Surfers Prevent Two Drownings

Dear Pamela,

Seven months ago, my daughter Monique, her five children and I moved to beautiful Molokai. While swimming at one of the beaches, two of my grandsons almost drowned. If it had not been for Rob Espaniola saving Laikona, and RJ Robello Jr. saving Lokahi, I would have lost them. Having already lost two of my daughters and granddaughter in a car accident, and my husband, Joseph, to natural causes, I could not experience such heartache again.

Rob and RJ are two gentlemen who are fine, upstanding members of the Maunaloa community. They provide food for those in need and protect the community. Both have saved countless others from drowning. Thank you, Rob and RJ, for being guardian angels and saviors of my grandchildren. I thank the Lord for having these two humble men touch our lives.

Elizabeth O. Nuuanu


Dear Elizabeth,

RJ Robello says it was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. “Ron and I were surfing together. One of the boys paddled out and the current took him too far. Rob went out to get him. The other brother started out, so I jumped in and brought him to shore. They were scared, but OK.”

Aloha Pamela,

I was meeting with our community leadership group on a Saturday over the winter break at Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe. My wallet fell out of my pocket somewhere near the pavilion where we were meeting, and I hadn’t realized it was missing until Sunday morning. I was panicked, and searched high and low throughout the house, car, garage — basically tearing the place apart. While searching through the car for the third time, a wonderful couple in a large, black pickup truck stopped in front of my house and called me over. They had found the wallet while taking some family photographs at Ho‘omaluhia and had driven it to my home. In my excitement, I didn’t get the couple’s names or details, but wanted to thank them through your column. This wonderful couple saved me the headache and time I would have had to spend canceling credit cards and reordering a driver’s license. Gotta love the spirit of aloha.


Jeremy McOuat


Dear Jeremy,

“I am so very happy to hear that your wallet was returned to you,” says Michele Nekota, director of Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation. “Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden is an incredible place, and the department is very fortunate to be custodians of it. The natural beauty there is simply stunning, but the gardens are made even more beautiful by the wonderful guests who visit it. There is something special about sharing a beautiful place with friends, family and even perfect strangers. It is refreshing and encouraging to hear that a couple of your fellow garden visitors showed wonderful aloha and kokua in returning your wallet to you. Thank you for sharing your thanks with them, and I would like to add mine: Mahalo nui loa!”

(Nekota also responded to this senior’s inquiry below.)

Dear Pamela,

I live in Pearl City, and not being very successful in meeting senior citizens I go walking in my vicinity, but still there is no one around. I’d really appreciate any help to get this old senior acclimated in this new neighborhood

Becky Ani

Pearl City

Nakota writes: “Aloha Becky, I am so glad that you reached out to find other senior citizens in your community. The Department of Parks and Recreation hosts more than 35 senior clubs across Oahu. The clubs hold weekly activities, and our department coordinates several islandwide events every year. We encourage our kupuna to stay active and healthy and, most importantly, to have fun! The Pearl City Seniors meet at Manana Community Park, 1310 Waimano Home Road, Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. Please call Pearl City District Park for more information at 453-7550. I invite all of our kupuna aged 55 and up to join a senior club. For more information, please visit us online at and click on the Senior Citizens link, or call 973-7258.

If you know someone who deserves some Applause, send your letters to Pamela Young, MidWeek Applause, KITV, 801 S. King St., Honolulu, HI 96813. Include your name, phone number and, if possible, the phone number of your “applaudee” so we can contact him or her.