“Spread da Aloha” is a family mantra of Ryan Gabriel’s, one that has deep meaning from his grandfather and has been a way of life.
Gabriel is a System Operations Manager for the SFPUC’s Water Supply & Treatment Division. He oversees the operations of the Regional Water System, which covers facilities and local water supplies spanning from the Tesla UV Treatment Plant in Tracy to the terminal water reservoirs located in San Francisco.
Reminiscing about his family’s roots, Gabriel reflected on what Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month means to him. “APA Heritage Month allows us to acknowledge and celebrate the accomplishments and influences that the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have contributed to the ideologies of promoting opportunity and diversity in American culture,” he explained. “Personally, this month gives me a chance to reflect on the life of my late grandfather, Gerardo Gabriel, who immigrated from the Philippines to Hawaii in the late 1930’s in search of opportunity for himself and his family.”
Gabriel shared how his grandfather worked many years in the plantation fields of Oahu harvesting pineapples and sugarcane by hand, and later, trained as a welder at Pearl Harbor to repair the many naval ships that were damaged during World War II. His grandfather eventually used his savings to petition and pay for his two brothers, and eventually all five of his children, to immigrate to Hawaii with hopes that they would have the same opportunities he had upon arriving to America.
“The best thing people can do to support the APA community is to be open to learning and immersing themselves in the unique cultures that are now part of American society,” Gabriel explained. He shared about the variety of ways he has appreciated the diverse experiences and cultures of the APA community. “Have you ever been mesmerized by the beat during a live performance of a Tinikling, which is a traditional Filipino folk dance? How about feeling completely stuffed after eating 15 rice cakes for ozoni, a Japanese New Year’s celebration meal? Or listening to your children string a few chords to a song you taught them on the ukulele? I have been grateful to have experienced all these wonderful things, all brought forth by the APA community.”
Gabriel appreciates the hard work and dedication of his grandfather and father who immigrated to the United States and plant their roots. “I was fortunate to have been born and raised in Hawaii, a State that is rich in APA culture,” he reflected. “It is truly a blessing to have grown up in a place where all cultures are respected, celebrated, and welcomed. ‘Spread da Aloha’ is a common Pidgin English term in used in Hawaii, and I think everyone can spread some Aloha to others as we celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.”