By Leland Kim
DOWNTOWN HONOLULU (KHNL) -- Tamarind Park turned into a Filipino block party Saturday morning as thousands waited in line for a chance to win free plane tickets to the Philippines.
A woman waiting in line held a flyer that said, "Manila, here we come!"
For her and others, this letter said it all. A never-ending row of people lined up for a chance to win one of 250 round trip tickets to the Philippines.
"It's exciting, but I'm scared," said Josie Matsuda, a Kalihi resident.
Many couldn't believe how long the line was.
"Yes, so surprised!" said Kristina Sumulong, a Honolulu resident. "No matter they do to Hawaiian Airlines, they are here to form the line and get the tickets free!"
There's so much interest here Saturday, the line wraps around the block twice. This is the end of the line.
As many as ten thousand people gathered at Tamarind Park, creating a carnival atmosphere. Filipino dancers and singers entertained the masses, as they waited for the drawing. Hawaiian Airlines executives were overwhelmed by the level of interest.
"We're just very, very pleased to see such a great turnout," Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. "It's really a terrific sign that this service is an important service for the people of Hawaii."
Because turnout exceeded expectations, Hawaiian airlines employees were scrambling to collecting all the ballots. When it was time for the big announcement, 75-year-old Conchita Cachero was the first winner.
"I'm, well, one word, excited," said Conchita Cachero, the first winner of the ticket drawing. "Very thrilled to go back and visit."
The 75-year-old grandmother who lives in the Ala Moana neighborhood wasn't surprised her name was called.
"I expected it, I guess," said Cachero, with a laugh. "I was just very positive. I was just very positive about it."
This makes Hawaiian the only U.S. airline to have nonstop service between Honolulu and Manila.
"This is really great instead of stopping by, you know, Guam or Japan," said Cachero. "Flying straight to the Philippines is just wonderful."