Kauai Philippine Cultural Center
By Millie Wellington
The Kauai Philippine Cultural Center, an organization established by a dynamic group of Kauai Filipino leaders with a mission to erect and establish a Philippine cultural center on the Garden Island met last August 18, 2012 at the County of Kauai Planning Commission meeting room to begin the first step in the process of developing a feasibility study on the project. Invited to take part in the discussions were members of the community representing Filipino organizations, the business community, interests in education and views in featuring its multi ethnic diversity. Among those attending were former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, Phyllis Kunimura, founder of Preschool KIDS and widow of the late Mayor Tony Kunimura, and Mattie Yoshioka, Director of the Kauai Economic Development Board. The current Honorable Mayor Bernard Carvalho also visited briefly to state his strong and continued support of the project’s development.
The cultural center’s proposal became public in 2010 when it was a Vision 2020 topic of current KPCC President Lesther Calipjo’s inaugural speech as president of the Kauai Filipino Chamber of Commerce. His visionary appeal struck the hearts of many in that gathering, namely Kauai’s legislative team. By the end of that year, the founding committee which was formed had successfully applied for and received KPCC’s designation as a 501(c)(3 )non-profit organization. In 2011 an award of $30,000 was earmarked for a feasibility study development of the project by the state’s legislative ‘Grant in Aid” funding. Following this in the Spring of 2012 another legislative Grant in Aid award in the amount of $1.5 million was approved for the building of KPCC. The mounting support for the project has not stopped considering that a few months ago on July 25, 2012 a historic action was made by the Kauai County Administration and unanimously passed by members of the County Council to approve a 99 year License Agreement for 3.5 acres of a prime location site in Lihue for the construction and development of the Kauai Philippine Cultural Center.
The apparent momentum created by the bold and dedicated leadership of KPCC’s current Corporate President Lesther Calipjo and his board of committed community leaders, has ignited a growing surge of interest on the Garden Island. Rose Churma, President & COO of the FILCOM on Oahu was asked to facilitate the first step in developing the Feasibility Study and Business Plan for the center. She encouraged participants to give input on what they envision the center to have structurally designed to types of services and programs they would like to see being offered. Discussions brought to focus a wide support for the center being sustainable as a gathering place for all.