My Point of Heu
Originally written in April 2015 for Frolic.
Wheel of Fortune has long been the most-watched game show in Hawaii … and one of the most successful in American history. Even now, as I did growing up, at 6:45 p.m. I can hear the soft ping and spin of the wheel resonating through my neighborhood.
Hawaii residents have grown to love Pat Sajak and Vanna White like family. I had the honor of meeting them and the rest of the Wheel team when they were taping promos for the Hawaii shows last year. They were genuinely nice people, so very humble and funny, and they love coming to Hawaii!
How many of us dream of getting on the show? This became reality for a local couple during the Hilton Waikoloa Village show tapings last year. The episode that aired in February was part of a couples show that was aimed at celebrating a second honeymoon sweepstakes and showcasing local couples who auditioned, then were tested, then cast. Much to my surprise a fellow professor at Hawaii Pacific University made it onto the show with her husband by her side.
Originally written in Dec 2014 for Frolic Hawaii.
Whether you like them fresh or fake, Christmas trees are in full bloom. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday, with all the cheer, lights, decorations and gifts. I always look forward to purchasing a real Christmas tree. Like most, I love the smell and the process of picking out a tree, bringing it home, setting it up and decorating it.
Did you know there are only two Christmas tree farms in Hawaii, and one of them is on Oahu? Helemano Farms is nestled in Whitmore Village and known for its bounty of Norfolk Pine (Hawaiian Christmas) trees and the more traditional looking Leyland Cypress trees. What you may not realize is the farm is currently in the midst of experimenting with nine new varieties of trees. “We do have trees with (a mild pine) scent, but not compared to a Douglas,” owner Aaron O’Brien said. “We are looking for another tree that is affordable to grow in Hawaii.”
Visiting the farm is all about the experience. It involves interacting, communicating, touching, searching and finally selecting the perfect tree. I recommend you go and peruse the farm for free; the local workers would be happy to give you a tour. Here’s a look at how to get there, what they are experimenting with, what you can expect, and why I think it’s better to buy a locally grown Christmas tree.
So... over the past few years there have been some buzzwords that marketing executives seem to be obsessed with. It began with blog, moved on to millennial and for some time now everyone and their mother wants to be an influencer. Let's start with the basics, what is an "influencer" what does this even mean. Well, the word influence means (n) the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something or the effect itself; (v) have an influence on. An influencer is defined as a person or thing that influences another; (marketing) a person with the ability to influence potential buyers or a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media. So there you have it. Many celebrities have been known to utilize their popularity and influence to encourage others to make purchases or to broaden awareness of a product, brand or event. Thus influencer marketing was born.
So, why am I writing a blog about this topic and why do I consider myself not to be an influencer? Well let me explain why:
Originally published on Frolic Hawaii in 2015.
#DearThalia is heart-wrenching, eye-opening, awe-inspiring, raw and insightful. If you take four minutes out of your day to watch the trailer of the brand new local documentary by my high school classmate Rex Moribe, you will tear up, as I did.
The back story of how this project came to be goes way back to my home island of Kauai, where Rex and I used to sit next to each other in math class. Rex was a contender for Kapaa High School student body president. He was a funny, outrageous and positive guy who went on to become a pro bodyboarder and an entrepreneur (he’s the creator of Da Secret Sauce Hawaiian chili pepper water). He was always interested in film and once on Oahu, became an avid participant in Throwdown in Chinatown.
So how and why did this Kauai surfer-turned-businessman decide to focus all his attention, time and money on a Kakaako homeless family? I just had to catch up with him and find out.
Why did you decide to do this project?
I only knew of one homeless person (on Kauai) as I grew up. He stayed and slept in front of my favorite surf spot, Wailua Beach.
Fast forward to when I moved to Oahu in 1998. I was 18 with big dreams to become a professional bodyboarder. I’ve seen so many homeless people on the streets and on the beaches, particularly the west side, that had me thinking, “Is this normal?” This haunted me. In fact, I wanted to shoot this movie when I was 20 with mini-DV/VHS style of filming, but I never did – until now.
What have you learned during this time spent on the streets with this family?
There are many, many unsung heroes that help the homeless without being asked, even refusing a thank you. I lost count of the amount of people I met passing out food and clothing and saying “I do this because it’s the right thing to do.”
The homeless of the future could be your next-door neighbor, your aunty, your uncle, your father, your mother, your son, your daughter, even you or me.
What do you hope to achieve with this film and Kickstarter?
To create awareness that homeless people are everyday people. Yeah, we have the “crazies,” but between that and in hiding distance, there are families, regular tax-paying people who work and then end their day in a tent. I am afraid for the children of the future and the elderly of this generation.
This haunts me, because my own mother could easily be homeless in 10 years. She is a widow with three children, a high health insurance premium, and running a day care. What happens if she cannot do the day care any more – homelessness? If I have anything to say about it, NO!
What do you think the future holds for you in your career and endeavors?
The future is a mystery box and that’s what I love about life. Do I hope to make more films? Yes. Do I hope to inspire others to do exactly what they wish to do, as long as it doesn’t hurt themselves or others? Yes. I don’t know what the future holds for my career and I’m OK with that. But what I do know is that without changes now, it won’t matter what career I have – I will never be able to retire in Hawaii.
Moribe just launched a “Dear Thalia” movie 30-day Kickstarter to try to recoup the money he fronted to create this film, get it released and eventually on to DVD. He’s only asking for $5,000 but in actuality his bills have exceeded $10,000 for this project.
Here’s the “Dear Thalia” trailer on the website
Dear Thalia Kickstarter
It’s a story that has already touched many hearts. After my blog post in March about Dear Thalia: What it’s really like to be homeless, local filmmaker Rex Moribe’s documentary about a 3-year-old living in Kakaako, thousands of people shared Thalia’s plight on Facebook. Now I have some updates.
First, there is good news. When Moribe launched his Kickstarter to fund the film, he had $1,500. Twenty-four hours after the post was published he had $7,000. “I gotta thank you, and all the Frolic Hawaii readers, huge for that. From that it exceeded $10,000, which is double the amount we asked for,” Moribe said. “It led to a lot of promotions including a feature on KITV4 news. Also emails — people from different islands, countries, states showing interest. Now everyone is excited about the movie.”
Thalia and Rex have had many adventures since meeting last year. She loves going to the beach.
Moribe finished editing the film earlier in September and submitted it to several film festivals around the world. I was ecstatic to hear the Hawaii International Film Festival has selected the documentary for its Fall 2015 showcase. For Moribe, who is my high school classmate and a self-taught former pro body boarder turned guerrilla-style filmmaker, this is a dream come true. Not just because the film will show on the big screen, but also because he can share Thalia’s story.
“This movie right here will literally put you in ground zero Kakaako and you will see what it is like to be homeless. This has never been done before. You’ve never seen what it’s like inside the tent, at the shower, cooking dinner, after dark and when it rains.”
When Moribe first met the Martins, a series of medical and employment setbacks had forced the family onto the streets. At the time there were 30 to 40 tents in the Kakaako area. Now there are more than 160. “I would never say I am an expert on homelessness, but this is more gnarly than I ever expected it to be,” Moribe says. “There’s a lot of confusion in the community because you don’t always see local families on the streets. That’s because they are hiding. You do see a lot of people from the mainland, fresh out of jail, mentally ill, some who have come to Hawaii for the benefits.”
Four years old now, Thalia is getting ready to start kindergarten next year.
The Martin family remains homeless, but has not yet been affected by the city’s sweeps of Kakaako’s homeless camps. Thalia’s dad Tracy cares for her while her mom, Tabatha, who was juggling two jobs, now works at one job. Moribe notes that Thalia, who just a few months ago didn’t understand that her home was different, is starting to realize what it means to live on the streets.
The Martin family has not yet been impacted by the recent homeless sweeps in the area.
The long-term goal is to get the family into a home they can afford. Moribe used all his savings and maxed out his credit cards to produce and edit “Dear Thalia.” If the film sees a profit, Moribe wants to put the money into using it as an educational and awareness tool at schools, other film festivals, on tour and in churches. Money raised will also likely support local non-profits and homeless outreach organizations.
HIFF tickets for “Dear Thalia” are available to the public on Oct. 19.
“Being in the film and being able to see ourselves express the hardships we endure daily from fellow locals, the visitors and even our own government officials constantly stereotyping the homeless as nuisances, brings an emotional feeling of sadness and disappointment at the lack of aloha our own birthplace of Oahu (known as the Aloha state) has for its kama’aina and especially for its keikis,” Tabatha Martin says. “However, being a part of this film has been truly a blessing, and having people view the real life of a homeless family in Honolulu will hopefully change a lot of negative perceptions of homeless individuals.
“Everyone always thinks about changing the world,” she says, “but no one ever thinks of changing themselves.”
Dear Thalia: The Story of a Hawaii Homeless Family
Oct. 19 HIFF ticket sales go public
Nov. 15 12:30 p.m. First showing and world premier; Martin family will be in attendance
Nov. 17 4 p.m. Second showing featuring a surprise guest
For more information and updates: www.dearthalia.com
Originally written in October 2014. Using My Point of Heu, here are 22 ways to know you’re from Hawaii:
1. You end your sentences with “no?” even when you mean “yes.”
2. Chili pepper water is a regular condiment on the table alongside shoyu, vinegar and salt & pepper.
3. While visiting the mainland you are trying to figure out why they don’t serve fruit punch.
4. It frustrates you when people don’t understand what “pau” means.
5. Jeans are your dress pants.
6. You love Spam so much you have found a way to recycle and reuse the container.
7. Your cousin’s baby luau has more guests than your graduation and wedding combined.
8. The sun is shining, the skies are blue, but it’s raining outside.
9. Traffic is backed up in your neighborhood cause two cars headed in both directions of the road are stopped, and the drivers are chatting with each other.
10. You take dad to a fancy restaurant, and he orders a steak with extra white rice and a bottle of ketchup.
11. Your favorite breakfast is eggs, rice and Portuguese sausage or Spam, but when you run out of meat, you fry up bologna.
12. Chickens or mongoose scurry across the road, and you don’t even notice, and it doesn’t even bother you.
13. You’ve named the gecko who lives in your house. You may have named the chicken outside too.
14. There’s a grand opening of a store, and people from across the island campout overnight to be among the first to see inside… and they have that same store near where they live.
15. You know all the words to “Hawai’i Pono’i,” but not the “The Star Spangled Banner.”
16. You have long arguments with family and friends about the correct pronunciation of Hawaii or Hawai’i.
17. Half of the staff at work called in sick, and there just so happens to be a large surf swell that day – cough, cough.
18. Traffic is backed up for miles because everyone is slowing down to look at the fender bender headed in the opposite direction on the freeway. Rubber neck check!
19. You know the shaka is not a gang sign.
20. You call everyone over 21 “aunty” or “uncle.”
21. You come back to the islands from a trip, and your next stop is Zippy’s!
22. And…you meet someone for the very first time so you have to ask, “What high school you went?”