Former Miss South Pacific, cancer advocate Manamea laid to rest

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Manamea Apelu-Schwalger, the face of Samoa’s Pinktober and the fight against cancer, has passed away. She died peacefully on Sunday.

Manamea, a former Miss Samoa and Miss South Pacific, is being laid to rest this morning at her family’s homestead at Tanumapua.

It is a private ceremony attended only by family members.

But the ceremony, as Manamea would often say when she was alive is not a
“farewell” occasion. 

Rather, she preferred to say it’s a “see you later.”

 During the past few years, Manamea has become the face of the fight against cancer on Samoa. Her message of hope during the last Pinktober was loud and clear, “do what is tangible.” 

She said that while cancer can happen to anyone indiscriminately, “we can always control how we react to it.” 

Manamea played a leading role in getting the Government to agree to paint the Apia Clock Tower pink last year as part of Pinktober. 

Manamea Apelu-Schwalger.
Manamea Apelu-Schwalger.

“Now that we are done with Pinktober, I’m not going to stop my work,” she told the Samoa Observer at the end of the campaign.

“I work in the Tourism and Construction sector so I know that the way we can do it is that we individually do our bit. And then if we see someone that needs our help then lend a hand and get them to understand what you are trying to say.”

But most importantly, she said, the conversation must go on – with or without her.

 “Please every year, paint Samoa pink. What we’ve done this year by having the vibrancy of the colour pink everywhere is a reminder to people that we are talking cancer so that it reduces the fear of cancer.” 

 “You know what, I’m last stage cancer, so it’s my hope that YOU continue the conversations – that’s my dream… that Samoa continues that conversation and not just for cancer, all humanitarian causes that impact our society.”

Manamea is survived by her husband, Alan Schwalger and their children.

Full coverage of her funeral in tomorrow’s Samoa Observer.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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