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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Turtle: Another Icon of the Pacific Islands

Miss American Samoa - this print really moved me

I realised how much the turtle means to people of the Pacific Islands when I saw the sarong designs and prints sported by the 2010 Miss South Pacific Pageant contestants in November last year here in Port Moresby. Here are some of the reminders on the Sarong and Talent judging evening at the Lamana Hotel.

Miss American Samoa - an award-worthy print!

There should be two additional award categories: one for the prints on the sarong and the other for sarong design. As you can see from these photos, the attention to detail and style needs to be recognized and rewarded.

Miss Samoa - stunning idea! The shell pattern on a turtle's back.

We can find turtles practically anywhere in the Pacific Islands – from Hawaii to Papua New Guinea. Each of us have a special connection to this marine animal. The turtles live in the sea and lay their eggs along the sandy beaches of our lovely islands. These prints and designs show that connection.

Miss Samoa - turtle clasps made of coconut shell or turtle shell on the sarong

What comes to mind when I watched the contestants in their sarongs and these designs and prints is that the turtle has a very significant place in the cultures, as well as the cuisine of the Pacific Islands.

Miss Tonga - a turtle print on her sarong - impressive print

In Samoa one of the top 10 tourist attractions is swimming with turtles. In Hawaii we find the legend of the sea turtle called ‘Kauila‘. I am sure there are a few legends and myths about of sea turtles that go beyond the Pacific Islands. That means that the sea turtle is a migratory species and can be found also in Asia and the Caribbean.

In some parts of PNG turtle meat and turtle eggs are a delicacy. In Daru, Western Province the popular turtle meat dish is called isi dou. I tried making isi dou wrapped in foil – not the real thing to use but the taste was exquisite! So I was told by my relatives who enjoyed the dish immensely.

I will end this post by sharing a great article on sea turtles which I am sure we can identify with – the protection and preservation of these animals and also a Fact Sheet titled “Sea Turtles of the South Pacific” published by the South Pacific Environmental Programme (SPREP) which gives an overview of the variety of sea turtles, life cyle and other very important information about these marine animals.

May the turtle live on and continue to be an icon of the Pacific Islands.

Vinaka Vaka Levu…Celebrating Fiji’s 40th Birthday

Symbols of sovereignty

There is always something exciting going on in Port Moresby especially cultural and social events of various kinds, large and small.

I was most fortunate to be invited to Fiji’s 4oth Independence anniversay celebrations on 9th October, 2010 at Murray Barracks in Korobosea. It was organized by the Fiji Association. Vinaka vaka levu AA and your awesome team.

It was a great opportunity as always to meet new friends and catch up with old ones.  I met a nephew for the first time…great to meet you at long last JG and hook up with RK – someone from UPNG days. I also met an avid fan who was introduced to me by his beautiful wife which was also very uplifting. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening. Vinaka vaka levu dear FI for the invite.

We were all in island gear and everyone chatted away happily in the tropical evening. No-one would suspect we were in an army establishment as the atmosphere was informal and no uniforms in sight. The place was abuzz with hellos and hugs, laughter and leisurely conversation.

Dalo, rourou...delish!

The food was tasty as always and there were some Fijian favourites – I think some rourou and the ever-inimitable dalo…and of course the roasted pork. Ahhhh…such delicious morsels to grace my palate once again. Viva Viti!

Throughout the evening we were entertained by the fantabulous Fabila family band. Later on after the meal when the dancing was in full swing, Elina Onno took to the stage and then after a couple of powerful numbers invited me to the stage. This was a great evening so why not, I thought, as I belted out  ‘Motuan Coastline’ and realised as I looked on the dance floor how many people actually liked this song. I was most privileged to have sung this song to this gathering of friends.

Well, what can I say, we were in danisi mode most of the night and I guess I got a bit of exercise from the leg-shaking. I had to sneak out to judge the PNG Idol at Lamana Hotel and then returned to the celebrations and did a bit of leg-shaking myself until the end – naturally.

Happy birthday dear Fiji, happy birthday to you and yours...

A birthday celebration is not complete without a cake and this birthday celebration was no exception.

A super awesome time was had by all. A very, very happy birthday Fiji and bula vinaka for a great fun evening.