LIHUE — Kauai Council Chair Mel Rapozo joked that when he visited the Philippines at the invitation of Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., he discovered many similarities with Kauai.
“The place looks like here,” he said. “They have a lot of Filipinos.”
The light-heartedness aside, Rapozo said the Philippines have things Kauai can learn from.
“Everywhere we went, the place was clean,” Rapozo said. “We can learn that from the Philippines. How do they keep everything so clean?”
Rapozo was one of about 100 people participating in the sister city signing ceremony between the County of Kauai and the City of Davao under the morning sun at the Moikeha Building where City of Davao Mayor Sara Duterte was discretely passed with napkins to dab the perspiration.
“As the world continues to evolve, the challenges we face become increasingly complex,” Duterte said. “Now, more than ever, there is value in learning continuously, and in collaborating with others to find solutions to address concerns that we may face.”
The sister city signing marks the fifth sister city from the Philippines that the County of Kauai has affirmed since 1991, including relationships with the Muncipality of Santa, Province of Iloco Sur (1991), Municipality of Bangue, Province of Abra (2000), Municipality of Urdaneta, Province of Pangasinan (2000), and City of Laoag, Province of Ilocos Norte (2011).
“Through these sister city relationships, I have had the opportunity to visit the Philippines and learn firsthand how Hawaii and the Philippines are separated by ocean but connected by our sense of family, and our dedication toward building our youth, our connection to our culture and heritage,” Carvalho said.
Carvalho shared some of the culture with Duterte, including the presentation of a rare feather lei, an oli from Kumu Leina‘ala Pavao Jardin of Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala, and hula.
“This is about partnership and creating and fortifying an open communicative atmosphere to induce a heightened exchange of ideas, particularly in tourism and culture, agriculture, and trade and commerce,” Carvalho said.
“With the signing of the sister city relationship with Davao City today, we will continue to grow and nurture our relationship with our sisters and brothers,” he said. “Together, we continue to build a better tomorrow, and make each day better than the last. But we must always keep our cultures and traditions close to our hearts.”