Editor’s Note: When preparing to vote for our next mayor, we might find it challenging to consider all the solutions proposed by candidates without first knowing the history and nature of the related problems that exist in Honolulu. We are all impacted differently by social and economic issues, systems and laws. But if we learn about each candidate’s story as a human being — their roots, values and motivation — we know the person we are voting for, not just the politician. Therefore we have curated the following questions to learn about these candidates beyond their resumés. Except for a few technical edits, these are printed as received from the candidates.

THE HAWAI‘I HERALD: Why are you running for mayor of the City and County of Honolulu?

KEITH AMEMIYA: I was born and raised on O‘ahu and have lived here my entire life. Hawai‘i is my home, and I want to keep it the special place that it is for many generations to come. When I headed the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, I visited every community in the state, sat in garage talk stories, volunteered at sporting events, and built relationships, particularly with working families. They shared with me stories about the impossible choices they have to make: spending time with their family or working multiple jobs, taking care of their health or working to get healthcare benefits, and paying for housing or paying for good food. Our families deserve better — they deserve housing they can afford, a good job, and the ability to live beyond paycheck to paycheck. I’m running with the hopes to create a better life for all of us who love O‘ahu.

I’m a first-time candidate, but I have extensive leadership experience in the public, private and non-profit sectors. My top priorities are helping to lead our economic and health recovery, ensuring safe and affordable housing for all O‘ahu residents and seriously addressing homelessness.

RICK BLANGIARDI: Honolulu is at a crossroads.

I believe there has never been a time in Honolulu’s history where there are so many major issues and tough problems confronting our community.

Homelessness, the rail project, crime, sea-level rise and now the most pressing concern for us, the economic and public health crisis of COVID-19.

I decided to run because we are not just experiencing these crises, but a crisis in leadership. Our community needs a leader that is willing to take on these challenges, shake up the status quo in Honolulu and always make the responsible choice for our people, no matter how difficult it may be.

With all that being said, it was also a love of place, and a love of our people, that compelled me to run. I want to make sure our home is always a place where we feel welcomed and where we can all succeed.

I believe that despite the hardships we’re facing this is now our opportunity to make our home an even better place. However, it is going to take a good leader, making many difficult decisions to get us through this. I am prepared to lead and make those decisions.

COLLEEN HANABUSA: Following my unsuccessful 2018 gubernatorial bid, I thought I would settle back into private life and eventually retirement. However, Honolulu has changed — and continues to change — in many ways that are not good for our future. Working-class families were already struggling to afford housing or to buy homes and pay for the high cost of living here. Homelessness burdens every community on O‘ahu and never seems to get any better. Public confidence in government has reached an all-time low after federal convictions and investigations. Unfortunately, things are likely only to get harder with COVID-19 and those economic impacts.

The next mayor cannot just pick up the pieces where we left off before the COVID crisis. The next mayor must have the ability to work collaboratively with the federal government and state government to come up with an integrated plan to address Honolulu’s needs, especially because resources will be scarce. The next mayor needs to be able to work with our communities and bring together business, unions, nonprofits and government to make Honolulu a better place. We can’t afford to have governance that requires a long learning curve. We don’t have the time and luxury for that. We’ll need leadership that hits the ground knowing who to work with and what needs to be done.

I am running because I believe I have the skills and vision to help restore our faith in tomorrow’s Honolulu.

MUFI HANNEMANN: We are in a very difficult time in our history. The pandemic and resulting economic crash demand a mayor with proven leadership experience, someone who is willing to make the tough, informed decisions that will revitalize our economy and return us to the sound footing we need to provide essential City services, ensure public safety and invest in our infrastructure.

AUDREY KEESING: I woke up on the Memorial Day weekend and decided to write down three complaints I had about the City and County. In a few minutes I had written down 12 issues. The first issue is that there should be two Mayors someday in the future. We should keep the country country and make Hawai‘i self-sufficient and sustainable. The City development should plan for rising sea levels. The second is that we should eliminate the Federal weed and seed district in Chinatown. If you are arrested there for drug crimes or sit and lie, you get sent to the Federal court which is the middle courtroom at 1111 Alakea. We cannot have parts of City and County that are under Federal jurisdiction. Lots of young people go there for dinner, drinks, comedy and street fairs and they are oblivious to this zoning put forward to weed out the bad to put in the good (gentrification). Obviously this hasn’t really worked. It feels morally unfair to have a few soup kitchens there and federal policing. My third idea is to have a City Department of Health responsible for helping people who are homeless who depend on City and County parks.

Public health workers will help people make IDs, which will allow homeless to get the medical care and SNAP benefits and put them on the path to housing. HUD section 8 housing was only $150k out of the whole budget this year. That’s federal money or free money going into Hawaii and there is 800 million dollars available, so we need more. Whether people need Steadfast, Rehab or VA housing and MedQuest, we will support homeless recovery. We will fix the plumbing fixtures, install more drinking fountains and water spouts and put soap dispensers in all the bathrooms. We must put rubbish and recycling bins by every bus stop and shade bus goers from the hot sun.

I decided to take out the paperwork to get signatures the next day. I ran my first campaign in 1996 for “same-sex” marriage, as it was called before, and I only received $20 from my father. He said, “Why are you running to lose?” (with that issue). My parents were liberal Democrats but when I came out as bisexual in high school, they hoped it was a phase. I told my father that I had met Geraldine Ferraro at the U.N. Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, and she had said if my ideas weren’t out there, I should run for them. I got 13% of the vote against two married family men and a letter of Commendation from Senator Daniel Inouye. I was the President of the National Organization for Hawai‘i then. And now I’ve helped pass UNDRIP in 2007, the United Nations Declaration for the Rights of Indigenous People, after pushing the environmentalists behind it from my work experience as an Academic Observer in 2006 and I’m a licensed real estate agent with a double master’s degree in Medical and Cultural Anthropology and International Community Health Development in Public Health. So there’s this Pandemic, I’m not selling houses and I am bored intellectually, so I’m deciding to study every facet of the City and County budget. I think, I’m the perfect age with the State licensure to look at TMKs and sea level rise, with the right education and background. I’ve been pulling up my bootstraps for years and scrimping my pennies together, knowing about all sorts of facets of how people survive in Hawai‘i meeting every sort of person and hearing their stories. At night I’ve been doing stand-up comedy, so I’m ready to hold feet to fire and kick butts or shins to get a few ideas across. So here I am; I’m standing up for the people and I’m a person with common sense knowing my value to help the people of Hawai‘i in this time of need.

KYM PINE: My grandparents were Filipino immigrants; my grandfather served in World War II at Pearl Harbor. I watched elected officials ignore the leeward community I grew up in — traffic, school funding, crime — and I ran for State House. Though some things have improved in west O‘ahu, there is still a lot, island-wide, that needs to be done; not just in Waikīkī.

I want O‘ahu to be a place where my daughter will grow up, live and thrive — not a place she is forced to leave to find a job or to be able to afford a place to live. I have spent over 15 years trying to affect change, which is systemically blocked by politicians who cater to special interests.

I am a grassroots representative and I represent my constituents.

When elected, I will spend money to upgrade our systems and retrain our city workers so that what happened with our unemployment department never happens again. I am committed to truly affordable housing for all, a living wage, access to educational opportunities and health care options, a clean environment and tourism that respects the ‘äina. I believe that the mayor should listen to the people, not the highest bidder.

HO YIN (JASON) WONG: I was born and raised in Hong Kong during British colonial period. In 1991, my family immigrated to Vancouver, BC, Canada, when I was 13 years. I started my Grade 8 education in Canada. I completed my four-year Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in economics, in three years. Later, I completed my two-year Master of Business Administration degree, majoring in Human Resource Management and Negotiation, in one year.

For the last 20 years, I have worked in banking, finance, software development, cloud computing, risk management, quality management, information security management, retail and commercial and residential real estate sectors.

In 2007, I traveled to the State of Hawai‘i for leisure. I was attracted to the natural charm and beauty of the environment, friendliness of the locals, diversity of culture. In December 2008, I relocated to Honolulu from Vancouver, and since then, I have called Honolulu my home.

The initial “honeymoon” period to get to know O‘ahu was pretty amazing. I met interesting people, explored outdoor natural wonders, observing various cultural and community events in this world-class city. My Hong Kong and Vancouver friends were all jealous of my new home.

In 2014, I started seeing the homeless population was getting bigger. During that time, I entrusted the local government would take active control of the situation. Just like many locals, I continued going to work, and paying taxes without questioning too much about our representatives who should be working the best interest of the residents of O’ahu.

Today, Honolulu is plagued with not only homeless issue, but also many infrastructural, financial, social, economic and ego problems.

During the pandemic lock-down period, I witnessed a homeless person who was defecating in front of Ala Moana Center at 10:05 a.m. At that moment, I was telling myself, I could:

  1. Leave O‘ahu and return to Vancouver, BC, Canada for good;
  2. Make a difference by playing an active role in our community.

At that time, choice #1 has been growing stronger in my mind…

I have lived in Downtown Honolulu, and currently I am living in Ala Moana neighborhood, and I get to know many neighbors and acquaintances who are professionals, such as banker, insurance executive, beautician, restaurant operator, attorney, accountant, general contractor, dentist, surgeon, pharmacist, nurse, teacher, store manager, active duty veteran, real estate operator… 9 out of 10 people expressed huge disappointment about the decaying pace of these social missteps are eating away Honolulu. On the same page, they did not want to bother anything to deal with politics because they got burned by politicians who have made many lofty promises over the years, yet, in every single term, not only very little (or no) improvement was made, but also more problems were being introduced. In other words, most Honolulu locals have lost their trust and faith about what the City officials can do…

Around April-May 2020, I watched a 6 o’clock news, and one particular news segment was very disheartening: a lady was driving her car to receive charitable donation of produce for her family. She tried to smile in front of the camera, but after 4 seconds, she broke down into tears saying, she could not believe, she was here to ask for community help for such basic needs — food. That candid footage scarred my mind …

On May 27, 2020, Civil Beat published an article about the candidates for Honolulu Mayor.
To be an effective Honolulu Mayor…

  1. S/he must be neutral, impartial – break free from any special interest groups;
  2. S/he must possess strong economic background;
  3. S/he must be free from previous generations of political baggage;
  4. S/he must be the “walk-the-walk” person, meaning, s/he has rolled up the sleeves and
    worked hands-on with different business sectors from front-line-position to executive decision maker.

By going through the list of candidates, I failed to find anyone who resonated to my thought. On May 28, 2020 at 2:30 a.m., an idea (or epiphany) struck my mind, instead of complaining or dodging all these social issues, why not exercise my civic duty by running for Honolulu Mayor as an independent candidate who has no political baggage nor affiliation with any special interest group. Since then, my journey of running Honolulu Mayor campaign has been my full-time commitment.

THE HAWAI‘I HERALD: What does “aloha spirit” mean to you? How does a mayor lead with aloha?

KEITH AMEMIYA: Aloha Spirit is a constant commitment to put others before oneself. It’s caring for the community, doing what’s best for the greater good, and making O‘ahu, or any place for that matter, a better place for everyone. Leading with aloha looks a lot like selflessness and humility. In the critical role of Mayor, it’s listening to others, serving wholeheartedly without expectation of credit, and it’s always looking for what’s best for the community. This is what will allow us all to thrive.

RICK BLANGIARDI: While we have a much beloved state law that outlines the official definition of the aloha spirit, I would add something else to it. To me, the aloha spirit means always listening to community member concerns, solving problems affecting our community, and always working in the best interests of our residents. In a short phrase, having the aloha spirit in our mayor’s office requires living pono.

COLLEEN HANABUSA: “Aloha spirit” is part of our laws. HRS § 5-7.5 “Aloha Spirit” says it best:
“Aloha Spirit” is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. In the contemplation and presence of the life force.”

The word Aloha represents:

  • “Akahai” meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;
    “Lökahi” meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
    “‘Olu‘olu” meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
    “Ha‘aha‘a” meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
    “Ahonui” meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

A Mayor should always lead with these sentiments in governing. If decisions are made with these basic governing principles, she will always be true to the meaning of this word and a way of life that our host culture has granted us.

MUFI HANNEMANN: Aloha is the deep, genuine kindness and openness that come naturally to the island-born and those who are islanders at heart. A mayor can best lead by example, demonstrating in thought and deed that their decisions are made with compassion and aloha and are in the best interests of those they serve.

AUDREY KEESING: Well, you can’t be a dour grumpy pants, can you? You have to put your heart and your compassion into this life and your work. You can’t lose your sense of humor. There is a certain innocence and beginning and openness to Aloha, like when people first meet, you see everyone with fresh eyes. To me, Aloha is sharing and caring and always teaching tolerance, taking time to understand each other and how we came to be where we are. From my Quaker Education, we spoke about seeing the light or goodness (God) in everyone and dispelling the darkness. We are taught to let our light shine through our lives and leading by example. I remember when I got to the age where I felt good about picking up the opala on the ‘äina. It didn’t happen right away when I first arrived 30 years ago. Sometimes you just have to put the trash in the rubbish can, especially if they can’t be recycled. People with Aloha spirit don’t quit, they handle, they ho‘opono and make peace. Quakers make decisions by consensus. We live in a place of wonder and joy and so much beauty. We cannot take it all for granted. No amount of money can replace earth itself and this island is irreplaceable. Hawai‘i leads the world and the United States mainland, by example. Our most valuable export are our people with the Aloha spirit. I hope to make Hawai‘i affordable, so they can come home. I hope our products can be the biggest export.

KYM PINE: Aloha and the spirit of aloha means “the breath of life.” It is our unique way of expressing love, affection and respect. The spirit of aloha is our distinctive expression of giving and receiving positive energy from individuals, institutions, the ocean and the land. Incorporating the spirit of aloha is bringing people together with the common understanding that we listen with respect for each other’s point of view and seek solutions not only with our heads, but also with our heart. To lead with aloha is to lead without self-interest or malice towards others. It is to lead to a path of understanding and solutions for the common good.

HO YIN (JASON) WONG: My campaign motto is simple: “Pursuit of Happiness.” This resonates well with the definition of “aloha spirit.” “Aloha” and “Happiness” cannot be measured by monetary value; it is a state of mind. My tenacity will bring back aloha, happiness and prosperity to Honolulu residents. Furthermore, my optimism will inspire and motivate others to play their parts and heal our community together.

THE HAWAI‘I HERALD: As mayor of Honolulu, why is it important to understand the history of World War II and the sacrifices made by our Nisei veterans?

KEITH AMEMIYA: Our Nisei veterans served their country honorably and humbly, even though they faced racial discrimination by their own country. Some of my relatives were interned during the war, both here in Hawai‘i and on the U.S. mainland. Many of the soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives, and that’s the kind of legacy that our current and younger generations should hold onto. We are able to live our lives comfortably today, because of the sacrifices made by our previous generations. As the Japanese saying goes, “Okage sama de,” or “I am who I am because of you.” We must never forget that.

RICK BLANGIARDI: Our Nisei veterans are a rich part of our history here in Honolulu. Despite living through racism and discrimination, our Nisei veterans sacrificed so much for the sake of not just our community here, but for our country as a whole. We must make sure that they are honored, and that we remember our history as a nation. Doing so will allow us to pay our respects to those who sacrificed everything for the wellbeing of our country, and also help prevent the racism and discrimination that our Nisei residents experienced from happening in the United States ever again.

COLLEEN HANABUSA: In these very tumultuous times, the core of who we all are is challenged. As a yonsei, it is important to understand how and why the Nisei veterans, members of the greatest generation, did what they did. Because of their actions and sacrifice, I was able to pursue a legislative career in both the Hawaii State Legislature as well as the U.S. Congress (not to mention a legal career in what was then a heavily male dominated field of labor law). I was humbled and privileged to serve as the first woman president in the Hawaii State Senate which earned me the distinction of being the first woman to lead either chamber of the Hawaii State Legislature (and a first for an Asian woman to lead any legislative chamber in the United States).. It also allowed me to enter the field of law and specifically labor law which, when I first entered, was heavily dominated by male attorneys. What all of us need to appreciate is why the Nisei Veterans fought for the right to fight and were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for a country that considered them enemy aliens. I came to better appreciate and understand the sacrifice better when I taught at the University of Hawai‘i as the lecturer for the political science department and the College of Business for the course, “Civil Liberties in the Time of National Crisis.” This was the course which led to the Daniel K. Inouye Institute and the Library of Congress series which featured Norman Mineta and Alan Simpson, both of whom were the leaders for the reparations for the Internment of AJAs. Teaching this dark moment in history helped me understand how our people could fight and make the ultimate sacrifice while their family and friends were behind barbed wire. It was and remains about putting your family, friends and country above self.

MUFI HANNEMANN: It would be impossible to appreciate this history of Hawai‘i and the social, economic and political progress of our society without acknowledging the contributions of the Nisei veterans during World War II and in the post-war period. Much of what we enjoy today — public education, protections for working people, better healthcare — are the direct result of the work of the Nisei to create an inclusive society where opportunities are open to all.

AUDREY KEESING: The story of our Nisei veterans shall never be forgotten. It was all there emotionally for me in the first private conversation I had with Sen. Dan Inouye. He had liberated a concentration camp and the soldiers thought they could feed people who had been starving, but they couldn’t even take food, they were so close to death and some died from eating the food the soldiers gave them which was even more upsetting. The 442nd sacrificed to end genocide, to free Europe from a crazy man who set his army in five directions, telling them that his German people should look like an ideal superman, when Hitler himself was not even one of them. The Nisei saved Great Britain Europe and the U.S from madness. When I first met Sen. Dan Inouye, I was in a receiving line and I didn’t even know he only had lost an arm. I lost relatives who were Dutch Jews on my father’s side which had moved away from Holland six generations back and my New Zealand grandfather Professor Felix Keesing, who founded the Anthropology department at University of Hawai‘i, was half Jewish. Felix Keesing became a Marshall with Duke Kahanamoku in 1941. My father and his younger brother went with him to see where the shrapnel had fallen on the houses below from our military attempting to take out planes on Dec. 7th, 1941 from Diamond Head pillboxes. A big bomb fell on Tantalus close to where my father and his brother were watching Pearl Harbor in flames. My grandfather was recruited by the Office of Strategic Services in Washington, D.C., and then, Felix Keesing, my grandmother and my father became naturalized American citizens. My Uncle was born here in 1935.

My father and Uncle had a Japanese nanny who I met in her beautiful house in Mänoa. She gave me every type of furikaki. Before this, I only had butter, gravy or shoyu which we called soy sauce on my rice as a child! We talked about the internment camps and how people survived this, too. She told us how my grandmother exchanged letters during the War and after. They must have been in her bedroom, because she came back with photos which she gave to me. We can never forget the sacrifices the Nisei soldiers of the Territory of Hawai‘i, here in their new home, as the first born citizens of the American government who loved Hawai‘i and the Hawaiian people enough to fight in a war for this way of life in this land that they loved.

KYM PINE: Our Nisei veterans led the way to racial tolerance in the armed forces, but they paid an incredibly heavy price. These men volunteered to serve after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, meaning that they not only fought the enemy, they fought suspicion and prejudice. It was not just their home they fought for; it was their honor. These soldiers performed their duties with grit and determination, earning the respect they so admirably earned. Their contributions must be cherished and preserved. The veterans that settled in Honolulu represent the best of America, and the best of our armed forces. Their legacy is a precious reminder of courage, strength and perseverance in our community.

HO YIN (JASON) WONG: History taught us lesson – both good and bad. We strive for the good cause, while we are preventing bad blood running in our veins. All wars taught us nothing matter in the world if our peace and happiness were destroyed. To those individuals who defended our happiness and peace, regardless label, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religious belief, we are forever grateful for their blood, sweat, tear and sacrifice. Wars are left for modern historians to draw conclusion. Being a Honolulu Mayor is to pursue happiness on behalf of O‘ahu residents.

THE HAWAI‘I HERALD: Who is your favorite relative and why?

KEITH AMEMIYA: I continually marvel at my wife, Bonny. She’s been a supportive partner on my life journey through every twist and turn of my career. She balances the demands of work and home with such grace and ease. As a mother to our son Chris, she is firm but nurturing. Even after a long day, she always makes time to sit down over dinner so we can talk and share.

One saying that we’ve carried through our marriage is “Kodomo no tame ni,” which translates to, “For the sake of the children.” Everything we do, we consider the impact on our younger generations. Over the years, we’ve opened our home to several youth in order to provide them greater opportunities for sports, school, and work. Through these experiences, I’ve seen Bonny connect with and be a role model for them, as well as her passion for serving others.

RICK BLANGIARDI: My favorite relative is my mother. Everything I needed to know about “unconditional love” I learned from my mother. Throughout her lifetime, my mother’s love has guided and helped me in every aspect of my life. Mom, I love you, and I miss you each and every day.

COLLEEN HANABUSA: I was raised by my maternal grandparents. As much as I respected all my grandparents, it would have to be my Muroda grandfather. My Muroda grandfather, Shigeo Muroda, is included in the book, “Resilient Spirit,” which featured the internees like him at the Honouliuli Camp (“jigokudani”). My grandfather was called the “mess hall sergeant.” He fed fellow internees, prisoners of war as well as their guards. Even under these circumstances, my grandfather stayed up to be sure that the guards had hot coffee and a snack when they finished doing their rounds. He believed they were just doing their job. What makes him my favorite is that after the war, I am sure he wanted peace of mind, so he started ikebana lessons and dragged me along. In retrospect, those Saturdays, driving from Wai‘anae to Reverend Oda’s in town, then dinner and a Japanese movie are my best memories. We did this while I was in intermediate school and on through high school. After reading about my grandfather, a docent at Honouliuli told me she understands why I am the way I am. I know now why I am who I am.

MUFI HANNEMANN: My parents, Gustav and Faiaso, were very loving and compassionate people who provided a wonderful home for a large family of seven children. My mother, in particular, had the greatest influence on my life because she expected each of us to excel in school, to value friendships with others, seek guidance and devotion to my faith, and to return our many blessings by someday contributing to the greater good. She passed away when I was only a freshman at Harvard, but her love and lessons have shaped and inspired me in untold ways to this day. As an aside, I went to Harvard to fulfill a dream of my mother’s that one of her children attend the university of President John Kennedy.

AUDREY KEESING: I was very close to my father and he was unconditionally loving and open minded. He talked to people in line, just as we do here, talking story. He learned many languages, so he’d speak Chinese to the waiters at the restaurant or French or Spanish. Dad always wore an undershirt, just like the men here. He even wore an undershirt under his pajamas. It was cold back East! He always listened to everyone quietly and he only answered questions that he was asked. So if you didn’t ask, you didn’t want to know or you weren’t ready for the answer. He had an encyclopedic memory and there were no encyclopedias in the house, only first hand sources. Dad was humble but not about his intelligence or his ability in math. He had learned math here in Hawai‘i. He would calculate to decimals and then, ask if you would like him to go a few more decimals. He learned the large numbers first, not like the new math. At Christmas he danced with my mother and he did a naughty hula. I remember Mom blushing dancing in a wool skirt in front of the fireplace. When he laughed, he laughed fully and loudly. Dad came home every night for dinner at 7 p.m., went to bed at 10 p.m. and was awake with the cat at 6 a.m. He loved Mom’s home cooked meals and apples which he ate down to the core. Mostly when he worked, he sat in his office with a big yellow writing pad and blue ballpoint pen in his favorite chair. Dad died 16 years ago. I don’t think he would ever imagine I’d be writing about him or running for Mayor.

Since Dad grew up in Hawai‘i when I arrived here in 1989, I saw my father in everyone. I am not like my father. I’m not as good at math or languages. I am a night owl and I prefer not to talk to anyone in the morning until after I’ve walked the dogs preferably sleeping in until 9 a.m. and sometimes noon. I never aspired to work regular hours in an office, so now I work all the time at all hours. I love to be outside and I enjoy people, though I prefer my animals to everyone. Dad once said he admired that I had common sense, which was actually the set up for the punchline where he joked that common sense was generic intelligence. It was a put down, but that’s how his humor was, that and puns. I think I learned how to take it easy, when I remember how hard Dad worked and how competitive he could be. There was no better teammate to have on your side in a board game. Once when we were really winning against my mother and brother, Mom suddenly threw the board in the air, ending the game. In all fairness, we were having to leave the beach week because of a hurricane warning and we were stalling. Anyway, not everyone can play the game without cheating. My gift is that I see patterns and view things in three dimensions with movement over time and into the future. I will focus on the big picture, even if I have to sweat all the details for the precise pattern and outcome. I tested 90th percentile for spatial analysis and engineering which is my mother’s side of the family. These days I work hard to impress my mother.

KYM PINE: My family emigrated from Ilocos Norte, Philippines, arriving in Hawai‘i with only a few pesos. My grandfather dreamed that one day, his descendants would succeed in America, that they would be able to attend college and achieve things he only dreamed of. He worked hard on the plantations, earning enough money to build a life in Hawai‘i. He served his adopted country in World War II. My great-grandparents, my grandmother’s parents, emigrated from Pangasinan and Tarlac, Philippines, and worked on plantations on Maui and ‘Ewa. Their efforts to succeed in America ensured the successes of future generations. I admire these relatives for having the courage to leave their country to start a new life, for persevering and giving my family the opportunities that we enjoy today. It is because of them that I am here today, and it is their legacy of hard work and determination that influences and guides me today.

HO YIN (JASON) WONG: My grandmother (my mom’s mother) is my favorite relative. She passed away when I was young, yet she was a charming person who possessed natural talent of connecting with community and people. She was born during the era that, women rights and gender equality were not widely adopted, yet she was a liberal thinker and daredevil to cut through stereotypes of women in her time. She knew how to entertain guests and play the great hostess role diplomatically, yet she also was not afraid of deliberating her mind unapologetically without reservation. She was a people person that her journey was full of adventures. If she were born in modern time, she probably would be a successful business and political figure.


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