Skip to main content

Santos, Eva Pualeilani Soares

Kristy Perez-Kaiwi [Ka‘iwakīloumoku]
July 2010

She was born on December 31, 1944. Her father was Clement Soares and her mother was Eva May Miller Soares (from Kalihi Valley). She is the oldest daughter and the second child of a nine-child family. Her name is Eva Pualeilani Soares Santos. She, along with the rest of her family, was raised on their 24-acre property along Hālona Road in Lualualei, Wai‘anae.

This property is a family legacy left by her grandmother, Susan Armstrong Soares, who married John Soares Sr. When her grandmother passed, the entire property was probated. Approximately 2 acres of the property was used to pay for the probate fees. The existing 22 acres remains in the family’s care; it includes 11 siblings and their families.

Each family member has a kuleana to mālama their portion of the large property. There is a small cemetery lot on the property with family plots. They’ve raised pigs, ducks, chickens, flower farms and agriculture. Approximately 80–100 family members currently reside on the property. “The property was like a kauhale,” she says. Her only playmates were her cousins. 

It was very “country.” Buses did not commute far back into Lualualei before. Most times, they walked to Wai‘anae Elementary School (which, at that time, included the Intermediate School as well). If they were lucky, various neighbors passing by would pick them up on their way to school. 

Her father, grandfather, and uncle worked for Mutual Telephone Company where her father was employed as a lineman. There were no freeways or traffic lights; just one road in and one road out. They were extremely fortunate though; they had running water, electricity and an outhouse.

She helped her mother to care for the children. Every day, her mother would get up early and prepare breakfast. After she’d send the kids to school, she would cook and clean the house. On occasion, her mother would catch the bus to visit a sister in Kalihi. The kids, during their free time, would pick up kiawe beans for a mama-san living nearby. They would create make-shift wheel barrels and buckets. Each bag was paid 50¢ which was spent immediately on candy at the neighboring Lau Tang Store (where the Waianae Eye Clinic is now located). She remembers a lady named Luka who had a jalopy. The kids would often go to her place to swim in the flumes.

There were so many kolohe things they did as children. She remembers a “federation” family who lived nearby and owned a charcoal business. She and her cousins would slide on the soot and everything would be blackened because of their sliding. They used to run and swing, play hide and seek, and play Tarzan. On some occasions, they would go to Pōka‘ī Bay to swim. On these days, they packed up all the food and headed to the beach. As they swam, their dad would fish. They cooked everything on a charcoal grill and their father would eat the ‘a‘ama crab right on the spot. Pōka‘ī Bay was so nice that they could actually dive for wana, eat it there, or take it home. Her grandmother would pick limu and wana in “special places” near there. Growing up, her and her siblings were very close.

When she graduated from high school in 1962 and moved to Kalihi valley, she attended the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa campus for 1 year. She had two daughters and was later married. She worked at the Bank of Hawai‘i for 26 years and took early retirement in 1991. In 1975, she joined the United States Army Reserves and served for 23 years. Life’s taken her through many experiences, including her returning to college and graduating in 1996 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Hawaiian and Ethnic Studies. Her interest in Hawaiian and Ethnic studies stemmed from her fascination of different cultures and her connectedness to her very own culture here in Hawai‘i. Studying with Dr. Davianna McGregor, she traveled to the island of Kaho‘olawe twice. She worked as a kupuna for the State of Hawai‘i Department of Education System at Hālau Kū Māna where two of her mo‘opuna attended. Working as a kupuna, she liked hearing the keiki greet her by saying “Aloha kupuna.”  She’s tried to make every lesson exciting and fun for her students. Her belief is that Native Hawaiian kids blossom when they do hands-on things; “It gives them a sense of identity,” she says. She is elated when her mo‘opuna learn various forms of cultural expression i.e. hula, oli, etc.

At present, she is the Facilities Manager for the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies (KCHS). She is a grandmother of four mo‘opuna ranging from ages 7 to 24. She no longer lives with her family on Hālona Road, but instead, lives with her daughter in the newest Department of Hawaiian Homelands development in Kapolei called Kānehili. From living in the country to working at KCHS, her life has brought her full circle. “It’s beautiful and blessed,” she expresses. Aloha Ke Akua!