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Eddie’s Chinese Side

Unbeknownst to many, L&L founder Eddie Flores Jr. Is half-chinese, and he celebrates that half as the president-elect of Chinese Chamber of Commerce, and is involved in planning the Splendor of China Expo nov. 1-2 at Blaisdell Exhibition Hall

You don’t need a passport or visa to go to China. For two days, Nov. 1 and 2, you simply can pack the family into the car and drive to Blaisdell Exhibition Hall to enjoy the sights, sounds, tastes, scents and pageantry of China.

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Eddie Flores writes his name in Chinese
RACHEL BREIT PHOTOS

It’s the 12th annual Splendor of China trade and cultural expo presented by Chinese Chamber of Commerce in connection with the Narcissus Festival. The event celebrates one of Hawaii’s most significant ethnic groups.

The earliest Chinese came to Hawaii in the late 18th century, followed by Chinese plantation laborers in the mid-to late 19th century.

Today, 95 percent of Chinese Americans in Hawaii live in Honolulu and work at professional jobs. Chinese comprise 5 percent of the state’s population.

Traditional values of education, hard work, financial security and family stability are perpetuated, even among the younger generations.

All of this, including the global power that China has become, is not lost on Eddie Flores Jr., a prominent business and community leader who is recognized more for his Filipino heritage than Chinese.

But the president-elect of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce has many dimensions to his persona.

Born in Hong Kong 68 years ago, Flores is the son of a Filipino father and Chinese mother. Eduardo and Margaret Flores nurtured their son in a largely Chinese cultural environment.

“I was raised to think Chinese,” says Flores, the affable president-CEO of the 200-unit L&L restaurant and franchise chain.

Flores, whose Chinese name is Lum Chi Hung, speaks, reads and writes Cantonese. He admits to being less adept at Mandarin Chinese but is becoming more proficient in it for business purposes. Mandarin, he claims, is the linguistic key to prosperity.

Drawing on his local roots in Liliha and close ties to the Chinatown community, Flores developed business and social bonds at an early age.

“Many became my clients,” he recalls. “I also managed and coached a Chinese youth soccer team (Wah Chin) for many years.”

When Chinese Chamber of Commerce asked him to step into a leadership position for the organization, he graciously declined on several occasions.

“I was told there’d be nothing to do. Just sit there and take all the glory,” he quips. “But that’s not my style. If I’m involved, it’s 100 percent dedication and effort.”

Finally, wife Elaine persuaded him to lead the venerable organization.

As president-elect, Flores is very involved in the 66th annual Narcissus Festival and Splendor of China expo, and Oct. 30 will keynote the general membership luncheon at Empress Restaurant on “Understanding Chinese Buyers.”

His presentation will draw upon his more than 50 years of experience in dealing with Chinese buyers as a real estate broker and restaurant entrepreneur. Topics include mianzi (face is important), guanxi (having the right connection), and superstitious beliefs such as why No. 8 is preferred and more.

“There are different types of Chinese buyers you have to know and why they have so much cash,” Flores explains.

But being flush with cash isn’t needed Nov. 1 and 2 to enjoy Splendor of China. In fact, the $3 admission is discounted by $1 with coupons offered at L&L Restaurants, Panda Express, Territorial Savings Bank, HomeStreet Bank and at splendorofchina.com.

Three China provinces — Shanxi, Fujian and Liaoning — are represented by high-ranking trade and goodwill officials.

Exhibitors will showcase arts and crafts, antiques, apparel, beauty and skin care, Christmas d├ęcor, coins and stamps, jewelry, enticing foods, furniture, home appliances and more.

Cultural attractions include acrobatic lion dances, Chinese calligraphy, chop carving, cooking demos, feng shui, lantern making and martial arts.

Flores recommends Magical Face Changes of Sichuan Opera, an ancient art form of Chinese mask changing that is a coveted theatrical secret dating back 300 years. Actors change more than 10 masks in less than 20 seconds. By raising the hand, swinging a sleeve or tossing the head, an actor uses colorful masks to show different emotions.

Just as the mystery and intrigue of the Orient enraptures the world, so will Hawaii’s celebration of the Chinese people and their traditions.

“Americans don’t understand China very well,” Flores comments. “China is a foreign concept, yet it’s a world power and competitive trader. We must open our eyes and minds to its potential.

“From tourism to retail to financial services, we must build pathways to marketing.”

Take it from a highly successful entrepreneur, community advocate, and author of two business guides, one cookbook and a joke book in the works.

Flores draws upon his hapa Filipino-Chinese heritage, education at University of Hawaii Shidler College of Business and University of Oklahoma, and keen sense of opportunity to do well in many endeavors.

The man is a superstar, and somewhere at L&L China, someone has just ordered another plate of chicken katsu.