Jun 2, 2010

GINTONG PAMANA: Honoring Notable Filipinos

By Fil-Am Observer Staff
Cover Story
Fil-Am Observer June 2010 Issue

In recognition of their exemplary leadership achievements, the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce will honor ten notable Filipino residents of Maui County  during the 13th  Gintong Pamana (Golden Heritage) Leadership/Achievement and Scholarship Awards Banquet on June 16, 2010 at the Maui Beach Hotel Ellair Ballroom. The event begins with a no-host cocktails at 6:00 pm to be followed by dinner and program at 6:30 pm.

 “The honorees’  exemplified extraordinary performance  in their chosen field of endeavor is a manifestation of their proven leadership  and they have also shown their  commitment and dedication in  serving  the community,” says CJ Ancheta, event coordinator.

 The honorees are: Rodrigo “Rudy” Balala for agriculture, Jenny Bissell for public health,  Jefffrey and Lydia Dela Cruz for design and consulting, Dean Cabrera Duque for banking, Michelle Gaddis for skills development, Lorraine Gomez-Karinen for education,

Dennis “Danny” Mateo for government, Madeyne Pascua for performing arts and culture, and Ryan Sagayaga for  building construction.
Rodrigo “Rudy” Balala, Vice-President of Haliimaile Pineapple Company, Ltd., has his roots in pineapple production. He started working with the pineapple company in the summer of 1979 when he was still in high school. He was a laborer, and for the many summers of his high school life, he worked in the fields and gradually learned how to operate these fields.  He tried to pursue other interests including studying for carpentry at then Maui Community College. He did not have much option in this job and so he decided to stick by his pineapple plantation work, a work he has kept for the last 31 years. Rising from the ranks, from laborer to truck driver and then eventual director, he now is a partner of the new  pineapple company.
Jenny Bissell, a registered nurse and a graduate of a bachelor’s degree in nursing, works with the State’s Department of Health as nurse administrator.

She is tasked to administer and supervise the services and programs of the Family Health Services section of the Maui District Health Office. This same office is made of Children with Special Health Needs; Maternal and Child Health; Early Intervention to Three Program; and Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Program. Fluent in Ilokano, Bissell has been in the forefront of heritage language and other causes related to women’s welfare.
Jeffrey and Lydia Dela Cruz, the power couple in design and consulting, are  recognized for precisely their lead role in this business and industry, a rare feat for a couple who have other interests apart form home design and renovation. Both are very active and supportive to various clubs and organizations. Lydia initially worked for a commercial bank, and then expanded her skill and knowledge and eventually put up her own business. Jeffrey studied architectural drafting at the Maui Community College where he learned the art and craft of design, home repair and renovation, and home improvement. For a time, he worked as a designer for company, and then moved to the public sector. Later on, he formed his own design company.

 Dean Cabrera Duque, awardee for banking, has demonstrated extraordinary skills as a banker at First Hawaiian Bank. Rising from the ranks after finishing his degree in business administration from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, he started as an account service representative and now currently serves this bank as its assistant vice president.

Over time, he equipped himself with the skills in commercial banking, and now manages over $200 million in combined deposits and loans. As a community-oriented individual  with a keen eye for spotting the needs of others including extending help to those most in need, Cabrera has made a difference in the life of people known and unknown to him.

His other involvements include a stint with Habitat for Humanity Maui as the organization’s president since 2007 or its treasurer two years prior.

 Michelle Gaddis is involved in self-help skills development and has led in making a difference in the lives of her students in her classroom and lives she has touched in prisons as a volunteer. Born in Oahu, she earned her degree in secondary education from Brigham Young University, a professional diploma at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and further graduate studies at the University of Connecticut in Storrs and the University of Utah.  Her career in teaching started out in special education at the Baldwin High School and Punene School before joining the staff of Alternative School for the central Maui high schools, Baldwin and Maui High. Other appointments came in, including one that led her to author four life skill books for children.
Lorraine Gomez-Karimen is recognized for her work in education. An English teacher and a professional development resource teacher during the past four decades, she works both with students and teachers. Degreed with a bachelor’s from Wisconsin State University-River Fall, she later on moved to the University of Portland for her master’s degree. She then taught at David Griffith High School in Los Angeles. She came to Maui to teach at Lihikai Elementary, and then at Lahainaluna High School. As a professional development resource teacher of Maui District, she serves as an academic mentor to teachers who are new to Maui schools.

 Dennis “Danny” Mateo, awarded for government service, is the current Councilchair  of the Maui County Council. He has been a member  for four terms since 2002. In his stint with the council, he has served in various capacities including chairing the Water Resources Committee, chairing the Maui District School Advisory Council, and the Maui County Grants Review Committee. The eight child of a family of nine, Mateo was raised in the Ilokano plantation camp by the Store Village in Paia. His father came to Hawaii from Laoag City to work in the plantations. In 1974, Mateo became manager of a rent-a-car and rent-a-mule company. It was in this work that he saw the many faces of hardworking people aside from his own experience as a child growing up in the plantations. It is this experience and realization that laid the groundwork for his dedication to protecting the interests of the residents of Maui.

 Madelyn Pascua, awarded for performing arts and culture, is the founder and director of Dance International Production. She also works as a business manager and bookkeeper for a church. She has been involved in community particularly requiring her skills in dance and in performance. She has choreographed many performances as well. Likewise, she has taught the craft of dance and performance. Because of her involvement with the entire state, she has been recognized by the United Filipino Council of Hawaii with the Community Service Award aside from other recognitions she has received form other organizations. Her love to share her knowledge of dance performance has led her to the door of dance instruction, as a volunteer teacher, of the Kabatak Club, an organization of students of Philippine descent from the UH Maui College.

 Ryan Sagayaga representing the building and construction category,  migrated to Hawaii in 1959. He retired from the construction industry after many years of hard work and persistent learning to equip himself with the skills needed to become a general contractor. He now spends his time for the community and has helped in the putting of the Barrio Fiesta in 2009 and now in 2010.  As soon a he came to Hawaii, he did not waste his time going back to school, first starting off with St. Anthony Boys’ School and then at Maui Technical College, now Maui College. There at Maui College, he took automotive, but later on apprenticed as a carpenter with the Hawaii Carpenters Union Local 745. He went on to prepare himself for other skills needed until he got his license as a general contractor.

 To receive scholarship from the chamber are ten students who will pursue various professional careers in universities in Hawaii or in the United States mainland. Of these are Michael Bayle of H. P. Baldwin High School, University of California Los Angeles (MD, Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics); Preston Tavares of Kamehameha Schools-Maui, University of San Diego in California (Business Economics); Josie Gomez of Lahainaluna High School (LHS), University of Notre Dame (Mathematics, Chemistry, MD); Evan Pascual of LHS, University of Hawaii at Manoa (Marine Biology); Lyka Sarian of LHS, Chaminade University (Nursing); Whitney Acoba of Maui High School (MHS), Hawaii Pacific University (Biology, MD); MauiJane Badua of MHS, University of Hawaii-Maui College (Nursing); Rowena Buted of MHS, California State University-East Bay (Nursing); Johnelyn Cadang of MHS, University of Northern Florida (Nursing); and JoAnne Sula of MHS, University of Hawaii-Maui College (Elementary Education).
For ticket information,  contact Lydia Dela Cruz  at 244-3263.

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