By Catherine Cluett Pactol | Editor
The Molokai community remembers and celebrates the life of ‘Anakala Pilipo Solatorio of Halawa Valley, who was born in 1939 and passed away earlier this month.
“[He was] more than just an ambassador of aloha and Hawaiian culture, [he] lived it and breathed it,” recalled one community member.
A taro farmer, cultural practitioner and the last of his generation living in Halawa, he kept cultural traditions alive and shared aloha with everyone he met.
Born and raised in Halawa, he was adopted at a young age after the death of his mother. As a teen, he joined the military, and while on the mainland, met and married his beloved wife, Dianna. Together, they had five children.
Solatorio worked at Molokai Ranch for 30 years as manager of the Wildlife Game Park and cultural specialist. A well-loved and respected community member, he was elected as Honorary Mayor of Molokai from 1971 through 1974, according to Dispatch archives. As such, his duties included representing Molokai, meeting tourists at the airport, greeting and entertaining dignitaries and speaking on behalf of the island. He said even though it was a volunteer title, he had to sign a contract-like document agreeing to the responsibilities. He helped community members and sought assistance for those in need.
Solatorio’s cultural legacy in Halawa is carried on by his son, Greg, and others.
“For Pilipo, the Hawaiian traditions, stories, and places of Halawa Valley are ‘sacred, not secret,’” according to Matt Yamashita, a Molokai filmmaker whose documentary “Return to Halawa” about Solatorio’s cultural legacy garnered worldwide support. “His life purpose has been to teach others and to foster understanding and connection with all who visit his home.”
Services are planned for Saturday, July 1, with details to be announced.