dissabte, 5 de març de 2016
EXPLORING THE OTHER SIDE OF PARADISE
“Who the hell is Robin Masters?” was the only question about Hawai'i that me, and most of the people back home (Catalonia), used to ask. The moustached Magnum P.I. was our single reference on the Islands. Well, and an '80s Spanish pop song that goes: “Hawaii, Bombay, are two paradises”. First I went to Mumbai and although I loved the place, I wouldn't call it paradise. And, two years ago, I visited Hawai'i for the first time, and yep, paradise on Earth.
Now in my second visit to paradise, my journalistic side made me research about the history of the Islands and to have a glimpse at the actuality of the Hawaiians. Didn't care any more if Higgins is Robin Masters, I wanted to learn about the real people. I left the bubble and started the trip and the more I learned, I was realizing that I knew very little.
During that trip through the “dark side” of paradise I've talked with as many people as possible, surfed the net for hours, sent lots and lots of emails, watched videos and read books, and all of that has brought me to a few conclusions.
Hawaii was illegally occupied. The money and the military interests ruled, not caring about the indigenous and their own concerns and lives, bringing consequences to them that can't be denied. Numbers talk, and are easier to understand than lots of words. Ok, probably are less literary, but they do the job. There are some numbers that I find shocking (and annoying):
Like the 1% that I learnt of in Haunani-Kay Trask's book, the 1% being the growth of Hawai'i residents' average real income during the early '70s and '80s, when the tourism boomed in the islands and millions of dollars where made. Millions that, after checking these figures, is obvious that didn't go into the locals' pockets.
Or that more than 90% of the food has to be imported (although you, Hawaiians, have the best climate and the richest lands). That, together with some other (infamous) stuff like 1920's Jones Act, increases the prices and the cost of living drastically.
Or the 25% of Oahu's territory belonging to the Military, while so many have been for so long waiting for their Homelands.
Or that sadly only 0,2% of people in Hawai'i speak 'olelo hawai'i.1
And so on. Numbers and words. Injustices.
Another thing I've learned is that there are lots of people fighting to change that. With different points of view and following different paths, all of them are trying to achieve justice and freedom for the people in the Islands. Call them Nation of Hawaii, Lawful Hawaiian Government, Council of Regency, Ka Lahui Hawai'i or even Na'i Aupuni. All, or at least, most of them, are fighting a pono struggle.
And the aloha aina warriors in Mauna Kea or the families that saved Olowalu and are going to save Makena. And the ones teaching 'olelo hawaii. Fighting, and wining fights. Like in the '70s with Kaho'olawe and, tomorrow, for whatever is needed.
Third, Aloha exists. I have seen it and I have felt it. I'm not talking about ethereal stuff or floating energies, I'm not into all that. I'm talking about that photo where a cop was giving a honi to a protester, up at Mauna Kea, just before arresting him: respect and aloha. Or the friendly and polite relation between protesters and cops that I saw in Kailua, “we have to do our job” told me one of the huge cops “but we are also part of this community”. Fair enough, but wouldn't happen back home.
And in all the interviews, while they were explaining me the injustices that the kanaka maoli are suffering, none of them expressed any kind of violent feeling and intentions, or any hatred to other people. Peace. And aloha. Brandon, one of the people that has helped me more in my quest, told me was vital to be able to save the world, that the aloha was exported everywhere. I'm not sure if this would work; but it would be well worth a try.
My journalistic side doesn't only need to explore and learn, it also needs to explain the findings. The people need to know the whole picture, not just the palm tree in front of a red sunset. Obviously, I want them to know how beautiful everything is, how many honu and sharks we see underwater, how impressive are Molokai' sea cliffs, and the fun that we have body boarding in Ulua Beach or eating tako poke in some weekend farmer's market in Kauai; and explain them that, sitting in a house yard in Waimanalo Homestead, I had in front of me the most beautiful mountains I've ever seen.
But I would also like them to learn about the thousands of homeless wandering around, the Monsanto experiments, the nuclear weapons, the monk seals being driven towards extinction, the sacred burial grounds violated for the sake of building another luxurious hotel, and about Clinton apologizing in 1993 (and nothing happening).
I have to come back for more. To enjoy the amazing country that you have, but also to dig a little deeper. Looking forward to meet all the Hawaiian friends again, asking more questions and learning more about their lives and their deaths. To put some more light on that dark side. I've seen the cavern, but there is still the whole cave.
I can't finish this contribution without a huge mahalo for all the people that have talked with me, shared their manao and opened their houses. Having been patient with my endless emails and questions. Sorry for harassing all of you, but I needed to know. I still do.
1I hope this information is accurate enough, as have been really difficult for me to find an updated and trustful figure.