Emme's Moment

Fundraising event honors Emme Tomimbang ©Filipino Community Center

Event honors veteran TV personality

By Rizza Cosio

She was a cheerleader, a drummer, and Hawaii’s first Filipino weather girl. But before she went on to become the broadcast luminary we know today, Emme Tomimbang started off a young Filipino girl with a myriad of hidden talents and big dreams.

Some might know her from her TV series “Emme’s Island Moments,” where she created an inlet to the personal lives of local celebrities like actor Jason Scott Lee, Makaha Sons and even President Barack Obama. To Alan Wong, Roy Yamaguchi, D.K. Kodama and some of Hawaii’s other top regional chefs, she was their key into the limelight. To Hawaii’s Filipino community, she is an idol.

So when it was time to choose the honoree of this year’s 11th Annual Gala and Dinner Fundraiser event, Rose Churma, President and COO of the Filipino Community Center, could think of no one else. “She’s a role model for a lot of Filipino people,” Churma says. “So we’re hoping that by honoring her, we’re communicating that whatever background you have or wherever you come from, you can reach your dreams.”

More than just a place where local Filipinos gather for support and an array of integration, dance and cultural classes, the Filcom Center in Waipahu is a hub for proud individuals dedicated to perpetuating the Filipino heritage in Hawaii. “For us who are immigrant Filipinos,” Churma says, “this place is a symbol of our journey here in Hawaii. And it behooves us to make sure that we really take care of it.”

With around 600 people expected to be in attendance, the Gala and Dinner will do more than just raise money to support the operations of the Center. “One of our goals is to promote Filipino food,” Tomimbang says. “And I think this is the perfect time to do so.” Tomimbang has invited close friends Alan Wong, D.K. Kodama, Roy Yamaguchi, Philippe Padovanni and Master Sommelier Roberto Viernes to put together this year’s Filipino-inspired dinner.

“When you think of Filipino cuisine, you think plate lunches with buckets full of food scooped over rice,” Churma says. “But really, it can be elegant as well.” Having grown up with a Filipino stepfather, Wong can attest. “A lot of people don’t understand what Filipino food should taste like,” the famed chef says. “But it can be very special and bold when done right.”      

Wong will be serving a duck adobo taco with a mongo bean, tomato and sweet potato leaf salsa, as well as his version of the staple Filipino dessert, halo halo. In addition to the star-studded menu featuring Hawaii’s top chefs, Willie K has also been invited to provide entertainment for guests attending the Nov. 9 event.

If there is anyone who could bring a group of this caliber to Waipahu, it is Tomimbang, the local Filipina regarded now as the Oprah of Hawaii.

“I’m really happy to be a part of this,” Wong says.

“Emme was very instrumental in helping a lot of local people get to where they are now. It’s only fitting that she gets paid the tribute.”

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