If you had asked me if I knew the late Fijian Laisa Taga of the Island Business International I would say “yes”.
Although it may seem strange if I told you that I never met her in person. Last year Eva Arni, head of PR and marketing for Air Niugini, Papua New Guinea suggested that I contact Laisa about writing some stories for the Paradise In-flight Magazine. When I wrote to Laisa some six months ago, she immediately wrote back with enthusiasm.
After discussing the general understanding of what types of articles to write and the expectations between a writer and an editor were established, we warmed to each other with bits of Fijian words thrown into the conversations. Not long after that, Laisa published my first article on the Kula Trade in the Paradise. I have posted a copy of that article in this blog. I was thrilled. Most of what I had written in the Kula story had been kept meaning Laisa must have liked what I had written. It was true she liked what I wrote because she hounded me after that first story for more.
I had promised Laisa two articles. One on weaving and the other on the Miss South Pacific Quest and the events that unfolded that crowning night.
When I told Laisa I was not feeling very well and would need to send her the articles later to go into the next edition, she accepted graciously and said she would wait. She told me “your health is very important” and I should take care of that first. Tonight as I read an email from Godfrey Scoullar – Publisher & Managing Director Laisa’s colleague, about Laisa’s passing and that she insisted she needed to work until she could work no more I could only cry. Not once did this woman show and make me feel in any way, that she herself was facing the greatest challenge of her life (cancer) which would in the end, take her life. My insides were ripped.
Isn’t it amazing how we take life for granted? And how precious is time?
I had only written to Laisa two weeks ago wondering if she had received my copies. It was unusual for her to take so long to reply. I had taken it for granted that I missed the deadline and I should just wait for her to write back.
And tonight, when I went over our email and how lazy I had become in paying so much attention to other things and not submitting these articles sooner, I feel absolutely hopeless and angry at myself. Jason from A Good Blog is Hard to Find (blog) once asked the question – could you really know someone virtually even though you might have never met them. My answer was “yes” and my answer tonight is “yes”, I do know Laisa. I am so grateful to have known her and especially in her last weeks. Laisa Taga had used her last precious time to continue her work with people like me – to bring stories for enjoyment to thousands of readers like you all over the world. I hope that I had given her something very small in return by what I had written for her editorials.
Farewell Laisa. The angels will rejoice at your glorious spirit that you have shared with us.
Below was the last I heard from her.
Just checking on those two stories promised.
I am now working on the next issue of Paradise – collating pieces.
Islands Business International is touched and comforted by the outpouring of grief and sympathy on the passing of our Group Editor in Chief Laisa Taga who died peacefully surrounded by her close family members at her Suva home on Friday morning.
Quietly and determinedly, Laisa had been battling cancer for some time.
It was her wish she should continue to work until she could work no more.
Her family will announce funeral arrangements once they are finalised.
On behalf of Islands Business International, its staff, clients and its many friends in Fiji, in the Pacific and around the world, I wish to thank you most sincerely for the expressions of sympathy and sorrow on Laisa’s passing.
Laisa was a tower of strength, a hard working and knowledgeable editor with a measured temperament and great sense of humour.
As a regional media figure she was a quiet achiever who downplayed her achievements and never sought recognition.
She has left a vacuum that would be difficult to fill.
May Laisa rest in peace.
Godfrey Scoullar – Publisher & Managing Director
Islands Business International.