'Toy' Arre Jr. is a leader in Oahu's Filipino community
  • Thursday, November 22, 2018
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Hawaii News

‘Toy’ Arre Jr. is a leader in Oahu’s Filipino community

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Geminiano "Toy" Arre Jr., left, shares a laugh with Donnie Juan, executive director of the Filipino Community Center.
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Geminiano "Toy" Arre Jr. chuckled about his nickname.

It means "boy," he explained. It was given to him when he was a small child — and it just stuck.

Don’t let the name fool you. Arre, who will turn 80 in November, has been an active leader throughout his career and remains dedicated to those who seek his help — even if it means coming out of retirement multiple times.

"He’s sought after in the community," said Jackie Boland, community outreach director for AARP Hawaii, for which Arre is now a top volunteer.

"I just go where I’m needed," Arre said.

The former president of the Filipino Community Center still walks the halls of the center in Waipahu even after stepping down for good in August. He retired from the FilCom in 2012 but returned this year as interim president after his successor, Rose Churma, left the post.

Arre previously retired from positions with the City and County of Honolulu and the state, as well as from a consultant position he had with the mayor of Manila.

After leaving the FilCom two years ago, Arre was asked to balance his time between his volunteer work with the AARP and "baby-sitting" the executive director position at the center until his successor took office.

"It’s his baby. He has been here for a good eight or nine years," said Arre’s successor, Donnie Juan.

During a visit to the FilCom, Arre described the history of a mural in the center’s ballroom and considered the future — still dedicated to the center even though he’s retired now. "We still need to have something in these three alcoves," Arre said of the empty spaces along the ballroom’s walls.

Arre began volunteering for the community outreach program at AARP in 2011.

"I scooped him right when he announced his retirement," Boland said as she recalled how she recruited Arre.

In 2012, Arre was appointed to the AARP’s Executive Council for volunteers. He currently is a leader on Filipino issues and engagement — his responsibilities include strategic planning, community collaboration and volunteer recruitment as well as hosting a radio program for Filipinos about AARP on KNDI Radio 1270 AM every Monday morning.

"He’s not only an executive-level volunteer, but also cook and bottle washer," Boland said.

Juan said Arre "has always been there for the Filipino community — whatever role he has taken."

"You got to remain busy, otherwise you start deteriorating," Arre said.

The retiree also is active in the community outside his leadership roles. The former marathoner meets up with a running club every Sunday, and while he doesn’t run, he said he enjoys the presence of the other members.

Arre has run three marathons, the first in 1976. These days he sometimes walks with his club members at the weekly get-togethers.

"Now he is enjoying his third or fourth retirement," Juan said.

Arre moved to Hawaii in the spring of 1959 to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In 1979 he became the director of finance for the City and County of Honolulu — the first Filipino to hold a Cabinet position in Honolulu. He also worked in the city’s budget office as its deputy director.

After retiring with 38 years of service for the city and the state, Arre found himself in Manila. Manila Mayor Lito Atienza sought Arre’s financial expertise, prompting Arre to move to the Philippines and become a financial consultant for Atienza for 51/2 years.

Arre celebrated his recent retirement from the FilCom with his wife, Corie Fulgencio-Arre, on a trip to Las Vegas.

He has two children from his first marriage: daughter Mari-Jo, 50, and son Geminiano T. Arre, 40.

"I’ve often been asked if I were to live my life over again, what would I change. The only thing that I would change would be to spend more time with my children," said Arre as he prepared to meet his granddaughter. They had an appointment at 1 p.m., and Arre was not about to be late.

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