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By Etuate Tubuka
Etuate, known as ‘Etu’, is Columban seminarian from Fiji studying in Quezon City.
By Kurt Zion V. Pala
Fiji is a multicultural country. The Indians who arrived in the country were brought by the British about 100 years ago to work in the sugarcane plantations across the country. Now they have settled in the country and are considered Fijians. They still have their distinct Indian culture and traditions but have well established themselves in Fiji. I have from the beginning been assigned to live and work with them and so learned their language and lived in the village with one Indo-Fijian family for a period of five months.
It was already about five in the afternoon but I had told my host father that I would be home by around one so I told them I have to leave because it was getting dark. I often get scolded for coming home late. But I always have my good reasons. ‘Khub ghar ghar ghume?’ my host mother exclaimed. She told me that I’d been roaming around the village the whole day. So I just put on my best smile and greeted them. I lived with an Indo-Fijian family, Uncle Bhola and Auntie Mary, for almost five months.
Right after my Hindi class with Master Gyan, I would walk back home from the Mission House. I had to climb a hill and on the way passed by about 10 houses. On any given day people would call out for me to have some tea or yangona or on some special days even get free lunch of goat curry, rice and dhal. This is what I enjoyed most when I was living in Paharkhaala, up in Naleba in Labasa, not just the food but also the people.
‘Aja, aji , salaam walaikum!’ I greeted the Muslim couple that I never miss seeing on my way home. Aji never fails to greet me when she sees me and says everytime, ‘Go my child and take care’. She’s fond of children. That includes me because none of her children are with them anymore.
From the top of the hill, I could see the girls waiting for me. I sometimes help them out with their homework. ‘Namaskaram brother!’ I heard them greeting. Auntie asked me to have lunch first. Sitting on the veranda I saw old man Barabhabu riding on something driven by two big bullocks. I knew what it was so I exclaimed, ‘Nana, aapke tonton? ‘Is this your tonton?’ Nana just laughed and told me that it is called tamtam, not tonton. After revising their homework I told them I had to go.
Just a few steps further on is Almilu attha’s place. I saw her sitting under the tree and so I called out, ‘Attha, kaise hai?’ Almilu attha is my host father’s older sister. Before I could say no, she had already set a cup of tea and pudding cake before me. I told her I would be celebrating my birthday with the children the following Sunday. I finished my tea and left.
By Tavite Tukutukubau
The first journey in one’s missionary life is exciting and wonderful.
As a young boy growing up in a Fijian village I used to admire big planes flying over us especially at night. Every night I used to look forward to admiring the level of technology we’ve reached.
Tavite at Luneta, Manila
But on 9 May 2011 my dream was fulfilled by getting into a Korean Air Airbus on my way to the Philippines for my Spiritual Formation Year. My companion, Pat Visanti, and I were to spend three days at the Formation House in Seoul, Korea, before flying to Manila.
By Pat Visanti
On 7 October we had an anticipated celebration for Fiji Day at our formation house in Cubao. For me, celebrating Fiji Day away from home for the first time in my life was a touching and memorable experience.
We began with a Mass celebrated by Fr Arthur Ledger SJ, Fiji’s only Jesuit priest, who is the current director of the East Asia Pacific Institute at Ateneo de Manila. Then followed the Fijian kava ceremony. We also had a brief slide-show of the history of Fiji. The spiritual year students performed the meke, a traditional Fijian dance, and this was followed by the meal. The night was simply the Pacific at its best here in Manila, and there was more than enough for everyone who came to join us in our celebration.
When we sang a Fijian hymn, Sa kau cake mai oqo, at the offertory of the Mass, my memory drifted back home where people wake up early in the morning to prepare the lovo, an earth oven, for the traditional way of cooking. The aroma of cooked pork, chicken and palusami filled my mind. I could also picture families along the beach at Nasese enjoying the day with kava, Fiji’s number one tropical root drink.
By Etuate Tubuka
By Rowena D. Cuanico
Fr Patrick McCaffrey was born in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland in 1944 and ordained in St Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry, on 20 December 1967. He went to Fiji in 1968 and moved to Pakistan when the Columbans opened a mission there in 1979. In 2000 he was transferred to Britain where he worked mainly with Muslims, some of them refugees from the Middle East, in Bradford. He also celebrated Mass regularly there with Pakistani Catholics. He moved back to Fiji and later was again assigned to Pakistan, where he died suddenly on 18 May this year. Rowena Cuanico, from Samar, is a Columban Lay Missionary who worked in Fiji before taking up her present assignment as Coordinator of Columban Lay Missionaries in the Philippines.
Fr Patrick McCaffrey was born in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland in 1944 and ordained in St Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry, on 20 December 1967. He went to Fiji in 1968 and moved to Pakistan when the Columbans opened a mission there in 1979. In 2000 he was transferred to Britain where he worked mainly with Muslims, some of them refugees from the Middle East, in Bradford. He also celebrated Mass regularly there with Pakistani Catholics. He moved back to Fiji and later was again assigned to Pakistan, where he died suddenly on 18 May this year.
Rowena Cuanico, from Samar, is a Columban Lay Missionary who worked in Fiji before taking up her present assignment as Coordinator of Columban Lay Missionaries in the Philippines.
By Etuate Tubuka
A Columban seminarian from Fiji tells us about his first missionary journey to the Philippines. He accompanied Kurt Pala on part of the Road to Agoo in this issue.
By Joy Rile
The author is editorial assistant of Misyon and interviewed Serafina when she visited us in Bacolod recently.
Serafina Vuda is a 46-year-old Columban Lay Missionary from Fiji. She was on mission in Chile from 1997 to 2000 and in Peru from 2001 to 2007. She came to the Philippines last May to take a course in Family Ministry at Ateneo de Manila University but had to stop after one semester due to her being elected Coordinator of the Lay Missionary Central Leadership Team (LMCLT), taking office on January, 2009.
By Rowena Dato Cuanico
Rowena ‘Weng’ Dato Cuanico, who has written in these pages before, is one of three lay missionaries from the Philippines currently in Fiji.
After waiting for nearly eight months for our first mission assignment, I heaved a sigh of relief and excitement as the plane touched down at Nadi International Airport, Fiji, on 29 October 2000. ‘Lord, this is it,’ were the only words that I could muster and say to myself as everything that I wished, hoped and prayed for was finally becoming real. I hardly slept on the ten-hour flight from Seoul since during the night. I was awakened at least four times by the captain’s voice telling us to fasten our seatbelts because of turbulence. My drowsiness, fatigue and anxieties vanished quickly as I and five other lay missionaries from thePhilippines were greeted by the bright and glorious splendor of that Sunday morning and by the smiles of friendly faces. Perhaps, the big smile on Father Charlie Duster’s face and his warm handshake said it all in his Bula, Welcome to Fiji!