“Lucky, Come Hawaii,” is a phrase that I grew up hearing all the time. My dad said it as a way to tease my brother and I that we were ordered from the Philippines and both of my grandfathers would say it all the time too. My Paternal Grandfather immigrated the family from Cebu Philippines in the 1970’s. My dad was in his early teens when they came over. My maternal grandfather was a first generation Portuguese. His father, my Great-grandfather immigrated from Portugal in the early 1900’s.
This afternoon, the Portuguese Community here at the seminary went out for an authentic Portuguese Lunch for a brief meeting and celebrating a fellow brothers birthday. The restaurant we went to was Baccalau Grill and Market in “Little Portugal” of San Jose, CA. I didn’t know that there were many Portuguese here in the Bay Area. I was also amazed as to how preserved the Portuguese culture is here. The lunch was great, service awesome, and company even better. It was a wonderful afternoon.
As I was sitting there taking part in the conversations, listening to the Portuguese language of other patrons in the market, hearing the beautiful music, smelling the Baccalau, Garlic, Sweet Bread (Massa Sovada), tasting the different custards, and of course the vino. I couldn’t help at this moment to think of home. It was a nostalgic felling of homesickness. Maybe it was the food or the strange resemblances actions of people here and comparing it to my own Portuguese family members back home. I thought “it’s a shame!” that the Portuguese in Hawaii haven’t really preserved our culture besides the food. I wished my grandparents would’ve taught us to speak Portuguese and do the Festas and dances etc. I wished I would’ve learned to speak Visayan too!
Then, I thought of that famous saying “Lucky, Come Hawaii.” It wasn’t that we Portuguese or Filipinos or Japanese or Koreans have lost our cultures, we enhanced the beauty that which makes Hawaii, Hawaii. And actually, the Portuguese have really been influential in Hawaiian History. For example, we not only brought Bean Soup, Malassadas, and Sweet Bread but we also were pillars of the Roman Catholic Faith in the Islands. We brought the Ukulele and added to the comedy of local living.
I left the restaurant an even prouder Portuguese (Yes I am proud to be Portuguese!) and more importantly a prouder Hawaiian. In a deeper sense I am thankful to my Dad who came from the Philippines and my Papa Joe who came from Portugal to Hawaii to provide for us a better lifestyle and instill in us the values of our cultures. Yes, the Portuguese culture may not be as active in Hawaii, but we are still there. Our love for family, work ethic, passion, and great faith in God is still seen under the skies of Hawaii. As as they say, forgive my spelling, but Bunza Dersh, Lucky, Come Hawaii!
Below is a Video about immigration to Hawaii. It focuses on Puhi Camp where my family still resides. The video is made by a desendent of one of the original immigrants to the Sugar Plantation Camp. My Uncle the late Billy Texeira is on there speaking about the Portuguese culture. May this video give you a better understanding of Hawaiian Culture and a greater appreciation for all that our ancestors did for us.