Mo`olelo: Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell

Recipes: Fruit-Infused Water
Poi Kulolo Parfait
Summer PNW NHPI Concerts & Festivals

A strong & healthy mind and body is a gift to both yourself and your `ohana. Take good care of yourself both mentally & physically.
Gentle movements with your ‘ohana!
Marla, HHAPI’s Peer Educator recently received her 200-hour yoga certification through Native Strength Revolution (NSR), her goal is to bring yoga to NHPI communities. Follow HHAPI on TIK TOK to learn a beginner pose each week. So far, she’s taught mauna, keiki, hoku, mahina and lei poses. Join us with your `ohana. All ages are welcome: keiki to kupuna.
Mo`olelo: Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell
Accepting the position as the first Director of Equity for the Mukilteo School District was an honor. This position allowed me to lead an organization to realize that despite the diversity which exists in our social systems and our schools, there were still struggles with the values and biases of past teachings from those who came before.
It allowed me to dig into equity from an institutional lens and create relationships that drove conversations and goals derived around healing and aloha. The experiences I've gained in this position solidified my resolve that systems change can only occur through the transformation of the individual.
Co3 Consulting: Co-Creating Cohesive Communities was born in 2012. We are a premier consulting company working towards co-creating cohesive communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. Based on the foundation of ALOHA, Co3 Consulting addresses the impact of colonization through self-reflection, self-awareness, and self-regulation practices.
We cannot begin to talk about equity, diversity, inclusion, or even anti-racism without first addressing the impacts of colonization, the construction of race, and the upholding of white supremacy.

Transitioning back into consulting has benefitted my growing `ohana and me. I can make my own schedule, be available for my mo'opuna, and choose to work with those genuinely seeking to transform their organization and institutions through a decolonial lens, with aloha! I have received a few invitations to speak at local and national conferences.
In May 2022, my husband, Jeremy Tunnell and I presented on the Path to Personal Decolonization at the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education. It was his first time in attendance and presenting and my third. We continue to offer workshops through Leadership Snohomish County and will be offering a workshop on Whole Systems Leadership in October and Healing the Colonized Mind in November. Interested participants can contact Heather Freeman at Leadership Snohomish County.
Together, we also created The Evolution of AloHā Podcast (formally the Mixed Plate Podcast). We share stories that can serve as the catalyst for personal and collective healing.

There are many firsts in my family. The first to leave the Philippines. The first to leave the Islands of Hawai`i. The first to graduate from college. The first doctor. Being a first means taking risks, stepping outside comfort zones, and doing something my `ohana have never seen anyone in their family do before.
On May 15, 2022, I officially graduated with my doctorate from the Department of Transformative Studies and Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies. The emphasis of my research was on indigenous studies and epistemologies which led to my dissertation titled, “The Evolution of AloHā: An Indigenous Framework for Systemic Change through Personal Transformation- A Narrative Inquiry.” It is available to read on ProQuest.

Anyway, because of COVID, my commencement was virtual, and a hooding ceremony did not happen in the "traditional" European way. Instead, my husband and I, joined by all my family members, did a hooding ceremony the Indigenous/Pacific Islander/Filipino/Ebalaroza way. The patriarch (my father's oldest brother) and matriarch (my father's younger sister) of the Ebalaroza/Ebalarosa/Dacoscos `ohana hooded me as the FIRST, but definitely NOT the last doctor in the entire family.
Surrounded by the people who influenced my dissertation work on the island, which is the foundation of my work, and the next generation who will hold me responsible for the outcome of my work, this ceremony was a sacred, indigenous, generational celebration. From the Kūpuna (elders) to the Keiki (children), the many cousins, aunties, and uncles, who are related by blood and those who are family because we choose to be, obtaining this doctorate was a community effort. When a first-generation student succeeds, everyone part of their community succeeds!!

I am forever grateful for the shoulders that I stood upon and the next generation that will stand upon mine. Hence, now the real work begins.
Share your name, your `ohana/family names and your favorite `aina or wai...what land/water source are you most connected to and why?

Aloha, my name is Gerry Ebalaroza-Tunnell. My family name is Ebalaroza, Dacoscos, Felimer and Moreno. My paternal grandfather is from Bohol, Philippines. My grandmother is from Makawao, Maui. My maternal grandfather is from Cebu, Philippines. My grandmother is from Makaweli, Kauai. My father's side is Ebalaroza and Dacoscos, and my mother's side is Felimer and Moreno.

I am connected to the Pacific Ocean, for it will always bring me home to the Ko'olau Mountains, the Wai'anae Range, the coastlines, and the Valleys of O'ahu, Hawaii, where I was born. This same ocean ties me to all of my ancestors throughout Pacifica and Asia.
What are you grateful for and why?

There are so many things for which I am grateful. I am grateful for my Kupuna (ancestors), their continuous presence guiding my everyday existence. I honor their strengths and forgive them for what was perceived as weakness, and I am honored to carry forth the spark of life that they have bequeathed to me. I am grateful for all the people in my life, especially my `ohana. The ones related through the Koko (blood) running through our veins to my hanai (adopted) family of choice.
I am grateful for those who passed through my life for a season to teach me a lesson that could never be learned if they stayed. Every individual in my life was my teacher, mentor, and coach. Without them, I would not be the person I am today. I am forever grateful to be the product of endless generations of converging paths and the deep roots that connected us here on earth.

What brings you joy?
So many things bring me joy—for one, the joy of laughter—the joy of reciprocity. The joy of my mo'opuna (grandchildren) smiles. The joy on my son's face as they look into their children's eyes. The joy on my husband's face when he is left speechless and overwhelmed by the love of his family and friends. The joy of movement and the ability to go on long walks on the beach or in the forest. The joy of breathing in all the mana (energy) that nature offers. The joy of music and how the vibrations of the instruments soothe my soul.
During difficult journeys, how do you heal and restore your health and mental well-being?
Getting out in nature helps to reduce my stress and regulate my emotions. I unplug and go to the water (lake or ocean) or the mountains. I also pay attention to my Hā (breath) and practice daily breathing exercises to lower my stress and avoid cortisol dumps. I surround myself with good people who inspire and motivate me.
When I do, I feel stronger and generally healthier when connected with supportive family members and friends. Daily meditation and pilates keeps my mind, body, and soul resilient. Aloha is the best medicine.
How do you share your mana'o and mana with your keiki?
Just as my kupuna shared their mana'o and mana with me, I passed on the mana'o to my keiki. I learned from elders, applied the lessons in my own life, and then passed on the teaching to the next generation to be independent individuals making pono decisions. I continue to provide support without judgment, even when we disagree. Being open to both sharing and receiving mana'o from my Keiki is how we transfer the mana from one generation to the next.
What is your favorite way to move your kino (body)?
For the past year, I have fallen in love with Pilates. Now that I'm older, I enjoy low-impact workouts. It is a bit challenging, but it has helped with the realignment of my aging knees, strengthening my core that is being taken over by gravity, lengthening and keeping my muscles toned.
What is a quote that empowers you?
A quote that continues to empower me and which I live and work by is from Aunty Pilahi Paki. "The world will turn to Hawai`i as they search for peace because Hawai`i has the key, and that key is ALOHA."
Would you share an easy, healthy-heart recipe that your `ohana enjoys?
Fresh Fruit Kebabs with Coconut Yogurt Dip (Serves 20)

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt (also could use honey- or coconut-flavored Greek yogurt) 1 1/2 tablespoons shredded coconut 1 1/2 tablespoons orange marmalade 1 pineapple, cut into chunks 2 medium apples, cored and cut into chunks 4 bananas, cut into thick slices 20 strawberries, cut into halves 1/2 watermelon, cut into cubes 40 grapes 1/4 cup lemon juice 20 wooden skewers

Directions: 1. Mix the yogurt, coconut and marmalade in a medium bowl, then cover and chill until serving. 2. Toss the cut apple and banana pieces in lemon juice to prevent browning. 3. Thread fruits onto skewers randomly or, for a better presentation, try making a consistent pattern. 4. Serve kebabs with dip on the side, or drizzle 1 tablespoon of the sauce over each kebab. Nutritional information per serving (1 skewer with 1 tablespoon dip): Calories: 105; Protein: 2.5g; Carbohydrates: 24g; Total Fat: 0g

There are multiple considerations that go into why we make the food choices we do. While some are based off our preferences, much of what goes into the food choices we make depend on factors that are out of our control.
An Assistant Professor of Indigenous Health Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu, Kauʻi Baumhofer Merritt spoke about the biggest factors influencing our food choices.
She teaches it within the social ecological model illustrated by multiple layers as to why we eat the way we do. There are individual reasons like personal preferences and ʻohana reasons– eating the food your family and the people you live with like, but there are also larger reasons like physical environments – what grocery stores they live by, if they live by a farmers’ market, or if they have a car. There are also larger social cultural reasons why people eat the way they do.
The United Nations defines food security as when people have physical, social, and economic access to foods that are safe, nutritious, and that meet their dietary needs. 
Achieving food security can be especially difficult for geographically isolated areas like the Hawaiian Islands, which heavily rely on imported foods. A 2020 study found that 27% of Native Hawaiians living in Hawaiʻi were food insecure. 
In 2018, some of the biggest barriers people in Hawaiʻi experienced in achieving food access were: housing – being houseless or without the means to store or prepare food; a lack of transportation to access food or difficulty transporting groceries; difficulty finding time to shop for groceries amid busy schedules; not having the skills to prepare food; and being socially isolated.
“For Native Hawaiians, the main barriers are, what's their physical environment, what's physically available to them, whether they have access issues, whether they have a car, issues of affordability, whether they can afford to get the kind of food that they want, and also time – working two to three jobs or having to commute long distances on the bus, and then having to sit down and cook a full meal,” Merritt said.
Merritt said the biggest barriers for Native Hawaiians are centered around three factors – affordability, accessibility, and acceptability.

Affordability is whether people can afford to get the kind of food that they want. Accessibility is the issue of if people have a car to get to restaurants and grocery stores, but also having the time to prepare that food, she said.

“The other issue is acceptability, … because the first two issues can be applied to really any low socioeconomic group. The last one speaks to more cultural ethnic minorities. Do the stores that you live by have the foods that are acceptable to you that you want to eat?” Merritt said.

As a result of these barriers, many may rely on fast food restaurants for their meals. In 2007, a study found that 56.5% of Native Hawaiian participants ate at a fast food restaurant at least once a week.

“There's a big difference between, you choose to go to Starbucks as a treat once in a while … (and) having to eat at Wendy's or L&L every day, because that's what they can afford and that's what they have time to do.”

A study named Hawaiʻi the “Fast Food Capital of America,” estimating the state has 97.5 fast food restaurants per 100,000 people. For comparison, Alaska had the least amount of fast food restaurants per 100,000 people at 61.9. In the state of Hawaiʻi, there are 64 7-11 locations, 74 McDonalds locations, and around 85 Starbucks locations.
“Hawaiʻi is the fast food capital of the country. But if you look at places where Native Hawaiians are concentrated, that's even stronger. Those of us in those areas will say that Waiʻanae is the fast food capital of Oʻahu. And so if Hawaiʻi is the fast food capital of the nation and Waianae is the fast food capital of Oʻahu, that means Waianae is probably the fast food capital of the nation,” Merritt said. “The higher the concentration of Native Hawaiians in that population, in that community, the higher the density of fast food outlets, and the lower the density of full-service restaurants and full-service grocery stores.”
This is especially notable considering the high rates of chronic health conditions that Native Hawaiians face.  

In an editorial she wrote for Honolulu Civil Beat, Merritt brought up the term dietary genocide, which she came across in an article by Rodney Jackson. The idea of dietary genocide refers to how the foods that people eat and have access to can contribute to negative health outcomes, such as the ones that disproportionately impact Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

 “The Western diet is really wiping out Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and, to a larger extent, other indigenous peoples across the world. … Mainly because of dietary issues and the chronic illnesses related to those dietary issues. … That's the kind of basis of that whole dietary genocide. We're not being killed by infectious diseases like we were ... 150, or 200, or 400 years ago. But we're still dying at just incredibly high rates due to dietary-related diseases.”

Native Hawaiians have the second-highest prevalence of obesity among other race/ethnicity groups in Hawaiʻi at 43%, according to a study done from 2015-2017. In 2014, around 12.8% of Native Hawaiians in Hawaiʻi were estimated to have diabetes, compared to 5% of white residents.

Policy can be another big barrier to achieving food security and access.

“How zoning impacts ... our physical environment, in our neighborhoods, and then if you go even beyond that, there are really big historical factors. And for Native Hawaiians, that goes back to colonization and the … Māhele,” Merritt said.
In 2011, the legislature enacted Senate Bill 101, which allowed producers to sell hand-pounded poi, not requiring that they process poi in a certified food-processing establishment. “Up until maybe, I think like 10 years ago or 12 years ago, it was illegal to sell hand-pounded poi in a retail setting.
The only way to get hand-pounded poi was if you knew someone who pounded for you, and that was not super common. You couldn't even sell it at a farmers market, and it had to do with food safety,” she said. “That's an example of institutional racism. Here's this really nutritional super awesome food, this cultural food, that was illegal for us to sell and make money off of and made it very difficult to get.”
Merritt said there are multiple ways that people can take action and interact with their policymakers. People can go to their neighborhood board meetings or run for neighborhood board. On opening day at the legislature – which is usually in mid-January – the public see any legislator in charge, introduce themselves, and tell them what they’re interested in. People can also submit online testimony, pick up a phone and call legislators, and even go to testify in person. For more Native Hawaiian health articles, please visit

Fruit-Infused Water
If you get bored or don’t like drinking plain water, try adding fruits to flavor it naturally. 
You can add slices of cucumber and mint, lemon and lime slices, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, etc…
Experiment and find your favorite combinations. Fruit-infused water is a low-calorie, low-sugar, natural alternative to sugary beverages like lemonade, sodas and juices.
If you love kulolo, this poi kulolo parfait is a delicious and great way to serve poi!
1 lb. (2 cups) Taro Brand fresh or fresh frozen poi
1 12-14 ounce can coconut milk
4 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons Hawaiian honey
1 cup granola
1 cup whipped cream or whipped topping (optional)
1 cup fresh fruit (optional)
Heat honey in microwave or in a pot of boiling water, for about 10 seconds (just enough to liquify the honey). In a bowl, add poi (do not dilute with water), coconut milk, sugar and heated honey). Mix well. You can add a little more sugar or honey if you prefer. In a cup or jar, layer poi kulolo mixture, then granola, then poi mixture. Garnish with whipped cream and fresh fruit (optional).

Washington Summer 2022 Concerts/Festivals