Meet Angela Fukuda, Executive Legal Assistant During Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month
EVERSANA continues to show pride in our employees by recognizing one another through various awareness months. During the month of May, we recognize and celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Angela Fukuda, Executive Legal Assistant, graciously sat down and shared what this month of recognition means to her personally and professionally.
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What does Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mean to you?
Although this is something I do all year round, AAPI Heritage Month is a special time for me to honor my ancestors and reflect on how far we’ve come.
I am of Filipino descent, but I was born in Hawai’i. In the 1900’s, my great-grandparents left the Philippines on a boat headed for Hawai’i to work on the sugar plantations. They were called the Sakadas. My mom is the 2nd generation to be born in Hawai’i, and my dad left the Philippines in the 1960s when he was 13 and worked on the pineapple plantations.
I am humbled when I think about what they had go through and what they had to sacrifice for a better life.
What would you like to share about your culture that some may be unaware of?
The AAPI culture is so broad because it contains so many different cultures in this category. In speaking of the Philippines, there are over 100 dialects spoken and various ethnic groups within the Filipino culture. In the Hawaiian culture, although there are not many indigenous Hawaiians left, our culture is a melting pot of many different races – native Hawaiian, Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Portuguese, Korean, Samoan, Tongan – just to name a few.
But we all share the same respect for our land and share the same love – FOOD! Both Hawaiian and Filipino culture are very spiritual. In the Hawaiian culture, we believe in ‘aumakua (Hawaiian ancestral spirits), and we believe in many gods. We continue to protect sacred lands, and this is something we ask all visitors to the islands to be respectful of.
How has your cultural heritage influenced your personal and professional life?
My family and I moved from Hawai’i to California when I was 3 years old. Even though California is very diverse, it was still hard for me growing up as an AAPI.
There were Filipinos born and raised in California or Filipinos from the Philippines, but I did not share the same culture with them.
In the early 1990s, I searched the yellow pages for a halau (hula school) in my area. When I found an authentic halau, I started to embrace my Hawaiian culture. I finally had a sense of pride and belonging. Since then, I have not stopped preserving my culture and sharing my aloha with others through dance, music, and crafts. I also recently moved back home to my roots in Hawai’i.
Why is it important we continue to learn about Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month?
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been in the United States for a very long time, and there is so much history that the general public does not know.
Duke Kahanamoku was a Hawaiian competitive swimmer and surfer who won 3 Olympic gold medals for the United States between 1913-1917. And this year, Edith Kanaka’ole made her debut as the seventh coin in the US Mint American Women Quarters Program. She was a renowned practitioner of and authority on modern Hawaiian culture and language.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are becoming more and more visible in the media, too – movies, TV shows, etc. Whenever I see an Asian American or Pacific Islander person on screen (especially someone who is Filipino or Hawaiian), it brings me so much joy because growing up I rarely saw someone who looked like me.
How do you celebrate your heritage, and what traditions or customs do you cherish?
I celebrate my heritage by sharing my aloha through dance (hula and Tahitian) and lei making. I recently danced with my halau in a ho’ike (showcase) for our ohana (family) and friends. We danced to hula chants and songs honoring our past Hawaiian monarchy, King Kamehameha and Queen Liliuokalani, as well as our beautiful aina (land). We were adorned from top to bottom in fresh flowers and leis. I have passed the tradition down to my children who also love to dance.
Interested in joining the EVERSANA team?