Author has written 8 stories for Mythology, Young Adult, Biography, Love, Religion, and Friendship.
Aloha pumehana kakou!
Warm greetings to you and to all who are in your Circle!
I am a second-generation, American-born Filipino woman who grew up as a latch-key kid on military bases all over the Navy’s Western Pacific Rim tour – The Philippines; Okinawa; Guam; Japan; Hawai’i, Seattle’s Puget Sound Bay Area and finally the San Francisco Bay Area. I am divorced, no kids and live in Vallejo, California – a place I have come and gone from, but always returned to and called home since 1972. I have a four-year-old Jardine’s parrot named Kaleo, who acts like my good-will ambassador with all my houseguests. My parents live to the north in Elk Grove with my Cocketiel, Sam. My younger brother and his family of four live happily to the east in Stockton with my Senegal parrot, Lee Lee.
Indeed, birds are an integral part of my Ohana, my family. My father’s love of birds, which he learned from his father and grandfathers, impressed me throughout his retelling of his childhood stories growing up in the Philippines. During my impressionable years at Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary School, my teachers meticulously taught the detailed history of the Hawaiian islands, its people and the many concepts and values that describe the Hawaiian spiritual paradigm, in addition to reading, writing and arithmetic. Their teachings became a major influence in my life. One notable story I always remember is about the Hawaiian Sea Tern and how they are the vessels that embody our Spirit selves. I admire this bird because no matter how many miles it flies out to sea to forage for food, it always manages to find its way back to land before nightfall. Similarly, I view my life experiences as the sum total of many different outings in my canoe onto the waters of life in search of sustenance in the form of obtaining Clarity in one form or another. I reach land when I acknowledge the lesson learned, with gratitude. For these reasons, I adopted the Hawaiian sea tern as one of my personal ‘aumakua, spirit guardian.
As for birds as pets, I find parrots especially intelligent and good companions because they are expressive in their mannerisms and intuitively communicative once they begin learning human speech patterns. Hence, I was inspired to name my parrot Kaleo, because ka leo means “the voice.”
I began to find my voice very early in life through my voracious appetite for reading books. Instead of playing tetherball or hop scotch, I made a bee-line for the library. When I was growing up as a keiki (child), I was always a little chubby but always happy. But, children can be rather cruel to one another at times. I endured a fair amount of teasing for being larger than most of the boys in my class. So, I hid in the one place I knew I would be safe: the library. The library was the only peaceful place where I could do anything, be anyone and be anywhere else but in that miserable schoolyard. I sought out and read many Newberry Award-winning books because they were always guaranteed to be pleasurably distracting adventures. I then branched out and read classics like Little Women, Jane Eyre and several others of the Bronte sisters’ works; poetry by Lord Byron, Elizabeth Barrett-Browning and even Japanese haiku. By middle school, I was already exploring different vantage points and philosophies. I read the Tao Te-Cheng; Musashi’s Lord of the Five Rings; Machiavelli’s Prince; all of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; Tolkein’s Lord of The Rings trilogy and The Hobbit (the whole series, twice!), as well as novels by Ray Bradbury, Virginia Wolf, Ernst Hemingway, Isabel Allende, Pablo Neruda, Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and HH the XIV Dalai Lama, to name a few. I cultivated an eclectic literary palate because variety in vantage point is truly the spice of life. More importantly, the breadth of my reading experiences shaped my command of the English language, which was always a source of pride for my immigrant parents. Education, they believed, was the key to establishing an identity worth knowing.
Not surprisingly, reading books was how my voice was born.
While at UC Berkeley, I tutored college freshmen students to help them improve their reading comprehension, English grammar and essay writing skills – a job I fell into as an Ethnic Studies major. That course of study led me into a ten-year period of participation with grassroots non-profit community service organizations that provided low-cost social services to low income, immigrant and elderly individuals. I participated on United Way-funded boards of directors and volunteered countless hours for agencies that provided such things like: free legal services for domestic violence, immigration, housing and family law cases; elderly adult day social healthcare and meals-on-wheels programs, and English-as-a-Second-Language tutorials for elementary school-age children in math and science.
And then, of course, came the many casual lessons about how it is to be Hawaiian that I received from my Godmother, who always conducted such sessions at her kitchen table in Pearl City, O’ahu. I spent many summers listening and memorizing her stories.
But, with all those wonderful opportunities also came one incident that burst my aloha bubble. In my sophomore year, I was date-raped while living in the dorms. Those were dark days. I found I couldn’t look a guy in the face for months. I was determined not to let the pain of being violated beat me. So, out of that traumatic experience, I managed to rise like a phoenix and pursued two courses of action: a combined pursuit of learning prosaic writing and martial arts.
My yang side told me that if I wanted to live free, I needed to feel secure in my own body. I knew that exercise was the key to a healthier state of mind and a quicker fight-or-flight response, so I took up badminton and Tae Kwon Do martial sports to keep in shape. I found I enjoyed the rigorous training and discipline demanded in each sport, but eventually elected to continue with Tae Kwon Do for physical conditioning and learned Hapkido for self-defense. I trained for several years after graduation until I met my ex-husband, a professor of Original Hard-Style Kajukenbo, a martial arts system originated in post-WWII Hawai’i. He became my master instructor and remains so to this day. The mental discipline I learned alongside the physical training continues to keep me on an even keel emotionally and spiritually.
My yin side allowed me to discover that journal writing was enjoyable and relaxing, and it soon became my anger management therapy. What began as a simple journal writing exercise blossomed into a disturbing essay describing my reactions to the rape written in the first-person. I wrote about the thoughts flashing through my brain as I relived those horrid moments, the shame and numbness afterward, and everything else in between. I first read my essay to a class of 150 sorority and fraternity Psych 1 students, admittedly a tough audience. Nonetheless, everyone heard my voice, which echoed in a silent room for several moments after I read the last word … until everyone burst into applause. I felt somewhat vindicated and relieved of a great burden by telling my story. A college professor caught my reading and eventually convinced me to read my other written works at private reading sessions scheduled at the Durant Avenue YWCA and later at San Francisco State University. But, as much as I enjoyed writing stories, I somehow lost track of it all after I graduated and had to get a real job.
I have been a California notary public and worked as a litigation paralegal since age 19. Because of all those years working in law firms, I eventually went to law school, which I enjoyed immensely as an intellectual experience. I conducted tutorials in Torts and Criminal Law to defray the cost of tuition; became editor-in-chief of the school’s law review; won three jury trials while interning at the local District Attorney’s office, and helped our school place third in a statewide moot court competition (I wrote the brief).
Presently, I work part-time as a law clerk for a solo civil attorney practicing plaintiff personal injury and medical malpractice law. In the recent past, I was a consultant for an intellectual property invention “think tank” that creates various “green” inventions and devices. Oddly, it was that focus on creativity projects that sparked my desire to pick up my own writing again.
Through the years, I experienced and continue to experience different types of work, play and learning situations in pursuit of refining more effective ways of expressing my voice and my spirit.
When I am not at work, I run my healing church, Hui Lanakila O Ka Hana Pono, and teach energy working modalities like Reiki, Hawaiian homeopathic herbology and crystalwork. My ministry propagates the Hawaiian spiritual paradigm called Ka Hana Pono, a philosophy that is the daily practice of maintaining balance through compassionate living. I go out into my community daily and aid people unbalanced and “dis-eased” by depression and self-image issues through counseling and alternative therapies. As an ordained minister, I also perform many ministerial duties, such as house blessings, commitment ceremonies, weddings and burial rites.
When I have an hour or two of quiet time in the early or late evenings, weather permitting, I enjoy sitting outside on my lanai playing ki ho’alu (Hawaiian slack key) tunes on my guitar. The acoustics created between my house and the neighbor’s tall trees become the relaxing backdrop for a wonderfully rejuvenating, soulful experience, especially when there are gentle trade winds blowing through our hillside. Those are the moments I am filled with gratitude for the things I have accomplished thus far in life.
I always believed I could be a great storyteller. I got a second glance at writing when I took up live-action improvisational roleplay gaming as a hobby. Actually, it was an activity that allowed me to hone my creative writing ability as well as my extemporaneous speech, because scene development and character dialogue could be continued via email between live performances. The character interactions I wrote about entertained and inspired my storytellers and fellow players so much that they eventually made me a storyteller. I found the activity satisfied my need to write and, best of all, I enjoyed it immensely. Now, I am at a point in my life where I have the time to fit in more opportunities for nurturing creativity in my life. I want to make the most of this moment. Wela ka hao … strike while the iron’s hot!
I hope to be able to write a series of children’s short stories centered around each of the 50 key aspects of Ka Hana Pono as a way of introducing the Hawaiian spiritual paradigm that is the Aloha Spirit to American children as a cross-culturally enriching experience. I also hope to someday write a series of children’s magazine articles about the various aspects of the Aloha Spirit, which includes the definition of aloha. I believe writing children’s stories will compliment my vocational plans, my teaching goals and assist me to obtain a degree of financial security. It would be lovely to finally pay off my student loans and maybe even relocate home to Hawai’i. In these ways, I fulfill my goal to propagate the beautiful oral history of the Hawaiian people and their spiritual connection to the land that sustained them, Hawai’i nei, through the retelling of all the stories my Ohana and my teachers told me so many years ago. I want all these dreams to become my real-time island of paradise.
I hope you enjoyed the story of my journeys thus far as a Hawaiian sea tern flying over the waters of life. I am excited about this new opportunity and look forward to growing as a writer with you. Ho’omakaukau. I am ready. So, as we always say, until the next time, or …
A hui hou,
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