Stepping down with tremendous grace – The story of Paris Mae Mackie Yandall

We begin our story in American Samoa. The year is 1988, the street markets are filled with vendors, and the hustle and bustle of commuters shuffling through and from the nearby Fagatogo marketplace. Many people would be traveling through this main transit for shopping activities, or commuting to the fishing cannery. Lucky would commute to […]

Levi Reese: A Trailblazing Civil Servant in American Samoa

For more than two decades, Levi Reese has been quietly serving the people of American Samoa through her work with the Office of Treasury, a principal operating department for the local government. She goes beyond her duties and responsibilities, assisting workers, business owners, and private citizens daily. “I always try to do my best to […]

Superstar: The Story of Cindy of Samoa

On a Thursday night in Apia, Samoa the traffic and bustle of town dwindles down at dusk. It’s seemingly quiet, but a dive into the local eateries and bars, and the ambiance is alive with nightlife and entertainment. We arrive at the Taumeasina Island Resort, a swanky hotel located on an islet in the harbor […]

Fierce & Dangerous: The Legend of the Notorious, Delilah

It is often that indelible characters and names in fable and of history endure with the passing of time. Often those unforgettable figures are etched in history books, artwork, and media. In the Pacific Islands, written history rarely exists outside a larger scope. This is ever dire in subcultures of the fa’afafine community of Samoa […]

The Vow: The Journey of a Love Story to Fulfill One Last Promise

A man sat gazing upon an urn of ashes embedded in delicate white lace and tropical flowers as it prepared for entombment into a final resting place. Though in vivid description, it was precisely how this Facebook image came to my attention. No language was needed. The photo profoundly captured the grieving man’s longing and […]

Mavis, the One and Only: A fa’afafine Memoir 

For well over 30 years, Mavis Mulitalo ‘aka’ Mavis Connery has been turning heads with her six-inch Cinderella glass heels, frizzy hair, and infectious personality. Mavis is an extrusive figure in the Samoan fa’afafine community. “There were times when the opportunity eluded me because I didn’t have a college education or socially accepted background, but […]

Boss Lady: The Story of Samoa’s Successful Fa’afafine Businesswoman

In 2009, Oshima Laumatia shopped around the idea of starting a loan business to a couple of her close friends but most were hesitant on investing in something that seemed doubtful. A close friend, Lani Iulio reached out that a co-worker had asked to borrow money. The idea was once again ignited, and both agreed […]

The Heart & Soul of Tomasina: Born to white parents, raised by a Sāmoan family

At a glance, Tomasina may look Palagi, but a simple “hello” and you will get a greeting in Samoan that one did not expect coming. For her entire life, she has never been away from her Samoan community. Even by how she presents herself, she dresses in a puletasi (traditional Sāmoan female attire) at public […]

Whatever happened to her? The Glory and Pain of a Forgotten Pageant Queen

The crowning of Miss S.O.F.I.A.S Pearl To’omalatai in 2010 was an unlikely choice for a beauty queen at the time. Already in her 40s and by her own admission, not the “popular favorite”. Nonetheless, her victory defined the end of an old era and the beginning of a new one in the fa’afafine community of […]