Archive for January, 2016

Taiwanese Election to be Discussed by Taiwanese-American filmmaker and author

January 29th, 2016

Tensions between Taiwan and China are on the rise with the island nation’s selection of a pro-independence president, Tsai Ing-wen. Two Taiwanese Americans, Shawna Yang Ryan and Will Tiao, will discuss the situation in an upcoming event, "Taiwan on Screen and the Page: Screening of Formosa Betrayed and a Conversation with Writer/Producer Will Tiao and Novelist Shawna Yang Ryan."

"Formosa Betrayed" film poster. Courtesy: Wayne Akiyama

"Formosa Betrayed" film poster. Courtesy: Wayne Akiyama

Ryan is a creative writing professor at UH-Manoa and author of "Green Island", a historical novel set during Taiwan’s White Terror period, a period of martial law that lasted from 1949 to 1987. She was interviewed by The New York Times about the period and rule under Kuomintang at that time.

Will Tiao. Courtesy: Wayne Akiyama

Will Tiao. Courtesy: Wayne Akiyama

Tiao is a Fulbright Scholarship recipient and former Presidential Management Fellow in the Bill Clinton administration and international economist under the George W. Bush administration. He is also actor/writer/producer of the feature film "Formosa Betrayed", based on the true events surrounding Taiwanese democracy and independence activists in the 1980s, starring James Van Der Beek (Dawson’s Creek) and co-starring Tiao.

Green Island book cover. Courtesy: Wayne Akiyama

Green Island book cover. Courtesy: Wayne Akiyama

"Formosa Betrayed" will be screened during the event and Ryan will read selections from "Green Island". A discussion will be moderated by "Asia in Review" host Bill Sharp.
The event, sponsored by the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Asian Studies department, The Academy for Creative Media, and Creative Writing Program, is on Saturday, January 30, from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Center for Korean Studies Auditorium, UH Manoa, 1881 East-West Road.

Kaneohe woman competes on American Idol

January 27th, 2016

Musician Ashley Lilinoe shares her love through her music - a clear, soulful voice accompanied by acoustic guitar that stirs the heart. At 21 years old, this accomplished singer/ songwriter is now meeting a national audience as one of the contestants on American Idol (FOX).


"The producers found me online, because I post my music videos. They asked me to audition, but the first couple times I ignored their emails because a television competition just didn't resonate with me. It's not my calling," she remembers. "The third time, the producer said, 'I believe in you and want you to try out.' I felt his heart and I decided to do it. What have I got to lose, right?"

She's right; she has nothing to lose and everything to gain. When the show debuted in mid-January, her Facebook page went wild. "I got hundreds of notifications every five minutes. It was crazy," she laughs. She's definitely on a bigger stage now.

Lilinoe also learned about the business of show-biz. "Presence is important. I saw how I was portrayed through the process. I also realized being myself is exactly what I needed to do. I stuck to my true self."

Who is the true Ashely Lilinoe? The born and bred Kaneohe girl is a stunning mixture of eleven ethnicities: Predominantly Filipino, but also Native Hawaiian, Native American, Swedish, and Chinese.

Her last name is Swedish: it's Soderberg, and Lilinoe is a stage name, derived from part of her incredibly long Hawaiian middle name. "It means 'the misty lei that lays upon the flower of the heavens.' Lilinoe is 'fine mist,'" she enlightens.

"What I really am, though, is universal. I don't connect with just one culture," she clarifies.


Lilinoe grew up in a musical family in Kaneohe. "We live on a lane with lots of families, and when someone comes out to celebrate something, we'd all go out and play music. I'd be in the garage watching, and then I'd practice what I heard. My parents, my angels - they guided me to practice. My ear was my teacher," she recalls.

She was about six when she first picked up an ukulele. At Castle High School, she started playing the guitar.

"I love how music makes me feel and how it can make others feel. Everything is a song: The ocean, the environment, the blue sky," she breathes as she looks up at the clear lazuline sky of a Honolulu winter.

In fact, it's the Earth that inspires her through its wordlessness. "I'm learning to unlearn traditional songwriting techniques. It doesn't have to be 'verse, chorus, bridge. It's not necessary. My heart says to listen to the silence."

She is lovely and thoughtful, gentle and poised. She seems unconcerned about fame and fortune, instead focused on a metaphysical goal of unconditional love for self and others, living in the moment, surrendering to life. She strikes me as wise beyond her years.

Lilinoe says she needs the silence more than ever in the overwhelming "aftermath" of American Idol. It was a high-intensity, non-stop experience. "I'm still observing with my heart. There are no words to describe it right now," she decides.

"Yes, it opened doors for my career. More importantly, it opened doors to peoples' hearts, to let them connect with me and see there's another human being like me in this world," she smiles.

Actually, she says she didn't really know what her music sounded like until a year ago. She was too busy playing gigs to stop and listen to herself, and then it was a powerful moment for her. "What I have to share - my love - is so great. It's a lot of power. I was afraid of it, and I'm still learning to gently introduce it to this world," she announces.

This means she doesn't have a regular gig. Not that she's lacking for offers, but she's spontaneous and has certain preferences. For instance, "I like playing where children are allowed. I like to entertain at places where everyone can be together," she expands.

"I love children. I love how they inspire, stretch my imagination, and guide me to my heart," she says. "I am a child. They remind me to love, to play."

Play is how she answers the question, What do you do for a living? "I flow day to day. Music provides me the monetary exchange, but I surrender to life."

As for the practical questions, she shrugs. "I'm know I'm taken care of greatly. I've given the amount I need, which is small. I'm a minimalist and an alchemist; I will recycle and upcycle things. My Earth Mother will take care of me, my friends support me. I'm always provided for."

Lilinoe's typical day is... atypical. The commonality is that it usually starts without a jarring alarm clock, and with the luxury of a slow rising from bed. "I greet myself, I greet the new day, and I welcome what comes."

As you may be able to guess by now, Lilinoe eschews labeling her music with any one genre. For purposes of print, she acquiesces to give me some kind of description: neo-soul/blues/jazz/R&B/funk. However, she prefers to call it "soul-filling music." If you hear her sing, you'll understand.

Lilinoe has no plans set in stone for the future. When I ask where she sees herself in five years, she chuckles. "Five years? I don't even know what tomorrow brings."

She does, however, know this: "I honor myself deeply. I show up for life, and I navigate life through my heart. I live by feeling, and if it feels good, I do it."

While her calling may be as a musician that sings emotion into people's hearts, she says her soul-mission is "to return to self. To be into my heart so that I can truly hear the voices who call for help."

Lilinoe leaves me with a parting thought for you all: "Wherever I am, everyone is my family."

American Idol airs Wednesday and Thursday nights on KHON2 (FOX).

Lilinoe's website:

Other coverage of Lilinoe:

Update: Lilinoe was eliminated on the January 28, 2016 episode.

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Smooth Jazz Concert features Richard Elliot and his All Star band

January 25th, 2016

Michael Paulo's Apaulo Music Productions presents a Smooth Jazz Concert featuring Saxman Richard Elliot with his All Star Band, with special guest guitarist Gerey Johnson, at an upcoming concert at the Hawaii Convention Center.

Richard Elliott copy_001

Saxophonist Richard Elliot has been impressing audiences with his soulfully robust playing for over 30 years. He was a member of the funk band Tower of Power playing tenor sax for five years; his solo career took off when he remade the Percy Sledge classic “When a Man Loves a Woman.”  Joining Elliot will be special  Johnson, who has credits of playing with Janet Jackson, Mary J. Blige, and more.

Courtesy: Nancy Bernal

Courtesy: Nancy Bernal

Special guest keyboardist Ron Reinhardt is a well-recognized musician who has worked with David Sanborn, and toured with Donny Osmond and many others. Eric Valentine is one of the first call drummers in the contemporary jazz circuit. Nate Phillips has been a recognized bassist for most of his life and set a pace for bass players around the world.  These musicians will perform together for the first time on January 30 in Honolulu.

Tickets can be purchased at or (951) 696-0184. Prices are $70.00 for the Platinum Reserved Seats (no reception), $60.00 for Gold Reserved Seats, and $20.00 for VIP Reception Only at 7 p.m.  The concert starts at 8 p.m. on January 30 at Hawaii Convention Center's Liliu Theater.

Doors open at 7 p.m.  Parking at the Convention Center is $10. For more information,

High school memories

January 22nd, 2016

I recently spent half a day at my alma mater, Kamehameha Schools, because my daughter applied for the fourth grade class. I have only great things to say about the school and my six years there, but I don't visit it much because life is busy.

Testing lasts nearly three and a half hours, and while I waited, I decided to reacquaint myself with the campus that was my whole life through my adolescence.

I walked from elementary school, through the middle school campus that I absolutely don't recognize anymore due to all the new buildings, up through the high school, to the very top where the girls' dorms are. It was a hike. I was happy to do it.

The bus drivers at school have always been super nice, and one stopped to offer me a ride, thinking I'd missed the bus. When I declined, he smiled and shook his head, thinking me crazy to want to hoof it.

I had forgotten the particulars of what led where, but as I turned corners I slowly remembered the paths my feet knew so well as a student and boarder. It's nice to reconnect. Things changed, but things stayed the same. I do love that campus.

Seeing the pool: SOLD!

Seeing the pool: SOLD!

Later, after Olivia got out of testing, I drove her around to see the campus. I'm sure my experience is like that of many other parents: the kid doesn't want to leave their friends, and then you have to convince them why it would be great to attend Kamehameha.

It has to be this way; if she wasn't interested in attending, she wouldn't try hard during the testing. The flip side is, there's 1,000 applicants for the fourth grade class, which means the odds of getting in are much slimmer than when I applied. So then I have to be careful to temper her hopes.

The night before the test, I showed her photos of the campus and told her about all the activities she could join, listing things she likes - art, dance, the library, the pool. She got really excited.

Kamehameha Dorm

Kamehameha Dorm

After the testing, I wanted to give her a closer look at the things I mentioned, so we jumped in the car and drove around. I stopped at my old dormitory, also named Kamehameha, and had a look inside. It sure was smaller than I remember.

I had a city view for three of my four years in this dorm.

I had a city view for three of my four years in this dorm.

While I liked boarding, I can't imagine sending my child away. I was eleven when I left home: I skipped a couple grades. I can't imagine having Olivia move away before her childhood is up.

"Look, Honey. You'd have to learn to do your own laundry. Your closet would be three feet wide. There's a window on the door so the dorm advisor can check and see that you tidied up your room before you left for class in the morning," I pointed out to her. "You need to remember you're lucky you're living at home where Mommy can take care of you."

The dorm's common area.

The dorm's common area.

It's certainly different to grow up in a dorm, but like anything in life, there's always a bright side. I learned at a young age how to fend for myself.

Olivia kept remarking how amazing the campus is, and how much she'd like to attend. I was surprised and pleased that she actually said, "Pinch me. Is this a dream? Are schools this nice?"

If she gets in, she gets in. It would be great!

If she doesn't, at least we know we tried. We'll find a way to manage her disappointment.

As for me - it was a lovely way to spend the morning, literally walking down memory lane. Thank you, Kamehameha.

Cat Fanciers' Association Championship and Household Pet Cat Show

January 20th, 2016

If you think you're feline pet is the cat's meow, you still have time to register it in The Second Annual Cat Fanciers' Association Championship and Household Pet Cat Show, which is this Saturday, January 23, from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. at McCoy Pavilion at Ala Moana Beach Park. Tickets: Adults $4; seniors 65+/ child under 10, $2.

Knight, a prize-winning Maine Coon. Courtesy: Donna Fujie

At the cat show. Courtesy: Donna Fujie

The CFA is the largest cat registry in the world and recognizes 43 different breeds. In addition to the show, there's a bazaar offering handmade items for sale such as quilts, pottery, pet items, pillows, toys, and more. The proceeds go to the non-profit club to help produce the shows in Hawaii.

Knight, a prize-winning Maine Coon. Courtesy: Donna Fujie

Knight, a prize-winning Maine Coon. Courtesy: Donna Fujie

Donna Fujie, show organizer, also says they are still looking for more entrants into the show, especially the Domestic Household Pet category for non-pedigreed cats.

The show pays for the airfare and lodging for four CFA All-breed judges (this year, Hope Gonano, Brian Pearson, Ed Yurchick, and Robert Zenda), which the bazzar helps subsidize. Pedigreed CFA championship and premiership cats, registered kittens, and registered non-pedigreed household pet cats will be scored for global and regional wins.

Courtesy: Donna Fujie

Courtesy: Donna Fujie

This show is sponsored by Aloha Cat Fanciers, Cat Fanciers of Hawai`i and Hawai`i Hulacat Club, which are member clubs of The Cat Fanciers' Association®.



For entry information, call JoAnn (808) 234-0832 or Donna (808) 291-5868.


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