Today, Filipino immigrants from their 7,000 islands have been settling in communities such as Kalihi and Waipahu, where there is a strong support system. According to the census, 15 percent of the population of the state of Hawaii (170,635) identified themselves as Filipino (see figure). However, the census allowed citizens to choose more than one ethnicity (mixed race), and another 105,728 were identified as partially Filipino. Collectively, Filipinos and partially Filipinos constitute 275,728 inhabitants, that is, almost 23 percent of the state's population, slightly more than the Hawaiian and partially Hawaiian population.
Approximately 70 percent of the Filipino population lives on the island of Oahu. Although they are a minority population in the state, they constitute the majority (at least 60%) on the island of Lanai, in Maui County. It can be said that Filipino Americans have achieved political success when Ben Cayetano became governor in 1994, the first of them to be elected to state office, and was re-elected four years later. The Hawaii State Legislature has five state senators (out of 2) and nine representatives (out of 5) of Filipino descent.
Filipinos are the fastest-growing ethnic minority in Hawaii due to continued immigration from the Philippines and high birth rates in the Filipino community. Filipinos are represented proportionately in UH West Oahu (22%), Leeward Community College (23%), and Honolulu Community College (20%), which can be attributed in part to their proximity to Filipino-American communities. There are no wealthy Filipinos in Hawaii, unlike other ethnic groups such as Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans. Having more Filipino teachers can have a direct impact on the educational and professional success of Filipino-American students through their interaction in the classroom and the personal support they receive.
Filipino professors at the University of Hawaii at Manoa are underrepresented compared to the classification of the state population, especially tenured or continuing education professors. Many state requirements prevent Filipino professionals, mostly trained in the Philippines, from getting comparable jobs in Hawaii. A large number are hotel workers, and many prominent labor leaders from the hospitality industry and other industries have emerged from the Filipino ranks over the years. The vast majority of Hawaii's Filipino community, at least 85 percent, are Ilokanos from northern Luzon whose native language is Ilokano.
However, no Filipino has represented Hawaii in Congress yet unlike Chinese Americans, Japanese Americans, native Hawaiians and whites. Then as now, Filipinos have become a very dynamic community and a fundamental part of the past, present and future of Hawaii. Hawaii's current Filipino community has its roots in 1906 when the Hawaii Sugar Growers Association (HSPA) recruited 15 sakadas (contract workers) from the Philippines to work on sugar plantations in what was then U. S.
territory of Hawaii. A report recently written for the Pamantasan Council at the University of Hawaii revealed that they represent only 14% of UH undergraduate students. When I returned to Hawaii in 1974 to begin my doctoral thesis on Filipino immigrants I often heard that Filipinos would be the next group to “succeed” on the islands. Despite this optimism there is still much work to be done for Filipinos to achieve full representation in Congress and other areas. The Filipino population has grown significantly over time due to immigration from their home country and high birth rates within their community.
This has resulted in a large presence on Oahu Island where 70% of all Filipinos live in Hawaii. Additionally, they make up a majority on Lanai Island with 60% or more being Filipino or partially Filipino. Politically speaking, Filipinos have achieved some success with Ben Cayetano becoming governor in 1994 - making him the first ever elected into state office - and being re-elected four years later. The Hawaii State Legislature also has five state senators (out of 2) and nine representatives (out of 5) who are all of Filipino descent. Despite this progress there is still much work to be done for Filipinos to achieve full representation in Congress and other areas. For example there are no wealthy Filipinos living in Hawaii unlike other ethnic groups such as Chinese, Japanese or Koreans. In terms of education there is still an underrepresentation when it comes to professors at University of Hawaii at Manoa with many trained professionals from Philippines not being able to get comparable jobs due to state requirements. The vast majority of Hawaii's Filipino community are Ilokanos from northern Luzon whose native language is Ilokano but despite this no one has yet represented Hawaii in Congress.
It is clear that Filipinos have become an integral part of past present and future of Hawaii. With continued immigration from Philippines and high birth rates within their community it is likely that they will continue to grow as an important part of Hawaiian society.