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Peter Aquino Aduja[1]
File:File:Peter Aduja.jpeg
Family photo
Territorial House of Representatives member

In office
1954 – 1956[2]
District Court Judge

In office
1960 – 1962[3]
State House of Representatives member, 23rd District[4]

In office
1966 – 1974[3]
Personal details
Born (1920-10-19)19 October 1920[1]
Salindig, Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Luzon, Philippine Islands[5]
Died 19 February 2007(2007-02-19) (aged 86)[1]
Las Vegas, Nevada[3]
Resting place Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery[6]
Nationality American
Political party Republican[3][7]
Occupation Soldier, teacher, judge, politician
Military service
Service/branch United States Army[3]
Years of service 1944-1946[3]
Rank 1st Lieutenant[3]
Unit 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment[3][8]

Peter Aquino Aduja (19 October 1920 – 19 February 2007) was the first Filipino American elected to public office in the United States. He was elected as a representative in the Hawaii Legislature in 1954.[5][9]

Born in the Philippines, Aduja emigrated to Hawaii in his youth, and then served in the United States Army during World War II. After World War II, he worked as a teacher, before becoming one of the first Filipino lawyers in Hawaii. After two years in elected office, he worked for the Hawaiian Department of Attorney General, and served two years as a judge, until being elected to the Hawaii House of Representatives. Aduja died in Las Vegas in 2007.

Early lifeEdit

Aduja was born in Ilocos Sur in the Philippines and emigrated with his family at the age of eight to Hilo, Hawaii.[10] He was raised in nearby Hakalau, Hawaii, while his father worked on a sugarcane plantation as a sakada.[11] He attended Hilo High, where he was the student body president[2] and an Eagle Scout,[12] graduating with the class of 1941 as salutatorian.[2] After high school, he went on to the University of Hawaii to major in government and history;[10] while attending university Aduja worked as a timekeeper at Pearl Harbor.[2] In 1944, he joined the United States Army, and along with 50 other individuals volunteered for the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment.[10]

Following World War II he married Melodie "Lesing" Cabalona (died 2002). He taught on the island of Hawaii, at Naalehu Intermediate School, before attending Boston University, where in 1951 he earned a law degree.[2][12][13] In 1953, along with Ben Menor (later a justice on Hawaii's Supreme Court), Aduja took the bar examination, and both became Hawaii's first Filipino lawyers.[2][14]

Political careerEdit

In 1954, Aduja was elected to the Territorial House of Representatives, becoming the first Filipino to be elected to public office in Hawaii and the United States.[10][15] He represented one of three seats of the island of Hawaii.[2] In 1956, he spoke on behalf of the Republican Party at the ILWU territorial convention in Hilo.[16] After a single term in office, he went on to work for the Department of Attorney General.[10] In 1959, he ran for State Senate from Oahu, a year when fellow Republican William F. Quinn was elected as the state's first governor, and lost.[2] From 1960 to 1962, he was a district court judge,[3] resigning from the bench in June 1962.[17] After two years out of the public sector, in 1966, he was elected again to public office, this time as a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives.[10] His district included Kailua, the North Shore, and Kahuku.[2] While a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives, he was a delegate at the Hawaii State Constitution's 1968 constitutional convention.[18] Aduja departed the Hawaii House of Representatives in 1974,[10] and returned to the public sector in his final position as a member of the City of Honolulu's Kaneohe Neighborhood Board, which he was on from 1986 until 1994.[6]

Later yearsEdit

In 1991, Professor Dan Boylan wrote that Aduja was one of three important Filipino politicians in Hawaii during the beginning era of Filipino politics in Hawaii.[2] Along with Alfred Laureta and Ben Menor, and a few others minor individuals, they were the few Filipinos in elected office or in significant public office in Hawaii in the mid-20th century.[2] On 19 February 2007, he died while on vacation in Las Vegas.[3] Governor Linda Lingle declared 29 March 2007 to be Peter A. Aduja Day.[19] Aduja was survived by two children and two grandchildren;[10] one of whom is Melodie Aduja, a former Hawaii state senator.[20]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Services set for Thursday for pioneering politician". 25 March 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 Boylan, Dan (1991). "Crosscurrents: Filipinos in Hawaii's Politics". In Okamura, Jonathan Y.; Agbayani, Amefil R.; Kerkvliet, Melinda Tria. Department of Sociology, University of Hawaii at Manoa. pp. 39–55. ISSN 0737-6871. Archived from the original on 2006. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 "Hawai'i honors Fil-Am legislator". 30 March 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  4. Clements, John (1972). Taylor's Encyclopedia of Government Officials, Federal and State. Political Research, Incorporated. p. 76. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Borreca, Richard (22 February 2007). "Lawmaker first U.S. Filipino to hold office". Honolulu. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Funeral Set Thursday For Former Rep. Peter Aduja". 28 March 2007. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  7. Gary G. Aguiar (August 1997). Party Mobilization, Class and Ethnicity: The Case of Hawaii, 1930 to 1964. Universal-Publishers. p. 297. ISBN 978-0-9658564-3-0. 
  8. Revilla, Linda A. (1996). ""Pineapples", "Hawayanos," and "Loyal Americans": Local Boys in the First Filipino Infantry Regiment US Army". In Ikeda, Kiyoshi; Weinstein, Michael G.; Okamura, Jonathan Y.. Department of Sociology, University of Hawaii at Manoa. pp. 57–73. ISSN 0737-6871. Archived from the original on 2006. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
    Viotti, Vicki (29 September 2002). "Tale of Filipino bravery about to be told". Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  9. Jon Sterngass (1 January 2009). Filipino Americans. Infobase Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 978-1-4381-0711-0. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 Rod Ohira (22 February 2007). "Peter Aduja, distinguished local Filipino". Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  11. "Peter Aduja". Los Angeles. 27 May 2009. p. B2. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 "First Filipino lawmaker in US is dead at 87". 23 February 2007. Retrieved 26 October 2014. 
  13. Lawrence Kestenbaum (December 2013). "Adams-medina to Aedanus". Lawrence Kestenbaum. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
    "Obituaries". 1 June 2002. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  14. Benjamin B. Domingo (1983). Hawaii's eminent Filipinos. Foreign Service Institute. p. 16. ISBN 978-971-11-5004-4. 
  15. Valerie Ooka Pang; Li-Rong Lilly Cheng (3 September 1998). Struggling To Be Heard: The Unmet Needs of Asian Pacific American Children. SUNY Press. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-7914-3840-4. 
  16. "GOP Speakers at ILWU Functions Run from Roy Vitousek to Peter Aduja". 3 October 1957. p. 6. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  17. Hawaii. Supreme Court (1960). Annual Report of the Chief Justice. p. 53. 
  18. "Hawai'i honors Fil-Am legislator". 30 March 2007. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  19. Lingle, Linda (19 March 2007). "Proclamation". State of Hawaii. Retrieved 11 October 2014. 
  20. Ben DiPietro (6 November 2002). "No Lingle coattails: Republicans lose four House seats". Retrieved 4 August 2011. 

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