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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, Samoa (March 3, 2000 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online,)---With this year’s Flag Day Celebration on April 16 marking the 100th year of the relationship between American Samoa and the U.S. government, villages taking part in the song/dance competition are trying to out-do each other. They believe that to win, they have to recruit the best song composers and dance coordinators from across the waters in Samoa.

The Samoa Observer has learned that villages of Pago Pago and Fagatogo are sending recruiters to Samoa for this purpose. Fagatogo has apparently obtained the service of a composer from Savai‘i, who the villagers explained "is one of the best in this field and highly recognized."

The Savai‘i composer arrived Thursday and the training for the more than 300 Fagatogo villagers started Friday.

The Village of Pago Pago sent ranking traditional leaders to Upolu in search of a gentleman by the name of Mr. Tusane. However, High Talking Chief Mageo Malu of Pago Pago said Mr. Tusane was not available, as he is now a judge.

The leaders of Pago Pago, however, were recommended to contact High Chief Tupa‘i Ioane Leuluaialii, of Lufilufi, and the offer was accepted.

Tupa’i started training sessions two weekends ago, attracting more than 500 members of the village.

Judge Tuaolo said the village aumaga who are rowing for the village’s fautasi - the Aeto - will not participate in the song/dance practices but will concentrate solely on the training for the fautasi race.

Mr. Tupai, in a Samoan language interview, told reporters that while creating a good song is not easy, he is determined to make the best for Pago Pago and it is his first time to teach in American Samoa or outside of Samoa.

"He had done so with so many villages in Western Samoa and is considered one of the best," according to lawmaker Muavaefaatasi Ae Ae, Jr., who was one of the village chiefs that traveled to Apia.

"We are fortunate to get Mr. Tupai, and the village of Pago Pago will showcase its best talents during Flag Day with the guidance of Mr. Tupai."

How much the two villages are paying their composers was not revealed.

For additional reports from the Samoa Observer, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa Observer.

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