Sons of Halawa
Pilipo Solatorio is the last to hold the cultural traditions of Hālawa Valley - will his sons come home to take on the responsibility of carrying these traditions forward?
- 60 Minutes
Hālawa Valley is one of the oldest inhabited locations in Hawaiʻi. At the age of five, Pilipo Solatorio was chosen to be the carrier of Hālawa’s ancient traditions. Now in his seventies, Pilipo is the last of his generation living in the isolated valley. He needs to find a successor to replace him as the carrier of Hālawa's cultural treasures before they are lost forever. Will Pilipo's son, Greg, come home to take on the responsibility of carrying traditions forward, or will Pilipo’s two hānai (adopted) sons (Josh, a taro farmer, and Jason, a musician from New York) be left with the challenge? The struggles of modern life make it difficult for any one of these sons of Hālawa to carry on a legacy that has been passed down for many generations. Only through true commitment and sacrifice will Hālawa’s story and sacredness be kept alive.
Sons of Hālawa is included in Pacific Heartbeat Season 5.
MATT YAMASHITA - Producer/Director
Matt Yamashita was born and raised on the Hawaiian island of Molokaʻi. He is of Japanese, Filipino, and Caucasian ancestry. After receiving a BFA in Film Production from Chapman University, Matt returned to Molokaʻi to become the island’s first professional filmmaker. He has been working in the Hawaiʻi film industry since 2001. Matt has unique expertise working within Hawaiʻi-based communities, cultures, and environments and has dedicated the focus of his work to telling Hawaiʻi’s stories through a local lens. Matt has held key roles in productions that have received statewide and national broadcast, including PIC-funded Nā Loea: The Masters II (from Pacific Heartbeat Season 4), and The Roots of ʻUlu. He is well-known for his ability to deliver quality products while working with very limited resources and small production teams.
This documentary is very close to my heart. I've known Pilipo Solatorio most of my life. I grew up with his son, Greg. When I moved home after attending film school, Pilipo took me in and taught me Hawaiian language, hula, and history... things that I did not fully embrace while growing up on Molokaʻi. This learning brought a profound sense of connection and meaning into my life.
I've wanted to tell Pilipo's story for many years. One day in 2012, I knew it was time. Pilipo had moved back to Hālawa Valley and amazing things were happening in his life. A powerful story was unfolding. The content and threads of Sons of Hālawa came together organically. There was very little concerted story development involved during production. It was as if the kūpuna kahiko, the ancient ancestors of Hālawa, were guiding the way forward.
Sons of Hālawa is meant to be a gift to Pilipo, his ancestors, and his future generations. It has also been a gift for me. As a filmmaker, it has allowed me to expand my understanding of capturing human spirit within my storytelling. It has also given me precious opportunity to reciprocate aloha to a person and a place that has given much. I hope that the documentary will also be a gift to those who watch it, that it will move people to re-evaluate their own lives and inspire them to connect or re-connect with the places and people that are important to them.