‘Once in a lifetime,’ festival revives culture and tradition

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Hawaii residents and visitors have the chance to immerse themselves in diverse cultures and customs from across the Pacific with countless events taking place on Oahu for the Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture.

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Sunday, June 9, was a day of spiritual rest for the Pacific Islanders who’ve traveled far to attend FestPAC – the world’s largest celebration of Pacific nations, which only occurs once every four years in different countries. Hawaii hosted the event for the first time in its 52-year-long history.

“It’s a huge privilege to be invited here and be a part of this historic moment, to be around this many people, to explore the many differences and the many similarities that make us one,” stated American Samoa delegate Bahnlannery Vaofanua. Vaofanua has been performing his nation’s traditional dance at various events.

Hawaii residents and visitors said the festival is a revival of traditions, old and new.

“Enlightened my spirit because of my age. I thought it was something that was forgotten by a lot of the young people. But today they have picked it up and made it born lively and modern,” said Marieta Mecham, a delegate from Fiji.

The performances, music, and exhibitions – the sheer amount of cultural knowledge given and received in one place- make FestPAC so unique, according to guests.

“I get to share my art form and it’s just been a beautiful experience,  especially to meet old friends and meet new friends,” stated Gabby Faaiuaso, American Samoa delegate.

Others like Aurora Santos came from the Northern Mariana Islands to support her brother, Robert Santos, who is the only male dancer in his troupe.

“We’re unique from each other, but we’re also all one. It’s just really inspiring and a big part of my identity,” said Aurora.

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Despite vast cultural differences, love and pride for one’s nation translated into love for all.

“The hope is that we make more friends and that we connect to each other just like how the ocean connects all,” said Faaiuaso.

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