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The Bali-Hawaii Connection

Hawaiian Fans of U.S. President Barack Obama Hold a Luau on Sanur Beach in Bali.

(10/5/2009) Trivia Question: Where was the very first inaugural ball for U.S. President Barack Obama held?

Answer: In Jakarta Indonesia on the evening of January 20, 2009, a full 12 hours before the "other" ball held in Washington, D.C..

Click Images to Enlarge


Because of the special attachment felt for the then newly elected Preident who lived for five years as a young boy in Jakarta, the Jakarta Inaugural Ball was a gala affair of fine food and drink, music and fund raising for local charitable causes. Instrumental in organizing the Jakarta event were expatriates hailing from the State of Hawaii, the new President's state of birth.

As a continuance of that celebration, members of the Hawaiian community abroad in Indonesia and others gathered again on Saturday, October 3, 2009, at the Bali Hyatt Resort in Sanur, Bali for an authentic Luau. Under the careful tutelage of a group of "Hawaiians" including Metro TV Anchor Dalton Tanonaka, Jakarta restaurateur Ron Mueller and Hyatt Hotelier Ron Nomura - a large sucking pig and several turkeys were cooked in a hot stone pit and later served with Taro and a number of other Hawaiian island culinary specialties.

Highlights of the Bali Luau, in addition to the food, were a Rp. 10 million (US$1,000) donation given by the group to the Semara Putra Orphanage in Semarapura, East Bali and special delivery letter sent to the group from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C..

That letter, sent by Maya Soetoro-Ng, the Indonesian-born half-sister of President Obama, said the Bali event affirmed the existence of benevolent people who "can and will help to make Indonesia and the world stronger." Sdding, "I am very proud to have my family's name attached to the impressive generosity of all in attendance."

Extending a warm "Aloha" to those gathered on a Bali beach, Maya Soetoro-Ng closed her letter by saying: "I think that we are collectively ushering in a new era of greater giving and service that is wonderful, I send fond regards from the entire family in D.C.."