My Body, the Island

I Just finished reading Will Falk’s Protecting Mauna Kea: They Hate Hawai’i posted yesterday on the DGR site. It brought up so much in me I don’t even know where to begin. I too heard about the upcoming action from Keala at the Earth at Risk Conference. I too was deeply moved. Growing up, the Native Islanders throughout the pacific and the environmental threats to the islands were definitive in my development amidst my childhood world which was otherwise void of any reason or integrity. The only safe wilderness I knew was that sacred ocean.

I was raised across the Pacific ocean in Manila, my mothers homeland, and my Father’s home of Hawai’i. I am a Filipino-Hawaiian-Portuguese woman carrying the bloodline of the settler and the settled, the pimp and the prostituted. I myself through years of confusion and desperation sold myself to the many military men and tourists who would pay for the attention and body of a “local girl” like me. My high school sat at the edge of Waikiki where I spent my adolescence surviving off that rape of land and culture, through the very same act upon my body. I can’t even be sorry that I made those choices as I reflect on my socialization through pornography and prostitution.

I was raised by a life-long John. When I first listened to Chris Hedge’s Speech that he almost didn’t make at the State of Extraction conference this year, It was profound for me. I grew up in an all encompassing environment of sexual racism. It was essentially all I knew in my socialization as a woman, specifically as a Filipina. I was raised being brought into prostitution houses and red light districts from Hotel Street to Pasay City to Bangkok. The last time that my father brought me to a “whore house” I was 19 years old. This is how I was “taught what it means to be a woman”. But he really meant “Filipino woman”. My home life taught me no different as my father continued his commodification of Asian women’s bodies and offspring within the institution of his “marriages” eventually purchasing his third wife and her offspring. My Filipina step mother is a prostitution survivor, as many rural Filipino women become, and is only three years older than I am.

Falk’s writing prompted me to realize the Islands in they same light. I don’t know how many times I was raped on that island. And I don’t know how many times I witnessed her rape. I spent countless days of my childhood looking out towards Kaho’olawe. Hearing and feeling the bombs. They stopped bombing that sacred island four years after I graduated from High School. I was raised on O’ahu, an island only 35 miles in diameter that housed thousands of nuclear weapons in the years I was growing up. Between Hawai’i and the Philippines, I lived the trail of waste and toxicity that militarization leaves behind, upon my very body, a chem-trail raking my skin. Yeah. I was really affected by Falk’s words. Even as the settler I am settled upon.

Since living on the mainland, I have devoted my life to supporting Indigenous sovereignty. I have had the honor of defending sacred places among the finest of people and been blessed with being guided back to my own homelands because of it. Realizing eventually that the greatest lesson was first to learn to defend my most sacred place, my body. Learning how to use the gifts of that holy ground, the temple for my wounded spirit, the geography through which my entire life is experienced. Right now I’m tending my wounds and learning to love this life. I also defend Mauna Kea and thank you deeply for being there defenders, resisters, my relatives. Shundahai.


4 thoughts on “My Body, the Island

  1. Dear Melle, thank you very much for writing what you’ve written here. I think it is incredibly brave for you to revisit those memories and to share the lessons you’ve learned. It breaks my heart to read about your experiences. I want patriarchy to end.


  2. Pingback: Protecting Mauna Kea: They Hate Hawai’i - Deep Green Resistance Hawai'i

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