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Undergraduate Programs Information

Major or minor in Asian Studies.

Graduate Programs Information

Including: Master of Arts in Asian Studies, Master’s in Asian International Affairs, and Graduate Certificates in Asian Studies.

Student Testimonials

Christina Geisse

The Asian Studies Program was incredible because most professors were undertaking their own research, passionate about their subject of study, and enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge with students. It felt fresh and profound at the same time. Inspiring! 

Christina Geisse
Kim Sluchansky

I was able to delve deep and focus on the areas of Asian Studies that truly interested me, and therefore gained a much more thorough and developed understanding of my fields of interest, which are applicable to my current career path. Also, the professors are extremely helpful and want their students to succeed. They were very supportive both while I was at UH and after I graduated.

Belinda AQUINO, Ph.D.

Headshot Of Dr. Belinda Aquino

Contact Information

Tel. (808) 956-6086 (CPS), Email:

Educational Background

  • An internationally recognized authority on contemporary Philippine affairs, Dr. Belinda A. Aquino received her Ph.D. in Political Science from Cornell University as a Ford Foundation fellow, M.A. in Political Science and Public Administration from the University of Hawaii as an East-West Center scholar, and B.A. in English from the University of the Philippines. She wrote her doctoral dissertation on local autonomy and development in the Philippines.

She is the past Director of the Center for Philippine Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa (1975-2009), where she is also Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies. She has been on the University of Hawaii faculty since 1975. She teaches courses on introduction to politics, comparative politics, Philippine and Southeast Asian politics, Asian studies, women and minorities, and various graduate seminars.

Book cover of "Politics of Plunder"


Her research interests have focused on contemporary Philippine politics with particular reference to presidential leadership, U.S.-Philippine relations, national-local relations, women and cultural minorities, and the politics of corruption during the Marcos regime. She is currently engaged in an interdisciplinary research project to understand the historical roots of the Mindanao crisis and the various political forces involved in the continuing conflict. Her other major research interests are the continuing search for the Marcos “hidden wealth,” human rights issues, the development of the Philippine middle class, and Filipino social issues in America.

She was Vice President for Public Affairs at the University of the Philippines where she was also Professor of Political Science and Public Administration during 1989-91. In May 1989, she was a Visiting Scholar at Kansai University in Osaka, Japan. In Fall 1986, she was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) in Singapore. During this period she traveled in Southeast Asia and gave a series of lectures on Philippine society and politics in Singapore and in four Indonesian universities. In 1987, she was Visiting Professor at the University of the Philippines where she spent her sabbatical leave. She has given lectures and presented papers in various universities and institutions worldwide. She has traveled to or lived on the continental U.S., Europe, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, East Africa, Turkey, Mexico, Australia, Egypt, Israel, and other countries.

Her major academic activities involve the promotion of intellectual and academic life, particularly in the social sciences. She has written extensively on various issues in academic publications and periodicals. She has presented scholarly papers in international conferences and other professional circles. She has served on various boards of institutions on the social sciences, higher education, humanities, university governance, faculty unions, and community organizations. She has also served on editorial or review boards of various journals, publishing institutions, and educational foundations. Her expert written testimony on the Marcos plunder was used in various U.S. court cases in the early 1990s against the Marcos estate by human rights plaintiffs. She is actively involved in the promotion of educational and social causes in the Filipino community in Hawaii.

Her intellectual leadership was instrumental in getting a Program and later Center for Philippine Studies established at the University of Hawaii in 1975. This is the only Center offering academic degree programs on the study of the Philippines and Filipinos overseas. It has produced at least three generations of Filipinos in Hawaii, who now have a deeper understanding and appreciation of their ethnic and cultural legacy.

Selected Publications

Dr. Aquino is the author of Politics of Plunder: The Philippines Under Marcos (2nd Edition, 1999), published by the University of the Philippines National College of Public Administration. The original edition was translated into Japanese by Professor Minako Ito with a grant from Toyota Foundation. She is also the author or editor of numerous publications including: Administration of Justice in the Philippines, Presidential Leadership and Cory Aquino, The Failed December Coup, Reflections on the U.S. Bases in the Philippines, The University Experience, and many more articles in professional journals or books. She writes commentary column for the Philippine Daily Inquirer and has written articles for Far Eastern Economic Review, Asian Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune,and Newsday, and the Honolulu papers. Her latest book (co-edited with Leothiny Clavel) analyzes the life of a prominent Philippine scholar and scientist and it’s entitled For Love of Children: Perla Santos Ocampo as Scientist and Humanist.

In 1997-98, she was invited to spend her sabbatical year as a Visiting Professor at the prestigious Institute for Study of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Her research monograph, Transnational Dynamics of the Marcos Plunder, was published in the September 1998 issue of the Journal of Asian and African Studies. Another article, “Filipino Elections and Illiberal Democracy,” was the lead essay in the 1998 issue of Public Policy, a quarterly journal of the University of the Philippines.

Other Works

On April 14-16, 1996 she organized and chaired the Fifth International Philippine Studies Conference in Honolulu, Hawai’i, which was attended by more than 200 scholars and specialists from various parts of the world. She also chaired the first International Conference in Hawaii in 1981. She has been instrumental in organizing the International Committee on Philippine Studies (ICOPHIL) with members from U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, Japan, Philippines, and Southeast Asia. She was on the steering committee that organized the Fourth European Philippine Studies Conference in Spain (2001), International Conference on Philippine Studies in Leiden University (2004), and two other ICOPHIL conferences in Manila (2004 and 2008) .

She was elected nationally by her peers as a member of the Southeast Asia Council (SEAC) of the Association for Asian Studies in 1998, and also elected council chair in 2000. As SEAC Chair, she automatically became a member of the AAS Board of Directors.

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