Page 1

“Raise the Bar and Educate Their Passion”

Congratulations 2013 Pacific Island Talent Contest Winners Vaea A’etonu & Silulu A’etonu Grey Brother and sister win individual grand prize awards for excellence in live entertainment.

. Weekend in Polynesia presents

winners of International Ori Competition, Fire Knife Champions and Finalists for Pacific Island Talent Contest

. Kealoha Viloria launches his first CD release, “Kealoha” . Filmmaker Christen Hepuakoa Marquez debuts “E Haku Inoa”

October 2013

“Raise the Bar and Educate Their Passion�

October 2013

CEO/Founder Tui Letuli Editor-in-Chief Abella Leialoha Carroll Design & Layout Brian Palaina Johnson LauraBeth Camacho Contributing Writers Natasia Gascon Tara Pualilia Hernandez Contributing Photographers Tara Pualilia Hernandez Bryson Kim Emma Roll, Gifford Sun

Pacific Talent Academy of the Arts, AOTA, is a nonprofit magazine published quarterly and is printed in the USA. All rights reserved. All photographs and artwork are the property of Pacific Talent Academy of the Arts and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the express written consent of the Pacific Talent Academy of the Arts. We value your feedback and would love to hear from you. If you have story ideas or comments, please contact: Pacific Talent Academy of the Arts 3831 W. 173rd Street Torrance, Calif. 90504 Phone: (310) 871-5385


Editor’s Letter “Take special moments to look into the mountains, look to the sea, watch the heavens and feel the wind ...” Auntie Hokulani Holt

Dear Readers, There is one word that describes 2013 for me — Blessed. This year, I celebrated a milestone in my personal life: I reached my 10-year survivorship of breast cancer. If that jolted you to attention, imagine me hearing the c-word in 2003 when I was diagnosed. My hope is that, with Breast Cancer Awareness the focus this month, you take the time to get checked, and remind your loved ones to do the same. A dear friend of mine was the only reason I scheduled my first mammogram, and I was well over the middle-age mark when I got it. The details that followed are not as important as how I now live my life after being gifted these ten years. I consider all friendships and family a blessing, and that I can honor others with dance, oli, and the written word is my way of giving back for every healthy day I enjoy. May you never take your God-given talents for granted. In fact, celebrate your voice, showcase your moves, and perfect your musical, culinary and artistic talents like there is no tomorrow. Enjoy the stories and achievements in this issue — there are so many that will touch you personally — and before starting your day, pick up the phone and make an appointment for a healthy checkup Do all things with Aloha, Abella Leialoha Carroll

CD Scootin’ with Kealoha Viloria Kealoha debuts his first self-titled CD and shares the inspiration behind his music.


By Pua Hernandez

t the 2012 Weekend in Polynesia, Josh Kealoha Viloria became the second Pacific Island Talent Contest winner. In the months following his win, Kealoha (meaning “the beloved one”) spent numerous hours in the studio creating his debut EP. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with the young musician to talk about his experience.

Pua Hernandez: There are a few original songs on your CD. Do you have a ‘process’ in which you write songs? How do you begin creating a song? Kealoha Viloria: My process of writing songs starts with

me and my guitar. Throwing chords together that get my feet tapping. From there, I think of a chorus—a hook that will be stuck in someone’s head after listening to it. Something a crowd can sing along with and can relate to. After figuring out the chorus, I build around it with verses.

PH: How did you choose these particular songs for your CD? KV: The songs on my EP were songs I’ve written in the past as well as songs I wrote specifically for this project. Just simply trying to put together a set list of songs that will get my voice heard and get people to hear my sound. PH: What is your “signature song” on this CD? Can you give us a little bit of its background?

KV: My signature song

on the CD is the first on the list titled “ScootScoot.” Its a song based around seeing a girl from a distance you find attractive, someone you want to get to know, and tell them to just “scoot” a little closer to you and there’s nothing else that matters at that moment.

PH: How has this experience, recording your own CD, changed your view on singing? Has it had any impact? KV: This whole experience—being able to record, being

able to perform and be on the cover of AOTA and so on—I have felt so blessed and taken aback by just how much I love my music, and creating it. Just simply performing with a group of musicians who are all jamming and having a blast doing it, or singing in front of a crowd mouthing the same lyrics I am. It’s all been a huge blessing and a journey I don’t want to end.

PH: You said your father [Kumu Hula Kawika Viloria] has been influential to your music. Has this experience impacted your relationship with him? KV: To be involved with this whole process and experi-

ence, I owe a huge thanks to my father. He’s always been my role model in entertaining. For him to see me now trying to succeed in this industry, he is very happy and proud of me, and that has brought us so much closer.

Filmmaker Christen Hepuakoa Marquez debuts


Meet the young director as she shares her personal journey of discovery through her Hawaiian name in the film E Haku Inoa (To Weave a Name)


hristen Hepuakoa Marquez is a Kanaka Maoli filmmaker who has produced both narrative and documentary work, and specializes in directing documentaries. Her company, Paradocs Productions, focuses on using video to solve social problems through character driven stories. Christen’s directorial debut feature documentary E Haku Inoa (To Weave A Name) recently premiered at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and is scheduled to screen at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival and on PBS Hawai‘i in October 2013 and nationally on public television in May 2014. In E Haku Inoa, Christen sets out to discover the meaning of her lengthy Hawaiian name from her estranged schizophrenic mother. Through sporadic trips to the islands and deep research into her past, Christen not only discovers the meaning of her name, but gains a whole new perspective on how mental illness has affected her family and society at large. Natasia Gascon: What inspired you to become a filmmaker? Christen Marquez: When I first went to art school I considered becoming a fashion designer. But with visual storytelling you have the option to be serious or silly—there is a lot of flexibility within the medium. You can use films to try and change the world, simply entertain people, and every combination in between.

By Natasia Gascon

Director Christen Hepuakoa Marquez debuts “E Haku Inoa”.

NG: What motivated you to create E Haku Inoa and what was the most challenging aspect about making your film? CM: Personal documentaries are a favorite genre of mine. I haven’t seen a personal first-person documentary done from the perspective of a Pacific Islander individual, so I didn’t really have a role model for this film which was a little tough for me. At the same time, as a filmmaker primarily interested in doing documentary, I felt that I needed to live the role of “the subject” before I could feel completely comfortable being on the other side of the camera.

NG: Do you think it is important for Pacific Islanders to tell their stories through film? CM: I think it is important for everyone to tell their stories, but I think it is particularly important for more Pacific Islanders to tell stories because I believe diverse perspectives are important. That is not to say that I think Pacific filmmakers need to be making Pacific centric work. We should be free to explore styles and genres of film and artistic expression. It is important that we are given opportunities to do so, so that our perspectives can come through. I have been very fortunate with E Haku Inoa to be able to do that.

Filmmaker Christen Marquez and her mother, Elena.

NG: How do you think the art of filmmaking compares to other forms of storytelling? CM: We live in an increasingly visual-based society. If you are a storyteller interested in reaching a lot of people, film is a really great way to do that. One of the most exciting aspects of video is the ability to enter a real unknown place, record it, and share that experience with audiences in ways that other forms of storytelling cannot do.

NG: What advice do you have for young Pacific Islanders who want to pursue a career in filmmaking? CM: Visualize where your films will be shown and who will be watching them. I am a self-professed “PBS nerd� and I always had the goal to have my film shown on public television. Now, after about four years of work, I am finally going to accomplish that. The best advice I could give to someone looking to pursue filmmaking would be to set really specific goals and go after them full force. NG: What are your plans for the future? CM: As for future work, I am developing a project on Hawaiian language sovereignty songs that I am really excited about. Lastly, I want to say mahalo for the opportunity to be interviewed and to everyone who supports Pacific Islander artists and AOTA. For more information on E Haku Inoa and to read Christen’s full interview, visit

Film Review: Oscar-nominated


recounts Thor Heyerdahl’s Historic Story of Human Triumph By Natasia Gascon


ollowing the Los Angeles premiere of the Norwegian film Kon-Tiki at the 2013 Scandinavian Film Festival in Los Angeles, I met with Director Joachim Rønning about this amazing film.

Natasia Gascon at the Los Angeles Premiere of Kon-Tiki at the Scandinavian Film Festival in Los Angeles.

Co-directed by Joachin Roenning and Espen Sandberg, Kon-Tiki and starring Pål Sverre Hagen (Thor Heyerdahl), Anders Baasmo Christiansen (Herman Watzinger), and Odd-Magnus Williamson (Erik Hesselberg) and has already broken box office records in its native Norway and is poised to take North America by storm.

The film is based on the true story of the 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition where the Norwegian explorer and ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl set out to prove that Polynesia was colonized by South American natives rather than ancient seafarers from Asia. The film follows Heyerdahl’s journey from his childhood in snowy Norway to his research station in the Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas, where his interactions with the locals formulated his theory. When noted anthropologists and researchers from National Geographic magazine reject his radical ideas of the origins of the Polynesian people, Heyerdahl sets out with a rag-tag group of friends to prove them wrong by building a balsa wood raft and sailing from Peru to Polynesia. “Thor Heyerdahl was one of the greatest explorers on Earth,” said Roenning. “Bigger than Columbus! He’s the one who brought Polynesian culture to the West and renewed interest in it.” The film perfectly blends scenes of solemn drifting, incredible battles at sea, and Heyerdahl’s own personal struggles and challenges with his crew. It keeps you on edge with stunning visuals and internal drama right up until the crucial moment when the crew finally makes landfall. The film, at its core, is about an egotistic young man who wanted to prove himself to the world. It may have cost him his family — and came close to costing him his life — but in the end, Thor Heyerdahl showed that he could do it. He accomplished something that everyone said he could not.

By Natasia Gascon


he coconut palm is one of the most recognized and most utilized plants in the world, grown in nearly every tropical and sub-tropical country. Although the coconut palm is most well-known for its hard, husky fruit, the tree has a wealth of uses ranging from food, drink, building materials and medicine. Some remote communities in the Pacific sustain themselves almost exclusively on coconut palms, earning it the nick-name “The tree of life.” More often these days, people are turning to coconut products as alternatives to mainstream foods. Coconut Water is the clear, refreshing liquid that comes straight from immature green coconuts. The water is most often served right out of the fruit but is also canned into a chilled drink with bits of pulp or coconut jelly. Coconut water has been touted as a natural alternative to processed energy drinks due to its high potassium, anti-oxidant and mineral content. As the coconut water develops completely closed from the outside world, it is naturally free from bacteria and contaminants. It has been known to be used as emergency medicine for infants suffering from diarrhea and also as intravenous hydration fluid when medical saline is unavailable. The flavor from natural coconuts is sweeter and more refreshing than canned water and is also free of chemical preservatives. Coconut milk is derived from mature coconut fruits. To make it, the coconut is cracked open and the white, fleshy meat is extracted, grated, and squeezed.

The resulting liquid has the same consistency and fat content as regular cow’s milk, and can be used in the same way. Some use coconut milk in place of cow’s milk by those who are lactose intolerant, have milk allergies, and by vegans. Coconut oil was the first commercially available vegetable oil when it was introduced in the 19th century. After being outshined by other oils such as olive, canola and soybean, coconut oil has made a steady comeback. It is used in cooking as an alternative to other vegetable oils and as a healthy substitute to butter or margarine due to its high saturated fat and low cholesterol content. Coconut oil adds a mild nutty vanilla flavor to dishes and can enhance the sweetness of certain foods. To use coconut oil in cooking, stick with “virgin” oils that have been minimally processed to get the full benefits without unhealthy preservatives. The oil can also be used in non-culinary applications. It is a well-known skin and hair moisturizer and stabilizer for soaps and skin creams.

Many thanks to the presenters of the 2013 Artist Development Program!

For those who attended, we hope you took away valuable information to pursue your passions and follow your dreams. April Co-founders Tui & Maile Letuli and President Bob Arconado, “Pacific Talent Island Singers” Pua Hernandez, “Photography Workshop”

May LaRue Palmer, “Vocal Coaching” Joey Quenga and Joe Savage, “How to Ace an Interview with the Media”

June Tui Letuli - Guitar Workshop

July Angela Baraquio Grey, “What it takes to Win” Tini Grey, “Creating a Solid Work Ethic”

August Keali’i Ceballos and Abella Leialoha Carroll, “Voice Presentation & Stage Presence” Tali Goeas, “Tahitian Workshop”

September Sefa Pumphrey “Exhibition Drumming Workshop” Kuinise Leiataua - Keepers of the Flame - Fire Knife Workshop Tuko Tekurio, “Drumming Workshop”

Nonosina debuts “TUMU” at Heiva i Tahiti


By Leialoha Carroll

On July 17, the Orange County-based Nonosina Dance Company traveled to Tahiti with nearly 100 cast members and presented its premiere performance of “TUMU” at Heiva i Tahiti at the To’ata stage. Recently, I met up with Creative Director Tiana Liufau who shared the behind-the-scenes story of this epic production.

Leialoha Carroll: How did you become creative director of Nonosina Dance Company? Tiana Liufau: With humble beginnings. My grand-

mother, Estella Reid, started the group in 1965. The group was later passed down to my mother, Riki Liufau, then to my older brother, Mevina Liufau, and then passed down to me. We drew a parallel with honoring my grandmother, the foundation of our very group. I am blessed to have four generations actively involved in the dance company. I was taught to always respect the Tupuna.

LC: What is unique about the costumes? TL: The costumes were inspired by Polynesian mythology. In one piece entitled “Te A’a/Roots” the vahine had a cape of “lauhala/raufara/laufala” from that of the “hala/fara/fala” tree. Long strips of raufara hung from their shoulders so every motion mimicked the process of the land’s roots growing to eventually surface the earth and appear to the realm of the sun. Mika and I held workshops with the dancers to show them the exact plants and trees from where their costumes originated. It is crucial for dancers to understand the gift from mother nature that adorns them as they dance.

“Your costume is an extension of your soul.”

LC: Share with us the meaning behind

LC: What did this trip mean to you personally? TL: Paying respect where they are due from

the motherland, Tahiti. This trip was like a pilgrimage back to Polynesia just as my ancestors left from Samoa and Hawai’i to migrate here to the mainland. It’s remembering where I come from and connecting with the earth elements that we dance to. I hope this journey reminded my dancers the gift of humility. It’s so easy to be blinded by competitions within the dance community—we all need to remember the pillars of Polynesian culture. This trip was to give dancers the opportunity to connect with the land, the people, and attend the one and only Heiva i Tahiti.

- Tiana Liufau

“TUMU” and its story.

TL: “Tumu” in Tahitian means “the source” or “the

foundation.” TUMU was co-written by Māhealani Mika Hirao-Solem and myself. Our objective was to pay homage to those who existed on this earth prior to man, those that gifted us life, one of Ta’ aroa’s (the creator in Tahitian mythology) greatest contributions—the first to dance: the trees. The trees surrounded the Polynesians’ environment which inspired the dance, the language, and lifestyle of the people. In “Te A’a/Roots” the vahine wore long strips of raufara so every motion mimicked the process of the land’s roots growing to eventually surface the earth and appear to the realm of the sun.

LC: What final thoughts would you like our readers to take away?

TL: Polynesian or not, know your roots. We must know

our own foundations before we branch out and embrace others. Seek mana in all you do for when you get that feeling that mere words can’t describe when dancing, singing, chanting or drumming … that feeling you get in your a’au (your core, within) that draws you to tears … it is then that you reach the highest level of spirituality and you are reminded of the essence of the art!

LC: Mauruuru roa, Tiana. May your story resonate with all generations!

(Left to right) Designer Carrington “Bubba” Yap of Manaola Couture; Creative Director Tiana Liufau; and Miss Aloha Hula 2010 Māhealani Mika Hirao-Solem.

The Young Prodigy Sings Jennifer Lockhart Releases Debut CD By Leialoha Carroll


acific Talent Academy of the Arts can’t get enough This summer, Jennifer recorded and released her first of young Jennifer Lockhart. In just two years, we self-named CD featuring some of her best and most have mentioned the young singer in almost every beloved songs. The 10-year-old youngster has performed issue of AOTA magazine, yet she continues to surprise for the Pacific Talent Academy of the Arts at such places and delight us with groundbreaking as Pearson Park Amphitheater, San Diego “The most beautiful news. In her first CD, she debuts her World Beat Cultural Center, Harbor melodies ever composed versions of songs that include “Over the College and Downtown Disney Main Stage are in the opera. Rainbow” and “O Mio Babbino Caro” to name a few. Also this year, audiences My goal is to sing at from the 1918 opera Gianni Schicchi. have enjoyed her singing at Dodger StadiHer angelic voice has matured, second the MET in New York um and the BBQ radio show with “Q” and only to the poise and dignity in which Joe Sav where she sang Mozart. She also someday.” she carries herself as a budding star. sang at the “Tafesilafai” festival at Long - Jennifer Lockhart Beach Aquarium this year. Although she likes to perform songs from Broadway musicals and other popular songs her heart lies with opera. Jennifer has also been studying acting since she was six years old. She takes acting lessons with Aaron Fors who also is a dialectician. She just finished a short film titled “Worlds Apart” where she sings Mozart and showcases her beautiful British accent. We are so proud of Jennifer and cannot wait for her next milestone!

For more about Jennifer Lockhart, visit

Make A Statement with Island-inspired Accent Pillows (855)-6PILLOW or (855) 674-5569

Over Labor Day weekend, Pillow-Licious debuted its island collections at the world-famous E Hula Mau dance competition held at the Long Beach Terrace Theatre.

Designer Julie Jones has roots that stem from the islands of Moloka’i and O’ahu. Her love for the islands helps her infuse Aloha into each and every creation.

Owner Julie Jones of Hawai’i showcased her island collections that are fashioned and designed for every taste. Each décor pillow is handmade and one-of-a kind. Genuine sea shells, beading, sequins and rhinestones make these cushiony accents exquisitely unique. All materials are of the finest quality silks, linens, bamboo, leather-look and micro-suedes. Pillow-Licious pays attention to fine details and superb quality enabling your island-inspired pillows to “Make a Statement” in any home, hotel, or fine Resort. Pillow-Licious can be found at various upscale designer companies throughout Southern California and soon to expand into fine resort hotels and vacation destinations in Hawai’i and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Pacific Island Talent Contestants:

By Pua Hernandez

In 2011, the Weekend in Polynesia added a whole new experience to the already popular weekend: the Pacific Island Talent Contest. That year, twelve hopefuls competed for a one thousand dollar grand prize, a recording contract, and more. Since then, some of those contestants have been busy making careers in the music industry. Recently, AOTA checked in to see how they are doing.

Tenelle arrived at the very first audition thinking “‘What’s the worst that could happen?”’ This is, an attitude she carries with her throughout every endeavor. Today, Tenelle is touring with Common Kings, providing back-up vocals and headlining shows of her own. She just released her first single, “‘Tell Me”,’ on iTunes in July and is currently working on an EP and an album. She says in entering this competition she “‘gained a new family.”’ As for the other contestants with whom she competed, “We have built a genuine relationship.” The PTAA continues to support Tenelle in all her projects and will for many years to come.

Lea’s very first audition was held in Redondo Beach, California. Since then, she has been performing and just recently dropped her first EP, “Straight Flexin,” and is preparing to shoot her first music video for her debut single, “‘Flexin’,” which is now on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby. Lea is also scheduled to travel to the islands for some performances and guest appearances. When asked how this competition impacted her life, she says “Being in the Pacific Island Talent Competition has truly impacted my life. Not only has this opportunity been a blessing, but the relationships that I have made throughout the competition have changed my life. Being a part of this experience has furthered my career in so many different aspects. It has opened doors that I would have never imagined … I believe that the most important thing that I learned during the competition was to “never give up.” “Lea continues to support and performs when she can at many PTAA events.

Spreading Aloha One Word at a Time


By Abella Leialoha Carroll

here are specific words that portray an islander’s values in life. Here, we strive to provide you with common words and phrases islanders use in everyday talk story. Whether from Hawai’i, Samoa, Tahiti, or any other island, let this be the beginning of spreading Aloha, one word at a time. Today’s word comes from nani Hawai’i:


From Rosa Say, author of Managing with Aloha

“Kuleana is the value of responsibility. It drives self-motivation and self-reliance, for the desire to act comes from accepting our responsibility with deliberance and with diligence. Responsibility seeks opportunity. Opportunity creates energy and excitement. Kuleana weaves empowerment and ownership into the opportunity that has been captured. There is a transformation in Kuleana, one that comes from ho‘ohiki, keeping the promises you make to yourself.”

Born and raised in Hawai’i, Rosa Say is founder of Say Leadership Coaching. She is dedicated to bringing nobility to the art of management and to mentoring the next generation of leaders in Hawai’i and internationally.

For more information about Rosa Say or her book, Managing with Aloha, visit

Pacific Talent Academy of the Arts in the Community By Pua Hernandez


s part of the PTAA’s Community Outreach program, Founder Tui Letuli and other leaders in the community partnered with the National Pacific Islander Educator Network’s Dr. Victor Thompson and was invited to speak at the High School about higher education and how to get there. The National Pacific Islander Educator Network (NPIEN) is a non-profit organization which serves the Pacific Islander community to assist students in pursuing their educational goals. Working closely with their local schools, NPIEN provides students with information on college scholarships and financial aid as well as mentors for students with their current educational challenges. Turning to the Pacific Islander community, NPIEN introduces career role models to local youth in hopes of inspiring them to higher education and successful career goals. Tui Letuli offered the students at the high schools in the community a peek into his own experiences with his high school children before they attended college. The many obstacles and struggles to succeed brought valuable lessons with one key element: Finish every assignment. Tui touched on subjects that many high school students had not yet experienced. He gave them a MAP for their journey to educate their passion. He explained that their passion will ignite their dream of what they want to become with a quote, “You will succeed where it consumes you.”

Measure – “What gets measured gets improved.” Dream big! Action – “Just as you need air to breath – Action Is Required.” Persevere – “We can’t change the direction of the wind, but we can set our sail and go where we’re determined to go and to conquer and never quit.” He explained grade point averages, transcripts, when to start looking for a college. He also focused on how to choose a major. But the common thread was perseverance. From the onset of his speech, to the very last word, goals, planning, and the will to never give up was the theme. In closing, Tui left the student with this quote; “Most people live without much intention so they let the river of life take them wherever it wills. As a result, they make little impact in this present world and more importantly, for eternity” “Go as far as you can go, because once there, you can see further.”

For more information about the National Pacific Islander Educator network, please visit their website at

Saturday, November 9, 2013 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Mile Square Park 16801 Euclid Street Fountain Valley, CA 92708 Vendors ~ Food ~ Live Entertainment Food Drive in Partnership with Orange County Food Bank Presented by Halau Hula Lani Ola

Aota 10 2013