APRIL 15, 2017

25 Years of the Filipino Fiesta Is Truly Remarkable

Hawaii’s Filipino community will come together to celebrate in May an impressive milestone, the 25th anniversary of the Filipino Fiesta, its silver jubilee year. To give a perspective of how long the fiesta has been around, 25 years ago George H.W. Bush just lost the presidency to Bill Clinton; Microsoft released Windows 3.1 (we’re now at 10.0); the cost of a video telephone (precursor to today’s modern cell) was $1,499; Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner starred in the Bodyguard; and the popular TV programs were Law & Order and the Oprah Winfrey Show. Locally, Hurricane Iniki devastated Hawaii causing $1.8 billion in damage. In the Filipino community, ethnic pride hit a new peak as Ben Cayetano was in the midst of his first term as governor of Hawaii.

The inception of the Filipino Fiesta in a way could be viewed as a symbolic celebration of Hawaii’s Filipino community’s “coming of age,” a time when Filipinos really started to make an impact in the state as leaders in practically all sectors in society. The idea of the Filipino Fiesta originated when L&L Drive-Inn Founder Eddie Flores thought of initiating a celebration to help raise support for the construction of the FilCom Center, which has been organizing the event since its inception. The construction of the FilCom Center came to fruition a few years later and the Filipino Fiesta continues to be the most celebrated yearly event for the Filipino community.

The Filipino Fiesta is more than just about sharing Filipino culture, food, entertainment with all the people of Hawaii. Its success is a reflection of our community -- perhaps nowhere else outside of the Philippines but Hawaii could a Filipino Fiesta of this magnitude and longevity be replicated; and perhaps nowhere else outside of the Philippines but Hawaii can you find a more vibrant, influential, and diverse Filipino community.  This is something Hawaii’s Filipino community can be very proud of.

Kudos to the FilCom Center, Inc. for their hard work, professionalism and commitment to making sure the Filipino Fiesta remains an annual tradition. Congratulations also to the myriad of Filipino clubs, civic groups, professional organizations, businesses, media, cultural experts, volunteers, and attendees of the fiesta who have contributed to the success of this event throughout the 25 years. If you haven’t been to the Filipino Fiesta in a while, we encourage you to come back for this very memorable 25th anniversary celebration. We encourage the younger generation in our community to get involved and see the value of this event so that one day they can carry the torch and keep it going for yet another 25 years, and beyond.


Russian Involvement in U.S. Elections Deserves A Full Accounting

President Donald Trump’s budget plan called “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” looks more like a wish list for the militarization of our country. His budget calls for seismic changes: adding billions to the Armed Forces, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs while slashing all other federal agencies and doing away entirely with long-standing programs.

Some news stories linger on and on, and for good reason. Americans deserve to find out the extent of Russian involvement in the U.S. election, where security breaches occurred, what U.S. intelligence did in response, and how do we move forward to restore confidence in our elections process.

What the FBI had already confirmed is that the Russians had hacked the Democratic National Committee to undercut Hilary Clinton’s campaign. What we do not know is if there were any ties between Trump and the Russians, specifically the Kremlin, during the election -- this is what the House and Senate intelligence committee is investigating. So far, there are traces of smoke, and it is the U.S. Congress’ constitutional duty to investigate if in fact a fire exists, no matter that the president is already elected, and no matter that the president happens to be of the same majority party in Congress.

It’s illogical that Republicans, and later the FBI during the most critical time during the election, fanned the flames over possible criminal conduct over Clinton’s mishandling of her email server while she was Secretary of State; yet, some Republicans, unconscionably are too expedient to put a lid on this investigation. When comparing the two -- one that potentially compromised top secret information via email vs one that potentially rocked the very foundation of our democratic process, our election -- it’s clear that Congress, the FBI, the NSA ought to be giving this investigation the most serious consideration. So, too, should President Trump, if he has nothing to hide.

The New York Times already reported that “phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contact with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year of and before the election.

The latest cloud of suspicion billowing involves former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was appointed and just let go by Trump last week. Flynn is seeking immunity from prosecution from House and Senate intelligence committees in exchange for information. Flynn, a retired Lieutenant General and adviser to Trump during his campaign, has had extensive ties with top Russian officials.  The official reason for Flynn’s resignation is that he had misled vice president Mike Pence about having communicated with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. before Trump was sworn into office. Whether he has any evidence to shed light on Russian involvement in the election remains to be seen. But his testimony, as well as a thorough investigation -- that some are already demanding should be elevated to a post 9/11-type full bipartisan investigation -- is crucial. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon is making the case that Trump’s tax returns be investigated to see whether he’d been influenced by the Russians. “We need to follow the money. Russia’s corruption problem, may be our corruption problem,” he said.

Other European governments like France and Germany are stepping forward accusing Russia of interfering also with their elections this year. If democracy needed any defending as politicians love to talk about to justify all kinds of adventurism abroad, there is no better time to defend it than now. Americans should demand a full accounting of what occurred. The next step, if conclusive evidence shows wrongdoing, is explore what to do with Russia and how to defend our government against cyberwarfare. The much murkier scenario is what to do should clear evidence show improper collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the presidential election.

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