Hawaii group of business owners, community leaders is first private foreign delegation to call on Marcos

Hawaii business delegation meets Philippine President Bong Bong Marcos
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 9:14 AM HST|Updated: Nov. 2, 2022 at 10:44 AM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A group of Hawaii business owners and community leaders was the first private foreign delegation to call on Philippine President Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Jr. at the presidential palace in Manila since he took office on June 30.

President Marcos, son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., is a controversial figure but he found a friendly audience in the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii delegation when they gathered at Malacanang Palace.

The president said he was honored to welcome the delegates, who have shared roots to the northern Philippine provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. The region is a stronghold of the Marcos political dynasty.

About 85% of the Filipinos in Hawaii have ancestral ties to the Ilocos region, which benefited from Marcos policies.

“I’m very proud to bring the Filipino community from Hawaii to pay their respects to the president, who, incidentally is also from the north. And many of the first Filipinos who are living in Hawaii are from the north as well,” said former Philippine Consul General in Honolulu Gina Jamoralin, who now works at the Department of Foreign Affairs.

President Marcos was governor of Ilocos Norte when his father’s regime was toppled by the “People Power” revolution in 1986 after 14 years of martial law and claims of corruption and human rights violations. Human rights groups say more than 3,200 people were killed, 35,000 tortured and 70,000 detained during the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s.

A presidential commission is investigating the alleged theft of some $10 billion worth of assets.

The family fled to Hawaii, unable to return home until 1991. Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. died in Honolulu in 1989.

Now more than three decades later, the political dynasty is back in the palace after a majority of Filipinos elected Marcos Jr. president on promises of economic development.

He urged the Filipino diaspora to help through investments, tourism and remittances to family members.

“Look to the Philippines once more,” Marcos told delegates.

“I know that many of our foreign nationals, even the immigrant workers who have stayed abroad for a good long time, still want to have, still have family back here in the Philippines, still want to come back to the Philippines.”

But while this may be true for older Filipino immigrants, many young Filipino Americans in Hawaii seem less interested in knowing about the country their parents or grandparents came from.

Rebuilding that relationship could prove challenging for the Marcos administration.