A little Lee-way: Humble beginnings


My grandpa, Rudy Aquino, taught me that anyone is capable of accomplishing their dreams if you have the drive and passion for it.

By Mehana Lee, news editor

Music has been a huge part of my family’s lives, especially my grandpa’s life. Through him, I learned that success can come from humble beginnings if you have the passion, commitment and drive.

My grandfather, Rudy Aquino, is a jazz musician and played for a band back in the day called The Ali’is. They backed up Don Ho. (“Tiny Bubbles” sound familiar?)

He was, and still is, my definition of a true music lover. You tell him to play a song, and he’ll jam on the ʻukulele, vibraphone, piano, bongos, saxophone…literally any instrument, with a smile on his face as he sings the entire time.

In the beginning, my grandpa was lucky enough to have piano lessons as a child. He grew up with seven other siblings. This was the only formal training he got. Other than that, he taught himself how to play all of the other instruments.

My mom told me that when my grandpa was little, he and his family would always get together and play music. My great-grandfather would sing while my great-grandmother danced, and all the brothers and sisters would play the music.

My great-grandparents’ love for music was reflected in their son as he grew up.

In high school, my grandpa would play music with his friends at parties. At that time, little did they know they would soon become one of the most popular groups in Hawai’i in the mid-1960’s.

Today, we equate the fame that comes along with being a musician with arrogance, but from all the stories my mom has told me about my grandpa, anyone can see that he was an average guy.

He told me once that he wanted to stay like an average person because he was raised in a humble household that looked down upon bragging and being boastful.

I think that everyone should learn a lesson from my grandpa because not only did he work hard for what he wanted, but when he reached his goal in the end, he remained humble about it.

He also taught me that it doesn’t matter where you come from. If you have the dedication and passion for something, go after it and never give up on your dreams.