Salelologa celebrates Miss Pacific's success
The village of Salelologa rolled out the red carpet on Saturday to welcome a daughter of the village, the Miss Pacific Islands/Miss Samoa 2019-2020, Fonoifafo Nancy Macfarland-Seumanu.
Held at the Fonoifafo residence, the momentous event assembled all the matai of the village of Salelologa to congratulate their daughter for bringing home the Miss Pacific Islands crown.
Reverend Wairaki To'oala of the Manumalo Baptist Church officiated a small service to begin the formalities.
During his sermon, he made reference to Esther from the Bible and used two qualities of which made Esther unique.
"Esther was a star," he told the gathering. "She valued her people and she valued her calling and the opportunity that was given to her to serve. It was through fasting and prayers that she was able to help and save her people."
Turning to Fonoifafo, Reverend Wairaki reminded her that just like Esther, she was chosen, by God, for a reason.
"You are a star; value your people and value the opportunity given to you. Use it to serve your people well."
An ava ceremony followed where the High Chief (tu'ua) of the village, Tautua Ioane spoke on behalf of the village to thank and congratulate Fonoifafo.
Tautua assured that the village of Salelologa will get behind the reigning Miss Samoa and Miss Pacific Islands during her reign.
After the formalities, an emotional Fonoifafo said she was "overwhelmed" by the warm welcome.
"It's a very humbling experience," she told Samoa Observer during an interview.
"I come from other villages in Samoa, Aleisa, Letogo, Sapapali'i, Avao and Salelologa. But Salelologa holds a special place in my heart because it is where I spend most of my Christmases.
"It is also where the solid foundation of the values that we carry and what makes me the person I am today was built by my grand-parents here at Salelologa, and the legacy that they've left.
"They started the Manumalo Baptist Church, and we have a Manumalo Baptist school across the road (from the house) and we have a branch in American Samoa and New Zealand.
"So it's a very humbling experience to come back home and see everyone here supporting me and cheering me on."
She went on to say that being home has been an eye-opener for her.
"I feel so overwhelmed; you know before coming to Samoa, I never really knew what was expected of me, and being in the position that I am in today, it has made me grasp and appreciate the support from our community and also the roles that this role has given me.
"It has brought unity as you can see today. Salelologa is such a big village, and we've been able to assemble them here today to celebrate me. All credit goes back to our Heavenly Father.
"The visit back home has made me purposefully and motivated to do more for our country and people."
Winning the Miss Pacific title and crown was a "Team Win" said Fonoifafo, and the team includes all her villages and relatives.
"It's a shared win and obviously me winning has made them so happy. And I know that if it weren't for the strong support from my relatives and the people from the villages whom I represent, I wouldn't be as strong as I am today."
However, returning to Salelologa was a bittersweet experience for the reigning Miss Pacific as she wished for her grandmother to be there to welcome her home.
"Yesterday (Friday) was my late grandmother's 84th birthday. I was named after her and she was the founder of the first pre-school in Savaii.
"So it was a bit discouraging (to come) because I was wishing she was here, but today, as we drove through the gate and saw all the matai (chiefs) and the people of our village assembled to welcome me, it was very encouraging.
"It has boosted my confidence, knowing that there is support beyond what I see. This is because I don't see these people everyday, I am based in Upolu, but it's so great to know that on this side of our country, there is a strong network of people uplifting me in their prayers and supporting me during my reign."
Being an island girl, Fonoifafo says her heart is always with the people and families in the rural areas.
"My heart lies in the rural area of our country and there are certain areas that I want to tab on whether it be through the tourism sector, or through the Ministry of Health. That's definitely something that I want to work on.
"This visit has encouraged me to do more and give back to our people, especially for the villages that I represent."