A Taiwanese folk song that I grew up with, performed at a concert last night in London! How incredibly warm it felt to hear that in UK. .
I was lucky enough to be invited to the event organised by Taipei Representative in UK (the equivalent of an embassy really-- political stuff). I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere in UK with THAT many Taiwanese people in one room!! All but 2 pieces on the entire programme were Taiwanese folk songs, with lyrics in Taiwanese/Hokkien— that was very special to me. My dad has always sung and played the harmonica a lot at home; we are very proud Taiwanese, so these songs were, and are, hugely important to us. .
The Taiwan when I was growing up was a very different one: when I was in primary school, the Nationalist government would have us paying forfeit for speaking Taiwanese/Hokkien at school!! Last night, my tears burst bank when the song ‘Formosa My Motherland’ was played… It was beautiful, and it brought back the memories of the years of struggles for Taiwanese consciousness, identity and political representations, of “Formosa” being a word that you didn’t say for the fear of being marked out as a troublemaker (and one could ‘disappear’ for that)… One of the key events in that long struggle was the ‘Formosa Incident’, which happened in my hometown, which my parents nearly got arrested for being part of the peaceful demonstration. I remember them rushed in the house late one evening, seemed disturbed, dripping wet (water canon), coughing a lot (tear gas) and hurriedly locking the door and turning the lights out. .
Things have changed a lot in the last 20-something years. It wasn’t quite so easy to keep up with things on the other side of the world in the pre-internet days, and I remember once returning to visit and was horrified by some conversations my parents were having with people, thinking they were getting themselves into a lot of troubles, without realising how things had moved on. There was a Formosa Park, and a 228 Memorial Park… (“228 massacre Taiwan”—look it up! That was another huge taboo that we did not speak of in the old days!!) .
Running out of space, so will stop. .
LOVE Taiwan-- Formosa, my motherland!!