Maui’s Bailey House is Guerrero’s pet project
Looking back to his childhood, Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning male vocalist Uluwehi Guerrero remembers the Bailey House Museum in Wailuku as being a favorite retreat.
If you go ...
What: "E Hooulu Aloha"
Place: Bailey House Museum, 2375-A Main St., Wailuku, Maui
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 26
Cost: $10 per person in advance and $15 on the day of the event (ticket holders receive free admission to the Bailey House Museum on the day of the concert). Children under 12 will be admitted free to "E Hooulu Aloha" with a paid adult. Tickets are available at the museum.
Web site: www.mauimuseum.org
The house, which dates back to 1833, is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Hawaii State Historic Register. It showcases more than 1,500 ancient Hawaiian and missionary-era artifacts and serves as the headquarters for the Maui Historical Society and its extensive collection of maps, manuscripts, genealogies, biographies, documents and photographs.
"I used to spend a lot of time in Wailuku with my grandparents, who came to Maui from the Philippines in the early 1920s," Guerrero recalls. "They had a store in town called Guerrero Store and were among the first immigrant storekeepers on the island. My friends and I would walk a few miles from the store to the Bailey House as often as we could. I liked being there because even at that young age, when I was in elementary school, I was fascinated with Hawaii's history."
Some 15 years later, in 1981, Guerrero formed Halau Hula O Kamakani Wili Makaha O Kauaula with his friend and fellow kumu (teacher) Kealii Reichel, who was then the executive director of the Bailey House Museum. They needed a place to hold their children's classes, and the museum turned out to be the ideal spot.
"Every Saturday for more than a decade, we'd meet there and teach the kids hula and Hawaiian language," says Guerrero. "I remembered the wonderful feelings I had when I visited there as a child, and I wanted my students to experience the same thing. Being among all that history and a garden full of native plants and trees was conducive to learning."
It didn't take long, however, for Guerrero to realize the museum needed financial assistance. "I wanted to give back to the museum because of everything it had given me over the years," he says. "The best way for me to do that was with what I was blessed with: singing, music and hula. I called upon my friends, including Uncle Richard Hoopii and Leiohu Ryder, and we decided to put on a fund-raising concert for the museum."
COURTESY OF CASSIE PALI
Uncle Richard is one of the performers who entertains at "E Hooulu Aloha," an annual benefit for Maui's Bailey House Museum.
Guerrero, Halau Hula O Kauluokala, which he now leads, Hoopii and Ryder have been the guiding lights behind "E Hooulu Aloha (To Grow in Love)" since its inception five years ago. They perform every year, organize a nonstop slate of top-notch Maui entertainers and inspire community involvement.
"A group of kupuna (elders) always comes with their flowers and ferns," says Guerrero. "The aunties sit at a big table, 'talk story' and make dozens of beautiful leis for sale. And they donate all the proceeds to the museum; they don't keep a dime for themselves."
Two years ago, Guerrero, who has been teaching hula in Japan for 10 years, invited a halau from Tokyo to participate in "E Hooulu Aloha." Eighty dancers came at their own expense and were immersed in the aloha spirit.
"They were so excited because in Japan they don't have an event where you go into the mountains together to pick greenery, then decorate the stage together," says Guerrero. "They were so happy they could be a part of that special experience."
According to Roslyn Lightfoot, executive director of the Bailey House Museum, 800 people are expected to attend "E Hooulu Aloha" this year. The goal is to raise $20,000 from the day-long concert and its ancillary activities, including sales of food, locally made crafts and merchandise at the museum's gift shop.
There also will be a silent auction of close to 100 fine items, among them a handcrafted koa rocker; a mabe pearl ring; a Chinese elm-wood altar table dating back to the 1860s; a massage at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa's Spa Grande; rounds of golf at Wailea and Kapalua resorts; dining at Kimo's, Spago and the Haliimaile General Store; and tickets for the Old Lahaina Luau, any Maui Arts & Cultural Center performance, an Atlantis submarine tour and "Ulalena," Lahaina's exhilarating Cirque du Soleil-caliber show.
COURTESY OF CASSIE PALI
Entertainers, such as this keiki halau, are hoping to raise $20,000 from a daylong concert, "E Hooulu Aloha's" sales of food and craft.
LIGHTFOOT CREDITS Guerrero, Hoopii and Ryder for the success and growth of "E Hooulu Aloha." "They opened up themselves and all their resources to us," she says. "The outpouring was amazing; 'E Hooulu Aloha' really is a grass-roots effort. It wouldn't happen if it weren't for them."
The money raised at the concert augments Bailey House Museum's operating budget, which is funded by donations; museum gift shop sales; Maui Historical Society memberships; and admissions ($5 for adults, $4 for seniors over 60, $1 for children 7 through 12, and free for kids under 7 and active-duty military personnel and their immediate families).
Expenses are high; the monthly electricity bill alone is $700. Says Lightfoot: "The offices aren't air-conditioned, but we run five air conditioners, five dehumidifiers and four fans 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to protect the fragile artifacts and documents in the Maui Historical Society's archives. Not many people are aware this is a research center that's open to the public."
Lightfoot is the museum's only full-time paid employee. Her staff of seven part-timers put in hours equivalent to just 2.39 full-time workers. As such, she relies heavily on volunteers to help with tasks ranging from mowing the lawn to serving as docents to participating in cultural preservation projects.
One recently completed project involved restoring the museum's canoe hale (hut) and installing new display cases and interpretive presentations. The hale houses one of the Maui Historical Society's most cherished possessions, the Honaunau, a century-old, 33-foot fishing canoe carved from a solid koa log. Originally launched for fishing off the Big Island's Kona coast, the handsome vessel found its way to Waikiki, where it was used by the Outrigger Canoe Club for training and rides for visitors in the 1930s and 1940s.
Also exhibited in the hale are an ama (outrigger float), iako (outrigger boom) and a 10-foot redwood surfboard, circa 1900, that Hawaii's most famous beachboy, Duke Kahanamoku, used to skim the waves.
Lightfoot sees "E Hooulu Aloha" as a celebration not only for the Bailey House Museum, but for the entire community, which comes together to honor the past and, as the event's name says, to grow in love.
COURTESY OF CASSIE PALI
Members of a Japanese halau paid their own way to participate in the event and were thrilled to be able to go into the forests to gather lei materials.
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi is a Honolulu-based free-lance writer and Society of American Travel Writers award winner.