Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Monday, August 16, 1999

Mahalo for a super birthday

THE best thing about birthday celebrations is they can remind you -- even in the midst of a crummy economy, bumper-to-bumper traffic snarls and everyday mundane problems -- that Hawaii is still the best place on Earth to turn another year older.

My birthday whirlwind (never mind which birthday, nosey) started on Friday with a gorgeous double-bozo lei and a guava-chiffon cake, mercifully sporting only one candle, from my cohorts in the newsroom.

That night, I joined the appreciative throng at "Pili Mau: Together Forever," a benefit concert for the Waikiki Community Center.

The talents of popular local crooners like Karen Keawehawaii, Loyal Garner, Melveen Leed, the Makaha Sons, Hapa and Pureheart packed the Sheraton-Waikiki ballroom with hundreds of toe-tapping, head-bobbing islanders hungry for live Hawaiian music on the Kalakaua strip. We ate it up.

On Saturday morning, I made the picturesque drive over to the Windward side -- not only to savor the stunning view of the Koolaus but to help representatives of nonprofit groups better understand the media.

The Family Community Leadership panel discussion, "What the Press Really Wants," also featured news ace Jane Pascual of KRTR and three other radio stations, and former NBC Hawaii News8 managing editor Elisa Yadao.

Participating in such workshops are a pleasant necessity, because they lead to a better understanding of what different media look for and how they decide what gets covered.

More important, barriers are broken. When we first started our presentations, those in attendance looked apprehensive and even a little intimidated. But, by the end of our two-hour session, everybody was smiling and joking.

One attendee commented that she had always envisioned journalists as all-powerful and unapproachable. Who, me?

Now she saw us as we really were: in our case, three local girls trying to do a good job in a profession we love, in a field we respect, and on behalf of a public that wants to be informed, inspired and entertained.

Mission accomplished. Now on with the celebrating!

The rest of Saturday and Sunday was spent with family and friends -- opening presents, hugging, and chowing down at eclectic watering holes ranging from Like Like Drive Inn to David Paul's Diamond Head Grill.

By Sunday night, I was pooped but positively glowing with aloha from this most memorable of all my forty-something years of existence.

MAYBE it was nostalgia or because I'm now a little older and thus wiser. But reflecting back on these past three days made me realize why they were especially meaningful.

They were spent with the people dearest to me -- my family, co-workers and pals.

At the nonprofit/media workshop, I was able to help those who are trying to make this a better place to live.

And at the "Pili Mau" concert, a whole throng of strangers gathered together to bond and enjoy music born and nurtured in these islands, while supporting a good cause in the process.

Mahalo to everyone for making this my best birthday weekend ever. Many happy returns to us all.

And remember, every day is SOMEBODY'S birthday celebration on this rock we call home, so let's not ruin it by dwelling on the crummy economy, the bumper-to-bumper traffic snarls, the everyday mundane problems...

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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