Sunday, December 16, 2007

[Mural] [Boston] Murals in Boston

The famous murals in Boston are in the Boston Public Library. The artist is John Singer Sargent.
You can take a virtual tour. We can see the description of the murals by the artist himself. The title of the murals are 'Triumph of Religion.' The artist had worked on this project from 1895 to 1916. This project in Boston Public Library is John Singer Sargent's first mural project. We can see his other work in Museum of Fine Art in Boston.

Route & Maps Generator

There are several types of murals: public murals, commercial murals, and murals in residence houses. For some public murals, the communities surrounding them are deeply involved.

There are some murals I am impressed:

===Central Square parking lot around Harvest (a co-op grocery store)===
- -

potluck mural
Potluck, painted by David Fichter in 1994.
From central square in Cambridge to Inman square in Somerville, there are people from different countries with different cultures. We can see these people in the mural, and they are happily sharing the food, chatting, and dancing. There are more details in David's website.

Route & Maps Generator

harvest mural
Since it is on the wall of Harvest co-op grocery store, I assume the 'precautionary principle' is Harvest's principle. We can see there are animals with their cubs, some children, and a mother with her child.

===Central square around Blockbuster===

Language Translations

central square mural
A Celebration of Imagination, a Tribute to Marc Chagall, painted by Pasqualina Azzarello in 1997.
Because this mural is a tribute to Marc Chagall, we can see the painter chose some colors and lines similar to what are seen in Chagall's paintings.

===Central square on the wall of Middle East restaurant and night club===

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middle east restaurant mural

Because Middle East is a restaurant and a night club, we can see people in the mural are playing different musical instruments. In addition, it contains a lot of oriental flavor.

===S&S restaurant in Cambridge===

Route & Maps Generator

The mural can be seen here. The artist is Joshua Winer. This restaurant has great brunch!

===Harvard square theater (of course, around Harvard square)===

English German Translation

The mural can be seen here. The artist is also Joshua Winer.

===Trader Joe (a grocery store) in Cambridge===

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Sunday Afternoon on the Charles River, painted by David Fichter in 2005. We can see in the mural, people enjoy the picnic besides the river. There is Harvard bridge, and people are kayaking and canoing. In the left side, we can see the old Harvard square with the trolley—now there is underground subway (red line). In the right side, there is a woman hold a Trader Joe's bag. But beyond her, there is the the main dome at MIT. In the summer time, Harvard blocks part of Memorial Drive for people to enjoy their Sunday.

===Inside Science Museum===

by English Translations

This muralt was painted by Amy Barlett Wright. Her environment-oriented style is very different from the energetic style in the murals around central square.


by English Translations

allson mural
allson aged mural

There are many asian, indian, and russian people in this area as far as I know (from the restaurants). I did not find any information about this mural.

===JFK crossing===

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coolidge corner mural

This mural was painted by David Fichter in 1995. I guess the man in the center of the mural is JFK. This area in Brookline is where Kennedy was born, and the locals call it 'JFK crossing.' They said there are four murals, but I only remember three: this one, another one across the street, and the other one one block away.

===Zaftigs restaurant around Coolidge corner===

by English Translations

JFK crossing mural

Coolidge corner is full of Jewish culture—there are Jewish bookstores, Jewish restaurants, and etc. Of course Zaftigs restaurant is a Jewish restaurant. In the center of the mural, I think it is the historic building in the center of Coolidge corner. In the left part, we can see the Coolidge corner theater and the trolley (green line). About the women in red dress, I guess she was the owner of Zaftigs because there is a portrait similar to these women in the restaurant.

===Newberry Street===

Newberry street is a famous shopping area in Boston, and this mural is a very famous one on Newberry street. They said there are more than 50 famous people, including JFK, Babe Ruth, Bette Davis and Isabella Stewart Gardner. It is painted by Joshua Winer in 1991.


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This mosaic mural is outside the Grand Lodge of Masons in Mass. It contains three panels: Greek Doric column, the motto of Massachusetts Freemasons, a plumb, and something I am not sure what it is about.



Many people take photo of this mural because it is on the wall facing the popular parking log. Although the Buddha in the center attracts our attention, this mural is about anti-smoking. It was painted by Boston Youth Fund Mural Crew in 1998.

English German Translation

This mural is outside the Chinese community center. I guess the man on the top is about the business of laundry. There are other people in this mural tailoring, cooking, working in a construction site, transporting merchandise, rowing a dragon boat (right upper part), telling stories, learning English, striking, planting. I guess because it is very close to the New England Medical Center, there is a physician in this mural.
This mural was painted by David Fichter in 1986.

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There is another mural painted by Boston Youth Fund Mural Crew. It was painted in 1997. It is around the Chinatown gate. We can see many characters in famous Chinese stories.

Because the involvement of the community or the local stores, I found where there is a mural, there are many interesting local stores and interesting community activities.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Taiwan: Is there a blind spot in blogsphere?--Blogblind

2007/11/20, an experimental website was born in Taiwan: 'Blogblind' (closed now, in two days). The main concept is pushing (similar to 'digg it' in 'Digg') the blogs people do not like (instead of pushing the website we appreciate) and tagging them with comments like 'copy machine' or 'boast.' When most people leave flattering comments in the blogs (or maybe the 'bad' comments are deleted by the owners of the blogs), many people consider this new website is a pertinent way for the bloggers to make a self-examination.


這個網站實在是太歡樂,太搞笑了呀。 過去有照亮黑暗部落格的明燈,他只有一個人在評論,現在有了Blogblind,可說是集眾人之力,似乎可發揮效益更大的產物 。


自己是認為,這樣的網站可以讓台灣的部落格有一番新話題,讓過去一些為人詬病的現象,在這個殿堂裡獲得公開討論,又不傷大雅的機會 。

yblog said,

This website is so funny and so kuso. In the past days, 'the light lightening the black blogphere' is the only one making comments. Now with Blogblind, get together and we may achieve more beneficial outcomes.

By different tags, the characters of the blogs formed in our minds are surfacing.

I think this website can generate a new subject in Taiwan's blogsphere that we can talk about. The phenomenons people have complained about can be discussed in a public space without hurting anyone.

However, how do the bloggers whose blogs were listed on the website and tagged with abusive language feel?

Dear John說:

因為是匿名發表評論,才過一天而已,在站上已經累積了為數不少的不堪的人身攻擊和沒有根據的謾罵。 完全沒有想過這些被罵的部落客心中有何感受? 在此,呼籲此站應該立刻關站,並且張貼對所有被罵的部落格的道歉啟示。大家也不應該再用笑鬧的態度來看待此事

Dear John said,

Because people can make comments anonymously, there are a lot of abusive comments without evidence. Did they ever think about how the blamed bloggers feel? Here I appeal that this website should close immediately and post an apology for the blamed blogs, and all of us should not take this lightly any more.


對於BBS上的鄉民來說,反正有文必推、有熱鬧必湊、有人打架我就在旁邊吶喊。但在這種鄉民現象中眾鄉民的「推」文 (抑或噓文?),大家可否曾想過一件事情?這一股股的推(噓)浪潮中,帶有著多少部落客的惡意毀謗與攻訐?

Aug9 said,

To the 'mob' on BBS, if there is an article, the mob will push it; if there is a crowd, the mob will join them; if there is people fighting, the mob will yell. However, when the mob push (or boo) an article, have we thought about how much bad intention, slander, and cheap shot coming along with the pushing (or booing)?

Although many people consider that this website was overplayed, some people still hope it can reopen one day.






yblog said,

To me, if Blogblind can solve these two problems, it is possible to be reopened:

The first is the spam robot program, and the second is the anonymous tagging with bad intention.

I think the people who want to tag must log on, and everyone can see who leaves which tag. If there is lawsuit in the future, at least we can see whose account is that.

In addition to the technical issues, maybe we need to learn more about social psychology: why people do not care to hurt others when we do not see the victims or when we think we are not the first one to stab at the victims. It is always not easy to find a pertinent way to criticize others.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Whose land? 誰的土地?



Darkness slides from my eyes
into my heart.
suffocation without light
surrounds me.

'Burning' by Mo-Na-Neng (a Paiwan poet)].


Smangus's battle for the unfair trail about the wind-fall beech, based on Smangus & Smangus Action Alliance News, can be traced back to October, 2005:

Terry the typhoon caused the damage to the only road that communicated the neighboring areas. Smangus people cleaned the road alone and put the windfall beech on the side. One month later, the staff of the Forestry Bureau chopped the wood into pieces and took them away secretly. Three of the Smangus youth transported the remains on behalf of the Tribal Committee for the purpose of community design. Consequently they were reported of stealing national woods. The accused became the accuser!


Because the stigmatization was unacceptable to Smangus people, they did not want to admit crime and let the case go.

(Feb 24, 2007) The judge of the first instance ignored the Article 15 of the Forestry Act and the Aboriginal Basic Law which protect the indigenous rights, but instead, he convicted them by Articlee 52 of the Forestry Act. The penalty was 6 months of imprisonment, the fine of NT$160, 000 for each person, and suspension of punishment for two years. Smangus people cried, “Why don’t you put all of us in jail?” Therefore, the whole village went on the road to Not Guilty Plea.


The main issue in this battle is 'whose land is it?' Smangus people thought the wind-fall beech is in their territory, but the Forestry Bureau thought it is not. How do we decide who is the owner of the land?


In May 20-21, 2007, because Tayal people considered the wind-fall beech case is a serious threats to the Tayal tribes, Pinhaban, a traditional cultural ceremony, was held to make alliance among the villages to protect their territories. In the conference (based on The statements and declaration, from the conference of Pinhaban Alliance, the chief of the village of Mrqwang said:

We indigenous peoples are knowledgeable of our own traditional territories. We can accurately describe the landscapes of the mountains and the rivers in them. We name those natural objects and connect our own lives so closely with the surroundings. The staff of the Forestry Bureau does not understand our lives. When we heard the staff say that the traditional territory of Smangus is only about 12 acres, we regarded the notion absurd. The territory is absolutely larger than this measure.

In Munch's article:


Whose land? This is always a controversial question.
Both Japan government and this government confiscated the mountains, and the ownership of the traditional land of the aboriginal people is always an ignored problem. Although there are many name-rectification actions that showed the respect to the aboriginal people, these actions only put on a beautiful doorplate while their homeland is not belong to them. All the aboriginal people know that the Forest Bureau is the largest landlord of the mountain.


To aboriginal people, the seriousness of the penalty is not the point. They care about the respect toward their territory and their culture. They insist for not guilty plea, because no one can deny their right on their land.

In September 28, 2007, ignoring the Smangus people's claim and the Forestry Act and the Aboriginal Basic Law, the judge of the second instance decided to keep the original conviction but decrease the punishment.

In Judie's blog, Wild at heart, Legal Defense Association said,


Today's conviction is an ugly compromise. If the judge decided the three people committed crime based on the Forestry Act because they stole the nature resource in the forestry, the judge should enhance the punishment. On the other hand, if the judge recognized the way the aboriginal people treat the nature: kindness, harmony, sustainability, and responsibility, why did the judge not have the courage to agree with the no guilty plea?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Taiwan: From music to rice: expressing the love toward our life and our earth


Due to the big music market and hot music industry, Taiwanese love and are familiar with pop songs and many kinds of music.


In Yun-Ru Shih's article, based on Miao-Ru Chien's research:


The pop music industry in Taiwan rose in the folk music movement in 1970s. At the end of 1980s and in the beginning of 1990s, this industry grew rapidly to 50 million NTD. The number reached 100 million NTD in 1996 and 123 million NTD in 1997. In the international music industry, Taiwan's market size rose from 21st to 13th, and became the second one in Asia (Japan is the first one).



Oldlady talked about the recent 18th Golden Melody Award (6/16/2007) and an unexpected interlude in the award ceremony:

The Hakka singer Sheng-Hsiang Lin (who was awarded for 'the best Hakka singer' and whose album was award for 'the best Hakka album') refused to receive the awards. He said, 'this award should categorize music by music genre instead of ethnic group. I feel the Golden Melody Award is outdated. I have been invited to many music festivals in other countries, and we are always categorized as world music or folk music. I suggest the board of this award open their minds and make some audacious changes. I propose that we abolish this (Hakka) award because this award deprives the Hakka singers' opportunities to join the positive competitions with other singers and decentralizes the Hakka songs.' Then he donated the 250,000 NTD prize to the Planting associations in Meinung, Moonlight Mountain magazine, Greenbud magazine, and the 'rice bomber' Ju-Men Yang.



About the categories made based on language, Sabinasun the history of this award:

In 1987, the martial law finally ended, and the media started to have press freedom. The 'Golden Melody Award' was originally set up in 1988 for the Taiwan music market by the Government Information Office. In the beginning, the highest award was for the mandarin music, and this action echoed that government's culture policy. After 1990, the concept of 'Taiwanese' became more and more significant, and 'Taiwanese rock music' market emerged. However, there are no 'Halo,' 'Hakka,' and 'aboriginal' (minority) categories in the Golden Melody Award until 2003 that represent the minorities and the reality of multiple cultures in Taiwan.


The intention of promoting different cultures is nice. However, because the only language category in the Golden Melody Award in the beginning is a political maneuver to heighten the position of a specific group of people, if we do not question this part but only add the categories of 'other languages,' the award itself still bears the suspicion of being influenced by political maneuvers. On the other hand, for artistic creations, trying to find the representatives for different ethnic groups is a very old concept to control the culture, especially in the field of music where boundary-crossing and mixing are common.


Sheng-Hsiang Lin from Meinung is a Hakka social activist and a musician who was involved in anti-Meinung Dam movement. In southern Taiwan, Meinung is a Hakka community whose economy is mainly based on agriculture. After the anti-Meinung Dam movement, Sheng-Hsiang Lin continues to care about the farmers.


However, the message about the music categorization is submerged fast because of another topic raised and attracted most media's attention: President Shiu-Bian Chen said he would pardon Ju-Men Yang on 6/19, three days after Sheng-Hsiang Lin's speech in the Golden Melody Award and donated part of the prize to Ju-Men Yang.


Ju-Men Yang was sentenced seven-and-a-half years in jail in 2005 because he planted 17 bombs in public areas in 2003 and 2004. Two of the bombs did explode without injuries. He is called 'rice bomber' because some rice was mixed with the explosives. He turned himself in later and claimed that his work was intended to evoke public attention toward the farmers. Even in jail, he tried to use hunger strike to evoke public attention during the WTO in 2005.


Because of setting bombs, although his tried to help the farmers, people have different opinions toward his case. In an cosigning activity to support Yang, Pei-Hui Tsai said,


Although we show our sympathy for Ju-Men Yang, we respect the court's decision for the public hazard of the 17 bombs he has set.


The reason we are here is because we thought he is only a person who lit the fuse after the farmers' bitterness approaches their threshold due to the decision made by our government to join WTO. What shocks the government and Council of Agriculture is not the problems he made but the problems he pointed out.


Both Sheng-Hsiang Lin and Ju-Men Yang are from agriculture communities. After many trading policies promoted by WTO, they saw the changes in the agriculture communities, and they hope the high-tech industry-oriented Taiwanese can also see the problems in our agriculture communities, and how these problems will become all Taiwanese' problems.


Unlike the big farming companies in United States, in Taiwan, most farmers only own small farms with some specific crops. Because the market prefers beautiful products, farmers are forced to spray pesticides by themselves. Hopemarket discuss the news that a farmer died when spraying pesticide:

其實這早已不是「新聞」了,我開始接觸這個部分以後,去產地拜訪,詢問農友為什麼會轉作有機或者是無農藥殘留的耕作方式,只要是本來務農的農人,有一半以 上,是因為農藥中毒,才驚覺農藥原來是這麼可怕的東西,不僅傷害農人自己本身,也傷害土地,更別說是作物殘留農藥吃了對人體的危害

This is not 'news.' When I started to know this field, I have been to the farms several times and asked the farmers why they started to do 'organic' farming or farming without pesticide. More than half of these farmers changed their farming methods because of pesticide intoxication. They found that pesticides are so dangerous to farmers, the earth, and the people who eat their products.


有機農人不能使用殺菌劑或其他保花保果的資材,因此遇到狂風暴雨,只能讓果實自然掉落。 而蔬菜農友更慘,因為天氣炎熱,很多作物有溫度障礙,例如花椰菜與萵苣喜歡比較涼冷的生長氣候,夏天就會過熱而長不起來;番茄與苦瓜在夏季容易有疫病,一場大雨下來,農友的心血全部都泡在水裡,沒有東西收成。

When these farmers start to do the organic farming, they always have a very hard time. Hopemarket said,

Organic farming is farming without pesticide or other chemicals. When there is heavy rain or strong wind, the farmers can only watch the fruits falling. The condition is more severe for farmers who grow vegetables. For examples, cauliflowers and lettuces can only grow in colder weather, and they cannot grow in the summer. In the summer, tomatoes and bitter melons would get sick easily. After a heavy rain, when their vegetables all bathe in the water, the farmers get nothing for their efforts.


當西方國家不斷鼓吹自由貿易時,卻一方面鉅額補貼國內農業出口,使其能以低價大量傾銷到第三世界;另一方面,卻透過雙邊談判或國際經濟組織要求第三世界國 家取消關稅、減低對其他產業的政策補貼,及開放市場。這是不公平的貿易。數以百萬的發展中國家小農因為西方的 農業傾銷而被迫賤賣農產品,甚至被推離市場。

In addition to the pesticides and organic farming, farmers are worried about the low price of their crops. The problem of price is not limited in Taiwan. The policies WTO tries to promote cause unfair trading and give the farmers an extremely hard time to live. About this problem, Iron said,

While the western countries preach free market, they subsidize their own agriculture and make the price of their crops become very low. Then they dump these cheap crops to the third world. On the other hand, they asked the countries in the third world to reduce their customs and subsidy and open their market. This kind of trade is unfair. Millions of farmers in the developing countries are forced to sell their crops for a very low price or leave the market.



Nowadays WTO has gigantic impact on the agriculture system in numerous countries. To respond to the impact, Taiwan's government also have subsidy for 'farmers that do not do farming.' However, this policy makes many farming areas be ignored, abandoned, damaged, and over-priced. Turtle said,

Taiwan's subsidy only focus on 'paying money' instead of environment management, which is more important. Thereafter, our agriculture scene and culture die gradually. On the other hand, the subsidy in the European countries focuses on environment. They have subsidy for farmers who 'do something good for the environment.' How to echo the new trend and idea is an important direction for our agriculture subsidy policy.



On the other hand, when we think about agriculture, we can have another perspective in addition to trade and politics (voting power). laches said,

Agriculture is not only for trading, it is a relationship between the earth and human beings.


Talking about the relationship between the earth and human beings, how about singing the song 'Planting trees' (lyrics by Yung-Feng Chung and music Sheng-Hsiang Lin):







Planting trees for the people who leave

Planting trees for the roads that are too broad

Planting trees for not being able to go back

Planting trees for the people who stay

Planting trees for the disastrous childhood

Planting trees for not being able to leave

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Taiwan: keep rowing--i-panga na 1001
(photo courtesy of casyc23. The red and black circle at the head of the boat is 'mata-no-tarara' (eye) and sun. It can expel evil spirits and evoke good fortunes.)

In Tao's language, 'Tao' means 'human.' Although Lanyu (orchid island, where the Tao people live) is belong to Taiwan now, considering language and culture, the Tao people are closer to Ivatan people in Batanes islands in Philippine than other peoples in Taiwan.

As a branch of Austronesian people, the Tao people are good at building boat, and they use boats for fishing. Their wooden boat is not canoe. They combine different kinds of wood to build small wooden boat (tatara) for one or two people and large wooden boat (chinurikuran) for around ten people.

Keep rowing:

The tatara boat culture in Lanyu is the aggregation of physiology, psychology, economy, belief, and world view of the Tao people.

在現代經濟方式的衝擊,氏族漁團的青壯勞動力被台灣的資本市場吸納,老一輩長者無能為力負荷大船建造的一切所需, 只能看這舊船腐朽裂解,在每年呼喊飛魚的招魚儀典時,感嘆空盪的港灣而無大船的身影。

Because of the aggression of the modern economy, the young people in the families (in Lanyu) are absorbed by the capitalistic market in Taiwan. The elders cannot afford to build a big boat, so they can only watch these old boats decomposing. In the yearly flyfish ceremony, the elders are sad because they only have harbors but not boats.


In 2001, with some people in our community, we brought some wood logged from the forests in the island to the National museum of natural science in Taichung (Taiwan). We built a big boat for ten people, which is not for traditional fishing community-based usage.

當年我們詢問父親:”可以到台灣造大船嗎?makanyou(禁忌)怎麼辦?”父親也細詢了為何要去台灣造大船的用意……?”給台灣的人看,也讓他們了解,大船不只是美麗而已,而是還有我們的智慧與能力!”我們回答。沈思後的父親給了我們一個說法:”台灣又沒有我們的鬼(anito),你 們想那麼多做什麼?”之後,那一年我們順利的完成了一艘向台灣展示的文化大船……。就在完工的當時,緊接而來的是:「做好了船,怎麼不划呢?」於是,五年 後的今天,我們想與台灣的朋友分享一件事:船,不只是被展示的,更是可以航行的,我們將拜訪台灣……。

Before we built that one, we asked our fathers, 'can we build a boat in Taiwan? How about the makanyou (taboo)?' Our fathers asked about our intention. 'We want to show Taiwanese our boats and let them understand that our boats are not only beautiful but also full of our intelligence and capability.' After contemplation, our fathers said, 'there is no anito (our ghosts) in Taiwan, why are you afraid?'
One year later, we finished that boat successfully. Then people asked us, 'why not row it after building it?' As a result, five years after that, we want to share something with our friends in Taiwan, 'our boats are not only for demonstration but also for navigation. We will visit Taiwan.'

Keep rowing:

船長1016 c m ,寬170 c m,高270 cm
我們的大船取名為: Ipanga na,1001跨越號。 (ipanga na是Tao語裡的名詞,有跨越、航行之意。)
ingana na表示移動,我們要到許多的地方去;而「1001」,只是因為我們的大船超過了10公尺長。

The length of the boat is 1016 cm, the width is 170 cm, and the height is 270 cm.
Our boat is named 'Ipanaga na, 1001.' Ipanga na in Tao means crossing over and navigation. Ipanga na also means moving. We will go to many places.
'1001' is named because our boat is longer than 10 m.

Keep rowing:

由紀錄片工作者林建享與蘭嶼達悟族友人夏曼‧夫阿原召集一半蘭嶼族人、一半台灣人共同建造、歷時四個月的蘭嶼達悟族的「 1001跨越號」,是近百年來蘭嶼達悟族所打造尺寸最大的拼板舟

Being a documentary filmmaker working in Lanyu, Chien-shieng Lin with his Tao friend Shaman Fuayuan called some Tao people and Taiwanese to build this boat together. It took four months, and it is the largest tatara boat the Tao people have built in the recent one hundred year.

They planned to row from Lanyu to Taitung, then to Taipei, and finally return to Taitung. The total length of the voyage is about 1438.6 km. They plan to finish it in 35 days. In average, they need to row 50-60 km per day. There are 12 people rowing at one time, and there are two teams of people for rotation.

Originally they planned to start on 6/12, but the plan was delayed because of the weather:


The elders said, 'the weather in June in Lanyu is capricious. Why don't you start in July? In July, the sea looks like having soybean oil on the surface. If you choose to depart in July, we are relieved, aren't we?' Later the captain of the ship that will go with us, I-Tsung Chou, brought the sea chart and the weather map, and he told us the weather would not be stable before 6/19.

They started off this June 20th, and now they arrived Taitung safely. Although they practiced several times before the voyage, it's still hard because they need to struggle with the Kuroshio current.

Keep rowing:

中間的時候,「真的很想拖呢(叫機動船幫忙拖行)」,不是因為洋流太強,是因為太陽太熱。 所有的人都沒有放棄。

In the middle of the rowing, 'I really hoped that ship could drag us.' The thought was not due to the current but due to the sun. But no one gave up.

Their next project, after the funds are raised, will be rowing to Batan islands to meet the Ivatan people.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Taiwan: Fifth Day Festival


Fifth Day Festival is another name for the Dragon Boat Festival or Duanwu Festival because it is May fifth in the lunar calendar (June 19th this year).

There are different ways to interpret the festival's cultural events we hold. The 'traditional' interpretation is to commemorate a Chinese poet Qu Yuan. The other interpretation from some older traditions is to prevent diseases and drowning in summer.

Either way, people are more interested in seeing dragon boat competitions and eating zongzi.

There are several dragon boat competitions in Taiwan, but the oldest one is in Yi-Lan (for more than 170 years). In this competition, there are only two teams. No judge, no time constraints--people can keep racing until one team admits their failure. Another characteristic of their dragon boat competition is standing on the boat and rowing.

Although there are many dragon boat competitions (some people are from other countries), there is only one place where the craftsmen make dragon boats by hand. Most boats people use now are made of fiberglass.

In addition to rowing or watching people rowing the dragon boats, how about trying an egg-standing game? And then, zongzi are ready!

Although Taiwan is not big, we have different kinds of zongzi in different areas. In northern Taiwan, people fry the rice with meat first and then steam it. In southern Taiwan, people put rice and other food together and boil it. In the Hakka community, people have another kind of zongzi. They grind the rice first and make rice loaf. After adding other food, they steam it. All of them are salty. There is another dessert-like zongzi with sweet bean paste inside. While other kinds of zongzi are eaten when they are hot, this kind of zongzi is eaten when cold and with honey or sugar. Smart-apple has described different kinds of zongzi. Arkun also demonstrated how her aunt made a zongzi in 48 seconds and made dozens of them!

While enjoying the food, people also like to argue about which kind of zongzi is more delicious. In Yogurt's family:


We ate our favorite zongzi (different kinds) with tea and coke and chatted. Mom said, 'boiled zongzi has less flavor because the flavor of meat and rice all goes to water.' My sister in law said, ' oh, it is not like what you said. Fried rice is so fatty and not healthy.' My brother, who loves his wife so much, said, 'we do not need to argue about this! I say their southern zongzi (boiled) is more orthodox!' We looked at my brother suspiciously because he was eating the northern zongzi with satisfaction. Why did he give up delicious food because of a pretty woman? He reasoned, 'based on the history,what Qu Yuan ate is southern zongzi.' 'Why?' 'It's simple! The zongzi Qu Yuan ate is in the water, so I said boiled zongzi is orthodox. Although their zongzi is orthodox, I am not Qu Yuan, and I do not like zongzi in the water. I like this kind of zongzi which has not been thrown into the water.' All of us understood what he meant and we laughed happily. This was another interesting Duanwu Festival.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Taiwan: Olympic torch relay-through Taiwan or not?

2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China will have a fabulous start: the route of the Olympic torch relay will be the longest in the history (85000 miles, 130 days). However, the plan was rejected by Taiwan on April 26, 2007. The current proposed route related to Taiwan can be seen on BBC news: the Olympic torch was supposed to be relayed from Pyongyang (North Korea) to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) to Taipei (Taiwan), and to Hong Kong and Macau (China). It will then be brought to other cities in China, including Lhasa in Tibet.

Taiwan's officials said Taiwan wanted to participate as part of the 'international' route. For example, Taiwan would like to join the Olympic torch relay if it is relayed from Pyongyang to Taipei, and to Ho Chi Minh City. If Taiwan relays Olympic torch to Hong Kong and Macau, as Jiang Xiaoyu, the executive vice president of the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, said, Taipei might be referred to one of 'the overseas Chinese cities' like Hong Kong and Macau.

tzuhuai objected the Taiwan's officials' rejection:

政府只不過是為了某種程度上的政治考量才去拒絕, 作秀程度大於真正的實質意義!......體育界的人士說的好:讓政治歸政治、體育歸體育! 本來就不能混為一談。 越是這樣的逃避拒絕,對岸還沒矮化我們我們救自我矮化了, 我們應該要正面回擊才是! 而不是一直用以前的手法、手段, 去逃避對岸的措施! 對岸越是想矮化我們, 我們應該要讓國際知道台灣的聲音、地位以及特有性! 而不是每每在國際舞台上自我退出, 喪失許多珍貴的機會!

The government's rejection was kind of based on their political benefit. They wanted to show off instead of understanding the essential meaning of the rejection.....What people working in athletics said is right: let politics argument go to politics, and let athletic activities go to athletics! Politics and athletics should not be mixed together. When we tried to reject or evade, we would be repressed before China represses us. We need to fight back! We should not always use the same methods to evade China's repression. As long as China wants to repress us, we should let the world know Taiwan's voice, position, and identity instead of leaving the global society and losing the valuable opportunity.

On the other hand, Chen, Yung-Chih supported this decision made by Taiwan's government.

由Temple Preah Vihear我們便可瞭解到,無論任何形式之「默示」都有可能造成國家領土的損失;既然這樣,當瀕臨絕種動物之跨國運送活動須像CITES公約組織通報 的情況下,大陸當局主張將團團與圓圓送到台灣不必向CITES公約組織通報之舉動時,以及,奧運聖火離開台灣後隨即轉向香港或澳門等一國兩制之地區時,我 們是否該思考一下,我們是否落入了「默示」的圈套裡了呢?聖火不是完全不能來,但是唯有進出台灣均行經第三第對台灣之現況才是最有利的處理方式!

From the case concerning the Temple of Preah Vihear we know that any kind of 'acceptance' is possible to result in territory lost. As a result, when China said they could give Taiwan two pandas, which are endangered animals, without informing CITES and when China proposed to relay Olympic torch to Hong Kong and Macau, which are under the principle of 'one country, two systems,' after Taiwan, we need to think about if this action is a trap of 'acceptance.' Olympic torch can come to Taiwan, but it is advantageous to Taiwan only if it is not relayed to any cities in China before or after Taiwan.

Norya II talked about the effect of international media coverage of the story:


International media pointed out accurately that the current relay route proposed by China implies Taiwan is part of China. The reports can let people in other countries understand that Taiwan and China are different countries.

In China, some bloggers were not happy about Taiwan's rejection because they though it was an alternative claim that Taiwan and China are different countries. For example, in maozhuxi1312's article:


To Chen Shui-Bian (Taiwan president) and other secessionist: there is only one earth, and there is only one China. It's name is People's Republic of China. How about going back and weighing yourselves? If you are afraid, then you should submit yourselves to China. If you want to resist, it is a dead end!

In addition to the blame and threat, maozhuxi1312 analyzed why Taiwan rejected:

台湾目前正搞正名化,主体化,而在奥运火炬问题上早就有明确态度,从第三国进,再从第四国出。 那么目前的这个路线与台湾的想法差距比较大,我们说是意识形态也好,是防止矮化也罢,反正是谈不拢的,既然早知道谈不拢,它拒绝又有什么奇怪的,体育本身就有政治性,我们协商的对象竟然是个民间组织,这样怎么可能不失败,毕竟目前代表台湾人的是台湾政府。 如果务实的化,真的想促进两岸关系,这些问题又算什么问题,从那里进,从那里出又有什么关系,释放些善意难道就那么难?

This result could be predicted when I knew the Olympic torch was planned to relay to Taipei. Now Taiwanese are talking about name-rectification and identity, and they already showed their principle: relaying from and to other countries. The current route is different from what Taiwanese thought about. We can say it is due to ideology or avoiding repression. The route will not be accepted at the end. Since we already knew it cannot work, it is not strange that Taiwan's government rejected. Athletics itself is political. If what we are working with is a civilian organization, why will it not fail? Now it is Taiwan's government representing Taiwanese. To be pragmatic, if we want to improve the relationship between China and Taiwan, the route should not be a problem. What's the matter about relaying from or to where? Is it that difficult to show the goodwill?

There is a Chinese idiom 'yin zhen zhi ke,' which means drinking poison to quench thirst. It seems that China plans to set up this kind of difficult condition for Taiwan. Taiwanese hope to join the Olympic torch relay because Taiwan has been isolated from the international society because of China for so long. dAb said:


In my imaginary, it is possible that our athletes need to take the label of 'China Taipei' in the Olympic Games. Although I cannot be categorized into 'pro-independence' or 'pro-union,' I do not think who can accept this condition or who should accept this possibility. Reading the news, I am confused and do not know which side I should support.

In the middle of all the controversies, maybe we should read the story about how Olympic torch relay was first proposed. In 1936, before World War II, Nazis government in German gave birth to this modern Olympics symbol--a series of torch-bearing runners carrying the inspirational flame cross country to the stadium for the lighting ceremony. Was it political? The torch relay were planned to link Olympiad's origin and its modern rebirth in the Aryan ideal. Based on the book 'Nazi Games' written by American historian David Clay Large, the relay was turned into an advertisement for Nazi across southeastern and central Europe, a region coveted by Nazi. The seemingly innocuous torch relay to Berlin prefigured the naked aggression to come.

There is a Taiwanese proverb 'when blind people eat dumplings, they know the number (of the dumplings that have been eaten) in their minds.' I am sure both Taiwan's and China's officials know why they made this and that decisions. Although the slogan for 2008 Olympic Games in Beijian is 'one world, one dream,' both Taiwanese and Tibetan seem to have different dreams from China's.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Taiwan: Crazy for Matsu 瘋媽祖


Just like what Backlight53 said: this week, there is one thing people in central Taiwan are crazy for. That is Da-jia Matsu's inspection tour.

根據林美容教授的研究,媽祖是台灣人最普遍信仰的神明。媽祖生日為農曆三月二十三日,所有的祭祀活動都環繞在其生日前後舉行。「迎媽祖」的巡境活動 是很熱門的活動,最近這幾年,有越來越多年輕人參加。
Based on Mei-Rong Lin's research, Matsu is the deity most commonly worshipped by Taiwanese people. Matsu's birthday falls on the 23rd day of the third month in the lunar calendar. All the worship activities are held shortly before and after this date. Activities related to the Matsu's inspection tour are very hot, and more and more young people join these activities these years.


What people do in Matsu's inspection tour? Based on backlight53's words: in addition to walking with Matsu and serving free tea and water because they made the wish, the most important tradition is going through Matsu's palankeen. People believe that after going through Matsu's palankeen, they will have a better luck in the future year.

In 2006, National Youth Commission held a workshop about the belief in Matsu and brought interested young people to join Da-Jia Matsu's inspection tour in central Taiwan. In this special inspection tour, the believers walk eight days (4/21-4/29 this year) for about 300 km. They only eat vegetarian dishes and sleep in temples.

Nycfour在大甲媽祖繞境青年探索隊體驗日誌說媽祖繞境對信眾的重要性:其實很多人心裡藏了很多心事、很多苦楚平常找不到人宣洩,也無法說出口、找人討論,每年就是等待媽祖來,可以持香助禱,把心中所有的委屈與苦楚,趁每年一 次媽祖過境時,把所有心事說給媽祖聽,所以她們每年一定會在街頭巷口等待媽祖路過,媽祖對於長者來說,比心理醫生還要有用。

Nycfour in Da-Jia Matsu inspection tour youth exploration group blog talked about the importance of the inspection tour to people who believe in Matsu: Many people keep many sad things in their mind. They cannot find anyone to talk to and discuss. They wait for Matsu's inspection tour every year, and hold incense and pray and tell Matsu the bitterness in their life. Because of this, they wait for Matsu's inspection tour every year. To the elders, Matsu is better than psychiatrists.


Because Matsu has very strong social influence in Taiwan, there are some rituals that represent the competition among the local powers. For example, before the inspection tour, local powers would compete for the first incense. In some areas, the group winning the first incense is the most powerful group. In some areas, people even try to 'rob' Matsu because they believe Matsu will protect the area where she is located.


Hsiu-Tsen in Da-Jia Matsu inspection tour youth exploration group blog talked about what they saw in the 'robbing Matsu': These people believe that Matsu will protect the region of inspection tour. Some people try to 'rob' Matsu, especially in Chuanghua. Before Matsu went into Nan-Yao Temple, police officers took over Matsu. Local people tried to use fireworks and firecrackers to stop Matsu, and some young and strong men tried to grab the umbrella that belong to Matsu. This year they did not succeed because there are too many police officers. The number of police officers let me feel there was a serious criminal case.


Da-Jia Matsu's inspection tour attracted many people. However, it was not the case decades ago. Based on I-Chun's article: Today we visit the Chaotien temple at Peikang which is almost 320 years old, however Chaotien temple is not in the plan of the Matzu pilgrimage. In fact, before 1988 the Chaotien temple was the main reason for Da Jia Matzu pilgrimage. Da Jia Matzue pilgrimage was original mean “visit forefathers”, because in the Chaotien temple has worship Matzu’s parents and every year Matzu has to visit her parents. Nevertheless, in 1988 Da Jia Zhen Lan temple has decided not to visit Chaotien temple anymore because Da Jia Xhen Lan temple do not want rank lower than Chaotien in an academy way’s understanding.


What makes Da Jia Xhen Lan temple feels it is superior than other Matsu temples in Taiwan? Based on Kuo-Chou Huang's article, Da Jia Xhen Lan temple brought their Matsu to China in 1987 because the belief in Matsu is originally from China. Thereafter, they think they are more orthodox than others.


Some people think that even though we do not consider how Chinese culture revolution destroyed the belief in Matsu in China, there is difference between Matsu belief in China and Taiwan.


Based on Mei-Rong Lin's research, Matsu was originally Goddess of the Sea. Our ancestors brought her over with them when they crossed the sea to Taiwan, to protect themselves, and when they moved inwards, cultivating the land of Taiwan, they frequently appealed to her for blessings and protection, and thus Matsu became "Taiwanized," and having started out as Goddess of the Sea became Goddess of Rain. The Taiwanese saying, "Lord Tatao controls the wind, and the lady Matsu brings the rain" further encouraged the belief that the ritual of "welcoming Matsu" often brought rain.


When some people argued about the political powers behind Matsu, many people only consider Matsu as a religion, like other religions.


Miki said: Religion is the place the light is. We are like children, attracted by the light in the darkness. I like the positive power of orthodox religion. When I saw these believers walking silently, the power of belief is very positive.


The movie 'Island Etude' has its own blog. The author EtudeBike talked about Matsu in their movie: After shooting this movie, I have a different view toward 'religion.' Religion is not for doubting, but for believing.


'We will see what we want to see' is very suitable to describe what religion is. Although I am not in Taiwan, and I cannot say I am a believer of Matsu, I still watched the movie about Matsu inspection tour happily. I believe in Matsu, because I believe in the people who believe in her.


If you are interested in this activity, you can check 'the handbook of Da-Jia Matsu inspection tour'. Maybe like Arkun said: I feel that Matsu's inspection tour provides good hiking and profound tourism experience with free food and accommodation. You cannot find a better one even with a lantern!

Monday, April 16, 2007

交通建設究竟是在建設什麼?Transport what to where?

在一篇關於戶外休閒的文章「保存的美學」中,李奧帕多教授寫著,「所謂發展休閒旅遊,並非將道路建到風景優美的地方,而是讓人的心靈能敏感地感受到自然的美好。 」

In the essay on outdoor recreation, 'Conservation Esthetic,' Professor Leopold wrote, 'Recreational development is a job not of building roads into the lovely country, but of building receptivity into the still unlovely human mind.'


The total area of Taiwan is about 36,000 sq. km, and mountains account for 30% of the surface area. The Central Mountain Range has been an important barrier stretching from north to south. It stops typhoons approaching from Pacific Ocean going to the western plains and stops western invaders from going to the eastern areas. Ever since Taiwan was colonized by China and Japan, transportation between the east and the west has played a critical role in the local community development, government control, and natural resource depredation.


For example, after the Mudanshe Incident in 1871, Chinese government implemented the ‘Kai Shan Fu Fan’ policy, to go into the mountains and the east. Later in 1875, after Japan took over Taiwan, Japanese government built not only railways in the western plains but also roads and railways to the eastern areas. After Kuomintang took over the regime from Japan in 1947, three cross-island highways were built and a circular railway around Taiwan was finished.


These days, Taiwanese have been discussing three important transportation projects: Taiwan High Speed Rail (finished), Taipei-Yilan Freeway (finished), and Yilan-Hualian freeway (decision not final yet).


For decades, Taiwan's economic growth mainly focuses on the western plains, and there has been pressure to have more efficient transportation from western plains to eastern areas for a long time. And, nowadays, people ask not only 'highway', but 'super-highway' or 'high-speed rail,' so that Taiwanese can travel back and forth to anywhere in Taiwan in one day.


Blackcat said, 'when the transportation becomes faster and more efficient, the map of Taiwan in my mind seems to get smaller and smaller.'


Chieftain also said, 'I would probably take the High Speed Rail more often in the future; from where I am located, taking the high speed rail is a better choice, comparing to taking the plane. More, if I took airplane, I would come out from Sung Shan Airport, and the transportation from the airport is more expensive and less convenience than from the train station.'


Thanks to the modern technology, our dreams have chance to come true. For example, Taiwan's Hsuehshan tunnel, world's fifth longest tunnel, probably one of the top most difficult projects to complete in the world. It penetrates into Hseuhshan, the largest mountain in northern Taiwan; the project took 15 years, one tunnel boring machine, and (based on Veterans affairs commission) thirteen workers' life (seven Thai people and six Taiwanese), and resulted in severe injury of three Taiwanese workers. Discovery produced a movie about the story: Man made marvels. Taiwan's Hsuehshan tunnel.


Wisely said, 'it takes only 40 minutes to go to Yilan from Taipei now, and it was 2.5 hrs in the past. For many people working in Taipei or people who want to spend their vacation in Yilan, it is much more convenient now. For us who work in another city, this freeway is full of convenience and efficiency. If I owned a car in the future, I could visit my parents more often in Yilan, and my schedule would not have to be based on the train schedule.'


Children's mind said, 'it is too arbitrary to say that man will triumph over nature. These words underestimate nature's force. However, it is our knowledge and will that contributes to the tunnel birth.'


Although many people embrace the efficient transportation happily, more and more Taiwanese question the necessity of building roads, especially when the disturbance to the environment is obvious.

當雪山隧道在施工時,有許多在地層當中的水流失了,在當時嚴重增加工程的困難度。隧道開始使用後,還是有水一直流失。國工局的報告指出:目前由南洞口監測總湧水量約600 l/sec 以下(36 m3/min)...此與日本石井政次與佐久間文彥(1973,1977)對日本全國主要鐵路隧道(273個案例)之長期湧水量所做的調查分析結果,統計出長期湧水量與隧道長度之關係圖相比較,可發現雪山隧道單位長度之湧水量並無特別。而根據中央大學黃俊鴻所主持的報告,隧道湧水對水庫進流量無明顯之影響。即使如此,人們還是憂心隧道的開挖是否會造成水資源的短缺。

When Hsuehshan tunnel was under construction, lots of water inside the geology structure was lost, which increased the difficulty in constructing the tunnel. After the tunnel is open, there is still water loss everyday. Based on Ministry of transportation and communications Taiwan area national expressway engineering bureau, 36 m3 water is lost every minute. Although based on the same bureau, the amount lost is not particular significant compared to the tunnels in Japan. More, based on Chun-Hung Huang's report, the water lost is not related to the amount of water flowing into the reservoirs. Even so, people are still worried about the possibility of the water resource shortage as a result of tunnel construction in the future.


Ke-Hsiang Liu said, 'lots of underground water is disappearing, where does the water come from? After losing the water, we don’t know if the mountains and the surrounding forest could still store abundant water. We do not know if the local climate (rainfall) would still be the same. And, based on our current scientific knowledge, no one could predict the severity of the outcome, and an exact answer might still not be feasible in the near future.


Momoge discussed about the mindset of people making decision for these constructions: if the mindset behind the public projects leans toward the business/ economic development, then there would be Yilan Hualian freeway, and Hualian Taitung freeway would come shortly; if the mindset leans toward nature, then there would not be highways, rather, the focus would be on reinforcing the current highway structure, to prevent further destruction, and probably even try to reverse the existed destruction. Now the proposal of Yilan Hualian freeway is out there. This is terrible, as ‘the internal decision’ is made. However, the construction has not started yet, and there is still possibility to reverse the decision.

過去的開發建設或許讓我們經濟起飛,但也讓我們經歷了許多大自然回報的慘痛代價,更何況要以高速公路帶動經濟的方式已經過於老舊,也有許多實例證明高速公路不等於經濟發展;另外一些人認為花蓮需要方便的交通,但我們認為高速公路絕對不是唯一的方式,科技進步,有更多元的方式可以 增加來到花蓮的便捷性,別讓大公路主義貫徹整個台灣。最重要的,蘇花高這樣的建設具有不可恢復性,當開工後,所造成的破壞將無法彌補回來,縱使再厲害的生態工法,還是要開隧道、建馬路,沒有人可以預估對土地造成多大的傷害。

A letter from people in Hualian: The constructions we had before may be the reason for our economic growth, but it is also the reason for the price we pay for many natural disasters. Furthermore, relying on highway for economic growth is an old strategy, many examples proves that highway development is not equal to economic development. Some people believe Hualian needs a more convenient transportation, but we believe that building highways is not the only choice. With technology advances, there are many alternatives to improve the convenience and the efficiency to come to Hualien. There is no need to let 'highwayism' spread all over Taiwan. Most importantly, the damage to building Yilan Hualian freeway is irreversible. Once the construction starts, regardless of the advancement in our construction methodologies, the destruction can’t be repaired and no one could predict the severity made to our land.

當許多人加入反蘇花高的連署時,Yenwen 有一些不同的看法:

When many people cosign to fight against the freeway constructions, Yenwen has different point of view: when human right and environmentalism start to get more attention in our society, more people start to support public topics. Perhaps they feel supporting these topics is the right thing to do, an ethical thing to do, it is a way to show self-quality improvement. But, I can’t stop asking:
when you cosign for the public issues, do you have the ability to distinguish the legitimacy of their proposal? Do you understand the government’s policy? Has Taiwan progressed enough that we can afford to have culture and environment playing more important roles than economic growth? Do you have better proposal?


Well, these are tough questions. But maybe Taiwan Railway Administration tries to answer the last one. There will be Taroko Train running between Taipei and Hualian starting May of 2007. Based on Introductions of trains in Taiwan, the reason to use this kind of trains is to solve the problems for the curves in the railways between Taipei and Yilan, and to minimize the commute to be within 2 hours.


To get to the bottom of the questions, we still want to ask, 'transport what to where?' If we have a lot of roads, what do we plan to do next? Leopold said, we should open our heart, to be closer to the nature. Then, if we have a lot of money, what do we want to do next? Perhaps, we want to live a more meaningful and happier life, and then our offsprings can live a happier and more meaningful life.


Mentioned in 2:30AM's blog, Tzu Chi's leader, Dharma Master Cheng Yen said in a TV show, 'Taiwan is small, but we build more and more highways. A place like this, how much destruction to the mountains we may make, how many lumbers we may cut down, and how much water resource we may lose to build the highways? We do not know!...I can only ask all of us to abnegate our desire and preserve proprieties. If we want to save the earth, we need to plant instead of destruction. The roads are enough for us.'

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The future of Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall

On March 2, 2007, Executive Yuan, Taiwan, decided to change the name of 'Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall' to 'Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall' and to remove the enclosing walls to make the area around the memorial hall a more open public space.

To keep the integrity of Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, which was built in 1980, Department of Culture, Taipei City Government, decided to evaluate if this area can be set as a national monument on March 5, 2007.

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall collects stuffs used by Chiang Kai-Shek, who was a president here from 1950 to 1975. (The preserved remains of this previous president can still be visited in Tsu-Hu, Taoyuan.) Wei-Chen Tseng thought we should change the usage of the place:

This capacious place should be returned to the people instead of keeping for the dictator.

Chuo-Cheng Yang is the architect of Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. He also designed the Grand Hotel, Taipei Grand Mosque, National Concert Hall, and National Theater.

Chih-Hung Wang talked about the history of the memorial hall:
「戰時首都」所含攝的復國意識形態和威權政治,與「現代化都市」的追尋,這兩種都市意義也不見得會一直相安無事,而有潛在衝突的可能。有個非常明顯的例子 涉及了目前中正紀念堂所在基地的用途。《台北畫刊》第67期(1973.7)報導了「營邊新社區」計劃,要籌資一百五十億元在信義路營邊段建設六十二英畝 的「現代化商業中心」,興建五座十八至五十層樓不等的辦公大樓,三座廿四層至卅層的國際觀光旅館和公寓,四棟百貨商場,以及會議廳、世界貿易中心、文化中 心和遊樂設施等,大樓間以輸送系統連結,行人以履帶運送。該期的封面與內文,都附有透視圖,全是高聳的玻璃帷幕大樓。這個充滿「現代化與科技進步」想像的 計劃,預計1974年6 月起開發。但是1975年蔣介石過世,計劃急轉彎改為中正紀念堂的用地。

'The capital in a war' includes two aspects. First is implication or ideology of it to be the base to re-gain the control the country (mainland China) and authoritarian regime. Second is the pursuit of a modern city. These two aspects would not necessary remain peaceful with each other; there is hidden conflict between them. One obvious example is about where the current Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is. In July 1973, 'Taipei reading' (volume 67) had an article about the project, 'Ying-Pien New Community.' The government originally planned to raise 1500 billion NTD to build a 'modern business center' across 62 acre area in Hsin-Yi Road. There would be five 18- to 50-level business buildings, three 24- to 30-level international hotels for tourists and apartments, four department stores, conference hall, world trade center, culture centers, and entertainment facilities. There would be transportation systems between buildings, and moving tracks for pedestrians. In the cover and content of this journal, we can see the scenographs, and all of them are towering glass-covering buildings. This project is full of the imagination of 'modern and technology advance,' and it was set to start the development in June, 1974. However, Chiang Kai-Shek died in 1975, and the plan was suddenly changed to use the land for Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall.

In the wrestling between the Democratic Progressive Party, which leads Executive Yuan, and KaoMinTang, which leads Taipei City Government, bloggers in Taiwan have different opinions toward the actions taken by the two parties.
No one goes to UK thought the point is not removing the enclosing walls:

Removing the enclosing walls is precedented. The enclosing walls besides the National Theater and National Concert Hall were removed in 2003. Architect Cheng-Chung Yao used the space to include the theater and the concert hall with bookstores, fountains, coffee shops, outdoor performance area, and visitor centers. The open space becomes a nice place for people to enjoy at their leisure time, to attend the performance, to buy books, and to drink a cup of coffee. Because of the example, the core question in 'removing or not removing' should never be focusing on the disparity of the two parties. The core question should be focusing on whether removing the walls strengthens the social network in our society or not.

Prometheus thought even though politicians think the memorial hall is a political symbol, 'to most people, it is simply a place for dating, jogging, and strolling.'

How's sketch book also pointed out the same contradiction:
中正紀念堂作為威權的權威象徵,從仿中國宮殿的建築本體、週邊的空間配置(花園、廣場),到空間的使用(除了現在的兩廳院)處處流露著象徵符號。但有趣的 是,1980年落成的中正紀念堂,他本身的存在竟是如此尷尬。有多少人會去看蔣介石的銅像?去看蔣中正的文物?城市市民賦予中正紀念堂的是雲門、是樂儀旗 隊、是熱舞、是花燈、是演唱會...甚至是解嚴前後政治運動的基地:在蔣 家中正大廟底下,要蔣家交出壟斷的政治資源。這是一種多妙的嘲諷與記憶象徵。
並不是把深宮大院中正廟改成「台灣民主紀念館」 ,就代表我們珍惜所謂的「民主」了。拆掉圍牆,就空間而言的確會更有穿透性,但是不是有穿透性的空間就代表他是一個友善的,讓人可以沉浸在裡面的空間?

Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall is a symbol of authoritarian regime. It mimics the Chinese palace-like building, from the surrounding (gardens and the square) to the space usage. The interesting thing is, the existence of the memorial hall, built in 1980, is itself very embarrassing. How many people would go there to view Chiang Kai-Shek's statue or browse the exhibition of the stuff Chiang Kai-Shek used before? The civilians visited the place for Cloud Gate Dance Theater, music, dance, lanterns, and concerts. It is also a place for democratic activities. It is a cynical memory that people gathered at the place which symbolizes authoritarian regime and asked authority to hand over the monopolized politics power.

Changing the name from Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall to Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall does not mean how we cherish what is so-called 'democracy'. Removing the enclosing walls may make the space more transparent, but it cannot promise a friendly place where people would love to immerse themselves in.

Focus on Taiwan has similar opinion toward 'Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall':

'Democracy' is in the present progressive tense, and there is no need to set a memorial hall to build other icons. I think the people who fought for democracy would not want to be memorized in this mausoleum-like place.

From a different perspective, George Lee concerned the tourism function of the place:
中正紀念堂已經是觀光客來台北的大景點之一了。許多外國朋友來到台北,除了故宮和小吃以外,通常也都會詢問中正紀念堂的交通方式、遊園路線。即使 蔣中正罪大惡極,那麼留著中正紀念堂也無礙史官撥亂反正,甚至更能當作當年威權統治的罪證。貿然改名,只是徒自讓台北市少了吸引觀光客的賣點,讓鄰近商家 和小販生意直線下落而已。

It is a major tourism spot in Taipei. In addition to visiting National Palace Museum and eat some delicious dishes, foreigners often ask about the transportation to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall and the route to walk around. Even if Chiang Kai-Shek is guilty of the most heinous crime, keeping the memorial hall will not interfere historians' work in finding the truth. Moreover, it could be used as the evidence to prove his authoritarian regime. Changing name could result in one less tourism spot and affect the business around.

About the enclosing walls, bloggers also have different feelings.

Zonble pointed out that on Yuan-Hsiao Festival, lanterns are hang on the corridors. The current design keeps the lanterns from the rain, and the windows on the walls can deflect the light to the other side of the walls to form a 'light corridor.'
在元宵節的時候,你可以看到,因為圍牆內部就是迴廊,而迴廊上頭可 以懸掛燈籠,迴廊有屋頂,所以燈籠可以因此不受雨淋,而圍牆上的造型窗戶同時又可以將燈光透射到外頭,從信義路或是愛國東路經過時,你會覺得自己走過一道光廊。

On the other hand, Life's basketball field said, 'when I ride my motorcycle there, I need to walk around the enclosing wall to find the entrance after I park. Every time I walk around the wall, the idea of climbing the wall is always in my mind. I really think the walls obstruct the sight and they are better to be removed.'

After Taipei City Government made the memorial hall as 'temporary national monument,' bloggers questioned the motivation for the action. The island left behind said:
看到「暫定古蹟」四個字,我第一個聯想到的是到現在遲遲無法定案的樂生療養院。第二個想到的,是台北市政府的邏輯不知為何?1925年由士紳合資興建的大龍峒孔廟圍牆要拆,而整整晚了55 年,1980 年建立的中正廟圍牆卻突然成了古蹟?

When I saw the words 'temporary national monument,' the first thing that came to my mind was Lo-Sheng Sanatorium. Then I want to question the logic of setting national monument. The enclosing walls of Confucius Temple in Dalongdong, which were built in 1925, were removed, but the Cheng Kei-Shek Memorial Hall, built in 1980, becomes a national monument.

Trace said, 'to claim their right to govern the place, the current rulers need to affirm themselves by denying the previous ruler.

Hopefully the politicians will take an action that is not only good for their political party but also good for the people. After all, in our county, the civilians are supposed to be the one who has the power instead of an emperor, a dictator, or a political party winning the previous election.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Yuan-Hsiao Festival: carry a lantern, play firecrackers, and worship deities

Nowadays, people in Taiwan start working in the fifth day after lunar new year eve. However, in tradition, the 15th day, Yuan-Hsiao Festival, is the the last day of the holidays.

Based on Alanruo, these full-moon festivals are related to the productive cycles in agriculture. At the start of spring, Yuan-Hsiao Festival is full of the expectancy for life, and this is why farmers hope for abundant harvest, women hope for children, and singles gather together during this festival.


(It might be true: Yuan-Hsiao Festival this year is March 3rd, Valentine's Day is Feb 14th, and Mardi Gra is Feb 20th.)

Because the sound of 'lantern' (Deng) in Chinese is similar to 'man' (Ding), raising lantern means hoping for children.


In Taipei, we have yearly lantern demonstration. You can watch the major lantern here. If you watch it carefully, you can see a Farris wheel, Taipei 101, and a circling train. If you think it is not modern enough, how about this lantern? The major producer of this Gundam lantern, bean20, spent two and half months building the lantern with the help of 11 people.

People also go to the mountains to send 'Tien-Deng.' The origin of this tradition is Ping-Hsi, Taipei County. In the past, 'Tien-Deng' is a safety signal for families. Nowadays, it is a messenger to the deities. If you are not satisfied in watching people sending 'Tien-Deng', how about sending your own 'Tien-Deng' on line? Do not forget to write down your wishes in the blank area.

Although people enjoy this activity, Alhorn observed the poor dog lanterns last year (last year is 'dog year'). Alhorn said, 'the life of these lanterns is shorter than the time we need to develop the film.'


Alanruo talked about the old tradition of carrying the paper lanterns with candles:

When we carry the lanterns with candles, and when the lanterns are burnt, it is a lucky sign because the sound of 'burn a lantern' (Chu-Deng) is similar to the sound of 'bear a child' (Chu-Ding) in Chinese. If we use batteries and light bulbs, we will produce pollution that lasts for thousands of years.


'Tien Deng' also raises serious safety concerns. weatherman said, 'this activity has serious public safety problems. I recommend that our government should make people more aware of the danger, and we can reduce unnecessary loss. People should know that we do have regulations for this activity, and we have responsibility for our 'Tien-Deng' if it affects public safety, airplane navigation, environment protection, or other disasters.'


While the northern Taiwanese lighted up the lanterns, the southern Taiwanese tried to use firecrackers to expel bad luck.

Yen-Shui, a small town in the plain, and one of the major harbors in Taiwan three hundreds years ago. In 1882, many people died from a plague. After asking the 'Kuan-Kung' (one of the major deities), people decided to walk the statues of the deities and set firecrackers. The plague was controlled after the ceremony, so this activity is held every year thereafter.

If you think we use normal firecrackers, you are wrong. The firecrackers in Yen-Shui is called wasp-firecrackers. Local people always spend a lot of money making or buying firecrackers, and then they will set them toward the statues of the deities. Because they have the largest and the wildest firecrackers in Taiwan, young people will wear helmets that protect the whole head and clothes that cover the whole body and walk close to the statues to feel the crazy firecrackers. This year, they even built the longest (13 km) firecracker in the world, which is called 'the legend of fire dragon.' (It only took 45 mins to burn out!)

In addition to carrying a lantern and playing firecrackers, we worship the deities. You can hear traditional music in the ceremonies in Alanruo's blog. She also described the ceremonies:

Yuan-Hsiao Festival is the birthday of an important deity. In addition to worshiping the deities, the temples also take care the need of the ghosts. They will hold 'Pu-Du' (ceremony) that give food to the ghosts emblematically and then give the food to the people.


Think this is old-style? How about deities dancing with electronic music? In an ancient story, the third prince (Nézhā) is a naughty boy. In recent years, the third prince is the first deity embrace electronic music and dance. In Siddhartha's blog, some people left messages to support this change, while some people disliked it.

About reviving traditional ceremonies, cwyuni has another idea:

I feel I have the responsibility to stand out for the deities who protect us. I should plan a series of festival activities that young people will enjoy. I propose that next time when the third prince has his birthday or Ma-Tsu begins her patrol, we should gather in the temples to count down. After midnight, we can celebrate by eating the food that worshiped the deities. We can take the incense besides the can-mountains and give each other a train ticket from Yung-Pao to An-Kang (meant for 'be peace and healthy forever). At last, we can eat two pieces of Wang-Wang cookies, raise hands toward the sky, and shout 'Wang-Wang' (meant for prosperity) instead of 'Happy New Year' or 'Merry Xmas'!

我覺得有使命為平常有拜有保庇的眾神明挺身而出,策劃一系列年輕人也可以同樂的節慶活動。建議下回三太子李哪吒作壽或是媽祖她老人家出巡, 我們不妨齊聚全省各大廟宇倒數,過了午夜大啖素雞素鴨或大茂黑瓜以示慶祝,罐頭山旁邊捻一炷清香互送「永保安康」車票祈福,最後嚼兩片旺旺仙貝,張開雙臂 對天空大喊一聲「旺旺!」取代「Happy New Year!」或是「Merry Xmas!」