45th SW celebrates Asian heritage with Beachside Luau
By 1st Lt. Alicia Wallace, 45th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 09, 2015
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 45th Space Wing's Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Committee in conjunction with the Tides held their Annual Luau at the Beach House May 29. The Luau is part of an observance held annually from May 1 - 31 in celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. During the event, there were dances performed representing Hawaiian, Tahitian and Samoan cultures.
The Space Coast Hula School, also known as Halau Hula O'kilakilapilialohaikapu'uwai meaning "Hula School of Majestic Love that Clings to the Heart" in Hawaiian, had dancers performing Kahiko and 'Auana during the event.
Kahiko is known as ancient hula and was performed prior to 1883 and Western influence. Hula 'Auana, is contemporary hula and is used in films and T.V., according to Elsa Kekahuna, Community Readiness Consultant and Air Force Aid Officer of the 45th Space Wing Airman & Family Readiness Center, and key planner of the event.
The Tahiti Tamure was also performed at the event. It is a dance from the Tahiti and Cook Islands that is commonly mistaken as Hawaiian, according to the owners of Polynesian Entertainment Tahiti Tamure Gilda and Ikona Pescaia. However, in the dance of Tamure, movement of the hands is secondary to movement of the knees and hips. In hula, movement of the hands is used primarily and tells the story.
The fireknife dance was performed by Via "VJ" Tiumalu Jr., current Senior Division World Fireknife dancing champion. The fireknife dance, rooted in Samoan culture, incorporates spinning, catching and balancing flaming, sharpened knives, sometimes on callused feet, according to Kekahuna.
The entertainers were grateful for the opportunity to perform for the event. "We enjoyed ourselves very much," said Gilda Pescaia, who was grateful for the opportunity to perform.
"We loved performing!" said Kumu Pu'uwai Silva, Space Coast Hula School instructor.
In previous years, separate luaus were held for the different Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, but since last year, the AA&PIHC joined forces with the Tides to do an all-inclusive luau. By joining forces, the committee can now use other funds obtained through fundraisers to support cooking classes, educational programs and the Taste of Asia event which kicks off the month's celebration every year.
Since all wing observance programs are now sponsored through fundraisers, this makes each year a challenge financially, according to Kekahuna, who has worked with AA&PIHC for more than 30 years.
"We face many hurdles and have overcome many obstacles on planning, processing and executing events. Our Committee members are dedicated, hardworking active duty, DoD civilians and family member volunteers who make these events a success through our fundraising efforts. Every year, the base populace looks forward to our May events," said Kekahuna.