The Thursday before the event everything was going smoothly. I was finishing up the edit reel that was being screened at the beginning of the forum. I was advised to cut the edit reel down to under 30 minutes if possible, and I shaved off a good 15 minutes.
Then Friday, the hurricane hit with Maivan calling to inform me of her cancellation. Her new puppy, Gobi, who Otto and I met in New York a week earlier had scratched her eye and was not healing well, and she had to go in for treatment. When I last spoke with her, she was recovering well.
Then Paul Kealoha Blake, the moderator called to tell me that he had woken up with a fever and there was some concern over whether he may possibly have swine flu and thought it best that he cancel.
Scrambling, I quickly called the first person to come to mind to replace Maivan, and that was Julian Aguon who was at that time cramming for law school finals. Thankfully, after much thought and a healthful dose of persuasion from Kekuni and Maivan, he postponed his studies for an overnight Los Angeles detour. His parents drove up from Long Beach to watch the event. They must’ve been so proud because he electrified the discussion.
Jon Osorio was not without mishap either. He was supposed to be arriving around 11:15 and his flight was delayed for two hours. After picking him up from the airport we didn’t get to sleep until after 2 am and I sensed some apprehension about him getting up at 6:30 for the KPFK interview, jump into the panel, and then get up at 6 am again the next morning to catch his flight to Ireland where he was meeting Kamana Beamer. I assured him he would have time to nap.
On Sunday, I received notice from Richard Falk, that he too had to cancel. He got called to go to Europe to prepare for an investigation into human rights abuses in Palestine by the Israeli occupation.
Thankfully, Kuhio Vogeler arrived on time! In fact he offered to help mow the lawn, wash the dishes and encouraged me to sit on panel to present my research on the June 27th 1959 plebiscite. He was generous enough to help me organize my presentation right up to the pule, the chant/prayer blessing the panel given by Randy Kaulana Chang, KA HA’s recommendation for moderator to replace Kealoha Blake.
Kekuni was supposed to arrive on Saturday with Kuhio, but unfortunately he had to postpone his trip until Monday, the day of the panel, and he arrived with Julian, two hours before the start of the event.
Robert Scott, another friend offered to pick them up at 3:30 when their flight was scheduled to arrive. They were on curbside half-an-hour early and so they took a bus to Union Station. Robert, stuck in 110 traffic turned around to pick me up so that we could meet them at the station and take them to the event, which was about three blocks from Union Station.
When we got there, Roger Park, another friend who offered his services was there. He arrived at 3:30 and was the first one there. He helped Auntie Sharon unload the food from the car and assisted with communicating to the other panelists where we were when. Roger was there even before the documentarians arrived. Masayo Sodeyama volunteered her time to assist with the making of the documentary, and filmmakers Joseph Kamiya and Robyn Tofukuji also volunteered their time to assist with camera.
As I think about the details and preparation of this program, I am continually astonished by how well everyone pitched in and supported each other. It was truly a community-organized event and I believe that whatever success was achieved by this panel is a result of aloha and things being pono all around, and with that I extend my mahalo to everyone who came, asked questions, listened, and offered their assistance and mana’o, to which none of this would’ve been possible.
Most importantly, we all have to give credit to the panelists who participated for taking the time out to deliver a presentation that engaged everyone there for three hours, and the audience who engaged the panelists with thoughtful and pertinent questions!
It was so engaging that my wife Ruth went home to relieve Annika, a woman from church who agreed to be Otto’s sitter and prepare the house for the several guests who came over to carry on discussions around our own round-table until 2 am over beer and tacos from the El Sereno taco trucks.
Jon Osorio and Julian woke at the crack of dawn to catch their respective early morning flights, Kekuni and Kuhio both left in the afternoon and for me, the event closed with the rise of an early moon and ended with a long and exhaustive sigh.
Missing in the credits are also five organizations without whom this presentation would’ve been impossible: the early contributions of Hawaii Council for the Humanities for the creation and maintenance of this website; Mineral Studio who’ve donated their time and resources to host and stream content; Kanaka Maoli Independence Working Group, Ka Pakaukau, and Kanaka Maoil Tribunal Komike for their collective inspiration, motivation, and will to persevere in the struggle for Hawaiian independence.