Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Pig Whisperer

Sharon told me about this article published about a year ago. Priceless.

By La Poasa

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (Samoa News, Sept. 22) - Some members of the House of Representatives are very close to their pigs and it was one of the reasons the lawmakers killed a bill requiring owners of piggeries to construct pig farms an additional 50 feet away from residential homes.
Currently the law states that no owner or occupant may keep or allow to be kept upon premises owned by him or in his possession or control any pigs, goats, sheep, horses or cattle within 50 feet of any building used for human habitation or as a restaurant food establishment, or school.
The bill initially sought such animal farms to be built 300 feet from residential homes, restaurant or schools, but the committee amended the bill to say 100 feet after a hearing on Tuesday.
After several emotional testimonies from House members who own piggery farms, some quite outraged, 12 lawmakers voted against the bill while only four voted yes. Those who voted yes were Reps. Olo Ropati Atimalala Tagovailoa, Mailo Sao T. Nua, Falema'o Pili, the sponsor of the bill, and Paopaoailua Joe Fiaui, who chairs the Health committee that reviewed the bill on Tuesday.
Before the vote, Rep. Atualevao Gafatasi Afalava said he was so saddened the night before when he visited his pig farm and saw the look on his pigs' faces. "I talked to them and told them they have to understand that whatever happens, it's the law," said Atualevao. "It was very hard for me. I really love my pigs."
Atualevao said that his piggery is 50 feet away from his home and if the law passes, that means he would have to demolish the farm and build it 100 feet from where he lives. He said this would be very costly for the residents, who may not afford to easily abide by the law if enacted. He added that the law right now, which requires pig farms to be built 50 feet from residential homes is good, but government agencies need to be strict with enforcing the law and requiring piggery owners to clean up.
Rep. Gaoteote Palaie Tofau said he too had a conversation with his pigs last night. He said the pigs were crying as if they knew what was going to happen. He also said they seemed to know that they would be put far away from him soon.
Rep. Mapu Puaopea Paopao said we as Samoans consider pigs a vital part of performing our culture. He said we use pigs during fa'alavelave and other traditional matters. He added that majority of those who have piggeries rely on them for their livelihood and it is the enforcement of regulations governing piggeries that needs to be effective.
Rep. Puletu D. Koko agreed with Mapu's comments, adding that many residents will be lining up in court because of violations of this law, something they can't help because they won't be able to afford to build new piggeries that will abide with the new law.
Paopao said the public's health should always outweigh our love for the pigs. He said pigs are carriers of various diseases and the public's health is utmost important. That was the goal behind the legislation.
"I am moved by the emotion and the comments made today," said Paopao. "This is not something taken lightly. It is an important bill and the goal is to protect the public. The committee's work is done so you vote based on your belief."
Rep. Olo Ropati Atimalala Tagovailoa echoed similar statements and said this is for the health of the people.
When the vote came, several members of the House said "for the love for Afalava's pigs," "because I want my pigs to watch TV with me" or "because I love my pigs," they were voting no.
According to testimony on Tuesday from officials of the departments of Public Health and EPA, there are 35,000 pigs on island. The regulations applied to piggeries are costly and capital investment is nearly $10,000.
They say that for them to go out and tell piggery owners to comply is not as easy as it seems. For one thing, they say it's not doable with small piggeries mostly because of the cost associated with abiding by the regulations. Second, even if an owner complies with building a proper piggery, there are health concerns, such as the negative impact it has on the water and ecosystem.
Acting Governor Sialega Malaetasi Togafau said there are some cases whereby residents don't abide by the law. He said some residents won't apply to get the necessary permit with the PNRS board in order to build a piggery because they feel that they can do whatever they want to do with their land.
"They'll say the heck with PNRS, this is my land," he said. "We can enforce the law but there are people out there who think they are above the law."
Sialega said the best approach is for the lawmakers to talk to their constituents about the impact of piggeries to human life and educate them about the process and ways to build a proper and safe piggery farm.
David Farley of EPA suggested that perhaps the Health Committee should establish a subcommittee and have experts from various government agencies sit down and talk about the consequences of having piggery farms established certain feet away from homes and other issues. He said the subcommittee can then come back to the Fono and advise them of what they have found from their research.
Farley said the Fono can then use this information to draft legislation helpful to everyone. "You always have to balance the laws and regulations with the traditions," he said.
Asked about the suggestion by Farley to establish a subcommittee, Paopao said it is a good idea and it's something he is looking into.

September 23, 2005

The Samoa News: http://www.samoanews.com/
Copyright © 2005. Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's Official

I am a lawyer now, at least in the state of Illinois. Chief Justice F. Michael Kruse of the High Court of American Samoa administered the Attorney's Oath for the State of Illinois. For all the waiting, it was a short oath - need to support the Constitution of the United States and Illinois and discharge my duties to the best of my ability. Fair enough, I think I can do that.
I had to borrow a tie from the Chief Justice, did not bring one to the island. oops. But I didn't forget my manskirt. Next step, application to the Bar of American Samoa. No test, just an application. Thank goodness.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Castro's Beach

Another Saturday, another beach. Tough life. This was the closest I have gotten to an actual beach on Am. Sam. Fred & Niki Castro found the beach while driving on the eastside a few days ago (hence Castro's Beach). We decided to check it out on Saturday. The beach was relatively big and had a couple of trees for shade. The water was super clear, but pretty shallow. However, we found a little hole that allowed us to lay in the water. Not too bad of a way to spend a Saturday.

You can see the island of Aunu'u in the distance.

We did hit one snag. Fred though it would be a good idea to drive the car down on to the beach, so we could listen to some music - no one thought to bring a radio. Well, the car quickly got stuck in the sand. Oops. The Samoans living across the street starting yelling us to get the car off the beach. They though we were a bunch of drunk Samoans joy riding on the beach. I apologized, said we were trying to turn around, and went to far into the sad. Stupid palagis. The anger turned to the Samoan helpfulness. They quickly brought chains over and Ruth's little car that could was able to pull the SUV out of the sand. crisis averted. A stop by at Tisa's was necessary after all of the excitement.

The Magic Circus of Samoa

The Magic Circus of Samoa has come to town. Yes, you read correctly, a circus came to Am. Sam. Sure, we might not be able to get lettuce on a regular basis, but a circus we got that. The Magic Circus tours the South Pacific delighting children (and many adults) everywhere it goes. The circus set up shop in Lion's Park, basically across the street from where I live, just a short walk to the magic. sweet. The Magic Circus is aptly named, it is pure magic. Or, perhaps after three months on the island, my concept of entertainment has dropped considerably. It does have "fun games" and cotton candy. It was a good time had by all. Even the palagi village mascot - Ed the dog showed up. Not sure how she found us under the big top, but she sat right under us. Way to go Ed. For the story on Ed, check out http://wildpalagi.blogspot.com/2006/09/girl-named-ed.html. The Magic Circus was hosted by Bruno, the ringmaster:The Circus had jugglers -
Acts of balance. The photo is not upside down, she is standing on her head. ouch. This guy, the only Solomon Island circus performer, also made my cotton candy. Bruno puts these guys to work. yikes. A lady who loves the hula-hoop. A serious game of double dutch, that got a little tricky. Um, not sure what this is, but had to post it. A Samoan midget dressed as Elvis. He sang to the smallest circus performer in the South Pacific as she balanced on some rings. Another head balancer. A little blurry, but she is on her head, spinning four rings on each appendage. How do you figure out you can do that in the first place? Being in Samoa, they also had a little Samoan dancing before the intermission. During intermission, the Samoan children around us noticed that we had cameras. They asked us to take pictures of them. They really did not care to ever get the photo or even see the photo in the digital viewer, but they sure loved to get their photo taken. After awhile, some of us joined in as well. The second act included...
Fire spinners. Tightrope walkers.

One guy even rode a bike across. Bruno said no flash photography, so no photo, but he made it across, and then back again. The next act was a "quick change" act - it was so boring that it is not worth it to post what she changed into. Not all her fault, how do you follow a guy who rides a bike across a tightrope?Fun with fabric.A couple guys riding different unicycles. Rico, master juggler and the best facial expressions ever (not shown here). A lady spinning on a rope.Ice skating - the fact that that much ice existed in Samoa more than the actual ice skating was the real magic. Much debate rages in the palagi community if it was actually ice...Next was the worst magician ever. When he did the levitate milk upside down in a glass, the milk started to spill out. oops. The last performance was the Globe of Death. Two motorcyclists spun around the metal cage really, really fast. Please note the man holding the rope keeping the door closed - ah, Samoa. Now that is a Magic Circus.

Hope you enjoyed the show and as Bruno says "May all your days be circus days"

A Tropical Thanksgiving

Jeff & Meredith hosted our palagi family Thanksgiving. Special shout out to them for hosting. Thanks a ton. They had about twenty people for a pot-luck Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone brought something, the food was really good, and everyone ate a ton. It was the first time that the American & Samoa really came together for me - we celebrated the American holiday of Thanksgiving and ate like a Samoa. It was a really great day. I think we all realized that this is our family in Am. Sam. and it is a pretty cool family and we are all thankful for that.

The food...
My vat of cheesy potatoes. hmmm. cheesy po-ta-toes. It was basically gone by the end of the night.

Jeff & Meredith cooked two turkeys. Before & After shots.

Master Carver Jeff.
The white glove is not his ode to Michael Jackson,
but due to an earlier broken glass incident. Safety first!
This was my first Thanksgiving near the equator -
a little warm in house after all that cooking.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The Big Man on Campus

The American Samoa Community College Seeds Club (the environmental club at ASCC) sponsored "The Big Man on Campus" pageant. My friend Cynthia advises the Seeds Club, so Sharon and I went to support her, as well as her husband, Ryan, but I think that is a requirement of the marriage contract. In theory, it was modeled after a Miss America Pageant and the posters promised a night of entertainments and foods (no typo - entertainments and foods). I had highish expectations especially when local celebrities were in attendance including MCs for the evening, John and Lupe from the 93 KHJ Samoan Sunrise morning radio show, Miss American Samoa 2006-07 as one of the judges and Representative Jennings from the Swain Islands in the audience. Pictured is John (left) and Lupe (center) from the Samoan Sunrise show.

The event in true Samoan tradition was completely random and thoroughly enjoyable. Sadly, I think it was one of those "you had to be there" events, but I will attempt to provide a sense of the evening. The production value was around a Junior High School Cabaret show - the microphone system gave a lot of feedback, regular delays between acts and of course the curtain got stuck on a number of occasions. However, it did keep the wild dogs entertained. I keep telling you, dogs are EVERYWHERE on this island.
The program had five different categories in which the six contestants were judged by the panel. In between, local singers and dancers would perform - some were really good. Sharon and I talked about starting an American Samoa Idol. The first category was "weightlifting" - it was not a judgment on the most buff body, but one who could do the best poses. The contestants had oiled their bodies soooo much that you could smell it - even during the car ride home.
Because the environmental club sponsored the event, one competition was recycled clothing. Everything the contestants wore had to be of recycled material.
Following the recycling section, it was time for the talent competition. One guy drew a portrait - while a good artist, it was not the most entertaining for the audience. Anthony played a traditional Samoan instrument - hollowed out wooden drums. That kid had talent. Another, along with his backup dancers, performed a traditional Samoan dance routine - I think the most entertaining talent of the night. During the performance, members of the audience went up to the stage and threw money at the dancers. I assumed the group was the Samoan equivalent of the Chippendales. Sharon explained that his was Samoan custom to throw money at performers during shows. interesting. Shane lip-synced a traditional Samoa folk song with a twist. It was completely in Samoan, so I did not understand a bit of it, but the Samoan audience was in stitches during his performance.After talent was the improv competition. The contestants were give a skit and had to act it out. No photos cause this part was a little above a train wreck. Not sure if they will keep it next year.
The final competition was traditional Samoan outfits and questions. The Samoan clothing was very impressive. Great hats. The questions mainly focused on how the contestants would pick up women. My favorite answer was first, show respect to the woman, then ask her if she needs a ride home then ask for her phone number. I wonder if that works.
The winner was finally announced - they had a little trouble counting up the final tally. I don't think they employed a local accounting firm to verify the results. Shane won it all including the other awards of "Crowd Favorite" "Most Buff" and "Mr. Funny." We all agreed that Shane deserved the honors - the guy was hilarious and the best constant all around. So congratulations Shane, you are the Big Man on Campus.