I got an email invite from the Bamboo Ridge list to check out Pidgin: The Voice of Hawaii at UH Manoa. It was a premiere screening and the attendance definitely reflected that. The place was packed.
You can’t see it in this photo but the floor in front of the screen and the back of the auditorium were filled. One of the filmmakers, Kanalu Young, passed away last year. From the introductions, invocations, and songs before the screening you could feel how loved and missed Kanalu is.
When he finally showed up on screen, it felt like I knew him. He seemed to be a very lovely, magnetic man.
It’s rare that I come across strictly pidgin speakers. I think it’s because of where we live and who lives here. But I understand now that it’s an aspect of some people’s lives that they don’t necessarily want to share with non-Pidgin speakers. The filmmaker Marlene Booth said in the Q & A that it was very hard to get people to speak Pidgin on camera much less express strong feelings as an advocate or detractor.
I really enjoyed the film and feel that it, like Noho Hewa, has strongly informed how I experience living here. I’m Filipino American and I’ve spent most of my adult life exploring Asian American issues and identifying as such. Coming to Hawaii and learning about the culture here and all the issues surrounding it has given me a totally different way of looking at being American. It’s hard to explain. It’s a work in progress. But basically there’s a big part of me that feels like I’ve found a home here that I didn’t know I was looking for.