Filipinos are the fastest-growing ethnic minority in Hawaii, due to ongoing immigration from the Philippines and high birth rates in the Filipino community. Every year, around 3,500 immigrants from the Philippines, mostly children, come to the islands. On a national level, Filipinos are second only to Chinese in terms of Asian immigration to the United States. There are approximately 2.5 million Filipinos in the US, not including undocumented individuals. Filipinos also lead in terms of foreign workers around the world.
When Filipinos discuss empowerment in Hawaii, the potential is high and could be similar to that of the Chinese American community in San Francisco. According to HawaiiNewsNow, roughly one in four residents of Hawaii has Filipino ancestry and most come from a particular region of the Philippines. Following in their footsteps are two Filipino-Americans who have already won Grammy Awards and represent the future of mainstream pop and R&B in the US. Quinabo's new perspective and Delos Santos' experience of childhood and adolescence are typical of many former Filipino residents of Hawaii or those who have lived in the US. In terms of business, Delos Santos mentions Eddie Flores Jr as a pioneer who has done a lot to promote Filipino empowerment. In the early 1990s, possibly at the peak of Filipino empowerment awareness that paralleled the initial stages of Native Hawaiian activism, Quinabo recalls a comment made by the late activist and University of Hawaii professor, Dr.
Caroline Julian-Freitas. She mentioned Domingo Los Banos as another pioneering educator who has played a role in empowering Filipinos in Hawaii - he was the first superintendent of Filipino descent in Hawaii, director and educator of the Hawaii State Department of Education. Belinda Aquino's work in establishing the Center for Filipino Studies at UH Manoa was also instrumental in helping young people develop an appreciation for their language and traditions. About 85% of Filipinos in Hawaii are Ilocanos, meaning that their roots go back to the Ilocos region in northern Philippines, mainly to the provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. Unfortunately, there are no wealthy Filipinos in Hawaii, unlike other ethnic groups such as Chinese, Japanese and Koreans. To achieve greater progress in empowering Filipinos, Martin believes that this can be achieved through social awareness, community participation and voting.
The Hawaii State Legislature has five state senators (out of 2) and nine representatives (out of 5) of Filipino descent. A large number of them are hotel workers, and many prominent union leaders from the hospitality and other sectors have emerged from the Philippine ranks over the years.