Maui Celebrates Filipino-American History Month

Philippine Flag Is Raised at County Building. Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival on October 20.

Alfredo G. Evangelista | Assistant Editor

Maui no ka oi! Maui is unparalleled! Maui is the best!

Its beaches, stately Haleakalā, the winding lush road to Hāna, the Mecca of whale watching, the food, and of course, the abundant Aloha Spirit.

As expressed in lyrics by the Rev. Samuel Kapu:

Majestic beyond compare

Is Maui in the calm

Proud, her mountain tops

For Maui excels

Indeed, Maui excels in so many ways.

As the State of Hawai‘i marks October as Filipino-American History Month, Maui celebrates it like no one else.

Philippine Flag Raising Ceremony

On Monday, October 1 at 10 a.m., while Sharon Zalsos Banaag sang Pambansang Awit, local members of the military raised the Philippine Flag at the County Building. As the County has allowed for the past nine years, the Philippine Flag will fly over the County Building throughout the month of October.

Maui remains the only County in Hawai‘i—and likely the entire United States—that raises the Philippine Flag (and keeps it there for the whole month).

Mayor Alan Arakawa presented to Jorge Tirona, president of the Maui Filipino Chamber Foundation, a proclamation declaring the month of October 2018 as Filipino American History Month throughout the County of Maui.

Following the flag raising, Mayor Alan Arakawa presented to Jorge Tirona, president of the Maui Filipino Chamber Foundation, a proclamation declaring the month of October 2018 as Filipino American History Month throughout the County of Maui and invited “all residents to attend the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival to discover the cultural diversity that makes Maui a special place to work, play and live.”

In turn, Tirona responded, “Thank you to the Mayor and the County, thank you to all the friends and supporters of the Chamber and its various programs and projects and Activities, not just today or this month but all through the year, year in and year out. Your generous and enthusiastic help and participation allows the Chamber, a 100 strong organization of professionals, entrepreneurs and companies, to fulfill its primary mission of promoting and growing business in the Maui Filipino community, ultimately helping to keep Maui itself the great, diverse and thriving community that it is.”

Mayor Alan Arakawa has presided over eight of the Philippine Flag Raising ceremonies while then-Mayor Charmaine Tavares presided over the first two. Query: Will the next Maui Mayor also allow the Philippine Flag to be raised during the month of October at the County of Maui? Inquiring minds want to know whether Maui will continue the tradition!

Tina Santos of Paradise Supermart flashes a shaka sign!
Photo: Basilia Evangelista

After the brief ceremonies which Rowena Dagdag-Andaya, Deputy Director of the Department of Public Works hosted, La Galería Kūpuna Bailarines (performing La Jota), Miss Hawai‘i Filipina 2018 Joylene Nina Tabon (singing Wag Ka Nang Umiyak) and Miss Maui Filipina 2018 Vanessa Joy Baldos (performing Binasuan) entertained the audience gathered on the Kalana O Maui Building lawn.
As a special surprise, a preview of the Speedy Balut Eating Contest® was held featuring Maui Filipino Chamber Foundation president Jorge Tirona, Immediate Past President Sharon Zalsos Banaag, and past presidents Melen Agcolicol, Virgilio Agcolicol, and Kit Zulueta. Tirona won the battle of the presidents. But perhaps the real winners were those who received the extra balut donated by Tina Santos.

For those not that interested in balut, the food vendors who will be participating at the upcoming Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival®—Paradise Supermart Fast Food & Catering; CAA Market Place; RM Mini Mart, Fastfood & Catering; Vidad’s Local Kind Grindz; and Wailuku Seafood Center—offered food samples (pansit, adobo, ice cream).

A Philippine Flag Raising Ceremony, Free entertainment, Free balut, Free food. That’s why Maui nō ka ‘oi!

And yes, there’s more!

Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival®

The 2018 Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® presented by the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce Foundation will take place on Saturday, October 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Queen Kaahumanu Center.
The Festival, which began in 2011, is the premier event in the State of Hawai‘i that celebrates the month of October as Filipino-American History Month, as established by Hawai‘i law (Act 15, 2008).

The findings of the Hawai‘i State Legislature in passing the landmark legislation–H.B. 3343 principally authored by then-Representative Joey Manahan (Hawai‘i was the first state to enact legislation establishing October as Filipino-American History Month) are important and bear repeating:

“[T]he writings and teachings of American history have often overlooked the historical role of Asian-Americans, including the role of Filipino-Americans”

“The earliest documented presence of Filipinos in America was in 1587 in California and a settlement on the bayous of Louisiana in 1763, when seamen, later called Manilamen, jumped ship during the Spanish galleon trade era.”

“Filipino-Americans continue to make a lasting impact on the history and heritage of Hawai‘i and the United States.”

“[T]here have also been critical economic, cultural, social, and other notable contributions by Filipino-Americans to the development of United States history.”

“[T]he prominence of Hawai‘i’s Filipino and Filipino-American population warrants an official commemoration of the history and heritage of Filipino-Americans.”

The Santo Niño organization will once again grace the stage with beautiful dances and pageantry. Last year, they brought music and dance that was a delight to the senses!
Photo: Basilia Evangelista

HB 3343 designated the month of October as “Filipino-American History Month” to “commemorate the contributions of Filipino-Americans to the history and heritage of Hawai‘i and the United States.” The bill was signed by the governor and became law (Act 15, 2008) and is codified at Hawai‘i Revised Statutes Section 8-18.

Some folks may wonder why the month of October was selected. The earliest record of Filipinos in the United States was in October 1587 when Filipinos landed in Morro Bay, now known as San Luis Obispo, in California–four hundred and thirty one years ago.

And yes, Filipinos arrived thirty-three years before the Pilgrims arrived in New England on November 11, 1620.

Oh wow! We got history!

“As we’ve said from its inception in 2011, ‘The Maui Filipino Chamber Foundation believes it is important to share our culture, our heritage, as well as our business community, with residents and tourists alike. The Filipino community has so much to share and this Festival is just a small glimpse of what our Filipino community has to offer.’ In 2018, we will continue to offer the favorite combinations of food, kiddie events, back-to-back entertainment, contests, and more to celebrate our history and heritage,” said Melen Agcolicol, chairperson of this year’s Festival.

The Anykine Adobo Contest® brings fresh twists and new ideas to the often staid and eternal “cannot-go-wrong” adobo recipe.
Photo: Caesar Lizada

Food… in so many ways

What’s a festival without food… Filipino food? This year’s food vendors (Paradise Supermart Fast Food & Catering; CAA Market Place; RM Mini Mart, Fastfood & Catering; Vidad’s Local Kind Grindz; and Wailuku Seafood Center) promise to provide ono stuff like adobo, bbq, bangus, beef steak, bibingka, cascaron, chicharon, dinardaraan, fried rice omelet, halo halo, ice cream, longanisa, lumpia, pancit, pinakbet, pork and peas, puto, salted egg, sweet rice, tocino, and a whole bunch of Filipino desserts, pastries, snacks and more!

Mg Pedrings Cart sponsored by Friends of Michael Victorino. Ring! Ring! If you see the colorful two-wheeled wooden cart painted in pink at the Festival, you can purchase ice candy (coconut and avocado flavors) at two for three scripts ($3 equivalent) or four for five scripts ($5 equivalent). It’s going to be a super hot day so you don’t want to miss out. Only six hundred were made so get them while they’re available!

Like last year, the Festival requires scripts only (vendors will not accept cash). Payment for scripts will be by cash and credit cards; no checks will be accepted. You will be able to buy scripts from three set locations and two mobile locations.

The Any Kine Adobo® Contest sponsored by Tante’s Island Cuisine is a call to all would-be chefs. Dominic Suguitan and Jorge Tirona, who claim to be master adobo eaters are coordinating this event. Their question is two-fold: Got Adobo? Do you believe you can adobo bamboo shoots, chicken, goat, okra, pork, squid, or just any kine? To prove it, enter the Contest and if you are the winner, you will win $500 cash/prizes. Restricted to the first seven participants only and the participant must be at the Festival by 9:30 a.m. with their entry, which must be enough to fill thirty five (35) portions (2 ounce containers). If you can’t cook and you want to participate in the contest, find Jeanice Santiago and sign up with her to be one of the 30 Guest Judges.

Chef Jonathan Pasion of Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort will return to defend his title of Master P-Noy Chef® at the event’s Cook Off.
Photo: Caesar Lizada

Folks will not want to miss the fan favorite Master P-Noy Chef® Cook Off. Chef Jonathan Pasion of Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort will return to defend his title. Pasion, fresh back from winning The Good Taste Series Americas Regional Competition featuring eleven chefs from Hyatt Hotels in North America, will face off against challengers.

The theme of this year’s Cook Off is “Comfort Food” and the Chefs will compete in a culinary competition and be judged on execution of the final product, taste and most unique interpretation of the Filipino culinary heritage. On site, there will be a common pantry that will include a variety of traditional protein used in Filipino dishes (for example fish, poultry, beef, pork, or goat) a variety of dried herbs, noodles, an array of fresh vegetables (for example marrungay, sweet potato leaves, okra, and paria) and a Mystery Basket of ingredients. Each Chef will be allowed to bring one assistant from their own staff.

Although it is a friendly competition for a year of bragging rights, the winner will be awarded a special prize from Kā‘anapali Beach Hotel. (Past winners are Sheldon Simeon (2011), Joey Macadangdang (2012, 2013, 2014), Ritchard Cariaga (2015), and Gemsley Balagso (2016)). Will Pasion repeat? Come on down and find out!

Who doesn’t love free toys, snacks, money? Kids gather round for the Pabitin At The Fest, and vie for the prizes hidden it the Pabitin balag, or lattice.
Photo: Alfredo Evangelista

Kiddie Events

There’s a number of fun events for kids…and you may even win a prize.

Pabitin at the Fest! sponsored by Friends of Justin Woodson is a fun event for kids. The Pabitin, which originated from Spain, is a popular game at fiestas and birthday parties. A lattice of bamboo sticks, called a balag, is suspended and lowered and raised quickly. The balag contains bags filled with toys, snacks, coins, and other items. The Pabitin will be held at 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., and 2 p.m. So kids, practice your jumping skills!

Students from University of Hawai‘i Maui College’s Kabatak Club stroll around the Queen Ka‘ahumanu selling Ice Candy from Mg. Pedring’s cart.
Photo: Caesar Lizada

Your Name in Baybayin. Even before the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, Filipinos were literate and had their own script/alphabet–Baybayin. At the Festival, the Kabatak Club from the University of Hawai‘i Maui College will assist you in writing your name in Baybayin. There will be a limited amount of bamboo available (first fifty) to inscribe your name. Get there early!



Oh Wow! Parol Making Contest® will challenge the creativity of the young ones who attend the festival. First, second and third place awards await those bold enough to enter.
Photo: Basilia Evangelista

Oh Wow! Parol Making Contest®

sponsored by Wailuku Seafood Center LLP. The first fifty youth will be provided a FREE Christmas parol making kit. Basic materials of glue, crepe paper, and cellophane will also be provided and you may bring your own special materials. Sorry but you can’t bring it home to finish. The criteria for judging will be originality, workmanship, creativity, and “The Oh Wow!” factor. All parols will be displayed through December at Wailuku Seafood Center. The first place winner will receive $250 in cash while second place will receive $150 in cash and third place will receive $75 in cash. Remember, the parols must be completed on-site.
Back-to-Back Cultural Entertainment

Students from University of Hawai‘i Maui College’s Kabatak Club academic, cultural and artistic contribution to the festival will leave you with your name written in Baybayin—Filipino’s original handwritten script.
Photo: Basilia Evangelista

Who says Maui doesn’t have great cultural entertainment? But we’re not talking about hula, Taiko, or even a Chinese lion dance. The Festival’s back-to-back entertainment will be strictly Filipino cultural entertainment (not even an English song!) After all, we’re celebrating Filipino-American History month.

The entertainment will showcase Maui’s Filipino talents that will include songs and dances of the Philippines. Come early and find a seat because you won’t want to give up your space.

Entertainers will include Angelina Abapo, Good Shepherd Episcopal Church Filipino Folk Dance Troupe, Kalimaya Herrera, La Galería: Compañía Baile Filipino, and the Sto. Niño Organization.
Hosting this year’s Festival will be Neldon “AZD” Mamuad of

How speedy are you at eating a partially developed chick fetus cooked in an egg? A $500 prize awaits the bold one who takes the dare, and wins this annual event—the Speedy Balut eating contest.
Photo: Alfredo Evangelista


Another Festival favorite is the Speedy Balut Eating Contest® sponsored by Esteban Construction. Yes, balut is rumored to be a natural aphrodisiac but the Festival is featuring a balut eating contest because it’s a wild, crazy, and fun event! The winner will win a $500 cash prize. Entrants must be experienced balut eaters. The first four to complete eating one balut will proceed to the final round, where they will be required to eat two baluts. The speedy one wins!

The Polvoron Challenge: Eat&Tweet® sponsored by Benjamin Acob, Attorney at Law asks two questions “Do you know how to whistle?” and “Can you do it after eating Polvoron?” Polvoron originated from Spain and is similiar to a crumbly shortbread made of powdered milk, toasted flour, and butter. And it tastes good! The contest combines one’s ability to eat polvoron and tweet (not electronically, of course, but a whistle–sort of the Filipino version of eating saltine crackers and saying “Polly wants a cracker”)! If you’re first, you will win a $500 cash prize. The first four to complete eating one Polvoron and tweeting will proceed to the final round, where they will be required to eat two Polvoron and tweet. First one to eat&tweet wins!

What brings you joy? We hope you find it, being this year’s theme for this year’s Pinoy Artist Contest.
Photo: Basilia Evangelista

The Pinoy Artist Contest sponsored by Mass Mutual Pacific is coordinated by Elsa Agdinaoay-Segal. This year’s theme is “Finding Paradise (What Brings You Joy)” and only two-dimensional art (no larger than 24 inches by 18 inches, matting excluded) will be accepted. The age categories are: Grades K–5; Grades 6–8; Grades 9–12; and adult. All artwork must be submitted to Agdinaoay-Segal at CAA Marketplace, 960 Lower Main Street in Wailuku, by appointment only. Please contact Agdinaoay-Segal at (808) 276-6946. Art may be submitted at Queen Kaahumanu Center on Wednesday, October 19 but please contact Agdinaoay-Segal. The first place in theme will be awarded $250 in cash while second place in theme will be awarded $150 in cash and third place in theme will be awarded $75 in cash. Art submitted for the Maui Fair will be accepted. And yes, because the Contest brings together art work from Maui’s artists of all ages and of all ethnicities, you don’t have to be Pinoy to join the contest!

And More….

Featuring those in Maui’s hotel industry, the We Got History Exhibit® is sure to inform you about the trend in the top-grossing industry of not only our island but of the entire state of Hawai‘i. You’ll find Filipinos to be immersed and becoming industry leaders in this sector.
Photo: Basitlia Evangelista

We Got History Exhibit® sponsored by Bayer. As in prior years, the Festival will include a historical exhibit. This year the exhibit will feature those in the hotel industry.

if you’re lucky, you could be leaving on a jet plane. If you come early and stay the whole day, don’t forget to register for the round trip from Honolulu to Manila, economy class, on Philippine Airlines through the courtesy of Sol Solleza, who will again sponsor airfare.
Photo: Basilia Evangelista

Leaving on a Jet Plane… Yes, if you’re lucky, you could be leaving on a jet plane. If you come early and stay the whole day, don’t forget to register for the… yes, Philippine Airlines through the courtesy of Sol Solleza, will again sponsor airfare, round trip from Honolulu to Manila, economy class. And yes, Philippine Airlines will donate two trips!

Certain restrictions apply including but not limited to: one entry per person, must be at least eighteen years of age, and must be present, with proper identification that matches your entry, to win.

Corporate and Community Support. The Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® is being supported by a number of companies and community groups who believe in its importance and significance. “Local sponsor support is so vital to the Festival’s success,” said Agcolicol. “Without our sponsors, the Maui Filipino Chamber Foundation would not be able to showcase our culture, heritage, history and growing number of Filipino businesses on Maui. So we are extremely grateful for our sponsors.”

Major Sponsors include Bayer, Philippine Airlines, County of Maui, HMSA, Western Union, ILWU, Alexander &Baldwin, McDonald’s, Wailuku Seafood Center, Tante’s Island Cuisine, Friends of Justin Woodson, Friends of Michael Victorino, Esteban Construction, LLC, Benjamin Acob, Attorney at Law, MassMutual Pacific, Renato & Maria A.F. Etrata Foundation, Queen Kaahumanu Center, Maui Culinary Academy, Lizada Photography, and Ramar Food.

Yes, this Festival has something for everyone–delicious Filipino food to eat and take home, challenging contests with prizes, interesting displays, continuous and multi-talented Filipino entertainment—a terrific way to celebrate Filipino-American History Month and to support Filipino businesses.

So come and enjoy the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® on Saturday, October 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center.
And you’ll see why Maui nō ka ‘oi!

And maybe you’ll be singing the chorus to Ku‘u Home O Maui Nō Ka ‘Oi:

Oh, oh
Maui is the best
Oh, oh
My home, Maui is the best

Alfredo G. Evangelista is a graduate of Maui High School, the University of Southern California, and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. He is a sole practitioner at Law Offices of Alfredo Evangelista, A Limited Liability Law Company, concentrating in estate planning, business start-up and consultation, non-profit corporations, and litigation. He has been practicing law for 35 years (since 1983) and returned home in 2010 to be with his family and to marry his high school sweetheart, the former Basilia Idica. In 2011, Evangelista started the Maui Fil-Am Heritage Festival® and served as Event Chairperson from 2011-2015.