Hana hou: ukulele and family history

23 10 2011

Excited and inspired this morning!

What with a fun day yesterday at the Waikiki Shell with DH and my friends. We went there to join hundreds of others in an attempt to break the Guinness world record for the most number of ukulele players playing the same song together in the same venue. With none other than ukulele artist extraordinaire Jake Shimabukuro leading.

And connecting with my first cousin once removed J.H. Kim On Chong-Gossard to collaborate on a sequel to The Chong Family History.

Nope, we didn’t break the record. 😦 There were a little more than 1,050 ukulele players, and Hawaii needed a little more than 1,500. The Waikiki Shell has seats for 1,958.  The current record? It’s held by Sweden! Even though we failed at the Guinness thing, the effort raised a lot of money for charity. I guess we’ll have to hana hou (do it again). http://www.gofordarecord.org informs all about the effort and the event.

We're waiting for the attempt to begin AND for people to fill up the seats behind us. These are my friends Colleen, Skyler, Pi‘ikea, cousin Nathan, and DH. It was in the heat of the day, and we waited until the last minute to take out our ukulele so the instruments wouldn't be damaged (so advised Nathan who is a luthier). Bottom line: we had fun!

Of course we were surprised that more people didn’t turn up for this, especially with the social media capability that we have now. I guess one can’t just post something on the internet. You have to tell people that you posted and how to find the information. And remember that not everyone “does” the internet.

Which brings me to my cousin. I call him Jim. Around the studio, behind his back but within earshot, we call him Teddy Bear Jim in honor of his vast collection of the stuffed toys. He calls himself K.O. for Kim On, that was his grandfather’s name, that he asked for and took legally. Jim is our family genealogist.

He’s on vacation from the University of Melbourne where he teaches, to crank out a book in time for our family reunion in August 2012, or at least do the research in a couple three of weeks time.

The first time he did this was 20 years ago, and The Chong Family History told about five generations, starting with my maternal grandparents who met at an orphanage in China. Jim would come here from America as a student on his spring and winter school breaks and interview our large family. My Chong Hee Books publishing company was born, and we held our first family reunion.

My maternal grandparents and 13 of their 15 children in Kohala. My mother, seated front row and center, was the baby of the family. Jim's grandfather is standing, far right. All of these ancestors have now passed. They comprised the first and second generations. Today, generation number six has shown up. We'll have a big reunion in 2012.

Publishing was not as computerized as it is today, so I am excited at the prospect of how more creative we can be with the sequel update, and perhaps even making it available as an ebook.

I can’t wait to see Jim in person on Tuesday. Meanwhile we are tossing ideas back and forth wirelessly. I am so proud of him. He got a new cell phone and joined Facebook—finally!

Copyright 2011 Rebekah Luke

The One-ders of Facebook from my point of view

31 08 2010

Count me among the growing number of so-called older Facebook fans reported on in the broadcast and print press this week. I’ve been persuaded by my younger and smarter friends and family members to hop aboard, presumably to promote my work and stay connected.

In a few short weeks, Facebook did that and more for me. It is definitely social, like being at a party. It’s a great medium for keeping abreast of what the younger folks (and now older folks) are doing and thinking. As a networking tool, its extent is far reaching, and the type of information exchanged is surprising and intimate.

If you’re beginning to feel a little behind the times, just take a leap of faith and get on FB. You’ll be up to date in no time.


One of my initial objectives was to keep up with my younger relatives. I asked Miss Marvelous’s mom to tutor me in Facebook. Then with a curious interest  I “friended” my first cousins, and my first cousins once- and twice-removed online. And I’m not speaking of email. The medium of FB itself is friendly and as private as you wish, with encouragement to not just connect, but to interact too.

It’s plain to see through the conversation threads these features:

How well one can build and maintain a fan and fund base if you are a professional entertainer or filmmaker, as my cousins Sunway and Titus do day and night.

Parents use FB as another way to “talk” to their kids, and vice versa, about subjects they may not be able to discuss face to face, i.e., subjects they are likely to read on FB and not hear in person. 😉

Many of my FB friends appreciate fine food, posting photos and details of their most recent culinary adventure. Could be we’re friends because of our similar tastes!

My cousins on FB were the subjects of “The Cousins,” a collection of fresh stick figure drawings by cousin Toy.  I scored an adorable caricature of “Artist Cousin” for my profile photo on my fan page. I think Toy, encouraged by the positive feedback from her relatives online, might pursue her art further.

FB is immediate, so you can get the news headlines before the paper publishes it tomorrow morning.

The words and images some people choose to share are  fill in the blank .

For many people FB is the communications medium of choice or necessity. I re-connected with a young friend now a medic deployed to Afghanistan, and I was alerted via FB’s chat feature by my hanai sister who didn’t have my phone number handy that she fell with her horse and was in the hospital.


Facebook is immediate and in real time. Not wanting to wait for the next big family reunion of the sort that takes months of planning, I wanted to get to know my younger cousins who already formed a network on FB. They comment on anything and everything and with everyone. I thought, too, it might be nice for them to get to know each other in a different venue. What kind of experience would it be to have them meet and converse in person?

I sent an evite to the cousins who lived on the island, (and who used email — duh), to an informal get-together at the studio, saying, “Log off the computer, it’s time to party!”

Surprisingly to me, while the conversations on FB are very chummy, Sunday’s “Cousins Gathering in the Country” was the first time several of the cousins met each other face to face!

With three generations of adult cousins present, we oldsters realize it’s time to tell the “kids” who’s who in our genealogy.

I brought out the silver gelatin prints that our late cousin Anson made in the 1950s (I inherited them from his widow Ann), and invited my cousins to have the images that had meaning for them. At the end of the evening most of the photos were on their way to new scrapbook albums. Some have already been posted to FB by cousin Tim, I see, and tagged (identified). Imagine having a photo of your great-great-grandmother for the first time!

Cousin Titus brought the short film “Lychee Thieves” (written & directed by Kathleen Man), that he co-produced, about the cast of characters’ individual desires for lychee from a certain tree and the conflicts that ensue. We all concurred, well done!

We talked, ate potluck, cracked jokes, just got to know each other a little better, and everyone went home with some of this season’s three-pound avocados that they watched us pick. It was fun!

Facebook remains a most intriguing social media. I find it enhances the times when you can still pick up the phone to hear your friend’s voice or meet and see your friend in person.


My teacher AliceAnne Parker said the internet is just practice for what we all will be able to do eventually with our psychic ability. As the Light grid around our planet becomes stronger we will just know. Everything. I wonder if eventually is now. I wonder if Facebook is a means to understanding Oneness. We are One.

Did I say “leap of faith?”

Copyright 2010 Rebekah Luke

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