The first part of this interview by Anne B. Gubuan, assistant editor, of Kurt Zion Pala appeared in the September-October issue of Misyon. Kurt is a Columban seminarian from Iligan City who last year completed his two-year First Mission Assignment in Fiji. He resumed his studies in theology last June.
From what you’re saying, Fiji seems peaceful, with ‘unity in diversity’ and no conflict.
On the surface it’s peaceful. But you can feel the tension between the two cultures. You hear people’s biases, for example, ethnic Fijians saying that Indo-Fijians are ‘too frugal’. It’s like what I have experienced in Mindanao, between Christians and Muslims. But in Mindanao, everything is expressed, people fight. In Fiji, it’s a bit more repressed as people won’t discuss the situation among themselves.
So it’s a latent conflict?
Yes, and it bothers me. Sometimes if I behaved like an ethnic Fijian my Indo-Fijian friends would say, ‘You’re not Fijian, you’re Indian’. It was similar when I was with the ethnic Fijian community. So I had to balance everything and try not to take sides.