Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Samoa: Treasured Isles of the South Pacific, rarara

Me and Cilla, left behind to help pack the promotional material,...so we decided to make the most of the promo stuff while our impatient photographer was there, my darling Gui, merci sole...!!

Visit Samoa, see whats there to see!!!

Flashbacks from the past

Tanya Gui and Alice, 2000 at Hamilton Gardens during study week. We hardly studied,...No shit sherlock!!

With my extraordinary mommy at Falealupo for the Milenium Celebrations on the 31st December 1999 at the LAST SUNSET ON THE MILLENIUM ON EARTH.

Waikato University Pacific Island students at the opening of Fale Pasifika, 2002ish, with the not-so-virginal miss pureety Jason and his angels.

The Savaii Clan

The Safua Tag Team: Diana, Cherelle, ME, Omega...maybe 86ish???...love the haircuts..heheh

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Culture Moves: Dance in Oceania Conference

Among the interesting people i met, were Tamati Te Nohotu and Hokuala.
Firstly, Tamati is from GI, Auckland, Maori actor/artist who played Maui in a New Zealand show last year. On the last day, Saturday noon, he tells me that his mates are performing at the theatre across the road. So we skipped the performances at the Marae and ran to catch the show. The Little Shop of Horrors. The musical was just simply O for awesome. It was about a plant that grew and grew, feeding on human blood, until everyone was gobbled up. It was a great way to end three days of panels, dance and damp hostel beds.
Hokuala, is the lead dance of the group Kuautuaine (Polynesian Dance Company(USA), he's 23 and his mom is the leader of the group. Up until I met Hokuala in the hostel kitchen, I assumed the lady(his mom) was a 26 year old??? So i was so so shocked when he said 'That's my mom'..If only i can age like that!!! (i dont have a pic, sorry!!)...

Another highlight of the Conference was entertainment by Tofiga and Eteuati Ete. Tofiga was just hhhhhilarious. On my left is SUGARPOP from California, who was part of the group Lockers. He said two guys (from the Lockers) taught Micheal Jackson the moves, but when Micheal was asked by the media he responded that he learnt it from the 'children of the ghetto'.
He could have made the lives of two people better, but chose otherwise. what a dick!
With Dr Wendy Cowling, who was my Anthropology lecturer in Waikato University.
Dr. Grant McCall, from QUT also attended, I met him initially in Savaii in 1996 ish when he was with another professor Max Quanchi. Both recalled that they came to meet Mom after hearing that she was this rather strong traditional high chief of Savaii, but halfway through the interview, Mom got up and walked to the office, they asked her, what for? She answered: "Need to email my kids, and need to order a new modem, coz this one's had it ".

Dance in Oceania : Culture Moves

The Culture Moves Conference started on 9-12th November 2005 in Windy Wellington, NZ.
I was very fortunate to get a grant from Creative New Zealand to attend the three day meeting.
Delegates came from as far as California, Hawaii, Darwin, New Caledonia, Easter Islands.
The three convenors were Dr Katerina, April and Shaun, all of whom did a great and monstrous job of bringing all these awesome activities and people into one perfect venue: Te Papa Museum.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and hearing these new interesting perspectives, from academics, chereographers, dancers, potential sponsors. etc etc.

The performances by the travelling groups were simply stunning, I wish I could have memorised every move, every expression.
Some stuck to traditional conservative yet graceful moves, some were more for the dramatic, others simply gave it all, hip-thrusting, head-shaking, arms flailing, girls thrown in the air, men in trantric-like states and Chamorro boys screaming to drum beats.

I have a few images glued to my mind, Peter, a ballet dancer who has incorporated this with Hawaiian moves, danced so ....fluidly, so so passionately. At the end, i felt so macho after seeing him sway to a 70's beat.

Sugarpop, who breathed, lived and aged with the revolution of breaking and hip-hop before J.Lo and Micheal Jackson destroyed the original efforts of a few. He belonged to the group Lockers.
He was witty, straight-up, no nonsense kinda guy who stood up during the panel discussion and excalimed "I gotta pee!"

There were a very few moments where i felt dissapointed. With an academic dominating the discussions with irrelevant academic blurr that left the rest of the crowd staring at the ceiling, a Samoan man who claimed to be a traditional dance expert , never mind the Cook Island drum beats during the sasa and the foreign actions used. Some egos need to be deflated periodically.

Nevertheless, the networks made, knowledge acquired, experience absorbed made this Conference a success.
It can only get better from here.
I came reminded again that dance is more that expressions. It is bringing together people, it is breaking barriers, forging new relationships and givcing inspriration to many.

Ia Manuia!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Fagatele Beach: YOU MUST VISIT!!!

When i worked at STA, a very well spoken friendly old man named Pitovao came to ask for help with developing his family's beach-front location. This is in the village of Aufaga, on the eastern side of Upolu.
The sad bureaucratic truth is that he couldn't get any assistance from the highly qualified pro-palagi funds controlled by NZHC/Govt reps and private sector.

This poor guy was so determined to develop the place with the little resources he had.

Despite the financial setback, he and his family went ahead and continued cleaning the place up, growing fruit trees, building samoan fales, cutting through bush to create a track leading down a slight slope to the stunning beach below etc...so much effort but only a very very few ever go there, nor care that it exists,.

Now imagine if everyone that reads this, went to Samoa and spent a day at this paradise of a beach....boy, that'll make one hard working Samoan family very happy!!!!

For a pitiful charge of SAT3.00, that's approx $U.S1.20, you can be on your own at one of the most stunning spots in the Pacific, what the heck,...in the World!

Fagatele Beach
Phone: 41167.

Village: Aufaga, Lepa

Owner: Pitovao Aniva Faamoana

Entrance Fee: SAT3.00 per person.

Easily accessible from main road (5 minute walk), Fagatele is one of those beaches that you can have all to yourself without any disturbance.

High Chief Pitovao takes great care of visitors to the Beach and his extended family are eager to provide fresh cool coconuts and if it’s the season, sugarcanes and mangoes for the weary traveler.

Facilities include traditional Samoan fales that can be rented for day trips. If you would like to stay overnight, Please contact Pitovao in advance for special arrangement.
There are also secure car parks, clean restrooms, shower, with clean running water on site.

Experience Samoa,.. hospitable culture, vibrant colors, happy people, relaxing island experience and lush greenery at your comfort and safety.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Around the world in 4 stressful days

4th November 2005
My employer (a govt corporation) sent me to Germany to accompany 35 dancers back to NZ-Samoa.
I left on a Friday afternoon, and returned Monday morning.
Total time spent in Germany?
17 hours. From 5:30a.m – 10:00pm
46 hours of flight time, 12 hours at airports.
Thank God I flew Business Class back.
Cost? $6000.00 something NZD.

And there’s people dying from lack of basic medication in Bangladesh. and Samoa

Anyhow, the bottom line of the story is PLANNING and EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT can save Samoa (and everybody) a lot of time, effort and non-existent money.
There still remains the urgent need for decision makers(for fear of naming that particular person) to COMMUNICATE and ensure that everything is transparent. Plan ahead, forge solutions, take calculated risks, and accept RESPONSIBILITY!

Which brings me to another point concerning the trip.

Picture Frankfurt Airport, crowded, noisy, cold, Polizei all over the place.
Now imagine you’re in my shoes, stressing to make sure all 35 dancers are on the two flights to Singapore, especially when 10 are on wait-list and not booked on the flights. And worse yet, the idiots that call themselves travel agent in Samoa tore off the ticket coupon for some dancers tickets, therefore costing me(STA) €100.00 each.
Finally, after pleading with Duty Managers of Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, all 35 are through.
Thanks to Rev. Kereta who has the 'vision' and tofamamao' to tolerate this madness for six long months!
Anyhow, everyone leaves for the Gates and happily wave goodbye to the overworked underpaid people from Tragic Tropical Islands of Krausnick.
I take a deep breath and run happily to my about-to-depart flight.
Suddenly, there’s a commotion, there’s Polizei everywhere, all surrounding an unattended luggage, exactly where some flippin' Samoan dancers where at.
a. Do you continue walking to the Gate, and board
b. Return, claim the bag which belongs to the dancers and get shit from those fucking cops.
c. Assault the dancer that owns the bags?
I chose b., at which I was given a lecture by some shitty pale-as cop who wants to call his boss and halt the US Military and text George Bush, call Kofi Annan, email Josef Stahlin, contact FBI and other pitiful crap sh+t.
Fortunately, one of the dancers had hooked up with a US Military officer from American Samoa and was there to farewell the girl. He came to the dumb cop, apologized, showed his ID and the cop let me go.

Now, imagine my rage turning raw when I pick up the big bags and there were 3 pieces, each weighing more than 7 kgs each.
I couldn’t take them all in, and as I am about to dumb them in the rubbish, out comes the stupid girl who owns the bags.
I realized then that I had evil in me to simply cause bodily harm or beat the daylights out of her.
I finally gave her bags and a tongue lashing she’ll remember for life, I dragged the rest, ran to the plane, right before they closed it.
That, my dear, is only a lousy 20 minutes of life with a dance group, sent to a shit-hole one hour outside of civilization(Berlin), to live for 6 months. With bombed out houses and airstrips of WWII still standing, watching poorly informed islanders as they are transported to and from the alien Dome to sing and dance at set calculate times each day morning, noon and night.

I prayed for the first time in a long time that God may give me the humility and perseverance not to smack someone before we landed in New Zealand.

Photo: To make use of my 17 hours in Frankfurt, I hopped on the train going into the city center, where I walked around, checked out the shopping, ate some yummy cinnamon cream buns and drank a beer (or more) at the corner pub, watching some weirdos protesting against nuclear warfare.

Meet the dancing sensation, Susana Aumua, from Falealupo, the last place to see the sunset in the world. She was one of the dancers on contract for 6 months. While she was there in that pitiful place called umm, Brand(1.5 hour from Berlin), she met John Yang, a Samoan (A.Samoa) serving in the US Military based in Frankfurt. Anyhow, yadayadayada, they fell in love, and they arrived 2 hours early to Frankfurt Airport ahead of the 35 dancers.
And what do we do to kill time?
Headed for the Bar and started a very loud fun island catch-up over German beer,...US Military' s shout of course!
She is now back in Samoa but we're working on getting her back to her soldier before the end of the year...now how adorable is that?????

Photo: Afutolu Lefaoseu and John Yang, both Samoans in the US Military based in Frankfurt.
We hope to catch up in Savaii, perhaps for the big Samoan wedding???

Susana and John Yang..awww~!!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

shannon: aka jeff da maori

Shaggers came to our wedding in marseille,
he was in heidelberg germany,..wait for this; playing gridiron there...yes, you read right.
anyhow, he played rugby with Gui at Waikato Uni, for the below average Varsity team.

Heres a photo of him doing the haka at the wedding.
he had more passion than Tana Umaga and a more boozed system than Valea Pepelo's dad "I'm going to the pub, i shall be some tyme'.

To dance or not to dance

2 years ago, it was so very easy to just stroll to the samoan fale, adjust my lavalava and careessly move to the well prepared music, of the amplified guitar, ridiculous drum beats and irritating songs ; every other day of the week.
That 'was' my life as a dancer,. you simply dance, and get paid, dance and maybe a trip or two abroad, staying in posh hotels, dancing in any weather, snow, rain or heatwave, geneva, london, kalahari desert, kilamanjaro,..mars.. i'm sure if there's people (or martians) around we'd still be dancing ...'talofa le au faafofoga i lenei po'....

Fast forward to today, the sun is well hidden, the dancers are nowhere to be seen, and i'm calling around for gigs to sell the group to.
New Zealand, 20 NOvember 2005