Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Samoan Bucketlist #1

I have had the privilege of calling Samoa home for the last nine years.  The memories, both happy and sad will be cherished.  The friends and family that I have gotten to know better have helped to make me become a stronger and more resilient person today and I will hold them forever in my heart.  I can honestly say that making the decision to leave Samoa has been one of the hardest I have ever had to make, it was easier to decide to get divorced so that is a big choice right there!  The opportunities that I have had to do so many things and meet so many people are beyond what I ever thought I would accomplish in my life thus far.  Over the next six (6) weeks I will be sharing with you some of my things that I have yet to do in my Samoan Bucketlist, so here is number one.  

Over the White Sunday Holiday I made sure to go to the beach.  It was not just any beach that I chose it was one that I had never been to before and I am a poor volunteer so couldn’t afford to stay the night at this beautiful place.  I am so happy with my decision to check out Return to Paradise Resort because I have fallen in love with this location.  I will admit that the weather was not on our side that day, but it was worth the trip.  The sign from the main road was easy to locate and easy follow it was when you got further down the road that it got a little confusing.  There is a sign that gives a list of prices for the use of the beach with a little fale Samoa beside it.  IGNORE this sign!  There is no one there to take your money so continue to drive past.  As we reached where we could see the water and the pristine beaches it was unclear as to where to go now or if we should have turned right at the false price sign because there were no signs for the resort once we got on this road.  If you pass another beach fale set up and begin on a dirt road then you are heading in the right direction.  Keep following this road until you reach a security guard.  This is where you will be given a piece of paper telling you that it is free to use the beach, yay!  But you do have to spend money at the restaurant/bar.  This is great because in essence you are just paying for lunch at the beach.  The costs are reasonable $25 for an adult and $10 for children.  You are given a voucher so make sure you don’t lose it otherwise you have to pay more money.  Only guests staying at the hotel are able to use the pools, which is completely understandable.

The beach is gorgeous!  It is calm enough for young children to swim, there is coral close by so you can get some snorkeling done and there is even a rock pool along the beach.  The sand is clean and there is even a volleyball net already set up.

The service at the restaurant was better than some other places in Apia.  The staff were friendly and made you feel welcome.  They were polite and timely in their service.  The food was good.  We ate pizza and would recommend the bacon one with pineapple.  I also enjoyed the pulled pork pizza even though the rest of my table didn’t like it, their loss I say!  The prices were as expected for a resort outside of Apia ranging from $25 +.  I think the only thing I would suggest is a dessert menu as I am a huge sweet tooth and would have enjoyed some chocolate.

One of the things that I think I will miss the most about Samoa is being able to admire the chiseled torsos of the handsome men of Samoa.  If you are as lucky as I was you may even get to see the likes of Mr Lavalava or some Toa Samoa players when you visit Return to Paradise.  

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Neglecting underage drinking in Samoa

I have recently become addicted engrossed with the television show Bar Rescue.  I love watching them make something great out of something that has been neglected.  One of my favourite episodes was where the owners were rebuked for serving customers who were already clearly intoxicated and then allowing these people to leave without ensuring they were safe.  This particular episode hit home this week as the court case for Leslie Kohlhase ended.  While I can write a whole blog on the trial and the outcome I choose not to comment on this as I know all parties involved in the case and I don’t want my opinion to hurt people I care for.  What I would like to address is underage drinking.

In almost all the news reports the age of Leslie was mentioned.  I know that her age, 19, has a 1 in it, but the one is not preceded by a 2 as in she was not 21.  The legal age for drinking alcohol is 21 in Samoa.    We are not Australia or NZ we are Samoa so Samoan laws apply, not what happens overseas.  I know firsthand that there is a problem with underage people getting into clubs and being served alcoholic beverages in Samoa.  I know this because I see students I taught foundation English to out at the clubs.  Yes there are signs saying you don’t serve people under 21, yes the police come and walk around the night club at 12 when the club is supposed to close but how many of the clubs have actually been penalized for serving underage patrons?  How many Leslie Kohlhase’s will enter the clubs this weekend and get completely smashed?  

It is the responsibility of the owners of bars, nightclubs and anywhere that serves alcohol to ensure that they are not serving alcohol to underage patrons.  It is also the bar owner’s responsibility to ensure their patrons are safe.  In general regardless of age, you are not ensuring they are safe by continuing to serve them alcohol once it is obvious they are already intoxicated.  Throwing them out on the street when they can barely walk is also not ensuring their safety.  Yes you can argue that once they have left your premises they are no longer your responsibility.  But how bad will you feel knowing that you could have taken someone’s keys and put them in a taxi so they get home safely rather than hearing the next day that they have been run over by a speeding car and killed?  You may not have a legal obligation, but isn’t a moral obligation just as important?

It is the responsibility of the Police to enforce this law by not just doing a walk by when the clubs close but to do spot ID checks and following through with prosecuting locations that violate this law.  If the Police do not feel that this law is a priority then the club and bar owners won’t feel it is important either and we end up with our current situation where our youth act as if they are above the law.

As a parent, I don’t understand where the parents of these kids are.  Because legally they are still kids.  A parent’s sole responsibility is to ensure the safety and well being of their children.  How can you do this if you are not there?  You obviously know they are out if you allowed them the use of your car and because they are most likely not working you probably gave them money too and yet you feel it is appropriate to allow them to go out and break the law by underage binge drinking unsupervised?  Yes I see that your child is getting older and you feel that they can go out, just ensure that they are out with you or an adult whom you trust to be responsible.  In my opinion if you are going to allow your child to participate in underage drinking, which is your right as long as it is in line with the laws of your country, then do so in your home where you know they will not endanger themselves or others.  Even when I was of age to go out clubbing my mother still came to pick me up from a club because she wanted to make sure that I was safe.  Yes your child may get embarrassed and may not talk to you for an hour or so but which is better having them not talk to you or no longer being able to hold them in your arms because they crashed their car into a pole and died?  Parenting is the hardest job in the world it means you will have to say no to your child, your child may not like you all the time but that is part of being a good parent setting boundaries and enforcing them.  

The current underage drinking situation in Samoa is a result of our negligence, not just one person or organization but everyone.  Let’s work together to turn the situation into something great so that we no longer put the lives of our youth at risk.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Know Your Role!

Samoa’s Film Control Board recently banned the comedy “Sex Tape” from being publicly shown at the only Samoan Movie Theater.

The Samoa Observer reported:
According to the Chief Censor, Lei’ataua Niuapu Lei’ataua, they are merely doing their job.
“The reason why we’ve banned the public screening of the movie is because of the explicit scenes of sex and sexual activities,” he said. “This will affect our culture and traditions if we allow this movie to screen publicly. So we’ve decided to ban it.”
I can understand that the Film Control Board would like to keep the culture and traditions of Samoa safe, but that is not their job.  Their job is to classify the movie and let the people decide whether or not they feel the movie is appropriate for them to see.

If keeping the culture and traditions of Samoa safe was their main objective then they would not have allowed Hercules, Transformers, Fast and the Furious or The Other Woman to be shown in Samoa.  Ok so I watch a lot of movies, but these were the most recent that I have watched at the Samoan movie theater.  Why would I say that all these movies should not have been shown?

Hercules – Don’t hate me I love The Rock and I would watch this movie again on DVD if given the chance because there is a great number of six packs and I am all for appreciation of God’s creations.  But it goes against Samoan Culture and tradition as it makes violence appear to be something good.  That going around with a bow and arrow or a sword and killing people is ok.  It also shows us that animal cruelty is acceptable.

Transformers – Ok I am also a fan of Mark Wahlberg and mother of a boy who loves transformers so I know that I will be watching this movie again.  But if we were to use the rule set down by the Film Control Board we should not have been able to view this because the girl in the movie is disrespectful of her father and lied to him about a boy!  I am sorry but Samoan culture says that we should all be respectful to our elders and definitely should not be dating or thinking of kissing a boy at that age.

Fast and the Furious – I have watched this more than a few times and will watch it again because hello Tyrese, The Rock, Vin Diesel and Paul Walker.  But this movie goes against Samoan traditions as it teaches that stealing and not listening to authorities such as the police are acceptable not to mention the idealizing of driving dangerously over the speed limit.  With that said I don’t understand why the Film Control Board allowed it to be shown.

The Other Woman – Ok I kind of see why this was allowed as adultery is a common thing now in Samoa so it kind of upholds our traditions, but you would think that as God fearing people that we would not have allowed it just because of the fact that they drink heavily in this movie and the bible says that we should not drink heavily!

I like the intentions of the Samoa Film Board in trying to keep Samoa safe from all things that are bad in movies, but the reality is that you aren’t doing that consistently.  If your sole reason was to safeguard our traditions and culture then you really need to be consistent because I am sure that I can name other movies that could be detrimental to our culture and traditions.  However, I still believe that it is not the role of the Board to safeguard our culture or traditions but rather to classify the movies so that I can tell if it is appropriate for me to take my ten year old son to.  I believe that at 35 years of age I am old enough to determine whether or not a comedy showing the pain and heartache of filming a sex tape and having it go public will make me want to go out and make a sex tape and if I did choose to make a sex tape I am an adult who has every right to do so as long as it is consensual and within the laws of the land I live in.

So what do I have to say to the Samoa Film Board?  Know your role!