East-West Center Oral History Project: Ric Trimillos

Ric Trimillos

Ric Trimillos is currently (2007) Professor and Chair of Asian Studies, School of Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Prior to that he was a professor in the UHM music department. He is an internationally known ethnomusicologist and consultant to the Smithsonian Institution, the National Endowment of the Arts, US State Department, and UNESCO on issues of the arts and public policy, education, and the performing arts. Trimillos, a second-generation Filipino from San Jose, California, came to EWC in 1962 as one of its second class of students. In 1963, he, fellow grantee Itsuko Suzuki, and former Center staffer Benji Bennington, headed up the first EWC student-run cultural performance program for the Honolulu community in the Roosevelt High School auditorium. Forty-four years later, this yearly program -- currently called the East West Fest -- continues to welcome an eager public. In 1969 Trimillos served as the first president of EWC's Alumni Association. Since then, he has continued to be an active supporter, participant, and friend of the Center and its 'ohana. In 1994 he received the EWC Distinguished Alumni Award.


Read Trimillos'  interview narrative (pdf)


  • Personal Background
  • Life at EWC - The Early ‘60s - The “Golden Age” -  Beginnings of the East-West Festival - Dorm Life, the ‘60s
  • Ties that Last
  • Life After EWC - Teaching at UH - Alumni/Research Ties - An Asia-Pacific Network - Regrets, in Hindsight
  • EWC’s Impact - The EWC Experience - Enriching the EWC Experience: Advice - The EWC Mission


Interview Quotes
"Duke Kahanamoku had his big nightclub at the international marketplace, so that year he invited all of us, all of the East-West Center kids, I think there were about 150 of us, down to see the show, gave us all aloha shirts, or the muumuus for the girls.  It was really a big deal.  We got to go down there and meet him and get our picture taken with him and all this."

“In the old days,” at the very beginning, we ate in a cafeteria, which was below Hemenway Hall.  Anyway, it’s the old student union, so we all ate there.  We had all these little meal tickets and stuff. So, the eating was a time when all of the different people could get together. You just sat there and talked.  And the nice thing is that you could also complain about the food.  There was a lot more interaction among different nationalities, and us, so that when the East-West Center finally got its own building, they had a cafeteria downstairs in Jefferson Hall.  And so we also met there.


These narratives, which reflect interviewees’ personal perceptions, opinions and memories, may contain errors of fact. They do not reflect positions or versions of history officially approved by the East-West Center.