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  by Cee Honda

We cannot ignore the current situation due to COVID-19 and the damage from its path. People everywhere seem to carry a somewhat sad cloud over their heads; dealing constantly with their personal challenges.

Those of us who have connected to Andy Bumatai’s Daily Pidgin LIVE show on YouTube, Facebook, or are a fortunate bunch then. Thanks to the happy accident of Andy creating a LIVE chat version of his long-running Daily Pidgin Show, we are not strangers.

We are people from different cities, states, countries, and continents who chat together or sometimes just lurk (listen) to the show. Andy calls us the “Hamajang Gang”.  What brings us together?  Sometimes it’s our attachment to comedian and entertainer, Andy Bumatai or maybe it’s just our love for Hawai`i. The ability to communicate with Andy and the “Hamajang Gang” is what makes the difference. We learn from each other, discussing some sad realities and celebrating accomplishments. Most have lost loved ones, a handful has beaten cancer and others deal with challenging physical ailments and emotional pain.

Sometimes a particular person comes into the chat feeling low and the “Hamajang Gang” wants to know why. It is not out of being nosy, it’s because we want to help.

A basic rule of the show is to avoid discussing three ‘CALS’: politiCAL,  mediCAL, and cyniCAL. These certainly help the conversation to be more positive and pretty clean.

Though we may have never seen each other or heard each other’s voices, we have grown to know the varied personalities. There are some real clowns in the group, some very humble, some with sass, and others very sweet.

We easily recognize the regular chatters, either by their avatar or their username. With that comes plenty of inside jokes and teasing banter within the gang. If someone wants to join us and get in on it, it’s fine, because all are welcome.  Even Kokua (help) and gifts have been exchanged, with connections made.

This is significant during this unusual time we live in.  Isolation due to ‘sheltering in place’ has separated us from loved ones.  And as normal people, we all have our ups and downs. But at least for a  little while, we can joke and laugh, or sometimes, even cry together.

And Andy? We sure know him much better than we did and what a privilege that he has opened his life and history to us. He has become a beloved mentor to many of us.

I feel sorry for those who don’t or can’t come and visit this little haven; our little substitute for Hawai`i.  Because we are not strangers anymore, thanks to this show, we are OHANA (family).

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