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HMSA Member News > Board Member ProfileFall 2004 IS Magazine11/17/04 IS Online

Dances With Mana

HMSA board member Allan Los Banos is a healer who has found personal harmony.

By Georgette Woo

Allan Los Banos is solidly built. He has lively dark eyes, a jovial smile, and laborer's hands, the kind with wide palms and thick, muscular fingers.

Like many local boys, he spent a lot of time as a kid with his grandparents at their Kalihi home. But he was also the son of a Schofield soldier and destined to travel. He attended first grade in Japan, second grade in Georgia, and third through fifth grade in Massachusetts.

Eventually the family returned and Los Banos graduated from St. Louis High School in 1966. He then went on to the Hilo College of Engineering on the Big Island. There, he met a Hawaiian kahuna, who instructed him in the healing arts of lomilomi massage, la'au lapa'au (herbs), and the art of ha, literally "sacred breath."

"It's really about using mana, life energies, to help people get back in harmony," he explains. The process awakened in him a great respect for nature, culture and people. It also put the engineering idea to rest.

Los Banos returned to O'ahu, graduating from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa with a bachelor's degree in archeology in 1971. "I literally danced my way through college," he says, "doing hula and fire dance for a Polynesian show."

After graduation, Los Banos moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, to teach archeology at the Institute of American Indian Arts. At the Institute, he met a modern dance teacher who had trained under Martha Graham and took up this new form of dance with characteristic passion.

Upon his return to O'ahu, Los Banos began graduate work in psychology and education. He married in 1974 and he and his wife, Kirsten, started a family. They have three sons, all born on Feb. 5, but in different years, and a daughter. "We'd go to a restaurant on the boys' birthday and dinner is free on birthdays, right?" he says, laughing. "They'd always ask us for proof."

Since then, Los Banos has worked for construction, environmental and career development firms, usually in a training or consulting capacity. Ten years ago, he became health and safety coordinator for the Hawai'i Masons Training Program. In addition to teaching safety to them, he shares some of the knowledge he gained from the kahuna.

"We do a little meditation and some breathing exercises," he says. "I teach them how to recognize symptoms of burn-out and how to return to lokahi, harmony. They learn respect for the Hawaiian culture and it keeps them interested."

Los Banos sees his participation on HMSA's board of directors as a way to help on a larger scale. "I'm an advocate for the member," he says. "I look at how things will impact them, our community, and the quality of health services."

The work is not all weighty and serious. "I like the diversity of people and the ideas," he says. "I learn so much at every meeting, about the health care field and what's happening with new technology and bio-tech. HMSA does a lot for the community and the well-being of Hawai'i. They're an energized type of organization. I enjoy working with them."

 
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