Friday, September 7, 2001

Not such a bad guy after all

A different sort of role for film and TV actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa -- personal finance instructor.

His volunteer performance will be played Monday at the Big Island's Waiakea High School. Tagawa often plays an ice-cold bad guy with killer martial arts skills (in the vernacular and literal senses), but this time he'll play a part in promoting financial literacy.

He's the local-but-Hollywood aspect of an effort by Visa USA to promote "practical money skills." It's not just a concept. At there is online software for use in preschool through high school classrooms, along with detailed lesson plans for teachers, and links for parents and general consumers.

While Tagawa's an actor, the star players in this act include Visa, First Hawaiian Bank and American Savings Bank.

First Hawaiian Bank Senior Vice President and Marketing Director Brandt Farias said educating "financially responsible children and adults is not only in our best interests, but in society's best interests."

"The schools were selected on the basis of need, and donations of computers, given the fact that so much of our world revolves around computers these days, is obviously appreciated by the schools," he said.

The appreciative audience is to include the state Department and Board of Education, elected officials and students at 10 high schools statewide which will each receive a new five-terminal computer lab. Recipient high schools are McKinley, Kaimuki, Farrington, Waianae, Waialua and Olomana on Oahu; Waiakea and Pahoa on the Big Island; Waimea on Kauai; and Molokai High School in Maui County.

Visa USA Public Affairs Director Rhonda Bentz said the company is providing the same service in 10 other states as part of its long-term commitment to financial literacy.

She said Tagawa had indicated an interest in supporting the Hawaii effort. Bentz added that the martial arts discipline he's learned over the years and which he's known for through many of his films, can be applied to money management.

The Web site has the apparent endorsement of many teachers who attended the National Education Association annual convention in July.

In the interest of full disclosure, your columnist is a proud graduate of Pahoa High School.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached

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