Here it is . . . January. My 3 word mantra: Endurance, Enlightenment and Empowerment.
I had the pleasure of emceeing the Martin Luther King Awards Banquet Dinner and was most impressed with the distinguished list of recipients from our community, including Maya Soetoro-Ng,
sister of presidential candidate Barack Obama.
It’s been also inspiring to see the tremendous support Senator Barack Obama has received not just locally, but nationally during his Presidential bid. We did his segment last summer and it aired in September. Who would have thought his campaign would bring such controversial and inspiring moments to the world! Good going for Hawaii’s native son.
Maya Soetoro-Ng and Emme during the
Martin Luther King Awards Banquet Dinner
This month was marked by the passing of a very special lady — Aunty Genoa Keawe. We had planned to do an update interview with her for our first show this season. Sadly, it turned out to be a farewell tribute, instead.
While filming this show on Valentine’s Day — it was an emotional moment for all our guests. Aunty had not passed away yet, but everyone was sharing how very special her life was to everyone.
During her services, five thousand people came through Borthwick Mortuary to sing, dance, reminisce and to say goodbye. At Laie, 24 pallbearers —all her grandsons— took turns carrying the matriarch to her final resting place.
I’m going to miss having our Filipino delicacy — mongo beans at Dalisay Café for our birthdays.
It was also a blast to catch up with Michael W. Perry and Larry Price. We filmed their interview in their KSSK Music Hall — what a great room. Wonderful quotes from two radio icons who are two very different people. We laughed and we got emotional here, too.
My most inspiring moment in February was visiting with Aunty Genoa in the hospital and sharing beautiful moments with her. We laughed about the past, held hands and she said “I love you,” her most touching way of saying ‘goodbye.’
It was a glittering evening at Nordstrom’s opening on March 5th at Ala Moana! I was dazzled by the marble all over the place and the quality of merchandise and personal service.The food was great and one waiter kept following me and making sure my champagne glass was NEVER empty.
It was an honor to be among 4 women recognized by the Hawaii Filipino Women’s Club for achievements in “mainstream Hawaii.”
Among the women were Maria Etrata for entrepreneurship, Rose Churma for architecture, Andrea Benitez in chemical and industrial engineering and your’s truly in journalism. It was also a dazzling cultural event with the Terno and Barong Tagalog Fashion competition. It reminded me of how important it is to appreciate one’s roots and the cultural aspects of one’s identity.
My class of ‘68 reunion was held at Halekoa Hotel this past March 29th. It was also a time for a reunion with former pep squad members, cheer-leaders and songleaders from Farrington High School. It was a wonderful evening reconnecting with classmates, sharing memories and favorite high school moments. No matter where you’ve gone in your life, when you return to old friends and schoolmates, you become a teenager again—even for just the evening.
It was an exciting Hawaiian Airlines Inaugural flight to Manila! A group of us from the Hawaii Filipino Community helped launch the first flight from Honolulu to Manila International Airport. It was a blast riding our “home airlines” to the Ninoy Acquino International Airport and flying back from Manila on Hawaiian with our local crew members.
In Manila, we spent 5-6 days taking in the sights of Manila, seeing the new Mega Shopping Centers and malls. I had the chance to film some of the excursion and even went to Divasoria—a real Manila shopping experience!
The photo you see is our group with Hawaiian Airlines President Mark Dunkerly after a reception at the Shangrila Hotel. Watch for an Island Moments special in Manila coming in October!
Hopefully, this new airline route will bridge even closer ties between Hawaii and The Philippines . . . a true “Mabuhay with Aloha” experience for all.
During my first show this year in March, I introduced a new segment called “Island Expressions.” My first feature was a poignant piece by the Waianae Seariders Production Company. Then juniors at Waianae High School, Brittany Gomes, Amber De Garma, and Amanda Robinson were featured in our show. They all graduated from Waianae High School, class of 2008, this May and we had a luncheon to celebrate their achievement.
We also worked on the video YWCA LeaderLuncheon for 2008 and honored Jenai Sullivan Wall of Foodland, former legislator Connie Chun, Morgan Stanley’s Gwen Pacarro and former UH Athletic Director Donnis Thompson. It will play as a special this summer. Click here to see show information.
We also began filming our summer special “Chefs Du Jour Island Moments”. The project allowed us to meet farmers and producers who supply Hawaii chefs with local food products and ingredients, like Dr. Cal Lum of North Shore Cattle Company who supplies great island beef. We interviewed the former zoo veterinarian — turned rancher on his Waialua ranch on horseback — which was the best part of the farm tour! The show airs this summer on September 4th.
The tables were turned—Philippine Mega Superstar Sharon Cuneta came to Hawaii to interview “successful” Filipinos. I was fortunate to be one of them along with Roland Casamina of House of Finance, Eddie Flores of L&L, and realtor Dol Bediones.
The response has been amazing!!!! I’ve been receiving about 20 emails a week since the broadcast in early July—wow from all over the world. I even found Tomimbang relatives in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and in Australia. The power of pinoy television!!!
In this month, we also filmed our Chefs Du Jour event at Tamarind Park. It features eleven top chefs including Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai. The hour-long “farm to table” special will air on September 4th and Chef Alan Wong makes his television debut as my co-host. Click here to see show information.
Thanks to all my production assistants who came on board for the multiple television broadcast production.
This was a sentimental month as we profiled 5 outstanding alumni from Farrington High School, my alma mater. Among the Farrington Alumni Governors Hall of Fame honorees, Jesse Sapolu, Jack and Cha Thompson, Romy M. Cachola, and the late Robert T. Kuroda and Kellet Min. Very inspiring stories from all of them — made me especially proud to be from Kalihi and to be a “Governor.”
It was especially sentimental to be with Farrington Football Championship Team players of 1966 . . . Stanley Cadiente, Pat Oka and then Honolulu Star Bulletin writer—and a good friend of Farrington from the early years, Jim Becker.
We also bring to television the YWCA of Oahu “Leadership Moments —
It was a most exciting month as we welcomed Presidential nominee Barack Obama to Hawaii. It was his first visit to the islands since December of ’06 when we first met.
It was also a privilege to coordinate the entertainment for his major fundraiser at The Kahala Hotel and Resort. Our entertainers included: Willie K, Hookena, Azure McCall, Tennyson Stephens, Raiatea Helm, Michael Pili Pang’s Halau Hula Ka No'eau, chanter Aaron Sala, and Miss Aloha Hula Kuhi Suganuma. Our favorite moment was backstage singing “Hawaii Aloha” with our favorite local boy running for President, Punahou’s Barack Obama.
My husband and I also had a wonderful experience attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver in late August. It gave us the opportunity to see Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, Michelle Obama and the presumptive nominee, Barack Obama, accept the nomination at Invesco Field in Denver. What a night!!!
My dear friend actor Jason Scott Lee married Diana Chan from Singapore and they invited family and close friends to their reception at Chai’s Island Bistro. Chai put out a beautiful spread, Robi Kahakalau entertained and guess who jumped up to emcee for my dear buddy? What a wonderful wedding reception at Aloha Tower for one of my favorite people. Good luck, Jason and Diana.
It was a month for a final rally to send off Maya Soetoro Ng (Barack’s sister) to the mainland to campaign. Our Kailua rally was attended by over 300 people and the energy and excitement for Barack is building!
What an exciting month for another dear friend — Chef Roy Yamaguchi! He had a lavish and glittering dinner event for 500 people at Pier 38 near the fish auction house. What a concept — dining under the stars for friends who paid $1000 a plate. Proceeds of the dinner will go to the Culinary Institute of the Pacific. The food kept coming from a group of his best chef friends from around the world. To name a few: Tetsuya Wakuda, Nobu Matsuhisa, Alan Wong, Charlie Trotter, Celestino Drago, and Francois Payard.
HAPPY 20TH ANNIVERSARY ROY YAMAGUCHI —
WHAT AN AMAZING SUCCESS STORY!
Chef Roy Yamaguchi and Emme
|It was also a great time to gather 20 of my longtime pals for ‘girlfriend therapy day’ at Nordstrom Ala Moana. We had lunch at Café — very nice atmosphere and reasonable! Then the store put on a seminar with beauty tips, how to look good in underwear, discounts, samples and personal shoppers to look after us. It was a great way to gather gal pals whom I haven’t seen in awhile and celebrate all their birthdays with them — all at once!
This was the month America voted for change and hope. It was also the month to see history unfold in Hawaii — our first island-born President-elect, Barack Obama.
I had the task of emceeing election night at Pearl Niteclub and watched with a crowd of 500 people glued to the TV set as we witnessed America elect its first African American to the White House. It made me think back to the time I first met him in December ’06 (see photo: September 2007 Newsletter) when he played golf with my husband. That time there were no secret service. His life has and will certainly change . . . but we hope to have him for a round of golf again.
On November 14th, I had the honor and privilege of emceeing and coordinating the tribute to Barack Obama’s grandmother Madelyn Dunham at Punchbowl Cemetery of the Pacific. What an amazing afternoon of wonderful sharing, reunion of her friends, those she mentored and people who simply came to honor her.
Unfortunately, she died two days before her grandson was elected President of the United States. But as I said on KHON2 News, “She had to let go to allow him to now take the reins of the world, and to become all that she has raised and groomed him to be. More importantly, she was watching all this unfold from a higher vantage point and was even closer now to Barack at each moment of his impending journey to the White House.”
Stanford Carr — one of my sponsors — became Santa Carr this holiday season. On Dec. 12th Carr sponsored a Willie K and Raiatea Helm Concert at the Turtle Bay Resort as a fundraiser for the Kahuku Charities. The Ko`olauloa Children’s Choir, Kahuku High School Athletic Department and the Na Kanalei Early Childhood Education were recipients. And the North Shore Community had a marvelous musical Christmas gift from Santa Carr.
This year my Christmas Island Moments TV special was taped at the City Hall Annual Honolulu City Lights display. Twenty trees decorated by City Hall employees graced Honolulu Hale and Michael Pili Pang’s Halau Hula Ka No`eau and Raiatea Helm brought beautiful holiday magic to the place. We had a wonderful holiday message from Maya Soetoro-Ng whose brother is now our Local Boy President, President Barack Obama.
It was “my” Christmas gift to learn that National Guard troops in Kuwait and Afghanistan were able to watch our Christmas television show. That was made possible by production assistant Joanne Corpuz who coordinated the entire project with Gay Dochin, my webmaster and Daniel Bernardoni, my editor. Mahalo for that special Christmas gift to all the troops!
Here are a few emails from troops and their families:
And finally, it was wonderful to have a few minutes with President Barack Obama during his visit in Hawaii. He seemed so relaxed and enjoying private time with his close family and friends. President Obama was extremely grateful to everyone who has assisted his family and been part of the historical campaign and election. He kept saying “thank you and please thank everyone for their wonderful support. I really appreciate what everyone has done for us.”