By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Gov. Ben Cayetano and Hawaii's new first Lady, Vicky Liu,
flash shaka signs after their wedding at Washington Place yesterday.

Cayetano, bride met
during workout

The Honolulu Club meeting brought
the governor and Vicky Liu together

By Mike Yuen

Several hours before her wedding yesterday, the state's new first lady, Vicky Liu, laughed as she recalled how she met Gov. Ben Cayetano 11/2 years ago.

It was about 4:30 a.m. at the Honolulu Club. She was going through an early morning workout before starting another day as head of United Laundry Services Inc., one of the state's largest laundries with 300 employees.

Cayetano, 57, was also at the Honolulu Club for a workout. Liu, 41, recognized him. "He walked up to me and said, 'Hello.' I thought to myself, 'Oh, gee, I'm sweaty. No makeup. I look like a wreck.' I just said hello to him and we started chatting," Liu remembered. "From that chatting, things just went from there."

Asked if Cayetano appeared more interested in her than she was in him, Liu laughed again: "I think in all relationships — and one has to be really honest — whether directly or indirectly you always hear that women are the ones who kind of determine the extent of a relationship, the seriousness of it, whether the man realizes it or not."

What impressed her, said Liu, who takes pride in "reading" people very well, was that Cayetano "was very down to earth. And he didn't talk a lot. He was very humble, very sincere."

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
Gov. Ben Cayetano and bride Vicky Liu kiss following
their wedding yesterday at Washington Place.

The couple were married yesterday afternoon in what Liu described as a "very private" civil ceremony at Washington Place that was performed by one of Cayetano's closest friends, state Appellate Judge Simeon Acoba Jr.

It was the second marriage for both. Cayetano was previously married to his high-school sweetheart; they divorced last year after a five-year separation. Liu's 10-year marriage to a financial consultant ended in 1992.

Attending the wedding ceremony were the the bride's parents, her two children — Marissa, 13, and William, 10, both students at Mid-Pacific Institute — and Cayetano's three adult children. Cayetano's son, Brandon, served as best man. Marissa Liu was maid of honor.

Next week, the governor and first lady will leave on a trip to Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines, where Cayetano will attend the Pacific Basin Economic Conference.

Liu doesn't as yet have a defined role as first lady, Liu said. But, she added, "I'm going to do everything I can to support him in helping our state to get through these challenging times. It could be a very small deed that we do for the community. With the (budget) cutbacks, we in the private sector need to help too."

The guiding principle in her life, Liu added, is to make a difference in whatever she chooses to do. "Having a positive influence on people, I think, is really important," she said.

The sixth child in a family with four daughters and five sons that made its mark in entertainment some 35 years ago, Liu insists that her older sister, Ginny Tiu, a pianist, was the family star, debuting when she was 5 years old on the "Ed Sullivan Show" and continuing to play at a Waikiki hotel.

By Dennis Oda, Star-Bulletin
The family poses for a wedding day portrait. From left, Cayetano's
children Brandon, Janeen and Samantha; Gov. Ben Cayetano, First Lady
Vicky Cayetano; Mrs. Cayetano's children from a previous
marriage, William and Marissa Liu.

But in the early 1960s, Liu made her mark, appearing as a child actress with Elvis Presley in the movie, "It Happened at the World's Fair."

At 6-1/2, Liu was impressed by Presley. And there's one incident she'll never forget: One scene had to be shot 30 times as she was nervous and lonely because she was separated from her family.

Presley sensed her uneasiness. He ended the shot, saying, "The little lady and I are going to eat dinner."

"That shows you the kind of man he was," Liu said.

"To this day, I won't forget that. He showed a lot of compassion."

Liu confesses that while she isn't active in politics, her political leanings are more toward the Republican Party. That doesn't matter to Cayetano, a Democrat, said Liu. "What brought us together wasn't politics," she stressed.

The new first lady

Name: Vicky Liu
Age: 41
Place of birth: Manila
Background: Chinese ancestry; came to the United States with her family when she was 31/2.
Isle ties: Moved to Hawaii 15 years ago from Northern California. Has two sisters and a brother who also live on Oahu.
Occupation: President and chief executive officer, United Laundry Services Inc.
Education: Stanford University

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Community]
[Info] [Letter to Editor] [Stylebook] [Feedback]

© 1997 Honolulu Star-Bulletin