2014 Holiday Bowl is another nail biter as USC barely holds on to beat Nebraska 45-42.
By Albert Ainuu, Kalala Foxwqorthy and Sam Siufanua. Photos by Albert Ainuu
If there is one College Football Bowl game you can depend on for excitement to go right down to the last second, its the Holiday Bowl which is held avery year in San Diego. Ever since it began in the late 1970s the Holiday Bowl has consistently featured the most exciting of any of the Season ending Bowl games.
At first people thought it was because BYU was always one of the teams back when BYU was Quarterback U and was all offense. But even after they were replaced by other teams, the extravagant scoring and last minute drama was as common as warm weather is to San Diego.
This year the two combatants were USC and Nebraska two of the most storied programs in the nation. Our reporters from Samoans in San Diego, Le Malae and Tropical Jams were there to cover the game, get photos and interview various Samoan players on USC's team.
USC has traditionally featured Samoan or Polynesian athletes. From the days of Mosi Tatupu to Junior Seau and Troy Polamalu, USC has always had a tradition of Samoan players who starred on both Defense and Offense. Its been one reason why USC has been the number one team so many times. This current team under second year coach Sarkisian is no different.
On their Offensive line USC starts no fewer than 3 Samoans who are freshmen. Damien Mama, Viane Talamaivao, and Toa Lobendahn. Soma Vainukua, a Tongan plays Fullback. But the star on the rise is a phenom Freshman Wide receiver who can also play Defensive back. Juju Smith has the eyes of the nation on him even as a freshman. There is also a Polynesian Quarterback on USC's squad, Larry Tuileta. On Defense are a couple of outstanding Samoans. J. R. Tavai plays Outside Linebacker and Sua Cravens at Safety.
Last night, December 27, was a chilly night for San Diego, but Qualcomm Stadium was rocking with an attendance of over 55,000 boisterous supporters from Nebraska and Southern California. As fate would have it the game quickly became a sprint leaving spectators barely able to catch their breath as the Offensive units of both teams scored points in spurts of insanity despite the talented Defensive units they faced.
USC's Defense is anchored by projected 1st round NFL Draft pick Leonard Williams who also won the Holiday Bowl Defensive Player of the Game Award. That didn't seem to matter as they were constantly burned by an attacking Corn Husker offense that passed for over 380 yards and seemingly scored at will. However, when it counted most USC's Defense came up with the stops that mattered. Especially with the game on the line and the last second Hail Mary pass by Nebraska that fell harmlessly to the ground among a crowd of USC and Nebraska players to finally end the game.
Sua Cravens came up with an important interception at the end of the second quarter that prevented Nebraska from scoring before the half ended. This and many plays by Samoan players were major contributions to the final score enjoyed by the Trojans and their fans. It was also a time for the family's of these Samoan players to celebrate and acknowledge the blessing it is for their young men to attend such a celebrated football program as USC.
In College Football lore few schools have had the legendary record of success that the USC Trojans have enjoyed. They have many College Championships resulting in an extraordinary number of NFL professional players being drafted from USC. As a result these Samoan players are in the right place for exposure and opportunity to reach the next level.
What is amazing is this is supposed to be a rebuilding season for USC coming off of NCAA penalties from the Reggie Bush era. They were not able to recruit as they normally would but they still made it to this most exciting of all College Bowls and truly lived up to the history of the Holiday Bowl. This is a testament to the heart and soul of the team and the quality coaching staff.
The coaching staff includes Samoan Quarterback Coach, Marcus Tuiasosopo, who led the University of Washington Huskies as interim coach last year to a Bowl victory. He was later hired by Coach Sarkisian to join him at USC. This is interesting as the development of Samoan Quarterbacks is becoming in vogue with Marcus Mariota's recent Heisman trophy win. USC has its own Samoan Quarterback, Larry Tuileta as a backup to the current starter Cody Kesler. Hopefully we will see him perform soon.
As the game ended, we were able to talk to some of the players and Coaches. The message that came through from talking to these young men was the importance of hard work. Each one of them were dedicated to this endeavor of earning a degree and play well for the Trojans. It was impressive to see how committed they were to work hard to make it happen for themselves and their families.
When asked about how they viewed the recent success of a fellow Polynesian athlete who won the Heisman trophy, they all were united in saying how proud of him they were and had nothing to say but congratulations for his success. These athletes who in their own right were competing at a level similar to Marcus Mariota, were all unanimous in their praise and respect for how he represented the Polynesian culture.
It was a beautiful feeling to see the level of maturity these young Samoan athletes were able to show and they had nothing but respect and humility to acknowledge God and the need to work hard to succeed. It was confirmation that our youth are not naive nor are they unaware of who they are and the culture they are a part of. Its something they acknowledge with pride and honor.
Despite the rah rah nature of the College football game with the fireworks, cheer leaders, marching bands and distractions associated with the Bowl game, its comforting that these young men were not trying to locate their personal compass. They could see through all this hoopla and remain true to the virtues as taught by our culture and their families. This spoke louder than the blasting loud speakers at Qualcomm and it was more concrete than the scoring track meet that was witnessed by millions on TV and at the stadium. Like the final play of the game at this year's 2014 Holiday Bowl, after all that high octane offense, it was the steadying effect of a strong defense that won the game.
One of the PIFA Festival highlights was the Samoan Community Council Dancers performance
The Samoan Community Council represented the Samoan Community in San Diego at the 20th PIFA Festival held Sept 20-21, 2014 in a very high energy performance that was the finale of the event on Sunday afternoon. This was the perfromance that some 80,000 people waited to see and it was well worth the wait.
Kiki Sotoa Solia, who is the President of the Samoan Community Council, also served as the main instructor for the over 150 dancers who literally rocked the stage. She and her capable team of dance instructors created a very cultural and effective repertoire of dances from Samoa that were a representation of the old, the new, Samoan songs and comedy. It was a mixture that made all who were there applaud with such joy as they sat mesmerized by the dances which brought together the dancers who were on stage at the very first PIFA Festival in 1994. These included the original Fire Knife Dancer from that day, Uncle Evan. He was still full of vigor and skill even after 20 years since his first performance at PIFA. There other Fire knife dancers who performed on Saturday, during the Children's performance, these included: Afa Kaihau, Janelle Fejeran, Shaun Serag and Kuinise Leiataua
The dancers were dressed in a bright green Samoan print and the look was most attractive as they swayed and moved in unison to the beart and the music. In the end it was the youngest Taupou who closed the performance. Sarona Solia, Kiki's daughter was the well deserving Taupou who closed the Samoan section and made the exclamation point as people poured onto the stage to throw money, that Samoa had come to entertain. And the audience was well entertained.
The inaugural Island Vibe Music Festival a resounding success at Qualcomm despite rain.
"Its been a long time coming." These were the sentiments of many of the crowd of over 5000 who attended last weekend's first Island Vibe Music Festival. The Practice field at Qualcomm was the site of this event which was combination Island Festival and Music Concert.
The weather tried to discourage the attendees with a Summer deluge of water in the early afternoon, but people kept coming and the rain subsided into a nice cloudy yet warm afternoon. The program began early (by Island Time standards) with performers on stage within a short time of opening the gates.
Lea Love and Tribal Theory's sets were done before the majority of the crowd had settled in. By 5pm Spawnbreezie was on stage with his set and rocking the crowd with his hits like "Oh My Goodness." he was followed by the dance groups Taupou Samoa and Kaleo o Kalani.
Manti Te'o of the NFL San Diego Chargers was there enjoying the event and mingling with Charger fans. He even came on stage to escort the daughter of Siaosi Veimau who came on to dance for her father who is undergoing medical treatment and could not be there. But his chants and his dance group Kaleo o Kalani were as dynamic as ever.
The Dance group Taupou Samoa was very precise with their dancing which consisted of both Tahitian and Samoan style dances. Their costumes were brilliant and movements extremely well choreographed by Kiki Sotoa Solia, their director and her instructors, who constantly work on perfecting their moves every week.
Fiji opened his set with a tribute to Junior Se'au as he showed the crowd his shirt with the big number 55 on his back. It was a solemn moment but then he went straight into a lively set that had the crowd rocking and singing along. His physical condition was of no consequence to the vibrancy of his voice which was as always something to behold or hear.
Fiji returned to the stage later during the Common King set when he sang a tribute to Junior Seau and the most touching moment of the night was when Junior Seau's children came out on stage to hug Fiji and join him for the closing bars of the song "Sweet Darling."
Common Kings did not disappoint with an opening straight from Hollywood. The lights, sound effects and energy was something I would expect from a Lady Gaga show. This was entertainment taken to a whole new level for Poly musicians. Mata Grey was killing the guitar with riffs and runs that made the music explode. Junyer Maliga was crazy on stage and his vocals were definitely the bomb.com. The other musicians, the bassist, keyboard and drummer were in perfect harmony with Mata and JR's lead.
The Jets were the main act of the night and they brought their A game. These were the original Jets, doing it like they had never stepped away from the stage. The music was still fresh even though its been 25 years since they were the big stars of Pop Music. The girls were as dynamic and exciting as always....and the crowd loved it. They were singing with the Jets and the connection was definitely there. As they ended their set you could sense the crowd had been completely satisfied with the entertainment.
Ed and Imagine the company responsible for this beautiful event did an awesome job. The facilities were excellent, the booths and the field were well prepared. The Emcees, Joe Sav and Q from the BBQ show kept the show flowing and there were no incidents or unpleasantness at all. It was definitely a positive Island Vibe. From our perspective it was an "A". Now we are anticipating a return to this venue next year for the second Island Vibe Music Festival.
For all videos and interviews with artists and celebrities go to Le Malae TV.
Taste of PIFA 2014, a huge success. the blend of Pasefika food, entertainment and location was a winner.
By Albert Ainuu
Photos by Kalala Foxworthy and Albert Ainuu
San Diego's première Pacific Island Festival held its annual Taste of PIFA event at the Bali Hai Restaurant in beautiful Point Loma. The event is the kick off before the big two day Festival in September. This was the 12th Taste of PIFA and there were over 12 vendors with samples of Pacific Island food all for the patrons who paid $25 each to attend.
The event also is where PIFA announces their scholarship recipients for 2014. This is an annual scholarship awarded to various students of Pacific Island heritage making the transition from High School to College or who are already attending college and have maintained a certain GPA.
This was also the first opportunity to meet the new Ms PIFA 2014. This is a contest held annually which invites young ladies of Pacific Island descent to run for the title of Ms. PIFA. This year's winner was Tia Nicolasa Aumoealogo. She will be honored at the PIFA festival and represent Pacific Islanders in San Diego throughout the year 2014-2015 at all functions where the PI community participates.
The entertainment this year was provided by the Taupou Samoa entertainment group which is led by the flamboyant Kiki Solia. She has been involved in PIFA since its inception and has been teaching dance through her dance group which she and her husband Mike have been operating in San Diego for over 10 years. They performed a variety of dances from Tahiti and Samoa. The costumes and the movements of these young maidens and not so young maidens was thrilling to watch. The unique mixture of young and older dancers was a reminder to our audience of how important our kupuna (hawaiian for teachers from the older generation) are. This is the link which is necessary and Taupou Samoa has been quite emphatic when making this point. The interaction between the two generations is a thing of beauty.
Kiki was also one the MCs for the event together with Radio personality Hula Ramos of Energy 103.7 FM. They were entertaining and informative.
A slideshow of pictures from the Taste of PIFA below. Enjoy.
Brandon Cruz, a ukulele playing musician and entertainer was also there playing in the bar area and out in the main area. His style of smooth island music was quite relaxing.
But the majority of people there were there for the food and the food this year was rather interesting. The majority of vendors provided the usual and pulled pork seemed to be part of every menu. Chicken and hamburgers were done in the Teriyaki style. The musubi of course was tasty. The most popular booth was the shave ice booth, Island Girl. There was no fish this year but all in all the desserts made up for the somewhat lack of variety. The L&L Booth came up with a unique item, Ramen Burgers. This was a hamburger without a bun, just two paddys of ramen as buns. It was interesting and I give them an A for effort.
The other attraction to this event are the silent auctions where donated items and products are auctioned off. This year the items most sought after were the Ukuleles provided by Hale Ukulele.
This is always an awesome event and this year being the 20th year of PIFA was another reminder of how this event has blossomed since its first start. The theme of this year's PIFA Festival is LEGACY. The artwork for the T-Shirts and logo for the this year's festival was provided by High Chief clothing.
The guest of honor this year was the San Diego Chief of Police, Shelley Zimmerman. The crowd there was quite mixed with members of all of San Diego's diverse community represented. There were close to 500 people gathered this year and the sunset evening did not disappoint as the city of San Diego sat across the bay which was quite a sight as the sun went down and the city lights began to come on. This was a fitting close to a beautiful evening of fun and entertainment not mention the taste of Pacific Island cuisine.
A big fat congratulations goes out to the San Diego PIFA Committee for providing a positively well run and enjoyable evening for our Pacific Island community. We need more of these.
OCEANSIDE CHIEFS MAKING A NAME FOR SAMOANS IN USA RUGBY WORLD
By Jeff Hayner
The Oceanside Chiefs Rugby Club in the state of California have been making headway lately by winning some big tournaments. They are seen here after competing in the 2013 USA Rugby Nationals. [courtesy photo]
In the city of Oceanside in the state of California, there is a rugby club known as the Oceanside Chiefs Rugby Club, trying to influence teens through this sport in a positive way, with the club originated and founded by all Samoans.
“A lot of the youth and adults have not heard of us, as we are trying our best to reach out to all of the youth and teens out there,” said the secretary of the club Samalaulu Simi of Leone, via email. “We are trying to expose our club throughout the whole world, especially all of Samoa to influence more teens for their future. It also lets everyone know that we do have a rugby club here in Oceanside. Oceanside is what we call the “Sister city of Samoa” because of its population, made up of many Samoans,” she said. “It's a great opportunity and great experience and great path, because most of our boys got scouted by USA Rugby coaches during our games,” she explained.
She stated that the club was began by Samoans from Samoa and American Samoa, starting from their club committee, President Feausi Ioane of Falefa Samoa, their Vice-President Ioana Alefosio of Leone, American Samoa, Secretary Samalaulu Simi also of Leone, Treasurer-Alefosio Savelio Tuimavave of Amaile i Alepata Samoa.
Their board members and coaches are also from the territory or have ties to American Samoa with some of them even playing here in American Samoa at one time. Their team captain, Esau Sauileone is a former rugby player for the Leone Whites, while their co-captain Sal Ah San played for Nu’uuli and Apia, Samoa.
“Our first year, our team was all islanders, with 95% of them being Samoans born and raised on the islands, with 3% being Samoans born and raised in the US, while the final 2% were palagis that came to join us. In the second year, our team started to expand as we opened to the public. We are becoming very successful thanks to all of our fans and supporters,” she said.
The Oceanside Chiefs Rugby Club is a 501 (3) non-profit Organization that was established in May of 2012. They are under the Southern California Rugby Football Union (SCRFU), and have been in the SCRFU for only three years, however, within these three years they have won the Open Division in 2012 with a record of 8-2.
They also won the So-Cal Division 3 Championships in 2013. That is when they earned the right to go to the USA Nationals Sweet Sixteens that were held in Irving, Texas where they won a spot to compete in the USA Division 3. There, they became champions by going undefeated.
Currently they are the California Division 2 Champions (2014) where they obtained a record of 10-1. This coming Saturday, they will be playing another team from Tempe, Arizona for the right to go to the USA Nationals Elite Eight held in Irving, Texas.
“If they are successful there, we will earn a chance to represent our city, our island and our culture in the USA Nationals for the second time. Our team is very young and is comprised mostly of former football and soccer players from all over North County San Diego and different parts of the country and the South Pacific,” she said.
Samoan man is shot while in his car getting ready to drive to work
Union Tribune, SAN DIEGO — A motorcyclist shot and gravely wounded a Samoan man who was sitting in a parked car in Golden Hill Wednesday morning, San Diego police said.
The victim, Togamaga Vaafuti, believed to be in his 40s and who lived in the area, was hospitalized but not expected to survive, homicide Lt. Paul Rorrison said.
Several people called police about 6:40 a.m. to report hearing at least three or four gunshots on 26th Street near Broadway. Some witnesses said a man in a gray jumpsuit and a gray or black, full-sized helmet pulled up next to a tan sedan and fired several rounds into the car, Rorrison said.
Rorrison said some people peered outside their windows after hearing the shots, and saw the motorcyclist heading east on E Street. The witnesses could give no description of the shooter, but said the bike was an older one, possibly a Honda or Kawasaki.
"I was giving my son a shower when we heard, 'boom, boom, boom,'" said Lilia Mendoza, who lives about a block away. "Right away you could tell it was gunshots, not fireworks."
Officers found the victim slumped over in the car, with several wounds to his upper body. Paramedics took him to a trauma center, where he underwent surgery. Police said about two hours later that the man had died, but Rorrison said he was still alive as of mid-afternoon.
Homicide investigators were called in because of the gravity of the wounds. Officers cordoned off 26th Street between Broadway and E Street.
Police identified the neighborhood as Grant Hill, but with state Route 94 as the boundary between the two neighborhoods, the shooting actually occurred in Golden Hill.
Krystal Amelia Leilua's 21st Birthday party a huge success the past weekend.
Article and Photos by Albert Ainuu
Saturday afternoon, the Chula Vista Elks Lodge was the site for the 21st Birthday party for the lovely Krystal Amelia Leilua, daughter of Lefaua and Filivaa Leilua. The invited guests began arriving around 3pm and the place was decked out in style by the staff of the Elks Lodge. The festive mood was set by the DJ and his band, Ieti and the Boyz. As the invited guests arrived from all over the Southern California region including Los Angeles, Oceanside and all points south, the mood was quite happy as friends and families reacquainted with each other after years of separation.
Krystal was celebrated by her family and friends during the program with testimonials that spoke volumes of how she was considered a very special and well respected young lady even for one so young as she. But now that she is an adult there are quite alot of expectations that come with her turning 21.
She has her sights set on a nursing degree. In the Fall she is going to attend a College that will take a few years but will graduate her with a degree or certification to be a Nurse/medical technician. This is quite a worthy career choice for one who has shown such a caring disposition.
Her parents were so proud of her as she has been a great example for young Samoans, her siblings and family being successful through her youth years both in the church activities as in the Samoan community where she was voted Ms. Tausala for the San Diego Samoan Community in 2012. She also danced continuously through her young life for the Samoan Community Council and the Catholic Samoan Youth of St. Rita's. She was also a member of the Samoan Choir at St. Rita's which consists of most of her family. She has a great personality and great work ethic.
Her grandparents Tuamasaga and Losivale Leilua as well as Kehaulani Ututuvanu sat proudly at the event with Krystal. The Pastor who came from Los Angeles Father Tovia Lui, presided at the event and he enjoyed the festivities.
The testimonials were a combination of comedy and serious heartfelt admiration for Krystal from her Uncles, Aunties, baby sitters, friends, cousins and brother. They all seemed to each the same sentiments that Krystal was a positive influence and a reliable individual.
The food was served and there was no shortage of the food prepared by the Elks Lodge staff who were trained in preparing the Samoan dishes and supplied a continuous supply of taro, oka, povi masima, chop suey, chicken curry, salads and a variety of desserts. It was a feast fit for a King or in this case Queen. Krystal was everywhere accepting congratulations and dancing and mingling with family and friends. There were probably over 200 people there of all nationalities, ages and sizes and everyone had a great time.
Kiki Sotoa and the Samoan Community Council Dance team provided the main entertainment for the evening. They performed a variety of numbers for the crowd's entertainment. As usual it was a well produced show with amazing choreography and music all coordinated by Kiki and her team, into a well oiled production of nonstop Samoan entertainment. This was well received by the audience who were by now well fed and relaxed.
After the entertainment by the Samoan Community Council the Band began playing and they were quite good with a well mixed combination of Samoan and modern hits for the dancing pleasure of the audience. Of course the Electric Slide was played otherwise it wouldnt be a Samoan event. The band were so good in fact people were reluctant to leave even though the band was telling them the event was over. The night was ended at 11pm which was a good time considering the Sabbath was the next day.
But the overall vibe from the night was one of content satisfaction and happiness that everything went well and ended well. Even the Police who were there, were happy to enjoy the Samoan food and entertainment.
It was a well planned and executed party put together by a very well respected family in the San Diego community for their daughter Krystal who is definitely a shining example for our Samoan young ladies of how to act and behave as a conscientious and active person in the community. Samoans in San Diego are confident that with this kind of example our next generation of Samoans are in good hands.
Budding Photographer gets 3rd Place for her photo Submitted to Earth Day Photo Contest
Our own Kalala Foxworthy was awarded 3rd place in the Earth Day photo contest sponsored by San Diego Gas and Electric or SDG&E, San Diego's utility company. Her photo named "Sunlight through the haze" was taken from a vantage point in Spring Valley one early winter morning when the fog was still covering most of the valley below her home. It was an amazing shot that was voted into 3rd place by patrons of SDG&E through out San Diego, who logged onto the SDG&E facebook page and voted.
Her photograph was one of 5 selected for the final vote from a County wide submission of photos and hers was placed 3rd from over 150 entries. Some entries were taken by professional photographers as can be seen by the amount of after effects applied in some of these photos. This was Kalalas first ever attempt at submitting a photograph to such a contest and she was very pleased with the result. Its a testament to her natural talent that she can take such a good photo and receive this kind of recognition with her first attempt.
Kalala also received another award for being the most voted for photo in the Customer Choice Challenge. Based on the number of votes received by SDG&E on its Facebook page she was the 1st place winner of the Customer Choice Award. She received the most votes and this was quite an impressive result.
She feels her investment into the Sony A59 camera she purchased for her work with Pacific Media Visions, her own company, has paid dividends and this may be her next career after she retires from SDG&E. Congratulations and keep up the good work.
San Diego elects a Republican as its new Mayor. Kevin Falconer takes office following removal of disgraced mayor
SAN DIEGO – A moderate Republican city councilman has been elected mayor of San Diego in a special election made necessary with the resignation last year of Democrat Bob Filner, who stepped down amid a torrent of sexual harassment allegations.
San Diego becomes the nation's largest city with a Republican mayor, and Kevin Faulconer will be the only Republican to lead a major city in California, where Democrats hold all statewide offices.
With all precincts reporting, the two-term councilman and former public relations executive led Democratic Councilman David Alvarez by 54.5 percent to 45.5 percent.
Alvarez, 33, congratulated Faulconer late Tuesday, tweeting, "It's clear that he will be the next Mayor of San Diego. I look forward to working with him."
Faulconer, 47, stopped just short of declaring victory when he addressed supporters as results trickled in Tuesday night. He promised to work across party lines in an increasingly Democratic city.
"It's never been about partisanship, it's been about leadership," he said. "It's not about Republicans, Democrats or independents. It's about us being San Diegans and moving this city together."
Faulconer portrayed Alvarez during the campaign as a tool of labor unions. Alvarez, who sought to become the city's first Latino mayor, attacked Faulconer as a shill for corporate interests.
Despite sharp ideological differences, few issues separated the candidates. Both promised more attention to neighborhood priorities like street repairs, library hours and emergency response times, putting less emphasis on ambitious civic projects like building a new City Hall and bringing a new stadium for the NFL's Chargers.
Filner, 71, embraced the same "neighborhoods-first" mantra but the candidates scarcely mentioned the disgraced former mayor, who pleaded guilty in October to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery. The former 10-term congressman began a three-month sentence of home confinement on Jan. 1.
Faulconer alluded to the scandal when addressing supporters Tuesday night, saying, "We know that this city has gone through a lot in the last year but we knew as San Diegans we were better than that."
Faulconer, who was backed by Filner's two-term Republican predecessor, Jerry Sanders, played down his party affiliation. He highlighted his opposition to a 2010 ballot measure to raise the sales tax, which lost resoundingly, and his support for a 2012 measure to cut pensions for city workers, which passed overwhelmingly. Alvarez backed the losing sides.
Faulconer, a former student body president at San Diego State University, was elected to the Council in 2006 after another mayor, Dick Murphy, resigned amid a crisis over city finances. He often recalled how the city weathered the turmoil, drawing a contrast with the less experienced Alvarez, who was elected to the Council in 2010.
Faulconer's win comes as the nation's eighth-largest city turns more Democratic. President Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney by 25 percentage points among city voters, and Democrats enjoy a 13-point advantage over Republicans among registered city voters.
Faulconer easily topped a field of 11 candidates in the first round by dominating in newer, wealthier neighborhoods north of Interstate 8. Alvarez secured a spot in Tuesday's runoff by cleaning up south of the freeway in more densely populated, predominantly Latino areas.
Alvarez, a former legislative aide who grew up speaking Spanish at home, extolled his family's immigrant roots to an electorate that the registrar estimates is 18 percent Latino. He embraced a populist campaign theme of stripping power from hoteliers and developers who he says have long controlled the city.
San Diego City declares June 22, 2014 as First Samoan Congregational Church Day in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Church in San Diego, CA.
By Albert Ainuu,
Photos by Albert Ainuu and Kalala Foxworthy
Sunday June 22, 2014 was declared by the Mayor of San Diego, Mayor Faulkoner as The First Samoan Congregational Church Day in San Diego, CA as the first ever Samoan Church established in the USA celebrated the 50th anniversary of the construction of the Sanctuary which they have worshiped in since 1964. This special service was attended by a number of dignitaries including the representative from the office of the Mayor's office, several ministers from Samoa, New Zealand and the USA and many others from the community. The announcement of the special designation of june 22, 2014 as First Samoan Congregational Church Day was made at the end of the service and was greeted with great pride and appreciation by the congregation and the Pastor, Reverend Faafouina Solomona who conducted the service and after the service greeted all those who attended.
Pastor Solomona was very appreciative of the previous pastors who had begun the work here in San Diego and had commissioned the construction of this beautiful church. The Pastor was very happy that the congregation had grown and is still growing under his leadership. As he reiterated this is the first Samoan Congregation to be established in America. They were the Samoans who came over in the 1940s and 1950s with the Navy and they were able to establish their own church using their own language in 1955. By 1962 they decided to build their own chapel. Thats when they commissioned Lutu to build this beautiful structure which he built after years of building churches in Samoa.
The son of the Builder, Sautia Lutu, who built the Church, Nick Lutu, from Bakersfield was at this service to join the celebration and he was able to recount stories of the actual construction of the church back in the early 1960s. He recounted how the entire area surrounding the church was empty, no other buildings were there when they built the church in the early 1960s but now the entire area is covered with homes and developments. For more pitcures see slideshow below
He described how his father had built the church with only the help of his sons and members of the church. Nick had an interesting story of how the Brick Supplier brought the load of bricks and then his father asked him to lay the first line of bricks while they all watched. After he laid that line of bricks the brick supplier then asked Nick's Father who was going to lay the bricks for the Church? His father turned around and pointed at him. Nick was surprised because he hadnt laid brick before, but from that demonstration he went ahead and laid every brick in this large building and with pride he pointed at the beautiful church which had lasted 50 years, even with his lack of experience. This sanctuary has lasted half a century because even with the limited craftsmanship of Nick, his brothers and his fellow workers, but under the tutelage of a master builder or "tufuga" in the Samoan culture, their father Sautia Lutu, they were able to build with precision and skill as reflected in sturdiness and beauty of the completed church.
According to Nick, his brother painted all the paintings which are in the church and the decorated poles which support the building in the inside. It is a work of dedication and Samoan cultural beauty. The interior is one that resounds of the look of Samoan churches in the islands with the natural wood ceilings which are so unique and bring a very Polynesian ambiance and exquisite color to the interior. Its unlike any other church in San Diego.
After the service there was a lunch which was put together by the members of the congregation and the food menu was a classic Samoan style feast with the favorites, Chop Suey, Taro, Povi Masima, Oka, and many other dishes as well as some amazing desserts. The large number of guests were recognized by the Church especially the Ministers present who were recognized with traditional gifts. There was also a performance by the Youth group which entertained the celebrants. One of the most touching moments was when they recognized the 3 eldest members of the congregation who were in their 90s. They had been there since the church began in the 1950s.
We honor the skill of the Tufuga Sautia Lutu and his sons for their skill and design as well as the original pastor, Rev. Suitonu for his vision in establishing this church and the building of the edifice which still stands proud and firm after 50 years of constant use most of the week. It has been 50 years that Samoans have worshipped here, been married here, had their final rites delivered here, been baptized here and have praised God here. We pray that it will continue as the center of religious worship for Samoans in San Diego for years to come.
San Diego's Island Swag Entertainment is a Record Label on the Rise.
San Diego is known as America's Finest City because of its beautiful scenery and weather, but beyond the beaches and waves is a side of the city that is not so well known. Its a side that has little in common with the laid back seashore vibe and more with a big city hustle. Born in the streets of SD is a growing industry run by young and imaginative entrepreneurs who believe they have the plan and the talent to build empires. This is the Hip Hop music scene of Daygo and one of the main players is a young Samoan, Travis "Big Rexx" Faalave, who owns and runs Island Swag Entertainment, a record label with a mission and he has the drive to make it happen.
Island Swag began operating over ten years ago as the only other Samoan based music company doing business after BOOYAH T.R.I.B.E.'s meteoric rise to fame. According to CEO "Big Rexx" Faalave, Island Swag was not his idea, "It was Gods plan and I was just walking down the path set before me." He maintains that it's Island Swag's mission to be "holdin it down for all the Polynesians in Southern California and all the islands throughout the world."
'Holding it down' translates into providing all the services of a record label which includes a recording studio and engineer where a musician can record his music or create beats. "We do all types of genres of music including hip hop, island-hip hop, reggae, island-reggae, island-edm and RnB." says Faalave. Island Swag also provides artist development, video production, photography, social media exposure, promotion, live shows and management. Faalave says, "....we do it all."
Like any other corporate organization Island Swag believes in having a MAP or as Faalave explains: the organization's products and personnel must be "marketable, accountable and profitable." He continues, "Our plans (for 2014) are to stay working hard and travel the world." In the new year he envisions Island Swag "getting their music out there, producing more videos and upgrading the entire operation to take advantage of every opportunity that appears."
The year 2013 was a great one for Island Swag. They were one of the main sponsors and presenters for the 2013 Island Music Awards, their artists were nominated as finalists in the San Diego Music Awards, they produced and were a part of a couple of movies and a lot of music videos, and they were involved in the San Diego community by providing support to a number of Little League teams and Non Profit organizations.
Island Swag's Roster includes main artists: Samoan Irok, Zoniak, and Tre P. However they have just signed 3 new artists: Young Island, Deveotion and Soulja Boy from West Palm Beach, Florida.
In the main office, the executives are Travis Faalave, (aka) Big Rexx, who is the CEO and Founder of Island Swag, Samoan Irok (aka) Junior Faalave (aka) Jay Steeze is the President of Island Swag. The Operations Manager is Rafiki Random and the Engineer is Looselyric.
Island Swag is located in San Diego, California and if you want to reach them contact their Admin office at (619) 651-1600 or 1-(855) 283-6622 or the web site www.islandswag.com.
Samoan Community Council do it again. The best Party last weekend was at Dirk's.
The Samoan Community Council of San Diego held its second fund raiser function last Saturday at Dirk's Lounge in Lemon Grove from 1-6pm There were a lot of people present and it was quite the party. The President Kiki Solia was the Master of Ceremonies and she was excellent as usual. There were a crowd Samoans and other nationalities all mingling in the Club as they sang Karaoke like American Idol hopefuls. Im sure if the Dawg were there he wouldve said "You are in it to win it."..to all of our contestants but the winner was Marie and eliu was a close second. marie went home with the deluxe basket full of goodies.
Stanley Lauifi, the Vice President was the winner of the most laughs from his dynamic act on stage. Apparently he was there for the Last Comedian standing contest. it was a great time had by all. We had gifts for the winners of the raffles and the Karaoke contest. These included gift certificates from Home Town Buffet, Soup Plantation, Cheesecake Factory, High Chief Clothing and more. The food was prepared by the Oloa Samoa a new Samoan store opened up at the location of the old Samoan store in Lemon Grove. We had Jello shots from our committee members, Ken Nededog and Cathy Paiva and they were selling. Our 1/2 and 1/2 raffle was won by the Alailima's, Doreen and Papalii Thomas. They timed it perfectly to the tune of $133.00.
As the event wound down there was alot of laughter and good vibes from the people who came and we hope they do another one soon.
Aliitama Sotoa's Retirement Party is enjoyed by hundreds
Leifitele Aliitama Sotoa's Retirement Party was held at the 4 Points Sheraton Hotel in Clairemont Mesa and had over 200 people attended from the SDG&E Corprate Headquarters located in Clairemont Mesa and the Samoan Community all of whom enjoyed an afternoon of food, entertainment and testimonials from fellow workers and family about the man who was always a source of fun and positive energy as epitomized in his famous phrase...."Its all Good."
Aliitama has retired from the SDG&E company to work as the head of American Samoa's Territorial Energy Office. His family were all emotional as he sat there on the stage and endured both touching and humorous accounts of his tenure at the largest Utility Company in San Diego. There were many laughs and very touching accounts of Aliitama's service and his unorthodox style of playing golf.
The company surely came out in force to pay their respects to Aliitama and so did the Samoan community which featured the presence of the Pastor from the Congregational Christian Church, Pastor Solomona. Aliitama's sister Sarona was the MC and the Dancers from his sister Kiki's dance group performed a small Polynesian show for the guests there that day. In all it was a great retirement party and those who attended were well served with food, drinks and laughs. We wish Aliitama all the best as he pursues his new position in American Samoa.
Leifitele Aliitama Sotoa is appointed to head American Samoa's territorial Energy Office.
The governor also announced the appointment of Ali'itama Sotoa as Acting Director of the Territorial Energy Office.
Sotoa has extensive experience in the energy sector having worked for a power company in San Diego, California for many years.
Sotoa’s appointment as Acting Director of the Territorial Energy Office is effective today and he attended this morning’s meeting with students with degrees who are looking for jobs.
Governor Lolo Moliga formally introduced Sotoa at the meeting.
Samoan Community Council hold a successful Fund Raising Event at Dirks Lounge in Lemon Grove.
There was a party happening in Lemon Grove last Saturday, February 8th, 2014. Dirks Lounge was the location for the Samoan Community Council's first Fund Raiser of 2014. This was the new administrations first event and they had planned this, and then began working it about 2 months earlier.
The event was a Karaoke Contest that was open to all those who came to Dirks including the regulars. But there were so many Samoans there that day that the regulars were a small minority. For at least 3 weeks the Council had been publicizing the event and making last minute preparations in order to make sure those who came would be able to enjoy themselves. For $10 the supporters of the Samoan Community Council were treated to a plate from L n L's Restaurant donated from the LnL's in Market Creek. They also were treated to fun times courtesy of Dirks Pool tournament, DJ music by DJ A plus, and raffles, a 50-50 raffle and a raffle for all the ticket buyers. There were jello shots and darts gong on at the same time.
The event started at 2pm and was completed at 6pm. It was run to perfection by the team led by Vice President Stanley Lauifi who was in charge due to the President, Kiki Solia being unable to attend due to family matters.
The crowd began arriving at 2pm and the music started playing. Soon there were people on the floor dancing singing karaoke, laughing and enjoying themselves. By 4pm the Lounge was full of Samoan Community Council supporters who mingled freely with Dirk patrons and Dirk had to bring in extra help to handle all the business he received at the bar.
The karaoke contest began heating up when Aliitama Sotoa came to the floor to sing Three Times a lady. He seemed focused on his lovely wife as he sang the words "I love you." much to the delight of the audience who were cheering him on. The other contestants all tried to best Tama with ballads from "Endless Love" to "What I wont do for love." the competition for SCCSD Karaoke champion 2014 was on.
In the end the contestants came to the stage one more time and the crowd cheered and yelled in support of their favorite singer. Sure enough, the loudest cheers were for Aliitama Sotoa and he walked away with the largest gift basket. The second place prize another gift basket was won by Lee and his wife who did a duet, "Endless Love."
The Ms. Tausala for the SCCSD danced the taualuga to end the event and people were throwing money on the floor like it was rain. All in all it was a very successful event. the people who came were very satisfied with the food, the singing and dancing. there were those who competed in the Pool tournament and they continued on after 6pm. There were 2 raffles which were held and the first winner won a big basket prepared by the SCCSD and then the second one was the 50-50 which resulted in a cash prize of $185 or half of the $370 that was collected for the raffle. That one was won by a patron of Dirks who was so surprised at winning that cash on a Saturday afternoon.
But the event was scheduled to end at 6pm and it ended right on time. The SCCSD were very thankful to Dirk for the use of his bar because it was a good location close to all the areas where Samoans live in San Diego and the club had enough facilities to handle the crowd who exceeded 100 people.
So many Samoans who attended were very pleased with the result and were asking when the next Samoan Community Council Event would be. That will be up to the Council, but they made some good money that day and were in high spirits after the event as they realized they had pulled off a successful event and that this was the first of many events for the council in 2014. here are some pictures of the participants that day.
Utopia, the annual fund raiser for Gays and Lesbians was a great success
Last night the Utopia event was held at Sky Box in Clairemont Mesa. It was organized by the Gay and Lesbian community and there were many who attended and supported their cause. Food was served and the highlight was the raffle which gave out Luois Vuton gifts for the winners. About 100 people showed up from 6pm and were there til 1030pm. The Mermaids made an appearance as did many of San Diegos' cool crowd. Here are the photos from last nights event.