There is a little more grey in his hair now but he is still a handsome, statuesque Hawaiian gentleman who surfs whenever he can and whose musical talents have earned him numerous awards! Meet MANNY KAIALELEPA FERNANDEZ, a man who has, through his music, established a link connecting all Hawaiians today to the richness and beauty of our past!
Born of the Sea (appropriately, his middle name Kaialelepa translates to leaping over Sea coral), Manny can be seen at 6 a.m. paddling his surfboard off Waikiki every time he returns to Hawaii! But while paddling is his love, music is his passion and it has been through his soft, gentle, soothing voice that Manny K Fernandez has spread Aloha throughout the world.
Manny grew up in the Kaimuki section of Honolulu, within walking distance to Waikiki Beach (which explains his love of the sea) and in a family environment filled with Hawaiian music. His Hanai Mom, Ella Kahale Mikasobe Fernandez was a talented musician, singer, dancer and Kumu Hula who was Manny’s first music teacher. He’s not real sure which came first for him (a surfboard or a ukulele) but both were to impact significantly on his life! While he’s not sure where his first ukulele came from, he thinks his first surfboard was his Mom Ella’s ironing board. Actually, when Mom Ella realized his love for surfing, she presented Manny with a 14 foot long, hollow fir/redwood board. In those days, that was akin to giving your teenager a Cadillac for his birthday. After graduating from St Louis High School in Honolulu, Manny started working for the Hawaii National Guard, remaining there until his retirement after twenty-five years of service. While in the National Guard, Manny began playing music on the “Sing Along With Miki” TV show with Samson Bright and Miki Bowers. Shortly thereafter, Manny was the bass player for the Kihei Brown Trio (with Kihei Brown on the uke and Charlie Nee on guitar). After retiring from the National Guard, Manny began working for Hawaiian Airlines where, with his mentor (the much admired and respected musician/song writer Andy Cummings), Manny became a traveling Ambassador of Aloha for Hawaiian Airlines, enchanting and enticing audiences throughout the world to visit Hawaii!
Manny K. Fernandez is a Renaissance Man who sings the songs of Old Hawaii to ensure that Hawaiian Islanders, especially those who no longer live in Hawaii, never forget the heritage from which they came. Conversely, Manny K. Fernandez is a warrior who doesn’t want Hawaii to forget those of us who have moved away. Manny has battled long and hard for recognition of Hawaiian artists who no longer live in Hawaii! One result of such efforts by Manny and other Hawaiian musicians who reside on the mainland is that they are now eligible for award of the Hawaiian Music Association’s album of the year (which Manny has won three times for his C.D.s “In This Enchanted Place “ (2004), “My Island Paradise” (2005) and “Hawaiian Memories” (2006))!
Manny and his beautiful (and very talented) wife Bettyjean moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1984 and ironically settled in Aloha, OR. What better place to reside for a man known by many as an Ambassador of Aloha? Manny and Bettyjean have since moved to a beautiful home in Claremont, OR. There is no doubt that Manny K. Fernandez is thoroughly a kanaka maoli (native Hawaiian) in his heart but he has adopted Oregon as his home away from home and has so impressed the Oregonians that he was knighted by the Royal Rosarians (official greeters for the city of Portland) for his many contributions to the community. Manny and Bettyjean own and operate “Hawaiian Gatherings” a multi-faceted business which specializes in Hawaiian antiques and collectibles as well as providing Hawaiian music and food catering services. Manny is also a Kahu (ordained Minister) who can and does conduct weddings and house blessings (Hawaiian style). Manny is still very much an Ambassador of Aloha, enchanting and enticing audiences with his mellow music and talents.
Mahalo Manny K. Fernandez for all you do and have done for our people and our culture! Manny................you da Man!!!!!
Until next time, be kind to each other........me ke Aloha pumehana..........Danny