“A Great Joy of Finally Feeling Like I Belong”

Darlene Ganal visits the grave of her grandmother, Daisy Kaialau Billador, for the first time on Nov. 6, 2010. Until Darlene contacted the ‘Ohana, she did not know where her grandmother was buried. Photo by Wayne Levin

Darlene Ganal always knew that her grandparents had lived at Kalaupapa and that her mother had been born there, but she still had more questions than answers.
After her birth at Kalaupapa, Dorothy Helekahi, was sent to the Kapiolani Home for Girls and then adopted. She never saw her parents again. Darlene always felt she and her mother never had a sense of where they came from. When her mother died in 1994, Darlene was determined that her journey not end.
She contacted the Hawaii Department of Health and received photographs of her mother’s parents, Daisy Davis Kaialau Billador and Blas Billador along with copies of files. She was told that her grandfather, who was born in The Philippines, returned there at some point, but she never knew what happened to her grandmother. Darlene continued her search in the Hawaii State Archives, but could find nothing until she contacted Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa after seeing a notice in Ka Wai Ola, the newspaper published monthly by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
The ‘Ohana quickly was able to find a tombstone of Daisy Kaialau Billador recorded in the Kalaupapa Cemetery Directory that listed her birth date (April 28, 1900) and her date of death (Feb. 3, 1929). ‘Ohana historian Anwei Law had information about Darlene’s mother and an uncle who was also born at Kalaupapa. 

Dorothy Helekahi, the mother of Darlene Ganal, was born in Kalaupapa, the daughter of Daisy and Blas Billador.
Photo courtesy of Darlene Ganal

Shortly after, Daisy and Blas seemed to intervene. On Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010, ‘Ohana Coordinator Valerie Monson was looking through the marriage records compiled earlier by Pauline Hess when she suddenly saw the names “Daisy Kaialau and Blas Billador.” Excited to see the names of Darlene’s grandparents, Valerie looked to see when they were wed: Sept. 25, 1925 —85 years ago to the day. Valerie quickly called Darlene with the news.
The quest for Darlene was just beginning. She was invited to attend the 2010 annual meeting of Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa where she was able to place flowers on the grave of her grandmother and feel her Kalaupapa roots. The experience was life-changing.
“I came home from Kalaupapa feeling different. I can’t really describe it, but I’m more at peace with myself,” she wrote. “I have finally found my true family and where I come from. . . .

Blas Billador and
Daisy Davis Kaialau Billador
Photos courtesy of
Darlene Ganal

“I know that my mom has never felt that she belonged to her adopted family. . . . I guess that carried over to me, because I too never felt a connection to anyone as “family” until my visit with my grandmother.
“I find myself crying. . . not from sadness, but from a great joy of finally feeling like I belong and come from somewhere.”
Welcome home, Darlene Ganal.


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