Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Commemoration of the 60th anniversary of 2-28 Massacre in Taiwan

In February the 27th of 1947, after China took over Taiwan, under Chiang Kai-Shek’s KuoMinTang, KMT regime, a tragic incident happened and some people were killed by the government officials. In Taipei, when Taiwanese asked the justice on 2/28/1947, most of them were killed or wound under the command of the governor. Later, hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians were killed by the army while some of them were important political figures, who tried hard to solve the conflict between the government and angry civilians. This incident started an arbitrary tyranny which had been oppressing Taiwanese for 50 years. (For more details about the following massacre in ChiaYi, you can check judie35's blog.)

To commemorate the death in 2/28/1947 and thereafter, February 28th is called Peace Memorial Day. Judie35 said, 'I agree with Yi-Hsiung Lin's opinion that we should not only focus on the governors from China or the conflict between Taiwanese and Chinese at that time. We should find the root of the massacre: the autarchy killed the people who wanted justice and the leaders of the people to assure its ruling. We should learn how to avoid autarchy from the heartrending history.'

In 2004, Hand-in-hand safeguard Taiwan alliance proposed 'a special event on 2/28.' That was the first time so many people went out for a peace march in Taiwan. At last, there were two million people and lined up for 500km. In a forum in China, static stone commented the event, 'Taiwanese are fooled by Chen, Shui-Ben. They asked for peace, but they do not know that we enforce the military force toward Taiwan because Chen's government is pro-independence. If they want peace, they should ask Chen to step down.' At the same time, Yuan-Shen Chiang wrote in his blog, 'I do not care if it is related to the presidential election later. I am happy I joined the event because I believe it is meaningful. We took actions to show our love for the place we live.'

This year, the 60th anniversary of the massacre, a group of local artists is set to commemorate 2/28 Peace Memorial Day with the staging of a music concert under the theme, "With justice we cure this nation." Renowned international rocks bands such as "Plastic People of the Universe," "Strike Anywhere," "Muse," "Akiakane," "Pan Gu," and local independent rock bands "Chthonic," "Tizzy Bac," "Loh Tsui Kweh Commune" will be among the groups performing live on February 28. Sound and fury said, 'They (Plastic People of the Universe) sing for rock, justice, democracy, and human dignity. Yes, they will show up in Taipei, and sing in a concert that reflect the autarchy. Isn't the event very suitable for their performance'

Outside of Taiwan, in USA, there is also a commemoration march from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C for five days (2/24-2/28).

On internet, Taiwanese bloggers first held 'the 228 Show Taiwan Writing Marathon' last year. It also drew major Taiwanese media's attention. Because of the success, they hold this event again this year.

Of course, there are some people bored by the commemoration. Huei-Hsien Peng (a Taiwanese writer) wrote, 'All the us still live in the curse of 228. The first generation of the victims contend their bitterness, and the second, the third generation continue. To what degree you will feel it is enough?' She also pointed out, 'led by the ruling party, the mind set behind the commemoration is so narrow that they focus on a specific group of people and a specific political party (KMT).' On the other hand, Fang-Chai Yeh Hua said, 'the With justice we cure this nation concert hope to raise the awareness of the transitional justice.' Sound and fury said, 'Samuel P. Hungtington, the author of The Third Wave: Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century, brought up a major problem for most developing countries—when a new democratic government face the killings made by the past autarchy, what should we do? Ask for justice and punishment, or forgive and forget?'

The people seeing 228 Massacre in 1947 and the oppression thereafter are 80 year-old now. Many victims ask the truth to be revealed and justice. Furthermore, Tofu fish wrote in her blog: we should try to adapt literature and art to let more people in this island understand and discuss what happened in the past. Through grass-roots efforts, someday there will be no need for indictment, and we can really make peace.'

If you like music, there are some music used in the Peace Memorial Day (228 commemoration day) concert: 'Taiwan the Green,' a poem written by John Jyigiokk, adapted by Tyzen Hsiao in his '1947 Overture', Je-Lin Hsieh singing 'Taiwan Lily', music by Anjamama and lyric by Kufao, and Hui-Ju Chen singing 'The Spiritual Day of Taiwan', music by Lynn Huang and lyric by Tu-Pan F. G.

If you like drawings, you can check the print 'horrid exam-228 incident in Taiwan' by Jung-Tsan Huang (in the Museum of Modern Art, Kamakura & Hayama), 'Massacre in Keelung harbor on 3/8/1947' by Bing-Shyi Shih, and an oil painting by Wen Ouyang, who is also a survivor of 228 Massacre.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Kevin Lin completed ultra-marathon across Sahara

After 111 days, Kevin Lin from Taiwan completed the ultra-marathon across Sahara desert, the largest desert in the world, on 2/20/2007 with other two runners.

This ultra-marathon was first proposed by Charlie Engle, who went to Matt Damon's production company (LivePlanet) to persuade them to film a documentary for it. This film documented not only the endurance to run the ultra-marathon, but also the nomadic people in Sahara desert and their daily struggle to find water. Another goal of the ultra-marathon is raising awareness for the clean water nonprofit group H2O Africa.

There are three runners, Charlie from USA, Kevin from Taiwan, and Ray Zahab from Canada. Their original plan was running 50 miles per day for 80 days (4000 miles in total) (the length for regular marathon is 26 miles). It began in Senegal, went across Mali, Niger, Libya, and ended in Egypt . The runners and their support team had to negotiate when they met treacherous terrain, including minefields, as well as risk of disease, war-torn regions and bureaucracy. A series of detours added more than 500 miles (800 km) to the route. They finally finished the ultra-marathon in 111 days for 4562 miles (7300 km).

In Kevin's website, 14 supporters from Taiwan went to Egypt and wrote diary about their journey. Some of them rented a car and met the runners in Salloum, Egypt on 2/12/2007 and ran a few miles with them later. They were excited about how the documentary group love their yellow T-shorts for this event. They said, 'although we only joined their trip for such a short time, we have learned how hard to live without water. We are happy to see that they finished this great work!'

Kevin is not tall (160 cm), and his father demanded him to study hard to earn a bachelor degree. However, Kevin chose to run marathon, and left home for running marathon. At the age of 15, Kevin brought a package to visit Ruei-Gen Pan and asked Pan to train him. Later, he entered Taipei physical education college. During his career in ultra-marathon, Ruei-Gen Pan is always his greatest support and adviser in these competitions.

Kevin's story encourages many Taiwanese. Confessor's lounge said that through blogging, more people will know his story about how we can create history.

On the other hand, Schee talked about why Kevin Lin had difficulty to find the financial support from our government or our society. He said 'ultra-marathon is too complicate to set standards for it. It is hard to say if IAAF will set a category for it in the future (note made by mountaineer: IAAF sanctions ultra-marathons). If the world governing body of track and field does not recognize it as a competition category, the competitors will face huge difficulty to find financial support.'

Spiritual awakening talked about how Kevin Lin open a window for Taiwan to the world:

We always hope through diplomatic methods Taiwan can be connected to the world. But now we have seen how Ang Lee in Oscar ceremony, Chien-Ming Wang in Yankee, and Kevin Lin can open a door for Taiwan to the world. When using diplomatic methods faces huge obstacles, maybe we can try softer ways to reach our goal. For example, our culture and athelects.

There is a movie about the Taipei 24-hr ultra-marathon in 2000 that many Taiwanese bloggers shared with each other after Kevin Lin came back from Egypt.

If you are interested in how Kevin faces the difficulty of ultra-marathon, he recorded his life in his blog, including running ultra-marathon in Golbi in 2006 and Sahara this year. Now he is planning for the rock and ice ultra-marathon in Yellowknife, Canada this March. This time, there will be three Taiwanese run with him. Good luck and take care!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Flying saucer houses in Taiwan

Desolation row

Desolation row

Photographed by CantikFoto

In Green Bay, Taipei County, there are some abandoned houses. Because of their outlook, the name 'flying saucer houses' are known for many people in that area.

Based on Echo-Maan , who lived in that area decades ago, the houses were built by Tian-Gong Industry Co. for resorts or vacation houses around 30 years ago. When it was still famous, YAMAHA would hold rock music festival there for the whole summer there.

Riverbank518 said, 'they look like Plug-in city built by Archigram in UK or modern buildings built by Metabolism in Japan.'

However, Echo-Maan said, 'they were not finished, and no one knows who designed them. Although the view is attractive, the wind is strong and the buildings could not provide enough protection for the residents. At last, the houses are abandoned.

Although they are abandoned, and some local people hope it can be removed, some people from other countries love these houses because of the imagination. Like what Riverbank518 said, they are 'abandoned by aliens.'

Monday, February 5, 2007

Nowhere in Africa and Whale Rider

First published in PChome (2004/1).

The director of Nowhere in Africa is Caroline Link. She is also the director of Beyond Silence. The director of Whale Rider is Niki Caro (also directed North Country).

When I watched these films directed by female directors recently, I was amazed at the differences between films directed by male and female directors. Of course, the biggest difference is how they describe how women feel and think. This is difficult for a male director -- if you are not a fish, it is very difficult to know what a fish thinks. On the other hand, generally speaking, up to now I feel that the female directors process how humans (not only women) feel and think and change more carefully.

If we compare Whale Rider and Nowhere in Africa, the later describes women with more details and from more different perspectives: being a daughter, being a wife, being a lover, and being a mother.

Even if the two films have incited sections, they are the results of full development of the characters. For example, in Whale Rider, we can see the personality of the girl and her grandfather: how the grandfather has such contradict emotion toward the girl (love her but try to ignore her because she is a girl), and how the girl loves his grandfather. At the last minute, when his grandfather no longer tries to ignore her because she is a girl, when he finally admits that he loves her, and when we saw how Maori people loves the whales and the nature, we understand what it is and cry because we feel something similar in ourselves.

In Nowhere in Africa, the character of the leading actress (the mother) has been portrayed with lots of work. Especially when love and trust for her husband is lost, what will she chooses? The soft but intermingling dilemma is hard to be touched.

In addition to women, how a Jewish German in Africa faces the change of history is also a dilemma. They want to recognize German as homeland but cannot. They want to recognize Africa as homeland but cannot. They may want to patronize the aboriginal people, or they may want to be freinds with the aboriginal people. This is how we view ourselves. This is how we deal with the dilemma about what we are and what we want to be. This is how we think happiness is. The immortal tenacity in humans makes the film, not a tragedy, still distillate our fear and hate into compassion.

At last, I want to talk about how the directors deal with the culture that is not the culture they used to live with. It can not be done with only thorough study on the culture. The audience observes the culture through the director’s eyes. The director must really like the culture, and the audience will like this culture through the lens. In Whale Rider, Maori dance is very cute. In Nowhere in Africa, we are also attracted by the mysterious ceremonies and how African deal with life.