I want you to meet my good friend, Fifita, another Pacific person in Philly. Fifita comes from the island Kingdom of Tonga.
Tonga, an island in the South Pacific is 500 miles from Fiji. A flight from Tonga to Fiji takes about one hour. Fifita’s island is known as the Friendly Islands because of its kind reception to Captain James Cook when he visited in 1773. The inhabitants of my island, Fiji, were still into their cannibalistic ways during this period in time, so were not as welcoming to Captain Cook. Of course, that’ll be another blog.
I’ve known Fifita for 25 years. We met through our family physician, Dr B, who recognized that Fifita and I were from the same “ocean”. When Dr B mentioned that she had a patient from the island of Tonga, I did not believe her. I quickly got up from the table and asked, “Are you sure she’s from Tonga?” In my mind I was thinking, “In all of Pennsylvania, how can two Pacific ladies be living within minutes from one another and be seeing the same doctor!”
However, when Dr B said her name, I knew right there and then that she was from my “part of the ocean”. I gladly gave Dr B permission to give Fifita my phone number. She called me the next day and we’ve been friends ever since.
The perks of having a friend who comes from my part of the world is that there is someone who understands the culture, the food, the dance, the music, and the language. As an example, Fifita and I like our breakfast crackers dipped in sweet tea. It can’t be just any cracker, it has to be the one from Fiji. So when someone visits us from California or the islands, this is one of the foods we often request they bring with them. We also enjoy listening to Pacific music. It’s reminds us of the sounds of ocean waves and the feel of the sea breeze. With our music and our cuppa tea and soft crackers, we are happy Pacific women in Philly.
So today, I want to give a shout out and a big vinaka and malo le’lei to Dr B for the introductions and to Fifita for being a friend.
Last Sunday, Kevin (my wonderful hubs) and I drove Silo and Ms E to her swim meet. Silo’s husband was away on a business trip and I was excited to go because I don’t remember the last time I had attended an indoor swim competition. I think the last time I watched a swim meet was during my high school days, at St Joseph’s Secondary School, in the Fiji Islands.
My children, on the other hand, did not participate in swimming activities when they were young, even though we belonged to a swim club. However, sitting on the bleachers on Sunday, brought back memories of when my kids were little and their participation in the intramural sports of basketball, soccer, field hockey, football and track. Watching the meet, I recognized the similarities in how all children want to do their best and how all parents live vicariously through them.
The sport may be different, the pep talk is often the same, “kick those legs”, “where’s your water bottle?” etc. etc.
There’s always the hungry kids, “Mom, I am hungry” and the game hasn’t even started. Or the ones that get their nerves so worked up, they start to get sick and mom and dad have to go calm their child down.
Of course, the interesting team t-shirts worn by the parents and supporters, “Beware Twacnado”, ” Swim Mom, Loud and Proud” were two of the ones I noticed.
Just like other kids sports, I am always fascinated with the sideline cheering squad. At the swim meet, the parents were very positive in their cheers to the young swimmers. But there’s always the lone voice that is often heard, above all others, at all kids games. The mom with the high pitched, almost primal cry, “GO JOHNNY, GO!” over and over until the race ends. You try to sit as far away as possible from this person.
Ms E participated in four events: 25 yard backstroke, freestyle, 50 yard backstroke and the butterfly. She did very well and beat all her previous times in these events.
If you’ve read my ABOUT page, you might have noticed that I mentioned the four Pacific ladies that live in the Philadelphia area. The two Tongan sisters, Ana and Fifita are from the kingdom island of Tonga. The Fijian ladies are Lusi, who comes from the beautiful island of Kadavu and my cousin, Silo, who comes from my koro ni vasu, Deuba. We’re also proud to have one young Pacific man in our midst. His name is Luke and I will tell you more about his koro, the next time.