The 2018 Five Star Aloha Gala

The Hawai’i Chamber of Commerce of Northern California proudly presented our 16th Annual Five Star Aloha Gala on May 30, 2018 at the historic Westin St. Francis Hotel at Union Square in San Francisco. This is our organization’s signature event and serves as a venue for honoring individuals and organizations with our Kūlia I Ka Nu'u (Strive for the Summit) Award for their contributions in promoting the Aloha Spirit throughout Northern California and beyond.

We were pleased to announce that the 2018 Five Star Aloha Gala will honor Nainoa Thompson with the Kulia I Ka Nu'u Award.


Nainoa Thompson is the president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and a Pwo navigator.
Through his voyaging, he has opened a global, multi-generational dialogue on the importance of
sustaining ocean resources and maritime heritage. Thompson is the first Native Hawaiian in 600 years to
practice Polynesian wayfinding: long-distance open-ocean voyaging on a traditional
double-hulled canoe without the aid of modern instruments. Nainoa has dedicated his life to
exploring the ocean, maintaining the health of the planet and ensuring that the ancient marine
heritage and culture of Polynesia remain vibrant into the future. He most recently led Hōkūleʻa’s
world spanning Mālama Honua Voyage.

The award is bestowed together with several scholarships for Hawaiʻi students attending San Francisco Bay Area colleges and who demonstrate the willingness and potential to be future leaders of the larger Hawaiian Community, back in Hawaiʻi and beyond its shores. To date, 31 are recipients of our HCCNC scholarship. 



Bernie Bernal is a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia, a multi program engineering and science laboratory, and is celebrating 35 years of service this year. A descendent from generations of fisherman in Lingayen on the island of Luzon, Bernie has always been near the ocean growing up. He is currently President of the Northern California Outrigger Canoe Association. Its 800 members train and compete anywhere the outrigger canoe is found.

In 2012 Bernie joined a fleet of Polynesian voyagers on their return voyage back to the South Pacific after sailing into San Francisco bay. Away for nearly 3 months Bernie logged approximately 2000 nautical miles. The experience has connected Bernie to his roots, and is inspired by what the ancient Polynesians had accomplished in the Pacific. Today he continues sharing and connecting people to their ocean heritage along with wife Katherine. Their son Christopher is a banker with JP Morgan in San Diego, and daughter Isabella is a senior studying at the University of Hawaii, Mānoa.

Program and Details


Date and Location


16th Annual Five Star Aloha Gala
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
5:00 pm – 8:30 pm
The Westin St. Francis Hotel – Union Square Alexandra's Room
335 Powell Street
San Francisco, California 94102

Attire: Formal or business attire, black tie-optional.



5:00 pm: Cocktails with complimentary wine and beer
6:15 pm: Food stations featuring a taste of the finest restaurants in San Francisco
5:30 to 7:30 pm: Raffle and Silent Auction
7:30 pm: 16th Annual Five Star Aloha Program
8:00 pm: 2018  Kūlia I Ka Nu‘u Scholarship Awards Winners Presentation

Prizes and Giveaways

Grand Raffle Prize

Two pairs of Southwest Airlines round trip tickets on international or domestic flights.


This event is SOLD OUT.

$160 for Individual tickets by May 15; $175 after May 15.
$700 for table of 4 by May 15. 
$1,700 for table of 10 by May 15.

For tables of 10, please email us at
After we reach out to you, checks can be mailed by May 15th, 2018 to:
Hawai’i Chamber of Commerce of Northern California
100 Bush Street #1450
San Francisco, CA 94104

Due to high demand for the event, we have a no refund policy. For questions, please email

Ceremonies and Music


Rick Quan, Master or Ceremonies

Rick Quan is a two time Emmy award winner. He currently works at ABC7 TV as a fill in sports anchor and as the field reporter for it’s “After the Game” college football show. Before coming to San Francisco, he was a sports anchor for the ABC affiliate in Honolulu. Rick also runs his own video production company and recently produced an award winning documentary on legendary dancer Dorothy Toy.


Kumu Patrick Makuakāne and Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu, Opening chant and hula

Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu's dynamic SF-based dance company presents hula as a full theatrical experience that blends traditional and contemporary forms of Hawaiian Dance. Founded in 1985 by Director/Kumu Hula Patrick Makuakāne, the company is known for its unique contemporary style called hula mua, or "hula that evolves."  The style blends traditional movements with non-Hawaiian music like opera, electronic, dance, alternative, and pop. Both hula mua and authentic, traditional pieces are showcased in the company's visually captivating stage productions. The dance company has performed in locations throughout California, and has also presented its work in Honolulu, Washington D.C., New Orleans, New York, Las Vegas, and Japan. (


Steven Espaniola, Hawaiian Music

It’s rare when an artist arrives on the scene offering a refreshing new spin on a traditional genre of music. Steven Espaniola is that artist. Raised in Aliamanu, Hawai‘i  and now residing in the California Bay Area, Steven is a multi-instrumentalist specializing in kī hōʻalu (Hawaiian slack key guitar), ‘ukulele, upright bass, and leo kiʻekiʻe (traditional Hawaiian falsetto). Of Hawaiian, Filipino, and Spanish decent, his ethnicity is as diverse as his unique sound which preserves the integrity of the traditional with a flourish of the modern.  His debut recording entitled Ho‘omaka, “to begin”, features a mesmerizing collection of traditional and original Hawaiian mele recorded by Nā Hōkū Hanohano award-winning producer Dave Tucciarone. Ho‘omaka will be sure to transport the listener to the Hawai‘i of yesterday with soaring falsetto vocals, nahenahe slack key guitar and rhythmic ‘ukulele. Steven Espaniola’s highly anticipated debut album will carry you on a musical journey you won’t soon forget. In 2007, Steven’s musical efforts earned him the recognition of “New Artist of the Year” at the Hawai’i Music Awards. (


Faith Ako, Hawaiian Music

Faith Ako, a longtime resident of Northern California, has been performing and preserving Hawaiian Music for more than a decade. She has brought her deep soul tones and island blends to appreciative audiences throughout the greater Bay Area, Southern California, Boston on the East Coast and her home state of Hawai’i. Her first breakthrough album, Kukahi, earned her two Hawai’I Music Awards. Her second album, Papaku, garnered further accolades as it earned a Grammy entry in the Hawaiian genre category in 2010. Her third album, a grand recipient of the Kulia I Ka Nu’u Award, (Strive for the Summit Award) along with the beloved Mayor Ed Lee’s San Francisco’s Certificate of Honor Citizen Award has most definitely proven that aloha lives. (


Lenny San Jose, aka Ukulenny, is an ukulele performer, educator, and jam leader based in Oakland, CA. He began his ukulele career in 2009 on the Bay Area Rapid Transit, playing his uke back and forth on his daily commute. Since then has gained over 60,000 YouTube subscribers, and performed in Festivals in the Bay Area, Sonoma Wine Country, Reno, Los Angeles, and San Diego. As a sponsored Kala Ukulele Artist, he creates video content for their Learn to Play Program, and facilitates Uke Circles across America. (















See the photos and information from past Five Star Aloha Galas.