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Local Filipinos overflow ballroom to greet Aquino

By Alan Yonan Jr.


FL MOrris / fmorris@staradvertiser.comPhilippine President Benigno Aquino III, center, was honored at a dinner Sunday at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Joining him onstage were Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto del Rosario and Bennette Misalucha, chairwoman of the Philippine Celebrations Coordinating Committee of Hawaii, which sponsored the event.

More than 1,000 members of the local Filipino community gave an enthusiastic welcome Sunday night to Philippine President Benigno Aquino III at the Hilton Hawaiian Village's Tapa Ballroom.

The popular president drew a standing ovation from the overflow crowd at a dinner sponsored by the Filipino Chamber of Commerce and the Philippine Consulate.

Aquino spoke of the close bond Filipinos have no matter where they live.

"It really warms my heart to see you all here united," Aquino said. "Wherever you are in the world, you have a bond that keeps you together."

Aquino was one of 21 leaders in Honolulu for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Filipinos make up Hawaii's largest Asian group.

Many guests at the dinner waited for hours to see the president.

"I left home at 2 o'clock today to make sure I got here on time," said Edwin Munoz of Royal Kunia.

"This is very exciting because I believe this happens once in a lifetime," said Munoz, who moved to Hawaii from the Philippines 36 years ago. "This is a good chance for us to see President Aquino in person."

Among the dignitaries in attendance at the dinner were Gov. Neil Abercrombie, Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle, former Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann, Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi, Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa and Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho.

Aquino, son of former Philippine President Corazon Aquino, addressed the crowd after performances by a mix of Filipino and local entertainers that included the Honolulu Boy Choir and the Philippine Chorale, made up of members of the Hawaii Filipino Community.

State Rep. Henry Aquino (D, Pearl City-Waipahu) attended the dinner with several of his constituents.

"This is an important event for a lot of us here. We believe in President Aquino's leadership and his strong stance against corruption," said Henry Aquino, who is not related to the Philippine president.

Corazon Aquino, who died in 2009, led the 1986 People Power revolution that toppled President Ferdinand Marcos.

A group of Filipino-Americans in Hawaii who want the Philippine government to allow dictator Marcos to be buried with full military honors held a rally Saturday in Waipahu.

The group, called Marcos for Peace Movement, urged President Aquino to allow Marcos to be buried in Manila's heroes' cemetery. In June, Aquino ruled out a Manila burial.

Marcos died in 1989 while exiled in Hawaii. His body was returned in 1993 to Ilocos Norte, where it is displayed in a glass coffin.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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bigislandkurt wrote:
Filipinos are Pacific Islanders. Not Asians. When will the Federal Govt. ever get that correct?
on November 14,2011 | 05:29AM
hybrid1 wrote:
This been asked before and let me enlighten you who are the Pacific Islander. Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Philippine, and Indonesian islands, etc. are technically bordering the Pacific Ocean but they are not considered Pacific Islanders because such islands are not located in any of the three regions of Oceania, that is why Filipino are classified as "Asians" not a Pacific Islander. A native of Pacific Islander are the Polynesian, Micronesian, or Melanesian islands of Oceania. Here's the list of people of Pacific Islanders: Polynesians, Tongans, Samoans, Niueans, Cook Islanders, Tahitians, Hawaiians, Marquesans, Maori, Marshall Islanders, Palauans, Mariana Islanders, Nauru, Kiribatians, Guamanians, Wake Islanders, Fijian, New Caledonian, New Guinean, Maluku Islander, Solomon Islander, Torres Strait Islander, Vanatuan and many more, but not Filipinos.
on November 14,2011 | 07:00AM
Buido wrote:
Thank you hybrid1 ... you are sooo correct ... I would add a lot more but would be accused of being racist ... It discussed me when I saw the TV reports of "local Filipinos" saying it was so cool to meet (Aquino) their president !!! ... I assumed they were Americans ... But then I remembered how they idolized Marcos when he was here even tho he was the reason they had to leave the Philipines !!! Dosen't make sense ...
on November 14,2011 | 11:20PM
DonGa-me wrote:
Philippines is part of South East Asia. I worry about this country since many are now turning to Muslim and not Catholics. There is turmoil in the Philippines and many come to Hawaii to escape. Many believe Marcos was a hero but do not realize he made millions off of the people and was corrupt.
on November 14,2011 | 09:22AM
MakaniKai wrote:
Thank you hybrid1....das right! Pacific Islanders are defined as from Polynesian, Micronesian, or Melanesian islands of Oceania. And this does not include the Philippines.
on November 14,2011 | 01:10PM
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