Symbolically Speaking: The Alphabet (Part 1)

Since we first learned to read and write as children, our minds made a clear distinction between pictures and words.  What we often forget, however, is that the words we write are made up of letters that were originally conceived as pictures.  (Feel free to read that sentence again, if you have to.)  Our modern letters are quite literally an “alphabet soup” of ancient Egyptian, Semitic, Greek and Roman symbols.

In this series of articles, we will explore the history of our alphabet and how each letter came to have its specific shape.  Read on to discover the surprising origins of the letters A through F.



A – The ox head

Turn an ox head upside down for a clue as to how the letter A originally got it’s shape.  The letter, which first came into use around 1800 B.C. represents an animal with antlers and translated to ancient Semitic as “ox.”






B – The house

Lie the letter “B” down for a nap and you see what resembles a house with a door, a room and a flat roof.  It was originally pronounced like our modern-day “h” and was a pictogram representing ‘shelter’ used by the Egyptians.




C – The boomerang

The letter “c” began as a Phoenician representation of a boomerang.  Simple enough, right?  But it went through several permutations by the Greeks and the Romans before finally taking the shape we know today.





D – The door

The Phoenicians’ word for ‘door’ was ‘dalet’ and they represented it with a triangle, tipped up on its side.  Later, the Greeks began using it and called it ‘delta.’  The Roman’s contribution was to soften the triangle with a semi-circle and voila — the modern day ‘D’ was born.






E – The human figure

The Semitics created the ‘E’ (although they pronounced it as “h”) to represent a human figure with two arms and a leg.  Originally, these appendages pointed to the left.  Later however, the Greeks flipped it around, and began pronouncing it as “e.”





F – The hook

Most experts agree the letter ‘f’ was originally meant as a representation of a hook, and was once pronounced as “waw.”  The Romans are credited with the modern-day look of the F, introducing the hard straight lines that we now use.


HAWAIIANTEL Fraudulent E-mail

It has recently come to our attention that a fraudulent e-mail is circulating the internet under the Hawaiian Tel name.  If you received an e-mail from HAWAIIANTEL with the subject line, “URGENT – Browser Update..” please do not open the e-mail, nor click any links or buttons within the e-mail.  Clicking on links or buttons could compromise your personal information or potentially unleash a virus into your computer.  Delete the e-mail right away!

Below is a sample of what the e-mail may look like:



Here are a few tips to follow when you come across a suspicious e-mail like the one above:

Pay attention to the Sender.
Is the Sender really who they say they are?  If the e-mail is coming from someone you know, check to see that their e-mail address is the same as the one you have saved.  If you need to, give that person a call to ask if they really did send the e-mail.

If the e-mail is from someone you don’t know, just delete it.  If it was something important, then the sender should know how to reach you via other means.

Use the hover method. 
Instead of clicking on links, hover your mouse over the link instead.  In the bottom left of your browser window, the URL for the link will appear.  This is a good way to check if the link will actually lead you to where it says it would, or if it will lead you to a completely different scam site.

Use your common sense. 
Take a look at the layout of the e-mail.  Typos are a good indicator that the e-mail is a fraud.  Although the scam e-mail above doesn’t have any typos, there are still a few indicators that prove that it’s not really from Hawaiian Tel FCU:
–  There’s no logo, no mention of any of our locations, and no mention of our website
–  Funky formats: A huge red flag is how the e-mail displays the Credit Union’s name.  Although the e-mail is from HAWAIIANTEL, that is not a format that our Credit Union uses for our name.  You’ve seen Hawaiian Tel FCU and HiTel FCU for short, but never HAWAIIANTEL.  Another funky format, the beginning of the e-mail lists the date as 18 August instead of August 18th.
–  Has HiTel FCU ever e-mailed you to update your browser before?  It’s safe to say that we would never reach out to you via e-mail just to ask you to update your browser

It never hurts to ask.
If you’re really not sure if the e-mail is legitimate or not, it doesn’t hurt to call.  Especially if it’s a company that you do business with, like HiTel FCU or other financial institutions, a quick phone call to the company in question will let you know right away if they really sent the e-mail or not.


This has been a good reminder for all of us to be vigilant when we peruse through our e-mail messages.  Again, please do not click on any links or buttons.  And remember.. when in doubt, don’t.


Useful Tips for Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Emergency SuppliesIt’s been a hot summer so far, but with hot summers also come heavy rains, and possible hurricanes.  Hurricane Season runs from June 1st through November 30th every year.    Hurricanes are a triple-threat disaster that could bring heavy rain, heavy winds, and flooding.  This season, we were lucky to avoid Hurricane Hector, but it was a good reminder to prepare for when disaster may strike.  Here are a few useful tips for disaster preparedness:


Stay Up-to-Date
Thanks to today’s technology, there are so many different ways to get real time information on hurricanes and other impending natural disasters.  Tune in to your TV or radio for your trusted news source.  Check your phone or computer for current updates on Social Media.  Did you know that certain social media platforms also allow you to mark yourself “safe” during a known disaster in your area?


Know Your Escape Routes
Some disasters may call for an evacuation.  In the event that you do need to leave, make sure you have a route (and an alternate route!) planned out.  If you are ordered to leave, do so right away; waiting or ignoring the order can be dangerous.  Make sure all family members are accounted for, including pets.  Check if your local shelter will allow pets; if they don’t, have an alternative plan to keep them safe.


Secure Your Home
While certain disasters require you to leave, other scenarios might force you to shelter in place.  In the event that you are stuck at home, make sure your house is secure and safe enough to stay in.  Stock up on material that you can use to board up your windows during strong winds.  Keep a generator handy for when the power goes out.


Stock Up on Food
Generally speaking, you should have enough food to last 3 days per person.  However, because Hawaii is so isolated and it may take longer for help to come during a disaster, it is suggested that you should stock up on food to last at least a couple of weeks.  The best food to stock up on are non-perishables, such as canned food, cereals, canned juice, protein bars, dried food.  If you have a baby, don’t forget to stock up on baby food for them and also pet food for your pets.

How Safe is Online Shopping?

Paper boxes in a shopping cart.

In 2017, more than 1.6 billion people around the world shopped for goods online, driving global sales via e-retail to a whopping 2.3 trillion dollars (U.S.).  Amazingly, this number is expected to nearly double in the next three years.* In short, online shopping has become a juggernaut that is just too big to ignore.  As scores of once-stalwart big name retailers like Sears, K-Mart and Toys ‘R’ Us are either scaling back their locations or closing their doors completely, it’s clear that “brick and mortar” is increasingly being replaced by “click and order.”

The huge shift toward shopping on the internet seems to suggest that consumers have a high level of confidence in the safety and security of their online transactions.  But in this age of near-constant news stories of cyber-hacking and data compromise, exactly how safe is online shopping?  The good news is that most experts agree that the e-retail environment is, in fact, relatively safe and that you are more likely to have your credit card information compromised over the phone, in a restaurant or through the mail than you are on the web.

Still, the old adage “better safe than sorry” applies, so here are a few tips to help make sure your online shopping activities don’t bring you more than you bargained for.


Safe Shopping

  • Go with what you know. Only visit websites of brands that you know and are familiar with. Be vigilant.  Look for clues to a website’s authenticity.  Often, misspellings, poor grammar, and a site design that is just plain ugly are top indicators that you are on a fraudulent website.
  • What’s in a (domain) name? Legitimate sites usually have short, clean domain names (e.g.,,,, whereas fraudulent ones have long, overly hyphenated and unsightly names like and What’s more, they often mislead you by including the name of legitimate online stores or brands in their domain name. For example, or may seem okay at first glance, but after a closer look, they become suspicious.
  • Be Wi-Fi wary. Shopping using Wi-Fi hotspots (such as those found in coffee shops or airports) should be avoided. These public Wi-Fi networks are fertile ground for hackers to steal your information.
  • Avoid going viral. Before attempting ANY online activity, it is important to have anti-virus and anti-malware software installed on your computer. Malwarebytes is a popular (and free) choice.
  • No kidding around. Make sure your kids are unable to access your online accounts or credit card and bank account information. Although this would seem like a no-brainer, there have been many incidents where kids inadvertently (and maybe not so inadvertently) racked up thousands of dollars of purchases on their parents’ cards.


Checkout Checklist

  • The bare minimum. Only give the necessary information that is required to complete your online purchase. If a question or uncertainty regarding your transaction leads to a phone call with a customer service agent, keep in mind that personal information should NEVER be shared over the phone unless you initiated the call.  Also, if you receive any unsolicited requests for your passwords, or bank account or credit card information, do not reply to them.
  • Rely on your pay pals. Payments should only be made using methods that have a solid track record such as PayPal or Amazon’s Log-in-and-Pay. It is a good idea to use credit cards whenever possible, since your purchases will (in most cases) be insured.  If you suspect your credit card information may have been compromised (either via a fraudulent website or a suspicious email), contact your credit card company right away.


Wrapping it up

  • Log off before you rush off. Once you are done with your online shopping spree, don’t forget to log off. This is especially important if other people have access to your computer or if you have used a computer in a public place, such as a library or Wi-Fi network.
  • Keep the receipts. Be sure to print and save all receipts and records of your online transactions.
  • Scrutinize your statements. Make a habit of going through your credit card statements each month. Be thorough.  Report any unauthorized charges or suspicious activity right away.




Summertime Adventures


Summer time is the best for adventures! With the sun shining and the weather just right, Hawaii has loads of places to explore. Living on Oahu, we have an extensive amount of beautiful mountains and oceans. Some of the best beaches may be right down the road from you!


Outrigger Canoe on Lanikai Beach of Oahu Hawaii

Some of our favorite beaches to visit are Lanikai Beach, which is located in the beautiful town of Kailua on the Windward side. This beach is calm all year long, offering great swimming conditions, and beautiful views. About less than a mile off shore, there are two small islands which house bird sanctuaries. Honu’s (Hawaiian sea turtles) and reef fish are often seen here, so be sure to respect the sea creatures while visiting.


Hawaii Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is another great beach spot. Waikiki Beach is probably Hawaii’s most famous beach that offers a 2-mile stretch of white sand, which is divided into sections by various hotels. Waikiki Beach stays connected by a boardwalk running all through the 2-mile stretch. Swimming and surfing, as well as fun activities are available all year long as this beach also offers peaceful waters.


Hawaii is often the popular tourist attraction due to all of the unique places we have in store. Although visitors may come and go, many of us living out here rarely have time to explore our beautiful aina (land).

Here are a few cool hiking spots on Oahu if you ever feel like exploring this summer:

Rail from the mountain

  • Ka’au Crater: Offers 5 hours of waterfalls, rope climbing, and a huge crater with panoramic views
  • Olomana Trail: This hike is not for the beginners; you will experience a challenge with beautiful views
  • Wiliwilinui Ridge: This hike will give you panoramic views of Waikiki and the beautiful waters of the east coast of Oahu.
  • Koko Head: This hike offers a great workout that will make your legs feel like Jell-O! After completion, you will get to see the awesome views over the ridge.

Always remember to stay safe, follow all posted signs, and keep hydrated this summer. If you visit any of these spots this summer, be sure to tag us on our social media so we can see your awesome adventures!




Mother’s Day as we know it has been around since 1908.

Mother’s Day is the busiest day for florists, followed by Valentine’s Day, according to Across the nation, grammar school children, full of pride, present their lovingly-made art projects as gifts to their mothers. There is a lot of attention given to this day, and rightfully so, as it’s a wonderful opportunity to show our appreciation for everything that mothers do for us.

We, too, at Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union would like to give a tribute to all our employees’ moms.  Those special ladies who raised our stellar staff, who go beyond to assist with their grandchildren, and who will always be their child’s biggest supporter.

Our staff went on camera to say why, “My Mom ROCKS”!  From cancer survivors, great cooks, and hard workers, to just being the best friend we’ll ever have, the reasons were as diverse and unique as our moms themselves.  They truly exemplify what it means to ROCK!

Check out our videos below:
Kapolei Branch

Maui Branch

King Street Branch

New Accounts Dept

Marketing Dept

Thank you MOMS, for all that you do!

Why does YOUR mom ROCK?