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Friday, August 22, 2014         

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Ken Hiraki wanted to make sure his daughter Maya's 15th birthday last year would be memorable. Birthday luau? Those are for babies. Spa day? So done. Slumber party? Zzz.

It's just after noon on a warm summer day in Manoa as Nancy Yoshida sits down with neighbor Jo Ann Yana­zaki and a tardy guest to share a few remembrances from a life filled with everyday eventfulness.

When Kekoa James was weighing options for his Eagle Scout project, he could easily have opted for something low-key, low-fuss, and -- as far as such things are possible -- low-stress.

Credit that chewy little koan to Kelly Park, who recently bid “ahn nyeong hee ga se yo” to a postgraduate gig in her native South Korea to return to the University of Hawaii to further her studies in economics.

If all goes according to plan, Zoe Cipres' glamorous (not really), pampered (think again), leisurely (keep thinking) life as a international model will someday soon reach its expiration date.

Had the horrific collision George Handgis survived back in 2012 left him with broken bones or a collapsed lung or — heaven forbid — even a serious spinal injury, perhaps it would be easier for people to understand.

Tucked securely within Meghan Nakamura's cache of indelible childhood memories are sepia-toned recollections of summer vacations to Lahaina, of long afternoons on the links learning the ins and outs of junior golf, of tag-along days to the hospital with her father, a radiologist.

To properly appreciate the significance of Ishon Mons' work on behalf of Kauai's endangered Newell's shearwater (ao) population, it helps to know a few things about the charming little black-topped birdies.

As a single mother struggling to get a foothold in a new country, Aleli Vinoya did whatever she could to make sure that her eldest daughter, Nicole Gasmen, would have better opportunities than she herself did growing up in her native Philippines.

When Nohea Chang speaks of "the most challenging, fatiguing, fulfilling job" she's ever had, she isn't referring to the 40 years she spent as a teacher.

Praise be, the Kenon Kaho­ano Graduation Party Committee is officially, happily, wearily, let's-think-twice-before-we-ever- do-this-again-ily released from duty.

Phuong Nguyen never considered himself a math and science guy. At least not until middle school at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Pearl City, where teacher Sylvia Tsuda distilled for him the essence of what the two disciplines are all about.

When you can drive a golf ball 240 yards, shoot consistently in the low 70s and stay cool as Kapa­lua trade in the heat of back-nine battle, there's not a lot of ambiguity about what is expected of you.

In the hours and days following the birth of her child, Luana Yee received a most unusually somber procession of callers. "People kept saying, ‘I'm so sorry,'" she recalls. "They gave their condolences."

As a mentor to young public school teachers, Laura Fuku­moto could focus on the pedagogical practices she has researched, tested and refined for more than 40 years.

Uncle Herman had heard that someone, a Tongan guy if he wasn't mistaken, wanted to fly over to help rebuild homes. Great, Herman Paleka thought, we could use the help.

You can't put a price on what volunteer Lillian Takeda does for the Kua­kini Health System, but you could certainly fill out one heck of a timecard.

To see as Rachel Handlin sees is to be ever present, ever engaged in the emergent moment.

If there were anything else at all that Nathan and Vicki Traller could do to save their daughter, they surely would.

Molly Jenkins loves learning just as much as she loves children. But neither motivated her to become a teacher. For Jenkins, 29, teaching is a direct and effective means of addressing inequalities in education and the social problems that arise from them.

Kid loves video games. Kid wants to know how video games are made. Kid reads the Wikipedia version of how it all works. In most cases that's the end of it. In the Klein household the narrative stretches a bit further.

If destiny was a real thing, Hieu Pham knew it was her destiny to marry John Stuart. They had met when Pham was working at a Vietnamese restaurant in Virginia and Stuart, an IT manager for General Motors, was a hungry customer with no idea how to order off a Vietnamese menu.

There is a story Hieu Pham Stuart tells about her early life in Tuy Hoa, Vietnam. Like many of the stories from her extraordinary life, it is at once joyful, tragic and ultimately reaffirming.

Stranded some 8,300 miles from his pregnant wife, unsure when he'd ever be able to return, Indra­jit Guna­se­kara needed something to occupy his worried mind.

Ari Dalbert's gifts include not just a knack for memorizing complex soliloquies, but the ability to evoke powerful emotions through voice and movement and a talent for personalizing Shakespere's words and bringing 400-year-old characters to vital presence.

Depending on the time of day, 24-year-old Nick Clark may be one of any number of things: a photographer, a security guard, a wedding assistant.

On Monday morning, with the clock winding down and the final stroker on his team in position to gain an advantage with a 3-foot touch, 83-year-old Warren Wong perked to the sound of uncertainty.

In a technology-driven society where the iMiracle of six months ago is one overhyped product launch removed from obsolescence, Terence "Yoda" Yorga's cellphone repair kiosk on the corner of Atkinson Drive and Kapiolani Boulevard stands as a refreshingly retrograde refuge for unmediated human contact.

Years of intensive medical training in his native China taught Gong Hong Au about the mechanics of the human heart. An additional year of government-mandated study of herbal remedies and acupuncture unlocked the mysteries of traditional Chinese medicine.

You could, perhaps, pull the wool over the collective eyes of the police, but could you fool a ficus, shuck a schefflera, jive a juniper? For 14-year-old Chloe Dunster, the question deserved investigation.

There's no accounting for chemistry. How else might we explain the fact that the charming Chihuahua-terrier soon to be known as Bingo had been twice returned to the Hawaiian Humane Society before prospective pop No. 3 Jorge Molestina walked in the door.

It was 1974, Wannette Gomes recalls, and she, an impetuous 19-year-old from Alia­manu, was at Fort McClellan in Anniston, Ala., for basic training.

The administrative services department over at Island Insurance is by creed and deed low-profile. They do what they do well and generally don't call a lot of attention to themselves.

If you never figured Dr.Steven Minaglia for a double-crosser, clearly you were not paying attention. Where, pray tell, were you when Minaglia was swimming an hour and a half three mornings a week?

You wonder: How did Toshi Wata­ba­ya­shi become a master mahjong teacher? He tells you: His golf game bit the dust. There's a bit more to it than that, but that's as good a starting point as any. And, as Wata­ba­ya­shi teaches, patient effort is all it takes to get what you're after.

Los Chaparros Mexican Restaurant on Beretania Street is not literally Ajan­than "A.T." The­va­ra­jah's "house," but the ebullient 24-year-old shift leader can be forgiven for insisting that it is.

It's game day at Makiki District Park, and the mighty RavenHawks of the i9 Sports soccer league are in fine form.

The depth of Nakoa Farrant's passion for science has always been evident, but certainly never more so than when he recently spent time logging raw ocean-floor data aboard a 211-foot exploration vessel in the Caribbean.

Normajean Cavell slowly rotates the grips that are attached to the straps attached to the tree that bears a portion of her weight as she slowly contracts her biceps and raises herself from the grass.

When your office is a third of an acre of lush grass and sunshine and your clients do all the legwork and you measure your daily returns in the twitching paws of dreaming pups, you, dear sir or madam, are a winner in the game of life.

As a young woman in the 1950s, Irene Ma­tsuo was a devoted viewer of the local variety show "Televi Digest."

Long before he directed "A Clockwork Orange" and "2001: A Space Odyssey," Stanley Kubrick cut his directorial teeth on a nine-minute film titled "The Flying Padre," about a Catholic priest in New Mexico who uses an airplane to minister to his congregation.

It could have started with the early childhood in Italy or the trans-Atlantic relocation to Maryland or the even the final move to Hawaii. But it didn't.

As vice principal at Washington Middle School, it was Susan Minami-Sato’s job to deal with kids like Jowana Lobendahn.

A psychologist, a soldier and a dog walk into a Mexican restaurant, but you needn't bother waiting for a punch line. Shannon Curry and her colleagues at the Hawaii Canine Assistance Network deal strictly with happy endings.

On the surface it seemed a career plan executed to perfection. John Cheever — environmentally conscious, conservation-minded, humanitarian-in-bud — made the most of a top high school education at Punahou School, matriculated at elite Cornell University, where he earned a degree in environmental science, then landed a seemingly plum job doing environmental planning and assessments.

She never saw it coming. A sophomore fullback on last season's Pac-Five girls varsity soccer team, Dayna Sur was patrolling the area in front of the Wolfpack goal when a player from the other team took a chance on a hard shot in traffic.

There were no celestial trumpets blaring, no angels descending, when Markus Osterlund picked up the French horn for the first time six years ago.

Whether in impoverished areas of Cebu or Nairobi or on the crisply manicured grounds of Chaminade University in Kaimuki, Jerry Richmond understands well the instructive power of her immediate physical and cultural environments.

Just 25 years old, Mahe Vakauta of Ewa Beach has never known the benefit of time on his side.

It's worth a couple of hard blinks when a person known for his selfless acts, the kind who craves credit and recognition the way most of us pine for an IRS audit, waves the flag for naked self-interest.

Erin Carroll can't wait to see the world. In the meantime she's found a way to bring the world to her.

Assuming all her buses are running on schedule, it's usually just before midnight when Miri­ama Asi returns home to Kalihi from her job at the Subway restaurant in Manoa.

At a fundraising auction 18 years ago, give or take, Debra Lau bid for and won a background role in a Ballet Hawaii production of "The Nutcracker."

When Scott Sakata climbs into bed each night, he lays head to pillow with the peace of knowing his efforts have allowed less fortunate people do the same.

Katherine Henderson hasn't set foot on Hawaii soil since she and her adoptive family left the islands more than 50 years ago.

If your aim in life is to catch Patti Franklin in a foul mood, perhaps you'd be better off pursuing a more achievable goal, like presenting the collected works of Thomas Mann via interpretive dance or selling tickets for that Chumbawamba reunion concert.

Micah Fisher is 30 years old. This is a useful if disconcerting fact to keep in mind when attempting to document Fisher's personal, academic and professional accomplishments over the past decade or so.

This week's column comes courtesy of Hahaione Elementary School reporter-for-a-day Christopher Petrides and is based on his interview with his grandfather.

Donna Fouts insists she’s the nicest person ever you’ll want to meet. Just not on the soccer field.

When Damien Memorial School senior Ethan Dayton steps to the dais May 26 to deliver his valedictory address, he'll do so with the wisdom of a young man who has not only reached a worthy academic milestone, but one who has seen his way through a personal journey of grief, love and self-discovery.

Antonita Phillip knew her youngest daughter, Junny, needed more help than she could get at home in Onoun, Chuuk.

When Chanz Palau was first diagnosed with autism at age 3, doctors told his mother that it was unlikely he would ever speak.

It may be true that the character of the worker is revealed by the tools she selects, but in the case of Lolly Romano — whose tools of trade include bulging bags of bouncing balls and not-so-bouncy beanbags, a fleet of modified trikes and go-carts, storerooms of hand-painted cardboard dinosaurs, and trunkloads of paddles and pulleys and fishing rods and catapults — perhaps it is wiser to focus on the results.

Sensei Mary Mineko Weite has taught Japa­nese calligraphy long enough — some 20 years at the Wahiawa Community School alone — to know that what is rendered in free-flowing stroke on washi paper is often the truest statement of the artist in the moment.

Having spent the better part of his 70 years escaping to and from one exotic locale to another, Ed Gardner fancies himself something of an expert on the paradisiacal.

At Oak Canyon Junior High School in Lindon, Utah, spring is announced not just by sunshine and snowmelt and bird songs, but also by bottle rockets and hot air balloons and perfectly good eggs catapulted to the heavens.

Matthew Hayakawa would have you believe that he's just another shiftless 19-year-old who whiles away his days watching his beloved Oklahoma City Thunder on TV and playing "Call of Duty" until the wee hours.

The police warned her not to cross the line, a warning that anyone who knows Lela Hubbard would recognize as a gold-embossed invitation to do just the opposite.

Pity poor Lea DiMarchi. For four years now the love-addled lass has chased fickle Demetrius only to be overshadowed by her supposed friend Hermia, fought over by the aforementioned Demetrius and a magically demented Lysander, and subjected to the mischievous enchantments of the sprite Puck.

There are those for whom a program like the Rehab Hospital of the Pacific's Cardiac REHAB offers the right combination of structure, incentive and encouragement to ensure that the slow, difficult work of recovering from a serious heart condition doesn't become overwhelming.

If Steve Langford's list of life accomplishments reads suspiciously like two or three really good bucket lists strung together, it is, he assures, simply the natural consequence of living life on his own terms and embracing the personal responsibilities that come with it.


The undergrad work in political science, the Juris Doctorate, the career in sales and marketing, even marriage and motherhood — for Larie Manu­tai they're all facets of a larger education.

Several years ago Arnold Honda's client called the financial adviser to say she wanted to cancel her life insurance policy.


The kids wanted to get Grandma something extra special for Christmas, but what do you get someone for whom faith and family are everything?

Growing up in a rough, low-income area of San Diego, Omar Zaldana learned the best way to stay afloat was to, well, stay afloat.

When Cate Guimaraes sees University of Hawaii freshman shooting guard Brandon Jawato knock down a corner 3-pointer, she sees more than just a sweet shooting stroke.

By chance, were you at Ala Moana Center on Christmas Eve 2009? If so, I wonder: Did you see my mother? She would have been bent over a walker, scraping along in her white Velcro-top sneakers a few feet at a time.

Kevin Smith was no pepperoni-piling prodigy, no Michelangelo of the mozzarella when he began working at the Pizza Hut in Hawaii Kai back in the late '80s.

Every once in a while, Stephen Dantzig will trip and fall — “it’s when, not if,” Dantzig says — and some well-intentioned stranger will stop to help.

In a profession in which the call to give is as constant as an IV drip, it's not unheard of for dedicated health care workers to dig deep within and find nothing left to offer.

Any yahoo with a high-speed Internet connection and an H-logo Under Armour shirt can toss off a couple of pocket-worn pennies about the state of the University of Hawaii athletic department or the ups and downs of Norm Chow's first year as Warrior football coach.

When Maria Victoria "Nena" Li Won was told that she had been selected as one of six outstanding Sacred Hearts Academy alumni to be honored at the school's annual scholarship gala, she was truly mystified.

As a boarder at the Sacred Hearts Convent, Maria Victoria "Nena" Li Won would watch raptly as the older sisters worked needle and thread to fashion dainty miracles of embroidery that no machine could ever replicate.

There's no dearth of small talk when the 67-year-old server known as Vitantonio is working the floor at Genki Sushi's Kapa­hulu restaurant.

For someone who earns his living in the driver’s seat, Scott Villarosa understands that control is a tenuous, fleeting, sometimes illusory thing.

Haeng Sool Chong wasn't sure what to expect when he left South Korea some 40 years ago to join his sister in Hono­lulu.

The Hawaii-bred poet who will soon champion the empowering properties of arts and letters among the youth of Nicaragua has a confession.

Dior Andrade admits she was never the pace-yourself kind.

There's nothing Kevin Okada enjoys more than making people smile.

There’s no mistaking the food court in Sears at Ala Moana Center for the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, but for those who like a little Neil Diamond with their Zip Pac, there’s no better showroom.

It's Week 2 of Wai Sam Lao's freshman year at the University of Hawaii. A Regents Scholarship recipient and recent intern at state Sen. Glenn Wakai's office, Lao has been granted early admittance to the Shid­ler School of Business.

Karen Hastings always suspected there was much more to the man she knew as “Jah” than he let on.

Given the dynamism of the contemporary employment landscape, it's worth an appreciative nod when someone approaches a quarter-century with the same organization —especially if that person is only 29 years old.

Carlo Carrasco couldn't understand why in the world his parents wanted to move to Hawaii.

It's generally not a problem when the IT manager/webmaster/telecommunications adviser for Oakes Management needs an afternoon off to attend to a personal project — provided, of course, the office systems are running smoothly and he's done all of his homework.

The certifications in wound and ostomy care attest to Leslie Martin's ability to help patients recover from the abrasions and lacerations and festering sores that insult the surface of their bodies.

I don't pretend to remember much of what I (supposedly) learned in high school, but I do remember this: Robert Frost's poem "Dust of Snow" is a classic example of iambic dimeter.

When you are young and talented and enamored of creative expression in all its many forms, you can't always foretell what strange, wonderful thing you'll be doing next.

It's afternoon at the Hale Ho Aloha nursing facility and resident Julian Monsarrat, having little desire to sacrifice the comforts of his warm bed for a rain-dampened seat on the lanai, draws his blanket to his chest and settles in to watch basketball on the TV beside his bed.


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