Where are they now? Ben Cayetano

Gov. Ben Cayetano
Gov. Ben Cayetano

By Kristine Uyeno - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- He held the highest position across the state. But it didn't come without regrets or challenges. And he just released a memoir that reveals it all.

In this edition of "where are they now," we catch up with a kid from Kalihi, who went on to serve as Hawaii's governor for two terms.

Ben Cayetano spent nearly three decades in the local, political arena, rising to become the first, Filipino American elected as a U.S. governor. And now?

"Well besides book signing, I'm retired," he said.

Cayetano is holding book signings for his autobiography, BEN: A Memoir, from Street Kid to Governor, which he spent the past four years crafting. He reveals intimate details about his personal life, including how he found out that the man who raised him, wasn't his biological father. He also talks about becoming a Farrington High School graduate, husband and dad, all in the same year.

"Then all of a sudden you're married, you're barely 19 and then you have a child, and you say to yourself, I got to get a new job to support my new family and that turned my life around, really," he said.

Cayetano became a draftsman, worked his way into law and eventually into politics.

He spent nearly 30 years in public office and describes his time as lieutenant governor, as the most frustrating period. He feels people in this position, don't have much influence on anything.

"When I was in the Senate, I had positions of importance and then you become lieutenant governor and you become kinda stuck. You wake up in the morning and ask, is the governor still breathing? No, I'm only kidding," he said.

Looking back, Cayetano does have regrets, including slashing social programs during his first term as governor.

"All the money we saved by cutting social programs for the poor and the needy went to pay raises and I should've stood more firmly against that," he said.

Now, he'll continue to enjoy retirement with his wife Vicky, their five kids and handful of dogs. But he's not slowing down at all.

"One of the things I'm looking at is going back to school and maybe working for a PhD," he said.

The former governor is turning 70 this year and says education is key, no matter the age. It helped this street kid from Kalihi become a historical and inspiring figure in U.S. politics.