Stella Celebrated Its First Year In Style

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

An Evening Cruise On MV South Pacific

Yours truly with some of the invited VIPs on board the MV South Pacific, owned and operated by the Bank of South Pacific.

Recently, I was one of the invitees to join the top brass of the Bank of South Pacific on their boat the MV South Pacific for a dinner cruise around Fairfax Harbour, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Fairfax Harbour is probably one of the best natural harbours in the country and in the Pacific Region. I shudder at the thought of more of the seaviews disappearing so fast so we miss out on the harbour views when driving into downtown Port Moresby nowadays. We used to be able to see the sea but slowly construction of many new buildings and the extensions of the port along the waterfront  is obstructing this view that we used to take for granted. It will be gone forever and it is beyond the control of so many ordinary people in Port Moresby who would want to get a glimpse of the harbour on their way downtown or back up towards the hinterland. 

Soon we’d have to go up Port Road or Paga Hill to be able to take in unobstructed views of our beloved Fairfax Harbour.

Getting out of the marina and into the harbour.

The evening started off with heavy rain. It was a little daunting also trying to find Finger B which was where our boat was moored. It took me 15 minutes to finally find it with the help of a couple of helful RPYC security guards. Of course me not been a member of the RPYC made it difficult too. Anyway, I finally found the place and was greeted by two friendly and helpful ladies.

I braved the drizzle walking down the length of the pier to get onboard but what a lovely reward at the end of the walk. Of course climbing up the stairs in rain was a bit of a challenge with the ever-present hazard of falling into the sea should I get a foot wrong going up. But I mustered all the strength and skill recalled from my early years growing up on Kwato Island and the many times we had to get on and off the mission boats come rain and shine got me up the ladder and on to dry deck.

Cheers! we’re off on an evening cruise around Fairfax Harbour.

I met others who were already there and was soon holding on to a cool glass of orange juice. As we sipped our drinks and slowly got to meet the others the rain subsided and it was calm and dry. This was something different – to be on a boat in the harbour sipping a cold drink and meeting new people on a rainy evening. Of all of them, I had met only three (3) people prior to the cruise. I was delighted to join our BSP friends and this small  gathering on board.  

Not long after the rain cleared, it was decided we should cast off.  So we were   going on our evening cruise after all. The rain had not dampened our spirits and expectations to cruise around the harbour this evening.

After a brief explanation on the boat itself and a fine one too, the Captain gave us a safety briefing and then we were off as we slowly edged our way out of the marina. A great sense of freedom, adventure and well-being came over me.

A lone figure at the helm – our able Captain Simeon at the helm of the MV South Pacific, owned and operated by the Bank of South Pacific (BSP).

The sea was calm but a little breeze to remind us we were on a boat and gliding gracefully over the water.

Just outside the RPYC there is a massive contruction site and this is the view from the harbour. Looks different, obviously.

I couldn’t believe the fact that I was seeing Port Moresby by night from the harbour, and rarer still the opportunity to do so this evening. It was just a very nice feeling to be out and about without having to look over my shoulder. I must say the city looked beautiful this evening.

Port Moresby’s waterfront. It would be really nice to have a seafood restaurant along the seafront. Now that would be something.

As the boat moved out into the harbour I was transported back to my childhood days albeit momentarily.  When on school holidays from Cameron High School we would board one of the mission boats – either the Osiri or Labini – one or the other for Samarai, Logea and Kwato.

Part of Port Moresby’s skyline. Could see the towering Grand Papua.

I used to feel rather cheeky arriving at night because no-one knew  which school children have come home to the island for the school holidays until the following morning or at Church.  

The container wharf with the large cranes. Massive. Don’t know whether they can expand anymore with all the shipping activity going on everyday.

The reflection of lights on the water held a certain facination for me. And now I couldn’t help feeling a sense of deja vu.  I decided to stand back and enjoy the views in the cool evening.

One of the delectable dishes served for dinner on board. Yumsko!

Looking back the way we came out of the Royal Papua Yacht Club marina and out in the open I focused my sights and my camera on the lights of Port Moresby.

Well, what do you know the city looked stunning with all the lights and the colourful patterns on the water from the many different coloured lights.

Dinner was served and soon we went downstairs to partake of the tasty morsels laid before us. One of the things I take for granted is that I am not seasick and the food was a welcome sight. After a few words of welcome and updates on BSP from the CEO we tucked in.

Dinner is served!

Later on I went aft to enjoy the sights of Port Moresby from the boat.

Port Moresby looked like a reclining lady in red, yellow and orange sequinns shimmering against a dark sky.

I went past a couple of big ships and then to Napa Napa and Motukea then infront of Tatana on our return to the marina. 

The last time I was on a boat in the harbour was in the ’80s and was a passenger or spectator on one somebody’s boat watching the regatta or some sailing competition. It’s all so hazy now. But anyway, this was the first time I am out in the Harbour at night.

No, I wasn’t trying to sing ‘My Heart Will Go On’ – in fact am facing the wrong way. City lights in the background.

I look out on the harbour from my office day in day out and to be in it myself in the same place that so many container vessels use during the day was an awesome thought.

The city looked like something out of Star Wars or Galactica.

My camera was clicking all the time we were cruising around but the constant movement did not help but I think I managed to get some. I did the best I could but happy that I can actually take photos.

One of the views from the bow of the boat. Fascinating.

Thank you so much Mr Clyne and your managers for giving us the privilege to go on a harbour cruise and to enjoy Port Moresby at night this way.  Thank you Captain Simeon for taking us out on the MV South Pacific and bringing us safely back home.

All too soon our cruise came to an end at about 9.00pm.

We were back at the marina and then it was goodbyes and I took my leave. Driving home, I thought about the cruise, about the MV South Pacific, about BSP and the food we enjoyed and most of all about seeing the lights of Port Moresby this way.

Captain Simeon and I at the end of the cruise. He’s my wantok from the Trobs – kagutoki Captain Simeon for a great cruise.

There ain’t no nicer way to enjoy the night air in Port Moresby than a wonderful cruise in Fairfax Harbour on an evening like this.

Approaching the marina – coming up to berth.

Village Huts Has Gone Online!

Sign at the Gateway Hotel, Port Moresby on the launching of their website.

I was a guest of the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) at the Gateway Hotel in Port Moresby on Thursday evening, 22nd March, 2012 to witness the formal launch of the website for Village Huts. A good number of guests attended the launching  as well as members of the TPA Board including the Deputy Chairman of the Board and the CEO Mr Peter Vincent and TPA staff and media representatives.

Countdown...the Deputy Chairman of the PNGTPA Board 'launching' the website.

From what I gathered at the launching, Village Huts is a small team of big thinkers who are doing a brilliant job in amassing information on ‘village guesthouses’ and accommodation throughout Papua New Guinea that will suit any budget but mostly for backpackers and others wanting to conquer new territories in their quest for adventure on a shoe-string budget.

So far they have gathered information for 80 guesthouses and the challenge now is for us to find others to add to this growing list no doubt. The aim is to get to 200 if possible. The website and the database are certainly going to place PNG at the top of the list for budget accommodation in the Pacific Islands.

I was amazed at the many places the owners of VillageHuts.com were able to cover. The photos of places the team visited were absolutely awesome.  The guesthouses found in PNG according to the photos come in different shapes and sizes but no doubt they are now in the public domain not within PNG only but on cyber space for the whole world to see.

Village Huts has built and will continue to build a nationwide database with information on budget accommodation in PNG, that will be current, reliable, certified by world standards and community-based.  For the adventurous in heart, the possibilities now for finding information about accommodation in PNG has got easier with innovative approaches such as Village Huts.

Fear not, for there is sufficient and affordable room in PNG!

Some of us who joined TPA for the launch of VillageHuts.com. From left to right...Air Niugini, PNG Dive Assoc., yours truly, Art Stret Gallery and a friend from the Land of the Long White Cloud...

This is another amazing journey for those who dare to be innovative and are not afraid to scale the heights for success, all in service for mankind. Thank you Village Huts for discovering the best in PNG and are creating awareness for a country that has a lot to offer for tourism.

I truly believe that if we make travel possible for ourselves within PNG, other people will look at us through this lens as well. My 10 points this week go to TPA for a great product and for putting PNG squarely on the map for budget accommodation.

I guess we are not far off from adding home-stays and the development of our own brand of B & Bs (bed and breakfast) and more affordable tourist accommodation in PNG. Bring it on!

Perhaps we can develop a game called ‘find a guesthouse’ and as we find one whether in a remote village or in a small town we can add it to the growing list that Village Huts has been building for us.

A celebration of yet another feather in PNGTPA's cap. Well done!

Congratulatons Village Huts and TPA for another inspiring development in PNG  tourism!

Fairfax Harbour At Dusk…Port Moresby

The view halfway up the Poreporena Freeway

One evening as we left the office,  I was so taken by the sunset and dusk over Fairfax Harbour, I tried taking my shots through the staff bus windows but none of them did justice to the moment. So when we were on the Freeway halfway on our ascent I asked everyone  if we could stop so I could take some shots of the unfolding dusk over the Harbour.  My colleagues readily agreed, so we stopped by the roadside and these were the photos I took of  Fairfax Harbour.

Peaceful and alluring…. 

Another shot from the Freeway
The rock face on the side of the Freeway
My, oh my, how the city has grown this side of town...
Another view of the lights of Port Moresby from this side of the city
As the sunset slowly disappeared...
Traffic on the Freeway...this used to be a mountain!
Could barely make out the lights of Government House

As we piled back into the bus and slowly climbed up the hill and away down towards Hohola, I couldn’t help  thinking how fast Port Moresby is growing. No doubt every nook and cranny and every hill that has a spectacular view of the Harbour will have a house on it one day. Don’t really want to contemplate that, no, not really.

I kind of liked this time of day when the dusk envelops the city and hides the dust-laden rooftops and roadsides. I think this is my escape from the headlines of the day that paint a totally different picture of the city of Port Moresby. How much of its historical significance is lost on us, the residents of Port Moresby – visitors, short term and longtime residents? How much of Port Moresby do we want to change? – hopefully not these views, especially of Fairfax Harbour at dusk.