IN & OUT
The visit of Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle with her delegates underscores the significance and importance of the Filipino community in Hawaiian affairs. Filipinos who comprise approximately 25 % of the state’s population are in turn predominantly ethnic Ilocanos comprising 90% of the Filipino-Hawaiian community. The latter is particularly significant as epitomized by the itinerary of the visit dubbed “Lakbay Puso: A Journey of the Heart; Hawaii – Philippine Centennial Province Tour,” which focused on the Ilocos region.
While certain quarters may have expressed a touch of cynicism by comparing the tour to an election campaign what with the November 2006 polls mere months away; it is still gratifying and significant to us Filipinos that the American political leadership, particularly in Hawaii, has begun to recognize the influence of our Filipino communities and has begun to reach out, even unto our homeland.
More than anything, the visit, a part of the celebrations marking the Centennial of the arrival of the first Filipinos in Hawaii, signifies that the Filipino-Hawaiian community has indeed become a major force in the mainstream of Hawaiian life.
Part of the itinerary included a visit to the Filipino-Hawaiian mango processing plant venture in Bgy. Sulvec, Pasuquin. In fact, the seeds of this project were planted several years ago long before the sisterhood agreement was consummated, when a group of Filipino-Hawaiian investors purchased land and begun to grow mango trees.
In a sense this venture is symbolic of the nature of the ties between Ilocos Norte and Hawaii, which go far beyond any political or economic agreements on paper. The sisterhood agreement is merely an affirmation of the past and continuing relationship between the two regions; a relationship embedded firmly in the relationships between our Filipino-Hawaiian brothers and their kinsmen back home and further reinforced by our culture which has always emphasized close family relationships as well as a reverence for our ancestors. This is the heart and soul of the sisterhood agreement.
A major part of the itinerary focused on San Nicolas where the delegation was treated to a “Barrio Fiesta” in Barangay Barabar. The event showcased the cultural practices which make our festivals such colorful spectacles. There was also an area where the various products of the municipality were displayed in booths made of indigenous materials. There was also a display of traditional pottery-making using the local clay which imparts a distinctive character to San Nicolas pottery.
At the lunch area, the centerpiece was a traditional carabao-driven grind wheel used to produce the renowned Ilocano basi. Many of the visitors, such as Hawaii State Representative Kymberly Marcos Pine had fun feeding the sugarcane stalks into the mill. For her as for many of the delegates, the affair was not only fun but a source of renewed appreciation for the richness of our culture and heritage.
After the event, the Governor took time to grace the groundbreaking ceremony of the landmark “The Center” project. The soon to be constructed business and shopping center promises to open up a world of opportunity and is expected to significantly boost the economy, not only of San Nicolas, but the entire region.
Perhaps the focus on San Nicolas underscores and recognizes the great strides the municipality has made under the dynamic and progressive tenure of Mayor Alfredo Valdez Jr.
And for our blind item: According to a reliable and senior law-enforcement source, this senior local official was asked to submit to an inspection prior to entering the Provincial Capitol where cocktails were held for Hawaii governor Lingle and party last Saturday. According to our source, the said official left in disgust. “Na-checkpoint,” stated our source, and further clarifying that the order came from higher authorities.
Was the said official singled out? Particularly, in the light of past history?