Kaua’i Filipino chorale performs at opening of Legislature today

Members of the Kauai Filipino Centennial Chorale will become part of the history of the Hawai’i state Legislature today.

The chorale members, under the direction of Helen Sina of Lihu’e, will perform the national anthem and “Hawai’i Pono’i” during the opening ceremonies of the 2006 House legislative session in the state Capitol.

Thirty-six members of the 49-member group are scheduled to perform shortly after 10 a.m. Thirteen of the members will not be attending the ceremony due to prior obligations, according to Ernesto “Ernie” Pasion, deputy county clerk and a chorale member.

Sina is dean of instruction at Kaua’i Community College in Puhi.

The presentation by the singing group will mark the first time a Kaua’i group has been invited to perform at the start of a state legislative session, Pasion believes.

In a letter to Pasion, Speaker of the House Calvin K.Y. Say said he was impressed by the group’s performance during a gala dinner at the Hilton Hawaiian Village held on Dec. 10, marking the official opening ceremonies of 2006 as the 100th anniversary of the arrival in Hawai’i of the first Filipino immigrants.

The chorale members had been invited by leaders of the Hawaii Filipino Centennial Commission to perform the national anthems of the United States and the Philippine Islands, and “Hawai’i Pono’i,” the state song.

Say indicated the group members’ performance last month convinced him that the chorale members would add to the festivities of the state legislative opening today.

The travel and hotel costs for the 49-member group for last month’s trip were covered from the budget of the Kauai Filipino Centennial Celebration Committee and the chorale members, Pasion said.

In praising members of the Kaua’i singing group, Say said that, while he is of Chinese ancestry, his family roots are in Hanalei, and he stands “in admiration of all the accomplishments of the Hawai’i Filipinos.

“So, your appearance on opening day (of the state Legislature) is special to me as the presiding officer of the Hawai’i House (of Representatives).

Among the chorale group members anticipated to attend the event are Angel B. Acorda, Dr. Antolin Apalla Jr., Lourdes Barros, Claurino Bueno, Mary Jean A. Bueno, Jose Bulatao Jr., Nelly B. Capino, Virgie Cruzada, Trini Dela Cruz, Lita Dela Pena, Dr. Ramon Dela Pena, Luz Diaz, Lourdes Fajardo, Jovita Garces, Aurea Laymon, Rhoda Libre, JoAnne McDowall, Ireneo A. Pasamba, Edie Pasion, Ernesto Pasion, Anabel Portugal, Cesar Portugal, Oscar Portugal, Trini Raval, Helen M. Sina, Rudy L. Sina, Hannah S. Timbol, Liza C. Trinidad, Melba Ubongen, Millie Wellington, Rebecca Bernabe, Patricia Pablo, Antonette Torres, Elsie Pasol, Pike Velasco and Willy Ortal.

The officers of the Kauai Filipino Centennial Chorale are: Pasion, president, who holds a master’s degree in business administration; Lisa Trinidad, vice president, a registered nurse and administrator at the Kauai Care Center in Waimea; and Hannah Timbol, treasurer, a retired registered nurse.

The group will fly from Kaua’i to O’ahu this morning, and a motor coach will take the group to the state Capitol.

A staff person with the state House of Representatives will be at the Father Damien statue on Beretania Street on O’ahu to escort the group to the Capitol.

Following the performance, the group will fly back to Kaua’i, according to an itinerary.

They will also perform at the Kauai Filipino Centennial Celebration commemorative banquet at 6 p.m. on Saturday at the Kauai Beach Hotel & Resort (the old Radisson Kauai Beach Resort at Nukoli’i, near Hanama’ulu).

Over the past 100 years, those immigrants and succeeding generations became a major workforce in Hawai’i’s sugar industry, and contributed to the building of the society of the Hawaiian Islands.

Among the highlights of the evening program will be recognition of surviving “sakadas” (Filipino contract workers) living here on Kaua’i.

The oldest of 12 Kaua’i sakadas to be honored is Gregorio Oroc, a 102-year resident of Waimea, according to Pasion.

A youth string ensemble will render musical melodies, also under the direction of Sina.

Also participating in the program will be the “Bailes de Oro” dance troupe, under the direction of Jose Bulatao Jr.

The event is sponsored by leaders of the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce, and will include the installation of incoming board members for 2006, with Sonia Topenio to be installed as president.

Fifth Circuit Court Judge Kathleen Watanabe, who is part-Filipino, will be the keynote speaker.

For more information on the gala event, please contact Oscar Portugal, chairman of the Kauai Filipino Centennial Celebration Committee, at 245-6566 or 652-3849.

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