We Must Raise the Next Generation of Maui’s Filipino Leaders

We Must Raise the Next Generation of Maui’s Filipino Leaders

The topic of finding the next generation of Filipino leaders for Maui may be on your mind these days. It has definitely been on my mind for some time. To be candid, I am worried time is slipping away and it feels more and more like a ship with no captain at the steering wheel to guide it in the right direction.

Have you ever wondered why our Maui Filipino community is leaderless? Literally leaderless?

It has been essentially this way for the longest time—since the labor movement in the early 20s and 40s—since the construction of the Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center that brought the Maui Filipino community together in unity—since the Maui Centennial Celebration in 2006 commemorating our Sakadas—all activities and events that have helped Maui to become what is today.

We have not had a leader since. Is it because the Maui Filipino community does not want to be led? Or is it because we Filipinos are divided? Or is it because we are not powerful? Or is it because we do not see ourselves as deserving? Or is it simply because we just don’t care?

The question we might want to ask ourselves is How important is it for us to have a Filipino leader to speak for us, or carry our message, or promote our cause, who will have a positive impact on all of us here on Maui Nui. Are we willing to be satisfied and comfortable for non-Filipinos to speak for us, to carry our causes for us, even though they may not understand our rich culture and aspirations? … like our need for affordable housing, the urgency of protecting our jobs, especially for those who work in the visitor-related industry, healthcare and much more, as Filipino-Americans on Maui?

Filipinos are one of the largest ethnic groups—if not the largest—on Maui and for all of that, we have a noticeable absence of prominent Maui leaders mobilizing Filipinos, making a case for what affects us locally. We are undeniably the labor force making our County the worldwide island destination and highly appealing place to live that it is today.

What I love about being a Filipino-American living on Maui is how close we are as a community. We love to celebrate. We love to spend time with family. We don’t shake hands—we hug—it is like a huge kinship. We help each other in times of need. These qualities are what make us unique and special.

Leader? How do we define a leader? A leader is someone who inspires passion and motivation in followers. A leader is someone with a vision and the path to realize it. A leader is someone who does not seek power or fame. We need Filipino leaders who lead by example, who guide others through good behavior instead of empty words.

As we seek the next generation of Filipino leaders here on Maui, we must find those who possess humility, integrity, empathy, respectfulness, deep gratitude and no need for power. These are the qualities of good Filipino leaders who will advance our cause and make us proud to be Filipino here on Maui.

The key question we must confront is: How do we raise the next generation of Filipino leaders for Maui? We need to start investing in our young people by inspiring, encouraging, training and mentoring them in all areas of discipline in leadership rather than focusing most of our efforts and resources on cultural events and on parties.

Currently we have several Maui Filipino groups and organizations which may consider taking the lead in developing leadership cohorts to train our young Filipinos as the next generation of leaders. Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center is an ideal training center for such a significant endeavor—and one of the key purposes for its construction by our early Maui Filipino pioneers.

AND when we do this together and with common purpose, our future will be in good hands—with our next generation of Filipino leaders on Maui.