Nov 14, 2010

UFCH Presents Progress Awards; Baxa- Golden Sakada Awardee

by Fil-Am Observer Staff

            It was not purposefully held to celebrate Filipino-American History Month. Yet it was easily the most meaningful program held in
Hawaii during the month of October, the month designated by law as Filipino-American History Month. Initiated in 1990 and sponsored by the United Filipino Council of Hawaii(UFCH), the 2010 Progress Awards recognized 15 notable women and men of Hawaii whose dedication and achievements have appreciably contributed to giving a progressive direction, tone and color to Filipino-American history in the islands. The program, held in conjunction with ceremonies to "re-affirm" the new UFCH officers, was held last October 16, Saturday, in the Maunakea Ballroom of the Hawaii Prince Hotel, at Waikiki. The awards had for its theme, “Beyond Accomplishments.”
            Leading the awardees were Ret. Judge Artemio C. Baxa, Golden Sakada for Lifetime Achievement Award, Atty. Bernaldo D. Bicoy, Juan Dionisio, Sr. Lifetime Service Award, and U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Ating Kaibigan Award.
            Artemio C. Baxa, Esq. Appointed by then Gov. Ben Cayetano, he was the first Filipino-American to serve as judge in the County of Maui. He received his pre-law degree from the Univ. of Santo Tomas, and Bachelor of Laws from the Ateneo de Manila, and Master's Degree in Comparative Law from the Univ. of Chicago. Licensed to practice law in the Philippines, he was associated with one of the most prestigious law firms in the Philippines before he immigrated to Hawaii in the late 1960s. Unable to practice his profession on account of qualifying requirements in Hawaii, he started employment on Maui doing menial jobs. He returned to law school, obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the Univ. of Hawaii Law School and admitted to the practice of law in Hawaii in 1978. Before his appointment as judge, he served in Maui County as deputy director of Human Concerns, and later deputy prosecuting attorney. He was the first to be recognized as Maui County of the Year Employee. He has been honored as one of the Twenty Outstanding Filipinos in America and Canada by the Filipino Image Magazine based in Washington, D.C., as one of the 100 Outstanding Citizens of Maui County when the county marked the 100th anniversary of its establishment in 2005. He served as Maui commissioner on the Hawaii Filipino Centennial Celebration Commission in 2006, and is currently serving as a member of the University of Hawaii Board of Regents from Maui by appointment of Gov. Linda Lingle
            Sen. Daniel Inouye, Hawaii's senior United States senator and Senate pro tempore, ranking third in succession to the nation's presidency,  was presented the "Ating Kaibigan" award meant to honor a "special friend" of the Filipinos. It is a formal recognition that's long overdue. During all his public life of more than 50 years he has always been a strong advocate of Filipino advancement and of programs and projects beneficial to the Filipino community. In a way there had never been any particular urgency of him being presented the award because throughout his exemplary political career the Filipinos have always given him overwhelming support at the polls and extended to him respect and honor in many other ways.
Fourteen Americans of Filipino ancestry were honored with Sen. Inouye.
            Bernaldo Bicoy, Esq. was recognized with the Juan Dionisio Award for Lifetime Service. Lahaina-born, he is one of the first four Filipinos to be licensed to practice law in all courts of Hawaii in the 1950s. He obtained his Juris Doctor decree from the University of Missouri School of Law. An authentic war veteran, he served in the Korean War and received the Silver Star Medal, the Bronze Star with "V" Device, and Purple Heart Medal. He was elected to one term in the Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives and another term in the State House of Representatives. In 1975 he was presented the award as the "Most Outstanding Filipino Overseas in the Field of Law" by the President of the Philippines at Malacanang. He played key roles in the founding of three organizations that have become dominant institutions in community life in Hawaii: the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii, the United Filipino Council of Hawaii and the Congress of Visayan Organizations.
Here are the other awardees.
            Gladys M. Menor, awardee in Arts and Cuture, is president of GUMIL Oahu and member of the UFCH Board of Governors. He is widely known for her poems and essays published in the Bannawag, the weekly Ilocano magazine printed in the
Philippines and circulated worldwide wherever there are Ilocanos. She has been an active proponent of Ilocano culture, tradition and arts in Hawaii, taking lead role in the revival of drama, folkdances and songs, bukanegan and sarzuela. She obtained her Diploma in Business Management and in Interior Design from the Hawaii Business College.
            Michael Sana, awardee in Education, is Department Head and Science Teacher at Waipahu High School. He has also been recognized Chevron Hawaii Science Teacher of the Year and also presented the Bishop Museum Science Teacher Award. He has worked in conservation of the Hawaii tree snail in partnership with UH Manoa professor Dr. Brendan Holland. He developed the 2010 Summer Bridge Program with UH Manoa aimed at providing incoming freshmen a transitional program for careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Among others, he is involved with Sariling Gawa Youth Council and Key Club. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology (UH Manoa, 1999), and Post-Baccalaureate in Secondary Science Education.
            Violeta Arnobit, awardee in Entrepreneurship, is CEO of Ace Medical, Inc., which she has built into a multi-million dollar JACHO accredited durable medical equipment company from scratch. Her volunteer community services has included Board ofTrustees, Kapiolani Medical Center and Pali Momi; Board of Directors, Filipino Nurses Organization of Hawaii; Advisory Board to Education and GRC Committee, Healthcare Association of Hawaii; Advisory Committee, Durable Medical Equipment Regional Carriers; and Coordinating Committee for the Medically Fragile Kids, State of Hawaii. She is the only Certified Rahab Seating Specialist in the State. She has been presented the YWCA Leadership Award (2010), Nurse of the Year Excellence in Leadership Award (2009), Regional Winner, Home Based Business Advocate of the Year, U.S. Small Business Administration (2003), and Ernst & Young LLP Hawaii State Entrepreneur of the Year, Wholesale Division (1999).
            Ernesto G. Passion, awardee in Government Service, is the County Auditor, County of Kauai, the first to be appointed to the office. Before his appointment, he served as Deputy County Clerk, the first Filipino to hold such office in the County of Kauai. When he left the office, he successfully lobbied that another Filipino be appointed to the position, Eddie Topenio. He led a group that established a quality child care program which was later sold to Kauai Economic Opportunity in 1999 for KEO's Head Start program. He was recognized Minority Champion by the U.S. Small Business Administration (2008), and served as president and advisor of the Kauai Filipino Community Council. He obtained a Bachelor of Science in Commerce, Banking and Finance from St. Williams College, Laoag City; General Studies, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois; and MBA in General Management, also in Chicago.
            Mariano Torres, M.D., awardee in Medicine, is Medical Director, Kauai Care Center. He was a founding member of Hui Kolepa, LLC, a community project directed at "ending ICE" use in the community, and enrolling children into health alternatives. He joined the 2009 Aloha Medical Mission to Candon, Ilocos Sur, where he served 3,500 patients and conducted 250 surgical procedures, 50 of them major. He was recognized among the Best 50 Doctors in Internal Medicine (2009 and 2010), and received the Distinguished Service Award from the Kauai Chamber of Commerce. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, Univ. of Hawaii; and Doctor of Medicine, UH John A. Burns School of Medicine, and completed the UH Integrated Residency Program, Primary Care Track. His wife of 32 years, Antonette Abrahano, is the Director of Public Health Nursing for the Kauai District Health Office. Both of them volunteer their time to many community programs. They have raised their three sons, Michael, Mario and Noel in the same beneficent environment.
            Felipe A. Alcain, awardee in Volunteerism, is a retired Accounting Clerk/Bookkeeper. He has the heart of a volunteer and a spirit that has always shown in his readiness, willingness and availability to serve in community projects and activities. Organizations which have benefited from his volunteer work for more than 20 years past include the United Filipino Council of Hawaii, Molokai Island Community Council, Oahu Filipino Community Council, Laoaguenos of Hawaii (he was a co-organizer), Vigan Association of Hawaii, Ilocos Surian Association of Hawaii, San Estebanian of Hawaii, Sons & Daughters of San Esteban, and Fil-Am Sports USA. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the Far Eastern University (Manila). He is married to the former Josefina Salamat, and blessed with two children Annaliza and August.
            Franklin "Don" Pacarro, Jr., awardee in Law & Jurisprudence, is the Acting First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the City and County of Honolulu. From 1986, he has made a career out of prosecution, with an unbroken record of service under three different elected Prosecuting Attorneys. He successfully prosecuted over 40 homicide cases securing 21 life sentences among others. Then Prosecuting Attorney Peter Carlisle appointed him Chief of the Trials Division where he supervised 27 attorneys who handled over half of the felony cases in Honolulu. His volunteer work has included PAL Basketball KYAC, Kainalu Little League Baseball, Kailua Girls AYSO Soccer, Windward Tigers Basketball, Pop Warner Football - Moanalua Lions, Youth Athletic Club, Great Aloha Run, Bobby Benson Run, Cancer Walk for Life, Hotel Ass'n Charity Walk, Kids Day, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Troy Barboza Torch Run and the Polar Plunge benefiting Special Olympics. Born and raised in Honolulu, he attended St. Louis High School, UH Manoa, and obtained his Juris Doctor from UH William S. Richardson School of Law.
            Isaac Fiesta, awardee in Labor, is the president of ILWU 142. Graduating from Hilo High School in 1968, he started working for Pepeekeo Sugar Company shortly after graduation as knapsack sprayer. He worked his way up through various jobs such as equipment operator, senior truck driver, tire repair service and warehouse clerk. As a rank-and-file member, he became active in the unit leadership of ILWU Local 142, was elected business agent in 1991 and served as business agent until his election as president in November 2009. He served on the Honomu Community board, the Rural South Hilo Organization board, and on the Hamakua Coast Task Force at the demise of the sugar industry on the Big Island. He also served on the Hawaii County Commission for five years, and appointed to the State Land Use Commission for eight years.
            Rey & Cecille Piros, awardees in Media & Communication, are the founders and owners of KPMW Radio. They are the first Filipinos to own and operate a radio station on Maui. They provide public service announcements relating to education, immigration and other information useful to the community. They air news from the Philippines as well as local, national and world news in English and Ilocano. Among their latest community involvement was coordinating a radiothon "Operation Tulong" and raised funds for the victims of typhoon Ondoy in the Philippines. They are active in community activities especially those sponsored by Ilocos Surian Association of Maui, the Maui Filipino Community Council and Binhi At Ani. They are an independent business couple of more than 30 years. They own the Reycel Enterprises that include KPMW and a travel agency. They used to have a thriving business importing Philippine products which they distributed and sold throughout Maui, but they discontinued it when they decided to devote greater time to their radio station.
            Dawn Marie Bicoy, awardee in Science & Technology, is Community Affairs Manager of Monsanto Company. The company provides farmers the latest trends and technologies to help them more profitable on every acre. Hawaii has become the world's leading producer of seed corn, accounting for 96 percent of the state's $176 million Ag Biotech industry. Biotechnology goes far beyond Hawaii's shores, reaching the Philippines where Bt corn was the first genetically modified feed/food crop approved for commercial planting in Asia. Recognizing the world's increasing population and finite croplands nourished by stressed water resources to feed a growing world demand, the responsibility of biotechnology is an important part of the equation. As Community Affairs Manager of Monsanto, Dawn Marie was able to bring clarity to a prominent overseas news source regarding Hawaii water issues. She successfully led the Molokai Monsanto facility through an internal Environmental, Safety and Health audit resulting in the site being classified as "exemplary" and ranked in the top 5% nationally.
            Wade S. Gesteuyala, awardee in Hospitality Industry, is the manager of Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki & Golf Club. He has been recognized Manager of the Year, and has won for his hotel the Outdoor Circle's award for Outstanding Landscape in the Community. His past or present activities include Boys Scouts of America, AYSO Soccer, Westin Hotels Corporate Director of Restaurant Training program, Westin Hotels Interactive Management Training program, Hawaii International Hotel Institute Rooms Director Training, Advance Strategic Planning Analysis (Hilton International Bangkok), Hawaii Chapter of National Executive Housekeepers Association (Board of Director, vice president, Program and Education Director), Host Pacific Hospitality Magazine (Contributing Editor), Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association (Housekeeping Chairperson). He attended Damien Memorial High School and obtained his degree in Business Administration from UH Manoa.
            Alyssa Mia Reyes, awardee for Outstanding Youth, has won the titles of Miss Teen Hawaii-World and Miss Teen Hawaii Filipina (2009). She represented Hawaii in the Miss Teen USA-World. A well-rounded young woman, she combines her commitment to academic excellence by being in the honor roll at James Campbell High School and this fall she starts her journey to higher learning at UH Manoa. Among others, she translates her passion for self-development through dancing hula since age nine, dabbling in wrestling, ukulele playing, and even jewelry making. She choreographs her own hula performances using classic Filipino love songs such as "Kapantay Ay Langit" and "Ikaw" increasing the awareness of locally-bred young Filipinos to beautiful Filipino music. At a young age, she has been involved in many civic, health and community service programs. These include visitations at children's hospitals, entertaining patients of nursing homes, feeding the homeless, soliciting and distributing toys and clothing to underprivileged children, promoting child abuse prevention. She donated her $1,000 cash for winning the Miss Laoag International Pageant to the Arts Program of Ilocos Norte National High School.

            During the event, the re-affirmation of commitment of the newly elected UFCH officers was officiated by Hon. Leoncio Cardenas, Jr., consul general of the Philippines. 
            Those sworn to office were: Lynne Gutierrez, president; Norma Barroga, vice-president; Doris Saribay, secretary; Ben Pulido, treasurer; and Domie Bucasas, auditor.
            Members of the Board of Governors are Edwin Ranan, Big Island; Jean Sumagit, Lanai; Moses Luczon, Molokai; Ryan Piros, Maui; Abe Iloreta, Angel Acorda, Kauai; Arnold Villafuerte, Ben Cabreros, Amado Yoro, Oahu.
            The island council presidents are Christina Ranan, Big Island; Juaghn Degamo, Lanai; Benny Piros, Molokai; Herman Andaya, Maui; Liza Trinidad, Kauai, and Maria Etrata, Oahu.
            Eddie Agas, Sr. is the immediate past president; Donnie Juan serves as the legal counsel. 
            Gutierrez, a public school teacher, has been a civic and community leader for many years, and had been president of the Oahu Filipino Community Council. 

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