Excerpts from “SG’s Yellow Book”


The Challenges: Sariling Gawa’s Perspectives

Before Sariling Gawa embarked upon the 1981 conference series, the planning committee had some notions of the challenges facing Filipino young adults in Hawaii. Some of these were common to various communities and some were not. Although these challenges were not common to all communities, we feel that they are worth sharing with the conference delegates.

  • Take an active role in community and civic affairs. Our community still needs dedicated and serious leaders as well as well-informed members of the community.
  • To learn from and be proud of your own cultural and ethnic heritage. It is the only unique characteristic that sets you apart from others.
  • Respect other cultures and be able to make contributions to the broader Hawaiian community.
  • Voice your concerns and make them heard by the government.
  • Be motivated, by self or by parents, to aspire and pursue a post-secondary education.
  • Balance social events with community service projects.
  • Accept the fact that a Philippine-born Filipino and a Hawaii-born Filipino are both true Filipinos.


Overview of the Organization

Sariling Gawa was established in 1980 as a non-profit organization in Hawaii to plan, coordinate and implement educational and cultural activities for Filipino young adults. The organization was formed by young Filipinos from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, students from various high schools on Oahu, and working youths with the blessings of older, respected Filipinos in Hawaii.


The Goal

The long-term goal of the organization is “through community involvement and ongoing education, the group plans to increase the number of well-informed Filipino leaders as well as ordinary citizens toward the growth of the community.”


The Objectives
  1. To increase awareness and develop ways to meet the needs and issues confronting Filipino young adults and the community at large.
  2. To provide a vehicle for developing leadership skills.
  3. To provide a forum for Filipino young adults to voice their concerns and participate in community affairs.
  4. To teach the history and the cultural experience of the Filipino in a multi-ethnic community.
  5. To instill a positive self-concept on being Filipino.
  6. To increase knowledge, appreciation and preservation of Filipino culture and values (language, food, lifestyles, traditions, songs, dances, etc.) through workshops and demonstration classes.
  7. To provide insights for career training and development.
  8. To maintain an effective communication and social network among Filipino youth groups in the state.
  9. To better understand and become involved in our governmental system.


Sariling Gawa’s Approach

… The process that went on in this conference project, its activities and decision making, followed the concept of citizen participation.

The conference planners firmly believed that people in order to be affected by a project or program … must take an active role in the project. Community people, including the youth, must be involved from the onset of idea formation, identification of community needs, writing and rewriting of plans, implementation of project activities, and in reviewing and evaluating their own accomplishments and failures. An equally important reason … to stick to the concept of citizen participation is … to avoid a common mistake where results of information gathered were never communicated back to the community. Sariling Gawa subscribed fully to community involvement and made every effort to include community input in the conference project.

The idea of a youth conference was first conceived by a group of prominent Filipinos in the community who called themselves the Hawaii Filipino Plus. The conference was originally intended and planned for the gifted and high achieving Filipino students in Hawaii and to have been called a “Youth Congress.” Young adults representing various backgrounds and grade levels were called together to exchange ideas, discuss and finalize the direction of the project. This core group was convinced that the conference project must include young participants who represent various backgrounds at the state level. Thus, the goal was broadened to include all Filipino youth.

To maintain an effective and dynamic group, these guidelines for the conference planners were established.

  1. The conference planners will be mostly young adults at high school, college and post- college levels with guidance from appropriate individuals, as they deem necessary.
  2. Decisions of the conference planners will be by consensus.
  3. They will not endorse political candidates.
  4. Capitalize on young adults participation in the preparation of community conferences.
  5. Proper recognition will be given to appropriate groups and individuals.
  6. Duplication efforts within community programs will be avoided.
  7. The planners will be accountable only to the conference planning group and appropriate conference sponsors.
  8. They will focus only upon issues that emerge from the conferences.
  9. Planners will be open and receptive to community feedback.

In early 1981, eight community conferences were held on all islands except Maui*. At these conferences, participants identified needs & problems youths faced in their communities, and generated possible solutions for those issues. The information gathered helped to focus the content of the main conference that was held in March 1981. The statements of issues included: family and values; education; employment; and political concerns.


*Some Maui people believed that Sariling Gawa was involved in anti-Marcos activities and chose not to associate with SG or participate in the community and main conferences. After the main conference, SG met with those Maui folks to change their mistaken belief so that at the 2nd state conference, the Maui delegation was the largest neighbor island group.


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