Monday, November 29, 2010

Locally made with quality and care

In the tiny island nation of Fiji, there is a company that makes high-end furniture from a local palm tree wood. Its designed beauty and utility make it desirable the world over.

If a company in Fiji can thrive, those in the much larger island nation of Taiwan should be able to do so. Rather than buying that cheap furniture imported from China, which carelessly uses up timber of even rare species of trees from the tropics, Taiwan has the creativity and skill sets to locally produce more of its own high quality furniture. Industries like this will keep the young folks of Taiwan from having to move to China to get jobs.

Consider: Certainly students in cheap temporary housing will not buy expensive pieces of furniture, but many in Taiwan are moving in to high-end apartments and wish to buy lasting and beautiful interiors. Builders and architects with this kind of clientele could easily build into the design interiors made in Taiwan.

Taiwan's government would have to provide some careful monitoring and reasonable regulation to ensure greed does not drive people to unsustainable logging. Likewise, they would have to actively prosecute fraudulent labeling of products that actually were made in China instead of Taiwan.

Even more than the government, the building and design companies themselves could monitor their product sources to certify the origin of the interior furnishings.

And local companies who produce the furniture could band together to ensure the accuracy of labeling.

Since part of the marketing plan of these high-end fully-furnished homes would be to provide the customer with the satisfaction of knowing the interiors are made in their home country of Taiwan, the incentive of pleasing the customer would provide a motivating self interest in making sure these products are locally-made and sustainable.

Establishing this kind of high-end locally-made interiors certification would create a new industry and jobs base as not only furniture, but lighting, fabric, rugs, pottery, utensils etc. all are made in Taiwan.

Some of the rich after luxurious lifestyles will not care where things are made (or even prefer imports from Europe). But a significant percentage may prefer to buy locally, and China cannot compete with that no matter how many environmental corners they cut, or how cheaply the almost slave-level labor they can squeeze from their citizens.

It will take Taiwanese companies with vision, creativity, quality control, and good marketing to be successful.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Face of Taiwan -- Welcoming the World

The following videos welcoming visitors to Taiwan have something in common: they do not obsess about supposed "Chinese-ness" of the nation of Taiwan -- but instead they focus on Taiwan, itself. Gone are the old-guard fascist Chinese KMT era symbols of the ROC imported from China. It is refreshing to see Taiwanese delight in Taiwan for itself.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

International Conferences on Taiwanese Literature -- Did you know about them?

Searching the blog links on the Siá Tâi-oân ê Oē "Write Taiwan's Languages" website, I belatedly found out about an international conference on Taiwanese Literature hosted this past weekend on October 23 and 24th. The site, reports on this years events and also links to prior years' 2005-2009 conferences.

Here is the title: "2010 Tē 6 kài Tâi-gí bûn-ha̍k kok-tsè ha̍k-su̍t gián-thó-huē." You'll note two things from the title:
1. They are using the Ministry of Education romanization instead of the more wide-spread POJ. This is particularly strange since most Taiwanese Literature is written in POJ. Fortunately, the MOE romanization so closely follows POJ that the reader of one can easily adjust to the other.
2. Note also that these conference organizers knew English well enough to capitalize the entire title in English, but did not have any specific standard for capitalization of Taiwanese. Probably, the conference title should have been done as follows: "2010 Tē 6 kài Tâi-gí Bûn-ha̍k Kok-tsè Ha̍k-su̍t Gián-thó-huē"

We would like to resoundingly cheer on these efforts and make the above notes to illustrate how the work needs to continue so we have completely functional and standardized writing systems for all of Taiwan's non-Mandarin languages. We hope there will be new literature and new conferences in the other languages of Taiwan.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Register Now for the Taiwan Culture and History Camp/Tour

We wanted to recommend to everyone:
1. Even if you are living in Taiwan, or if you might not classify yourself as "youth", you are welcome to register.
2. Please remember the October 8 registration deadline.
3. This event has hosted many very excellent speakers including one famous Austronesian author.
4. Even if you have visited a lot of the sites in Taiwan, joining this event is worthwhile. Even while on the bus, there are a lot of discussions regarding Taiwan's history and cultures. The Foundation tries to keep the registration fees very low, and subsidizes the cost.


Dear Friends:

The Tsunah Foundation has launched its Eleventh International Youth Culture Tour of Taiwan program. This is a great opportunity for young International Taiwanese, who are at least 18 years old and were born and/or grew up outside of Taiwan, to get to know more about their motherland. I hope you, your children, or your friends who qualify will enroll in this wonderful program. Please also help relaying this great news by forwarding this information to your friends, members of your organizations, and people in your local Taiwanese communities, or by posting this letter on your web-site and/or establishing the link from your web-site to Tsunah Foundation’s web-site,

The highlights of this year’s program are listed below.

1. This special November’s tour lasts seven days & six nights (11/08/10-11/14/10).
2. The cost is $650 per person excluding the airplane ticket cost.
3. There is a scholarship program for the participants.

This year, the group will visit the beautiful I-Lan County scenic sites and stay in the Tsunah Center and its dormitory facility for the first two days. Then, the group will go on an around-the-island tour along the island’s most beautiful east coast to Taroko National Park, Hualien, Taitung and Kaohsiung, then back to Taipei, visiting sites of historical and cultural interest, and having some fun at the same time.

Please visit the Tsunah Foundation’s web site, for detailed information and updates.

The deadline for the enrollment is October 08, 2010. However, it is strongly recommended that interested people register as soon as possible due to limited availability. The airplane ticket is also increasingly difficult to find after August due to airlines reduction of flights.

I am looking forward to your participation and/or help. Please don’t hesitate to e-mail or call me for any question.

Best Regards,
Justina Wu

Tsunah Foundation
(858) 456-1258





這個十一月八日到十一月十四日的英文台灣文化之旅是今年我們第一次嘗試舉辦的,但也可能是唯一的一次。請不要錯過這個難能可貴的機會。US$650的旅費包括您七天的全部費用,吃、住、交通費及參觀景點的門票等。報名表及相關中英文詳情,請上慈林基金會的網站 瀏覽及下傳。


Justina Wu
Tsunah Foundation
The Tsunah Foundation (慈林基金會) was founded in March 1991. Its roots, however, extend back further to a tragedy in 1980, when Mr. and Mrs. Lin I-Hsiung (林義雄) and Su-Min (方素敏) lost their mother, Lin-Yu Ah-Mei, and their twin daughters, Lien Chiun and Tin Chiun, to a politically motivated assassination. Soon after Mr. Lin was released from the political imprisonment, Mr. and Mrs. Lin were exiled from Taiwan. Out of the depths of their grief for their loved ones, and for their separation from their homeland, Mr. and Mrs. Lin found new life and new hope, for themselves and for Taiwan. Eleven years later, the establishment of the Tsunah Foundation in Taiwan was, and remains today, their expression of that hope. The Tsunah Foundation has two missions: (1) to promote the values of empathy, love, and respect for all people, and (2) to promote cultural activities, and foster the development of a community of culturally enlightened, caring Taiwanese citizens.

Posts from facebook... that show Taiwanese culture

Kin-á-ji̍t sī Peh-go̍eh-cheh. Góa tńg-gōa-ke khòaⁿ pē-bú. Góa chah nn̄g-pau ka-pi hō͘ in, soah-bóe--á ōaⁿ chi̍t-tui mi̍h-kiāⁿ tò-tńg-lâi. Lāng kóng cha-bó͘-kiáⁿ-chha̍t tio̍h-sī án-ne. :)

今仔日是八月節, 我轉外家看爸母. 我扎兩包咖啡乎in, 煞尾仔換一堆物件倒轉來, 人講查某囝賊著是按呢. :)

It's moon festival day today, i went back to my parents' place to visit them. i brought them 2 packs of coffee beans, but when i left, they gave me plenty of things, well, it is what "daughter thief" exactly means. :)

- Marcie Lee, Taipei, TAIWAN

Monday, September 20, 2010

Use your own language.

Unashamedly celebrating one's own language and culture in Taiwan.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Metropolis Now: Top global cities

Foreign Policy magazine included Taipei in the list of the worlds top global cities. Hopefully, the magazine will investigate Kaohsiung next time when compiling its Global Cities Index.

Any thoughts on how to improve FP's ranking methodology? I did not see very much about freedom versus human rights violations, oppression, or crime. Nor was pollution much of a consideration, it seems. Note that some of the cities mentioned as top global cities also ranked as cities with the world's worst traffic. So this ranking most definitely does not assess which are the best cities to live.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Do you need the pinch of the crab?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Examples of Videos needed in Taiwan

Danny & Annie from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

Calling on creative Taiwanese young professionals, college and high school students to interview old farmers or Austronesian village elders and record their thoughts to make short videos like this one. It will be a wealth of richness of culture and connection with Taiwan's peoples and past, present and future.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Writing Camps -- a good way to start

"Academics were invited to teach the Seediq members how to use their own writing system and grammar structures in creative writings."
"... invited elders to describe community life in the old days to inspire participants to create their own works."

"Now that a writing system is available, it is an urgent task for the Seediq as well as other indigenous groups to document and preserve their culture in writing."

Resource: Atayalic language family

Embarrassed to speak Paiwan among Paiwan classmates who only speak Mandarin...

An example of how destructive the Mandarin-only education system is to native cultures.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Posting Facebook updates in a non-Mandarin language of Taiwan

We've been happy to notice an upswing recently in the number of facebook status updates posted in a non-Mandarin language of Taiwan.

Following are two status updates recently seen. These update create a lot of interest and comment by facebook friends of those posting these status updates.

Chit-ê sī góa khǹg--teh piān-só ê chú-pn̄g-tâi, in-ūi góa-ê piān-só siuⁿ-tōa, só͘-í ū chi̍t-ê só͘-chāi ōe-tàng chú-pn̄g mā-sī ū-thang :)

A very important experience in Taiwan where real estate prices are very high is to maximize the use of space. Basically, the status update translates, "I put this kitchen shelf in my bathroom because my bathroom is too big and there is a useful space for cooking."

16 comments followed this post. Such a post is an excellent way to get a younger generation interested in reading and writing in the non-Mandarin languages of Taiwan. People will feel like it is short enough to attempt to read it even when it looks so alien not written using Mandarin Chinese characters.

A second post states, "Gín-á tōa-hàn chin kín, ū-tām-po̍h m̄-kam :)" It got twelve comments. Among them was one replying in written Taiwanese: Góa mā-sī án-ne siūⁿ. Lán ta̍k-kang liān-si̍p chi̍t-kù, hó-bò?

How can they type? There are now several software input options available. You can find links at as well as

Also, in a new development, the Maryknoll Language Center has posted an entire Taiwanese-English and an English-Taiwanese dictionary online at

Monday, June 14, 2010

Identifying with Taiwan in Music

Non-mandarin music video:

(Thanks to Kungwan and Tim Maddog for the referal.)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Shared by one young Taiwanese woman: "This song came into my brain lately, it's so beautiful, it talks about a man was far away from home , the sunset reminds him about his hometown, the song was forbidden during White Terror of Taiwan"

1987年7月15日中國國民黨結束了在台灣實行世界上最長的38年戒嚴,今年適滿20週年。  2007年11月11日晚間行政院新聞局繼高雄、台中在台北縣三重市主辦的禁歌演唱會,包括呂副總統、行政院長張俊雄、行政院秘書長陳景峻等都親自到場,共同欣賞這些曾經被禁的台語老歌。

Monday, June 7, 2010

Following Sting

Pop singers and songwriters in Taiwan can -- either -- crudely parrot empty patterns of pulp content, melodic lines, and lyrics as predictable as the smell of durian by day and stinky tofu in the night market -- or -- they can use their fame and fortune for something more deep and lasting. Aren't you tired of performing the endless iterations of "I'm such a cute and possibly hot babe!" or "I'm so cool a dude that you'll swoon!"? Turn away from such boring blather and instead fill your songs with lyrics from poems and languages of the rich history and cultural heritage of your island nation.

You can take good poetic lines of, for example, the three Chinese-derived languages of Taiwan -- Mandarin, Taiwanese, or Hakka verses -- and combine them with Austronesian choruses to make beautiful music. In so doing all the languages are given honor and a renewed interest can be kindled in those that are being lost. And with that combination don't forget to marinate with the rhythms and music of these other cultures.

There is another island nation half way across the world where you find such richness in pop music. Consider an exquisite song of the world-famous recording artist - Sting. It is entitled, "Christmas at Sea."

The verses are adapted from an English poem of the great Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson
The chorus comes from a traditional Scots Gaelic song. (Scots Gaelic is a language under threat of being lost as more and more of the younger generation learn English in the schools in Scotland. See any parallels here in Taiwan?)

The themes of English verse and Scots Gaelic chorus ring convergent: in the lines of the verses, Stevenson's expresses the longing of a seaman to be home on Christmas day; in the chorus, the traditional Scots Gaelic song leads with "Thograinn thograinn bhith dol dhachaidh" "I wish I were going home."

Sting and Mary Macmaster composed the music to fuse these expressions in two beautiful languages of the one great theme of human longing.

Many who listen to this song will then go on to read more of Robert Louis Stevenson, and respect Scots Gaelic as a precious gem.

Taiwanese artists could do the same.
But it takes an educated artist. And it is ironic that in Taiwan where parents place such a high value on education, the educated artist is scarce. He or she may know the latest fashion trend of clothes, makeup and hair, but do even a few in this younger generation really know much about their own history and cultural heritage?

The artist must take the time to learn about his own cultural history, folk songs, and writers of the past -- and also, learn to respect those of another culture and language in Taiwan -- for he most certainly has learned very little of this in Taiwan's schools.

Of Taiwan's recording artists, who will rise above the infantile drivel out there? Fighting against pragmatism will win through to lasting depth of beauty.

Don't believe me? Take a listen.

Here's a good lower sound-quality live performance:

Download it from iTunes. Listen to it some more.
Does it not make you long to know more about the sailing culture and economics of Britain in the past? British poets? More Scots Gaelic songs?

Oh, in case you are interested: Sting's song lyrics:

"Christmas at Sea"

All day we fought the tide between the North Head and the South
All day we hauled the frozen sheets to 'scape the storm's wet mouth
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

Gu Sgoirebreac a chruidh chaisfhinn (To Scorrybreck of the white-footed cattle)
E ho ro e ho ro
Ceud soraidh bhuam mar bu dual dhomh (The first blessing from me, as is my right)
E ho he ri ill iu o
Ill iu o thograinn falbh

Thograinn Thograinn
Thograinn thograinn bhith dol dhachaidh (I wish I were going home)
E ho ro e ho ro

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard:

We saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red firse were burning bright in every 'longshore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vowed we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it's just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard's was the house were I was born.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.

Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, Music by Sting and Mary Macmaster
Scots Gaelic.
 The traditional Scottish song 'Thograinn Thograinn' is a women's working-song from the Isle of Skye.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Happy Lunar New Year!

Remember to use the words "Lunar" New Year in your greeting instead of "Chinese" New Year -- since this lunar new year is celebrated in many nations outside of China including Korea, Japan and Taiwan.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Watched Avatar? -- Now see something closer to home this Spring: Formosa Betrayed

2/26 - 2/28
New York Metro
Los Angeles
Orange County
Bay Area / East Bay and Peninsula
San Jose

3/5 – 3/7
Washington DC and Metro
San Diego

3/12 - 3/14

3/19 - 3/21
St. Louis
Kansas City

3/26 - 3/28
Columbus, OH
Detroit/Ann Arbor