Art in Waipahu, Illegal Fireworks, U.S. Congress

The Minasa Art Gallery reception with (from left to right) Bryzane Lagmay, Kulundzic Kosta, Cristina Nishioka, Fox Wong and Paul Galang.

by Will Espero

A new quaint art gallery at Minasa Hawaii restaurant in Waipahu held its opening reception on October 21 in celebration of Filipino American History Month with artwork by Filipino Americans and other artists from Oahu.

Restauranteurs Maleko and Ann Lagmay hosted the event with the artwork on display until December 1st. Bryzane Lagmay coordinated the art exhibit which included a musical performance and car show.

Bryzane’s goal is to help publicize and promote Filipino artists and bring art culture to the west side of Oahu. Maleko and Ann Lagmay were thrilled with the opening turnout and hope to host other art events in the future.

Halo-Halo is the name of the art show as it billed itself as “celebrating the beauty of mixing and merging, just like the delicious Filipino dessert it’s named after.”

I brought home a lechon dish from Minasa Hawaii, and it was tasty and mouthwateringly delicious. I highly recommend checking out the art show and trying some ono dishes as well during the holiday season.

Art should be readily available in our public schools from kindergarten to 12th grade. Imagine if a child had twelve years to develop a talent or skill like drawing, painting, sculpting, singing, dancing, writing, acting, or playing an instrument.

These are skills that can last a lifetime and earn an income for some when one is an adult.

In Hawaii where the high cost of living affects just about everyone, additional income from the arts would certainly be welcomed. Art is positive, inspirational, and fulfilling, and it’s an integral part of society that should always be supported and encouraged.

On another note, illegal fireworks continue to be a problem in our state, and on the west side, it’s starting up again as the holidays approach. The illegal fireworks never really disappeared over the months, and as a resident of Ewa Beach, I hear and see illegal fireworks year-round in Waipahu, Ewa, and Kapolei.

For many people, they see aerial fireworks as a local tradition that isn’t harming anyone. But many of us know this is not true as pets and residents with PTSD can be negatively impacted by the loud, obnoxious booms and noise.

Reminders of war and battles are the last thing veretans need as they live and adjust in their own homes. What annoys and irritates me the most is that after New Year’s Eve, the illegal fireworks may subside, but they never go away.

Recently, some fool in the Ewa area set off a loud booming firework at 3:00 am waking me from my sleep. I’m guessing the whole neighborhood heard the boom as the person or persons who lit the fuse had no regard for their neighbors and showed their disrespect and careless attitude toward our community.

These individuals who are setting off the illegal fireworks are criminals and lawbreakers who are uncaring and inconsiderate of others.

They may think they are being cool or funny, but in reality, they are rude and thoughtless. Their actions scare children and the elderly, and one day, someone may have a heart attack after hearing these unexpected explosions in their neighborhoods.

In my opinion, our government is not doing enough to stop this illegal activity. We know criminals are secretly shipping illegal fireworks from the mainland and selling them on the black market in many communities.

I would like to see the county police, state sheriffs, Coast Guard, and/or FBI devote more resources to catch the dealers and top figures importing explosives (illegal fireworks) into our state as a matter of safety and domestic security.

From my perspective, if criminals can easily sneak explosives into our state, the idea of smuggling a dirty bomb is a possibility. If a dirty bomb were to explode near a military base, in Waikiki, downtown, or near the airport, our economy would come to a halt and hardship would fall upon many.

Some readers may think my imagination is in overdrive, but in this era of terrorism and international conflict, the threat is real. 

When I was a lawmaker, I introduced legislation to do random inspections of shipping containers from the mainland entering our ports.

Unfortunately, my efforts were unsuccessful, and in my opinion, the situation has gotten worse. I also pushed for sting operations and undercover buys to catch the culprits involved in illegal fireworks.

Government and law enforcement need to do more to stem the tide of illegal fireworks and criminal activity.

So, the next time you hear or see attractive colorful fireworks, understand they have the potential to create negative reactions and unwanted consequences for many residents of our state.

Finally, Congress was able to select a new Speaker of the House after weeks of stagnation and inaction. Republican Congressional members had turned the Capitol into a circus as hurt feelings and bratty politics resulted in the demise of former speaker Kevin McCarthy.

MAGA Republicans made a mockery of the United States House of Representatives as their spurned advances led to a leaderless body.

Unfortunately, the new House speaker, Mike Johnson, is a Trump supporter who supported the crazy notion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump. Because of this insane belief, I don’t think Johnson should be the speaker.

But the Republicans who had been making Congress look like a feeble institution couldn’t do any better, and now we are stuck with this compromise candidate.

I do hope Johnson can lead our Congress and help pass legislation that benefits all Americans and shows collaboration and cooperation with Democrats as our nation needs true leaders and not manipulated narrow-minded thinkers.

The Republicans have chosen Johnson, and the 2024 elections will determine if the American people are happy with our country’s leaders and policies.

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WILL ESPERO retired from the Hawaii legislature after serving 19 years in the state House of Representatives and state Senate. He is currently a novelist, poet, and supporter of the arts. Lingering Thoughts provides a glimpse of his perspective on current events and issues.

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