Kaimana Close Up: Waimea High's Benji Baclig

By Liz Chun - bio | email

Our HMSA Kaimana Close Up features Kauai's own Benjie Baclig. He's a straight-A student out of Waimea High School, who says being a role model means being the best you can be while encouraging others to be even better.

"If we can all stop and face our deepest fears, we can achieve what others can not," Baclig said.

That's a speech Baclig can relate to. Despite growing up with parents who barely spoke English, he became a straight-A student and is now off to college.

"It's an ivy league college, the University of Pennsylvania, lot of people are proud of me," Baclig said. "Being the first one to attend college in my family."

And the way he looks at math, he likes his odds to succeed.

"My favorite subject in school is economics, I'm really interested in global analysis, international business, I like to work with other nations," he said. "I was born in the Philippines and I want to see how other nations trade with each other."

The Waimea High student certainly knows the value of a dollar.

Through school, Baclig works 30 hours a week at Lappert's Ice Cream Factory to make ends meet.

"With a job, I'm able to pay for my schooling, my online classes, any books, and any college fees this coming fall," said Baclig.

Money matters also make up Baclig's school projects. He's a big fundraiser. His latest one called for coordinating the pennies for patients to help the leukemia and lymphoma foundation. But what's priceless to him is helping the Boys and Girls Club. He tries to give to these kids, what the club gave to him.

"They provided so many things for me, help with my homework, whenever I got hungry food was free," he said. "They also provided the care I needed when I was young."

His years of service with the boys and girls club adds up to more than 450 hours, including his work with this mobile outreach program, which is kind of like a clubhouse on wheels. And in 2009 he was chosen as the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year for Hawaii which represents both Oahu and Kauai.

"I believe community service has to be a part of your life because the Boys and Girls Club gave me something that I could use in the future, I am who I am today," he said.

Who Baclig is can also be defined by his involvement in athletics.

"I run cross country, I do track and field, I did canoe paddling, swimming and bowling," he said.

His favorite sport is cross country. Over his career in the KIF, he went from last place as a freshman to a top 3 finisher as a senior.

"My philosophy, is to be the best at what you do, so everyday I used to run 5 or 7 or 8 miles," he said. "I used to read the self training books, and my coaches got a lot of support for me."

It's easy to see how people would support him, for all that's he's done to support his community. Baclig's committed to be a lifelong volunteer.