They are beautiful on the outside and they are equally stunning at heart.
And for the first time, eight former holders of the Miss Samoa crown are joining the reigning Miss Samoa to support a fundraising activity to help another former Miss Samoa and Miss South Pacific, Manamea Apelu-Schwalger, to fight cancer.
The ‘Think Pink’ initiative is part of LIFE Con Explosion scheduled for the end of the week.
Mrs. Apelu-Schwalger held the Miss Samoa and Miss South Pacific title from 2001 – 2002. The Think Pink initiative is the result of a partnership between Events, Marketing and Distribution (E.M.D) and the Samoa Cancer Society.
E.M.D’s Director, Kevin Schuster, said seeing all the former Miss Samoa title holders come together has been amazing.
“The Think Pink Initiative honors Manamea and all the breast cancer survivors and all the proceeds from the Think Pink initiative will go towards the Samoa Cancer Society,” he said.
“It’s a concept where E.M.D. Life Con is working in partnership with Samoa Cancer Society.
“There are about ten former Miss Samoas that are all coming together in support of Manamea but also to try and do advocacy work for cancer, not just breast cancer.
“We’re very happy because of their love for Manamea, because of their connection to Manamea and not just about being former Miss Samoas, but it’s really their love for Manamea and also some of them have their own personal experiences with cancer.
“That’s why they’re all coming together to use this platform as people supporting advocacy work for cancer in general.”
Yesterday’s gathering at Tanumapua was a very touching and emotional moment, not only for Manamea but also for the former Miss Samoas.
“It’s overwhelming,” Manamea said. “It really is overwhelming. If anything in this journey, as a breast cancer survivor or patient, to be surrounded by so much love, it’s unbelievable.
“It’s absolutely overwhelming because it lightens a heavy load.
“For me, I know that it is God’s love that I still get to be with my loved ones today and from what I have seen, not only my former Miss Samoa – Miss South Pacific friends have come to show their support but also my country Samoa and with that, it’s very hard to explain how I feel right now because I am truly thankful.
“I know this is a painful situation to be in when a family member is affected or if anyone else has cancer.
“Breast Cancer is so real. If you look at these two girls, these are the loves of my life; my guardians, my family, my daughters.
“For me, breast cancer is as real as tomorrow, I may not be here but my daughters will be here, my gardens will be here and I want to show to our community that breast cancer is absolutely real.”
Manamea speaks highly of the work of the Samoa Cancer Society.
“Cancer Society for me, holds a very special place in my heart and I know right from the beginning of my illness when I went to search for information, they have not only given me information, all throughout my journey alongside the Ministry of Health, Samoa Cancer Society really held my hand at a personal level and they tried whatever best way they could to assist when I was in New Zealand because I could not access medical assistance because I was Samoan and non-resident.
“Samoa Cancer Society reached out to Auckland Cancer Society and I got assistance and they were always there just like my friends on Facebook, constantly there, to encourage, to show that every step of the way, if they can’t help medically, technically, at least being there to show moral support.
“I know with Samoa Cancer Society, there are no specific media campaigns for specific cancer. For me, because I have breast cancer, I would like to think that I can assist voicing some of the awareness programmes which is related to breast cancer.
“Right at this point in time, Samoa Cancer Society wants to highlight things like the early symptoms if women can recognize and detect their early symptoms, they need to go to a doctor, things like that.
“For so many reasons, I am grateful to Samoa Cancer Society which is why I would like to continuously show my gratitude by giving and returning the favor through this kind of donation.”
Manamea also talked about Think Pink and how the former Miss Samoa are contributing into , saying that she will be at the Life Con show, as she have been invited to show the talents she has as a magnificent Island dancer.
“Think Pink initiative is dedicated to the breast cancers survivors in Samoa and it was born out of love, formulated by Events Marketing and Distribution (E.M.D.),” Manamea said.
“The girls (former Miss Samoas) will be helping with fundraising this coming Saturday for the first time, five former Miss Samoa – Miss South Pacific are going to be together under one roof so it is really something to behold.
“They will be auctioning designs from local designers and proceeds we have requested to go towards Samoa Cancer Society and this is to assist Samoa Cancer Society with their awareness programs, primarily with breast cancer.
Manamea hopes that partnerships like these will continue in the future.
“I sincerely hope that this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship between marketing companies like E.M.D. and N.G.O’s like Samoa Cancer Society to highlight these specific development issues like cancer,” she said.
“If anything, I know that cancer requires a collective help, it requires the work of everyone and it can’t be limited to just small groups. It takes the whole community; business community, awareness programmes from Samoa Cancer Society and I do hope that this continues.
“I hope it keeps on getting bigger and bigger so that there’s a lot more focus not only on cancer and its eventual impacts but you know, financial assistance that can go towards cancer patients and also what I’ve always asked is would be so wonderful if we have professionals here that can cater to the illness at this point in time, unfortunately maybe we are not well resourced.”