek election for a national office when his term expires in May 2007.