One of the advantages of studying in a culturally-diverse university is to be able to experience a bit of other cultures without spending on travels. Of course, nothing beats the actual experience but cultural shows are the second best one can get.
I still remember the international festivals I participated in my university in Japan. We had a day full of dances, songs, food, costumes, games, languages, arts, etc. But the difference here at ANU is that a region or a country has a day devoted for them. Last Friday, I watched the Pacific Appreciation Day where Pacific students in Australia come to Canberra to perform their traditional dances and offer free food!
The entire show was colorful and full of exuberance! The hula dances are just gorgeous and the “haka” performances are astonishing. I have never watched a “haka” performance before and I was clueless at that time what they were doing—shirtless and tattooed men hitting their chests, screaming, stamping and dancing.
“Haka” is a an ancestral war cry which most popular version is that from the Maori in New Zealand. But my friend who is from the Pacific Islands told me that there are in fact several versions of “haka” and most of the islands have their own.
I remember back in the Philippines when someone asks me which places I want to go and one of my answers would be “Vanuatu” and most people would laugh at me and ask “where in the world is Vanu…what?” If that person is an acquaintance, I’m pretty sure at that moment we can never be good friends.
Vanuatu is one of the islands in the Pacific—yes, that string of pearls northeast of Australia (if someone needs a much more familiar reference). This region is a paradise with warm people, pristine beaches and a culture of merriment tied with nature.
If you’ve never been to a paradise in the Pacific, I hope you get a glimpse of their culture from these photos. I did and I will definitely set foot on these islands soon.
Let me end this post of appreciation with a Maori proverb: