ROBERTO FIERCE LAUMOLI CROWNED DURING A NIGHT OF HIGH HEELS & TALENT
It was a night of high heels, sparkle, glamour, feathers, and ferocious talent during the 30th Annual Miss SOFIAS (Society of Fa’afafine in American Samoa) held at the Gov. H. Rex Lee Auditorium last Saturday, and the event played to a SRO house. American Samoa’s finest fa’afafine vied for the crown in their 30th anniversary pageant and 35 years of existence in the territory.
There were six contestants this year: Jainah Karter, Moeesha Bird, Davina Vicetory Wallace, Rayven Armani Taylor, Suzie Q, Antoneesha Misa and Roberto Fierce Laumoli. The fabulous event was opened with a brief message and prayer by Reverend Semo Tapaleao of CCCAS Aoloau, who said that God created everyone and everyone are his children whom he loves. Mistress of Ceremony was Solipo Chervon Matagisa Matai (Miss SOFIAS 1985).
Last year’s reigning Miss SOFIAS, Tepatasi Vaina of Aoloau, graciously gave up the crown to this year’s winner, Roberto Fierce Laumoli of Vailoatai, sponsored by Muchie Ugapo, Don Va’avale and family and friends.
She is the daughter of the late Tuiasina Tu’umai Laumoli and Liupapa Pisia Laumoli, and is currently teaching third grade at Pavaiai Elementary School, home of the Mighty Falcons.
Third runner up was Moeesha,while second runner up was Antoneesha Misa.
There were five categories which kept the contest lively: Lady SOFIAS, Talent, Patriotic Swimsuit, Evening Gown and Interview.
Lady SOFIAS was awarded to Antoneesha, Patriotic Swimsuit was won by Rayven, while Best Evening Gown and Best Interview were awarded to Roberta, the newly crowned Miss SOFIAS.
There were also Special awards — Suzie Q was named Miss Congeniality, Best Sarong was awarded to Moeesha, and Miss Photogenic was Jainah, while Roberta won Miss Internet, Miss Platform, Miss Silhouette, Miss Personality and Miss Elegant.
The newly crowned SOFIA Queen is an educator, and is keen on promoting awareness of child abuse, in the hope of educating people and preventing it.
She told Samoa News in an interview that she’s keen on this important yet sensitive issue of child abuse, as she works closely with students as a teacher. “Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones,” she says. “While physical abuse might be visible, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect also leave deep scars.”
“While physical abuse is shocking due to the scars it leaves, not all child abuse is as obvious. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless or stupid are also child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm” she said.
Roberta said child abuse is an issue across the globe and it’s her goal to raise awareness about it. She noted that studies show that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children and this is why the call to raise awareness must be in full force.
“We read it in our daily news paper, all sorts of abuse is happening in schools, families and literally everywhere.”
She further stated that as a teacher who loves children and now as Miss SOFIAS, she will do everything in her capacity to make sure that awareness is raised about this issue, within her village, school, church and at home.
Roberta said the effect of any type of abuse is embedded with the victim. “If anyone has been told over and over again as a child that they are stupid or no good, it is very difficult to overcome these feelings. A person may experience them as reality — and as an adult, may not strive for more education, or settle for a job that may not pay enough, because they don’t believe they can do it,” she said.
“Children need structure, clear boundaries, and the knowledge that their parents and families are looking out for their safety.”
“Whether the abuse is a slap, a harsh comment or neglect the end result is that the child will feel unsafe, uncared for, and alone.”
She urges any child, man or woman who somehow feels they are being abused to contact the Department of Social Services for assistance. “The DHSS has the resources, counselors and programs that can help you,” she said.
In the SOFIAS program that was sold during the pageant, the vision, motto and mission was outlined.
According to the program, SOFIAS motto is “Ia e ola malamalama I lou Fa’asinomaga” (Be of virtue and Pride in your identity). SOFIAS aims to align and work collaboratively with fa’afafine in the territory, Asia Pacific Region and the world.
“SOFIAS is an organization that focuses on improving life through the balance of our Samoan-identity and western influences. We are dedicated to building relationships grounded in the Samoan values, promoting a positive attitude towards the Samoan fa’afafine community, empowerment of people, protection of the environment and respect for cultural diversity in our community.”
The SOFIAS mission is to foster stable relationships amongst the fa’afafine community in the territory by providing educational outreach events, promoting maturity and respect towards others that will enable individuals to achieve educational goals and to contribute to the social and cultural well being of every fa’afafine that resides in American Samoa.