Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Repair Sense

Last Saturday evening, there was a heavy downpour in our area and the temperature outside was freezing. I turned on our heater and started preparing dinner when my cell phone rang. When I picked it up, my wife was on the other end of the line and she sounded a little shaken. She told me that she was driving on a busy street in the city of Rowland Heights when she came to an intersection whose traffic light just turned red. She stepped on her brakes but nothing happened! She lost her brakes! She frantically kept on pressing the brakes but her van just kept on going! She went through the red light but fortunately, (by the power of God) she did not collide with the other vehicles. What gave me the fright was my young daughter was with my wife during that time. I was thankful to our Lord for being there at that intersection on that rainy evening.

I immediately drove to where my wife and daughter were at. Along the way, I passed a vehicular accident that looked really bad because the highway patrol blocked one side of the freeway. When I got to where my wife was at, I told her to use my car and bring our kids home. I got on her van and when I stepped on the brake pedal, the pedal went all the way down to the floor. One thing I learned about brakes is whenever a car loses the function of its foot brake, the other option to stop the vehicle is to use its hand brake. I slowly drove our van home that rainy evening using its hand brake to stop the vehicle.

When I got home, my wife urgently told me that we need to buy a new car because her van is (in her own words) “falling apart”. I told her, “Dear, don't you think that is kind of ludicrous? How could it be falling apart when the only problem is its brakes?! We cannot afford to replace your car every time something malfunctions in it. Besides, it would be insane to buy a new car during this crumbling economy!" I assured her that I will try to find out what went wrong with her van.

The following day, my son and I checked the brake system of our van and discovered that one of the brake lines (an aluminum tube where the brake fluid travels through to get to the brake) has sprung a leak. My son took off the brake line and replaced it with a generic brand that only costs $7. Toyota parts cost a lot more than generic brands. Since our family’s budget is kind of tight right now, we opted to use a generic brand. After installing the new tube, the brake system started working again.

When you have an old car, here are a couple of things that you might find helpful:
  1. Don’t give up on your vehicle even though it breaks down on you often.

  2. If you think that car dealership is the best place to bring your car for repairs, you might want to think twice on that. They will fix your car and your checkbook. They like replacing parts instead of repairing them. They charge outrageous per hour labor rates to repair your car and their parts are priced many times more than generic ones.

  3. Save yourself unnecessary expenditure by using this simple mechanical common sense: If it ain’t broke, why fix it?! Don’t let mechanics talk you into doing those so called maintenance repairs on your vehicle if your car is running fine.

  4. Do not be intimidated by the seemingly complex design of your car. Most of the time the parts that are hard to fix are often the ones that does not break down easily.

  5. Buy auto repair manuals and attempt to do the repairs yourself. These manuals have easy to understand trouble shooting sections. Next time your car malfunctions, try going through the troubleshooting steps in the manual. You will be surprised to discover that you are capable of fixing your car problem yourself.

  6. If you are about to give up, step away from your car and give yourself time to relax. When your feeling of frustration has left you, go back to your car and continue where you left off. Remember, it takes patience to repair a machine.

  7. Lastly, getting your hands all dirty with grease and oil is a natural part of working with engines. Your fancy nail polish will get ruined! Use latex gloves! (seriously)

    Eighteen years ago, I was an apprentice at my friend’s auto repair shop located then at the city of West Covina, California. The name of his shop is: “Bicol Auto Repair”. He told me something that inspired me to never give up when repairing my vehicle. He said, “If it is man-made, it can be fixed!”

    Though vehicles are machines, they need care and maintenance—like people. You define its value by the quality of care you give it.

    If you have a vehicle that was made back in the 1960’s or earlier, try your best to restore it back to its old glory. Do not say, “Ipatansan mo na yan!!”. If you restore it, you will not only bring back memories from the past. You will also have the sense of satisfaction that you brought a tangible item back to life from a bygone era.

    Sorting through tools and time….

    Joseph Ivan.

Monday, December 07, 2009

The ignored warnings that will live in infamy

Is today (December 7th) another ordinary date in your calendar? Another mundane Monday where you drove to work listening to the music in your car radio hoping the drive and the day would pass through uneventful?

Back in December 7, 1941, a young lieutenant named Lt. Kermit Tyler was driving to work at around 3am expecting to have another uneventful day. Lt. Tyler was then assigned as a pursuit officer at the information center in Fort Shafter, Honolulu, Hawaii. While driving, he turned on his radio and leisurely listened to Hawaiian music that had been playing the whole night at the radio station. A friend from a U.S. bomber command told Lt. Tyler that whenever Hawaiian music is played continuously during the night, it is almost certain that a flight of bombers coming from the U.S. mainland are heading to Hawaii. The radio signals from radio station KGMB Honolulu acted as a homing device for military aircraft flying to Hawaii. These aircraft have Radio Directional Finders (RDF) equipment which is used to find the direction of the source of radio signals.

At Opana Radar station located at Kamehameha highway in the island of Oahu, Pvt. Joseph Lockard and Pvt. George E. Elliot Jr. woke up at 3:45am. Part of their guard duty is to operate their SCR-270-B radar from 4am until 7am. After 7am, an army truck was scheduled to bring in their replacements and take them to Kawailoa for breakfast.

The radars were operated between 4AM to 7Am because General Short (commander responsible for the defense of military installations in Hawaii) believed that if the Japanese would attack U.S. forces in Hawaii, the attack would take place between those hours.

At 6am, the Japanese strike force headed by vice admiral Chuichi Nagumo was about 230 miles from Pearl Harbor. Carriers Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku and Zuikaku pointed their noses to the winds and launched the first wave of planes. A second strike group took off from the Japanese carriers at 7:45am when the first strike group had reached a position of about 30 miles from their target.

At 7am, Pvt. Lockard started to power down the radar equipment at Opana station but Pvt. Elliot told Pvt Lockard that their platoon sergeant have given them permission to keep the system operating so that he (Pvt. Elliot) can learn how to operate the oscilloscope of the radar. Pvt. Lockard was an experienced radar operator while Pvt. Lockard had only three months experience under his belt. (Some historical records say Pvt. Lockard had only three weeks of radar experience).

At 7:02am, while Elliot was sitting at the radar controls, he saw a large blip in the oscilloscope. He asked Lockard, “What’s this?” Lockard thought that the unit had either malfunctioned or was giving out false reading. Lockard quickly tested the unit and determined that everything seemed to be functioning perfectly. Both of them calculated that the blip was a large group of aircraft approaching 3 degrees east approximately 137 miles out to sea. Elliot suggested that they notify Information Center. “Don’t be crazy”, Lockard said. “Our problem ended at 7 o’clock." However, Elliot was insistent and so Lockard told him, “Well, go ahead and send it if you like”.

Elliot called the information center at Fort Shafter and a switchboard operator named Pvt. Joseph McDonald answered the phone. McDonald told Elliot that the plotters at the information center had already left for breakfast. Elliot told McDonald, “There is a large number of planes coming in from the north 3 points east”. McDonald replied, “I am not sure what to do. There is nobody here.” At that point the connection was broken.

McDonald saw Lt. Kermit Tyler sitting at the plotting table. He walked to him and said, “I just received a call from 6QN Opana reporting a large number of planes coming in from the north 3 points east.” The Lieutenant said that there was nothing to get excited about. McDonald returned to the switchboard and called back Opana radar unit and spoke to Lockard. McDonald relayed the Lieutenant's lack of concern. Lockard was excited and stated, “Hey Mac, there is a heck of a big flight of planes coming in and the whole scope is covered” McDonald told Joseph Lockard to hold on and again returned to the plotting table to talk to Lt. Tyler. McDonald said, “Sir, this is the first call that I have ever received like this. This sounds serious! Do you think that we ought to do something about it? Shall I call back the plotters?” The Lieutenant said that it was probably a flight of B-17 bombers from the states. Pvt. Lockard asked to talk directly with the Lieutenant. The Lieutenant took the phone and after Pvt. Lockard told the officer what he saw, Lt. Tyler spoke the sentence that will forever haunt the young officer and dismayed the military. Lt. Tyler told Pvt. Lockard:

“Don’t worry about it.”

After the Lieutenant got off the phone, Joseph McDonald asked if he should recall the plotters and call Wheeler Field. The Lieutenant replied, "Don't worry about it".

McDonald felt for sure that the call was serious and he thought of calling Wheeler airfield where numerous U.S. fighter planes were at. But McDonald feared of being court marshaled if he goes around his lieutenant. “Besides, who would listen to a private”, McDonald thought to himself.

Back in the Opana radar station, Elliot continued to track the large formation of aircraft until they were approximately 22 miles from the Oahu coastline. At 7:39am, the large formation disappeared from the radar scope because they have entered the mountains of Oahu. Five minutes later, a truck showed up to picked up Lockard and Elliot to take them to Kawailoa.

About half way to Kawailoa, Elliot and Lockard was surprised to see a truckload of soldiers wearing world war one doughboy helmets and hurriedly heading towards Opana. When they arrived at Kawailoa, they learned about the attack at Pearl Harbor. Both of them looked at each other and knew that the flight they tracked was the Japanese attack force.

They were ordered to collect their gear and head back to Opama. When they got back to Opama, they were informed about a rumor that Japanese paratroopers were dropped in Oahu wearing blue denim fatigues—which was exactly what Lockard and Elliot were wearing. There was an order to shoot on sight anyone wearing blue denims! They immediately stripped down to their shorts and t-shirts and stayed that way until they were given a fresh supply of tan-colored standard issue military uniforms.

At 7:49am, attack commander Mitsuo Fuchida looked down on Pearl Harbor and saw that there were no aircraft carriers but also saw that there were no U.S. aircraft flying to intercept them. He ordered his telegraph operator to tap, “to to to” (Attack). Then tap: “to ra, to ra, to ra”, (which meant that surprise was achieved).

(Tora is Japanese for “tiger”. The word “to” is the initial syllable of the Japanese word totsugeki, meaning “Charge” or “Attack”. The word “ra” is initial syllable of raigeki, meaning “torpedo attack”).

At 10am, the second wave of Japanese fighters headed back to their carriers. Japanese pilots urged a third strike hoping to destroy the fuel tanks that supplies the ships and airplanes. Japanese commanders viewed the attack as successful and ruled out a third strike. The commanders were concerned of a possible retaliation by the U.S. aircraft carriers whose location was unknown then to the Japanese. By 1pm, the Japanese strike force turned and headed for mainland Japan.

The following day, United States declared war against Japan.

After the U.S. navy court concluded its investigation in August 1942, Lt. Kermit Tyler was cleared of any wrong doing and no disciplinary action was taken against him. It was determined that Lt. Tyler was assigned at the information center with little or no training, no supervision and no staff to work with. It is believed that Lt. Tyler did not tell Pvt. Lockard over the phone that the U.S. aircraft was using the signal from the Honolulu radio station as a homing device due to security concerns. There was an active Japanese spy network in Hawaii during that time. Tyler retired with a rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1961.

Pvt. Joseph McDonald passed away in 1994. He was given posthumously a medal of Commendation on August 19, 2005. It was presented to the McDonald family in East Hartford, Connecticut.

Pvt. Joseph Lockard was later appointed to officer candidate school and earned the Distinguish Service Medal. He is now 87 living in Lower Paxton township in Pennsylvania.

Pvt. George Elliot Jr. served in the U.S. army until 1945. He worked for New Jersey Bell Telephone company for 33 years before retiring. He died on December 2003 in Port Charlotte, Florida at age 85.

Capt. Mitsuo Fuchida became a Christian and an evangelist preacher. He toured the United States as a member of the Worldwide Christian Mission Army of Sky Pilots. In 1960, he became a U.S. citizen. Fuchida spent the rest of his life telling people what God has done to him. He died on May 30, 1976.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Fishing Lessons

I took the week off last week to spend more time doing repairs around our house and also take my children to the local nature parks and beaches. My children have now reached an age where I can no longer treat them as little children but instead as budding young adults. Because of this, I have to also introduce them to new hobbies that I hope they will become attached to as they reach adulthood.

One early morning last week, I packed up our new fishing gear and headed to Huntington Beach which is about 25 miles south of our house. My daughter protested to me saying that she dislike going to the beach this time of the year because of the cold winter winds. I assured her that the trip will be worth her time. My son was more enthusiastic because he seemed to like being at the beach regardless of the season.

On our way to the beach, I dropped by a sporting goods store to check the artificial baits that they were selling. I did not expect my kids to catch anything and so I decided to purchase baits with the lowest price tag.

When we got to the pier, my kids casted their lines and for an hour did not catch anything. Both of them showed signs of being discouraged because there were people there that were catching fishes with ease. We met a 14 year old kid at the pier who seemed to be an avid fisherman. After my son showed this other kid the bait he was using, the 14-year kid pulled a better looking bait from his bag and told me that he bought that bait at a swap meet (flea market) and recommended that we use it. I gave money to the kid and after my son casted his line using the new bait, his line immediately hooked a fish. For the next two hours, my son was on a roll pulling fish after fish from the ocean. Unfortunately, we did not have any bucket or cooler to store the fishes and so we just gave away the big fishes that we caught and threw the small ones back to the ocean.

We decided to return to the same beach two days later because I wanted to give my daughter a chance to catch her first fish in her life. We went to a fishing supply store the day before and bought baits and also other fishing equipment that we need to make our fishing trip more successful.

When we got to the pier, the sky above us was clear, the sun was hot, winds were kind of chilly and the ocean a little choppy. I felt that catching a fish then would be a challenge. Thirty minutes after we tossed our lines, I saw my daughter reeling up a fish. The fish was big enough to fit a meal. Our excitement was short lived though because the fish was able to break free from the hook and escape. Though the first fish got away, the second one did not. So was the third one and the forth. My son also caught two fishes that day.

My children walked away from the pier that day with smiles on their faces and also a sense of confidence that they were able to perform one of man’s basic survival skill—fishing. It also taught me a couple of things.

1. If you want to be successful in fishing, use the right equipment. They might sometimes be a burden to the pocket but the experience that you get from the trip is priceless.

2. Fishing teaches people the virtue and reward of patience.

3. Fishing is more than just tossing a fish line to the water. It helps to know the behavior of the aquatic creature that you wish to catch so that you can be at the right place at the right time.

4. Fishing is not about catching fishes. It is about catching time with my little ones while I still can.

Did I catch anything? Not even a bite! I was humbled by my own children. What really matters is that they gained valuable knowledge from the trip because this is the beginning of the time when my children will rise above me and sprout their wings of independence. As they do that, I will begin to rescind into their background. My parental role will eventually take a turn where I will have to wait patiently for a chance for my children to ask me for advice and assistances.

Gone fishing for time….

Joseph Ivan

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

From High School to High Seas

In this very short article, I would like to feature our fellow batch mate, Marlon Villarente Guaves.

I would like to first apologize to Mr. Marlon G. because I am unable to fish out in my memory specific high school memoirs about him. Naggugurang na talaga ako! The only thing I could remember about Marlon is that he is a simple guy who mixed well with his classmates and friends.

It appears that Marlon is a skipper in a brand new Liquified Petroleum transport vessel named Leonora Kosan.

We are all proud of you, Marlon.

Sail on, skipper!