Olomwaay (olom-why) is a Refaluwasch (Carolinian) word that means "Peace, God bless, and thank you." A long time ago, our great aunt Florencia Kaipat Seman, who was involved in creating the very first Carolinian dictionary, was asked if Carolinians had their own word for "thank you." (Carolinians typically used "ghilisow" (hili-so), which is actually Chuukese). When she mentioned the word Olomwaay, she was laughed at, and it was rejected because it sounded like another less socially acceptable word. She was a bit hurt by that. When she told me that story, I vowed to promote the word as much as possible in her honor. So it was my only choice when it came time to name our band and company."--Gus Kaipat"
Olomwaay Mission Statement
"It's our calling to share indigenous Refaluwasch and Chamorro music with the world.
We're also committed to preserving those cultures by telling our own stories."--Gus Kaipat
"A spectacular visual and acoustical accomplishment!"
Lieweila: A Micronesian Story aka "The Carolinians on Saipan DVD
Lieweila: A Micronesian Story: Narrated by Cinta Kaipat, a descendant of the first migrants, "The film tells the history of Refalawasch beginning with details of the early migrations and ending with the current situation in which the people from the northern islands now live on a Saipan that has become a Mecca for tourism, cheap Asian labor, and land developers. In this environment, it is difficult for the story of Refalawasch to remain relevant, and yet, as the film shows, there is a continuing effort to keep the story alive. The film's narration is clear and personal. It is the voice of a woman who is part of the story and who works on behalf of her people's interest. Although I can hardly get past its personal appeal to me, I think the film has broad educational value, especially in the context of learning about the struggle of Pacific Island people to hold on to their traditions in the face of wave after wave of economic and cultural colonization."
--Fred Blake, Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaii [Courtesy of the Landlocked Films website]
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"We sold 2,000 copies in 3 days! ....And then we were banned from the airwaves!"*
The Olomwaay Band! "She Gave us Love!" CD
The OLOMWAAY Band, formed in 1995, broke into the island music scene when it won the grand prize for the first annual Battle of the Bands in 1998... Solid as a bond - - But local fans simply know Olomwaay as the name of their favorite band that gave them the popular local hit She Gave Us Love. Experience the versatility and emotion of one of the best bands the South Pacific has to offer! *"...People were requesting it so often that the station manager at a local station had to limit how often it was played to be fair to the other artists."--Gus Kaipat, from a Saipan Tribune article
AWARDS: Lieweila won "Best Documentary" from the Boulder Media Community and other awards. In 1999, Lieweila and another Hawaii film were chosen out of thousands of entries to represent the Pacific in the prestigeous Yamagata Film Festival in Japan.
The film has also been shown in other international film festivals in Sweden, Germany, Australia, and other venues in the U.S., such as Minnesota, Hawaii, and throughout Micronesia .
The film also appeared on local PBS stations in Colorado and Guam and also on Free Speech TV in the U.S.
"Fantastic historical detail, in word and images, is woven into a general treatment of how the Carolinians have come to be where they are at this point in time...
A spectacular visual and acoustical accomplishment."
--Jeff Marck, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University
"My students are studying Pacific History and oral traditions. It was encouraging for me to see them engrossed in the tape.
Seeing this film has broadened their horizons and expanded their knowledge."
--Anare Tuitoga, University of the South Pacific, Marshall Islands
"I was overwhelmed with the professionalism with which 'Lieweila' was produced. It is so wonderfully educational and entertaining. It will touch the hearts of the different ethnic groups and get them to start focusing on preserving their own cultures." --Ginger Underwood, Director of KGTF-TV, Guam Public Television
"This is a beautiful film about a people who, after many generations, are still telling the story and memorializing the event of their migration from the
Central Carolines to the Northern Marianas, a story they keep alive in the name they call themselves, "Refalawasch," or "people of the homeland."
As Peace Corps Volunteers headed for the Marianas in 1966, my wife and I had learned to speak Chamorro, the dominant language; but upon our arrival, we were sent
to the "Carolinian" community on Agrigan Island in the remote chain of islands north of Saipan. One of the reasons they lived on these remote islands was so they
could keep their language and customs intact. I was always impressed with the pride they took in speaking their own language and constructing their "utt" or meeting house,
building their outrigger canoes, and performing their dances. These were more than simple occurrences; even then, they were a source of identity. I have to say that much
of this sense of identity and pride rubbed off on me and my wife. Watching this film brought all this back to me and I was deeply moved. As I heard bits of the language
after 30 years I could feel my heart pound. I wanted to hear more! The film tells the history of Refalawasch beginning with details (I had not known) of the early
migrations and ending with the current situation in which the people from the northern islands now live on a Saipan that has become a Mecca for tourism, cheap Asian labor,
and land developers.
In this environment, it is difficult for the story of Refalawasch to remain relevant, and yet, as the film shows, there is a continuing effort to keep
the story alive. The film's narration is clear and personal. It is the voice of a woman who is part of the story and who works on behalf of her people's interest.
Although I can hardly get past its personal appeal to me, I think the film has broad educational value, especially in the context of learning about the struggle of
Pacific Island people to hold on to their traditions in the face of wave after wave of economic and cultural colonization."
"A talented poet peered through the lens, and the images adeptly convey succinct and precise visual metaphors: the black and white photo of
a young Refalawasch wearing traditional garb while drinking from a can of Fanta, which he holds with both hands.... Dr. Strong, to
paraphrase French filmmaker Robert Bresson, aimed for necessary images and not just beautiful ones."
--Rizaldy Dandan, Marianas Variety and News
one of the best I have seen concerning Micronesia."
--Karen Peacock, Archivist, Pacific Collection, University of Hawai'i at Manoa
"Lieweila is the story, poignantly told, of Carolinians who were forced to migrate to the Northern Marianas many generations ago.
The film provides an excellent overview of culture change in Micronesia and the plight of migrant communities. It is narrated by Cinta Kaipat,
a descendant of the first migrants, and focuses on the history of her family. This gives the film a personal touch, generating empathy in the viewer.
The documentation of historical change through the use of still photographs and vintage film footage, accompanied by a dramatic sound track, is
particularly effective. I intend to use this film in my course in visual anthropology and would recommend it for courses on Oceania as well."
--Alan Howard, Professor of Anthropology, University of Hawaii
"'Lieweila' is a monumental treasure, the value of which will grow with time."
--Ramon G. Villagomez, former Justice, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Supreme Court
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