Woman Wednesday: U’ilani

Q and A with U’ilani, Kalaoa, Hilo, Hawai’i

“I think my journey and passion was guided not only by myself, but through the past events of my ancestors.”

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: My name is Uʻilani Macabio. I am from the Island of Hawaiʻi. I was born and raised on this island my whole life. I am a mother of two boys, a 14-year-old [boy], and 5-year-old [boy]. Naturally, my interest is my Hawaiian culture. Being raised on this island, I was always immersed with the natural beauty of this island and the ocean as well as my culture. Therefore, my passion and interest comes from my foundation for the love of my land, culture, history, and language. I am currently a teacher at Honokaʻa High and Intermediate School, and I teach social studies and Hawaiian language. I find so much joy and pleasure in supporting my community with knowledge and helping raise the next generation to also love the language and culture of Hawaiʻi. I also support my students through social-emotional learning through the Foundations of Aloha. My goal is to support my community with problem solvers, effective communications, and community contributors that understand who they are, love their environment, and are willing to support.

I also have been gardening and supporting small farms on the Hāmākua and Kohala Coast on the Hawaiʻi Island. It has been enriching to ground myself in the land and to continue that positive reciprocal relationship to land. I also have been promoting self-healing with plant-based CBG and CBD products to support the mind and body. Hemp extract is so important for humans to operate at the best optimal level, and [being able] to use and promoting the products brings so much happiness to know that people are on the positive journey to feeling good and operating at the best level possible. I also dance hula for Hālau Nā KĪpuʻupuʻi in Waimea, Kohala. Hula has connected me to my culture, it allows me to share my ancestors’ stories and knowledge, and it awakens my spirituality. I paddle canoe with Kawaihae canoe club. My coach, Uncle Manny Vicent, has taught me so much as an athlete and as a person. Paddling has been a family sport for over 10 generations. Lastly, my family and I are surfers, fishermen and fisherwomen. The things we do in the ocean bring us together and continues the family knowledge and traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. Therefore, my passion comes from my upbringing. I am forever grateful for my parents, my ancestors, the land and ocean of Hawaiʻi, and all my teachers and mentors for always being there and supporting me.

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I grew up in a small little town called Kalaoa in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. Life was so fun. I had family always around me. My cousins and I would play in the rivers, bushes, and trees. We would stay out all day and come home for dinner. We would drink water from springs and water hoes. Later, in high school, I was a surfer girl always at the beach or in the farm. I started to value education in my high school years because I started to make connections from my Hawaiian culture to the things I was learning in school. Subjects like math, science, and history I could always find a connection someway or somehow to my Hawaiian culture. I graduated from Pāhoa High School. I want to say I am so blessed with my upbringing; I would say I am lucky. I went to college and got my bachelor’s degree in anthropology and minor in Hawaiian studies at UH Hilo. I then got my master’s in education at Grand Canyon University. I want to say there has been so many teachers, mentors, and friends that I have made [who have] helped me become the person I am today. During my time at UH Hilo, I have been in so many great programs. One was Wahi Kupuna internship with Huliauapaʻa, and PIPES, who allowed me to learn and practice cultural resource management as a Hawaiian and a Hawaiian practitioner. I think this was such a pivotal moment not only in my life, but for archaeology in Hawaiʻi. Where it was a shift in perspective of how archaeology in Hawai’i should be conducted in a Hawaiian perspective and methods, where it is less invasive to the cultural sites and cultural remains. Also, during that time, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher to promote more students to be the new innovators, shifters, and movers in Hawaiʻi.

Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: I think my journey and passion was guided not only by myself, but through the past events of my ancestors. There is so much of why I do and believe what I believe in is because of the rich Hawaiian culture I live in, but also because of the stories of my ancestors continues to live within me. Meaning, I am the product of the story, and my children and grandchildren will continue the story as well. If I could leave something valuable, it would be to be the person, the story that your children or grandchildren can learn, value, and use in their future.

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: I think feminism is a new or Western terminology. I never felt less than or unequal to [men]. Women here can say, do, and make big movements, and it’s not a big thing. I think a lot of women that came before might have done something to make things so much easier for us. However, because around 1820s and 1830s, the Hawaiian Kingdom adopted the European style of ruling; that’s when a lot change happened, and now, women are identified as less, invalid, even to our royal queens and princesses. Although these women lived in a new Hawai’i, they still carried on their duties. Most if it would be considered heroic or would be consider a feminist movement.

One of the events was the Kūʻē petition, where both women and men went around each island in Hawai’i asking them to sign this a petition to be against the illegal annexation of Hawai’i. At the time, only men with land could vote. However, these women went so that all voice is valid. Another example is of princess Kai’ulani. Her story is widely known. Her mission [was] to share the story of her people throughout some of the United States. She did it during a time of man-driven world. Soon after, President Grover Cleveland sent James Blunt to investigate about the illegal happenings in Hawaii done by the provisional government. Therefore, women today and before me are risk-takers and go-getters. Therefore, feminism is new because we have nothing to fight for besides just voice our thoughts and do what we need to do, and we get it done.

Q: Is there anything else you would like readers to know?

A: Hawaii is my home, and I hope it will continue to be the home of my future grandchildren for many generations. Our culture is living and thriving, and some people might not know that. However, please learn the history and culture of any place, and I know there will be value to gain from it.

Thank you for reading!

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