by Jim Bea Sampaga
In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Hawaii-Philippines diplomatic relationship, a non-profit organization is hosting the virtual Aloha & Mabuhay Conference on October 13 and 14.
The virtual conference will feature thought leaders from Hawaii and the Philippines that will discuss relevant and timely topics along the five pillars of the Hawaii-Philippines diplomatic relations: political, governance, economic cooperation, cultural exchanges, people-to-people ties and social responsibility.
The host, the Hawaii-Philippines Business & Economic Council (HPBEC), is a non-profit organization founded in 2011 whose mission is to create a forum for Hawaii and the Philippines to promote business and economic development.
The ties between Hawaii and the Philippines can be traced back to the Austronesian expansion that originated from prehistoric migration by sea from Taiwan that reached Northern Philippines and Hawaii. The two nations have also shared the results of U.S. colonial expansion which recruited OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) from the Philippines to Hawaii in 1906 with the arrival of the first 15 sakadas.
In anticipation of the Aloha & Mabuhay Virtual Conference in October, HPBEC has launched the Talk Story project in February this year featuring panelists from Hawaii and the Philippines. The recorded version of the live panel discussions is available on facebook.com/hpbecFB.
HPBEC’s mission and history
Aside from creating a platform for economic and business development, HPBEC also aims to strengthen the ties between Hawaii and the Philippines. The organization also advocates on behalf of Hawaii residents who consider both the Philippines and Hawaii as their home.
The Aloha and Mabuhay Conference isn’t the first project of HPBEC.
The organization has hosted three conferences in the Philippines in 2012: “Global Citizenship, The Filipino American Experience,” “Sister-City Initiatives & Business Partnerships,” and “Investment Opportunities in Hawaii – Leading the Trend in Renewable Energy Creation.”
In 2013, HPBEC hosted “Invest Philippines! – Asia’s Next Economic Tiger” at the FilCom Center, Waipahu, Hawaii.
And since February 2021, HPBEC launched the Talk Story project, a monthly virtual conference discussing topics of interest in both Hawaii and the Philippines.
HPBEC has partnered with multiple Chambers in the State of Hawaii namely Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce, Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce, Big Island Filipino Chamber of Commerce, Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii and Coalition of Fil-Am Chambers of Commerce.
Lead by Chairperson Jeoffrey Cudiamat and Vice-Chairperson Mylene Magno Reyes, HPBEC’s Board of Directors consists of Executive Director Rosemarie Mendoza, Deputy Executive Director Dr. Belinda Aquino, Secretary Rose Cruz Churma, Treasurer Melga Gendrano, Legal Counsel Rhoda Yabes Alvarez, Tech & PR Adviser Kit Zulueta Furukawa, and directors Harry Alonso, Melody Calisay, Rosemarie Aquino, Manny Lanuevo and Jun Suela.
For parties interested to join the Aloha & Mabuhay Conference, please contact Rose Churma at email@example.com or visit their website at hpbec.com.