The 12th Festival of Pacific Arts came to a close after two weeks of cultural exchange and celebration last Saturday.
Samoa was among 25 participating delegations in attendance. While not as action-packed as the opening ceremony, the closing ceremony was emotional and filled with hopeful goodbyes as the visiting nations paraded around Paseo Stadium one last time before leaving Guam.
Leituala Kuiniselagi Tago-Elisara, the Director Social Development for the Pacific Community (S.P.C) spoke during the closing ceremony.
“We have come to the closure of a fantastic journey over the past two-to-three weeks for all of us! Our experience in Guam is truly symbolic of ‘What we own, what we have and what we share, united voices of the Pacific’,” she said.
“In the past few weeks, we became one in our passion and desire to continue to nurture and sustain who we are and what we have. We overcame our own individual differences and became united as we kept our focus on our purpose to retain and sustain Pacific arts and culture; and we have been able to do all of that through the kind assistance of our hosts – the people of Guam!!!”
“Ladies and gentlemen, we acknowledge with much gratitude our hosts! Honourable Governor and the First lady, the honourable Lieutenant Governor, we just want to say thank you to you and the people of Guam.
We have been overwhelmed with your gracious hospitality and your generosity. Everywhere we have been around your island, we have been getting the royal treatment left, right and centre, and we have had an amazing time in Guam! Thank you.
“To the Festpac Coordinating and Organising Committee, thank you for all your sleepless nights, for all your hard work, your patience, smiling through it all. We appreciate you and all that you have done to make Festpac2016 a success! We also acknowledge all the essential and support service staff who helped all of the Festpac delegates in the past two to three weeks.
“We commend you for a job well done, and I imagine our colleagues in Hawaii already have a challenge to maintain the standard of delivery you have set so far, and for that, we congratulate you once again for all your work and effort. You have been incredible and I pray for blessings over all of you, as individuals, as organisations and as the people of Guam.
“To the heads of delegations and all the participants of Festpac, thank you for your participation and engagement throughout the whole time.
We applaud your efforts to be here, for without your presence, we would not have much of a Festival and surely our hosts with all their preparations, together with the Pacific Community as the Custodian of the Festival, would not have much to be festive about, had you decided not to come to Guam!
Your presence has encouraged us and confirmed the value of this regional event and that, collectively, we must join forces to explore potential avenues so we may sustain what we own, what we have and what we share as Pacific people.
“To all our partners and stakeholders who have been able to contribute to this significant event, thank you for your partnership and your commitment to the Pacific region and we pray that you will continue to support Pacific arts and culture as we prepare our canoes for our voyage to Hawaii in 2020.
“To our hosts for Festpac2020, you have taken the decision to host the next Festival. As we say in Samoa, “O outou māmā na”, meaning, you have our blessings and we will be praying for the successful completion of your task. Our very best wishes and we shall see you all in 2020.
“Ladies and gentlemen, in closing I want to bid farewell to all of you on behalf of our Director-General, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, and I leave you with a Samoan proverb - Ia vivili faamanu o matagi, which means “to stem the wind like a bird”.
“The Samoans do not know that it is easier for a bird to fly against a light wind than to fly with it. Hence the Samoans compare a bird fighting against the wind, with a person who strives after their goals despite difficulties. “May you all sail back to your homes in calm waters and may you all stem the wind like a bird, until we meet again at Festpac2020.”