Asau District “Light Up Da West Coast” of Savaii in Christmas competition
Asau, SAVAII— In the most western end of Samoa, residents of the Itu Asau district participated in the ‘Light Up Da West Coast” Christmas Lights Competition as part of Vaimoana Seaside Lodge’s ‘ Christmas in the Bay’ Event held last week.
The Savaii based lights competition coincided with the ‘ Ua o’o mai Lou Malamalama’ Festival of Christmas Lights commemoration in Apia, joining a national effort to ‘light up the world’ and finish the year on a high note despite unprecedented challenges.
Over 25 registrations (made up of churches, households, youth groups and businesses) were received from the Asau district but members of the Christmas in the Bay (CTB) Committee who led the judging noted a chain reaction over the week. An increasing amount of residents inspired by the light displays in the district began putting up Christmas lights and adding to the festive atmosphere.
Managing Director of Vaimoana Seaside Lodge, Tupai’ Saleimoa Vaai, said the CTB Committee travelled the distance between Asau and Falelima every night during the week before Christmas Eve when the winners were announced.
“The CTB Committee viewed 25 entries by residents and groups that registered for the competition before the deadline but once the word got out ... by the end of the judging period, over 60 light displays were viewed bringing to mind an old saying that just like a single candle can light thousands of other candles so one heart can illuminate thousands of other hearts.” said Tupa’i.
From elaborate light installations to the quaint stringed lights on a humble faleo’o, residents of the Itu Asau put their best foot forward this Christmas heeding the call from church and country to light the world, one by one and end 2020 on a positive note.
Faatuga Moe and Onosefulu Faatuga of Auala were one of 8 winners in the Best Households category. Mrs Faatuga said that her daughter, Melody Tia, had decorated their house as a way of lifting their spirits after ongoing border closures prevented them from spending Christmas with their children from Australia.
Meanwhile Suatia and Melody Tia were also winners in the same category but in the village of Asau where their newly built house was decked out in bright colorful lights featuring an almost 5 metre tall star installation using a coconut tree.
“This is the first time that we have decorated our house with Christmas lights to celebrate the birth of Jesus” said Suatia “it’s also the first time we’ve ever spent a lot of money, almost 800 tala on decorating our house but it was worth doing it — not only for the Christmas lights competition but also for our house inspections by the village this year. I would like to thank the CTB Committee for hosting such a great event; it really lifted our spirits and brought excitement to the area. We hope that it will continue next year.”
Melieni Ese and family from Auala not only took out the Best Business Category in the Itu Asau Christmas Lights Competition, but also placed first in the family category for the nation-wide 2020 Christmas Festival of Lights.
The Ese family Christmas lights inspired by a village wonderland theme, caught the eye of the Samoa Tourism Authority representatives, who circled the island last week in search for the most outstanding lights display.
“I was so shocked when I received a call from the STA saying we won for the island of Savaii. I couldn't believe it, I just sat down and thanked my Heavenly Father for making everything possible.” said Mrs Ese “Heavenly Father blessed me with talents to design and decorate which is why whenever there are special days for the chapel and my community,I do what is needed as a mother in the church.”
She added, “Thank you to the Vaimoana Seaside Lodge for challenging me to join the competition, I am so very grateful and proud to support this event. I want to say a big faafetai and faamalo to my village for your advice and support, especially to my Maamaa boys who helped put it all together, we are looking forward to doing it again next year!.”
Prize giving for the winners of the Asau District Lights Competition winner was held on Christmas eve during the Christmas Market and Tupai Saleimoa acknowledged the major sponsors who contributed to the prize money pool.
“We cannot say thank you enough to grassroots champions like the Samoa Commercial Bank, Samoa Tourism, Pacific Ezy and some of the MPs of the district who donated to the Christmas Lights prize money” said Tupai “Without their enthusiasm and support to this remote part of Samoa, we could not have given this community an event of this calibre to remember and be inspired by for many years to come.”
Member of Parliament for Alataua West, Aliimalemanu Alofa Tuua threw her support behind the Asau District Christmas Lights Competition contributing to the prize money and encouraging her constituents to get involved in the community event,
“I'm really proud of the Itu Asau district for coming out and being part of the Festival of Lights held in Apia” said Aliimalemanu “It really shows how the people in Savaii can rise to the occasion by coming together and supporting whatever initiative is done ... it’s very difficult to express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude for the way they have shown their support, I'm just so proud.”
She added “ I'm also very grateful for the Vaimoana Hotel for not only promoting Asau where the hotel is based but the whole district of Asau. In some way we feel the hotel belongs to all of us and I am just very proud of the work that they are doing in promoting and lifting up our communities.”
As a result of the number of impressive light displays the CTB Committee awarded an extra 12 consolation prizes to households and churches outside of the registered entries.
The following entries placed in the Light up da West Coast Christmas Lights Competition:
BEST CHURCH — Baptist Church / Asau
BEST BUSINESS — Milieni Ese /Auala
BEST HOUSEHOLDS — Asau- Emma Eteru; Auala- Faatuga Moe Onosefulu Faatuga; Vaisala- Asa & Tumema; Sataua- Lefua Faaoso; Neiafu- Moti Maaola; and, Papa Sataua- Pa’i Joe Auva’a
CONSOLATION PRIZE — Sofi Masoe; Patele Mark Godinet; Apo Afoa ; Aitasi Tia; Rambo Tia; Mareko Pailate; Toulu Masoe; EFKS Youth Auala; Catholic Church Auala; Tufuga Misi and Maria ; Tuvalu Ah Dar; Fautua Misi, and Maria Tufuga