Happy 114th Flag Day my Amerika Samoa

For over a century, my beautiful island home has been under the protection and generous hand of America.

We have experienced many blessings and benefits from being “an unincorporated and unorganized territory” of the wonderful U.S. of A. It may not seem like its a good thing being “unincorporated and unorganized”, but as a Samoan I count this as a blessing.

Taupou Manaia performing their siva ava at the opening of the Flag Day celebrations.

Taupou Manaia performing their siva ava at the opening of the Flag Day celebrations.

In the Samoan culture, land plays a very important part. The ability to keep our land even if we give up a few constitutional rights (like the right to vote for president or become a US citizen) is more valuable than being an American citizen. Why? We don’t have to struggle looking for land to build our houses or have to answer to any one else in regards to the land of our family. It’s more than just land. It holds generations and generations of family connections.

Even though we are under the United States, we have been self-governing since 1967. This gives the Samoan people the power to continue practicing our traditional values and culture. The “Faasamoa” and “Faamatai” is still very strong within American Samoa even though it is slowly adapting to the modernized Western world. We are able to hold true to our core as Samoans, which consists of God, family and respect.

My ancestors were smart when they chose to cede to America during World War I with certain limitations, which I believe was to preserve the culture, language and identity of the Samoan people.

Senate President Gaoteote Tofau Palaie said it best when made this statement,

“This day holds special meaning and significance because it honors the wisdom of our forefathers when they entrusted, the hopes and dreams of our people to the greatest country the world, the United States of America.”

Cheers my Amerika Samoa. Manuia le Aso o le Fu’a. 

Fale Samoa with the American Samoa flag

American Samoa Flag and Fale Samoa

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Weekly Photo Challenge: “Greener” Perspective

I wasn’t planning on doing this challenge initially. While thoroughly enjoying a lot of the other bloggers posts on perspective, I figured why not try it out. This is actually my first challenge post ever.

One of my favorite parts of being born and raised in a Polynesian culture is learning how to make food with anything including cooking with leaves

One of my favorite parts of being born and raised in a Polynesian culture is learning how to make food with anything including cooking with leaves

In this photo, I chose to focus on the leaves that the laulau (fish in taro leaf) is wrapped and cooked in. The ti leaves, which are focused on in the photo on the left cut out from the main image on the right, are used in so many ways. It can be used to make clothes, for cooking or even for massages. I remember growing up my grandma would make me collect ti leaves to use when massaging my brothers when they were sick because the coolness of the leaf absorbs the heat from the body.

That’s beside the point. The point of this photo is if I had only shown the ti leaves you would’ve probably thought “why is she showing pictures of some bush/grass?” It’s the type of leaf I was focused on. It’s sleek but strong texture makes it the perfect insulator. This leaf is not just a regular leaf. It’s part of something bigger and very delicious.

Believing Truth

What exactly does it mean to “believe”? Who determines what is and isn’t right? Why is it not up to a person to come up with their own set of rights and wrongs? How do we confirm what is believed to be truth?

These are questions that have pestered me over the years in my fight to determine truth. Determining truth is not easy. Truth to one person is a lie to another. There are rules and regulations set forth by the government to ensure order. As time changes, ideas change along with culture which causes a shift in the minds of many on what truth is. These laws are constantly changing, which is why there are amendments. With the power to change the law, it brings the ability to change humanity’s version of “truth”.

“We have a right to believe whatever we want,
but not everything we believe is right.” 
― Ravi Zacharias

How I’ve come to determine truth

I grew up believing in God and raised in a sheltered church environment. Occasionally, I would let the rebel out and do things I knew a “church girl” shouldn’t do thanks to curiosity. The Samoan culture I grew up around always acknowledged God in every event and occasion so I was use to being surrounded by the belief in God. Once I moved to Utah for school, it was a completely different environment from the one I was use to. I was use to a place where God came first in everything and going to a secular-ish school completely changed my entire mindset.

I realized there were other “truths” out there that influenced what I believed was right. For example, I started believing drunkenness was OK as long as I wasn’t hurting anyone. I accepted the idea of “do what makes you happy” as my ultimate truth. Eventually it wasn’t working out and I revamped my definition of “truth” to “a relationship with God (the Christian one) makes you happy”.

Instead of binding myself to religious laws I saw as truth, I learned to live in the freedom of love which comes from Jesus. So far, it hasn’t proved me wrong. I believe in the message of the grace of God shown through Jesus’ death on the cross. Although this may be right to me, it may be a completely different story for you. What do you believe is right? How does your version of truth influence what you believe to be right?