It was always amazing to watch Merrie Monarch. Besides hula, I can learn about Hawaiian mele (songs) and also the hula instruments. I’ve been watching Merrie Monarch for 3 years, and I’m still learning about the hula instruments that I’ve never seen. In Merrie Monarch 2019, there are two interesting instruments - ʻulili and ʻukēkē.


I thought it was some kind of ʻuliʻuli while watching TV. But kumu Noe told us that it was ʻulili. It made from the fruit of laamia (Crescentia cujete). The end gourds contain alii poe (canna) seeds, and when dancers pull the cord to make the gourds spin, the result is a whirring sound. Besides insterement ʻulili also stand for a shorebird!

ʻulili photo from


Kumu told us that there was only one person knows how to play the ʻukēkē, but now it’s amazing to see a group of people playing it in Merrie Monarch. I don’t know if that’s the reason that the group won the first place of Kane hula Kahiko.

“The ʻukēkē is made of koa wood, 16 to 24 inches long and about 1½ inches wide with two or three strings fastened through and around either end. The strings were strummed with one hand while the other hand kept the ʻukēkē in position. The mouth would then act as a resonating chamber. The ʻukēkē is the only stringed instrument indigenous to Hawaii, with other Hawaiian string instruments like the ukulele and slack-key guitar having been introduced by European sailors and settlers.” from Wikipedia

The music with ʻukēkē:

There were a lot of cardboard boxes on the ground with his stocks inside when I visited my friend’s place. I asked him “don’t you feel inconvenient walking around?” He said yes, but he got used to it and didn’t know what he can do for his stocks.

I asked him “do you want to buy a shelf?” He said he doesn’t want to spend money on the shelf and there is no elevator in his place. Then I look at those boxes, they are mostly in the same size… hmmm, good shape! I told my friend “I can make shelf for you with these boxes.”

At beginning, he rejected my idea, he said “those stocks are heavy, the cardboard boxes can’t hold them for long time. I don’t want them crash and destroy my stocks.” I insisted “How about let’s try first and observe, if you still think it’s still not a good ideal, I’ll restore them.” Then, I made this shelf within half hour.

A year after, I asked him “how do you like the shelf?” He said “I love them! It’s super useful and convenient that I can organize and get the model I need very easily. Thank you!” I got confirmed that they did well and last long, so I decided to post here!

Let’s see how I made this quick and dirty but long-lasting cardboard box shelf!

You don’t need much, but be prepared

You will need:

  • Cardboard box * (see how many you want)
  • A scissor or a knife
  • A heavy duty tape

Make one block of the shelf

Cut the sides and make the support

This is the secret (not anymore) of the long-lasting! Cut both inner flaps (short sides) by a scissor or a knife (obvious I like knife more in the video :p). Then tape both flaps together, and put it to the side for now.

Fix the side with tape for easier to stack up the boxes.

Locate the support in the middle/center of the box.


Depends on what size of shelf you want, repeat previous steps till you’re satisfied or exhausted. Note that The top layers don’t really need support if you’re not putting stuffs above them. ;)

(Note: you can also have different size of boxes to have different size for each block. Also, I don’t stick or tie the boxes together because I want the flexibility that I can re-arrange the boxes easily, but you can tie them with tapes or plastic ties if you’re not moving them here and there.)

Before the performance, kumu hula Noe told us:

Hula is a package deal, you need to get your timing, follow the rhythm, make sure the right gesture, and be grateful and strong at the same time. Also, you need to show your personality! If you just dance the dance, it’s not hula, student.

I’ve been dancing hula in UH with kumu Noe for two years. Kumu is strict at the same time she try her best to respect her student, other halau, and other culture. I like her always insisting something about hula. She has her boundary of her hula. How about me? What is my boundary of what I love?

I didn’t eat a lot in this Thanksgiving. Instead, I was camping with friends and the nature. It was great and made me feel even more grateful. Julie asked me if I wanna camp a week ago, and I said yes. Thanks Julie for calling and applying for the permit ($10 per night per campsite).

The day started from waiting for Hal turning in her job application of FAO in Rome. We packed and drove for about an hour from Manoa to Kahana Bay. After took a break and chill a bit, we decided to do the Nakoa trail hike in the Kahana Valley.

In the Ahupuaa Kahana State Park, We passed through some families (no photo because I don’t want a stranger take photos without my permission of my living area as well.), they have an interesting relationship with this state park. In 1965, the state turned Kahana into a public park. The state, Kahana residents and the community developed the concept of a “living park” that allowed residents to remain in the ahupuaa in exchange for interpretive services for park visitors. In 1988, the state Legislature authorized DLNR to issue leases to 31 families in Kahana. All residents were required to move to the rear of the park, opening the park entrance to the public. Yet the Legislature rejected new leases in the later years. I’m not sure how State or the residents there think of their role. For me, I didn’t really feel the “cultural” part while I passed through and they are more just a residential area for me. At the same time, CWRM has a project of restoration for the Kahana stream, they’re cutting off the mangroves, Hau, to see if it can help the stream ecosystem upstream.

Nakoa trail is about 2 to 3 hours round hike, simple, not steep and full of shade. The dark side of this hike is muddy, mosquito, and that we need to across the stream two times. If you go further from the second point of the hike, you might reach a swimming pool with a swing to jump into the water (we didn’t go further because people were tired of mosquito…)

The map info of Nakoa trail.
A lookout point on the way.

After hiking, Hal wanted to take a look the fishpond, so we walked along the beach and then went into the water toward the fishpond. It is amazing that we can just walked through with the water only to our weigh and how far the sediment can go from the stream. The sediment became finer and the water became deeper as we went further. Huilua Fishpond is one of the six fishponds that still exist out of 97 fishponds in Oahu. It allows small fish to swimming in and out but keeps bigger fishes in the pond.

Looking at Huilua Fishpond from Kahana Bay

After all the adventure, time to enjoy grill and the simple of Kahana Bay. :)

Looking back Kahana Valley from the ocean.
In the end of left side Kahana (toward ocean), you can pick up parts of your childhood there!

Dinner time today with some Japanese friends:

During the dinner time, someone was doing something dangerous, so my friend told me that “Abunai” is dangerous in Japanese. Later on, one of my friends brought very yummy food, I said “ちょっと危ない (Chotto Abunai means a little dangerous)”, dangerous in the way that I tend to eat too much…

Then I thought of “piri karai (means a little spicy)”, I changed the saying to “piri abunai!”. It turned out that Japanese usually only use “piri” to describe spicy food. But one of my friend told me that in there area, they use “piri piri” to describe light rain! It probably comes from Kyoto area.

Now it’s “piri piri” in Manoa valley, and I like it. What else can we use “piri” to describe?

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