Instead of a bicycle built for two, local artist Manny Pangilinan crafted a wooden horse for two…two tykes, that is, which sent them rolling from one end of the room to the other. In Hawaii, Manny’s known for his island-inspired art found in a variety of mediums – wood, paintings and murals. The wooden horse was just one of the many pieces he was inspired to create after he saw a need for it in his household; turns out, it became a hot item for parents seeking sustainable toys.One of many Manny creations: a whale-shaped towel rack (top) and a rolling horse dolly (bottom), both made from recycled wood.

“My son needed a horse, something to ride on,” Manny said, referring to his 2-year-old, whom I recently met at the Punahou Carnival, a little cutie atop his dad’s shoulders! “Every time his friend comes over, they fight, so I made one for two, a horse rider for two.”

Not just any “horse rider,” though; Manny finds scraps of wood and, “like Michael Angelo…I’ll look at it and think what can I make out of that?” Michael Angelo’s sculpture of David began with an ordinary rock, while that horse began with a left over piece of wood. But in no time, Manny proceeds to craft the scrap into something pine. He calls these “upcycled” wooden creations.VIDEO: Manny shows us some of the latest stuff he’s made.

Whenever I travel, I’m always on the lookout for locally-made art pieces to take back home with me. Manny’s work represents Hawaii in that way and encompasses the islands with so much aloha, so much soul, that you can’t quite take your eyes off of them. (Customers at a recent craft fair couldn’t quite take their hands off of his stuff either, making sure to be the first in line to claim the various wooden pieces.) His work can be found on his website or at Baby aWEARness in Manoa. You might see some of his murals around town, including seasonal window art at the baby store; heck, you might even see him skating around town. Manny spent his teen years skateboarding the streets of New York and hasn’t stopped since. It’s so much a part of him that I noticed during our chat, a little skateboard pendant hanging from the thin chain on his neck.(Top) “Night Waves” roll on to one of Manny’s paintings. (Bottom) Summertime at Baby aWEARness.

Appropriately naming his business Manny Aloha, the proud father and husband enjoys every minute of what he’s doing and hopes to share the spirit of the island through his creative eye.

“I like activating people’s minds,” explained Manny, who recognized the growing demand for vintage wooden toys by parents trying to stay away from plastics. He’s also made wooden children stools, whale-shaped towel racks, painted surfer wall adornments and much more. While most can be brought back in your carry-on, some might have to be shipped. Luckily, you’ll find a post office just a few stores down from Baby aWEARness.

Photo Credit: Manny Aloha

MANNY ALOHA • Find his work at: or Baby aWEARness


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