Jul 10, 2009

"Gintong Pamana" 2009 Awardees

The Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce recognized four Filipinos for their outstanding leadership achievements during the annual “Gintong Pamana 2009 Leadership Recognition Awards and Scholarship Banquet” held June 9 at the Maui Beach Hotel.
In his opening remarks Chamber president Leo Agcolicol said that the occasion was a momentous event of honoring these Filipino leaders who have distinguished themselves and have attained leadership positions in various fields of endeavor. For her part, Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares gave her congratulatory remarks to the honorees and scholarship recipients. Hawaii State Representative Gil Keith-Agaran and School Psychologist Dr. Virginia Cantorna delivered words of inspiration.
The Leadership Awardees are: Loretta Balicanta, Kari Mariye Luna, Lu Symonds, and Cornelio “CJ” Ancheta.

Loretta Balicanta
Loretta Balicanta continues a forty-plus career as an educator. She began teaching in 1958. After 29 years of teaching in the regular classroom, punctuated with stints in the gifted and talented program, music, and remedial reading and mathematics programs resource teacher, she continues in what is now the eleventh year of service in the English as Second Language (ESL) program. She stopped teaching temporarily while she was caregiver for her late husband, former principal Ike Balicanta, during a long illness.

Deciding to return to her beloved work in the classroom, she accepted the opportunity for employment at Kahului Elementary School where the enrollment is almost 60% Filipino children.

For the last two years, Loretta has been a fifth grade part-time ESLL teacher where, according to her principal, she has helped to redesign the ESLL program to include team teaching. She has also promoted co-curricular activities for ESLL students to build pride in their ethnic heritage and to expand their language experiences. In 2006, she received a Certificate of Recognition as awardee of The Patricia Ross Kubach ESLL District Teacher of the Year. In the letter of recommendation for this award, Principal Markgraf wrote, “While teaching is Mrs. Balicanta’s vocation, music is her avocation. She donates her time to practice with groups of students so they may present musical selections at Family and Parent Nights. She believes and demonstrates that music is a way to learn a second language...Bilingual herself, (she) is committed to helping her students become fluent in two or more languages.

Kari Mariye Luna
Kari Mariye Luna has achieved much in the short time since she graduated as valedictorian of the BHS Class of 1994. At the University of Washington she earned a bachelors degree with a major in English and minor in Classics and Ancient History with a 4-year athletic scholarship for her tennis prowess.

In her last year of college ITA named her a 1998 Scholar Athlete All-American. For a year after college, she worked as Ocean Import Agent for U.S. Northwest Express, coordinating shipments from around the world into the port of Seattle. This was followed by two years at Punahou School where she was the tennis instructor and coach, also giving private and group lessons while she served as Girls Assistant Varsity Tennis Coach. Studying next at Chaminade University, she earned a Masters of Science, Counseling Psychology degree (MSCP) with a 4.0 GPA for which she received the award for Top Graduate Student.

Next she became a counselor at Mililani High School, providing students with individual and group counseling, academic advising, developing behavior support plans for parents and teachers and college and career counseling. Then she transferred to a position at Maui High School, where she served as counselor, teacher, and Professional Learning Community Coordinator. During this period she also worked as the Maui Field Coordinator for the U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka Election Campaign.

Lu Symonds
Lu Symonds is known by many because of her professional and quality work. Many more have been the lucky beneficiaries of her service-minded life style. In a recommendation letter we learn that in the more than 20 years of working and knowing Lu, “I have had many opportunities to observe and evaluate her work as well as her potential for growth. In my judgment, her intelligence is well above average and she understand both the people she works with the community she serves.”

Lu serves actively in various ways in the community including the Hawaii Ballroom Association, the Portuguese Club, USDIR, St. Anthony Catholic Club and the Hawaiian Civic Club. For these and other organizations, she helps to raise funds, attends meetings and counsels members to make our community better. In addition, she has been able to help Filipino youth by creatively encouraging them to do well in school and giving them guidance in getting assistance for furthering their education. Each year she gives financial sponsorship to six students from her Barrio in the Philippines.

In the course of her own work every day, she patiently makes suggestions and recommendations on home financing, medical attention, and generally tries to help make other people's life more successful and happy, including many elderly Filipino immigrants who are non-English speaking to fill out forms or drive them to their interviews, and even to their jobsites. “Lu is a champion for the rights of the Filipino people and her hope and vision in life is that we all remember our roots and work as one community to preserve our heritage.”

Cornelio “CJ” Ancheta
The name of CJ Ancheta is familiar to most Filipinos, not only here on Maui but also across the State of Hawaii and in the Philippines. Through his determined efforts as a journalist, the Fil-Am OBSERVER, of which he is the managing editor, has steadily found its place in the forefront of print media.

In his nomination materials we find the following: “Mr. Ancheta has utilized the print media in reflecting his ideas and thoughts about unifying the Maui Filipino community by advocating the bayanihan spirit and building up one another. He is a positive reinforcer. He has encouraged the community to continue preserving not only our culture but also our values so that they will serve as a legacy to our younger generations. His excellent academic background and work experience led him to use his journalism expertise in helping organizations develop their newsletter.”

Born and educated in the Philippines, he earned both a Bachelor's and a Master’s in Science degree in Agricultural Engineering at the University of the Philippines in Los Banos. International training experiences include workshops in Beijing, China; Wageningen, The Netherlands; and Turin, Italy. He received the Progress Awards in the Media Category given by the United Filipino Council of Hawaii in 2004. He is a director of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Hawaii.
He is currently a store manager at the ABC Stores in Lahaina.

The scholarship award recipients are:

Leonard B. Baruela
Leonard B. Baruela will be studying computer and electrical engineering at Maui Community College. At BHS, he was tested for the English Language Learner (ELL) program as a new arrival from the Philippines, and discovered that he did not need these classes. From his essay we learn that both his parents work two jobs each, choosing to sacrifice much to ensure the further education of their children, as one of their daughter is already a student at MCC. Leonard earns and saves for his schooling as a part-time crewmember at McDonald’s. He views college as an “opportunity to step out of my house and experience life in a brand new environment, where I will learn to collaborate and learn valuable skills...” After college, he plans to help his youngest sister to pursue her aspirations for higher education, and in the process be able to repay his parents for the extensive sacrifice they already given. In his words, “Through the help of this scholarship opportunity, I will be able to explore further than I expected and taste the true sweetness of success; and I will proudly represent your organization.”

Kaitlin Dela Cruz
Kaitlin Dela Cruz is already operating her own custom design business, a hobby that started with painting hats for her friends and soon garnered public demand. She writes, “The business, Kami Drawn, has taught me a number of life skills, e.i, people skills, time management, improved artistic ability. I wish to continue this hobby business during my college schooling.” Upon graduating from KKHS, she will be studying graphic design at Loyola Marymount University at the College of Communication & Fine Arts. Being accepted under the Early Action program makes her among the very first students selected for the Class of 2013. “After college, I would like to expand this company to represent Hawaii. People underestimate Hawaii sometimes because we are such a small state. It is my ultimate goal to change that, as well as give Hawaii’s future students confidence that despite the size of our state, we can do anything we set our minds to.”

Celina Jean K.M. Hayashi
Celina Jean K.M. Hayashi is entering a Pre-Med program at Scripps College in studies leading to the fields of biology and biomedical engineering. Being an established student leader even before high school, she culminated an illustrious series of officer roles as student body president at KKHS. As a third-generation immigrant, she credits much to her “courageous and admirable maternal grandparents from the Philippines” and she “strives to make them proud...Together, my grandfather and grandmother bore the weight of the future on their shoulders and committed to making a better life for themselves over sixty years ago. Still today, they place their family first and are significant role models in my life. Their steadfastness inspires my zeal for learning and creating a more positive future. Their loving encouragement gives me the confidence to embrace each challenge as an opportunity.” Her dream is to “become a doctor and practice pediatrics or psychiatry. Ultimately, my desire is to settle here in Hawaii to serve the community I was born and raised in, which I cherish dearly.

Tiare Pimentel
Tiare Pimentel from BHS is headed for Brown University, one of the famed Ivy League schools in New England. From her essay we learn that she is “fascinated by science. Learning how molecules form and why my heart has four chambers is thought provoking. I find myself staying after class to discuss the lesson that day because I am curious to learn more. I don’t want to know the information only to get me an A on the test, but I want to know the whys and the hows. It is also intriguing to realize that there is much information out there that still needs explanations; that even with all the technologies and advancements created, there is still need for the human mind to inquire and to theorize about processes poorly formulated or not understood. I love science and in college I will pursue a degree in Chemistry and Biochemstry...Eventually, whether it is right after college or after I establish my career, I want to also enter the field of research and use my engineering background along with many technologies men have created to improve the lives of others around the world. I wish to make a difference, travel abroad, and make my presence on earth.”

Randolf Uclaray
Randolf Uclaray of MHS is a future engineer, about to commence studies at the University of Portland. From his statement in a Maui News Student Spotlight, we read this powerful testament—“My personal heroes are my parents because they have always been my two biggest supporters in my journey through life. Their stories about the hardships they faced while growing up serve as my inspiration to become successful. My goal is to reward them for the sacrifices they have made for my sister and me.” Randolf also shares that “growing up, I didn’t show much appreciation for the sacrifices they made. However, as I reached the stage of maturity, I gained a new level of understanding and respect for my parents. Hearing their stories made me realize how fortunate I was to be their son. Their inspiring life stories continue to motivate me to do my best in any challenge that I face.” An ultimate career goal is to become a supervisor for an engineering firm. He affirms, “I would like to combine my knowledge in the fields of science, math and business to create a positive impact on the world.

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