Hawaiian Eye

By: Hawaiian Eye

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Sunday, 15-Feb-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Loretta's 18th Birthday Celebration: A Debut, Filipina-Style

Loretta was a beautiful princess at the ball!
Loretta and her proud parents, Linda (Lourdes) and Romeo.
Her brother Glenn and sister Aurora.
View all 7 photos...
This was our first Debut. Upon arrival, we quickly learned that a Debut -- or Debu -- is a landmark birthday for 18-year old Filipinas. It is the BIG 1-8.

Similar to the Hispanic "Quinceria" and the "Sweet Sixteen" tradition that we knew as teens, a debut emphasizes their passage into semi-independence with a large, formal and elaborate dinner party and dance.

Loretta's debut birthday festivities were far more than a room full of guys and gals, standing on opposite sides of the room. Instead, as Loretta's guests, we were treated to an elegant seaside dinner with an emceed formal program, followed by dancing late into the night.

Delighted, entertained and amazed, we were regaled with beautifully choreographed, well-practiced modern dance numbers by Loretta and her guy and gal friends; a formal cotillion with graceful ballroom dancing; as well as the sweet harmonies by her friends and an astounding solo by her sister, Aurora.

We realized that we were witnessing Aurora's debut as a wonderful singer. We were as open-mouthed as her father, Romeo, who exclaimed to us, "I didn't know my daughter could sing. I've never heard her sing like that!" American Idol, here's your gal!

We watched Loretta celebrating her debut with her lovely, dear parents, Linda and Romeo; her older siblings, Glenn, freshly out of the Navy and soon on his way to college, and Aurora, an English Literature major at the university; her extended family; her many friends who are the peak of their youth and full of joie de vivre; and folks like us, like her dentist who sat at our table, who have cared for her and her family and have known them for most of her life.

Although only just beginning her adult years, Loretta is amazingly well-accomplished. The world is her oyster. Intensely bright, her academic achievements are stellar. Active in school, in church, in social activities, community involvement, and dance circles, not only is she well-rounded, she is a born leader.

Tireless and giving, she is presently serving as president of her Filipino cultural club at her school, a tough job, and one that is a labor of love often requiring long hours of practice and preparation into the late evening. With club members, she preserves Filipino cultural traditions, especially its song and dance, as well as the mores, values, and history of her parents' homeland, The Phillipines.

Tonight, her club members presented her with a lively Tinikling bamboo dance with its skilled footwork that T and I had not enjoyed since our childhood in Hawai'i. Later, we revisited our childhood with the singing of Dahil Sayo.

Of course, we are most proud of Loretta. Tonight was a celebration of what a unique and lovely human being she is. A young woman of substance. She is already making positive differences in her world -- and ours.

Tonight, confident and enchantingly dressed like a princess in an elegant gown with upswept hair adorned with a tiara, Loretta was the picture of loveliness, of health, of self-assurance, and of boundless expectations. Floating across the dance floor and beaming, Loretta's luminosity was captured forever in our memories.

We are also burstingly proud of her parents, Romeo and Linda, who have raised three achieving, dynamic, respectful and self-respecting children, Glenn, Aurora, and Loretta. All three are young Americans who are unambiguously comfortable in both cultures: the one of their ethnic heritage and the other, of their birth.

In their quiet, behind-the-scenes way, a pleased and proud pair of parents, Romeo and Linda, glowed in the affection of their children, family and friends, and mostly, in their happiness of who their youngest one has grown up to be. I thought of their loving and dedicated parenting of Loretta and her siblings; how well they took care of them and Howie, their beloved dog; how 'strict' Romeo made sure that they did their homework and did it well. I thought about the loving sacrifices made by them so their children's dreams could come true, including this night's debut, Loretta's dream come true.

I truly appreciate parents like Romeo and Linda, who have met life challenges with such dignity, solidarity and fortitude. For me, tonight was as much a celebration for Loretta as it was one for excellent parenting by Romeo and Linda and their unconditional love for one another and their children.

My, my, how quickly they do grow up...


Our special thanks to Loretta, Romeo and Linda for making us a part of this wonderful celebration. And too, to Glenn and Aurora, and Loretta's extended family and friends whose hours of practice and hard work paid off in an evening that pulsated with energy, enthusiasm, and style.

I will always remember the magical moments when Romeo and Loretta took to the dance floor, followed by Glenn taking his sister for a spin. It rivaled those moments when fathers give their daughters away in marriage. The lovely glass slipper that you presented to me, Linda, will always remind me of those moments; it will occupy a special place in my curio...and in my heart.

Thank you, Linda and Romeo, for your strength, love, and uncommon devotion to your children, which are much admired by us.

Saturday, 14-Feb-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Valentine's Day, up in the island in the sky (Big Bear).

Every morning, I wake up with two hungry dogs on my chest...
but today, Valentine's Day, I woke up with two hungry dogs on my
chest with packages tied under their necks.
More fotos and text over here.

Wednesday, 11-Feb-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark

Tae gave a great presentation.
And we gave him our belated thanks for his gorgeous bouquet.

Tuesday, 10-Feb-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Ponderings: A King and His Four Wives

"Will you follow me and keep me company?": Pohoiki gravestones.
"I'll follow you no matter where you go.": Lyman Pond, Kapoho .
The soul of Kalapana lives on in my own.
My friend Kalena sent this to me. Its truth struck a chord in me and I share it here with you. I have read it with care, pondered over it, and have acted on it. Perhaps, it will strike a chord in you:

A King and His Four Wives

Read This Carefully:

Once upon a time there was a rich King who had four wives. He loved the 4th wife the most and adorned her with rich robes and treated her to the finest of delicacies. He gave her nothing but the best.

He also loved the 3rd wife very much and was always showing her off to neighboring kingdoms.
However, he feared that one day she would leave him for another.

He also loved his 2nd wife. She was his confidant and was always kind, considerate and patient with him. Whenever the King faced a problem, he could confide in her, and she would help him get through the difficult times.

The King's 1st wife was a very loyal partner and had made great contributions in maintaining his wealth and kingdom. However, he did not love the first wife. Although she loved him deeply, he hardly took notice of her!

One day, the King fell ill and he knew his time was short. He thought of his luxurious life and wondered, "I now have four wives with me, but when I die, I'll be all alone."

Thus, he asked the 4th wife, "I have loved you the most, endowed you with the finest clothing and showered great care over you. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?"

"No way!", replied the 4th wife, and she walked away without another word.

Her answer cut like a sharp knife right into his heart. The sad King then asked the 3rd wife, "I have loved you all my life. Now that I'm dying, will you follow me and keep me company?"

"No!", replied the 3rd wife. "Life is too good!

When you die, I'm going to remarry!" His heart sank and turned cold.

He then asked the 2nd wife, "I have always turned to you for help and you've always been there for me...when I die, will you follow me and keep me company?"

"I'm sorry, I can't help you out this time!", replied the 2nd wife. "At the very most, I can only send you to your grave." Her answer came like a bolt of lightning, and the King was devastated.

Then a voice called out: "I'll leave with you and follow you no matter where you go." The King looked up, and there was his first wife. She was so skinny as she suffered from malnutrition and neglect.

Greatly grieved, the King said, "I should have taken much better care of you when I had the chance!"

In truth, we all have 4 wives in our lives: Our 4th wife is our body. No matter how much time and effort we lavish in making it look good, it will leave us when we die. Our 3rd wife is our possessions, status and wealth. When we die, it will all go to others. Our 2nd wife is our family and friends. No matter how much they have been there for us, the furthest they can stay by us is up to the grave.

And our 1st wife is our Soul. Often neglected in pursuit of wealth, power and pleasures of the world. However, our Soul is the only thing that will follow us wherever we go. Cultivate, strengthen and cherish it now, for it is the only part of us that will follow us to the throne of God and continue with us throughout Eternity.

When the world pushes you to your knees...You're in the perfect position to pray.

Monday, 9-Feb-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
"Happy Chinese New Year & Valentine's Day!" to our friends, L&N

Outside Lap's and Nita's mansion.
Lap & Nita: The American Dream Come True!
We had so much fun at a French restaurant, Pascal's.
View all 4 photos...
Every year, this time of year, our long-time friends, Lap (pronounced lahp) and Nita will give us a ring to get together for Valentine's dinner. It's become our own special tradition with one another.

This year, we called them, knowing that we were going out of town for Valentine's Day weekend. To our surprise, we learned that they had moved to a new home, 20 minutes away.

Last night, we got together with them, meeting Lap first at their new home, while Nita winded up some business at her office. Such a grand home it is, luxurious and plush, and beautifully appointed. "Like a movie star's home," I murmured as Lap gave us the grand tour of an amazingly grand house.

As exceptional as exceptional gets, Lap and Nita deserve the very best that life has to offer. They are survivors of the atrocities, deprivations, and tragedies of war (the Viet Nam war). Back then, early in their marriage, Lap had been unexpectedly seized, detained, then imprisoned.

Most would have been intimidated, but Nita was undeterred. Day after day, week after week, month after month, with quiet strength and undeniable courage, Nita sat outside the building of an official who could release her husband, and whenever he entered or left the building, she would plead with him to release her husband. Finally, one day, the official, out of pity or perhaps out of sheer admiration for her friendly perseverance, yielded and began the process that eventually led to Lap's freedom.

For this reason, to this day, theirs is an undying and dedicated love that most people will never experience in their lifetimes. True soulmates, they thoroughly cherish one another, never taking the other for granted. They are such a delight to be with and anyone who is lucky to be in their joint presence is blessed as well. One could wish them the best, but they already have it.

Soon after Lap's release, they found their way to America. No one gave them any breaks, but they applied themselves. They met life's trials with dignity, humor and with no bid for sympathy. They learned English, then enrolled in real estate school, in time becoming real estate agents and brokers.

By dint of strong determination, perseverance, positivity and hard, dedicated work, they became an extraordinarily successful real estate team and have achieved the American Dream for themselves and their two children.

How did they come into our lives, you ask?

I was fresh out of school, with a $6000 school loan and $80,000 ten-year business loan. We were renters, living in a cozy, one bedroom apartment then. Every morning, on the way to work, I would drive by an exclusive gated community and tell myself, "One day, I'll be living there..."

We met Lap and Nita one Sunday morning, almost twenty years ago. That bright morning, T and I were riding our bikes on the way to the regional park. We saw a car driving through the gates of that community and we pedalled our bikes hard and slipped through the gate, right behind the car. We cruised through the community's tree-lined streets on our bicycles, admiring the attractive homes with their tended gardens and well-manicured lawns.

We came across a for sale/open house sign in front of one of the homes. Curious looky-loos, we parked our bikes and knocked on the door. Lap, in his tailored business suit, and Nita, in her smart knit suit, greeted us at the door with the warmest of smiles and the friendliest of demeanors. Dressed in our grungy shorts, tee-shirts, and sneakers, we certainly did not look like their usual, well-heeled open house visitors. Nonetheless, Nita and Lap were most gracious and cordially invited us in to look at the house.

It was a doctor's house. We tried to look and act nonchalantly "casual" as they took us around the home, but inside we were oohing and ahh-ing like crazy. Nita and Lap treated us as if we were their most promising, serious house-buying prospects.

We sat down together in the cheery yellow breakfast nook, and I admitted to them that we were merely looky-loos. (As if they didn't know!) "No way, no how" could we ever afford such a home, at least not for a long, long time, given our debt situation. That's when Nita offered to take us around the surrounding areas with houses that might be more in our price range.

She was undeterred when I told her that we had no money, not even for a down payment and that all of our money had gone to pay the down payment for the business we bought the year before. For the next few weekends, she would ring us and we'd meet them at the house in the gated community. Nita would then drive us to see houses in the humbler, less pricey neighborhoods, while Lap manned the open house in the gated community.

On the last day, as we were driving back to the house, Nita asked me to better describe the kind of house that appealed to me. As we turned the corner, I pointed to a house on that corner and said, "That one. I'd like a house just like that one."

Indeed it had the architectural look of a building that we had admired in Honolulu when we were graduate students at the University there. But of course, I knew that to aspire to such a house was well, silly, given our financial situation. A house in such a beautiful gated community was leapyears away from our price range. A pipe dream.

As we turned the corner, Nita saw that the house had a For Sale sign. It had just come on the market. "We'll give them a low-ball offer; we have nothing to lose," she said.

We were dubious. Even if the seller were to accept a low-ball offer, where was the down payment for such a house going to come from?

Undeterred, Nita checked with the seller's realtor. And lo and behold, the realtor was a man named Sam who I had just met and cared for at my business! He told the seller, "Don't worry about her. I promise you, she's going to do well. Sell the house to her." He then arranged for the seller to loan us the money "as a second" for the down payment!

So, yes, it was Nita and Lap who helped us to find and buy our first house. Timing was everything. A year after we bought it, interest rates fell and the price of the house doubled! We still live in it, almost twenty years later. It has been a very kind house to us, and we have never forgotten the kindnesses extended to us by Lap and Nita.

Sam, the seller's realtor, and his wife, Nila, have been dear friends of ours ever since, as well. I have cared for them and their daughter, their only child, in my business ever since. Their daughter then followed my own professional footsteps.

Nita and Lap became our unfailing, lifelong friends and every year, we celebrate our friendship on Valentine's, which is so appropriate given the powerfulness of their love for one another. And we love them. If we had any more adoration and love for this couple, we would simply explode!

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