With her palm set to the stars, and her hands feeling the currents of the ocean, it dawned on me that the movie was about the great wayfarers of the archipelago - ninotaziz
The girls and I, and Roll went to see Moana last night. It was family time, precious as usual. And yet, there was a gentle stirring in our hearts - from the moment Irani remarked how the hand-movements of the Polynesian dancers were reminiscent to our Inang and Joget to the appreciation of the coconut tree of a thousand uses and the huge mythical animals we share.
It was a movie based on Polynesian traditions , but as soon as the big boats with woven sails were revealed, I felt a wave of homecoming in my heart, and a call to the sea of my own.
What is the connection between the Polynesians and us. Well, in 1880s, the Hawaiian king Kalākaua embarked on a adventure around the world to find out. To America. To Japan. To South East Asia. When their ship arrived in Siam, as it was known then, the Hawaiian delegation felt as if they had arrived home - with coconut trees lining white sandy beaches and the gentle breeze in the air.... The king said to the Siamese Monarch Chulalongkorn that "Polynesians had Malay blood", and the king replied, "The Siamese are partly Malay; we are related."
From Siam, the King continued to Malaya and the British Indian Empire. With Sultan Abu Bakar of Johore, the Hawaiian king felt great kinship, and indeed remarked how alike the Sultan was to his family in looks. They compared common legends and common words (such as api in Malaysian and ahi in Hawaiian for fire; alima in Malay Language and lima in Hawaiian for five).
Through this bonding, they both concluded that Malays and Polynesians were long-lost Malay brothers. This desirous state of brotherhood of Pan-Malaysian movement was echoed later by the renowned hero Dr. José Rizal of the Philippines.
The idea of "long lost brothers" of a great Pan-Pacific Malay maritime civilization stretching from Malaysia to Hawaii is not an alien thought. As recent as last month, while in Labuan, I have heard reference to this brotherhood by Philippines delegates at the AIM conference I attended. There is more than meets the eye, when I received an email from Philippines requesting to use an illustration I have of Bidasari, A Malay legend that is going to be included in Philippines text books next year.
Back to the movie MOANA, it began with her grandmother telling legends which held secrets to saving the people and the islands. We need to get connected with our roots. With our kin across the seas. To come together and acknowledge the lessons from our past in our history and legends.
Are you with me?