Every Christmas holiday, I am reminded of the time we lived in Hawaii – the beauty of the people and its landscape. As I rummaged through folders and loose papers, suddenly my hands and eyes came upon a document. Much to my amazement it was my speech before the members of the Hawaii Filipino Chamber of Commerce back on Feb. 25, 1999, when Bob and I were honored with a farewell dinner. Yes, farewell dinner as we said goodbye to leave the Island of Oahu bound for home, San Francisco Bay Area.
With great curiosity, I read, only to discover how much friendship we gained and left in that beautiful island during our years of sojourn; how fortunate we are to have been embraced by loving people; how blessed we are to have those memories embedded in our treasure box. In that final gathering, here’s what I said:
I would like to thank you all for being here tonight to wish Bob and I the very best as we go back to the San Francisco Bay Area. Special thanks to Edna, Alfredo, Rey and to all of you for making this evening possible.
Prior to coming to Hawaii, I spent 35 years in the San Francisco Bay Area where I got a good education and had a very successful career at General Electric Company. When I came to Hawaii to join Bob, I brought with me a highly diversified set of skills. I landed two great jobs with two of the oldest local companies in Hawaii.
As I got settled, I learned something more important. And that is, how to be a good ‘citizen.’ Through the Filipino Chamber of Commerce, I learned the true meaning of citizenship. I learned that citizenship is not merely voting on election day but, more importantly, lending a helping hand to other people, being involved in the community, and being proactive on matters that will make a difference.
I never dreamed that I will be selling “huli huli” chicken, selling ice cream, selling cookies to raise money to help our young people. I never dreamed that I will be working in a political campaign holding signs and waving my hands on the streets of Honolulu. Lastly, I never dreamed that I will have the privilege of your acquaintance. Thank you for touching my life with your grace and humility.
The past few years of our life here in Hawaii have been wonderful. You gave us the warmest embrace that made us feel so special. We met the most wonderful people in the Filipino community who reminded me of how great it is to be a Filipino.
As Bob and I pursue another dimension in life, we will always cherish the wonderful memories of your friendship and support. And we will endeavor to practice what we learned from you on what citizenship is all about!
Thank you very much, God bless you, until we meet again.
This document landed in front of me from nowhere. The endearing memories of our life in Hawaii that are defined in my speech are meant to be published and shared. I am truly humbled and grateful for the lessons learned and labor everyday to live up to the promise of good citizenship in honor of our friends we left in the Land of Aloha.