Filipino Chamber honors volunteers, hears from Kini Zamora

What makes the Filipino Chamber of Commerce so successful was made clear Saturday night. Time and time again.

“What really makes our organization thrive are the people behind it,” said Bennette Misalucha, emcee of the chamber’s awards and installation gala attended by about 120 people at the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort.

Under the leadership of President Bobby Ayonon, and backed by dedicated and energetic volunteers who gave their time and talents, the chamber remains a key player on the island.

“So tonight, we honor these volunteers,” Misalucha said.

Awards went to:

w Volunteer of the Year: Chuck Lasker, Social Kauai

w Chairperson of the Year: Eddie Topenio, County of Kauai

w Entrepreneur of the Year: Dr. Addison Bulosan, Specific Chiropractic

w Outstanding Officer of the Year: Cristeta Owan, Paradise Tax and Accounting Service/Subway

w Individual Member of the Year: Art Umezu, County of Kauai

w Corportate Member of the Year: Marynel Valenzuela, InkSpot Quality Printing Corp.

w Meritorious Director of the Year: Dr. Arnulfo Diaz

Mayor Bernard Carvalho, Jr. praised the chamber for its diversity and generosity, its commitment to helping students shine, with everybody working together to strengthen Kauai.

“Your service to our community is very important,” he said. “It’s important to support you and all the work you do.”

The mayor announced that he and other officials will be going to the Philippines on a trade mission.

“It’s all about reaching out and connecting,” he said.

Carrice Caspillo Gardner, Gov. David Ige’s representative on Kauai, said, “Filipinos have played an important role in shaping Kauai’s rich culture and history.”

“Because of your efforts, our local economy is stronger and there are more opportunities for entrepeneurs,” she said.

The keynote speaker was Kini Zamora, an award-winning international designer from Oahu who was a Project Runway finalist and all-star.

Despite his success, Zamora laughed about being nervous in front of big crowds. He told of being rejected five times in his bid to be on Project Runway before finally being selected to appear on the show. Since, he has started his company, has earned nationwide recognition for his work and continues to create fashions that dazzle.

He shared his story because he wanted to inspire young people to follow their dreams and believe “whatever they want to do can really happen.”

“I mean, 20 years ago fashion wasn’t a big thing and now it is. And I have a business and career in the fashion industry and it’s what I do every single day and it’s something I love to do every single day. So you can’t say it will never happen.”

He wants young people interested in fashion design to know “the whole life of this world is possible here in Hawaii, not only in New York.

“I can see that spirit and vibe really growing,” he said.

His parents lived paycheck to paycheck, but provided a strong family that supported and loved each other.

That, Zamora said, gives him the courage to push ahead in a tough industry.

“That’s what I live by today,” he said.

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