”’Editor’s note: This is the speech by Senate President Robert Bunda on opening day of the 2006 legislative session.”’

“Robert Bunda 2006 Image”

Aloha and welcome to the 2006 Regular Session of the Hawaii State Legislature. I’d like to take just a moment to personally welcome back Governor Linda Lingle, who recently made a goodwill trip to my cultural homeland, the Philippines. She led a distinguished delegation that renewed and reinforced the ties between the people of Hawaii and the Philippines. Mabuhay, Governor Lingle.

While in the Northern Province of Ilocos-Sur, the Governor unveiled a statue dedicated to the memory of the Sakadas, the first group of plantation workers to leave the Philippines for Hawaii in 1906. Thousands more would follow, including my grandparents who arrived in Hawaii in 1921.

Today, I would like to acknowledge their son, my Uncle, Manuel Bunda. He was recently honored as a “sakada” as part of the centennial anniversary celebration of Filipino immigration to Hawaii.

Like other ethnic groups who came here looking for a better life, Filipino immigrants, like Manuel Bunda, brought with them not only their culture, but a certain attitude toward work and opportunity, a strong belief in their own capabilities and an underlying trust in their fellow man.

But what strikes me most is something else that all of Hawaii’s immigrants, past and present, share. And that is an even stronger sense of obligation to their children and to the future. All of their actions, motivations, and aspirations were in some way connected to their children.

Today, as the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those immigrants, we have much that can divide us. But we should never let those differences blind us to what we inherited from them, and what still holds us together

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