Samoa’s Masiofo (First Lady) Upstaged ...

...in Utah, by Samoans

First, some background information.

Samoa Head of State and First Lady at Royal  'Ava Ceremony,  Utah
Some time in September last year (2011) Samoa’s Head of State Tupua Tamasese and his Masiofo (Good Lady) Filifilia visited Utah on an invitation by the LDS Church. During these such visits - as is normally the case especially where an established Samoan community is found - the dignitaries are extended the respect, love and hospitality of the expatriate community in the form of a welcome ceremony.

In this particular case, the Samoan community in Utah - through members of a couple of matai (chiefs’) councils - planned and implemented the cultural program at one of the local universities to officially welcome the Head of State and his Masiofo. The program was not well attended by the Samoan community due to the party’s short and tight itinerary. As a result, not many - including this blogger - had the opportunity to watch the program.

However, a few days ago, a video of the program was finally released and made available on Comcast’s (cable TV) local offerings.

The program included the usual lauga o le feiloa’iga (welcome speech) followed by a version of the ‘ava faatupu (royal ‘ava ceremony) all done using some modified protocols because of the indoor setting and other limitations. All of that seemed to have met a certain level of acceptance and approval for an average Samoan observer.

But then the blatant anomaly happened, at least as far as I’m concerned. The faux pas happened during the faafiafiaga (entertainment) part of the program, during the taualuga (finale).

As usual, there was a “taupou” (maiden), all dressed in traditional wear consisting of a fine mat trimmed with colorful feathers and the tuiga (traditional headdress). She was escorted by two soga’imiti (tattooed men) to center stage and started to do her siva (dance). Almost immediately, Masiofo Filifilia stood up from their raised seating, and joined the taupou and the rest of the aiuli (backup dancers). Now, at that moment, according to cultural protocols, etiquette and common sense, at the very least, the make believe taupou should immediately yield center stage to the Masiofo, and dance as an aiuli to her. Instead, the taupou kept her center position and assumed role while the Masiofo dances from the back of the stage.  Masiofo Filifilia was therefore upstaged, literally!!  It was weird, offensive and disrespectful to see the Masiofo dancing backup to a mock “taupou”.   I cringe at the sight.

It would have been fine if the Masiofo had remained seated and watched the taualuga, but the moment she gave up her seat to grace the floor, she should have been given front and center stage based on her title, position, role and honor of being Samoa's Masiofo.

Head of State being served  'ava (ceremonial drink)
Now I don’t necessarily blame the “taupou” because she seems to be one of those young girls who was born and raised in America and did not know better other than to fulfill her assigned role as in other routine performances. But the chiefs and adults who were present should have realized the impropriety and corrected it.

Moreover, money should not have been collected as part of this particular taualuga. Yet the floor was strewn with dollar bills and even worse was an old paint bucket - as the proverbial collection plate - conspicuously placed in front of the “taupou”. If the money was intended for a gift, or to supplement a gift to the Head of State and his party, then it should have been arranged beforehand to be collected away from the taualuga. Maintaining the dignity of the whole ceremony should have been the main focus of the chiefs and others who were present, and not to be distracted by the trite and mundane nature of everyday taualugas.

Personally, I feel that the taualuga for this occasion became an untoward scene and gesture.

Sa tatau lava ona taga’i toto’a e sa faafoeina lenei porokalama i tulaga nei. O le lago mate lava e tasi na te faaleaga le suau’u atoa.  E faamoemoe o le a le avevaleina ai le igoa o le Ekalesia i lenei faatamala.  Ae atonu o le a aoga aleu faapea ma mea tutupu e toe liuliu ai le tofa, ma toe afua ai le taeao ma toe sasa’a le fafao.

Why Mitt Romney Will Be a Good President

By: Karen Hughes
April 22, 2012 09:06 PM EDT
Published in Politico

Ten years ago, I walked into the White House press room and shocked the reporters there by announcing that later that summer, I would be leaving my job as counselor to the president to return to Texas. The decision was agonizingly difficult and purely personal. I believed in President George W. Bush, was committed to serving my country and loved my challenging job. But its constant demands did not allow me to be the engaged wife and mother, and I felt that was my foremost responsibility then.

But once you’ve worked in the White House, the challenges are never far from mind. Throughout this primary season, I’ve assessed the candidates. While many of my fellow Republicans understandably focus on which Republican is the best candidate to defeat President Barack Obama, I’ve looked through a different lens: Who is most capable of being a good president?

I’m interested in who has the judgment, temperament and ability to make the many difficult decisions that land on the desk of the president. I am mindful of an admonition a friend gave me when I arrived in Washington. “Don’t worry about easy decisions,” she said. “Those get made at the Cabinet agencies. Only the really hard ones come to the White House.”

Having seen the demands of the job as closely as anyone can without being the president, I’m convinced that Mitt Romney is not only the best Republican but also the best general election candidate to serve as president for four key reasons.

First, he has extensive experience making executive decisions. As governor of Massachusetts and in the private sector, Romney had to make tough choices affecting people’s jobs, lives and futures, preparing him for the world’s highest executive office. Obama is a legislator and it shows. Too often he sublets decision making to Congress, with the bad results we saw in the pork-infused trillion-dollar stimulus, the massive mess of the health care law and the regulatory morass of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms.

Second, Romney specializes in turnarounds — and Washington is in desperate need of a dramatic turnaround. When he arrived at the Salt Lake City Olympics, the organization was in chaos, in debt and tarnished by scandal. He turned it around, unifying diverse coalitions with competing interests and turned the games into a financial and diplomatic success.

He did this in the private sector as well. He rescued a number of struggling companies and brought them back to profitability and growth, creating many new jobs in the process.

Third, he’s lived a life of faithful commitment to his family and his church. He doesn’t talk about this much, probably because his Mormon faith is unfamiliar to many Americans and some view it with suspicion. But a Christian pastor friend of mine recently emailed that he is impressed that Romney lives his faith through service and significant financial contributions, and he apparently demonstrated great caring and compassion as a church leader. This tells me Romney will not be moved by the latest polls or the most effective lobbyists. He serves something greater than himself — and it’s important for a president to know that.

Finally, the No. 1 issue is jobs and the economy — and Romney understands how jobs are created and how government policies affect economic growth. Under Obama, America not only has too-high unemployment and too-low growth, but it also now has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. It also faces the prospect of job-killing record individual tax increases at the end of 2012.

People who know Romney well tell me he’s a good listener — another important quality in a president. He needs to be able to consider advice from a wide range of experts on a given subject to make informed decisions.

Romney’s been steady, well-organized and disciplined throughout the primary process. I’m convinced he’s the leader America needs to restore our confidence, our economy and our leadership in the world.

Karen Hughes was counselor to President George W. Bush. She’s now the global vice chairwoman for Burson-Marsteller.



Is that for Let's Do Service?  Might as well ....

An excerpt from an article on a study about Latter Day Saints (Mormons).

When it comes to being generous with time and money, Americans who are not Mormons can learn from Americans who are.
A new study from researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis explores [The] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints culture and explains LDS members’ volunteering and charitable giving-habits.

It is the first study focusing on giving and volunteering practices of Latter-day Saints that has been carried out within LDS wards by a non-church-affiliated university.

The researchers are Ram Cnaan, a professor in Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice; Daniel W. Curtis, a student earning his Ph.D. in social welfare; and Van Evans from IUPUI.

“Called to Serve: The Prosocial Behavior of Active Latter-day Saints” is the largest and most detailed study of its kind. Researchers surveyed 2,644 active Mormons in Southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Michigan, Utah and California.

Overall, researchers found that members of the LDS Church are the most “prosocial” members of American society.

“Regardless of where they live, they are very generous with their time and money,” Cnaan, an expert in faith-based social services and the lead researcher, said. “Through a theology of obedience and sacrifice and a strong commitment to tithing and service, Latter-day Saints are model citizens.”

One of the Mormons’ basic beliefs is that they are called by God to serve others. Thus, practicing members of the LDS Church act under the belief that they are called to give time and expertise to church, society and humanity, the study says.

Researchers found that active members of the LDS Church volunteer and donate significantly more than the average American. When it comes to the time they spend volunteering, the average adult American LDS member contributes as much as seven times more than that of the average American.

An average American Latter-day Saint provides almost 430 hours of volunteer labor annually. This equates to approximately 35 hours per month. In comparison, the average American volunteer provides about four hours of volunteering per month.


Happy Easter

May the Spirit of the Gospel (Good News) of JESUS CHRIST be with you and your families.


Just a Friday good monologue ...

Jay Leno, watch out ....hahahaa....

Well. let’s start with politics, shall we? Obama and Romney seem set for the general elections in November. It’s an ideal matchup, both Harvard graduates, though it’s black guy vs. white guy vying for the White House. By the way, in the name of political correctness, some people want the White House painted neither white nor black - but maybe a mixture...a more neutral color, so brown wins the consensus. Guess who is in strong support of the color brown? ME! ...Actually it’s Nikki Haley and Bobby Jindal who are applauding the color change! (For those not in the know, Haley and Jindal are governors of South Carolina and Louisiana respectively, and both are from immigrant families from India.) LOL!

One of the groups whose votes Obama and Romney are trying to win and woo in this election is the women! And guess who is expressing displeasure? Herman Cain. Cain is rumored to have said: “See? I should have been the GOP nominee. I know how to woo women!"  Newt Gingrich, not wanting to be outdone, responded to Cain’s claim by holding up a sign that says “Me too!”

And the K curse continues, K as in Kardashian.
So Kim is in the news again, Yes, that Kim who had a million dollar wedding and lasted only until after the two million dollar wedding ring’s return policy expired. ..yep, Kim who married, Kris for only, what? A month?

Anyway, Kim is now dating again and if you haven’t seen the pattern yet, then you must still be in K, as in Kindergarten...hint... hint. K! So who is Kim dating now? Name starts with ...yes, “K” - Kanye! ..not East but West. The same guy that interrupted Taylor Swift while receiving her VMA award, remember? Well, let’s make some educated guesses here, being that we are all highly educated ....Who is in line after Kanye? Some names please ...Kermit? Yes, the frog and of course, he’ll turn into a Prince for Kim! How about Khadaffi? ....Oops, he’s hmmm... Killed? Ok, Kaput! ...although, if he was still alive, he would have finally told the truth if his name was spelled with a Q, G or a K.

Well, Google is again in the news, as always....google here, google there, google everywhere. By the way google, is pronounced the same whether with two “o”s or an infinite number of “o”s ... Hence, Gooooooooooooooooogle  is still “Google” ... unlike K/Q/Gadaffi ...lol!

Now we’ve all seen the video of the google car (driverless) taking a blind man to, of all places, a drive thru to buy a burger. Well, google is now coming out with a plan for “google glassses” equipped with a browser, mic, camera, voice recognition, etc., It’s like having your smart phone in front of your eyes. The glasses will display your tweets, e-mails, facebook, data, etc., (with Internet connection of course) Wow! Haven’t we had enough accidents from texting? Although ... although ... with texting it takes days or months to prove if the driver was texting at the time of the accident ... with google glasses the police can put them on (if it’s not broken) and see what the driver was watching when the accident happened.  The caveat "don't drink and drive" will now have a twin "don't wink and drive." ...lol!

Now some people who are against the glasses say it’s too much, people need to sometimes “stop and smell the roses” Well I can already see google responding that the glasses will have your virtual roses delivered right before your eyes - real smell included.

And finally, remember Rick Perry? The Texas governor and former Republican candidate who forgot his facts during the GOP debates? Now he’s blaming his memory lapse on pain killers he was on at the time. Well Rick, know something? ... they killed more than your pain, they also killed your brain! ... they’re pain aaaand brain killers! ...hahahaa

Anyway, have a good Good Friday and Happy EasterManuia le Eseta!



The fun and follies of youth

pic 1
 Papaloa (circled - pic1), literally “long rock” (papa means rock; loa means long), is a promontory in my village that serves - at least during my boyhood years - as a marine recreational spot for the children, especially boys. Actually, to most boys, it is more than a place for recreational fun. It is also a place where a young boy’s strength, courage and marine skills are honed, tested and tried, and growth monitored and fostered. For the most part, it is a place of initiation into young adulthood. The initiation course is normally an individual and personal quest. How do I know that? Been there done that!

The crowning part of the course is when a young boy is finally able to stand at the end of Papaloa, and dares a jump into the water, especially during high tide. A jump at low tide is a step closer to completing the course. Initial stages consist of jumping off from either side, as you work your way towards the tip of the rock, then swimming to shore against the current of the receding tide. Sometimes if you’re not strong, and/or get a timely and firm grip of part of the promontory, the current can take you out to deeper parts of the lagoon. The more advanced stages of the course happen as you jump off closer to the tip of the rock. From the root to the apex of the rock, the entire initiation progress can take days, months and even years for some boys, mainly the timid and the fainthearted.

By the time a boy reaches the end and jumps off, the challenge is not so much in swimming back to shore but in fighting the occasional whirlpool  (created by converging currents), as well as the resulting centrifugal current that carries you farther out to sea towards the reef channel several yards away where the rapids are stronger and more treacherous. (The centrifugal current is indicated clearly by the lighter stretch in this picture (circled red). The clear color is from the precipitated sand that the current sucks off from the sandy base of Papaloa, and from the shallow parts closer to shore.)

For the older and initiated boys, Papaloa becomes a setting and set for their faiga-kaupoe (movie re-enactments), especially on Sundays, hence in direct defiance of village Sabbath rules. Western and war movies are the favorites. And the Papaloa set makes death and injury a pleasure for the actors as the victims feign their fates with prearranged falls into the warm water. In other words, boys enjoy being shot at and so they would intentionally abandon their cover and stand on the rock to invite enemy fire - all for the thrill and enjoyment of a thunderous splash in the water. Like in the “real” movies, there’s always a safety net below for the fallen. Boys become immortal too during these re-enactments because they revive themselves in the water and live to fight again in another scene or another "movie".

pic 2
Right next to Papaloa, is another rock (circled-pic 2) which sometimes served as an additional stage for an extended initiation - and fun. During much of my adolescent years, a long coconut trunk was hoisted up on this rock and placed so that the narrower (foliage) end hangs and suspends over the water. This suspended end is about eight to ten feet long and about the same height from the tip to the water. A lone victor stands at the end of the log to await his challengers and would try to outwrestle his opponent. The one that falls into the water loses while the winner stays on as the defender. There were undisputed - and sometimes notorious - winners and were often named “king of the coconut trunk”. I had a fair share of these duels but it was always the older boys that got dubbed.

...leai, pei a ua fai si uli kele o le auali'i ia ..hahaa!
And when the rocks were not enough, there was always the now famous beach - few yards away - where we would strut our ruggers’ stuff and where we turned all black (pun intended) from sea and sun.  Pei o le auali'i ia e i le aka.

Next time you visit Lalomanu Beach, take a minute to check these rocks out, and if you’re lucky, you’ll see some cowboys, Indians, SEALs and marines. If not, at least you now know the name of the conspicuous “long rock” - Papaloa - which is, essentially, part of Samoa’s most famous beach, but also part of my life growing up as a little boy.