Mar 10, 2009

Dr. Amefil Agbayani: One of Living Treasures"

By Aurelio S. Agcaoili, Ph. D, Editor-in-Chief
March Issue Feature Article, Front Page

WITH four others, Dr. Amefil [Amy] Agbayani has joined the list of more than 100 individuals who were recognized for their community service, accomplishments in culture and the arts, economic development efforts, health services initiatives, and engagements with social and equity issues affecting the State of Hawaii.

The recognition was given on February 14 at a banquet at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel and attended by the members of the community.

Agbayani was organized together with Nalani Olds, Puanani Sonoda Burgess, Sister Joan Chatfield, and Bert Nishimura.

Hongpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii gave the Living Treasures, patterned after the Living National Treasures Program of Japan.

Hongpa Hongwanji is an old Buddhist institution of Hawaii, with its existence tracing back to the late 19th century and to date has more than 30 temples all over the islands.

Agbayani has been recognized for her long history of engagements with many social issues, particularly those that relate to equity, diversity, and access to basic services.

Currently, she serves as director of the University of Hawaii's Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity [SEED] office.

Of the numerous accomplishements of Agbayani, it is her founding and continous directing of the SEED as one that has created a lot of impact to the academic community.

SEED has provided grants to academics of the UH System, and scholarships and diversity and equity program to numerous groups, including those that have been traditionally under-reperesented and marginalized.

For nearly forty years, Agbayani has worked in the area of civil rights and social justice, establishing, among others, Operation Manong even when such an initiative had to go through tough times.

She serves on the board of various organizations such as the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission, the Hawaii Womens Caucus and the Inter-Agency Council for Immigrant Service.

She is a member of the 2009 Electoral College and has served as chairwoman of the Judicial Selection Committee.

Of the many initiatives of Agbayani, she has been credited for helping bring together the various Filipino American organizations of North America, with her presently vice charing the regional National Federation of Filipino American Associations.

The Filipino American community of Hawaii is undebted to her sense of community service and empowerment, helping draft bills that address equity and diversity issues and seeing these bills go through the proper legislative process.**

[posted by Rudy Ram. Rumbaoa/March 10, 2009]

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