It’s official: No fautasi race for this year’s Flag Dag celebration
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Many people of American Samoa have been wondering if a celebration will be held to commemorate the 118 years since the territory became part of the United States family on April 17, and the Flag Day Committee has officially given its answer.
There is no fautasi race scheduled for this year Flag Day celebration; and, the Flag Day Samoan cricket competition has been cancelled as well.
However, there will be Pese & Siva as part of the Flag Day celebration, including a group from Samoa.
FLAG DAY FAUTASI REGATTA
The decision, re the Flag Day Fautasi Regatta, was made during a meeting with fautasi captains last Friday afternoon, held at the Samoan Affairs conference room, in Utulei.
The meeting was led by Paramount Chief Mauga Tasi Asuega, who is Flag Day Committee Co-Chairman, and he was accompanied by two District Governors, Alo Dr. Paul Stevenson of the Western District and Fuamatu J.V Fuamatu of the Eastern District. Representatives of all villages with fautasi were in attendance.
The motion to cancel the race was voiced by the Flag Day Committee Co-Chairman, Paramount Chief Mauga Tasi Asuega, and was fully supported by all fautasi captains who were present during the meeting.
During the meeting, Mauga informed fautasi captains that Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga, together with Lt. Gov. Lemanu Palepoi Peleti Mauga, who is also the Flag Day Committee Co-Chairman and their cabinet are more concerned with finding ways to help those who are affected by tropical storm Gita.
“We all understand our government’s financial situation right now, our economy is not in a good position and we also have a lot of responsibility that needs to be fulfilled. Our government’s first priority is to reach out to our people and help them to rebuild their homes and families. Our government really needs money to assist our people, and the only way we can save our money is to minimize our spending,” Mauga said.
He pointed out that one of the ways the government can save money is to cancel all of its Flag Day activities such as fautasi race and the Samoan cricket competition, and use the money that would be spent on cash prizes and awards for Gita recovery efforts.
“Our first priority is to help to rebuild our country, our government, and lend a hand to all families who were affected by the cyclone. If the federal government is reaching out to us to help with money and supplies, why don’t we do the same, by reaching out to our own people and helping them by providing all the help they need,” Mauga said.
He thanked the federal government and other agencies such as the Red Cross for doing a great job to help our people.
According to Mauga, the Flag Day Committee was planning to continue on with the fautasi race, and let the High School students from all villages who have fautasi row their boat instead of the aumaga and the young men. However, the DOE director advised Lolo and the Flag Day Committee to re-consider their decision, because high school students need to focus on their studies.
“We were advised that final exams and graduation for our high school students is near, and they need to catch up with their classes because they missed a lot of school days because of the cyclone,” the Paramount chief said.
Soliai T. Fuimaono, appearing for the Manulele Tausala 1 & 2 supported the plan, saying that Nuuuli had already made a decision that their two fautasi would not compete in this year’s Flag Day races.
“I support the decision by the Flag Day Committee,” Soliai said. “Our people are suffering and we need to save more money to help them. We have to support the governor’s decision that our first priority is to lend our hands to help our people. Let us show to the federal government that we care more for our people than spending money on social activities. We are leaders and we need to set good examples for our people to follow.”
Soliai said that he’s not sure if there are any pese & siva for the Flag Day, but he’s thinking that it would be good if the Flag Day Committee also put a hold on pese & siva.
He recommended that the only important event for the Flag Day is a short prayer to thank God for his guidance upon American Samoa, the raising of the flags and special remarks from the governor.
The Matasaua representative, Malaepule Saite Moliga commented that the fautasi race is the main event during every Flag Day celebration, and if this is the governor’s decision to stop the fautasi race for this year’s celebration, then he believes that pese & siva should also be stopped, especially the dance group from Samoa, to save the money and instead to help those who were affected by the cyclone.
“If this is the government’s decision, then I support Soliai’s advice to let us focus on a brief prayer ceremony and the raising of the flags,” Malaepule said.
All other fautasi representatives who attended the meeting supported the Committee’s decision.
However, Mauga explained that the Committee notified Samoa Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi of the governor’s decision, but the response from the PM was that his dancing group has already prepared for the Flag Day.
Therefore, there will be pese & siva at this year’s Flag Day celebrations, which will include not only the group from Samoa, but also three pese & siva groups from: Fagaitua High School, Faasao Marist High School, and the ASCC.