Article and photos by Lenora A. Hayman
“World in an Island”- the 19th annual Telus Taiwan Festival was held at Vancouver’s Plaza of Nations during Canada's Labour Day Weekend. The three day festival offered something for all tastes: entertainment, crafts and food. Participants had all been flown in from Taiwan. A huge screen at the back of the stage, televised the live events and was visible throughout much of the Plaza of Nations.
The Amis, are the largest group of the recognized 14 aboriginal tribes of Taiwan. The Amis Kakeng musical group Return to Innocence, dressed in red, blue and pink beaded costumes produced beautiful sounds on traditional bamboo drums and instruments.
The Shu Te Cultural Performance Arts Group from Shu Te Commercial High School in Kaohsiung showcased not only graceful dances using fans and green umbrellas but also a juggling bartender.
My friends stayed to watch the Chai Found Music Group, the Eastern Legends, play a combination of Rock’n roll and Shizhu music on 6 traditional Chinese instruments, the pipa, the erha, the di, the guzheng, the yangqin and the ruanxian.
However I headed for the culinary tent to see “What’s Cooking” with Chefs Yung-Yu Yen and Siu Man Lau from Taipei’s landmark The Grand Hotel in Taiwan. The Grand Hotel was built in 1952 for hosting foreign dignitaries. Later the new wing, resembling a Ming Emperor’s palace with its glorious, vermillion pillared entrance and marble staircase was added and opened to the public. Apparently, at that time, Madam Chiang Kai Shek(Soong Mei-ling) requested all Grand Hotel profits go to charity. We were shown a rose and white jade appetizer with smoked salmon rolled in the shape of a flower accompanied with scallops and asparagus, followed by a scrambled egg dish with preserved, dried radish - simple but gourmet dishes.
The Eco-Arts exhibition re-used old material to create an integrated wooden tray and also natural resources, pounding mulberry bark into tapa cloth for decorative clothes.
Members of the Western Canada Taiwanese Artists Association, led by Lucy Lu, exhibited watercolours, showing their love of nature. Shya-fen Tsai Billington had a vibrant painting of Canadian maple trees.
A series of photos showed the diversity of Taiwan Aboriginals who perhaps have lived in Taiwan 8000 years before the 17th century migration of the Han Chinese. It’s believed that the Taiwan Aborigines are Austronesian with language and genetic bonds to Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Madagascar and Oceania.
The Taiwan Uncensored section told of the legacies of the Dutch, Spanish and Japanese rulers. I met Dr Paul Lin, a painter and medical doctor from the Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taipei.
Dr. George Leslie Mackay(1844-1901) born in Zorra, Ontario, Canada was sent by the Presbyterian church in 1871, as a medical missionary to join English missionaries in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. However with no missionaries in northern Taiwan, Mackay arrived in Tamsui in 1872 to establish churches and introduce western medicine, free of charge. At his Mackay clinic he pulled 21,000 teeth in 30 years, treated malaria and leg abscesses and was the first in the world to diagnose liver fluke in a human body.
Dr. Mackay also built the Tamsui Girls’ school and the Oxford College. Dr. Geo. Mackay died in 1901.The Mackay Hospital was closed in 1912, relocated to Taipei and called the Mackay Memorial Hospital. In honour of the Canadian Dr. George Mackay, Dr. Paul Lin was commissioned to do 14 paintings which will be transformed into mosaics in the entrance of the hospital. I saw 7 depicting Dr .MacKay’s life, including his acting in a Chinese opera, and 7 showing the continuing good work of the hospital, closing cleft palates and treating burn victims.
A new opera The Black Bearded Bible Man” based on Dr. George MacKay’s life will be staged at the National Theatre in Taipei from Nov. 27-30, 2008.
In the evening I met Romita, a true fan of the Wu Bai and China Blue Rock and Roll concert. Previously she had seen them in San Francisco, Los Angeles and twice in Taiwan. Now for the 5th time she had flown up from Los Angeles and joined her friend Lourdes from Seattle for a gal’s weekend. What a night, as we danced with our fluorescent wands to Wu Bai, referred to as the “Bruce Springsteen of Taiwan and the Emperor of Rock”.
Article and Pictures by Lenora Hayman
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Last Updated on November 10, 2008 by M. Maxine George editor.
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