Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What you didn't know about Albert Wendt.

Not long ago, I talked about how sometimes we read books and want to ask the author questions, right?

But the problem is that the book we were reading was borrowed from Nelson Library, and it is frayed, dusty and the cover is missing. OR, the inside pages are scribbled with "I love you Paimalafa, my pody grow with yams when I looking into your eyes" But more so, almost all of the time, the author is a someone from England or Canada or somewhere you have not heard of.

But there was an exception, our mother gave us Leaves of the Banyan Tree to read. I hated it at the time, because my teenage brain was geared more towards SweetValley High and ahem, other  shallow things. Pugi.

Later on, I had to go back to Leaves and many of this author's work because I was doing Anthropology and Pacific papers in uni, and I finally came to appreciate and understand what Albert Wendt was on about.

The thing is, I needed to get away in order to understand and appreciate it. Because I was living in his story the first time I read it.
Reading it from afar gave me clarity and made me question what I knew and everything about Samoa, about Samoan men, about culture, about greed, about Samoa.

But even more meaningful to me, was that this book was written so ...hmmm, what's the word, so much that I could smell the umu on the Sunday morning, and see that beat up truck in my head, I could feel the warmth of Pepe's strong chest (even though I was a virgin, ea?).
It also felt awkward at times because the things that the male characters were doing and thinking were 'tapu' to my virginal mind. At times, I had to stop and exclaim "OMG, Mom is letting me read this? whoohooo!"
So my message is, if you see the critic in my blog sometimes, its not me speaking, blame the writers that have influenced me.

And on that note, I (and with the help of my facebook family) had the opportunity to ask the man himself, some questions.
But, not academic, literary questions, rest assured (exhale now)'s the questions you too would have asked without thinking....over a cup of koko samoa and pagikeke lapokopoko.
Better yet, the answers he gave made pagikeke taste like cream will be suprised to see below, that there's even more to the man than you think.
The first question was offered by my cousin Mele Mauala, so thank you Mele for the question (:

Fesili muamua: Why were you such a tough rugby coach?

I love this question. You one of the few interviewers who has ever asked me about my passion for rugby and the time I was a rugby coach and selector. Wonderful! Because people believe I’m a writer and academic I don’t like sports! And for years I tried to cultivate that image too. But I eventually couldn’t deny my passion for sports and rugby. Through the practice of writing and painting, I’ve learned how to be disciplined and committed. I’ve applied that to sport.

I played rugby for many years in high-school and then at the Athletics Club in Wellington and then on my return to Samoa in 1963 played for Apia and was later a selector for the Samoa National Team.

When I was at Samoa College I coached schoolboys’ rugby and the First Fifteen and then the Samoa College Old Pupils Senior Rugby Team. I absolutely loved doing it. People who know me well know I tend to be obsessive about the things I love. I want to be the best at those! And I hate losing! So I just work and work at those. Practice and practice and practice. I also loved teaching young people, inspiring them to be the best, to realise their full potential at whatever they’re passionate about. I learned early that if you want to get the full potential out of individual players you have to get the full potential out of the whole team. And vice versa – does that make sense? I also learned from my students that they’re good at sports because they’re bright intellectually. And at Samoa College we had the brightest students from all round Samoa. Top sports people, I have found to be also very bright.

By committing myself wholly to the team and rugby I inspired my players to do the same. Once you’ve got that, they’ll do the rest. I knew each player well – their strengths and weaknesses, and used those to develop a team that would be courageous and thinking and daring and committed. It was wonderful to watch a game and see your team/match plan working out on the field! I can read a game quite well even today!

It is probably true I was a tough coach. I didn’t hesitate leaving out players who were not putting their best into the game. But Samoa College and my players were and still are proud that we dominated First Fifteen and Senior Rugby in Samoa for at least four years.

Footnote: Though I still love the game, I’ve always believed it is only a game! There are more important things in life!

Fesili Numera Lua:  When I read Ola, I saw myself in her, obviously the part where she is intelligent and amazing etc (:,...was she inspired by a real woman, women you have met,,...or were you just making it up as you went)

Ola was inspired by the life of my grandmother Mele Tuaopepe-Trood. She was a remarkable person who was bilingual and an authority on our way of life, history and oral stories and traditions. She wasn’t a business or overseas educated person like Ola. But I gave Ola her personality and ways of behaving etc. Mele inspired me to tell my own stories and be who I wanted to be. I also let Ola develop in the novel the ways she wanted to! Ola is also a lot of me. I give her a lot of my experiences and travels.
Today if you look at the people running our departments and organisations in Samoa most of them are women and most of them have better university qualifications than the men! It’s a pity this is not reflected in our Parliament where there are only two women MPs! Ola preceeded this marvellous generation of Samoan women. If you look at NZ universities, there are more Pasefika women than men, especially in the graduate programmes!
See what I mean??? Isn't he amazing?

Fesili Numera Tolu: What questions are you SICK of answering?

Questions about the biographical facts of my life and the bibliographical details of what I’ve written. Why? Because the interviewers should know that before they come to interview me. If they don’t know those they can get them off Google! Also asking me to tell them the contents of my book they’re interviewing me about. They should read the bloody book before they interview me!
Thank you Albert Wendt for gracing my blog with your presence, manuia le aso.
You can buy the book Leaves of the Banyan Tree by clicking on this link. or it should be in MOST libraries in NZ.
Or "Like" Albert Wendt on Facebook for updates on his recent works.
Check out more fascinating answers from Albert Wendt coming up tomorrow (:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Samoan Prime Minister shaves head for cancer

...or just about to at least:
Zita Marvel: $1000
Tautua Party: $1000
HRPP: $10,000
Cabinet: $3000 etc
seki a...

oh wow...its really happening You da Man Stui!!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Need a Samoan food fix? go to Panipopos for inspiration.

I mentioned a few months ago that my favourite blog in the world is Samoa Food, by Panipopos.
I love browsing though her island recipes and she makes it seem all so blimmin' easy.
Even better is that her recipes come with the story of eating it as a child, and the descriptions make you really kafe your faua and takes you back to your own island memories.
When I came across her steaming puligi recipe, I thought of Safotu after the Christmas midnight service and the smell wafting out of homes, ...and the custard goodness. mmmmm.
Then there's the panikeke lapokopoko that reminds me of Sili, where you get them freshly out of the pot and put into cocohut husks, to take home...yummmmmilicious!
Then there's foods I can't stand, nor comprehend, like Sua Fa'i, which to me is ridiculous,...i mean, boiling sweet bananas? yukk - but again, she write about it like its the best thing ever...and makes me actually want to try it again.
Anyhow, she interviewed one of the authors of the Mea Kai Cook Book.
And all I was thinking was: OMG, the Next best thing is:
A Samoan cook book by Panipopo.
Wouldn't that be wonderful? Can you imagine all the coconuts scattered around the world will want a copy?!
It will do better than Mea Kai because she will provide context and the story bethind the story.
So yes please Panipopos - get crackin' on that cook book.
E nice aku ai au recipes gai lo le vaega ga, ua kele ia aka ae airena recipe maoa'e.(In English:
 It's nice to see wonderful recipes that we can all access. Keep it up).

*Amazing restaurant on Queen street: Wooden Board.

I had to walk to K road to activate my new bank card, in the rain and I was cold and huuungry.

Anyhow, I asked the bank lady where I should go for food and she recommended a new place across the road, on upper Queen, opposite ASB Bank.

Its called Wooden Board and offers fantastic lunch options at unbelievable prices, All lunch options are from $5 to $17 but most items are $10.

Despite the low prices, the experience is that of a kaunak restaurant. You get given a glass water bottle as you sit down on the wooden chair and table. (ohh, thus the name! Goddess youre a genius!)

And you get helpful advise from the chef.

I am definitely going back with others because it is fabulous value.

Who could you take to this place?

- Your Palagi friends who like salads and rabbit food....while you inhale the Angus beef sandwich.

- Your island cousins who want to be seen walking into a restaurant - without losing your weeks wages and Sunday alofa.

- someone you want to impress, but may not be your actual spouse. Since its quite intimate and tucked away on a usually busy street. But don't blame me if you get backhanded by your wife on the way out.

- people in a rush

- someone on a budget

- someone who is really hungry

- people who want to be in a simple place that is not pretentious- and we know very well that is a rarity in Auckland city.

Okay, here's a picture of my chicken, avocado, tomato, relish in Turkish bread Island sized sandwich.

Thank heavens for this place.

*I don't get commission for this nor affiliated with this restaurant...I don't even get free food, but I do like to share with you all my 5 readers my great experiences in restaurants, among other things like books, places and gynaecologists.

And more to the point, we are more inclined to whine about a bad experience but slow to rave about the great meal or a good experience.

5 finemats for Wooden Board!



Tuesday, October 16, 2012

TOLT is gone ):

Yesterday, *TOLT returned to her home and I was left with the harsh realisation that I have to once again raise my own offsprings.
Oh what a shock to the system.
No more freshly pressed and folded laundry, and sleep ins and free live in babysitting/cooking/cleaning help.
Life will be different as we try to adjust to business as usual.
But having her here was also good for another reason.
She was strict with the littlies and did not tolerate them throwing toys around or munching on snacks and staying up late. It was all very orderly and made life easier.
I just need to keep it up, so help my Allah and the Au Farasaio.

In other news, we move to our new home on the 29th.

*Tina o le tamaloa

Monday, October 15, 2012

What I love about blogging in the Samoan world

The beauty of blogging for me is that it is my own little space to express my thoughts, experiences, smear tests and my own place to air my kagamea. 
Innit wonderful? Eio. 
But even more relieving is that I can write freely and spread my wings and fly, without worrying about exclamation marks and koma lilius and all that jungle.
And while everything today reeks of  instant and text and jargon and always changing, I can count on my blog to just be myself, without a care in the world.
Cue song "We are the world" by Michael Jackson.
So when I get abusive messages from people about what I write, it makes me smile. 
Because I sit here thinking,....No one told you to come here and sniff my toilet bowl.
Not one person dragged you over here to read my blog.
What Makes me smile even more is this:
Editors are quick to dish out the dirt but are the first to get a bruised ego when something is mentioned about them. ..something that is already IN the news.
So, the moral of this kagamea entry is this: Stop getting your Made in China underwear in a twist.
This is my blog, walk away if you can't handle the heat. .."chus walk away"
Also, next time you want to leave rude messages, try and be less obvious with leaving comments under random names and perhaps wait a few hours before posting as yourself.

And in case youre curious, the newpaper name starts with T and it rhymes with "Tago i ou fua"

Have a fabulous week my wonderful people (:

Lots of Love,

Goddess of Angry Editors

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ironic Governance

What is Governance?
Simply put "governance" means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented).

With that in mind, I found an article today on Samoa Observer regarding a Governance training:
The charges against the ACEO stemmed from the use of $1,150 of $4800 given to him by the Ministry of Women to run a training programme on governance from 21 to 24 November 2011.

Ironic, huh?
But then Judge Vui wins in the end with this statement:

“Like my mother always said to me ‘be careful son the road to hell is paved by good intentions’,” said Justice Vui"
                                                                  Borrowed from this Samoa Observer story

And the moral of the story is?
Makua'i leai a se moral o legei story. Thank you for visiting, manuia le aso.

If you want up-to-date Samoan news, subscribe to Samoa Observer.

Head of State website is once again updated.

I told you a while ago that I loved going on the Head of State's website and reading his speeches. Remember? No? ...anyway.,
I  find his speeches very rich and deep and meaningful, e ese le loloto o le tofa.
So when speeches stopped appearing, I was a little sad and in April 2012, I emailed asking when it'll be udpated as the last speech was back in September 2011.

The response was this:

Thank you for your email. The website has not been updated since the time you mentioned. Ends.  

So, it told me nothing at all that I didn't already know. In fact, it told nothing more than what I already knew. And what I knew was Nothing at all.

As a result, I removed the website link from my Fobular site links, knowing that their content was ummm, obsolete and no one was updating the site. Sad face.

Yet another organisation/group/website that launches with a big bang and then ...nada.
This is the problem, fiafia puupuu tele tatou e update websites.

But I'm happy to report that it's been updated again,...more fascinating reads from Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese go on, have a sneak peek, using this link, but I still hav'nt forgiven his office for slackness and for an empty response, I give them 6 months probation before I can place them on the Fobular links.

Goddess Analysis of the Independence Speech
I was a little disspointed with this speech. Not just because of the title:
Samoa is not government; Samoa is family and brotherhood.  What happened to the sisterhood?  aue Malia e ...
But, I accept that this speech would have been perfect for the occasion, it ticked all the 'lets-please-everybody-that-matter' boxes, but something was missing for me here.
It was missing his usual depth and compassion.
It was also NZ heavy and so loaded with international references....which again means it was perfect for an occasion where the big kahunas were perched on their pedestals next to him.
But, it was genuinely missing Tuiatua, the traditional leader, the matai Samoa....this should have been his moment to inspire and fautua to all Samoans in this world and be the inspiration that he is, but he's missed the mark.
Nevermind. C+

Monday, October 08, 2012

Would you believe they had eggs for breakfast?

There is this school in the Pacific, where the 'supposed' top students attend.
The late Mrs Isara used to refer to them as, "You are the cream of the crop, don't dissapoint".
Every young student used to dream of being in this school because it was supposedly the BEST school on the land. In fact, it's reputation as the best school is well known, because your parents may have attended it.
Except in their era, it was administered by white people in crisp clean uniforms and coke bottle bottom-rimmed glasses and spoke with the Queen's English.
A school where girls played hockey and boys had classy hairdos.
But most importantly, the hostel students woke up to the smell of bacon.
Whaaa???? Are you for real? Ioe. True story.

I bet you're thinking about Samoa College ...right?

Yes and no....I am referring to MANY MANY schools in the Pacific that went throught this same evolution - from bacon to chicken soup (without the chicken)...hereby called 'bacon-less colleges'

I thought it was just Samco too, until I met Education people in Gaudalcanal and Malaita...they too have their own dream schools that are now run down and without a sizzling bacon in sight.

For example, King George VI.  Like Samoa College, it was administered by palagis to groom future leaders of the country. Most leaders of the country today went to King George. Another school to add to the list is Selwyn College in the North. Or Vaipouli in the Itu o Taane of Savaii.

Of course, this is only the ones I know, there are many more baconless colleges dotting the Pacific.

The worst thing about attending a baconless college is this: Everyone who attended it before you talk about the bacon.
So much that when you whine about the chicken-less soup, they look at you funny and say "You have no idea, that place is the best in the world".
So you drink your soup quietly...and watch the now derelict kitchen, where bacon once sizzled but is now simply a umukuka for boiling bananas and boiling whatever else is edible.

So,.. maybe we didn't have the bacon, or the squeaky clean classrooms, but it was my school and I came to accept it as it was, with its broken chairs, makeshift walls, overgrown with vaofefe and teachers who spoke the Queen's English....Queen of the Chunkle that is.
But it gave me hope nonetheless, ...hope that one day, I would get the hell out and smell the real bacon.

One Solomon Islander summed baconless colleges perfectly for me:

"Would you believe they had eggs for breakfast?"  

                                      Bacon AND now eggs?  Baffling revelation indeed.

A picture of the Samoa College Hockey team, who went to Fiji for a hockey tournament and most likely had bacon AND eggs for breakfast.  

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

How I got that return airfare (: this is my fagogo I submitted.

(Before my mom reads this, I love you Mom and I will work hard to give all I have for our faalavelaves without question or without being angaaary. I only exaggerated because I needed the airfare, heehee).


When my mobile phone rings and shows an international phone number, I cringe inwardly.
In fact, I roll my eyes and quietly ask “Who is dead now? How much do you need? Why, oh why me?” But I pick up the phone regardless and switch on my happy caring voice, because no one disobeys my Samoan mother. Inevitably, I end the conversation with “Okay mom, I will send you the reference number to collect your money”.

For years I have received the same phone call and driven to the same agency to send the requested amount. The shop assistant knows me, my husband and my two children and my licence plate number. You could say we are regulars in the money sending world. VIPs even. But as more and more phone calls came, I started to feel resentful and frustrated, wondering why I have to support others who did little for me, or my loved ones.

Around the same time I stumbled across MoneyPACIFIC and SendMoneyPacific, through their online website. It wasn’t just the fact that it provided a place for me to compare rates before sending, or that it offered useful advice about managing my money. It was more the fact that they seemed to know me! Are there truly others like me who send money at the same place because we are used to it? Are there really others who don’t know the true and real cost of sending money?

But surely, the agency I use gives me great benefits. I get a $5 credit to call my family and a Gold card for my loyalty. Of course they have my best interests at heart! But what floored me at the time was seeing that my preferred agency charged a horrendous amount compared to others. This, along with unfavourable currency conversion that I did not consider before. Suddenly the $5 phone credit and the Gold Card seemed trivial.

Today I know better because I have made SendMoneyPacific my first stop before sending money. I read their updates on Facebook and requested a MoneyPACIFIC calendar for my kitchen wall. I am better informed and much more inclined to shop around before I send money.

I still cringe inward and roll my eyes when I get that phone call. However, I am less frustrated because I know better. I check online for who provides the best rates. I take advantage of specials by different companies when SendMoneyPacific updates me about it. Now the challenge is getting my loved ones to think the same because any saving is healthy if we are to continue in this never-ending business of sending money home.

Faafetai tele lava to the people behind MoneyPACIFIC and SendMoneyPacific!


(Aue Malia e, the things I write for a free airfare, but yes, that is a true story).

What is Cultural Sensitivity?

It is knowing not to gift a memory stick to a Principal of a school located 4 hours away from the nearest computer, that does not work. In the last 2 years.

Or giving a set of expensive business card holders to the woman without business cards. or a job.
Or rimu wood coasters to the owner of a massive logging company.

But, we can all rejoice because beer and wine is remains the common bridge we all cross, if not over it, then under it.
Here's another example of cultural sensitivity, having a tshirt that says 'Cock' might be okay somewhere else, will be frowned upon elsewhere, same goes for the lady with the random sleeves...that is called Cultural Faux pas, or rather, a faux pas altogether...what the fook was she thinking?  

Snow White comes home with the 8th dwarf