Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tiger Beach

Tiger Beach

Tiger Beach

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 09:51 PM PDT

In 2007 I met this diver during a dive trip to the Maldive Islands, who told me about his experience diving with Tiger Sharks in the Bahamas. At first I was a little shocked. They are supposed to be one of the most aggressive and dangerous sharks. I tried to imagine myself surrounded by these giants and I got so nervous just from that thought..

On October 21st 2010 I found myself on a flight to West Palm Beach, FL. to join a boat trip to Tiger Beach. At that time there were only a couple of boat operators offering this trip.

I was nervous. Very nervous. On the first dive I stayed closer to the other divers to reduce the chances of me being attacked first.. At some point I was even hoping that we won't see any. I was ok with the dozens of Lemon Sharks swimming around us but the Tigers..???

And then Emma showed up. A 12 foot female with a broken jaw, an injury that had already begun to heal after a "fishing accident". She was just swimming peacefully around us, not showing any signs of aggression. If anything, she was even a little shy. I had to hide my camera and to look away to let her come closer and only then I turned quickly and took the shots.

The dive itself is very comfortable at Tiger Beach. At 5-6 meters only, good visibility and no currents divers can simply focus on the experience and not worry about depth and buoyancy.

During this 5-days diving trip some other large Tiger Sharks came for a visit and I became more and more comfortable with their presence.

Tiger Sharks are relatively shy creatures but still, these large predators are wild animals so divers must be aware and alert at all times. This is not for inexperienced divers.

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The last surviving Navajo Code Talker. Chester Nez

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 08:25 PM PDT

I met Chester Nez in Carrolton, Texas. October of 2012.  I thanked him for his service in the military. Then I asked him to sign his book. Titled, Code Talker. Which he did. Pics are as followed

1. The last surviving Navajo Code Talker. Chester Nez & co-author Judith Avila pose for photos, Oct 2012.


2. The last surviving Navajo Code Talker. Chester Nez signs his book, Code Talker for me


3. Code Talker signed by Chester & co-author-Judith Schiess Avila


4. Front cover of Chester book, Code Talker

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Military plane crash

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 06:21 PM PDT

A military plane has crashed into homes on Fonzie Avenue in Imperial California

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Military jet crashes into home

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 06:12 PM PDT

A military jet crashed into homes on

Fonzie Avenue in Imperial California

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Snorkeling in the Bahamas

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 03:02 PM PDT

Snorkeling for the first time in the Bahamas on a cruise brought a great appreciation for the ocean's beautiful creatures.  The water was so warm, clean and clear - it felt like something out of a dream.  Being able to show my daughter jellyfish, tropical fish, and stingrays swimming in their natural environment was a memory we'll never forget!

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Severe storm floods Montreal streets

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 02:05 PM PDT

A severe lightning and rain storm drenched the West Island area of the City of Montreal, in Quebec, Canada on Tuesday afternoon, June 3, 2014 with more than an inch of water, inundating storm drains, turning streets and roads into rivers and small lakes.
The tempest disrupted the evening commute, resulting in power outagesto  some 3,000 people, primarily caused by fallen trees. There were no reported casualties, but many wet people, including this iReporter.

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Wildest Creature of them all......

Posted: 04 Jun 2014 01:32 PM PDT

One of the wildest underwater creatures of them all, 7 year old Ryan Jockimo, exerts his control over all things under water............. Copyrighted by Robert Ondrovic Photography

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Posted: 04 Jun 2014 10:58 AM PDT

SPEEDWELL, Va. – A group of spelunkers entered a cave just south of the community of Speedwell, Virginia, Tuesday morning. The cavers were part of a summer camp from North Carolina, taking part in a training exercise inside the popular cave.

Sometime that afternoon, a nineteen year old female found herself wedged in a narrow crevice inside the cave. Members of the group initially attempted to pull her free, but were unsuccessful in their efforts.

At 3:32 p.m. the Wythe County E-911 Center received a call from members of the group, requesting emergency assistance in rescuing one of the cavers pinned between the crevices of two rocks.

Members of the Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department and Wythe County Rescue were first on the scene, followed by Wythe County Emergency Management and Rural Retreat Emergency Services & Volunteer Fire Department.

Serving as commander inside the cave, Wythe County Rescue's Mike Davis led a group to the trapped caver shortly upon arriving at the scene.

"It was very tight and damp inside. The patient was really calm and cooperative throughout the duration of the rescue; anything we asked her to do, she did it without any complaint," said Davis.

According to Davis, the operation – which involved at least ten different agencies – was one of the better coordinated operations in which he had ever been a participant.

Ikey Davidson, Director of Wythe County Emergency Management and incident commander, agreed, echoing Davis' sentiments.

"We had so many departments and agencies cooperating together. It was great to see all the people working toward the common goal of freeing this woman. We're just glad that it ended well."

Later that evening, members from Black Diamond Search & Rescue, a Virginia Department of Emergency Management rescue team arrived on the scene.

Members from Black Diamond Search & Rescue, along with local first responders, were finally successful in freeing the trapped woman around 7:30 p.m.

Though the nineteen year old female showed no signs of critical injuries, she was airlifted to Bristol as a precaution.

The underground network of caves south of the Cripple Creek stream has multiple entrances. Over the past several years, local emergency responders have been called to the cave on several occasions to rescue trapped or lost spelunkers.

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Stunning Amsterdam

Posted: 03 Jun 2014 02:01 PM PDT

My favorite city is Amsterdam. I've been there about 6 or 7 times over the last several years for work, and it is always a magical experience. The first thing I do when I arrive is to just go for a walk, and the nice thing about the city is that I don't need to have a destination in mind--I just GO, and see where my feet take me. I've spent time in the fall, winter, spring, and summer in this city, and I can always enjoy a nice walk, no matter what time of year. The second thing I do is find a good place to sit, eat, and people-watch. Whether it's Tony's New York bagels on Rembrandtplein, or Bella Riva pizza joint on Kadijksplein...whether it's a hot chocolate, or a glass of Amstel...I love sitting and taking it all in. The third thing I love to do is take pictures. This is not hard to do in Amsterdam, as every corner you turn provides you with plenty of opportunities for taking some of the most beautiful pictures.

Other highlights about this city that I would highly recommend include: visiting the Anne Frank house, going to have doner kabab at the Turkish neighborhood market, taking a boat ride in the canals, and sitting at a streetside cafe, enjoying a drink, with no electronic devices in your hand (unless you're taking pictures).

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Posted: 02 Jun 2014 09:23 PM PDT

My father was a WWII Veteran under the Philippine Commonwealth Army. He was only 17 years old when he received a letter from the Chief of Police in his town ordering him to report for duty at a military unit in the town of Carmen, Bohol.


The letter dated November 30, 1941, proved my father's heroic participation of the second world war at such a very young age. He always looked back with fondness how he and his Comrades fought during the war.


In one of his stories, he recalled about a funny incident when he and his Comrades were walking a trail under some coconut grooves. They heard a big bang they thought was a bomb. Their Gunner, leaped into a deep meadow below them. It turned out, it was just a bunch of coconuts falling from the tree. They thought, they were bombed by the Japanese.


He said, he became a young Corporal assigned as a military escort to a high ranking officer in their unit. He was offered the rank of a Lieutenant but he refused because he will be transferred to Manila if he will take the promotion. My mother was pregnant of their first child and my father does not want to leave her.


My father married my mother during the war. My father would smile remembering how they borrowed the clothes they wore during their wedding. The ceremony took place in the middle of the night under the cover of darkness in a small chapel in our barrio. When it was over, he reported back to his unit and continued defending his country.


My father was also a member of the USAFFE (United States Armed Forces of the Far East). When Philippines fall to the Japanese, my father and his other Comrades went underground and became Guerrillas in their hometown. He never served under the Japanese government during the war.


Their underground Guerrilla movement was organized by the young charismatic politician from our town, who later became the fourth president of the Republic of the Philippines- the late Philippine President Carlos P. Garcia, who was my mother's cousin by Consanguinity. My father would bragged about their heroism and their fearless stand against the Japanese occupation. He laughed remembering their code which is "LING-LING". They choose this code because Japanese cannot pronounced the letter "L" which will let them recognized an imminent threat. For example, if they will challenged someone approaching them and it's a Japanese, it will say, "RING-RING."


There was one story during his life as a Guerilla that made him reflect what really went wrong at that moment when they were ordered to execute a fellow Comrade because they found out that he became a Japanese Informer. The execution by firing squad will be done at dawn on that particular day. So before dawn, all of them who were assigned the task gathered secretly and agreed among themselves not to really shoot him but when the time came, somebody really took the shot. Until my father's death, he really didn't know who among them betrayed their secret agreement.


When the war was over, my father was honorably discharged from duty. He kept all his war records and documents with him. He went back to school and became a head- teacher in a school co- founded by his elder brother for 25 years. When he retired from teaching, he became our town's Councilor.


During his term as a Councilor, he authored a lot of municipal by- laws benefiting  the people of our town. One of them specifically, was the creation of an organization for Senior Citizens of our town of Talibon. He also acquired a spot in our town's plaza and built a Marker to honor our town's war Veterans. He also successfully lobbied for a private cemetery for war Veterans.


When he finished his term as Councilor, he devoted his time to war Veterans by becoming a District Commander of the Philippine Veterans in the province of Bohol for ten consecutive years undefeated in all elections. He didn't finished his last term because he suffered a stroke. My younger brother who was his driver narrated to me how he and my father drove to our province' capital  for 2 long hours to procure ammunitions to be used for 21 gun salute for every Veteran that passed away. He wanted to honor each and everyone of them during their funerals.


When I learned that my father's health was fast deteriorating, I travelled from Canada to be on his side. It was in this moment that he whispered in my ears and entrusted to me all his war documents/mementos which I treasured to keep his legacy alive.


This letter which proved his bravery and courage during the war is one of the many mementos he left behind. He died at age 88 in 2011.

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