By Kauanoe Batangan
KAHULUI – The Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce announced today that five outstanding community leaders were selected to receive the prestigious Gintong Pamana Leadership Award.  The awards will be presented at this year’s Gintong Pamana Leadership and Scholarship Awards ceremony on Wednesday, June 13th, 5:30 p.m. at the Maui Beach Hotel.  This event is open to the public.
The annual event honors residents of Filipino ancestry who demonstrated excellence in their careers or served the island community in a significant way. Since 1995, the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce honors local leaders who demonstrated outstanding achievement in the areas such as public service, music & arts, medicine, law, education, and community service.
At the same event, the Maui Filipino Chamber of Commerce Foundation will award eighteen $1000 scholarships to select high school seniors.
The 2018 Gintong Pamana awardees are:
            SATURNINA BALASAN is a dynamic and hardworking community and church leader. A retired nurse, she dedicates her time and energy to serve and lead the parish community of Christ the King Church. In 2017, Balasan led the Lady of Manaoag Prayer Group by organizing prayer rallies, block rosary prayers, family prayer sessions and novenas which intensified the Catholic faith in Kahului. She also initiated successful fundraising activities for the parish.
            ARIS BANAAG is a Personal Support Counselor at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College. In this capacity, he provides crisis intervention and promotes health and wellness throughout the campus.  Banaag is also the college’s Behavioral Intervention Team leader and runs the Prevention, Awareness and Understanding (PAU) Violence program, which educates the public on issues relating to domestic and other forms of violence. For many years, he chaired the Suicide Task Force for Maui County.  Additionally, Banaag is a veteran – a proud member of the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard – and coaches basketball and track at King Kekaulike High School.
            EDWARD BALDONADO GARCIA is the Vice Principal of Iao Intermediate School.  A lifelong educator, Garcia spent the first eight years of his career teaching in elementary schools on Oahu and Maui.  He then served as a counselor at Maui Waena Intermediate School for nearly a decade. Garcia returned to the classroom by accepting a teaching position at Iao Intermediate School, where he has risen to his current position as an administrator. Garcia is an active leader in the Hawaiʻi State Teachers Association (HSTA) and the Maui County Democratic Party.
            CHRIS RABANG is a 20-year veteran of the hospitality industry with a successful track record of providing leadership and world-class guest service. Through hard work and dedication, Rabang rose from Director of Housekeeping at the Westin St. John Resort in the US Virgin Islands to General Manager of the newly completed West Nanea Ocean Villas here on Maui.  He currently serves as Chair of the Campus Hospitality Board at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College.
            JO-ANN MARIE YAP has dedicated her career to guiding Maui’s youth and preparing them to lead productive lives. For more than 30 years, she has taught home economics at Iao Intermediate School.  She is also an active and accomplished cheerleading coach, taking teams to national championship-level competitions and inspiring a generation of cheer coaches for more than 25 years. With the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, she is currently involved with the U.S. Department of Education Talent Search Program (TRIO), which identifies and assists individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in higher education.
Admission and dinner tickets cost $65 per person and are available online at Sponsorship and advertising opportunities are also available. For more information, please contact Event Chairperson Elsa Segal at (808) 276-6946 or Jeanice Paa, Co-Chairperson at (808) 357-2303.