I remember, a fellow blogger asked me one day, “Why are you so proud of Hawaii? As if it’s so special.” I did not answer her. Because I believe, I don’t have to explain for any of my outright entitlement. But, she’s right, I am very proud of Hawaii, as I’m thankful to this state being a resident U.S. immigrant. Indeed, Hawaii is so special too geologically (home to many live volcanoes) geographically (still in the Northern Hemisphere, and at the heart of the Pacific) and culturally speaking. One cultural of nature, is lei. On a lighter note, we, kama’ainas (locals) are comfortable in our slippers wherever we go and whatever we do for living.
Another thing, there’s a profound diversity of culture here; for this is home-away-from-home to many Filipinos (like myself), Koreans, Chinese (like my half-self), Japanese, Vietnamese, Laotians, Latinos, Samoans, Micronesians–name them all; we have them all. Sometimes, when I take TheBus (our state-run buses are almost all hybrid now and environmentally friendly), I’d hear in one corner people are speaking Tagalog, and then in the other side Nihonggo, then Cantonese–but they all speak Pidgin English (Creole) simultaneously. For a writer, language is music to my ears.
Nonetheless, we, kama’ainas of these Hawaiian islands give leis not just to tourists, but to our loved ones, to our leaders and many more. It speaks of aloha, our love, our gratitude, our well wishes and prayers, our regards and respect. It’s our way of appreciation for touching lives. Handcrafted by mostly of our kupunas (elders), lei making is a very tedious and so laborious. But it’s an integral part of our culture and philosophy, so we endure such labor of love, not to prove we’re good people. Rather, simply, it brings us joy and keep our traditions going. Anything related to culture, there is no right nor wrong; but it can’t be judge by anyone outside that culture. Moreover, such traditions lead to values and virtues, which are meant to pass from generations to generations. It tightens our ties with our ohanas (families), our friends, and the community, while keeping our culture alive.
Personally, whenever I receive a lei, I feel there’s something ill (or broken) in (or with) me that gets healed, knowing I’m wearing something someone has painstakingly made. And it’s so literally close to my heart. It’s a powerful feeling too strong to put into words.
Note that there are still goodness in this world that deserves immunity from scrutiny. Thank you for all your support. And my warmest aloha to you all!