Vlad Sokhin – In His Shadow


A few months ago I had the privilege of meeting Vlad Sokhin, a documentary photographer here in Port Moresby. As a member of the PNG Photography Association, I was very happy to be part of the group that turned up to meet him and view some of his work. It was a very educational and also interesting to find out what documentary photography was about and of course meeting Vlad in person.


Here dwarfed by Vlad, I couldn’t imagine that in 2013 I would be standing in the shadow of this iconic person. Winner of over 10 prestigious awards.

Vlad showed us some videos he had taken in Portugal, and a number of countries in Africa and elsewhere. I was fascinated at what his lens conveyed in pictures many ordinary lives of extraordinary people. I left before we got to Vlad’s photographs on specific themes here in Papua New Guinea.

I wish Vlad all the best in his future photography endeavours here and abroad.

Vlad making a point in between his presentations.

Vlad is working on a project here locally in Port Moresby and environs so I wish him the best in that project.


Stella Celebrated Its First Year In Style


I went along last  Saturday when Stella’s birthday party was open to the public. I was there on the Friday afternoon for the birthday reception. In fact I think Saturday, 10th August was the tru tru date of Stella’s debut appearance in 2012. What a magazine, what a journey. I was only too happy to roll up again for a Saturday spent with creative people, immersing myself with the spirit of lovely thoughts and wonderful creative folk.

Th stalls with some great stuff such as Malolo Prints, Buk Bilong Pikinini and more…

For a K3.00 gate fee there was more fun and activities to spice up the event.

We had a fashion parade…my favourite.

Other favourites of course, dancing by Tribal Breakers, a group of young PNG guys entertaining the crowd. Pretty good.


…and singing by the wonderfully talented songbirds, the Tau sisters and their brother (children of the iconic PNG pianist and music teacher Buruka Tau).

The Tau sisters with their brother gracing the birthday celebrations with their angelic voices. What a treat! I like.

There was a bouncy castle too so the kids had their own fun place to wile away the hours and enjoy nature in another part of the city.

Amanda told us that Stella means star, so apt for the Pacific Islands and the magazine has a girl’s name – you can carry it around with you as a friend wherever you go. I like.

Here’s Amanda with announcements and the day’s programme as well as a little bit more on Stella.

The fashion parade kicked off, after the national anthem and pledge, which I mumbled my way through – shameful, really. I promised myself that I’ll do better next time. The fashion show was a great crowd-pleaser.

We all gathered infront of the stage to witness the showcasing of artistic designs and outfits by PNG and Pacific Islands’ designers. It was awesome. Here are some of my favourites, not only because of the fabrics but the angles at which I was able to take my photos. I felt like a wandering minstrel! I was self-conscious as I walked around trying to get a good shot of the models and beautiful outfits.

This was my favourite shot of the day. I loved the flow. From Tully Pacific shop in town.

My favourite shot and outfit. In fact I have the exact same dress in a size 12 which I wore to the Kenu & Kundu Fundraising Dinner 2 weeks before.

As I was moving around to take my shots competing with a couple of professionals and my fellow amateurs, I could hear my course instructor saying don’t assume your camera will move on its own, move your body! Yeah man, tried to. I’m glad I did. I had a tough time getting the right angles and am sure I’m not the only one. But I did take some nice shots like the one above.

Another beautiful outfit by a Pacific Island designer.

All manner of cameras came out of the woodwork including some pretty nifty mobile phones to capture the beauty which shone on stage.

I am so pleased to also see the willingness of young PNG men to take part in the fashion show. Very liberated young men if I may say so. Hey, PNG women are breaking glass ceilings in male-dominated arenas so why not our young men.

A collage of some of the photos I’ve taken. Too many to post individually on this blog. I might consider posting them on Facebook.

The models kept coming and each outfit was awesome. The young ladies and gentlemen were in the zone. The talent behind these outfits and the prints and designs were amazing. There were casual wear as well as formal and office wear. Some of the outfits were from Samoa and the Cook Islands but most were Papua New Guinean. Great stuff. Loved it.

The Nature Park was just the place to have the fashion-show. The trees in the background, the breeze and freedom were just few of the aspects that enhanced the show.

A collage of the photos I took. Too many to post them individually. I might consider posting some on Facebook..

Well, all good things come to an end…and soon the fashion show ended with the models walking through the crowd to give all of us a chance to see them and the outfits they were wearing.  What a great idea.

The models walked through the crowd back to their dressing rooms.

They assembled on the smaller stage for a photo opportunity and that was nice and then walked through the crowd back to the dressing rooms at the back of the stage.


This was a great photo opportunity but again for some reason I couldn’t find the right angle to be able to get the whole team in.

The models then walked through the crowd again as a grand finale to the fashion show. Well done to the models, the designers and the organizers. Great show.

Some of the Stella cover girls cutting the yummy birthday cake.

We look forward to celebrating another great year. Wishing you the best.

Happy Birthday Stella!

On Friday afternoon, a number of invited guests including family, friends and business associates gathered to celebrate Stella’s 1st birthday at the Nature Park, near the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.  It was a beautiful afternoon, a lovely breeze and friendly conversation flowed. New friends made and others reunited.

Who is Stella?

Good question. And the answer is…here. Stella is a magazine that is wholly owned by Papua New Guineans. A brainchild of another very enterprising young Papua New Guinean woman, Amanda Donigi. Together with a top team of writers and thinkers and doers  they are the movers and shakers behind this PNG magazine. Within its first 12 months, Stella’s readership reads like a who’s who here in PNG and globally.


In my humble opinion, Stella has set the standard and I know that those following in its footsteps will also find the niches where they too can shine through.

From the first issue of Stella, I fell in love with the magazine because it was featuring contemporary Papua New Guinea. A very, very refreshing change. I can recall it was breaking news! When I read the first issue, I knew that this was going to be the magazine for me and thereafter forsook all others,…especially the gossip magazines, you know what type I mean. We are thinking women and we want to read stuff that uplifts our spirits,  learn from its pages, and instill in its readers a strong feeling of national pride.

Stella showcases PNG achievers from all walks of life and shares their stories through its pages. One reads about good news stories of other PNG women, about women in the Pacific and interesting people. When I read Stella it reassures me that PNG women are a force to be reckoned with in this country and internationally. I like!

My own collection of Stella magazines. A treasure trove of wonderful stories. A source of inspiration.

What I like most about Stella is that it represents a growing part of our population that we are quite slow on the uptake to acknowledge. Yes, folks, the young breed of educated Papua New Guineans who are daring to be different, to embrace the changing times and apply their knowledge and experiences to help other like-minded Papua New Guineans…especially women across all levels of PNG society not to be afraid of change. I share Stella’s pioneering spirit. Keep on keeping on guys!

In the cool of the evening at the Nature Park next to the UPNG campus, we gathered to hear Stella’s journey delivered by Amanda Donigi, the woman behind PNG’s first women’s magazine promoting the grace and intelligence of PNG women. The content is varied, fresh and young, and inspirational.

Stella’s ‘mom’ shares with us Stella’s journey whilst Stella’s ‘grandpa’ looks on.

I must say I was slightly confused when the ever effervescent Sharlene Gawi introduced Amanda as Stella’s Mom followed by Peter Donigi as Stella’s Grandpa. After a short while, and thank goodness it was a short while, I kinda saved myself from what could have been another embarrassing moment of my life and you guessed it… the penny dropped. Stella, the magazine is indeed as they say ‘Amanda’s baby’! Ewa….det wan how, late bus.com, honestly.

PNG’s First Lady, Ms Linda Babao-ONeil delivering words of encouragement and inspiration.

The birthday reception was also graced by the presence PNG’s First Lady, the lovely Ms Linda Babao-O’Neil. Wonderful encouraging and uplifting words. Absolutely identified with struggle to succeed and to ride the waves of many challenges and go after the things you are passionate about and win. Great uplifting message. She also shared with us the experiences of her two heroes and people that she looked up to. Another penny dropped…Linda comes from one of the most illustrious families in Milne Bay.

With Elizabeth Omeri, one of the PNG designers at the reception. The outfit she has on is her own design. Love the addition of tapa cloth. Cool.

As always, I get to meet and make new friends. I met another creative person, Elizabeth Omeri, one of the designers who was going to showcase their work the following day, Saturday, 10th August.  She designed the outfit she has on in this photo. Elizabeth is also from Milne Bay.

I felt so privileged to be among so many achievers and felt absolutely blessed by the presence of so many women who are breaking glass ceilings practically everyday. We’ve got to hand it to them for the triumphs they experience and can share with us. No doubt they also experience adversity and challenges which have helped them to be strong and successful.

A collage of some of my shots at the birthday celebration.

As my cousin, another powerful woman in her own right, and I walked away from the Park to other commitments that evening, I couldn’t help thinking about Stella magazine and how it is demonstrating in a very powerful way, and sending out a strong message that the women of PNG are no doormats, nor should they be regarded as inferior, in any form, shape or intellectual capacity, to their male compatriots.

The initiative and passion that is Stella is the power to be able to find so many unsung heroes in PNG and in the Pacific and to create the platforms and avenues that will empower them to share the things that matter to them in their lives, their journeys and their triumphs. I find so many good news stories of fellow PNG and Pacific women in Stella…’a thinking woman’s magazine from Papua New Guinea’.

Well folks, I intend to continue reading Stella. I wish them many more successes. Salute to Amanda and her team of talented, creative and energetic people.

One thing I’ve learnt through my limited association with Stella thus far is that because we live in a very communal society, all success is based on collective effort. Stella is a classic example of that. Congratulations!

Thank you so much for the kind invitation to share in Stella’s 1st birthday celebration. Definitely, a wonderful way to start the weekend. But more importantly, I took away a lot of good vibes that will surely add value to my life.

Habitat Destruction In Your Face


This was the view from my office at the beginning of the week. Notice three fires in three different locations. This is happening like everyday. Just can’t escape it.

Sometimes the haze from the smoke settles over the Harbour and it is horrible.

I heard from people working in that area where the fires are that there are now snakes galore in those places!

The first thing that came to mind was…habitat destruction. Whilst I’m not fond of snakes, alive or dead, it does make one realise how fragile our Port Moresby and its environs have become.

Just today I was reading Oala Moi’s very eloquent article in the Masalai Blog about the growing disenfranchisement of the Motu-Koitabu and it really brought the point home…habitat destruction and through it dis-empowerment of people, animals and reptiles.

It’s not only the reptiles that are fleeing from their habitat and traditional lands….is it already becoming the survival of the fittest?

Food for thought for all who care about the environment and the increasingly fragile eco-systems.

Children Perpetuate Our Traditional Dances

A small group of Motuan dancers graced the Ela Beach Craft Market yesterday (27th July, 2013).

At 11.00am the sounds emanating from a number of kundu drums drew the crowd towards the back of the Market where this group of young dancers were performing a traditional dance.ImageIt is now common practice to have young people and children join  traditional dances in official functions throughout the country. This is however not the norm in some societies in PNG. In some societies inorder to take part in a traditional dance one has to be initiated. But I think these practices will sooner or later have to be changed in the name of cultural preservation.

Schools, colleges and universities in PNG have cultural events where young people are encouraged to showcase their culture and traditional dances. More and more related events are also incorporated in the showcasing of traditional dances for instances, fashion shows showing off traditional garb or designs. Part of the strategy to preserve our culture and encourage creativity at the same time.

ImageI am so glad that the Ela Beach Craft Market provides the ‘stage’ for cultural performances and with the diversity and colour leaving audiences craving for more, who needs a sophisticated stage with all the trimmings!  I guess Ela Beach caters to the Saturday morning craft market audiences which is very informal.

Although a sophisticated stage set up has a place in artistic performances in PNG too.

ImageI really enjoyed the dances and the children’s voices that rose above and drowned the din of nearby traffic, even if it was just for 30 minutes. What a wonderful way to end another successful Craft Market day.

Here are some of my favourite shots of the young dancers.


There is always a limit as to the angles from which to take good photos of live performances so these look quite one dimensional. I therefore tried to apply some artistic perspective to my photos and being creative to liven up the images.

ImageThe only downside with this culture performance is still seeing bits of modern clothing under traditional costumes. It is therefore incumbent on teachers of traditional dances to also include the authenticity of traditional dance costumes. That is a big part of the enjoyment, when everything presented is as authentic as possible.


I hope that in future traditional dancing and traditional clothing will be included in primary as well as secondary schools’ curricula especially where these include live performances and getting feedback from the audience.


So I look forward to the next cultural performance next month by another cultural group.

Thank you Ela Beach Craft Market organizers for providing the place to showcase our culture and our arts.

‘King ‘ Of The Mountain?

In Port Moresby nowadays and I guess over the past 10 years or so, land-grabbing in the capital and surrounds has become almost commonplace and one expects it to happen! Whatever resistance there is is quite low-key or has become academic and am not sure this is a good thing for those who now own land.

With this is mind one tends to look out for the most weird and strange places around Port Moresby where once bush or kunai-grass covered hills are now populated with houses of various colors and sizes for people who are not necessarily local landowners.

T’he ‘king’ of the mountain?

Last week for the first time I spotted this house on top of the hill directly opposite the airport. I must admit even now I am still wondering who owns that house, who is the lucky one – king of the mountain or land-grabber or squatter or what? Oh yes, and whether it’s in the flight path of aircraft coming in to land at Jacksons Airport. 

I don’t normally express political views publicly but there’s always a first time. I am concerned about the generations to come of the Motu-Koitabu people who own the land on which most of the city of Port Moresby is built on and expanding at a faster rate. Some of this expansion is kind of unwelcomed although the concept of city expansion is inevitable with population growth as well as business and industry growth.

The house could be legit! But the thoughts of land-grabbing are ever present.

What would happen if land-grabbing continues relentlessly and recklessly. A number of prominent Motu-Koitabu people are talking about it now and are quietly resisting, so what are the strategies out there to urgently stem this scary tide of land-grabbers. Motu-Koitabu friends please do something now before you become totally disenfranchised and invisible spectators in your own backyard. There I’ve said it.

The Mystery Mountain With The Visible Gap

Notice the mountain with the ‘gap’ – a view from the Airways Poolside Restaurant, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Dining at the Airways Poolside Restaurant situated in the 5-star Airways Hotel near Jacksons International Airport (Papua New Guinea) is not an everyday pastime for most Port Moresby-ites. So when we get to lunch there we focus mainly on the food and amiable conversation with an intermittent look at activities on the tarmac of Port Moresby’s international airport.

For me last week, it was lunch with one of my best friends who has never been there before so I was keen to give her my recommendations on what I considered a great dish. We both ended up at the buffet, as you can see the Beef Stir-fry with loads of beautiful healthy veggies.

Stir-fry Beef with fresh local veggies…

After our sumptuous lunch we began to look around and across to the tarmac and what seemed to be a very busy day at the airport with aircraft landing and taking off almost every 15 minutes or so.

However, my eyes riveted on to this mountain top in the distance and lo and behold we noticed a gap right at the top of it!  How come I’ve never seen it before? I pointed the scene out to my friend and we started to ask questions for which we both didn’t seem to have any answers like, what the name of the mountain is, is it part of the Owen Stanley Range etc.

I even Google-d it this morning but no luck. May be am not asking the right questions!

It remains a mystery until I can point it out to someone in the know like a geographer who may be able to answer some of my questions. I hate that when I’m kept in suspense.