TGIF: Thank God I’m Filipino

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SM Webster

TGIF president Wayne Palomaki holds up a tri-fold depicting the Philippine flag and fun facts about the Philippines during the spring "club fest."

When Filipino-American Wayne Palomaki was transferring to Chaminade University from Washington last year, he was hoping to join a club that shares his love for the Filipino ethnicity. He was surprised to find out during Chaminade’s fall “club fest” that there was not a Filipino-related club.

“We’ve got the Spanish club, Samoan club, and they’re all representing,” Palomaki said. I feel like we’re a big enough population that we should be represented as well and somebody should be organizing that.”

Filipinos in Honolulu are the third-most prevalent ethnicity on the island behind Whites and the Japanese, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. In Chaminade, 11 percent of day undergraduates are registered as Filipinos. Despite the number of Filipino students in the university, there’s has not been an organization in school to represent the race.

The spring semester, Palomaki listed Thank God I’m Filipino (TGIF) as one of the school’s official organizations, and he is now its club president. Palomaki is joined by freshman Maricelle Redona (vice president), sophomore Ha`Ani Artero (treasurer) and sophomore Erin Mayonado (secretary) as the pioneers of the first Filipino club in Chaminade.

During the spring “club fest,” TGIF was able to sign 45 members and have had meetings every two weeks since January 27 where they talk about future plans for club activities.

In its latest meeting, TGIF talked about its upcoming kickoff event, which is a potluck picnic held in Waikiki on March 17. Palomaki plans to turn in the paperwork for the event two weeks in advance to make the event official.

“Everybody bring Filipino food,” Palomaki said. “Everybody can just bring something. You can make it. You can buy it. Just bring something that’s Filipino ethnic.”

TGIF will also be holding two food drives before the end of the semester. The first one will be on March 21. It is the club’s way of bringing the Filipino food and culture to other Chaminade students, according to Palomaki.

“The Filipino food drive will be something like great just before the spring break which is kinda nice,” Palomaki said.

There is no established date for the second food drive. That one will be similar to a fund-raising event except instead of charging for money, TGIF will be collecting clothes which will be sent to the southern part of the Philippines for donation as part of the club’s philanthropy.

“I really want us to unify and be more like a community role and be more of a face, representative, not only for ourselves but for the people of the Philippines,” Palomaki said.

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There are 1,182 enrolled under-graduate students in Chaminade. Of those, 137 identify themselves as Filipinos:

1 comes from the Philippines

5 come from Guam

14 come from the mainland

117 come from the Hawaiian Islands