He nani mai Moloka`i.....
the beauty from Moloka`i!
We have seen her beautiful face beaming from newspaper pages and have heard her melodious voice on the Hawaii Radio Connection program. We’ve seen her on stage, moving with grace and elegance as she introduced some of Hawaii’s greatest entertainers to huge audiences in Seattle’s Benaroya and McCaw Concert Halls. We’ve seen hundreds of people, from stars like entertainers Robert and Roland Cazimero and Raiatea Helm to lahui kanaka (people like you and I), who on meeting, embrace her so very warmly, like hugging Ohana (family). She just has that special quality that quickly endears her to all. A few of us also know that she was specifically asked (a truly prestigious honor) to fly down to San Francisco to represent the Pacific NW Hawaiian community in a rally to support the Kamehameha Schools Admissions Policy during a recent U.S. 9th Circuit Court litigation a few months ago…She is like a fascinatingly bright and brilliant star, articulate, charming and so compassionate….and she is second to none in spreading Aloha throughout the Pacific NW. But then, when the stage lights go off and the newspaper is recycled, when the radio show shuts down and the thousands in a rally return to their homes, our Profile lady seems to almost disappear, melding into the background…..that seems to be her style: up front and leading when she is needed, but otherwise very low profile and unassuming in her personal lifestyle!
Her mother was Henrietta Lupokeli`iaihula (protector of the small) Fuller; her dad was George Kalani Aki…my Profile guest is MANONO (defined as “deep affection from the heart”)AKI McMILLAN! From the moment of Manono’s birth, Mom Henrietta Aki shaped Manono to live the legacy of “always giving from the heart!” Manono was the youngest, but the one designated to be the catalyst between two step brothers and one step sister! She was born in Ho`olehua but her fondest Moloka`i memories evolve around the times she spent at her grandparents home in Kalamaula….of climbing into the mango trees in her grandparents orchard and stuffing herself with pa`ke, common, Haden mangoes…of watching the sunset over Lana`i island across the channel from Moloka`i…of going to the beach at Kawakiu to watch the outrigger canoes take off on the world famous “Moloka`i to Oahu Canoe Race”….of helping out at her Mom’s Aki Travel & Insurance Agency” in Kaunakakai (until her Mom fired her for taking too many 2-3 hour lunch breaks, sending Manono to work in the pineapple fields where Manono really learned about hard, back-breaking work). Manono recalls growing up with the Bobby Nakihei family (Bobby is owner of Bobby’s Hawaiian Style Restaurant in Everett , WA ) and the Helms family (the legendary George Helm was Manono’s Moloka`i schoolmate). Manono graduated from the Kamehameha Schools and came up to the Pacific NW to attend Western Washington University in Bellingham where she earned a degree in Business Ed and Economics. She remained in this area to start a family. Her son Brent Kimo McMillan lives in the Lynnwood area! Manono has danced with Halau Hula O Napualani for years and participates in Hawaiian community activities (radio and stage shows; Kamehameha Alumni events; etc) as often as possible. She also devotes a lot of her time to ministries in her church.
Manono has enjoyed a myriad of jobs including working with United Airlines and with several telecommunications agencies where her specialty was training others to use high tech equipment! Currently, she is an analyst for Puget Sound Energy in Redmond where she says she enjoys the constantly changing challenges of the “high tech” world!
I’m sure that you all recognize the Hawaiian bracelets with engraved names on them….Manono’s grandfather Robert Fuller is acknowledged as the guy who popularized the Hawaiian bracelet! Robert Fuller had a jewelry store on Bishop Street in Honolulu and liked to engrave names on things. (Manono says that even dishes and utensils in her grandparents’ home were engraved with family member names). One day he began to engrave Hawaiian names on gold bracelets which his jewelry store customers loved and began to demand more and more of……the rest is history!
Nani, u`i, maka`i, makapua, ho`onani, ho`owehi …. all are Hawaiian words that relate to beauty. In every sense, beauty truly applies to Manono McMillan. But beyond the beauty of face or smile, her real beauty is in her uhane (Hawaiian soul)! She is a passionate, caring woman who has never forgotten her Moloka`i/”small island” Hawaiian upbringing and who strives to do whatever she can to ensure that our Hawaiian culture will live on. Listen to her on the Hawaii Radio Connection show or watch her on stage and you quickly appreciate how knowledgeable she is about things Hawaiian; even more important though is how she strives to connect with her audience, to make you/me/us/her audience feel good and welcome! Manono McMillan: you are like a shining light whose smile and voice of Aloha reaches out and touches so many…please continue to keep us informed, educated and entertained on things Hawaiian!
MELE KALIKIMAKA E HAU`OLI MAKAHIKI HOU! Until next time, be kind to each other……me ke Aloha pumehana……….Danny
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