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From my father,
My stubbornness and sticking to my beliefs.
The Hawaiian culture,
And the calming sounds of the islands.
The soothing voices of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole and even the last queen herself.
The spam musubi, li hing mui, malasadas, and all the treats from the manapua man.
Our strange way of talking, and the slang no one understands.
“These haoles don’t get it,” he would tell me.
There’s always an explanation for the weather and the noises we hear at night,
And it always involves the menehunes or the night marchers.
“When it rains, the little menehunes are getting married.”
“When you hear drums, you better run because the night marchers are coming.”
From my mother,
My “asian hair and mindset.”
The determination to succeed and build a family.
Selflessness, whether it destroys our own state of being or not.
“As long as we made others happy, that will make us feel good.”
The smell of my favorite Filipino dishes:
Turon, cassava cake, and sinigang.
Brown sugar and bananas, coconut, and a sour smell.
From my grandmother,
Only the memories of when I was a child:
Making ballet shoe earrings and bracelets in the kitchen.
Baking Portuguese bread in the bakery in her backyard.
Visiting the swap meets, our favorite place in Hawai’i.
Carrying me over the last step of the escalators in the mall.
Less than six years of memories.
Then, twelve years of plain phone calls,
And $20 in a card sent to the grandkids in the mainland once a year.
“Don’t spend it all in one place! Love you all.”
From my family,
The values of being kind and caring, but strong at the same time.
And the mindset of a trailblazer.