Hope Fest will give hope to many

September 15, 2015

This is not just another cancer story. This is my cancer story.

I lost both my grandfathers to cancer – lung and colon cancer. They were both engineers. I also know two brave women who beat breast cancer – one of them always had to fill in her left boob with socks. (Gotta be equal-equal, right?)

You see countless Facebook posts of friend’s friends and relatives currently going through the battle. If it’s not another Go Fund Me account, it’s a long post about a funeral.

Cancer does not choose its victim. It could be anyone.

It could be me. I try to imagine losing my hair, as did a young and vibrant college kid who worked in our office. Then again, I cannot imagine.

My grandfather, Avelino Cruz, Lolo Huds we call him, passed away here in Hawaii. My Tita said he was anxious about how the Warriors (yes, Univ. of Hawaii football team) was doing even though he was dying. I remember a photo of him with a rake (or was it a shovel?) under the mango tree in Kaneohe.

Lolo Huds, dean of Baguio Colleges Foundation Engineering and Architecture Department, was a renaissance man. He’s a left brain and right brain genius. He wrote and directed plays, he built buildings that remained erect after the big 1990 earthquake.

They said as a professor, he filled chalk boards with masterpieces – drawings and graphs and equations and who-knows-what. If cameraphones were popular then, he could easily be viral on Instagram as “Lectures from Dean Cruz.”

I didn’t see those chalkboards, but I believe. Because at his house, he had TONS of studies and bound documents we used as drawing sheets and scratch paper (back then, his work was all scribbles to me, but now I think about it, I could be drawing flowers on high-level, advanced quantum physics).

I remember an algebra hurdle I couldn’t get over one time and he sat me down and calmly started his lecture, “let’s start with a+b=c.” He went back to step one and made sure I understood the principles before he continued to help me solve my homework.

It was so genuine. I don’t remember being ashamed or feeling stupid. Some teachers do that – they roll their eyes and let their nonverbals tell you how moronic you are. Lolo Huds wasn’t like that – he’ll turn you into a sponge and he’d make sure he’s smooth and clear as water.

Lolo Huds

Lolo Huds and Lola B with my mom on the left and my late uncle, Tito Ills.


Lolo Huds

If I look at this photo long enough, I can see all his children – male and female, in his face.

They joked, because Lolo Huds had a major crush on my grandmother when they were in school, he let her be the valedictorian and he was salutatorian. He was such a funny guy, his jokes were intelligent and I remember his laugh. His laugh makes you laugh.

I remember him singing “Dahil Sa’yo” very well. He sang it to my lola and went “Daaaaahil… sa’yo, Lola B…”

Anyway, they had 6 kids: two architects, a lawyer, an engineer and two doctors.

Here’s a photo of them in one of their world travels. (Yes, he always gave us grandkids money, too!)


My Zulueta grandfather, Jose Zulueta, Lolo Peping we call him, was an eye-candy. He was so good-looking I remember my high school and college friends drooling over his photo. (In fact, they did the same with my dad and uncles – it’s the genes!)

Lolo Joe


Lolo Peping was a mechanical engineer bar topnotcher – there was even a news article about him. My gosh, he was so cool. He would tinker up cars and “stuff” in his home shop. He would let us stand on his shoulders on family beach vacations and jump on the water. He would force us to try and eat new things. He was full of energy and full of life. He even insisted he’d drop me off and pick me up on my sophomore ball.

Lolo with Tita Babes and Papakins

Lolo Joe with his first two of NINE kids. The one on the right is my dad.

Lolo Joe

This is how I remember him.

Just one day, out of the blue, he had cancer. He deteriorated dramatically. 

In a blink of an eye, I was at the hospital with the rest of the family. I was present when my doctor uncle entered the room and gave my grandmother the crucifix he was wearing. He was gone. “He’s with us, right now, he’s here right now,” lola broke down in tears.

Family holidays were never the same. The first Christmas without lolo was soooo sad. We miss him. We miss him a lot.

My cousins and I created games to turn off the sadness and 15 years later, it’s become a family tradition – Zuluetalympics, or Zlympics we call it – in honor of lolo.


You must have a similar story, too.

Well, you’d agree cancer’s a bitch. Just like that, it would take someone you love. It took two of the most incredible people I know.


I write this because I’m healthy now and have the ability to give and help others. Someone else – for sure – will get cancer. Someone perhaps you and I know, will not have another birthday. I don’t even want to imagine another family member going through the horrors again.

I don’t want to regret in the future “not doing anything” for the cause. I want to be part of the solution. I urge you to consider too. Somewhere out there is the cure, and we’re getting close. Let’s not lose hope.


The American Cancer Society is holding Hope Fest Maui on Saturday, Sept. 19 at the Maui Brewing Company. Proceeds will fund the completion of Hope Lodge Hawaii, a home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers.

Here, I give kudos to an all-volunteer committee who put this together led by Tyson Miyake and Aimee. Just look at this awesome logo (and the feature image) by Daryl Fujiwara.

Hope Fest

The event is open to the public, with tickets at $25 in advance and $35 at the door. Children under 13 are free. BUY TICKETS NOW

Some of the entertainment lined up include:

Halau Hula o Keola Ali’I o Ke Kai
Max Baccera
TFlatz and the Highlights
Steve Craig of The Lonely Heart Shakers
Louis and Lewis
Johnny RIngo
Sweet Trinity
Noa-Zeb Offergeld
Kaliko’s Way
Phillip Smith Jazz
Nestor Ugale
High Command

Food? Of course there’s food from these guys:

Dibs on Da Ribs
Donut Dynamite
Maui Fresh Streatery
Smoke & Spice
Three’s Bar and Grill

Edible Acts Hope Fest Maui

There’s even the “FORK CANCER” food competition and VIP tasting. Event chefs and food trucks will showdown to prepare simple healthy bites. VIP ticket holders ($55 in advance / $65 at the door) can sample the healthy dishes and vote to award “Best in Fest” for 2015.

Arts, crafts, games and activities:

Fustini’s Olive Oils and Vineagars,  Sol Chiropractic, Diane Brittain, Opihi Maui, Area 808 Designs, JNK Designs facial art, Ballon Art by Rikki, Tattoos, Hope Quilt, Keiki Kettle Corn, Epic Entertainment Photo Booth, Live painting with 9th Wave Gallery, Aloha Chair Massage, Kettlecorn, 50th State of Mind, Sparrow Seas, and more.

For sponsorship and underwriting opportunities please contact event co-chairs Tyson or Aimee at hopefestmaui@gmail.com or phone the ACS main line at 808-244-5554.

I’ll be there so see you!

Here’s the ticket link again:


As for both my lolos, they continue to be an inspiration to me. I know they’re always looking after me and my family. But if I could, I would give both a big hug.