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Arakaki gets past crossroad

LIHU‘E — The decision to be a manager rather than a player of a sport she loved was a hard one to make.

But that demonstrated the will and determination of Natasha Arakaki, a senior at Kaua‘i High School who went on to win the 2006 Miss Kauai Filipina crown before a standing ovation at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall Saturday night.

Arakaki, the daughter of Bill and Blanche Arakaki of Wailua, looked helplessly at emcees Malisa Pegeder and David Bice as she stumbled through her emotional presentation during the terno (formal Filipino gown) speech phase of the competition.

A participant in the recent Shattered Dreams program at Kaua‘i High School, Arakaki said, “I thought it would be ‘shed a few tears when I was told my twin sister Alison was the victim of a drunk driver.’ But, when I saw her lying there, it made me realize that it could really happen.”

“Sports has taught me that you never win by yourself,” Arakaki said in response to a question by judge Janie Whitehead, store manager for the Kaua‘i Wal-Mart.

“There’s always someone to help, and playing sports has taught me that I’ll always have someone to help me reach where I want to be.”

En route to winning the crown, Arakaki also earned the Best in Swimsuit special award.

Ashley Naka‘ahiki, a student at Kaua‘i Community College, earned the first runner-up berth as well as securing trophies as Miss Congeniality, Miss Popularity (souvenir book advertisement sales), and Best in Talent for her interpretive dance to “Purple Rain” that she dedicated to the victims of the recent mudslide in the Philippines. Naka‘ahiki rounded out her awards with the Best in Terno Speech.

Using her associate’s degree, Naka‘ahiki plans to pursue a degree in architecture so she can contribute to building homes for the homeless.

“Dance has given me confidence and self-esteem,” Naka‘ahiki responded to Judge Peggy Cha, the chancellor at KCC.

“My background in the arts has taught me to come up with a dream, and how to reach it. This is my goal: to become an architect so I can help build for the homeless.”

Savannah Tomacder, another senior at Kaua‘i High School, was named the second runner-up at the 48th Annual Miss Kaua‘i Filipina Scholarship pageant that was sandwiched between the day-long Filipina Fiesta and a Society of Seven show at the convention hall.

Tomacder earned the Most Beautiful Terno award for her white gown adorned with embroidered sampaguita. Tomacder also garnered awards as Miss Photogenic and Miss Popularity (ticket sales).

Arakaki’s cache of awards for being selected the 2006 Miss Kauai Filipina includes her participation in the 2006 Miss Hawaii Filipina pageant that will take place in July in Kona.

Arakaki also received a number of prizes, including a $2,500 cash scholarship awarded by the Kauai Filipino Community Council, the host of the pageant, and various community donors.

Naka‘ahiki and Tomacder also received a wide variety of gifts, including cash scholarships of $1,000 and $800 respectively.

Adams Bulosan was the chairman of the scholarship pageant.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@kauaipubco.com.

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