South San Francisco resident Kawika Alfiche has taught hula locally for 17 years.
Hawaiian music isn’t hitting the radio waves here on the mainland, but Kawika Alfiche is doing his best to ensure the culture stays alive on the Peninsula.
Living on the “island” of South San Francisco, 37-year-old Alfiche grew up traveling from the Bay Area to Hawaii and back. Keeping the Hawaiian traditions alive was a priority over the years which has blossomed into the opening of the Kaululehua Hawaiian Cultural Center and releasing music. His second album, Kale’a, was released this month with his musical stories generating revenue for the local education center.
A self-described airline baby, Alfiche grew up as part of the large Bay Area hula community.
Working in real estate to pay the bills, Alfiche kept up with hula and his love of Hawaiian traditions. After 17 years of performing and acting as a kumu (teacher) of hula, it was time to open a cultural center.
There were locations at which to teach, but rent continued to raise or leases were lost. One day, Alfiche saw a house with some land and a large garage for sale in South San Francisco. He sold his home in San Francisco and purchased what is now the Kaululehua Hawaiian Cultural Center where hula is taught, music is made and traditions like making leis are part of the courses offered.
Alfiche wanted a cultural center that offered hands-on educational opportunities for students. Dancing requires music and Alfiche prefers live music to pressing play. It was only logical, after years of growing up with the Hawaiian culture and being a hula child, he would attempt to master the Hawaiian language to allow him to write music.
Traditional Hawaiian music differs from what’s often on the Top 40. Alfiche compared it to Shakespeare’s English compared to the language spoken today. Mastering it took time, Alfiche laughed while saying the difference between his 2005 album and his current release is like watching a student’s mastery grow.
Through his love of Hawaiian culture, he met his partner of 15 years Kia’i.
From playful courtships to deep passion and lasting affection, it’s love Alfiche discusses in the songs throughout his new album.
The newly released album will get some play on the East Coast over the next few weeks as Alfiche and about 30 of his students travel and perform. For those on the West Coast, the music is available on iTunes, at cdbaby.com or at the only Hawaiian store in the Bay Area, The Aloha Warehouse in Japantown.
To learn more about the Kaululehua Hawaiian Cultural Center visit www.apop.net.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.