Libertine in Dreams

life in e-motion


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Magifezo

Okay, for those who care about local politics and the upcoming Elections and are interested in the differences between the ruling party (HRPP) and the Opposition (Tautua Samoa), I’ve attached the two Manifestos below – as released by each party this month.

General Elections are next week, so if you are still unsure what each party stands for and what they plan to do for the next five years – now’s the time to do your research.  As expected, the media is covering every aspect of the pre-election buzz and the verbal jousting is going back and forth through the radio programs and press conferences.
What a time to be alive!

I’ve gone through both Manifestos and I have my own opinions.  I won’t share them in this post as I only wanted to share the documents themselves, as I realise that many people simply rely on the media analysis and cherry pick what they deem to be important.

So here’s your chance to check it all out – directly from each political party.

Happy reading 🙂

ps – No, you’re not confused. There is only one page for Tautua. That’s what was provided to the media at their launch.


 

Tautua Samoa Manifesto

HRPP Anavatau SAMOAN

HRPP Manifesto ENGLISH


 

 

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Livin’ on a SNPF prayer

Today’s Editorial in the Observer is entitled, “Time for S.N.P.F to lean a little”.
In it, Keni talks about struggling families left with no other options to put food on the table and pay school fees and cover their living expenses.  To his credit, he does mention that the Fund’s objective is to ensure that members are left with a decent amount at their retirement.

Whilst I don’t disagree with the claims that the cost of living is skyrocketing, nor do I deny that there are a lot of desperate people out there, I don’t agree with the sentiment that this retirement fund should be made available for people to use whenever they want.  Are you missing the point of a retirement fund?  It’s for RETIREMENT.
I don’t really get the desperation to use your retirement fund now instead of saving it for old age.  I mean sure, you could die early and someone else gets it.  Is it really so awful that your family ends up with your money?
Also, are you forgetting that half of your retirement fund is paid by Government?  Therefore it’s not just your money you’re complaining about and want to loan on, but the money of every single tax payer out there?
Yes, that’s right, I am okay with the reduction.  I am all for the SNPF retirement fund being used for my retirement.

Money and Me
I’m one of those people whose relationship with money goes like this: because it’s there, I will use it.
In all honesty if I was smarter with my money, I wouldn’t need a single sene of my NPF entitlement.  I’m not joking when I say that every single expense I have is completely predictable – even the faalavelaves.
It’s a good feeling, knowing that when I retire at 85 I’ll have a few bucks left over to hand out to my great-grand kids so they can give me hugs and bring me my glasses of negroni.  I don’t want to rely on my kids for everything because I intend to live with them and take over the master bedroom and en suite anyway.  I already know my kids will be fairly unsophisticated (blame their Dad, he’s from Aleipata) and I don’t want to have to eat their boring, flavorless suā-meals every day.  I want to enjoy flavourful, exotic foods from NZ and drink dusty and imported wines from Australia.  You know, the good stuff.
Whilst my savings account is looking a little dry right now, I intend to start a faalavelave fund this year so I always have some backup in the event an uncle, thirteen times removed, decides to kick the bucket and has demanded to be buried in marble and gold.
Even if I die before retirement, I have nominated people in my family to receive portions of my NPF fund.  No, not you Mum or Dad.  Your NPF fund is me.
I will also leave a small amount for the grieving widower I leave behind.  Just enough so he can buy himself a vasectomy.
I’m pre-booking it as well.  xoxo.

What’s your bloody point?
So I guess my point is that if you look at this issue closely, the problem isn’t the fact that SNPF have reduced the amount you can loan, it’s that members are using their retirement funds like chequing accounts – cashing in their entitlements to pay for faalavelaves and other expenses (like school fees).  I mean, just look at the Street talk section of the Observer today: 4 out of the 6 people who were interviewed said that they needed that money for faalavelaves.  And expenses like school fees are about as predictable as they come.  There isn’t a parent in this world who doesn’t understand about school fees.

So what’s the real problem here?
In my opinion, the problem is this mucky, muddy, boggy faalavelave life in which we are all so deeply and undeniably entrenched.
The way I see it, most people could get by with what they make until you start adding the pressures of church donations, funeral expenses, monetary gifts for weddings, yearly monetary gifts for the church/pastor/congregation, fundraising activities for schools/churches/villages and so on.  I mean, that’s just life isn’t it.  We take the good and the bad and we go with the flow where we can.  Our communities, our families are a huge part of life, and play a very big role in the quality of life that we enjoy – the freedom and peace we take for granted.  We are most fortunate.
The problem I have with it all is not so much in the act of giving itself, but with how much we are giving.  For most, giving more than they can afford is standard.  Sacrificing your own and your family’s needs in order to look good in front of your extended family, your church, your village is absolutely the norm.  I often hear criticisms of how shameful it was for so-and-so to bring only x amount of money to a combined collection for a faalavelave.  It’s that kind of ridicule that inspires what we call the fia kagaka and fia kele syndrome.
This saddens me greatly.  It’s all about perception, it’s all about the look.  There is no substance.  Only surface value.

Ummm, so what does that have to do with the SNPF retirement fund?
Plenty!  Aside from the financial burdens that encourage people to loan up to their necks, it also puts a lot of pressure on retirees who end up with nothing to live on.
I’m not suggesting that you completely ignore any obligations you have to your family, church and village.  No, not at all.
What I’m saying, and what many others have said before, is to give what you can afford!
The world never stopped turning because you didn’t donate your kitchen sink and a kidney to the church fundraiser!  Funerals will happen no matter what happens and irrespective of the amount of money you give. I learnt this recently when I went above and beyond with my own contribution to a funeral, thinking I was showing respect by overcommitting myself.  After the initial flush of pride when my name was called out, it went away and never returned.
Sayonara.  Kaput.  Gone with the wind.
Just like my money.
When the dust settled, I was left with a sizable loan to pay and a small ulcer developing in my stomach as my reward for being “a good Samoan”.
In the greater scheme of things, the amount I had given meant as much (or as little) as what the others had contributed. And rightly so.
If it’s meant to be given out of love, then the amount is irrelevant.

So how do you avoid ulcers?
I think this country needs a citizens advice bureau or some kind of organisation that specialises in helping people to manage their money.  Offering honest, frank and realistic advice on how to get out of debt; how to start saving for expenses like school fees a year in advance; how to budget your wages/salary; prioritizing expenditure; understanding the interest and fees charged by lending institutions like the banks and loan sharks etc etc.

I have absolutely no interest in being shackled to the perceptions of others in my family, in my church, in my village.. and what they deem is a fitting meaalofa for me to give.  None of you are paying my bills!

So yeah, I’m all for reducing the loanable percentage. Until I run for Parliament 😂😂😂😂


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The censorship conundrum

What is Freedom of Speech?

According to Dictionary.com, it is the right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference, subject to the laws against libel, incitement to violence or rebellion, etc.

This has been weighing heavily on my mind of late, because I was forced to delete and block several users on the work Facebook page over the last few days.  If you know the page, you’ll have seen that I work for the Government, and when you put the words “Government” and “Freedom of Speech” together, it’s usually not in favour of the state.

I have been accused of censoring free speech and having a heavy hand in promoting Government’s agenda.
Please allow me to explain why I politely disagree with that sentiment.

Last Friday, I posted a press release from the Prime Minister – regarding his trip to Brussels where, among other duties, he met with the Chairman of World Rugby.  As many of you may already know, the Manu Samoa has been all over the news recently.  I won’t explain as it’s been well-covered thus far.
Almost immediately, the press release post was slammed with some rather disturbing comments from users.  Aside from a smattering of awful profanity, there were racist taunts, gay slurs, accusations of thievery and other unflattering words I don’t care to repeat.  All over rugby.
As a matter of principle, I don’t interfere with user comments or discussions – after all, the internet is a veritable feast of expressive freedom, and as someone who enjoys this freedom herself, I wouldn’t want to be blocked from a site or a page I wish to access.
So I sat there and read every comment.  After a few minutes, I found myself cringing whenever my phone showed a new notification.
I began to have visions of the page ending up like the cesspool of cruel and childish banter that is the Palemene o Samoa Facebook page.

I tried to justify the comments to myself.

“They’re allowed to say whatever they like!”  
“Freedom of speech”
“Just leave it, they will eventually move on to another page”

I felt like a battered housewife, trying to make myself feel better about my inaction.  I was allowing the bullies to spread their poison.  Effectively giving them a voice by doing nothing.

Then it hit me.  Why am I protecting them?
I couldn’t think of a single scenario where I would allow anyone to speak that way to me, my father, my mother, my sister, my brother or my Prime Minister.
So I deleted and I blocked.

There have been supportive comments about what I did.  But as expected, there are those who do not agree with any censorship whatsoever.
I get it.  I really do.
What I don’t get, and I don’t accept, is the freedom of speech you demand to cover the racist taunts, anti-gay slurs, uttering insulting words and profanity when you don’t agree with someone or something.
If you think you can say such vile things to the Prime Minister’s face, then you gladly accept someone saying such things to your father or your mother.

My point on the page is this – you are free to say whatever you like about whomever you like, as long as you don’t name-call or swear.
Stick to the issue.  Back yourself up with facts or ask compelling questions.  We may all learn a thing or two from what you have to say.  And isn’t that the point of social media and social networking?
Wikipedia says that “a relationship over a computerized social networking service can be characterized by context, direction, and strength. The content of a relation refers to the resource that is exchanged.”
So what is the resource you wish to exchange with your peers or your community?
For me – I want to see some compelling questions, some smart debate, some provocative discussion that will make for some meaningful dialogue with whomever is around you or around me.  I want to get something more out of my exchanges than a feeling of absolute disgust, shame, mild amusement or worst of all, apathy.

I don’t believe in censorship but I believe in common courtesy.  We’re not yet lost to the faceless void of the 21st century’s developments.  We are still family.  We are still a community.  We are still a great country.

Samoans purport to be God-fearing Christians who defend their honour and the honour of their families with passion and pride.  Respect is supposed to be a huge part of our culture.  The very fabric of our society is held together by our mutual respect for each other.  Seems we also take pride in our hypocrisy as well.

So please……. Disagree!  Argue against!  Dislike!  Do as you please if you feel so strongly.  Just remember that when you’ve put down your smart phone, or switched off your computer screen – you’re not a faceless name on a screen. You’re the culmination of thousands of years of evolution and the most recent in a line of your ancestors.
So what do you wish to put out in to the world?


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It begins with me

Earlier today, I began writing an entry about this rape* issue and the follow-on commentary printed in the Observer.  But then I remembered where I was and what people here in Samoa are like.  This is the same crap that happens over and over again, and wagging my finger at a bunch of chauvinist, decrepit, old men ensures only two things:  1) a tight ass from clenching and 2) a convivial conversation piece for stubborn men like that.

I decided I would save my energy and make sure that the people in my life know how I feel about such happenings.

I have seen, all too often, the dismissive attitudes of those who should care and who should address the problems of incest, rape, assault within their own family groups, circle of friends and their own communities.  It’s easy to judge and accuse those people of doing those despicable things, but what about your own backyard?  

For me, I will acknowledge that I have family members who were habitually abused.  Unsurprisingly it was discovered that, in time, they became abusers themselves.  It is embarrassing and awful to admit, but I have memories of at least three relatives trying to groom me.  One was a woman.

It took me a long time to accept that it was okay not to like these people and despite the looks of disapproval from other family members – that it was okay not to say hello, kiss or even look at them.  God can forgive them.  I don’t have to.

With every newspaper article highlighting the depravity of our community, it is so very sad to see that the monsters are usually those in plain sight.  It isn’t surprising, but it is just so sad.
These people are in positions of trust and power in family circles.  What they lack in conscience, they make up for with the pageantry of deviant charm and illusory characterization of humanity.  The dregs of humanity.

No one wants to admit that their own blood can be capable of such monstrosity.  I don’t know how many times I have heard these words, “E leai a se aiga e le kupu ai mea faapea” (This sort of thing happens in every family, or, There’s no family that hasn’t been affected by this).  This attitude screams denial and is asking me to accept the status quo.  Well that’s not good enough for me.

While I can’t change the mindset of old, I can do something about the future.

I made a promise to myself and to all that I hold dear, that I would never tolerate such behaviour.  But more importantly, I vow to teach my children the value of another human being and to respect and love one another.  It seems a banal vow, but there are horrific examples abound to make me think this is something I cannot leave to chance.
I will affect my own circle and do what I can where I am most effective and where my opinion matters the most.  I start with me and mine.

[*For background.  Here and here.]


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How attractive are you to men?

Having just read this delightful little number on brainpickings.org I thought I might make a few notes, to personalize it somewhat.

This is from Esquire’s Handbook for Hosts: A Time-Honoured Guide to the Perfect Party.

 

1. Do you bring the names of other men into the conversation to give yourself a sought-after appearance? 
Don’t. This may give a man a sense of inferiority — he is uncomfortable with you, and soon drifts away to someone else. It may make him wonder how much talking you do about him.
Subtext here is – put your ho flag down for 5 goddamn minutes.
If you have to sing your own praises then you’re not really that sought after.
There’s nothing sexier than someone who doesn’t make a big fuss over themselves.

2.  Do you wear clothes that make you a little more up-to-the-minute than the other women in your set?
Good — provided your taste is reliable and that the clothes suit you. Men may rant about the “crazy hat” but they swell with pride when their lady companions arouse admiring stares.
This is true from the Man’s perspective, although..don’t ever forget that clothes DO NOT make the person.
If you are beautiful on the inside, your inner radiance will take the centre stage. And not your faded tshirt or hand-me-down dress. The same goes for those who only buy expensive clothes because they feel it heightens their social status. If you are ugly on the inside, no collection of MENA or Tav dresses is going to fix the shadow that follows you. Smile bitch. It won’t kill you.
Don’t be afraid to wear whatever the hell you want to wear.
On a personal note, I wear whatever fits me, whatever my lovely cousins gift me, and buy whatever I can afford. My style is Roseanne Barr meets Elizabeth Taylor. A retired Liz Taylor, but still!!

3.  If you are asked to get another girl for a foursome, do you pick one obviously less attractive than you are?
You are unwise to do so. Get the most glamorous girl you know, and both men will be pleased.
Oh Esquire. How times have changed the popular meaning of words. (Ok getting my head out of the gutter now).
In this fertilisation race we are on from puberty, it is smart for a girl to employ all her wiles to ensnare a partner worthy of eggsploitation. Why should she make her goal that much more unattainable by inviting along a prettier and smarter rival? (Ps, a real rival is both pretty AND smart. Not one or the other because that’s not much competition when you really think about it. Please think about it).
Ok, ok, so the “right” answer here would be to take someone who would be the right fit for the second gentleman. If your own beauty and brains are not appreciated by someone in this foursome, then you probably need to find a new crew for that evening stroll. Or quit being a pimp.

4. Do you make a point of building up other women, even those you dislike, in discussing them with a man?
This is sound practice. But don’t put it on so thick that it sounds like a line.
If you are self-aware enough to know you can do this, then do it. If you aren’t, then you should probably steer clear of these kinds of discussions (here’s how you can find out – think of someone you HATE. Now list 5 positive aspects about that person. If you can’t, then you do not pass go here..move on to #5).

5. Do men marvel at your capacity for holding liquor?
A great mistake: it gives you a fast reputation and runs into money — the man’s money — besides.
I agree, but for another reason: no one should ever be proud of being able to drink a tank of booze and remain amongst the living. What exactly are you proud of? Your ability to destroy your liver/kidneys faster than anyone else? Well congratulations. You win impaired vision, poor decision-making and memory loss. The plus side is that if you make it out of your 20s and decide that you no longer feel excited about getting sozzled and possibly getting carried to your car every weekend, you’re probably going to be ok. Probably.
On a personal note, holding one’s liquor is not a quality I value in anyone and especially my mate. His ability to bring me to orgasm means more.

6. How many comfortable chairs are there in your living room?
At least two, I hope. No man can fall in love unless he has a chance to relax and he can’t if either of you sits bolt upright.
So this is why a love story never starts in a church pew.
Carseats are rather comfortable. Oh my how times have changed.

7. Do you keep men interested by hinting that later — not tonight — you’ll be really demonstrative?
This is a low trick and one that a surprising number of men see through at once. If you kiss a man, it should be for your own pleasure and not to reward him.
Again with the change in context and use of language. I suppose in 1950 this would have only ever meant a kiss, but modern times would suggest that this is a promise of a circle jerk or standup69 farewell.
Although I have to point out that I absolutely agree with the sentiment that a kiss should be for my own pleasure and not a reward for him. Very good advice.

8.  Do you make things easier for a man by suggesting that he climb into a car first, if he’s driving, or by asking him not to stand up when you come into the room?
This is an error — men know that they are supposed to show these signs of consideration to a girl and they respect her more if she takes them as a matter of course.
I don’t make it easier but I absolutely adore it when he opens my door for me. It makes me all warm and fuzzy and rather receptive to other suggestions from him, like “Let’s go for a walk up Palisi. We need to exercise”.
I also open doors for people and let them through first. Because I am not a rude dickhead who just pushes past people to get to the other side.

9. Do you ever embarrass a man by telling him he’s good-looking or has big muscles or is too, too intelligent?
Try it! Almost any man can stand almost any amount of flattery, however obvious, without embarrassment or surprise.
Agreed. They fucking love it.

10. Do you knit when you are having a cozy, fireside evening with a man?
For some reason, men hate to see a woman doing anything with her hands when talking to her. Undivided attention is best.
Because men are babies. Nothing short of a teat will shut them up.

11. Do you either play bridge or dance really well?
If not, take steps to correct this at once. You’re better off if you do both well, but one talent is mandatory.
Twerking does not apply. Unless you want the rest of your life to be a series of twerking performances at family weddings and reunions. I suggest you learn a siva Samoa.
Or learn to play bingo. Acceptable in almost all, if not all, mainstream religions and nothing says God-fearing womanly purity than gathering weekly at the viper’s pit and gambling for Jesus.

12. Are you so beautifully groomed that you make an average man feel like a lout when he takes you out?
Fine. Men are extremely critical of any imperfection in a girl’s neatness. If he feels like a lout once, the average escort will take pains to be better-dressed himself the next time.
Completely agree. Don’t ever drop your standards to make him feel comfortable and if he is critical of your appearance, or tries to tell you how to dress, then he really isn’t happy with you just as you are. You are something wonderful.

13. Do you, when you have first met a really attractive man, clinch your future acquaintance by some polite variation of “Come up and see me sometime”?
It often helps out on the occasions when the man is too shy to make the first advance himself.
Just make sure he’s not currently sharing a bed with another woman, especially if it’s his wife. A really attractive man is usually being clinched by multiple other advanced variables.

14. Do you keep your friendships warm by chatty calls to your men friends at their offices?
This is fatal.
Until the jealousy gene is eliminated, this is fatal.

15.  Do you use artificial conversation gambits like “What movie would you choose if you had to see it every week for a year?” to start talk with a shy dinner partner?
A very good plan — someone has to start the conversation and a question like this can keep it rolling for quite awhile.
Thinking of a conversation as a gambit should be left to investigative journalists. Just be yourself – if that means you’re an asshole, then so be it. But make sure you smile. Men love it when you smile.

16. Do you save yourself wear and tear by not troubling to entertain men bores?
A grave mistake. Bores have their uses since a clever girl can practice her conversation on them, with nothing much to lose. Besides, they often have attractive friends.
This is called Friend-Zoning. Please don’t be a prick-tease. Be nice and what not, but don’t lead someone on or use them to get to their hot friend. Only fucktards do that. How would you feel if your crush used you to get through to your best friend or sister? Sucky feeling aaye.

17. Do you suffer from indecision when ordering dinner or drinks in a restaurant with a man?
This maddens them — learn to make up your mind rapidly.
Take your time. Order what you want. Chances are, the meal will be the highlight of the night if he is going to get mad at you for trying to figure out what you want to eat. Besides, you will be so hungry after starving yourself all day to look nice for your date. Fuck it. You deserve a good meal.