Remembering Mana

November 02 2015 0

 

 

Without Mana, I am sure that most of us could honestly say that we would not be in the same place that we are today. It is because of the caring spirit of a complete stranger that we have all that we do. Mana introduced everyone that we all now consider family and we are all heart broken over this tragedy but so thankful to have had such an amazing soul in our lives. Even though it was for far too short a time. 

Mana was a special kind of man. He was full of aloha and had a love for life unlike any other. But what made him truly special was his encouraging spirit. He lived for stoke. Be it in the line-up, the shore break, or on a peaceful morning swim: he always had the biggest smile on his face and wanted to share it with the world. Most people live their lives at a fast pace, where they rush through every minute trying to cram as many things into their day as they could. But that wasn’t Mana; he lived for the moment. The rush of a big wave crashing overtop your head, the tranquility of sun rays spilling over the horizon, the intense sense of satisfaction when you get the shot you had pictured in your mind for so long... But what made Mana the great man that we will always cherish and remember, was that more than anything, he wanted to share his love of life with others. He touched so many lives beyond the oceanic community through his photography, more than even he knew…. What an amazing legacy to leave behind.  

One commonality stands out in every memory. True aloha. Mana didn’t have a bad bone in his body. He didn’t need to become any of our friends and show us an island we never knew existed, even though we lived here our whole lives. He didn’t care what color you were or where you were from. He didn’t judge the car you drove or the camera in your hand; he looked at the person within and found a reason to love everyone. That is what made him the man he is remembered for. His aloha. 

We asked his friends to share how they met Mana and some of their favorite memories and here is what everyone had to say

 

 Henry Greenspan: (https://instagram.com/fishkillah808/) 

I met Mana, while working at koolina ocean adventures. We were both working for a photography company, shooting photos of wildlife on the tours. This is where we hit it off, we both took off shooting our own wildlife. We would share all the cool finds with each other.  

He saw some kind of potential in me. I mean obviously, he was hanging out with me. I think I was only 17 years old at the time. We began adventuring the west side. He would drive to my little apartment in Waikiki all the way from makakilo just to hang out with me.  I knew that we would be friends forever.  

If I could say one thing about him, it would be that he was an inspiration. He really knew how to live. He was always smiling, always down to adventure. Never gave in to drama. He would always say "ain't got time for that mayne. His spirit was so great it was infectious.  

One memorable adventure with him was "4 finger Freddy the tako 

We went for a dive in front of koolina, we were out there for hours. Not really seeing much. I was looking for "tako" or octopus. I couldn't find one if my life depended on it! After about 2 hours of searching I practically gave up. Then out of no where, I spotted one! I snatched it off the reef, and to my surprise it only had 4 legs! But for a tako with only 4 legs it had a huge personality! It practically posed for us, like it was a model. Mana n I shared a few laughs & after a few photos we set the tako free.  

Mana was my best friend, he always believed in me. He always saw the vision, he was my mentor. I can never thank him enough for being a good friend to me. I am just thankful I was fortunate enough to call him my friend. I love you Mana. Boys for life! #FeeltheMANA 

 

Sabrina Farley: (https://instagram.com/sabwahreenacat/) 

Mana. What a great friend you were. I think the first time I met Mana was at Henry’s house. We were introduced, but he was pretty shy and didn’t say much haha. That would change later on. His shyness never bothered me or made me feel uncomfortable even in the beginning. His whole demeanor was just so calm and comforting to be around. With the many ritualistic adventures Henry, Mana, and I went on, we got closer and soon I saw what a cool guy Mana was. We all knew how talented he was with the camera, but he was that and so much more. He was quick witted, he was extremely neat and organized, and oh man did he love his gangster rap haha.  I can still hear him saying “It’s that new FETTY WAP, MAYNE!” haha I started to see what an interesting guy he was.  

The day Henry, Mana, and I became roommates was the moment I realized how close I really got with Mana, and saw what a wonderful person he was. Every morning he’d greet me with a good morning, and we’d share a little chit chat while we ate our cereal and talked about what he’s going to go do while I went to work, because we all knew he was out the door when he woke up, whether it was shooting shore break, tako dives, dolphin dives, hiking, surfing, etc. You name it. Sometimes he was already back from a dive with the dolphins when I was just getting up, and when I asked how it was, he’d nod with confidence like “Yup, I got the shot.”   

To think of my fondest memories, is hard to pin point honestly. We just had so many.  Some of my favorite times were just cruising in the living room watching The Walking Dead, or Trailer Park Boys, or all the gangster movies he chose on Netflix. I loved making cookies for him too, because if you knew Mana, you knew how much he loved cookies haha I loved hearing him say “COOOOKIE” in that Cookie Monster voice.  

 If I could think of my favorite adventure with him, I’d say it was our last one.  It was just the day before he passed. It was us three again on a mission for tako. We swam out like any other day and the rays of light were just beaming through the water. It was a little overcast, but the lighting was just beautiful. Henry found a tako, and gave it to me and Mana to play and shoot with. We looked up and Henry was all the way out already searching for his next tako. I left Mana to go catch up to Henry. I was in the midpoint as I peeked my head out of the water to see where Mana was. I didn’t see him, so I figured he swam in or something. I finally caught up with Henry and he had two tiny tako in his hands.  I was looking at them through my mask underwater, when I saw Mana appear. I just remember how happy we were that he decided to swim out, because he told us he saw how far away we were, but decided that day to just come swim out to see what we were doing. And it was a good thing he did, because when Henry let go of the tako, we got to witness this huge uku fish swim up real fast and grab it! It was like straight out of NatGeo. Then, it was just unbelievable; we saw 2 big eyed tunas swim by in all the commotion! It was incredible! 

 Now, this story has such significance because Henry would always tell us “Ho, I saw this huge ass fish out there, I wish I had my spear gun.” Mana and I would look at each other and would start laughing. Mana would say, “Pshh…I don’t’ want to hear about the fish, you gotta catch the damn fish mayne!” This day was a day to remember, not only because it was our last dive together, but because we finally got a moment with all three of us there to witness what Henry was talking about all this time, and it was also a moment that we remembered that this is exactly why we go on these dives.  

Mana, you are truly an inspiration. You really lived your life to the fullest. Your enthusiasm shined through your photos, and I think everyone saw this in you. We lost a really good friend, and a great person. The world needs more people like you in it, and we are sad to have seen you go. But, I know this isn’t the end Mana. This is just the next chapter in our lives. We will live right by you like you showed us to Mana. We love you! A hui hou, until we meet again! FEEL THE MANA!

 

Tedford Mahiko: (https://instagram.com/tedfordmahiko/

He was like my best friend! I got a couple of really good friends and Mana is definitely one of um! I can't even remember all the fun shit we did! Too many to remember? Lol! From surfing to boogie to shooting everything above and below the ocean, from jumping off cliffs and diving through caves and waking up early to score the sunrise shot looking out the barrel to staying all day to catch the sunrise from one side of the island to the sunsets on the other all for one reason, TO GET THE SHOT! We always had a competition against each other even when it was only us in the same truck? And he won most the time too which pissed me off every time!  

I'm gonna miss you my brother! Till it's my turn, I'll try my best to hold it down for you no matter what the mission is! Love you homie!  

 

Michelle Judy: (https://instagram.com/michelejudy/) 

Mana embodied a gracious state of Aloha. He knew how to be present and grateful. Everyone who knew him was attracted to that magic. To be able to stay in the moment, not yesterday, not tomorrow but right then and now. Then he managed to know where the lighting was best, where the action was and with whom to shoot with for specific shots. A true guru. His entire being was to help others and to share his gifts. He had the BEST shell collection, best mixed jams, always eating the grinds and the latest and greatest camera gear and his timing was impeccable. In hindsight he was kind of a freak! Ahead of the Game, Winning the Heat. 

Im excited to apply his great attributes to my life. I am completely inspired by the way he lived his life. I will continue to look to the vast ocean and think of him on the other side adventuring and experiencing things on another level, a level we cannot yet understand.  

  I’ll never forget the last time we hung out. It was a week before he passed exactly. He called it ‘mini adventures’ because we stopped all over, not for long, but for enough time to enjoy the scene and the time of day. We started at Yokes and swam around, it was murky. I was all psyched to jump in after the long drive from town. Half way thru the swim I said wow its murky and he said I knew it was going to be but just didn’t want to say anything and be negative!! Then we went to hike up to Makua cave. There were plenty hippies up there talking all kine hippie talk about Netfix and baked bread etc.. So that night he sent me a snapchat and I replied Netflix blah blah blah, baked bread blah blah blah. Then he sent a snapchat of his Halloween costume. So good fun going back and forth on stupid shit.                                    

We waited until sunset to shoot this huge splash off the reef at Yokes. Right before we were going down there some dude shows up and is standing in the spot we were going to shoot. So he starts saying hows this Faka we gotta tell him beat it. Getting all moke. The shots turned out cool and I ended up being the last girl he shot.  

Good Bye dear friend. I bid to you a fond farewell, Mahalo Nui for sharing your beautiful images with us and your abundance of Aloha. Please guide us, protect us and continue to inspire us. You will always be there in spirit when we shoot and play in the ocean. Mai ka ho'okui i ka halawai  "From zenith to horizon.” You will always be in our fondest memories.  

 

Ikaika Poki: (https://instagram.com/ikaika.poki/) 

First time I met mana was about 14 months ago, it was a family days at prays.  

There were Dolphins out and I swam out with the wrong lens and had to swim back in. As I was running back toward the ocean I see tall guy (mana) with a housing and a dark guy (Tedford) running down the beach.  They said hi and then we realized we followed each other on Instagram.   That was the first time I met mana and Tedford in real life.  

My fave memory has to be a Dolphin dive that only mana and I scored..... The pod just circled us for almost an hr. We were screaming at each other... Telling each other how magical it was.  Then we chilled at the Beach for an hour and just talked story and smoke fatties.. I miss that guy it's like I'm in a dream or a nightmare.... His mana will always be with us.  

 

Rob Afong: (https://instagram.com/gett_salty/) 

I met mana 4 years ago at the buffalo big board surf meet. But never chill with him until about 3 winters back at idks we put a couple in the air that night. And ever since than was always the same "what burn one" lol. One of the best memories about mana was the day before he went to Costa Rica. Him and Ikaika scored the Dolphins when I pulled up he came to me and said yooooo rob just scored the dolphins I was tryna get a dolphin reflection... Than I hear him say got'm he was so stoked the way he saw the shot in his head and than catching it on camera that made his day.... 

 

Chris Kincade: (https://instagram.com/chris.kincade/) 

I knew Mana for about a year. I had met him a few times while shooting Pipe and Town in the past before I really got to know him. Always a solid guy. Treated me with respect from day 1. The ocean was his personal playground and he knew it well.  

The one thing that will always stick in my head about him was his face after we would get out of the water and he would go through his shots. Every time he would get the shot he would have this little smirk on his face. I'll always think of it as the “Got the shot” face. He was good at what he did and he loved doing it as much as he loved the people around him. I'm honored to have known him. He will always be felt whenever we are in the water. Rest easy Mana, we all miss you greatly brother.  

 

 Kiana Poki: (https://instagram.com/keyana.poki/

I honesty cannot remember the first time I met Mana. When I entered into the photography world, I felt like my life was just getting started and for the entirety of my life (or at least the part I considered important) Mana has always been there.  

He was always there to help me when I needed it, give me the surf report or simply act as an encouraging force. He always had this unreal photographic eye for a different shot and even though we are all out there with cameras, it’s amazing to see how different his perspective of the world is. You cannot deny his ability as a photographer but I love that he will always be remembered for so much more than that. He will be remembered for his big smile full of aloha. 

One of my favorite memories was exactly one year before he passed away. It was just another day with the boys and we swam out looking for wild life. Of course, we all found nothing but blue ocean that day. I was ready to go in but the colors were amazing and the light was absolutely incredible. Manas go get em spirit kept me out there that day and we ended up getting the amazing photo above.  

One thing about Mana, is that he is always sure to make the most of every adventure. I don’t think a day has gone by in his life where he didn’t say, “got the shot, mayne!I read somewhere that photography is nothing more than a love affair with life. I think that describes Mana perfectly and that was what made him the amazing person he will be remembered for. His love of life and his passion for sharing it with others.   

Life really is too short, but we are all thankful for the time we were given and his presence will ALWAYS be felt in West O’ahu. Aloha ‘Oe, Mana. Rest in the sweet embrace of the ocean forever. We will always #FeeltheMANA. 

 Bomber Eyewear Owners, Jamerien & Tommy Bonacci | pic: ManaPhotoHawaii

We first got introduced to Mana through his work - through Fuzzy (Kolaiah Jardine). Fuzzy was a team rider for us way back since 2010 & Mana would take the pictures of Fuzzy that we would use to promote him.

We finally got to meet Mana face to face just this year on a short trip to Hawaii in April. He became our official photographer & we got to become really good friends with him, especially during our 10 day trip to Costa Rica just this past August to September.  We talked about planning trips back to Costa Rica, and more adventures in Hawaii, sharing our visions for the future.  

He was always crackin the most on-point jokes! And that unforgettable laugh of his. He was always livening up the mood.     

Will never forget how excited he was to show us all the content he would get at the end of each day in Costa Rica - especially the crocodiles, sunsets, & lightning shows. 

Will never forget how when we thanked him for all the amazing work he was doing for us, & how he said, "Right on, we just getting started." 

 

Cynthia Le Suong

I had never been to Costa Rica before, so when my friend asked me to come along for a work/family trip to this magical place, I totally said yes.  And I'm glad I did. I met Mana the first night that I got to Costa Rica, as he was working for my friend as their photographer, and also staying on the same property as me.

Mana definitely stood out with his smile, his chivalry, his good looks, and his witty jokes.  I got to know Mana for a short yet eventful period of time.  At the beginning he was quiet and careful with his words. To my surprise he was quite a gentleman.  He would carry me over puddles of water and hold my hand whenever we would cross the street, whenever we took strolls in the streets. He was also understanding and in tuned with my desires, he kissed me when I wanted to be kissed, and held me when I wanted to be held.  It's rare these days to meet man with such chivalry and charm.  

I love music and dance whenever I can find the occasion.  So I asked Mana to dance with me at the poolside of a casino.  I was happy to discover that he loved to listen to music and dance.  It was just the two of us and we were surrounded by over a hundred self-conscious people.  And without any hesitation, he whole heartedly danced with me as if we were the only two people there.  He had good rhythm and I couldn't help but put my arms around him as we danced without a care.  

We took pictures of the sky catching fire every night and then took pictures of each other against the very same sky.  I miss him terribly and can't wait to see him again.  

 

Here's a mural painted at Kaimuki High School by Mele Murals in honor of Mana.

 

Some shots from Mana's Memorial on October 24, 2015 in his beloved Makaha -- where we paddled out then scattered his ashes, as he wished.  We got to swim with him one last time. RIP Mana.  We love you.

#FeelTheMana

Read more about what others had to say about this amazing man: