Aloha! I’m back in the blogosphere! There’s so much I want to experience with you all. All three of you who are reading this blog that I’ve revamped, re-branded, re-did, re-invented more times than Lady Gaga channeling Madonna.

I decided to re-launch this blog a day before my 3 year wedding anniversary because I measure time very differently nowadays. I’m counting down the days when it’s time for this country to choose a new… (you already know where this is going.)

Anyway, Cocina Kaleo is named partly in homage to my Spanish-Hawaiian and Filipino cultures, and also because it makes sense to me. Cocina Kaleo, The Voice’s Kitchen. I’m Kaleo, short for Kaleohano which means the “voice of authority and respect” in Hawaiian. Yes, I’ve named the blog and venture after myself, because I’m endeavoring to be a respectable voice that respects and honors the footways and cultures behind delicious cuisines.

Many people aren’t familiar with the story of how I got my Hawaiian name. I imagine that in some people’s fantasies of Hawai’i, they saw me construct a grass hut to store the kalo and luau leaves from a lo’i that I dug and worked. In that grass hut, I kneeled before the elders and they gave me a bowl of fresh water and I was instructed to carry this bowl of water to Halema’uma’u the active volcano, without spilling a drop. Upon my success, I was met at the top of the active volcanic summit by the elders where they ceremoniously need me “Kaleohano” in addition to my other Hawaiian name (that I don’t use, and don’t reveal as it’s personally a kapu name for use right now.).

For the record- that’s not how I got my Hawaiian name(s).

If you really want to know how I became Kaleohano (or Kaleo, for short) I can tell you.

Before I met my husband, I was in a long-term live-in relationship while I lived in Hawaii. It was a delightfully complicated relationship where I learned more about myself- how I showed up in intimate relationships, what I was capable of, and what was acceptable to me and what was not. My ex-partner is a good man, but we weren’t a match. He comes from a great family, andI developed a close relationship with his stepfather. Remember my Papa?

Papa gave me my Hawaiian name. Papa taught me how to fish, how to slice fish, how to season fish, how to fry fish, how to change my oil, tires, gaskets, brake pads, pitch a tent, and how to love children that are not related through science. I love my Papa.

It was Election Day 2010. I had finished volunteering at Congressman Abercrombie’s Office and headed down to Mom and Papa’s house in Paradise Park. I remember bringing the stuffs to make Chicken Long Rice. I got there and made Chicken Long Rice.

It was evening, and the three of us were watching television. The results were coming in about who was in the lead according to what printout for whichever office. I was really focused on the gubernatorial race, because not only was I majoring in Political Science at the UH, but I despised Duke Aiona. But the news screen shifted to the race for the trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Me: Oh look, it’s the OHA elections.

Papa: Not like they ever care about poor Hawaiians.

Mom: *laughs*.

Me: You know, I was thinking of enrolling in independent study this semester, and to run for OHA, just to see how a Facebook and Twitter campaign would turn out.

Mom: Wow, that’s an interesting way to make a research paper, run for OHA and then write about it. But you’d never with with “RJ MENDOZA” only. You need a Hawaiian name to help you out.

Me: (oh yes, I started life as RJ V. Mendoza, another story for another time.)  Nah, I no need. Look at Lindsey!

Mom: He ran for Big Island, of course he’s going to win. Mo bettah for him to not have a Hawaiian name on the ballot.

Me: True. Maybe next time.

Mom: You need a Hawaiian name!

Me: Where do I buy one? *laughs*

Papa: *while shuffling Chicken Long Rice into his mouth* KALEOHANO.

Me: I’m sorry, Papa?

Papa: Your name is Kaleohano. That is my family’s Hawaiian name, you’re my son, that’s your name too.

Mom: There you go! Kaleohano!

Me: Kaleohano….

And that’s the story of my unceremonious Hawaiian name-giving. My hanai parents, eating Chicken Long Rice while watching television and me, just chatting about random things. It was the most normal I felt that entire year, until my visit back to NYC. Mind you- my relationship with their son ended months prior, and I’m pretty sure we weren’t speaking at that time. But his Mom and Stepfather never turned me away, always kept a space at the table and bed for me. That’s hanai. That’s family.

That’s how I got my Hawaiian name.


In case you were wondering…



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