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Opening Ceremony Address
by the Honorable Togiola T.A. Tulafono
Governor of American Samoa
10th Festival of Pacific Arts • Monday, July 21, 2008, 5pm
Veterans Memorial Stadium • Tafuna, American Samoa

 

Ua ou tu nei i fatifatiga ma ‘ou tepa i o’u laufanua
As I stand where the waves break and look up at my homeland

Aue, mauga e o Tutuila ua fa’amalo’ulo’u
Alas, the hills of Tutuila are trembling

Ua tulolo la’au o le vao, ulifao ulufanua o si o’u motu
The trees are bowing, and the hamlet in disarray

Talofa ua to’ia oe i pa’ia, a e taomia i mamalu
Struck by the presence of such nobility and great dignity

Ua liligo ai ou tia seu, a e pau ou vanu
The snaring grounds are abandoned as the valleys turn hallowed

Ua e fa’alolo fa’ai’a a tautai
They surrender in obedience like the catch of the fisher

Aua ua pa’ia fale ma fafo, o uta fo’i ma tai
As I am surrounded with this noble elegance, rendering my land sacred

Ua liugalua lou taeao, a e le liua lou matagofie
The day has been bustling, yet its beauty remains vibrant

O le ‘ula su’i fefiloi, o le mamanu o malofie
Like a colorful garland of flowers, or the artwork of a master.

 

Talofa and greetings to the royalties and nobilities. Greetings to the heads of governments and delegations and talofa to the artists of the Pacific Ocean.

A special talofa to your Highness Tuiatua Tupua Tamasese Efi, Head of State of Samoa, protected by Pule and Tumua, Itu’au and Alataua, Aiga i le Tai and Va’a o Fonoti, Aiga and Tama, Tama and Aiga.

Talofa to the head of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and to the chair and members of the Council of the Pacific Arts Festival.

I say talofa also to the many sponsors and visitors who have come near and far, to join in this celebration of Pacific arts.

Talofa is short for “Si o ta alofa atu” - which means I am happy and delighted to give you my love. When you respond, Talofa lava! you are reciprocating with a full grant of your love and affection.

In that spirit of felicitous exchange, I say welcome to you all from the Territory of American Samoa, from the paramount, traditional leaders and all the dignitaries, government leaders, church leaders, and all the people of Tutuila and Manu’a: Talofa, Talofa, Talofa lava.

God is first in American Samoa. The servant of God has offered our prayers and praises. They now rest at the malae on the Mountain of Kings, an offering of the sacred fish to the creator god Sa Tagaloa.

I thank the Council of Pacific Arts for allowing the 10th Pacific Arts Festival to be held here in American Samoa. There were many good reasons for your reluctance. As a people, when we fished in Palau waters 4 years ago hoping to catch this Big Pacific Fish, you, as the Council, could only guess what our fishing basket contained. I am proud to tell you now that our fishing boat was built night and day. And no stone was left unturned on the grounds that it was built on by our local committee. In the proverbial expressions of our people: Lea ua tu’utau le fa’ase’ega na i le papa i Galagala, ua feso’ota’i lauloa, ua tini le mati’ili’ili’iga a Amerika Samoa. The glide on the sliding rock at Galagala is smooth and successful. Our separate fishing nets have joined together as one. American Samoa, like the experienced fine mat weaver, is so honored with your presence because she has proudly added a new dimension to her craft in creating our treasured fine mat.

I wish to thank and congratulate all heads of governments, delegations, and participants who are here. I know your preparations were not easy. You have prevailed because of your desire to join in this great sharing of art.

Samoa revels in its moments of history. On special and festive occasions such as the Festival of Pacific Arts, we select and cite events of great historical significance. Today, we have no need for such special mention, for we are witnessing a new high in American Samoa history. Today is a day when we celebrate glory in the presence of so much dignity, and we are overwhelmed by the opportunity to associate and share with the great artists of the Pacific.

This is a moment to carve on the rocks of our history. Our theme for the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts is: Su’iga ula a le Atuvasa - Threading the Oceania Ula.Hosting is a tradition we love. We build guest houses and leave them empty and ­open to anyone who wants to stop by.

When we prepare to receive visitors, the women pick flowers and assemble in a house where they sing and thread ula for our guests. They pick and use only the pretty and fragrant flowers. Some mix flowers so their scents and fragrance blend and enhance each other.

We compare islands in our ocean to flowers in a garden. Each flower is distinct in its own beauty and sweet scent. All that is needed is a strong thread to join them as one big beautiful ula. That strong thread is the love and Pacific brotherliness that ties us all together.

The red ula paogo, made from ripe seeds of the pandanus is the symbol of this gathering. The paogo is indigenous to our islands. The ula paogo is reserved for the ali’i or chiefs of our country. Its character portrays beauty, dignity, and serenity.

For the next two weeks, we will thread ula in American Samoa. In Samoa, we will aleaga i le motu o fiafiaga - We will be sharing in the islands of happiness.I pray it will be a celebration of threading ula that will be filled with beauty, dignity, and harmony.

At the end of our time together, we should have an ula that joins all of us, and all of our islands in one ocean. May the spirit of the ula be a bridge upon which we will travel often and easily to be with each other.

If it were possible to compare Leonardo da Vinci to God, I would say that the Pacific Islands represent God’s Mona Lisa. For I believe that our part of the world is the best of God’s artwork.

I believe that as viewers, observers and spectators, our cups will overflow in the next two weeks with wonderful stories. It is time to store great memories, as we say – tiu faaMatala’oa – lest everything be drawn back to heaven as St. Peter watches.

At dawn each day, white terns descend from homes high in the mountains, to fish for their offspring waiting in their nests. When we do leave our Su’igaula, I hope that we will have gained something valuable to share with our people at home. It is my prayer that the interaction, fellowship and exchange will have deepened our mutual respect and understanding of one another and that this Su’igaula will enrich us.

In Samoa, at the end of a day of fishing, Samoans assemble to compare and share their catch – so that no boat returns to shore empty.Let that be the spirit of this gathering - sharing among fellow artists of the Pacific.

Let us thread and weave the ula now! When it is finished, we will all have an ula to take home. Let us begin threading the ula of our people, our islands and our Pacific Ocean.

It is my honor and real pleasure to declare the 10th Festival of Pacific Arts open.
Su’iga ula o le Atuvasa.
Threading the Oceania Ula.

Soifua.

 

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