Christmas 2017 Pics

Family Traditions

A few days before Christmas: Put up decorations and Christmas trees

Christmas Eve: Enjoyed food/snacks, played games like Family Feud (home version), did Karaoke, and had lotsa fun!

Christmas Day To'ana'i (Brunch): This year we decided on a seafood menu

grandma and granddaughters 

Our Christmas highlight: youngest grandson skyping with missionary grandson on iPhone ... lol!!


My TAKEAWAYS from the Alabama Senate Election - Moore vs. Jones

Roy Moore vs. Doug Jones.

If you’re outside the US of A, then the story may have eluded you - unless of course you’re one of those US political afficionados.  But if you’re in the US, then this story is - using Trump’s repetitive and limited lexicon - bigly, massive, historic, epic, mighty, tremendous, great and “the likes of which the world has never seen before.”

IRONICALLY, all these Trumpian superlatives are even MORE apt and precise in describing the shocking outcome of this special election last Tuesday.  It was Epic! Mighty! Historic! Massive! Bigly!...etc. etc.

Jeff Sessions (Republican), the chipmunky-voice and “smlying”-faced senator from Alabama was picked by Trump to be US Attorney General, leaving his seat vacant in the Senate. Long story short, the two candidates who ended up vying for the seat were Doug Jones, a Democrat, and Roy Moore, a Republican.

Alabama played a crucial role in the history of  the civil rights movement in America. Historic figures like George Wallace, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King are associated with Alabama. Today, Alabama is known as one of the reddest of red states. In US political lingo, it’s a state that is predominantly Republican. During the last two decades, Alabama has voted Republican in Congress and in state offices. Consider also that Sessions ran unopposed as a senator in 2014 and won 97% of the votes. Republican votes. The Democrats were not able to field a candidate and the only opposition that Sessions faced were write-ins.  In other words, therefore, Jones (Democrat) had zero chances of winning. He was practically an under-underdog.

But allegations and  accusations surfaced of Moore molesting and harassing women (ring a bell?), including teenage girls. Several women came forward with their stories which Moore would deny, of course. To add salt to the wound, some of Moore’s social, religious and political views were flagrantly prejudiced, extreme, bigoted and racist (ring a bell?), that even some leaders in the Republican Party started to disavow him and called him to quit the race. Trump, on the other hand, considering his own problems with sexual misconduct and harassment, meanwhile, was silent about Moore - even on Twitter.  A few days before the election, however, Trump fully and without reservation, endorsed Moore.

The race dominated the news as polls showed a real tight one. The court of public opinion still gave Moore a big advantage, everything considered, especially Alabama’s political leanings.  It was Moore’s guaranteed win according to most pundits. In the end Jones beat the favored Moore by a 1.5% margin.  And so Moore “fell from his high horse” (I’ll elaborate on this later.)

With the current political maelstrom and pandemonium in the US, stemming from a controversial and flawed presidency, and recent resignations in Congress due to sexual misconduct of some of its members, this Alabama election became a miniature of the bigger national, cultural and socio-political scene and trend.

So here are some of my takeaways from the Alabama Election.
  • America starts to feel the buyer’s remorse, aka voter’s remorse. Trump won big in Alabama over Clinton, and he endorsed Moore - but Moore lost.  Go figure!
  • America still retains some of its decency - and moral compass.  Because of Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct, people started to wonder how can someone vote for such a person, especially the polls with him consistently ahead of Jones. That also caused some many true fellow Americans to wonder if this is the direction that America is heading with its elected officials - spearheaded by Trump himself and his own sexual misconduct. Well it was not meant to be this time. Decency won! And the election seems a glimmer of hope for Americans as still being decent and moral people.  Thank God for goodness!
  • Family Feud brewing, and therefore Trump may disavow his good friend Steve Harvey also. Again just fews day before the election, Trump backed Moore while her daughter Ivanka - an “advisor to the president” (ahem!) - denounced and criticized Moore for his sexual misconduct.  In the end, Ivanka won and Trump lost.  Will Trump fire Ivanka?  If he does, then Jared (Ivanka’s husband) may reveal all the family secrets and Trump’s dealings with Russia.  Is there also a Haman’s tree in the making? 
  • A war with North Korea is now becoming more likely.  How and why?  Well Trump has, generally, been a loser and failure during his first year in office.  There’s a political strategy that when a president/leader faces so many failures and low approval ratings at home (domestic), then he/she would seek to create a conflict abroad in order to unite his/her country.  The leader needs to be careful in trusting such a strategy, because it doesn’t always work in his favor.  For an American president, Vietnam and Iraq (to an extent) are good lessons.  Trump, being a foolhardy president that he is, may just count on a war with North Korea to unite the country, reverse his woes, misfortunes and unfavorable ratings at home. 
  • Irony is still alive, and well!  Moore did not drive or walk to cast his vote on election day. Instead he rode a horse.  The horse’s name is Sassy! Ain’t that ironic?  “Sassy” has a young girl and female connotation and is a word that reminds everyone of Moore’s past misconduct with young girls.  And so Moore lost the election, or shall we say that he “fell from his high horse” Veeerry saaasssy indeed!
  • Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord ...[will enter the Senate].” Moore has been known as a religious guy, in fact so overly religious that he was called a religious bigot by many of the so-called “value voters”.  Moore also openly dislikes Muslims and is a zealot for his Christian faith.  He even refuses to concede the election to Jones because he says that God has not spoken to him yet....hahaaaa...You see?  Come to think of it, the Lord may have already spoken to him through Sassy (the horse), like the story of Balaam and his ass (donkey) in the Bible.  And, like Balaam, Moore is the kind of person who would not listen to anyone who speaks the truth (remind you of someone?) let alone to an animal. Hahaaa.
  • The Alabama Election result is a classic example of poetic justice.
  • Trump is not out of the sexual harassment woods yet.  Some members of Congress are now calling for his resignation from the many sexual harassment claims against him.
  • Obama trumps Trump. Obama since leaving office has stayed quiet and mostly behind the scenes watching as Trump seeks to demolish and destroy his (Obama’s) legacy by reversing and  overturning many of his programs and acts. And so days leading up to the election when Trump came out and endorsed Moore, Obama for the first time came out publicly and encouraged people to get out and vote for Jones.  And Obama won. He beat Trump. 
  • And so Trump must be tired of winning losing.  (Re: Trump’s “tired of winning” campaign rhetoric.)
  • Bannon is still banned.  Steve Bannon, Trump’s reeeaaallly close friend, also stumped miiiightily for Moore.  In fact Steve, during one of his stump speeches for Moore, said that there is a “special place in hell for those Republicans who don’t support Roy Moore....”  Hell, no!...
  • Racial tensions (black vs. white) may be on the upsurge again.  Moore was backed by mostly white voters but Jones received 95% of the black vote which put him over the top. In fact Jones’s win has been attributed mainly to the black voters. Conversely, Moore, Bannon and Trump are all considered masked advocates - if not dear friends and champions - of white supremacy! 


Gone "Gatsby"

This past weekend we attended a birthday celebration (80th) for one of Dearie's cousins.  Guests were asked to dress Gatsby style of the Roarin' Twenties.  It was a beautiful and fun-filled party.  It brought back some memories of my university days studying F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" - a classic in American Literature.

Some of the guests came from as far away as Australia and New Zealand.  Marina Davis was one of them who wowed the guests with her vocal performances.

Some pictures from the party.

...with daughter

daughter with cousin

dearie with cousins

dearie with niece and sister (front) with "Jade"


Samoa Observer Comments

I recently commented in the Samoa Observer on an editorial about the Prime Minister titled:
“Of course he’s not a ‘dictator,’ he is only the leader of a ‘one-party state’”

Dear Editor,

I think we should give this period of the H.R.P.P. and Tuila’epa rule the name: “Tui Myth” in the mold of the “Tudor Myth” of England of the 15th/16th centuries. There are some significant similarities.

One of these is the belief that the government/king is divinely sanctioned.

That means God watches over and governs the country through the leader/king. That has always been Tuila’epa’s shibboleth, which, unfortunately, may not and/or cannot be repudiated and refuted considering Samoa’s national motto of having been “founded on God”.

The recent constitutional change making Samoa a Christian state adds to that whole belief and psyche. But as I said in one of my recent letters:
 “The Samoa Christian churches, understandably, welcome and embrace the [change], but again there’s hidden venom underneath it. The government can actually become the proverbial camel that will slowly but surely encroach and eventually take control of the tent (or Church). If the government can pass a law to nationalize a particular religion, what stops it from regulating that religion?
The demarcation between church and state has become more indistinct and obscure as a result.
The irony is that churches now think that they are rightfully and deservedly sanctioned and are given a mandate by the government and yet, at the same time, they are unknowingly ceding to the government some of their autonomy and supposed authority and independence.
Therefore, churches/denominations better be ready and not be surprised when - not if - their ecclesiastical appointments, policies and practices will be infringed upon, if not dictated, by the government down the road. The government now has a vested interest in its religion nemesis. The camel is in.” 

Yes, the “animal” (donkey or elephant in the US political context) certainly is in the tent already. And the “divine right” claim, ironically, is now being used against the clergy and the Church in Samoa requiring their ministers to pay taxes, for example.

This sounds like something right out of an edict of a Tudor king. Practically, again, the church is now controlled by the government.

Another similarity between the present government and the Tudor dynasty is found in how the people continue to view the P.M. and H.R.P.P. as being authoritarian.

The government, however, can actually respond and - using one of the Tudor Myth’s claims and justifications for an evil king/ruler - say that it has been divinely called, too, to change and correct the people’s wicked and evil ways, if not become a scourge to them.  In other words, an evil people deserves an evil ruler. And this kinda goes along with the democratic notion of people deserving their leaders because they elect them (albeit indirectly in Samoa) to begin with.

Moreover, the P.M’s audacious and dictatorial tendencies may also be given validation and consolation by a popular notion articulated by a French political philosopher, Jean Bodin, who said, contextually, that the “... [Prime Minister], in whom the [power] resteth, is to give account unto none, but to the immortal God alone.”

This was said in defense of the monarchical style of government of Bodin’s time like the Tudor dynasty. Notwithstanding, the Bible has its own position in which the buck stops with the leaders: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”~ Proverbs 29:2 (KJV)

So either way, I guess, in a sense, it goes back to the people - if they’re mourning or rejoicing (or in emoji lingo, LOL!) - [notably] if they’re evil or good.

Samoa e, ala mai ia!

LV Letalu


I also posted a comment on this article about the death of an LDS Church missionary.

In my Church, it’s always sad and tragic when a missionary passes away while in the mission field, especially as a result of a tragic accident.  Recently a missionary (elder), from Australia but of Samoan parentage, was killed in Samoa after being hit by a drunk driver. One of the related articles titled “Body of dead missionary to be taken home,” has this particular line in it:

“More than $9,000 was raised through a fundraiser to help take Patiole’s body back to [Australia] his homeland.”

The statement may be true with regards to the amount raised, however, the "purpose" part does distort and misrepresent the role and part of the LDS Church in such tragic cases, especially in helping the missionary’s family ease the pain through shouldering some related expenses; hence my comment (below) posted at the end of the article in the Samoa Observer.

My Comment:

Condolences to the family of the dear missionary. RIL!

Just a little clarification in case non-members (and some LDS Church members as well) misconstrue some parts of the article with regards to the core expenses. The following quote therefore may shed some light on the issue, and I'm certain the information is still valid and current, even though it was given two years ago at another missionary funeral where the same expense issues were raised.
"The death of a young missionary is a tragic time for the family and for all those who love them, and the Church seeks to ensure that there are no financial concerns that make the mourning process more difficult,” said Eric Hawkins, church spokesman. “When a missionary is injured or becomes ill and then passes away, the Church covers the costs of medical treatment and transportation, return of the deceased to their home and funeral expenses. Families may choose to supplement what the Church provides to personalize the funeral at their own discretion.”  - Daily Herald


Faik News VI

With Trump as president, we are heading towards WW III, according to some, even from members of his own party. And no that’s not World Wrestling III, but World War THREE!  And so as long as we anticipate nearing the end of the human race - or the “calm before the storm” (according to Trump) -  let’s giggle and let’s laugh. It could be your last laugh, and you know what they say about the one who laughs last. Hahaaa! So why not? Even if we have to faik it!

And why not laugh at the expense of the man who is putting us on the path to THE END?  After all this is the man who has impelled us, as Americans, to reevaluate and reassess our own sanity and to question the condition of our collective mental health. We now look back and sometimes giggle at our own stupidity as Americans and, as individuals, ruefully ask - like Urkel of “Family Matters” comedy series - “Did I do that?”  Yes we did that!!  And the world is thinking that the Americans have gone insane and deranged for “doing that” thing.

So laugh along and laugh with me....

First of all there’s other more important news than the Kardashians’ faik pregnancies (Kylie’s and Khloe’s). Yes. Especially for those who are now quite selective in the news they listen to and watch, like the fans and followers of Trump who try to avoid watching the real news (not faik Fox-y) being apprehensive of any more gaffes, lies, vulgarity, lewdness, audaciousness, bragging, bigotry, hatred and even more lies from our dearly beloved and religious president (Ahem!).

Well, sorry peeps but the news media is not interested in that fai ma’umaga (farmer) tending his taro plantation on a tiny remote Pacific island.  Instead the media is most interested in someone who has a lot of power and influence on the whole world  - aaaand on the fai ma’umaga too.  And so any US president, as always, is newsworthy 24/7, especially “that guy” and “bum” according to Lebron James...lol!  (R-e-s-p-e-c-t has to be earned, I know.)

Nambia or Namibia?
And so there are people in the world who either love the president, or love to hate him. Like the people of Namibia (Africa), yes, spelled: N-A-M-I-B-I-A.  The Namibians apparently don’t like the fact that Trump called their country “Nambia” - which I’m sure even a third grader has no problems saying and naming Nah-mee-bee-ah. For a US president, it pays to know his geography because he may have to order a bombing of Moscow, and end up bombing a city in Idaho of the same name.

Trump is a Dotard
And dominating the news too is this war of words and insults between Trump and Kim Jong-un, (leader of N. Korea).  Mannn, they’re like kids.  Well... they ARE kids.  Kim is actually a kid in a very real sense of the word,  and Trump is a 71- year old lad.  He behaves like a kid, he talks like a kid, speaks like a kid,.... And I’m not kidding!

So imagine Trump mispronouncing North Korea as something like Nuth Kurea...hahaa... Kim Jong-un would fire back with more insults besides calling Trump a “dotard”. Oh yes, “dotard” is a real word, though some native English speakers had to actually look it up. For me I thought it was a coinage by Kim for “Donald Retard”?? At least Kim came up with a real word, unlike Trump’s “covfefe”.

The Forgotten First lady: Ivanka? Or Marla? Or Melania?
A lot of Americans believe that the president doesn’t get along with his third current wife, Melania.  Most of the time he would disembark his plane and would walk down the airstairs alone and let his wife follow, sometimes five steps back. On one of his recent overseas trips, he faikly reached back to hold Melania’s hand and Melania brushed it off. Maybe because his hand didn’t quite reach Melania’s because it’s a small one (chuckle chuckle).  He doesn’t want to walk side-by-side with her, he is always a step or two ahead.  And even when Melania is next to him Trump behaves like she’s not there.  On a recent trip to visit places in Texas hit hard by hurricane Irma (or Urmer according to him), he addressed the crowd and acknowledged those who helped and the first responders.  He acknowledged (and congratulated) HIMSELF, yes, as he always likes to do, acknowledged the vice president, who was standing next to him, but then he excused Melania for not coming along on the trip.  WHAT?  Melania was standing right next to him.

Well either he completely forgot her, or it was an intentional flub. He faiked it!  But wait.  It could also be proof of what a lot of people suspect about him - that he has some mental disorder issues. The blooper is a result of either because he’s old or because he’s just, simply, a dotard. Hahaaaa!!  Look at VP Pence with hands on hips, he must be saying, "Donald, you duck, Melania is right there, I can't believe you man."
Well, it's not faik, the video has gone viral - go view it.

OR, here’s what I THINK happened:

One hour before the trip, in the White House:

Trump (demandingly): Melania, sit!  You stay, ok?  You no go!
Melania (fawningly): Ooooh, Thrump, vy? Pliss tek mee wid you, pleeez, Dunno!
Trump (firmly): Stay, there are some bad people, bad hombres and rapists over there. Believe me.  I don’t want one of them to grab your ...
Melania: Ghrab? No, all da ghrab are died frum tha hurriken.
Trump: Melania, that’s crab, not grab ...it’s different.
Melania (angrily): Oh u and ur grraaap!
Trump: It’s crap.
Melania : Wadevah! Guess yu kant even spell dat... (Aside: I vill steel sneek in tha plen.)

And that’s how Melania got on the plane without Trump’s knowledge.  She sneaked/snuck in.

Trump is a Moron (and a Dotard)
According to the Secretary of State - that’s right, Secretary of State - Rex Tillerson, the president is a moron.  It’s not fake. Since the news leaked, Trump has been saying that it’s fake news.
But recently in one of the interviews, he challenged Tillerson to compare IQ tests. Really? lol!  This is coming from someone who spelled “hereby” as “hearby” and “unprecedented” as “unpresidented” and many many many others (oh yes, and calls Namibia, Nambia).

IQ stands for ....
Besides his many repetitive words, superlatives and phrases like “believe me,” “very, very,” “a great guy” “the likes of which,” “massive”, “epic”, etc., Trump likes to throw around “IQ” from time to time.  When he was appointing his cabinet and staff, he bragged about them having the highest IQ’s of any other administration.  Yet the fact that his staff has gone through firings, resignations, quitting, etc. is simply “unpresidented”.  Let’s remind the president that IQ stands for “Intelligence Quotient” and not “Imbecility Quotient”...lol!

I kinda feel sorry for our president when being called a dotard by an enemy and a moron by a friend and Secretary of State. That’s not good - “unpresidented!”

Watch for Tillerson’s ouster SOON!

Mr. Price-y guy
Again what’s in a name? What name?  Tom Price.  He was the secretary of Health and Human Services.  He was fired resigned from his post, because of his corrupt and extravagant ways. He would use military planes on his official - aaaand personal trips. Price turned out to be rather “price-y”! LOL!... Remember draining the swamp?  Price was actually part of the swamp filled by Twamp himself.

“Lasting Peach”
During Trump’s overseas trip to Israel early in the year, the White House issued a press release to outline some highlights of the trip.  The release had some typos including one item stating that one of president Trump’s goals for his trip abroad was to “promote the possibility of lasting peach.”  Yes that should be “peace” not peach.  Incidentally “peace” is one thing that we can never accomplish with Trump because he bullies, fights, argues, quarrels and disagrees with everyone, even the widow of a fallen soldier.  The typo seems a fitting foreshadow. Come to think of it, Trump’s whole countenance including his hair is peach, So he can practically say “I’m peach!” or as most people would say “Impeach!”????

Trump is a bully
The Mayor of Philadelphia recently said this about Trump, that he is a bully and a punk and then he added: “I don’t know where [Trump] was raised, but his family didn’t do a good job raising that guy.”  Yes, “that guy”. Lebron James has another name for “that guy”.

Signing off now ..."Peach!" ...hmmm..mmean “Peace!”  ..LOL!!


UTAH - Most Charitable State

Ashley May, USA TODAY Published 10:40 a.m. ET Nov. 28, 2017 | Updated 12:26 p.m. ET Nov. 28, 2017

Giving Tuesday: Here are the most - and least - charitable states 

The state slogan says it all
Utah, known for its high Mormon population, is the most charitable state, according to a recent report by personal-finance website WalletHub.

Utah ranked first for highest volunteer rate, highest percentage of donated income and highest percentage of population who donate time. Charitable was defined in the report as “volunteering and service” and “charitable giving." Wallethub looked at factors such as community-service requirements for high school graduation and public charities per capita.

Maryland, Minnesota and Wyoming followed Utah as among the top charitable states. Illinois was the top state for percentage of the population who donate money. West Virginia was No. 1 for the percentage of population collecting and distributing food. Vermont has the highest charities per capita, according to WalletHub. Hawaii received the lowest overall ranking, also coming in last for percentage of people collecting and distributing food.

The website used data from a variety of groups, including the U.S. Census Bureau, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, Internal Revenue Service, Feeding America and Gallup.

Most charitable:
1. Utah
2. Maryland
3. Minnesota
4. Wyoming
5. Wisconsin
6. Washington
7. Virginia
8. South Dakota
9. Georgia
10. Oklahoma

Least charitable:
50. Hawaii
49. Rhode Island
48. Nevada
47. Louisiana
46. Arizona
45. Texas
44. Florida
43. California
42. Montana
41. Kentucky


O le Ala i le Tautua o le Pule

O le Ala i le Tautua o le Pule
(The Path to Service is through Authority)

O le alagaupu masani “O le Ala i le Pule o le Tautua” o lo’o tumau pea ona laulauvivilu ai Samoa ae maise i lana aganu’u o le tu’ufaasoloina o le pule e ala i suafa matai. Ae peita’i ona o suiga o nisi o faiga ua iai nei i lea agaifanua, ua foliga mai ua alagatatau ona faaopoopo iai, pe suia fo’i, i le faaupuga faafeagai “O le Ala i le Tautua o le Pule.” E iai ni pine faamau e lagolagoina ai lea manatu ma suiga.

Note: To avoid the apparent ambiguities from the use of the word “tautua ” in the article, here’s a guide on its different traditional connotations:
a. (n.) service/s rendered by the non-titleholder to the titleholder (pre-title/authority) or titleholder to the family (post-title/authority).
b. (n.) the person rendering the service/s.
c. (v.) the act of rendering the service/s.

The connotations will be noted parenthetically using the above (a,b,c) designations.

me, kama hamoa kaukua lelei...hahaaa
In the traditional succession to become a matai (chief/titleholder) in the Samoan culture, the process is best summed up by the maxim “O le ala i le pule o le tautua,” (The path to authority/leadership is through service.) In other words, for one to become a matai, he/she needs to have tautua (c) (served) the incumbent matai for an unspecified amount of time. Only then will the tautua (b) be bequeathed a title or the title of the incumbent or previous matai. The system is closely akin to the vassal-lord relationship of the feudal system during the Middle Ages. For the Samoans, however, their validation is often drawn from the Bible’s “...and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant,” (Matt. 20:27; 23:11 - KJV). The verses are actually misinterpreted by the Samoans, but more on that later.

And so I now submit that the idea and belief in the traditional tautua (a), as the bona fide prerequisite for the bestowment of the pule (authority) by becoming a matai, is fading and eroding. Instead it’s the pule that is now prior, and which entitles and empowers one to tautua (c); hence the proposed maxim: “(O le ala i le tautua o le pule." (The path to service is through authority.) One only needs to observe and study the current trend of matai title bestowals to confirm this hypothesis. Though the principle in the new maxim has a universal nuance, the concept is treated, here, mostly within the context of Samoa’s matai system.

The proposed contravening version/maxim may be considered radical by some, deemed controversial, if not offensive by others or heretical and blasphemous by traditionalists. Proponents, on the other hand, if any, may understand the dichotomy but reluctant to agree for one reason or another. Still others understand and agree but maybe through a conditional or relative approach only. Notwithstanding, the newer maxim has its merits. It is a reflection of the evolution and changes within Samoa’s socio-political culture driven mainly by economic and other forces. The tautua (a/c) is now considered and valued more in the post-title/authority context and not the traditional pre-title/authority one.

The Traditional Tautua
During the pre-contact times, as well as the early post-contact years, matai succession - through the bequeathment of titles - was granted to the individual who was rendering the tautua (a). More often than not, it was a designated taule’ale’a (non-titleholder). If more than one individual played a role in rendering the tautua (a), usually the most worthy and deserving was to become the next matai. The primogeniture factor was an exception, not necessarily the rule.

me, the "real island guy" - tautua matavela , ae le o le tautua pā'ō ...lol!! 
The traditional tautua (a) involved primarily the taking care of the matai. This meant that the tautua (b), had to make sure that the matai is well-fed, met his obligations to the village administration, as well as his dues to the church. The tautua (b) therefore is a person of agility, skill, hard work, dexterity, etc. In other words he should have the skills of a farmer, a fisherman, a craftsman and a cook. Incidentally, food preparation and culinary skills have become the standard metaphor for assessing one’s traditional worthiness and fitness to become a matai. The main query - lighthearted yet oftentimes serious - used in the assessment was/is “Ua pusa sau umu?”(Have you cooked using the “umu” method?) It basically means, “Have you performed the required traditional tautua?”

The umu is the traditional earth oven method that uses heated rocks to cook the food. It is a daily chore and considered an arduous and strenuous task, especially because of the intense heat and smoke involved. Hence another companion expression and query used in the same evaluation, “Ua mu ou mata?” (Have you had bloodshot eyes?) is an expression with direct reference to the effects of the heat and smoke from cooking using an open fire. Other responsibilities of an effective tautua (c) include fishing, planting, weaving, building and orating. Although a taule’ale’a does not give chiefly speeches, he still orates the folafolaga (announcing) of any sua (food gifts) presented to the matai, as well as specific announcements during an ‘ava ceremony. Most of these responsibilities of the taule’ale’a are learned as an understudy and member of the ‘aumaga (guild of untitled men in a village). The ‘aumaga is an important phase of the taule’ale’a’s traditional progression to becoming a matai and it’s where he observes the chiefly protocols, listens and learns the art of traditional oratory.

In the eventual and successful completion of the traditional tautua (a), the taule’ale’a/tautua (b) awaits his reward of being the rightful successor to the matai title. He has dutifully earned it and endorsed by the consensus of the aiga (extended family). Once he ascends to the position of being the matai, he assumes the role of a presider and administrator, or captain. The expression “ua sao i matau” (he’s made it to the starboard side) is used to describe the saofa’i (title installation). In canoeing/boating, the starboard side is the “right” side of the canoe. It is the steering side. So when one becomes the matai, he’s actually at the place where he becomes the one who “steers” his aiga. “Faafotu o va’a ali’i” (launching of the chiefs’ boat) often shortened to just “fa’afotu” is another idiom that describes the saofa’i, and also based on the nautical and seafaring traditions of the Samoans. It refers to the new matai who is about to be initiated and join the ranks of the ali’i (chiefs) or captains.

In some instances, a taule'ale'a, having circumvented the traditional tautua, may still end up as the titleholder because of the so-called proxy tautua (c) claim by the members of his side of the aiga. These members - including parents, grandparents and others - will put forth a claim during title discussions and deliberations that their candidate’s tautua (c) has been rendered by them for years on his behalf and they want to cede the title to their son, daughter or other family member. Sometimes if not done civilly and mutually, some do it aggressively if not audaciously. Some such cases usually end up in the Land and Titles Court for settlement and resolution.

The New Trend
Within the last few decades, the newer and more popular trend has been the conferring of titles on those who have not, or even get close to having “made a umu” or had “bloodshot eyes” from the umu. Instead, these “new” or modern matai have largely been those wielding, as qualifications, a good education, hence a good-paying job and, naturally, a well-off socioeconomic status. These individuals have avoided and circumvented the traditional tautua - including the ‘aumaga phase - either by having been raised outside the village (usually in town or abroad) or having spent most of their lives pursuing their educational and career goals. The common qualification for these nouveau matai, again, is relative wealth and thus being better off socioeconomically. It is therefore not uncommon for a lawyer, a CEO, or other professional to become the primary choice in an aiga’s matai line of succession. Sometimes, the aiga would just petition or invite such a well-off individual to accept a title, or the main family title, even without any prior traditional tautua (a) or other form of it. He then becomes a non-traditional matai who lacks oratorical skills as well as the common traditional and social etiquette and upbringing.

For the aiga part in this new design, it basically looks to someone who can - according to the traditional motto - “tausi ma tautua (c) le aiga” (take care of, and serve, the family) but in the more modern context. The new matai who has the means and resources would then be expected to help during faalavelave (hardships) and other aiga or village obligations. For example, when the aiga takes a si’i (traditional gift usually in the form of monies and fine mats) to a faalavelave, the aiga expects their new matai to shoulder much of the necessities for the si’i, especially the monetary part. The aiga therefore seems to prefer the conferring of the pule first and thereafter let the new matai start rendering the tautua (a). In other words, it's pule first, and tautua (c) after.

me, the kama fai umu ...lol!
In another instance, I have heard of an aiga whose paramount title succession has been delayed and stalled because the aiga was still waiting and looking for an heir who has the means to rebuild the crumbling and dilapidated faletalimalo (guest house) at the matai’s main/official residence. By today’s standards such a project can easily be in the thousands of dollars. Again it’s cases like these that the pule is given to one who is able to tautua (c). The path to tautua is through the pule. Simply put, once you have the authority, your duty is to serve. This is the more correct interpretation/meaning of the scripture: “...and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant,” (Matt. 20:27; 23:11 - KJV). The context of the verses describes Christ as being the ideal - he was the greatest, the master and chief (The Matai), and yet he “descended” to the level of being a servant, serving others. The new trend therefore is more in line with the scriptures.

Motive and Incentive
What has engendered and inspired the so-called new trend? Modern economics, basically, is the obvious answer. The units and measure of wealth have shifted from being agrarian-based to strictly being capital/money-based; which in turn, ironically, have also shifted the role of the modern matai from being served to serving.

But perhaps the more obvious question now is, what is the motive and incentive for these new/modern matai in desiring - sometimes coveting - and holding these titles? The answer, of course, is to tautua (c) and “tausi le aiga” - to serve, essentially, though with suspect. This motive and mandate is often sanctioned and voiced by church ministers when they pronounce blessings on the new matai on the day of their saofa’i. Part of the prayer is an admonition and reminder to the new matai that the title gives him a mandate to, verbatimly, “tausi le aiga”. But to some observers, however, this enthusiasm and desire by the new matai to hold the family title may be honorable at best but surreptitious and opportunistic at worst. Some of these new matais see the opportunity - especially as holders of higher-ranking titles - more as a means to an end, mostly as a stepping stone to political ambitions starting with being a Member of Parliament (MP) whose main eligibility requirement is a matai title. It is the law. Certainly the attractive comprehensive compensation, perks and fringe benefits for government officials as well as the accompanied status of being one are also major lures and incentives for the new/modern matai.

For the rank and file titleholders, on the other hand, the motive is almost exclusively status and prestige. The tautua (c) gets to be their assigned lot, whether at home in the islands or from abroad (tautua aitaumalele) hence supporting the proposed notion and concept. They’ve been given the authority, now go forth to serve. These rank and file titleholders have increased in numbers as a result of mass title installations - mainly through title splitting - which have become the norm for many families. This practice of title splitting, for appeasement purposes, is quite common today apparently because of the proverbial family tree having become bigger and branchy. Again, their main assignment is not so much to preside or administer, but to tautua (c) the aiga.

Matai titles are also viewed as badges of honor and respect. This is true of both high ranking titles and the rank and file ones. For the former, especially those in administrative and managerial positions in the public and private sectors, matai titles are necessary within the overall cultural establishment. It is not unusual therefore for CEO’s, lawyers, doctors, etc. to hold one or multiple titles. Today, generally speaking, a CEO without a matai title is almost like a police officer without a badge. Indirectly the new/modern matai can also raise the aiga reputation, status and good name from their achievements, employment and status.

Another part of the overall new trend and its motives is that those with capital and wealth, from town or abroad, seek for these or any matai title in their village aiga just so that they can have rights and access to the aiga land, especially oceanfront property. These lands, mostly in the rural villages, are quite attractive and valuable assets to the new wealthy matai as a direct result of the rise of tourism. Hotels, beach fales and other ventures now dot the beachfront and coastal areas built by these new modern matai who are equipped with deep pockets, and now have access to customary land for commercial use through their titles. The aiga (especially in the village) view these ventures in a more positive, constructive and profitable light, if not as an altruistic and intrinsic part of the post-authority tautua of their wealthy matai.

Foreign Merchants Matai
Perhaps nowhere is the new proposition “o le ala i le tautua o le pule” more evident than with perhaps yet another group of new matais. These are foreign merchants like some Chinese business people who have come to Samoa, set up their stores, supermarkets and other business ventures and then recompensed with matai titles. Without any prior traditional or other forms of tautua (a/c), these foreign matai enjoy an easy path to the titles which are conferred by the aiga or village (custodians of the titles) with hopes of being direct recipients and beneficiaries of their “foreign” matais’ wealth and as demonstration and implementation of the post-title/authority tautua (a).

There may be families who still adhere and conform to the traditional method of awarding and conferring their title/s to whomever has/have rendered the traditional tautua (a), hence to the motto: “O le Ala i le Pule o le Tautua”. But the notion is becoming an exception not the rule. Today, “O le Ala i le Tautua o le Pule” is more the norm, if not an irreversible trend. For the Samoans, who are reputed as being naturally Christians - albeit in name only, according to many - the new proposed maxim is now more in harmony with their Biblical endorsing references, correctly interpreted. More correctly applied now, as well, are those who hold the pule in both church and government and are aptly called tautua (b) or servants, namely God’s servants and public servants respectively. And the matai now also follow suit with their tautua (c) by virtue of their pule. Effectively, for the present-day matai, again, “O le Ala i le Tautua o le Pule.”


Some pics from our Halloween Party 2017

At a Different Function

pagi siamagi ...lol

Halloween 2017

my homemade costume ...lol!