The Faleo'o

Pic 1: A faleo'o in Samoa
This post is dedicated especially to those who now live outside Samoa but were born, raised and spent some years of their lives in the islands.

If you often reminisce and yearn for a touch and feel of Samoa that is more penetrating and soothingly real, then you need a faleo'o. A faleo'o - for those unfamiliar with it - is a small open hut that is often stilted. It does not have to be on stilts, but every Samoan's idea of a typical faleo'o is a stilted one. It's more genuine and indigenous for a faleo'o to have a raised floor, hence one cannot picture a faleo'o without including someone seated with dangling feet, enjoying the cool tropical breeze.

Pic 2
 Several years ago, after our house (pic 2) was built, I decided to build a faleo'o in the backyard. I knew how the weather in the Rockies was not suited or ideal for a faleo'o - at least during winter months. But when the hot dry summer months arrive, the faleo'o becomes a much needed haven and retreat. Better still, the cool summer evenings in the faleo'o bring back memories and chimerical feel of Samoa. Dearie and I would sit - feet dangled over the pebble-fringed edging or leaning against a post with feet outstretched - and talk about the fun times in Samoa, especially from a "faleo'o perspective".   For some obvious reasons, I still prefer the faleo'o to a modern house.

The unique structural plan and pattern of the faleo'o - outside of Samoa - invite and imbibe a distinctive aspect of Samoan life that can be felt and fancied. Try sitting in a similar structure like a gazebo and the same feeling escapes any sojourner and expatriate.

Pic 3:  Our faleo'o in America
Our children have come to appreciate the faleo'o though they have not fully grasped its role and significance in Samoa's everyday life. The grandchildren too use it as a playhouse and as a home theater for the summer nights, as in this past July 4th weekend (pic 3).

Personally, I believe that having a meal of strictly Samoan foods (taro, palusami, etc.), and/or wearing a lavalava are less authentic and less representative of Samoan life than sitting in a faleo'o. But consider this, if you wear a lavalava and sit down to a meal of taro, palusami and other Samoan foods in a faleo'o, then your immediate setting is a slice and transplant right out of the islands ... makua seki a kakou. I must admit that I have done that on several occasions here in my American backyard, and we also play cards (suipi, lami, etc.) and hang out late into the night in the faleo'o. You can't help but feel the native connection and island similarities in such a simple structure.

We look forward to the summer months so we can spend time in the faleo'o. And believe me when I say that it's quite a therapeutic and relaxing experience which also restores much of my sanity. Again, it's in the faleo'o where, amazingly, we can quickly connect with beautiful and enchanting Samoa. Even during an occasional summer downpour, we enjoy more the sound of it on the roof and on the pebbles outside. And the words of the song immediately come to mind:

Se funa e, sau ia sou leo lea ua ta fia faalogo
Mapu maia i o'u vae ma lo'u fale lea suga o le faleo'o
E malu lona ea, a timu fo'i e te fia faalogo
Ma lau sogi tasi mai la'u pele ona uma ai lea.

If you want to have a semblance of Samoa at your place that's inspiring and convincingly alluring, making you feel like you're in Samoa, a faleo'o is an ideal construct - pun intended ....LOL!!


  1. I love it! What a great idea and the photos are gorgeous. Especially as i sit snuggled up under my duvet covers and with an electric blanket in NZ winter. Defn having an open fale in the yard is perfect for kids and hot summer days.

  2. Thank you Lani! A faleoo certainly is a good addition to one's domicile...so summer here and winter there, and vice versa ...while Samoa remains in its pleasant weather year round - not fair.

  3. Have to say it looks pretty awesome.. good one uce