A Special Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is always a wonderful and special time of the year. It’s one of my favorite holidays because it brings families together. Like Christmas, Thanksgiving is a time to feel grateful for many things. Families especially, but also to consider and to serve others.

This past Thanksgiving (last week) was the first one without our two youngest children who are currently serving missions. And though we miss them, we are indeed more grateful for what they’re doing - serving others through sharing the gospel. So our family decided to do something special this year, and that was inviting other missionaries to our home to spend Thanksgiving with us. In that way, while our missionaries are spending Thanksgiving with other families, we will have others to fill their places.  Actually, we ended up with twice as many. Five altogether - three palagis (Caucasians) and two Tongans, one of whom was from the islands and the other one from Texas. For the palagis two were from California and one from Missouri. Our family prepared a semi-formal dinner setup, with a typical Thanksgiving buffet of turkey, ham, meatballs, katsu chicken, pork roast, salad, taros, yams, chop suey, etc., and dessert. In addition to dinner, the missionaries made themselves at home playing games with our family. They certainly added and promoted the Thanksgiving spirit in our home. It was one of the best Thanksgivings our family has had.    

Some pictures ...

All that for these wonderful young men.  We LOVE them ... and ALL the missionaries!


Treading Trend and Thanksgiving

Once upon a time, something that was good - or deemed good - remained ...hmmm.... good! Likewise, bad was bad. There was no two ways about it. Then things changed. What may be good today, may not be as good tomorrow. For example, I remember when eggs and milk were lauded as some of the most healthful foods on the pyramid (food, not Egyptian). (And by the way, to this day, I still remember looking for taro and palusami or cocoa rice ( “koko nice” according to granddaughter Eden) on that food pyramid during my Health classes in school in Samoa.)  But in the recent past, eggs and milk have been classified as also “bad” because they elevate one’s cholesterol - the bad cholesterol. Yes, there’s good and bad cholesterol too. (Like people. There’s some really good ones, and the reaaaaally not so good ones. Hahahaa!)

Which brings me to chairs and sitting. They’re good, and bad; they kill (re: past post). But wait, chairs are made to feel good and comfortable since comfort is a good thing, or is it? You see, for a long time people had been sitting for extended periods of time. Neanderthals sat on rocks and on trees waiting for the mammoth or the tiger; natives sat on mats playing games and chatting for hours and CEOs sit on chairs “nine to five”. The chair became so omnipresent that there were people actually called and titled “chairman” (or “chairperson”) because of where they sit - on a chair, while the rest sit on rocks and on mats. I would imagine that the “chairman” during the Neolithic age was called a “stoneman” or “rockman” and in Samoa that would be a “matman” - who would later become a “mad man” because he didn’t have a chair.

Ok, so who is advocating this sedentary pandemic, or "chairicide"? And why?  I have never heard of the “chair people” dying en masse on their chairs, or a cause of death listed on a report as “sitting on chair”. Correlation does not necessarily mean causation, people! The rooster does not cause the sun to rise.  (Though as a little kid I thought it did.)

Anyhow, I was not aware of the identities of the anti-chair culprits until a friend sent me this picture (below). They are the manufacturers of the treadstation. The whole mission and campaign for these chair haters is to get rid of chairs in the workplace and replace them with Treadmills!  See for yourself.  There’s a treadstation coming to a workplace near you - if not to yours.

But do you see the irony in this picture - and trend?  If not, then lemme tell ya! It has to do with women (sorry ladies). Those in the picture are all women, yet they are the ones - not men - disadvantaged most by this trend. Why?  How? Well, take a look at the closest one in the picture - nice office outfit, aye?  Now look at her shoooeees! A ha! Yes that’s the disadvantage.  There will be no more boots, heels, stilettos, etc. at work.  Advantage, therefore, goes to the men. Why?  How?  Men don't have to change shoes. Huh? Well, here:

LOL!  Well if you think the chair issue is dead, think again. Don’t be surprised if lawsuits - albeit mostly frivolous - are already in the pipeline, or on the belt (haha). On what basis? Injuries - physical and emotional. Twisted ankles, falls, buckled knees, pulled muscles, etc. And emotional? Well, it has to do with shoes. The fact that women will not be able to wear their preferred heels, boots and all, the office is considered a hostile work environment. Can you say discrimination and/or harassment?  So tread lightly!

And here’s a word to the CEOs of the treadstation: "Bring back the chairs!" The treadmill belongs in the gym and at home.  At least with a chair people can stand up and tread around, but with the treadstation, there's no option of sitting - where's the chair?  I think I will start campaigning to change your CEO title to mean Chair Elimination Officer and you would not want to live with such a title.

Woman/Wife:  Oh STOP IT!!! ... at least you have shoes!  LOL!   Man/Husband:  Oh yeah? ...  Really?

Woman/Wife:  Ok then,  you can wear mine!  .... Man/Husband:  LMSO! (Laughing My Shoes Off!)

Anyway, Happy Thanksgiving! ... Y'all!
And remember, once upon a time the turkey was good - and still good - but it’s the muri (si’usi’u - tail) that is bad, at least according to the Samoan government.   LOL!

This post does not in any way, stated or implied, discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, shoes, marital status, food choices, BMI, political affiliation, corporate position or chair preference for that matter. It was written for the sole purpose of entertainment and reading pleasure of the blog audience. No treadmill or treadstation was damaged or destroyed in the writing of this post, or its immediate aftermath. However, a turkey - minus the tail - will be cooked and consumed some time during the aftermath of the post, and will be done in strict compliance to the laws and dietary regulations of the state and country of Turkey.



I watched Silamanino, another Samoan-made movie, a few weeks ago. It certainly is on a par with Tautoga and Tulafale on the innovative and pioneering level of Samoa’s fledgling moviemaking venture. However, Silamanino is a standout and the best of the three, at least in the overall realism and authenticity of Samoan particularity.

Realism is Silamanino’s strength - in storyline, plot, theme, settings and especially the characters. And though it lacks serious conflict and dramatic tension, Silamanino’s simplicity - a reflection of Samoan life - easily makes it a favorite of most Samoans. Behind the movie’s simplicity, however, we find intricate and profound social relationships, heritage and heartfelt values such as love and respect for parents and family. Silamanino is not "hollywoody", but it excels in its own right and on its own merits as a true and exclusively Samoan film. It appeals and strikes harmoniously - more than Tulafale and Tautoga - the empirical and nostalgic chords in those Samoans outside Samoa, and with the daily experiences of natives at home.

The script is effective for the movie’s goals, although there is a slight overreach in its attempts to connect the past with the present.  For example, the aumoega (suitors) and other cultural flashback scenes (old and faded) serve the purpose of clarifying and enhancing their present day significance. But they also draw undue attention to themselves because of their length and monotony. The noisy and lofty talk among the suitors gets more-than-needed screen time, hence becomes a little disturbing and off-putting.

Notwithstanding, the script succeeds in many aspects. One of these is in the effective depiction of modern Samoa without the unnecessary intrusion of some contemporary modernities, especially cell phones. Such items will have undermined and distorted the more bucolic Samoa that the movie tries to portray and one which many of its target viewers remember fondly.

On the genre level, Silamanino is a cross between a morality play of the 15th/16th century England and a modern day documentary.
The character names which represent and personify particular virtues and values loosely follow the morality play conventions. For example, Silamanino (literally "clear view") personifies discernment, integrity and love of family. She has a clear perspective and thus views things properly within her role as a woman of honor and a leader in her village. Ti’alagimua ("straight arrow"), her father, is the ideal family patriarch who treasures his legacy and family heritage and, in turn, imparts his wisdom and knowledge to his posterity and descendants.  The influence of the morality play is also found in those plays performed on White Sundays (in Samoa) and their feel and flavor can be found in the film. 
On the documentary level, the film does a good job in its instructive approach on Samoan culture and social norms in general.  Though Silamanino has some entertaining merits, its overall focus is both educational and normative.

One of the things that sets Silamanino apart from most other Samoan films is the naturalness of the native dialogue. Silamanino (Verona Parker) demonstrates it best, especially without the annoying and robotic scripted intonations. Naturalness is also the main reason for certain memorable scenes of the movie. My favorite ones are the scenes with the “malas”("third gender" - pardon the euphemism). The conversation between Sammy in “her” office with Enoka, as well as the tausuaga (humorous chitchat) during the village access road project. Both are superbly acted and the dialogues are natural, typical and genuine.  For someone who was raised in the village, and participated in such galuega (projects), I can relate with fondness to the tausuaga by the aumaga (untitled men).

All in all, I really like this movie. Silamanino appeals to my generation and to others - like my children - whose idea and impression of Samoa is that of the idyllic place in their parents’ stories of their past and simple lives in the middle of the ocean. This is a movie I would not mind watching the second or third time. If anything, it fills the void of a certain time in my life growing up in Samoa - including the daily chores, food preparation, picking breadfruits, high school days, collecting/harvesting coconuts, my grandfather's matofi (coconut fibers for the sennit), etc.  Kudos to the Silamanino crew!!

PS: There’s the problem of inconclusive and incomplete reviews because of the serial and sequential method and approach used in making the movie. Therefore comprehensive analyses are often suspended, delayed and postponed. The best example is the conflict between the protagonist (Silamanino) and a potentially typical antagonist (Moana). It is only hinted at in Part I and so hopefully it will be developed and enhanced in Part II, which is released this week, I heard.


Intimations of The Season

In my neck of the woods there’s a saying that if you do/don’t like the weather, wait fifteen minutes. Based on my Saturday experiences this past weekend, distance also makes a difference. If you don’t like the weather, drive for fifteen minutes. I left home in clear but cold chilly weather to go to a grandson’s football game. The championship game. End of the season.

pic 1
About three miles from home, I was in this (pic 1), another quarter of a mile and I was in this (pic 2). And finally at my destination, where the game was at, this! (pic 3). It’s that season again.

The kids played in almost two feet of snow. Do you still call that football, or snowball? I think the latter with a twist. It’s crazy to play football in so much snow that I quietly mused and hoped the kids’ competitive spirits would be dampened and downgraded to just a friendly game and fun in the snow like all kids do. 
In other words, let kids be kids! I’m sure they could, and would have, but I doubt the parents and coaches would have allowed it.  Sad?

pic 2

Anyway, driving in the snow is not anyone’s idea of enjoyment or fun, unless of course you happen to be a snowmobiler. Occasionally, however, I do take some pleasure in driving in the snow. And that’s normally around this time of the year (instead of the beginning months) which largely has to do with the distinct mood, feel, sights, sounds and even the smell of the season.

On my way to the game, corked up in the car’s confines, I listened to my timid and fretful thoughts interrupted by the pure white ominous flakes that struck the windshield like innocuous bugs.

pic 3
 The radio was on but had been turned real low by Dearie the night before when she took the car to her church meeting. I wanted to listen to a weather report, so I turned the radio up. And voila! Sweet, non stop, mood changing, sentimental, seasonal, beautiful Christmas music. Already? It seems that every year they start playing Christmas songs weeks sooner than the previous year. Soon, we will be listening to Christmas songs year round, which will be too extreme I think, and even despite the wish of  "the king himself" that “if every day was just like Christmas, what a wonderful world this would be.” (That wish, I think, would not be too extreme.)

At one intersection, as I waited for the green light, more validating lyrics including “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” came on.  I also had time to snap this picture (pic 4) of some trees on the opposite side of the road and whose branches puffed, drooped and arched by the weight of the white powder. It looked as if the trees were prostrating in front of Nature's king.  By this time, the sights outside and the sounds inside had already soothed my nostalgia and lifted my spirits. The same distinctive feelings, mood and memories of this wonderful time of the year had repeated their annual pilgrimage to my meditative soul. It was like taking a potent antidote for a chronic ailment and the healing had already started.

pic 4
 But just before the light turned green, two snow plows roared by, infringing on my stream of recollections, and dumping a huge blanket of wet snow on the hood and windshield. My angelic Christmas mood almost melted with the wet snow. Yet I smiled and let the wipers do their job on the darkly glass. I continued to drive to the game.

We lost. Some of the boys were teary-eyed and a couple of them sobbed. Frustration and disappointment were evident on the parents’ chilled faces made worse by the near taunting, loud cheers, screams, and celebration at the opposite side of the field.  That was cold, in more ways than one.

Again it was hard because it was the championship game and we lost.  But the parents and players agreed that it had been a great season.  At the same time, and at least for me, a greater season has started with the snow, the mood and the music all heralding the beginning of The Season.


Ooh Bummer ...

Well, first of all congratulations to Obama for his re-election!  He’s got only four more years. Thank goodness and thank heavens for term limits! I should not however attempt to elevate my hopes because Obama’s party, hence his socialist policies and programs, seem to be slowly but surely inching their way into the American psyche, becoming the pattern and standard for America.  Ooooooh gloomy!

... anyway, to be true to my logline, I have something to say. I am disappointed, disheartened and disgruntled.  Therefore, I am tempted to diss someone!   But I refrain.  I’ll try (yes, try) to stay within the fringes of moral indignation as I vent some take-aways (pun intended) from the Election.

First of all, Obama is one angry man!  It’s visceral. He’s angry at many things and many people (like Donald Trump). He is spiteful and vengeful. Obama is on a mission and he seems to be having success, and/or will eventually succeed. His mission is described in one word, a word that he finally uttered in his closing arguments of the election this past week, and the word is REVENGE!  He urged his supporters to vote for Revenge!  I’ll let you the reader interpret and expound on that, but I can write a whole dissertation on it.

Socialist Ideas
Obama likes to redistribute wealth. And as dirt-poor as I am, I would make an ideal supporter and protege of his, as many would surmise. I agree with him to a point on some issues, but in principle only. I detest his despise and dislike for the rich (like Donald Trump - and Romney).  But the irony in all of this, is that without the rich, he will not have any wealth to redistribute. Obama is like a Robin Hood, but his motives are not charitable, but vengeful. And so he wants to champion the poor which is his way of exacting not charity, but REVENGE based on his deep resentment for things, for certain people and kinds of people, social conditions, political and economic elements and philosophical tendencies, etc.

With Obama’s socialist policies, and the government as the sole dole distributor, there is no incentive for anyone to aspire to be better and to be successful - only incentives to be idle, consume and squander. Aiafu in other words.

The dire drawback, consequence and eventuality of such a mentality is that the rich will eventually be poor, and the poor will be poorer ...as well as poorest - if not rest in peace hastily.

Opportunity NOT  Importunity
When we talk with other immigrant families, we express gratitude for the so-called American values of hard work, innovation, benevolence, opportunities, freedom, etc. We tell our children that people come to America for OPPORTUNITY, not IMPORTUNITY. No one when contemplating coming to America will say, let’s go to America because they have a great welfare program that we can importune. Instead they tell their children to go to America because there are opportunities to make something of themselves.  We see that very objective changing because of the ideology of some parties and politicians (like Obama).  The government is making it more attractive for people to come for importunity. And, in turn, these people will continue to vote for that party, president and government that will give them the American Cream - instead of the American Dream.  What does one lose and/or compromise in becoming dependent on something?  FREEDOM!  And the government is supposed to protect and grant freedom - not abrogate it through promoting a life of dependency.  Worse still is that this abrogation of freedom is done by the country that touts herself as freedom's main protector and guardian.

Fair Share
The two words that have been pervasive in the president’s campaign. Obama wants fairness and equality as far as means and property.  At the same time, success is decried and attacked. Well, here’s my plan to quickly achieve fairness for everybody. Let’s all quit our jobs, become unemployed and apply for welfare and foodstamps. In twenty to thirty years, we will have milked the RICH dry, and we will all be equal and poor, equally poor with the rich. And when everybody is poor, then everything is finally fair. Everybody has nothing, stripped of property, of pride and integrity. Then what follows?   Then we all go to ..uh.... Hellooooooo??  Fair enough? Hahaha!

Well that’s my rant and beef.  Now I feel relieved and cleansed of post-election blues!

And so now, as my Church leaders admonished - and I concur - we need to pray for the President.  So here’s praying and wishing President Obama the best!  Good luck and God bless!


Romney for President

New York Observer Editorial
November 2012

The crisis of leadership in American government is easily explained: thanks to a flawed presidential primary system that rewards strident rhetoric and hyper-partisanship, candidates tailor their messages to fringe elements in small, unrepresentative states. The result? A nasty, shallow and expensive process that rewards sound bites rather than solutions and gamesmanship instead of ideas. This year, however, we have witnessed a rare phenomenon in American politics. A candidate has emerged from the rough and tumble of the primaries with his dignity intact. The system has produced not a demagogue but a manager, a candidate whose experience is rooted in the pragmatism of the business world rather than the ideology of partisan politics.

That candidate is Mitt Romney.

Gov. Romney won the Republican Party’s nomination precisely because he is not an ideologue—and that is no small achievement. He persuaded enough Republican primary voters that the time has come to put aside dogma and inflexibility in favor of real-world solutions to the array of problems America faces at home and abroad.

Over the last few weeks, Mr. Romney has shown that he is a moderate to his core—he is a manager, and a listener, who believes he can restore the balance between the private and public sectors that has been a hallmark of the American economy.

The Observer endorses Mr. Romney’s candidacy and urges readers to support him.

Four years ago, Barack Obama captured the imagination of many Americans with his thrilling message of change. Given the challenges confronting the president—two raging wars and an unprecedented global economic collapse—the desire for a quick fix was unrealistic.

America supported that candidate (as did this newspaper), but his presidency, so filled with promise and potential, has failed to deliver the change America needs.

True, Mr. Obama deserves credit for strong, decisive action that helped prevent a catastrophic economic meltdown on Wall Street. The financial services sector, the city’s most important industry, came very close to the unthinkable as once-unshakable entities—Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch—simply vanished. Mr. Obama’s policies helped to shore up the industry and, thus, the city.

At the same time, however, the president has evinced a distaste for that very same industry, and his rhetoric has begun to erode its foundation. Class warfare might be a successful strategy for cobbling together 270 electoral votes. But it’s not the way to unite a divided nation.

The president comes to town on a Monday, takes our money, shakes our hands and tells us how much he values the CEOs and innovators of New York. And then on Tuesday, he turns around and refers to business leaders as fat cat bankers whose success was created by the sweat of others. That’s not a friend. That’s not a leader. That’s a politician.

Mitt Romney stands out because—unlike so many candidates in the past—he understands how to build businesses, create efficiencies, make tough deals and carefully consider divergent viewpoints. America needs a strong leader, a practical leader. Mr. Romney knows full well that it would be a tragic mistake to simply assume that the United States will continue to be the world’s economic powerhouse simply because that’s what we’ve been for decades. America earned its global prominence because of the nation’s culture of work and individual freedom. That’s why immigrants came here and continue to come here—not because they seek a handout, but because they want a chance to work and to create and to innovate. In today’s competitive economy, the country needs competitors, not class-war crybabies.

Barack Obama, the candidate of change in 2008, was and will remain a significant figure in American history. His election four years ago truly was a milestone and, rightly, a cause for celebration.

While we admire Mr. Obama, we believe he squandered an opportunity to bring positive change to Washington—and what change he did bring will burden future generations. We continue to rack up debt, buy services we cannot afford and allow unfunded liabilities to continue to grow. This has to end.

Rather than reimagining government’s role in society and the economy by embracing the courageous alternatives proposed by the Simpson-Bowles commission two years ago, Mr. Obama turned to neo-New Deal policies. Rather than building creative partnerships with the private sector, the president chose to demonize the successful. Rather than strengthen the nation’s relationship with Israel as the Arab world imploded, Mr. Obama treated Jerusalem as less a friend than a burden.

Mr. Romney, on the other hand, promises to bring a new and refreshing attitude to Washington, one that speaks to his experience as both a successful business leader and the governor of a state not known for its affection for Republicans.

As he surveys the nation’s stubbornly sluggish economy, Mr. Romney isn’t looking to point fingers, and he certainly isn’t looking to single out chief executives, entrepreneurs and high earners for demagogic attacks and punitive tax proposals. Critics have lampooned him as out of touch; in fact, it is Mr. Obama who has lost sight of the fact that American capitalism is the greatest anti-poverty program in human history.

For that reason, New Yorkers have a special reason to embrace Mr. Romney. He has made it clear that he sees successful, high-achieving and, yes, high-earning Americans as his partners, not his enemies. New Yorkers may still have a special place in their hearts for Mr. Obama’s undeniable place in American history. But it’s important to remember that the president’s anti-Wall Street rhetoric and his soak-the-rich tax proposals are aimed at many of us.

What’s more, the city actually has fared even worse than the rest of the country over the last four years. The city’s stubbornly high jobless rate of over 9.9 percent is higher than the national rate of 7.8 percent. The loss of Wall Street jobs and reigning in of pay has had a negative trickle-down effect on New York’s service industry businesses as well.

Romney’s Plan for Growth
Mr. Romney understands that Washington must work with corporate America, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs to recapture their trust and to ignite their imaginations. To that end, he proposed cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent, the world’s highest, to a more reasonable 25 percent. He also has proposed a permanent 20 percent reduction in marginal tax rates for individuals. Mr. Romney’s critics charge that this formula has been tried before to no avail. They have forgotten their history—tax cuts by Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Ronald Reagan helped fuel job creation, investment and prosperity.

At the macro level, Mr. Romney could not be more clear: Job creation—not what he memorably called “trickle-down government”—must be Washington’s priority. That position stands in remarkable contrast to Mr. Obama’s priorities when he took office, as he used his mandate to ram through Obamacare, the largest expansion of government since the Great Society.

But Mr. Romney knows that the key to job creation lies not in Washington, but on both Wall Street and Main Street, where the creativity of capitalism and the vision of risk-takers can chart a new course for millions who have seen their prospects dim over the last four years. Bill Clinton said that those who work hard and play by the rules should be assured of a bright future. But the last four years have seen millions of hard workers consigned to the unemployment line and some 46 million become dependent on food stamps—up from 31 million in 2008. Mr. Romney is caricatured as an unfeeling child of privilege, but it is hard to miss his outrage when he talks of the unemployed and underemployed people he has met during his campaign.

Mr. Romney also understands that government can no longer afford to spend trillions that it simply doesn’t have. Entitlement programs, including Medicare and Social Security, need to be reformed. Cultures of dependency—both at the individual and the corporate level—must be transformed. We saw that here in New York City in extreme form. The city of the late 1980s, where one in seven New Yorkers was on welfare, had essentially ceased to function. Both Rudy Giuliani and Bill Clinton applied common-sense solutions to get the city and the country off the mat, and the results are inarguable. The difference between the New York of the late 1980s and today is astonishing, although there still is work to be done.

America and the World
Credit where it is due: under President Obama, the world’s master terrorist met his demise at the business end of American weaponry.

Other than that undeniable achievement, Mr. Obama’s conduct of foreign policy and national security has been incoherent and ineffective, as the continuing and ever-changing saga of the terrorist murder of U.S. diplomats in Libya demonstrates.

But for so many New Yorkers, the most disconcerting failure of the Obama years has been the nation’s deteriorating relationship with Israel. He foolishly sought to create strategic separation between Washington and Jerusalem, believing that this would somehow impress the Arab world’s dictators and demagogues. Precisely why this would be in the national interest remains a mystery—in any case, the shift was a strategic disaster.

Israel rightly believes that Mr. Obama simply doesn’t comprehend the threats to its very existence. There is no reason to believe that the Obama administration will have Israel’s back if Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities—a move that may be required to prevent the haters in Tehran from possessing and using weapons of mass destruction.

Mr. Obama appears to believe that peace will come to the Middle East simply by forcing Israel, the only true democracy in the region, to return to its pre-1967 borders without even the most basic concession from the Arabs. What kind of a friend would make such a demand?

Mr. Romney will not stand by idly while vicious anti-Semites in Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood threaten Israeli civilians. He will not bow to wishful thinking when terrorists hijack protest movements in the Arab world. And he will call out Israel’s critics in the West for their hypocrisy and utter disregard for the Jewish state’s security concerns.

Change to Move Forward
The United States simply cannot afford another four years of weak leadership. The genius of American capitalism and the moral authority of American foreign policy must be restored.

Mitt Romney has a plan to do both. He has the credentials to restore the economy and to defend American values in a hostile world. He has the skills to help create jobs and a brighter future for our country.

This election is a true turning point for the next generation. Mitt Romney is the change the nation needs. And he is the change New York needs.