Sonny Ching & Lopaka Igarta

Kumu Hula Sonny Ching

William “Sonny” Ching was preordained that he would be the one to continue hula in his family—his grandmother and great grandmother both foresaw it.

When Sonny was born, his great grandmother stated that he would become a chanter. It was when Sonny turned four-years-old that his grandmother started teaching him chants and then would progress to dancing hula. At twelve-years-old, Sonny’s father decided that he should not dance hula. However, his grandmother continued to teach him hula in secret without permission. Ironically, Sonny’s father is now his biggest supporter.

Sonny’s grandmother, Lena Pua‘ainahau Eleakala Nāhulu Guerrero, was his confidant, roommate, and best friend. She taught him one-on-one and usually did things together on a daily basis. They always preceded their training with a prayer in Hawaiian because his grandmother was of pure koko and was fluent in the language. This important ritual is still practiced today—this is how Sonny runs his classes today—before dancing, they pray to Akua and to Laka.


Kumu Hula Lōpaka Igarta-De Vera

Born in Honolulu and raised in Manānā Uka, Kumu Hula Joseph Lōpaka Igarta-De Vera is the youngest of five children.

He was first introduced to hula at the young age of five by his mother, Rachel Pua‘āhihi Igarta who was also raised in a hula family. Thus, Kumu Lōpaka was surrounded by singing and dancing growing up. As a family, he, his mother, his sisters—Kulamanu, Lāhela, Kauʻi, and Puaahihileiokamaile—and his aunts, uncles, and cousins would gather every weekend at their family home or at his aunt Leinaala Simerson’s home to kanikapila.