Filipino Expats Show Kinship with homeland.(Opinion &Amp; Editorial)

Article excerpt

DESCRIBED as symbol of Filipino-Americans' achievements in Hawaii, the $13-million Filipino Community Center built at a Honolulu commercial district may well symbolize, too, the Filipinos' inborn sentiments for their homeland.

Inaugurated to coincide with the observance of the 104th anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence yesterday, the occasion recalled the almost a century of Filipinos' presence in Hawaii, and the contributions they made to the state's civilization and modern development.

The first batch of Filipino migrant workers arrived in that Pacific US state in 1907. Today, the sitting Governor of Hawaii is Ben Cayetano, a Filipino-American.

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The news about the Filipino Community Center, said to be the largest edifice of its kind outside of Manila, came simultaneously with the announcement that Filipino-Americans in Washington, D.C. were launching a fund raising campaign to help the children of Ediborah Yap.

Mrs. Yap as everybody knows, was the Filipino nurse held hostage for more than a year by the terrorists Abu Sayyaf who was killed together with American Martin Burnham during rescue operations in a Sirawi jungle in Zamboanga del Norte. Gracia Burnham, Martin's wife was wounded but was successfully rescued and is now reunited with her family in Kansas.

Before boarding the plane that would bring her back to the US, Gracia Burnham was profused with kind words to the Filipino people and all "who risked and even gave their lives in order to rescue us."

"Part of my heart will always stay with the Filipino people," she said. The Burnhams lives in the Philippines for 15 years as missionaries.

For other reasons more emphatic and poignant, the same sentiments must have been uttered by the thousands of Filipinos themselves who left the country for better opportunities abroad. …