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By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (August 3, 2000 - Samoa News/PINA Nius Online)---Local businesswoman Rosalia Tisa Fa‘amuli is the fifth candidate, and the first woman, to enter the race for the governorship of American Samoa.

"The best man for the job is grandma," said the three-time grandmother who is known to everyone here and abroad as just Tisa, owner of the world-renown Tisa's Barefoot Bar in Alega.

"Grandma knows best, because she has been there and she has encountered it all," she added.

Is running for governor the biggest challenge in her life, so far?

"I don't really think it's a big challenge," said the human rights and environmental advocate. "The biggest challenge for me so far has been the start-up of the Barefoot Bar in 1989, because the whole system shut down when I needed help.

"I went up against all odds," she recalled. "That was the biggest challenge of my life because basically the community was unfriendly to me.

"But it's time to move on," Tisa told Samoa News. "I can apply the same kind of determination in achieving the success I've had in business to the government by working hard, by the love of our people and to work for our people.

"I found that with my working hard I have succeeded in painting a better image of American Samoa for the outside world," she pointed out.

"Before I started the Barefoot Bar, American Samoa was known as the arm pit of the Pacific, according to write ups in newspapers and magazines, and I was determined to change that image," she continued.

"It is so important to make that change because the next 100 years is going to determine whether we are going to end up like Hawai‘i or Fiji," she noted.

"It only takes 200 years to make that change and we are already seeing that big change through the increase of our population," Tisa reflected. "Our population has increased but not necessarily of native people or indigenous persons of Tutuila and Manu‘a."

Tisa said she is the local candidate for the Green Party, "a conservative party that cares for the environment." On the national level, the Green Party's presidential candidate is long-time consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

Environmental issues are equally important to her as is human rights issues. She was presented earlier this year with the Hero of the Environment Award 2000.

How is she going to convince voters that it's time for the woman to take over the post that has been historically dominated by men?

"I think my background speaks for itself," Tisa said firmly. "It is my work for years that most people have read about - Tisa's work. And that in itself is a great example of success, of accomplishment.

"I'm here to deliver a message and, as a grandmother, I have no inhibitions. I have no fear to come out with what I feel is important," she continued. "And if the people really feel a need for a big change and they believe it's time for a woman to step in and take that lead with the help of the young people, then I'm your candidate.

"But if they don't feel a need for that change, then they can vote for any of the other candidates," she added.

The 51-year old gubernatorial candidate first ran for public office in 1988, for the Sua #1 seat in the House of Representatives. She lost but she has never forgotten the experience.

"It was fantastic," she recalled. "There are still social issues from that time that remain to be addressed. I truly thought many of these issues should have been solved by now. But they are not."

Tisa noted that in her district, for example, residents are still having problems getting water. "Many of them cannot afford to pay the $150 fee hook-up to the government water lines," she said.


With only three months before the November 7th election, Tisa is working on recruiting a running mate, focusing primarily on those who have served in the military.

"I'm still praying for that running mate out there, whether it’s a young man or a young woman, who possesses the courage to come forth and work with me," she said. "I ask God for His Guidance in this decision also."


Tisa's agenda is outlined in a seven-page document that she made available to the local media over the weekend.

She said that it took a lot of courage to stand up against her male cousins, Senator Leala and Governor Tauese, in order to run in the upcoming general elections.

"I intend to improve our lives in economics, education, social status and in health care by incorporating them into the Samoan way," she told Samoa News.

"We maintain the Samoan culture, yet we are not equal in opportunities," she continued. "We have become an island of status where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

"In my Administration, the misuse of 'individually-owned land' will cease," she said. "Communities and villages will be restored. Property rights will be held for families, as is the true custom in American Samoa, not for the partial term of one matai or another. This misuse has caused another form of exodus of native Tutuilans in the latter part of the 20th Century.

"Our economy is dependent upon a single industry of tuna canneries and federal funds, and they are not stable in the long run," Tisa pointed out. "Low wage jobs will only continue to attract immigrants from low wage countries while at the same time there is another exodus of native indigenous American Samoans from the Territory.

"I propose a ban on employers and contractors who fail to pay social security benefits to their employees," she revealed. "I will demand certified payrolls from vendors who do business with the government.

In Tisa's Administration, "the canneries will pay their social costs and support the community which puts profits into their pockets. Domestic workers will receive social security benefits as mandated by law and any person sponsoring domestic workers, whether they originate from Fiji, Tonga or Samoa, will pay their fair share. Slavery will not be tolerated."

Those wishing to learn more about the first female candidate for governor can e-mail her at and her web page should be on-line soon at

Items from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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