Name Calling in Waikiki

Informant: Male/25/Chinese ancestry
Location: Waikiki, Oahu

I used to work at a certain high-end retailer in Waikiki. There were stories of weird things happening in that particular branch. I heard from a coworker that he saw a bag fly off the shelf. I didn’t really trust him though, because he was known to embellish his stories a bit. But he did seem genuinely freaked out by his experience. It wasn’t long before I had my own.

It was during the day, from what I remember. Me and another coworker were in the store. My coworker was maybe like, 3-5 feet away from me at the counter. I was just standing there, and suddenly I heard a loud whisper saying “Ken!” or something like that. I just remember it being really, really in my ear. It was a really loud whisper. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman.

I turned back to see if maybe my coworker was calling me, but right at the same time she looked up and asked me, "Did you say something?" At this point I’m going "Uh...I thought you said something." She says "Oh, I thought I heard somebody saying something, like Kay or whatever."

Nobody else was in the store. If she didn’t call my name…then who did?


The Cubrant and Portuguese Witch Doctors

Informant: Various/Individuals 25–65/Portuguese ancestry
Location: Various locations, Kauai

My family has always been devout Catholic throughout the generations. We’ve never been the type to believe in hocus pocus. My family came to Hawaii from Madeira and the Azores, Portugal, and with them they brought unconventional practices that mingled with their conventional religiousness.

There is a term that I have grown up all my life hearing: Cubrant. Roll your tongue when you say it, so it sounds a little more like “cublant.” I have no idea if I am spelling this right or not, as none of us have ever seen it written anywhere. This word roughly translates into “curse,” carrying much of the same meaning as the Japanese word “bachi.” I usually hear this word jokingly, when I hear someone saying something like “She put the cubrant on me!” I had never heard it used seriously, but the cubrant is not always a laughing matter.

When I was young, whenever I was in a stressful situation my stomach would double me over in pain. It was some sort of psychological response turned physical whenever something upset me. I was taken to doctors but nothing they gave me helped the pain or made it go away. Finally, deciding that someone had possibly put the cubrant on me, my parents took me to a Portuguese witch doctor.

I remember going into her house and being led to her bedroom. There, she made me lie down and proceeded to rub my stomach with oil (I believe it was olive oil). She massaged my stomach and prayed for I don’t know how long. What I didn’t know was that my mom brought with her the shirt that I had worn all day, because she needed something that contained my sweat. As payment she brought various things like canned foods, or a dozen eggs. Portuguese witch doctors never accepted money.

After I visited her, I never got stomach pains again.

When my older sister was younger, she had what my family called “opu huli,” which pretty much translates into “flipped stomach.” Another stomach ailment. My sister went to an Aunt of ours (who had died by the time I was born) who was also a Portuguese witch doctor. My mom brought her the shirt my sister wore all day, and again brought food as payment. She massaged my sister’s stomach with oil and prayed over her too, and she too was cured of the cubrant.

My dad remembers his father going to her for some sort of ailment, but he can’t remember what. What he does remember, though, is his dad sitting on a chair with a glass of water on his head. And this glass of water started bubbling. He also saw her put a candle under a glass and put it onto stomachs. This created a vacuum of sorts. It was said to relieve gas pains. The Chinese also do this in their folk medicine.

When my dad was younger, he went to this same aunt for a broken finger, which she massaged into place. These witch doctors were available for any sort of ailments, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at any time of the day or night.

My mother asked a cousin why she didn’t become a witch doctor too, and she replied “You can’t just become one. You either have it or you don’t.” I haven’t seen or heard of one since my childhood, and I don’t know if they exist here on the island anymore. I wish I knew what they were traditionally called. But I hope that there is someone out there still perpetuating this strange and wonderful part of Portuguese culture and folklore.


The Bloody Girl at the Golf Course

Informant: Male/early 20's at time of incident/European ancestry
Location: Kona, Big Island

Many, many years ago, I worked as a busboy at the Keauhou Golf Course Country Club and Lounge. I worked the night shift. After work one night I hopped on my moped and headed down the golf cart path to the nearby scenic lookout where we would all gather after closing and talk stink about the customers, management, make plans for the next day, and just generally hang out.

Around the second hole this huge white shape swooped out of the sky into my headlight and nearly took my head off. Scared me so bad I nearly fell off. It was the biggest white owl I have ever seen. I didn't even know there were white owls in Hawaii. So anyway, I made it to the lookout and was telling the guys about the owl when all of a sudden we heard loud tire squeals coming down the road. This car was doing about 90mph and skidded around the corner and zoomed off down the road.

Right after that this girl, who looked about 18, covered in blood from head to toe, walks up to us out of the blackness and asks for a cigarette like there's nothing the matter at all. She tells us that she just jumped out of the car that sped by. Weird. We say, “Hey, let us take you to the hospital or something.” But she just wants a cigarette and a ride to this club in town. A couple guys who shared a ride to work volunteered and all three got into the car and took off.

The next day at work I asked about what happened. They said they took her to the club and let her out and watched her walk in. They took off but decided to go back to the club for a beer. They looked around for the girl but they didn't see her. One of the guys was friends with the doorman, so he asked him what happened to the bloody girl. The doorman said he never saw her, and nobody they talked to that night saw her either.


Dreams That See

Informant: Female/24/Mexican - Filipino ancestry
Location: Lihue, Kauai

One night I slept over at my boyfriends house and had a strange dream. I dreamed that I was with his family watching TV and hanging out, and his dad was missing a few teeth. And my boyfriend's sister was playing with a boy around her age; a white kid with blond hair, freckles and blue eyes.

The next day I told my boyfriend about how I dreamed that his dad was missing teeth. He says, "Are you joking?" I said "No, why?" He says, "My dad is actually missing teeth, he just wears dentures." Then I told him about the little boy I saw his sister playing with in my dream. He looked at me and says, "Are you kidding me?" I say "No, why?" He goes on to explain that his sister has a playmate that lives a few houses away, and he looks just like the boy that was in my dream: blond, freckles, blue eyes.

I had never seen his dad without his dentures before, no pictures, nothing. And I've heard his sister and her friend playing upstairs, but I've never seen them. I've never seen the boy in my life.

Strangely enough, my sister had the same type of dream before she met her boyfriend's family who came from the mainland. Maybe it runs in the family?