Overlooking the beautiful De Anza Cove, North Mission Bay Park, was the perfect setting for the 5th annual San Diego Ho’olaule’a Hawaiian Cultural Festival. Organized by Jordan and Marla Martin, with contributing partnerships, sponsors and many volunteers, it’s their desire to keep Hawaiian traditions alive and pass them on to the next generation.
As the opening ceremonies began with traditional song, dance and prayer, I heard a woman proudly say her son, Jordan, was on stage making the announcements. After the procession, I had the chance to talk with her and listen to an interesting life story. Josephina Martin, showed me her bracelet which had her Hawaiian name, Lokepine. She was born and raised on a plantation in a rural section of Maui where the family of 16 siblings grew sugarcane, coffee and macadamia nuts. After Pearl Harbor, her family was “shipped” to Oahu where her father with his foreman skills from the plantation, assisted with the war efforts and her mother did laundry for the Navy. The kids literally walked miles to school.
Although, she lives in California, her Hawaiian roots are deep and it’s evident the passion has carried over to her family. Soon her Maui born husband of 61 years and one of the 5 daughters will travel with her to Maui for her sister’s 100th birthday. Josephina radiates the Aloha spirit.
It couldn’t be a Hawaiian event without lots of food and the booths were loaded with Huli Huli chicken spinning on a rotisserie over a hot coals, plates of spam and eggs, shaved ice and hot donuts. My plate of chicken, macaroni salad and white rice tasted like I was smack dab in Hawaii.
Highlighting island cultural workshops were demonstrations of gourd painting, lei making with feathers and canoe paddling. There were many shapes and sizes of gourds and decorating them is a personal choice, according to one artist. The canoe rides provided in an outrigger canoe had eager learners lifting and carrying the heavy vessel into the water with instructions how to paddle through the water like the ancient Hawaiians did. Katherine Anuhea Nery from Lei Hula of California, patiently sewed goose feathers on her crescent lei which she will wear over a green gown for her graduation. She began learning lei making in 2006 as a way to keep the culture going with her family and community. The graduation signifies completion of first level lei making and then she will move on to learn more.
I must say my favorite workshop was the lomi lomi massage by Lomi Lomi Kaomi. The Hawaiian power flow method gave me pain relief from an aching hip and tight ham strings. It was an experience of pressing into trouble areas and yet, feeling relaxed as the blood started flowing. R. Akoni Apana and partner Gabriel are Indigenous Hawaiian Healers and I now have their phone number on speed dial.
The Hawaiian Cultural Festival is free with free parking and always held the first weekend in May. There is one more day to enjoy culture, food and respect for the Hawaiian elders.