Emme’s Up-close Look At History

Linda Dela Cruz
Wednesday - April 15, 2009
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Robert Pennybacker, Emme Tomimbang and James Burns

Emme Tomimbang profiles an important man, an important time and an important milestone with the limited release of her second DVD, titled John A. Burns: The Man and His Times.

With her television production company, EMME Inc.(Emme Tomimbang Multi-Media Enterprises), Tomimbang says the show is a biography of John Burns, a visionary who was the father of the modern-day democratic revolution in the 1940s and 1950s, and Hawaii governor from 1962 to 1974. Burns created the University of Hawaii medical school, law school and helped organize unions. In addition to DVDs available, John A. Burns: The Man and His Times, directed by Robert Penebacker, will air on KHON2 at 9 p.m. April 15 and at 4 p.m. April 19 in honor of the 50th anniversary of statehood.

Tomimbang originally created this one-hour special in 2000, and incoming medical students view the documentary every year.

“He was pivitol for the time when Hawaii was being shaped,” she says of Burns. “Here I am documenting my husband’s father’s life, who is one of the crafters of the statehood bill. It’s kind of surreal for me, not just to have my own statehood understanding, but to make it part of the legacy to share with other people.”


The show has been updated with an introduction by her husband, James Burns, a retired chief judge of Hawaii’s Intermediate Court of Appeals.

“He looks so much like his dad that the older generation see him and say ‘Governor Burns,’” Tomimbang says.

Judge Burns says Tomimbang insisted he go on camera, so, like a good husband, he complied.

“She told me everything to do and everything not to do,” Burns admits. “I had to lift my chin, turn my face and sit up straight. I prefer her in front of the camera, and I prefer to be somewhere else.”

There are plans in place to get the DVD into schools and libraries as an educational piece.

Tomimbang’s first DVD release, Mabuhay with Aloha - The Hawaii Filipino Experience 1906-2006, was created for the Filipino Centennial.

The year 2009 is a big one for Tomimbang: the 50th anniversary of statehood, the 100th anniversary of JohnA. Burns’birth and also the 15th anniversary of EMME Inc., where she produces her show, Emme’s Island Moments - stories of Hawaii including entertainers, chefs and other interests. Before starting her company in 1994, the Farrington High School graduate worked in radio and television news.

Tomimbang has participated in many meaningful events over time, and a recent one is especially touching for her: when her web designer helped her stream her 2008 Christmas show online for the military in Afghanistan and Kuwait. That show featured Raiatea Helm and had a retrospective piece on Aunty Genoa Keawe.

“Anyone can show anything on computer, but you have to look at the financial aspect,” she says. “I still have to find a way to sponsor it.”

Tomimbang admits that one of the challenges of running your own television production company is finding those sponsors.

“I have to be more innovative and creative,” she explains. “I make deals and I lower my production expenses. You are constantly finding ways to cope with what’s in the market. Without my sponsors, I would not be on the air. Sometimes it’s moment to moment, but at least it is on the air!”

Speaking of on the air, Emme’s Island Moments segments also are shown on Hawaiian Airlines flights.

“I’m not only on air, I’m also in air,” she says with a hearty laugh. “I feel honored and so lucky for being on the air for this long. Thanks to my sponsors.”

For more information, call 947-6677 or log onto emmeinc.com. ldelacruz@ midweek.com

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