I was born in 1949. Dad worked for Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar; mom for Maui Land & Pine. My weekends were spent in Hana. My tutu was full-blooded Hawaiian; papa was pure Filipino. As a toddler, I knew what it was like to live in the backseat of a car and go to bed hungry. The eldest of four, from early on, I learned the meaning of kuleana.
In the '60s, my parents adopted nine biological cousins whose parents had died. Our family of 15 lived in a three-bedroom home. I remember how difficult it was for my parents to provide for us. Now the eldest of 13, my kuleana was hard. I did not know then that my destiny held success, but I honored my family responsibilities.
Later in life, brothers and sisters all went their separate ways. I accepted responsibility for my career and my own family. I felt most comfortable working among Native Hawaiians.
Doreen Napua Gomes
Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of
It was my Filipino father, Canto Sr., who instilled in me the value of being true to my culture. In the '60s, I was too young to know what it all meant. I wish I knew then what I know now... but, we grew up in a different time; in a world of simplicity. I would give anything to go back to that time again.
Retired now after 37 years of service in the telecommunications industry and two years with the State of Hawai'i, I find satisfaction in working for nonprofit organizations and giving back to the community through boards and commissions. Kuleana evolved again to community and my mo'opuna, helping them grow up strong.
Several times along the way, my attitude towards my responsibilities changed--intensified after the death of my daughter, matured after the deaths of my father and sister, and deepened spiritually after a recent and heartbreaking divorce.
Ten years ago, I was part of a select group of Native Hawaiians who worked very hard to build infrastructure in a section of Hawaiian Homesteads land in Kula. Waiohuli Community has been a decade in the making. It is so deserving of the infrastructure other urban communities take for granted.
To serve is my destiny--not only because I have a vested interest in Waiohuli, but also because this is who I am. I choose to be responsible. My stren-gths and energy come from memories of a struggling and cherished childhood. My courage comes from a strong foundation of rooted family ties filled with love and stability.
I would like the next generation to take an interest in leadership, to help find ways to survive these tough economic times--but more importantly, to perpetuate our culture. As a Maui Native Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce board member, I work with all our members to practice aloha, as we carry out our diverse individual kuleana.
In these times, there are those who make things happen, those who wait for things to happen, and finally those who say, "What happened?" Fulfilling responsibilities makes things happen! Anything is possible if you believe and work your kuleana. Our past gives us direction for the future. Live with respect as part of your every day life, and dreams will come true.