State Rep. Reynaldo Graulty got a telephone call last week from an associate of Tomas Manotoc, his old softball adversary from high school days in Manila and now Ferdinand Marcos' son-in-law. Graulty, who had begun to fear what Marcos could do to these islands, turned down Manotoc's relayed request for a meeting.
Manotoc, his two small Hawaii-born children and his wife, Imee, arrived here with Marcos, exhausted, discouraged and anxious about how friends would receive them. Graulty, a rising young lawyer-politician, was a likely first contact.
After 17 years here, Graulty, 37, sees Hawaii's Filipino-Americans approaching critical mass in numbers and influence. They comprise a higher concentration of the population -- 15 percent -- than in any other state and appear to be moving toward their share of Hawaii's jobs. They also anticipate a further increase in the number of ethnic Filipino politicians who, like Graulty, will leaven a government dominated by Japanese- and European-Americans.
Graulty says he wonders what Marcos, "a man who can exert real influence in the Filipino community," could do to this promise. With influential members of the Filipino community organizing to persuade Marcos to become a political force here, Graulty is afraid he is about to find out.
Marcos and Hawaii. To Graulty and every other politician who knows the islands' history, this is a potent mix. More than 80 percent of the state's Filipino-American residents trace their lineage to the Ilocos region, Marcos' home. When Hawaiian sugar plantations sought the most desperate, least-educated Filipinos to make up for a sudden shortage of Japanese and Chinese labor at the turn of the century, the Ilocanos fit the bill.
Now they are proud of their heritage -- and that one of their own rose to such power and wealth at home. Dean Alegado, an outspoken Marcos opponent who teaches Filipino-American history at the University of Hawaii, said he fears that this could become the "Miami of the Philippines," an American beachhead of resistance to the new Philippine government headed by Corazon Aquino, as distracting as the anti-Castro movement in Florida.
"There is really great potential for Marcos becoming a great disruptive influence," said Graulty. He said he politely rejected the overture from Marcos' camp despite his warm feelings for Manotoc and Marcos' other son-in-law, Gregory Araneta. He learned that Tommy and Imee Manotoc nonetheless waited for him Thursday at a private home here, along with Marcos' military chief, Gen. Fabian Ver.
There would be other offers, other attempts, Graulty acknowledged. No matter how battered Marcos may look in Washington, he retains in Hawaii the image of an elder statesmen, one of many factors that apparently led him here for his seventh, and perhaps longest, visit.
At the request of an unidentified member of Marcos' party, publisher and community leader Francisco Ugale, 58, has been listing homes Marcos could lease. Friends of Marcos own two lavish estates in Makiki Heights above central Honolulu, but Mayor Frank Fasi says there is a golf-course property that golfer Marcos also covets.
Ugale, president of the United Filipino Council of Hawaii, last month planned to take over the Philippine consulate to lock out the staff who had denounced Marcos.
Leading Filipino-American politicians such as state Sen. Benjamin Cayetano, 46, admit to proceeding cautiously in advertising their anti-Marcos feelings. "I try to be judicious about it because I know there are a lot of people from the Ilocos region who support him," Cayetano said.
Alegado, perhaps the most vehement Marcos critic here, estimates that 60 percent of Hawaiians of Philippine extraction support the deposed president, even if few wish to talk about it. Marcos backers put their number at over 80 percent.
Last Saturday, over lechon (roast pig), suman (rice cakes) and adobo (chicken and pork) at Ala Moana Park, Alegado and Ugale shook hands and joined 100 others from both sides of the Filipino community to hear a "prayer of unity" from Father Edgar Saguinsin, three times a prisoner under Marcos' martial law.
But this Sunday, Ugale and travel-agency owner Joe J. Lazo, the most outspoken of Marcos' supporters here, will lead a parade through downtown Honolulu welcoming Marcos and encouraging him to become a political force in Hawaii. Ugale said he has arranged for Filipino civic organizations from every Hawaiian island to bring resolutions asking Marcos to stay.
Even if Marcos is too frail or too absorbed by events in the Philippines to engage in local politics, Lazo said, there are other options. Lazo surveyed his poster-filled office in the predominantly Filipino neighborhood northwest of the state capital and noted the political talents of Marcos' 57-year-old wife, Imelda, former governor of metropolitan Manila.
"I can see her as governor of Hawaii," Lazo said.
Mayor Fasi, a Republican who has energetically courted Filipino-American votes, said in an interview that he is nearly certain Marcos will stay and concedes that the former president has a significant political following. Fasi's longtime political enemy, Democratic Gov. George Ariyoshi, has welcomed the Marcoses warmly. Horacio (Ducky) Paredes, another anti-Marcos organizer here, said Marcos, whether he wants to or not, "will be able to control at least 5 or 6 percent of the vote in Hawaii, which can be very significant."
Graulty suggested some conditions for Marcos' stay: "I hope he would not use Hawaii as a base for a government-in-exile. I hope he would not get involved in local politics. I hope he would not use this as a base for a counterrevolution back home."
He anticipates that Marcos will soon move from the Visiting Senior Officers' Quarters at Hickam Air Force Base to a private residence. "No matter what it sounds like, I've been in that place, and it is not Malacanang West," Graulty said, referring to Marcos' palace in Manila. "It's like living out of a suitcase."