I was born on June 26, 1967 on the big island of Hawaii in the town of Hilo at Hilo hospital, the second child (older sister Naomi was born one year before) of Spanish, Filipino (-father), Italian, and Romanian (-mother) ancestry. After my brief stint in the hospital I went home to 375 Ululani St.
As an infant, I enjoyed the house, for I loved to travel about and explore. For the first two years of my life, my mother reared me carefully, exposing me to certain experiences that might have a positive influence on my intellect while my father was in a far away land fighting a war in a place called Vietnam as a U.S Army Ranger.
Sometime in 1970 my father returned, I remember standing on the asphalt at the Hilo airport watching a bunch of green clad army men unload from the back of a huge gray airplane, one of them with a thick black mustache trying to pick me up as I tried desperately to escape from him.
My memory seems to be only fragmented pieces for a while from then, a younger sister born (Athena), yelling, dishes breaking, moving, more yelling, and then the divorce.
My memory clears around the age of 4 as my father settled down back in his hometown of Papaiko just north of Hilo and enrolled me in a nursery school situated on the grounds of a Shinto temple.
The Japanese architecture looked foreboding as I prepared to meet the nightmarish Mrs. Nasty, a torturer of four-year-olds whom I assumed I would find as my teacher. Still, I enjoyed the days as a nursery toddler, grasping the skills of reading, writing, and speaking as I discovered how to interact. From Mrs. Fujimoto’s communal hootenannies, comprising of “hop-scotch” and “London Bridge,” to our daily excursion to the playground, I shaped the life skills that would ultimately determine my social direction in years to come.
Though I did not have a large group of friends, I found a group of loyal comrades with whom I could run, jump, skip, and ride the tricycles like miniature versions of the Hell’s Angels destroying any bug, slug, or snail that dared cross our path.
Shortly after while getting my usual ‘high and tight’ haircut at the old Filipino man’s barbers shop in downtown Hilo I was introduced to my future stepmother by my father.
She seemed liked a nice person, but my older sister disagreed and had a ‘Who the hell are you?’ look on her face, she questioned how the “interloper” would affect us. It was then on that I would never second-guess my older sister’s intuitions.
From that moment on our lives changed forever.
Her name was Francis and had a “tribe” of her own, suddenly we had four older sisters and four older brothers, all many years older then us, and we found out quickly that they came first and we where last. And you thought Cinderella had problems.
With the advent of a much larger number of people joining membership to our family, my “parents’” decided that a much larger home was required.
On moving day I had strong fears – as most five-year-olds do – that the new area might teem with monsters and other frightful things. But reluctantly, I did accede to my parents’ wishes.
I realized for the first time how chaotic life would become as Francis threw out most of our precious collection of toys that took a life time to acquire, with what she didn’t toss out was quickly confiscated by our new siblings, who fought over the good stuff like a pack of wild dogs.
From that point on it was nothing less then a struggle to keep anything for myself, from clothes to school supplies, this continued for many years until one day my older sister had enough and got my grandmother on my mother’s side to get her a ticket to Texas where my mother resided. I soon followed; it was a move I never regretted.
After becoming situated in the new domicile, I began to notice things I never noticed before while in Hawaii, like the weather, language, and nature. Actually I had to notice if not you’d get hurt by lightning and hail, get stung by fire ants, or even a snakebite. I also learned the worst thing of all, prejudice.
By now I’m in intermediate school but they call it jr. high school there, Southside jr. high in San Antonio Texas. This school consisted of two things, Mexicans and Whites, and
they did not get along. Now imagine looking Mexican with a Spanish last name, not speaking Spanish and having a white family.
No one knew what to make of me so they pretty much let me be, if any one had something to say I simply ignored them and that the end of it, no one really bothered me. Maybe because everyone new that my Stepfather was Texas Ranger Philip Baker. He was a good man that taught me many things about life.
Once again though I did not have a large group of friends, I found a group of loyal comrades with whom I could run, hunt, skate, and ride dirt bikes like miniature versions of the Hell’s Angels destroying any snake, lizard, or vermin that dared cross our path.
My senior year came around quickly and I decided to return to Hawaii and get my diploma from Waiakea High School and bade farewell to the land of Texas.
Upon my return to the islands I saw many changes had happened since left, my rival siblings had all moved out, and everyone treated me quite better then before.
It seemed a bit too strange so I quickly joined the army after graduation when I couldn’t find a decent job, my father thought I made a “fine choice” but seemed disappointed that I was going to be a medical specialist instead of infantry.
October 15, 1985 was the day I headed out to basic training in Alabama.
Completing army basic training is one of the most self rewarding things anyone can do,
It totally changes your whole perspective of life a teaches you that if you really want something and are willing to try really hard you will succeed. I think if everyone did it
This world would be a much better place.
Well anyway, after completing basic training I went on to AIT (advanced individual training) in Ft. Sam Houston, San Antonio Texas (my second home!), after spending 10 weeks training as a medical specialist I was sent to Ft. Brag N.C for airborne training,
After getting my wings I was assigned to Headquarters 3/35 Armor Co. Medical Plt. In Bamberg Germany where I served as a combat paramedic.
Once again though I did not have a large group of friends, I found a group of loyal comrades with whom I could parachute, air-assault, and drive our armored personnel carriers like military versions of the Hell’s Angels destroying any Warsaw Pact Enemy that dared cross our path.
In 1989 I decided not to re-enlist, I returned to Hawaii and settled here in Honolulu as a warehouse worker for The Island Food Merchant. I worked there for more than ten years and really liked my work; I was such a good worker I ended up going out with my boss’s daughter with his approval, she is now my fiancee.
Sadly not all good things last forever and I learned this the hard way.
One day the owner of the company called everyone in for a meeting and explained that due to unavoidable circumstances the company would be closing, it was hard to believe and was the harsh reality that made me consider going back to school and continue my medical career so I wouldn’t have to go through that again.