The Hawaiian group of business owners and community leaders is the first private foreign delegation to visit Marcos

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – A group of Hawaiian business owners and community leaders became the first private foreign delegation to visit Philippine President Ferdinand “BongBong” Marcos Jr. at the Presidential Palace in Manila since he took office on June 30.

President Marcos, son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., is a controversial figure, but he found a friendly audience in the Hawaii Philippine Chamber of Commerce delegation when they gathered at the Malacanang Palace.

The President said he was honored to welcome the delegates, who share common roots in the northern Philippine provinces of Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur. The region is a stronghold of the Marcos political dynasty.

About 85% of Filipinos in Hawaii have ancestral ties to the Ilocos region, which benefited from Marco’s policies.

“I am very proud to get the Hawaiian Filipino community to pay their respects to the President, who is also from the North, by the way. And many of the first Filipinos to live in Hawaii are also from the North,” said former Filipino consul general to Honolulu Gina Jamoralin, who now works at the State Department.

President Marcos was governor of Ilocos Norte when his father’s regime was overthrown by the People Power revolution in 1986 after 14 years of martial law and allegations of corruption and human rights abuses. Human rights groups say more than 3,200 people were killed, 35,000 tortured and 70,000 imprisoned during the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s.

A presidential commission is investigating the alleged theft of around $10 billion worth of assets.

The family fled to Hawaii and was not able to return home until 1991. Ferdinand Marcos Sr. died in Honolulu in 1989.

Now, more than three decades later, the political dynasty is back in the palace after a majority of Filipinos elected Marcos Jr. as president on the promise of economic development.

He called on the Fiipino diaspora to help through investments, tourism and remittances to family members.

“Look again at the Philippines,” Marcos told delegates.

“I know that many of our foreign nationals, even the migrant workers who have stayed abroad for a long time, still want to have family here in the Philippines, still want to return to the Philippines.”

But while that may be true for older Filipino immigrants, many young Filipino Americans in Hawaii seem less interested in learning about the country their parents or grandparents are from.

Rebuilding that relationship could prove a challenge for the Marcos government.

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