Let’s Talk Pinoy!

Happy New Year! Naragsak Nga Baro a Tawen! (Ilokano) Manigong Bagong Taon! (Tagalog) Maayong Bag-ong Tuig! (Cebuano) Malipayong nga Bag-ong Tuig! (Ilonggo) Magayaya ka ta bagu nga dagun! (Ibanag) Masaplalang bayung Banwa! (Kapampangan)

What a year it has been! The Maui Wildfires changed our lives in so many ways. Despite those challenges, we are indeed Maui Strong! So let us welcome 2024 with more hopes and dreams. We hope this year will heal us and help us to move forward.

Shout out to our January Birthday celebrants: Bessy Evangelista, Kallie Keith-Agaran, Camille Rhianna Butay Hayen and Amalia Quedding, Happy, happy birthday to you! Maligayang bati sa inyong kaarawan! (Tagalog) Naimbag nga panagkasangay mo! (Ilokano) Makapagayaya nga aggaw na nikeyana mu! (Ibanag) Masayang kebaitan queca! (Kapampangan) Masadya gid nga adlaw sa imo pagkatawo! (Ilonggo)

Let’s visit our friends Angel and Michael and see what’s going on with them this month, shall we?

“Go ahead, Michael, open it and read it,” Uncle Ray says seriously, looking at Angel, who is still looking down at her kamay (hands).

Michael reaches for the folder. His ima (hands) are shaking. He opens it and there, he sees Angel’s mugshot.

His nawong (face) turns white. His kamot (hands) are shaking. He turns to Angel and asks her, “Ano (what) does this mean?” he asks her with a shaky voice.

Angel starts to sob. Her tears are running down her cheeks because she sat on the sofa. Now she is sobbing so hard.

“Please explain to us,” Michael asks her quietly. “Tell us if this is true.”

“Did you do this? Did you hurt someone? Did you kill the cop?”

Angel is just shaking her head while sobbing.

“This is not true,” Angel says, one word at a time.

“Well, explain why your picture is on the wanted list,” Ray says to her seriously.

Angel wipes her tears with the back of her kamay (hands), takes a deep breath and looks up.

All eyes and all ears turn to her—even Michael’s parents who are still sitting down at the dining table, quietly listening to her.

“We are very poor in the Philippines and all I can think of is to come to Hawai‘i to have an opportunity. My tatay (father) is sick and my nanay (mother) is just a homemaker. I am the oldest of the family and so I have to act to be able to feed my family,” Angel says softly but it’s loud enough to be heard by everybody in the tahanan (house).

“We sold the lands that my amahan (father) farms and even sold the carabao. We borrowed salapi (money) from the pawn shop and used our small balay (house) as collateral. It is still not enough so we borrow from relatives so we have something to pay to this man named Billy. He said if we pay 800,000 pesos, he will be able to bring me to Hawai‘i.” Angel starts to sob because she remembers her family she left behind.

“After giving the kwalta (money) to Billy,” she continues between her sobs, “he told me that we will be leaving in three days.” And she cries again.

“I don’t have a lot of things but I packed my favorite sweater that my yama (father) gave. He worked so hard to buy me that sweater.” She wipes her nawong (face) using the back of her kamot (hand). “All the clothes I brought were given from my cousins and kaibigan (friends) because they know I don’t have much.”

The three—Ray, Kathleen and Michael, are listening attentively to her. All their rupa (faces) are blank. Michael’s parents, who are still at the dining table, stopped eating so they could hear Angel’s story.

“Billy told me I will be doing housework and chores for a really mayaman (rich) man in Hawai‘i. There will be many of us there because he has a lot of ubra (jobs). I will be able to help my Amahan (father) pay for his medicines and food. He even assured me I would be able to send kwarta (money) home every month and yena (mother) will not have to suffer and struggle anymore,” Angel cries louder.

Ray cannot wait so he stands up and asks her, “Did you kill the cop?”

Angel quietly says, “Hindi. (No).”

“Then why is it that it’s you they are saying who killed the cop?” an irritated Ray asks.

“Indi (no), dili (no), I did not kill the cop. I don’t have a gun or did not do anything to kill that officer,” Angel says sobbing. She covers her mukat (face) with her ima (hands) this time.

“Police officers escorted us after we landed at the airport. They took us to their car,” Angel explains.

“I realized he was a crooked policeman because we were escorted through the airport and avoided all the proper procedures to enter the U.S. like customs, and the bag check area,” Angel says in between her cries.

Angel has to relive what was supposed to be the start of her “American Dream” but turned out to be the worst day of her life again. How would you feel about reliving an incident that is not pleasant and gives you nightmares?

Anyways that’s all I have. Keep an eye out for my column in every issue. I’m Dulce, helping you to master your Filipino Languages. Like always, let’s laugh, let’s makinig (listen), and Let’s Talk Pinoy! Hanggang sa muli! (Until next time!) Ingat! (Take care!)

Dulce Karen Butay was graduated from Maui High School and received her Associate in Arts degree in Liberal Arts from Maui Community College. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, specializing in Accounting, from the University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu. She is currently the Administrative Officer at the County of Maui, Department of Finance. Butay is a licensed Resident Producer of Life Insurance with World Financial Group and an Independent Consultant of Saladmaster. She is now part of Saladmaster’s Travel Club and won an all-expenses paid trip to Cancún, Mexico. Butay has traveled to Texas, the Philippines and Thailand as one of the delegates from Island Healthy Solutions, a Saladmaster dealer here on Maui.