Category Archives: CULTURE

Bula and Hello from Philadelphia


My apologies for being on hiatus from this blog. I do appreciate all of you for following my humble blog and for your comments. As you may have read, this blog is about the mundane and simple stories of my life as a Pacific woman living in Philadelphia.

This past year, 2016,  was an extremely busy one for this Pacific Woman in Philly. At the beginning of the year, I focused solely on honing in on  my design skills. Moore College of Art helped me grow rapidly in that area of my life….and did I mention… I love that school. Most days I was designing patterns and sewing outfits, from here to Timbuktu. In between the schooling, designing and sewing, I babysat the grandkids or namakus. I also had time in between all the handiwork to visit the sights, the sounds and the  museums of Philly. I also concentrated on living a healthy lifestyle by doing yoga and eating healthy.

In the middle of 2016, I travelled to Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. While travelling, I focused on journaling about some of the funny and interesting stuff I encountered and also did a little bit of drawing. I may (emphasis on the word “may”) show some of my doodles in a future blog, along with pictures and memories of the wonderful time I had on my trip.

By the time the end of 2016 rolled around, I needed to take a rest from the long trip, plus prepare for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas and not forgetting the Presidential elections and all the hoopla that came along with it. All in all, 2016 was a fruitful and  learning year for this Pacific woman.

Vinaka vakalevu and thank you for following and hoping you’re having a wonderful day or night wherever you may be in this beautiful world.



Three things about my mother-in-law.

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Family celebrating mom’s 93rd birthday.

This past weekend, this Pacific Woman in Philly (PWIP) celebrated along with her family the 93rd birthday of my lovely mother-in-law, Eileen. My blog today will be about my relationship with her.

I can’t tell you how blessed and grateful I am to have met and also to have a mother-in-law like her. I love many things about Mom, but most of all  the three things I appreciate about this lady are: her acceptance, her respect and her inspiration.

Looking back on the years, I did not know what to expect from my relationship with my mother-in-law. We are from two different worlds. We have different family backgrounds (me, an islander from the South Pacific and her, an Irish/American); we had different approaches to raising children; running households;  and cooking, just to name a few. No matter the differences, my mother-in-law embraces me like her own daughter.

I found my mother-in-law to not only be accepting, but Mom has always been                   very respectful of my culture and background. She loves my cooking and the many experiments I try in the kitchen. She unconditionally loves and respects not only me, but all her in laws and she rejoices in everything her grandkids and great grandkids take part in.

As I did not know anyone else from the Pacific that travelled or lived in this part of the world, my mother-in-law was someone I looked up to for inspiration. I figured if she could do it, I guess I could also. She was a working mom who raised 6 wonderful children.

Thank you, Mom, for being my American inspiration. Thank you for your wonderful son, my husband, Kevin. Without you, there wouldn’t be our love.

Sadly, my dear mother-in-law was called to rest on Tuesday morning, three days after celebrating her 93rd birthday.



Fijian Kava Ceremony. Kava is being mixed in the tanoa (large wooden bowl). The long stick in the background is a bamboo pole containing water that is being used to mix the kava or yaqona.
Pacific woman in Philly (PWIP) recently read a story on-line about a Kava Bar that just opened in New York City called Kavasutra. Isn’t “sutra” a word that can mean something sexual in Hindu? So kava has become a sexual drink? Take it from me, there’s nothing remotely “sutra” or sexy about the national drink of the Pacific islanders.

Kava or yaqona is one of the most important drinks in the Pacific. What the formal tea ceremony is to the Japanese, the ceremony of drinking kava is to the people of Pacific.  In the Fiji Islands, it is enjoyed on both important and social occasions. It is offered to welcome guests and reunites community, families, friends, and even enemies together to socialize, discuss important events and mostly just to relax and “talanoa” (tell stories) at the end of the day.

Dried roots of the kava plant.
Kava is crushed from the root or the stalk of a plant from the pepper family. The root or stalk is cut, dried and pounded to a fine powder. The powder is then placed in a cloth and mixed with water in a large wooden bowl called a tanoa. The liquid that is extracted is kava or yaqona.

After the kava is mixed, words of welcome often emphasizing the connections of the people at the gathering are said by a prominent or senior member of the household. There’s a rhythmic clapping (usually done 3 times and often a specific beat), not just two hands slapped together kinda clapping, but more of a cupping of both hands making the sounds a little deeper. After all the clapping, grog is then served in small coconut bowls for each person.

Late Pope John Paul having his  first bowl of kava.
Queen Elizabeth enjoying her kava bowl.

Prince Charles downing his bowl of kava. Drink it all.
One person sits by the tanoa (kava bowl) to pour the drinks into the coconut shells, another person sits next to the tanoa (usually a child – I remember doing this job as a young girl) to carry the coconut shells, filled with grog, to the guests. The guests sit and form a large circle around the large tanoa. The kava is served in rounds. The most important guest or chief gets the first cup and then the rest of the adults are offered their drinks.

Kava drinking is a process that can take hours. It often depends on the number of “basins”, code word for tanoa that each group is willing to withstand. After the first tanoa, there may be 6 or more basins to go around. On weekends, people can drink from late evening to early morning. Don’t even bring the guitar out, that can only mean noon time grogging (slang for kava drinking) and singing. Just kidding.

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This Pacific woman in Philly (PWIP) loves to enjoy a kava session once in awhile and encourages safe and responsible drinking of our famous but not sexy drink.


Pacific Persons of Philadelphia

Pictured are five of the six Pacific Islanders that live in the Philadelphia area. Left to right: Ana, Luke, Monika (me), Fifita, Lusi and Fifita’s hubby, Joe. This was taken at the wedding of Ana’s daughter.
Pictured here is the sixth member of the Pacific Persons in Philadelphia. She is my cousin, Silo and her daughter, Ms E. We were attending her violin recital.  After having lived here for over 30 years, I never in my wildest dreams ever thought that a close relative would be living close to me.


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Some of the ladies of the East Coast of America celebrating the college graduation of Nicole Rabuli. To celebrate the achievement, Nicole was dressed in masi (tapa cloth) and adorned with leis. The party was held in Baltimore and the ladies pictured are from New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Virginia, and also Las Vegas.

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.