Friday, November 30, 2012

Hawaii: Polynesian Cultural Center (08/19/09)

August 25, 2009

In the afternoon after our visit to Pearl Harbor, we joined a tour that went to the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is hailed as "a living, breathing exploration of the traditions and lifestyles of the Polynesian cultures".

The PCC is not in downtown Honolulu, but a small town on the North Shore of Oahu called Laie. It took almost two hours to reach by bus from our hotel in Waikiki. The place was established and run by the Mormons since 1963. To put it in the local context, it is like "Nayong Pilipino" but showcasing the seven main Polynesian cultures: Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the Polynesian Triangle (exemplified by the Marquesas).

It was too bad that we reached this place past 3pm already. At 230pm, there was supposed to have been a cultural pageant on boats on the river. Our guide suggested for us to prioritize the Tonga and Samoa programs since we did not really have much time.

By 4pm though, my wife and I caught the I-Max film showing about the Coral Reefs. I feel this fantastic film should be required viewing for everyone on earth, especially those living in the Pacific Rim (including Filipinos). It is very educational in the most convincing way that we should all do our part to protect the reefs that surround our island countries. We had to catch the 4pm showing because the last 5 pm film show would be in Japanese.

After the film, we caught the boat ride to give us a quick overview of what the theme park had to offer since we were already short of time. We were able to go under the same arched coconut tree which Elvis Presley's boat also glided under in the movie "Blue Hawaii."

After the ride, we were able to catch the tailend of the Samoa program featuring a guy working a coconut, from husking to wringing the meat for milk. Then another guy showed his prowess in climbing those very tall coconut trees. We also witnessed their Samoan Flag Retreat ceremony.

For dinner, I was disappointed that our tour group's meal would not be a real luau with ceremonies. We only had a buffet of luau food at the Gateway Restaurant. We did get to taste the famous Kalua Pig here.

However, the main highlight of the tour to PCC is the fantastic cultural program they had for us at night after dinner. Their all-new show is entitled "Ha: Breath of Life." It tells about "the entrancing South Pacific odyssey of Mana, and the trials and training he endures to become a fire-knife wielding warrior. In the process he must prove his worthiness to wed the beautiful Lani and battle to protect his new family from marauding invaders."

The dancing and singing were both enchanting and energetic. The lead dancers playing Mana and Lani were magnificent dancers, and the ensemble work was likewise amazing in their precision and daring (especially with the fire sequences). This show alone was worth the admission. It is a must watch for those who want to imbibe the Polynesian spirit and joie de vivre.

The 7 Main Polynesian Cultures

A Mormon Chapel

From the I-Max film:  A Healthy Reef

From the I-Max film:  An Octopus in a Dead Reef

Fiji Temple

Fiji Chief Abode

Pretty Hula Dancer

Easter Island Heads

Mormons at the Gate

Samoan Show

Wring out the Coco Milk


Mana and Lani

Grand Finale

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