Archive for July, 2010

Dino

July 23rd, 2010
By



Maili Beach residents Dino Palisbo and girlfriend Christie Kealoha do not know where their next move will take them. "I was born and raised on the beach, and we aren't homeless, we are HOUSEless" Palisbo says. Residents of Maili Beach Park as well as other beach parks along the Leeward coast of Oahu are alarmed and in a state of panic, leaving some with no where to relocate to. Honolulu Star-Bulletin photo by Jamm Aquino. Shot August 27, 2006.

This past Monday, I had to photograph the eviction of the residents who live along a stretch of coast in Maili known as “Guardrails.”  It’s always a sensitive subject for me to photograph the homeless because you have to earn their trust to be able to make an honest picture.  I learned this from meeting Dino Palisbo, pictured above, in 2006.  Palisbo was living past Guardrails on a stretch of Maili Beach then.  When I initially approached him, he was apprehensive, guarded, and stand-offish.  Anyone would be if you step into their home with a camera wanting to take their picture.  He told me to beat it.  As I walked away, defeated and dejected, I wondered what I was going to do, and who I was going to be able to photograph.  I was surprised to hear “Brah, you like talk” from behind me.  Dino led me back to his tent site.  He was testing me, he said later, because a lot of television news were so insensitive about the situation, just wanting to get their shots and quotes.  Palisbo went back for me because I respected his space and walked away when he said no.  That was a valuable lesson I learned from him that day.  There’s no going in motordrive ablazing.

I always take that lesson with me whenever I’m in a situation such as this past Monday.

As I made my way into Guardrails, the bulldozer had already begun making its rounds–the inevitable for many residents.  The smell of diesel fuel mixed with sea air was all too familiar and synonymous with the constant battle between the residents of the beach and the authorities.

Residents gesture at a bulldozer at Guardrails Beach on Monday, July 19, 2010 in Maili. State and City officials issued a warning to residents of Guardrails that they had to be out of the area by noon Monday, leaving the numerous residents with few options on where to go yet again. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

A bulldozer symbolizes the eviction of residents at Guardrails Beach on Monday, July 19, 2010 in Maili. State and City officials issued a warning to residents of Guardrails that they had to be out of the area by noon Monday, leaving the numerous residents with few options on where to go yet again. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

I ran into some residents who I talked to for a while and did not want to be photographed nor identified.  I asked if I could use their tent–their home–in a photograph that I thought was a telling image of the situation.  I waited for the bulldozer to pass by and framed it with the tent in the foreground.  I shook hands in appreciation with the woman who allowed me to photograph her tent and set off down the beach.  Coming around a corner of dilapidated drywall and makeshift chainlink fence, I see a longhaired man, from behind, lifting his belongings. I approach him and was about to speak when he turned around and looked at me.

It was Dino.

I stopped dead in my tracks and let out an audible gasp.

“Dino,” I quipped.

“Yeah?” he asked.

“You remember me?” I asked.  I removed my sunglasses.  We made eye contact.

Almost four years.  1,425 days to be exact.

Dino dropped what was in his hands.  A smile had formed on his face, and almost instantaneously, I was embracing the man who taught me such a valuable lesson as a photojournalist years ago.

“Brah, HOW YOU!?” he asked, still smiling despite the gravity of the situation–he was getting evicted too.  I told him that I wish we’d seen each other under different circumstances, and he laughed.  He took me around his home, which was already almost completely packed up and ready to move because of the eviction.

Dino Palisbo packs up his belongings.

Palisbo helps a neighbor with her things.

Palisbo is photographed seen through the links on his front "porch" fence.

Palisbo said in 2006 and again this past Monday that as long as he had his throw net, spear, fishing poles, and bike, he'd get through anything. Here, he takes his poles and bike.

Dino’s cousin, Bob, lived next door.  He was breaking down his belongings as well.

Guardrails resident Bob (no last name given) breaks down his tent at Guardrails Beach on Monday, July 19, 2010 in Maili. State and City officials issued a warning to residents of Guardrails that they had to be out of the area by noon Monday, leaving the numerous residents with few options on where to go yet again. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

After a few more frames, I put my cameras down and helped the two men load their belongings into their trucks. When we were done, the bulldozer was no where to be found.  City and State workers were also no where to be found.  The police had gone.  But in protest, a man burned his tent.

****NOTE: Resident mentioned in caption is NOT the one in this photograph**** A resident of Guardrails Beach who didn't want to be identified or approached burned his tent in protest on Monday, July 19, 2010 in Maili. State and City officials issued a warning to residents of Guardrails that they had to be out of the area by noon Monday, leaving the numerous residents with few options on where to go yet again. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

I stayed with Dino, Bob, and an anthropologist named David from Taiwan who’d come to know everyone in this Guardrails community, for another hour and a half, just chatting, helping with little things.  But it had come time to part ways, as the threat of rain was in the air.  I gave Dino my contact info, telling him thank you for allowing me to tell his story with my camera.  He laughed and said when he was back on his feet again, he’d teach me to “holoholo” for tako, something I’d love to photograph him doing someday.  With a warm handshake and a smile, he packed himself in the back of his friend’s truck and was off.  I also wished Bob a farewell.  I walked towards my car, happy to see this man, but heavyhearted for the ordeal he must go through yet again.  To know where you’ll sleep tonight–a roof over your head, warm clean covers, a bathroom–that’s an aspect that so many of us take for granted.  Yet as I chimped through my frames when I got into my car, I found a frame that really tells the story of Dino:

Dino Palisbo smiles amidst City workers and a bulldozer evicting him and fellow residents.

I’ll leave you with a few frames from 2006, my first meeting with Dino.

August 27, 2006--Maili Beach residents Dino Palisbo, left, and Cory Chevalier spent Sunday brainstorming their next move. "Today we're legal, tommorrow, we're illegal," Chevalier said. Palisbo, who was born and raised in Waianae, remarked that "we aren't homeless, we're HOUSEless." Residents of Maili Beach Park as well as other beach parks along the Leeward coast of Oahu are alarmed and in a state of panic, leaving some with no where to relocate to. Honolulu Star-Bulletin photo by Jamm Aquino.

August 27, 2006--Maili Beach residents Dino Palisbo, left, and Christie Kealoha play with puppies Bula, right, and Kolohe. "We're not homeless, we're HOUSEless," says boyfriend Dino Palisbo, left. Residents of Maili Beach Park as well as other beach parks along the Leeward coast of Oahu are alarmed and in a state of panic, leaving some with no where to relocate to. Honolulu Star-Bulletin photo by Jamm Aquino.

August 27, 2006-- Maili Beach residents Dino Palisbo, left, and Christie Kealoha play with puppies Bula, right, and Kolohe.

Posted in ethics, news | 1 Comment »

Close

July 5th, 2010
By



A large brushfire threatens homes on Kamehame Ridge on Sunday, July 4, 2010 in Hawaii Kai. The fire was probably due to fireworks. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

What an end to a Fourth of July.  Well for me, it wasn’t a holiday, but nonetheless, quite pulse-quickening.  After photographing the fireworks at Maunalua Bay, I was off-duty to spend a late dinner with family up on Kamehame Ridge.  As I was helping with dishes, I couldn’t help but notice the smell…not of dishwashing liquid, not of the coffee on the brew, but…..FIRE!  I peeked outside the window and literally gasped out loud.  An ethereal orange glow was RIGHT THERE!  And I know that orange glow all too well, being a photojournalist for the newspaper.  Instinct immediately kicked in as I raced outside to my car to grab my cameras.  After a short hike, I was able to get the shot you see above as well as the following:

Sure enough, within a minute and a half of making these frames, sirens came wailing up the hill, and the cavalry had arrived.   Police were telling all residents to evacuate the area.  It was quite daunting for me, because while I made these images, I was also worried about my family and their home.  I immediately called our news desk to inform them that I had these images, but evidently the print deadline was far gone.  Still, I moved four images which made the Staradvertiser.com site shortly after midnight.

The next day, my first item on the agenda was to follow up the incident.  I had spoken with my family and they had just gotten home shortly before 8am and said that there were still smoldering hotspots along the top of the ridge.

When I arrived, a number of curious onlookers had arrived to survey the scene.  Honolulu Fire Department’s Air 2 helicopter was in the heat (no pun intended) of the action, flying sorties to and from the ocean to douse these hotspots.  I hiked to a point on the ridge to capture a rare perspective of a helicopter–from above.

Honolulu Fire Department's Air 2 works to extinguish hotspots from a fire on Kamehame Ridge on Monday, July 5, 2010 in Hawaii Kai. The fire started late Sunday night and was believed to have been fireworks-related, according to Capt. Terry Seelig of HFD. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

From my vantage point, I was also able to see a few firefighters working the hoses as well.

Firefighters work to extinguish hotspots from a fire on Kamehame Ridge on Monday, July 5, 2010 in Hawaii Kai. The fire started late Sunday night and was believed to have been fireworks-related, according to Capt. Terry Seelig of HFD. (Jamm Aquino/Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

The ground was hot and charred, and my first thoughts were that I was glad no one’s lives or property were lost in this gargantuan blaze.  Honolulu firefighters really worked hard to make that happen, so please, the next time you see a firefighter, thank them for what they do and who they are.  I leave you with this rather painterly image of Air 2 as a passing shower acted like a show curtain behind it.

Posted in news | 3 Comments »