Ketagalan Media http://www.ketagalanmedia.com Ideas and Trends Between Asia and the World Sat, 24 Jun 2017 12:55:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 https://i0.wp.com/www.ketagalanmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Ketagalan-Project-Logo-Plain-1-255-pixels.jpg?fit=32%2C32 Ketagalan Media http://www.ketagalanmedia.com 32 32 63910900 The Balancing Act: A Pastor’s Life Journey Finding Harmony Between His Christian and Homosexual Identities http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/24/balancing-act-pastors-life-journey-finding-harmony-christian-homosexual-identities/ http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/24/balancing-act-pastors-life-journey-finding-harmony-christian-homosexual-identities/#respond Sat, 24 Jun 2017 09:44:11 +0000 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/?p=26207 Taiwan’s Christian community has been more vocal and visible than ever in the past 18 months, as the topic of marriage equality continues to be at the center of social discussion. Making up roughly 4.5% of the total population, the conservative factions within the Christian community put up a fierce battle with the pro marriage […]

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Taiwan’s Christian community has been more vocal and visible than ever in the past 18 months, as the topic of marriage equality continues to be at the center of social discussion. Making up roughly 4.5% of the total population, the conservative factions within the Christian community put up a fierce battle with the pro marriage equality activists, featuring large scale protests and aggressive information campaigns in the media that attempt to derail the momentum of the marriage equality movement while trying to win over support from undecided citizens through often misleading statements.

Their relentless efforts result in a general portrayal in the media that the Christian community is against marriage equality, putting some progressive Christians in an awkward position. However, this tricky situation doesn’t stop Pastor Joseph Chang of Taipei’s True Light Gospel Church from continuing his support for marriage equality and the LGBTQ movement. After all, it has long been his lifelong mission to find the balance between his Christian and homosexual identities.

Finding the Meaning of Being a Homosexual Christian

Growing up in a Christian household with both of his parents working for the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, Chang realized that he was gay when he graduated high school in 1993, around the same time as the beginning of Taiwan’s LGBTQ movement. With a strong urge to gain more knowledge about homosexuality, Chang referred to relevant books in libraries and bookstores. To his surprise, most of the information was conservative or negative, making it hard for him to be convinced that homosexuality is the result of traumatic life experiences.

“Most of the information on books considered homosexuality as a result of domestic violence, parental divorce, or sexual harassment,” said Chang. “Since I never went through these traumatic life experiences, it was hard for me to be convinced by those theories.”

Chang started to join some LGBTQ groups when he studied at National Cheng Chi University (NCCU), and founded the school’s first LGBTQ club in 1994, during his sophomore year. To him, founding the club was a way to contribute to the nationwide LGBTQ movement.

“In the mid-1990s, students were considered intellectuals in Taiwanese society, so I wanted to find a way to contribute to society,” said Chang. “I helped organize some small-scale events, and took part in the initial Taipei Pride Parade, which was basically marching around 228 Memorial Park with college students from other universities.”

After befriending a student leader from another university’s LGBTQ club in 1995, Chang and his friend decided to establish a support system for LGBTQ Christian students in Taipei. With the help of Reverend Yang, a female pastor returning from Chicago, they founded a Christian fellowship for LGBTQ individuals, and began to recruit members online.

“We named it the Jonathan Fellowship, and successfully recruited 12 people for our first gathering, “ said Chang. “We quickly grew to around 40 to 50 people after a year, so in 1996, we decided to turn the fellowship into an LGBTQ church, which became the Tong-Kwang Lighthouse Presbyterian Church.”

However, as the LGBTQ community just started to be more visible in society, paparazzi for tabloid magazines would try to secretly capture the lives and culture of homosexual individuals in gay bars or public parks. To Chang, the media’s portrayal of the LGBTQ community wasn’t really positive, and in order to avoid members of the church being outed through media coverage, the church decided to share a fake gathering location with the public.  

“Since many members were worrying about being outed by the media, we decided to change the location of our first church service,” said Chang.

Balancing between Christian  and LGBTQ Communities

Since Chang began to be actively involved in LGBTQ activities at school and his church, the distance between him and his parents began to widen, as he tried to avoid mentioning all LGBTQ related activities to them and formed an illusion that he was spending most of his time studying.

“Before I attended university, I had a very close relationship with my parents,” said Chang. “But since I started to get involved with LGBTQ activities, including founding the LGBTQ fellowship and church, I couldn’t share my extracurricular life with them anymore. That made me decide to come out to them.”

His mother’s first reaction was questioning herself whether she had done anything wrong to turn her son gay and asking Chang what was lacking in his life. To his surprise, his dad reacted calmly to the announcement by simply saying that while he never thought his children would be homosexual, he wasn’t opposed to it theologically.

“My dad only wanted to make sure that I was safe and not feeling too much pressure,” said Chang. “He respected any decision I made, but hoped I could promise that I would never leave God.”

After spending four years in the United States during which Chang earned his master’s degree and worked at the Metropolitan Community Church founded by a gay baptist priest, Reverend Troy Perry, he returned to Taiwan with the plan to study theology at the Taiwan Theological School and Seminary. However, due to his involvement in Taiwan’s LGBTQ movement, some people within the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, including faculty members at the seminary, knew about his homosexual identity.

“I asked the professors whether I should apply to the seminary as an openly homosexual Christian, and they told me it could be too controversial,” said Chang. “So I decided not to reveal my sexual orientation.”

However, an anonymous individual tried to blackmail Chang during his second year at the seminary. Several A4 sized flyers with his photo, name and family background were faxed to multiple institutions affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, with a clear message warning the church to adopt necessary measures from denying Chang the chance to continue being part of the Christian clergy.

“It was a Monday, and I received several calls asking me if I had learned about the incident,” said Chang. “While the church has a policy about how to deal with blackmail incidents, a few faculty members at the seminary and ministers of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan still called to check on me, including the director in charge of assigning seminary graduates to their future jobs.”

Information about Chang’s sexual orientation gradually spread throughout the seminary, but only a few peers brought the subject up to Chang. Instead of avoiding the matter, Chang chose to remain true to his sexual orientation and was forthcoming about  his homosexual identity whenever he was asked. While some had distanced themselves from him since then, several of his friends remained close throughout the process.

But in  2008, the year Chang was scheduled to be ordained under the general assembly of Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, opposition against him resurfaced.

“Some members of the general committee, which consists of representatives from local presbyteries, were against my ordination,” said Chang. “But with the support from some ministry directors and the general secretary of the Presbyterian Church, the committee ultimately agreed to accept my ordination.”

With the ordination process completed, Chang became an ordained pastor while successfully remained true to both his religious belief and sexual orientation.

A Church for Everyone

Image by William Yang

Chang never stopped finding a way to harmonize his religious belief and sexual orientation. After graduating from the seminary in 2005, he returned to Tong-Kwang Lighthouse Presbyterian Church in 2006, helping the church with preaching and training. However, when he applied to be the church’s pastor in 2007, he realized that the church’s vision was different from his. The decisive difference lies with the transformation of Taiwanese society’s attitude toward the LGBTQ community.

“I realized that the Taiwanese society had become more accepting of the LGBTQ community over the years,” said Chang. “In fact, LGBTQ individuals no longer needed to live in the shadow anymore. My vision for the Tong-Kwang Church was that they should open the church to everyone. Instead of making it an LGBTQ church. I envisioned it to be a church for everyone while theologically accepts LGBTQ rights.”

Chang’s vision was considered too progressive for the Tong-Kwang Church, so after contemplating for a few months, he decided to withdraw his application. He later founded the True Light Gospel Church in 2008, an inclusive church that’s open to everyone. While more than 60% of the church’s attendees are from the LGBTQ community, Chang still try not to overemphasize LGBTQ issues.  

“My sermons are basically based on the Bible and the needs of the congregation,” said Chang. “When I try to use examples, I always remain sensitive about what’s going on within the congregation and society. I won’t preach about LGBTQ rights each week, but when the occasion was right, I often use my personal experiences.”

As an inclusive and progressive church, Chang and his church have been at the forefront of Taiwan’s marriage equality movement, but as the leader of a religious institution, he has intentionally tried not to let the church be labelled as an LGBTQ church. To him, it is not a healthy way to grow and lead a religious institution, as it might send the wrong signal to heterosexual Christians who might be interested in attending his church.

“One of my visions is to show mainstream churches that every church can be an inclusive religious institution for LGBTQ people, regardless of the pastor’s sexual orientation,” said Chang.

The Symbol of Progressive Values and the Quest of Theological Empowerment

While actively participating in different LGBTQ events, Chang thinks that his church should focus on advancing LGBTQ rights within the Christian community, instead of turning the church into a social movement organization. Rather than challenging the government aggressively through social activism, the True Light Gospel Church views itself as a supporter of the LGBTQ movement.

“I try to share my personal experience and explain that there are different interpretations about homosexuality in Christianity in interviews,” said Chang. “Additionally, my church holds an annual seminar on Christianity and homosexuality, while also disseminating relevant information online. Since many organizations and activists have been fighting for LGBTQ rights through social activism, we hope to focus on changing the Christian community, an approach that very few organizations have tried to adopt.”

Even though there is no lack of action to support LGBTQ rights within the Christian community in Taiwan, Chang says that it is still hard to communicate with the more conservative factions, as many of them still consider homosexuality unnatural.

“I don’t think the conservatives agree with homosexuality, and at the same time, they normally won’t reveal their ideologies in public,” said Chang. “Many of them will say they are parents or teachers, and instead of publicly opposing marriage equality through biblical interpretation about homosexuality, they will use other excuses or arguments to oppose LGBTQ rights and marriage equality.”

Chang thinks that Christians who support marriage equality should continue doing what they have done, while helping the Christian community catch up with the progressive trend. To him, resources and time should not be wasted on trying to convince the opposition.

“My church will continue to support the LGBTQ movement, and participate in events where we can elaborate our strength,” said Chang. “We will also keep publishing relevant content and try to keep focusing on the problems related to Christianity and homosexuality within the Christian community.”

Chang believes that the legalization of marriage equality will be a significant symbol for Taiwan’s democracy, as it is an important step forward in the field of human rights. It helps society to understand how we can discuss about other unresolved human rights issues. Even after marriage equality is legalized, there are still other tasks that need to be taken care of.

“Legalizing marriage equality is just the first step for Taiwan’s LGBTQ movement,” said Chang. “I think me and my church can play a crucial role in helping the Christian community to better understand the progressive values in the movement, and there are more critical issues that will need the help of the Christian community as we move forward.” 

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Taiwanese Music on the World Stage: Mia Yen and Taiwanese Waves http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/21/taiwan-music-world-stage-mia-yen-taiwanese-waves/ http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/21/taiwan-music-world-stage-mia-yen-taiwanese-waves/#respond Wed, 21 Jun 2017 22:48:16 +0000 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/?p=26154 In the summer of 2016, some 4,500 people in New York were introduced to Taiwanese music, possible because of Ms. Mia Min Yen, the founder and organizer of Taiwanese Waves.

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In the world of international politics, nations have ignored Taiwan and pretended it does not exist for a long time.

If you look up recent news about Taiwan, you will see the country’s most recent diplomatic setback Panama, a nation that has maintained official ties with the Republic of China for decades, finally made the decision to recognize Beijing as the legitimate government of China as most of the rest of the world has done. Taiwan was not invited to join the World Health Assembly in Geneva this year nevermind the fact that Taiwan has only ever been invited to attend as an observer. Even students with a Taiwanese passport were turned away from attending the public gallery at the UN Human Rights office in Geneva.

But Taiwanese people, who created a resilient civil society and that have infused tremendous amounts of creative energy into the arts, are pushing “Taiwan” the brand into places far away from the marble halls of politics. People and stories that represent Brand Taiwan now show up in gourmet magazines, startup communities worldwide, and beginning last year, Taiwan’s contemporary music played at the largest open air music event in New York: SummerStage in Central Park.

 

In the summer of 2016, some 4,500 people were introduced to Taiwanese artists Wonfu, Anpu (also known as Deserts Xuan) and Sunset Rollercoaster. But this only became possible because of Ms. Mia Min Yen, the founder and organizer of Taiwanese Waves. Yen’s love of music began early, as she was a child of parents who worked in the media industry and owned a record label. Additionally, one of her aunts worked as a radio DJ. Growing up, live music was the art form that spoke to Yen the most.

“I spent my high school years in Taiwan, and it was during that time that I discovered the music venues, the indie bands and the music scene in Taiwan. I made a lot of friends and got to know a lot of bands,” Yen says.

Later when Yen came to New York for college, she brought this love for music with her to her new base of operations. After graduating, Yen started working at music venues and she continued to build relationships with bands and local emerging artists in New York.

“Sometimes when I saw a show in the United States, I would have this thought ‘oh this band reminds me of this Taiwanese band, it would be great if they could come to New York and play one day,’” she says.

Not one to just sit back, Yen started taking matters into her own hands. “After holding this thought for some time, I finally started to work with Taiwanese bands and book shows in the U.S. for them,” Yen says, adding that in the beginning she only booked shows at very small venues, but now she’s able to book shows at much larger venues, including at a music festival.

In 2013, after her internship with SummerStage, Yen approached her bosses about bringing Taiwanese artists to New York. Initially, the bosses at SummerStage were interested, but because they didn’t know the market, the language, or the music scene in Taiwan in general, they hesitated to take the plunge. Yen tried again in 2014 and 2015 to no avail.

Finally in 2016, after Yen put together a presentation on Taiwanese artists for SummerStage, SummerStage authorized Yen to curate the show. It was a runaway success, and Taiwanese Waves was invited to play again at SummerStage this year.

 

The explosion of Taiwanese music onto the biggest summer music event in New York City may come as a surprise. After all, Taiwan is a relatively lesser known nation in Asia — and one often confused with Thailand. Not to mention, Taiwan is constantly and intentionally shut out of the international consciousness by China.

One of the reasonings behind China’s claims to Taiwan is that as Taiwanese people use Mandarin as their lingua franca, the same as China, the two countries share the same “cultural roots.” But does Taiwan’s contemporary music have a distinct message for the world? Yen definitely thinks so. “Music truly reflects our society and our lives,” she says. “For example, we can discuss issues like domestic violence and unfair justice, but [we] can also celebrate issues like same-sex relationships and marriage.” Additionally, Taiwanese music can express the fluidity and diversity present in Taiwanese society. “We have artists that sing in Mandarin, Taiwanese, indigenous languages, and Hakka,” Yen says. And more recent immigrants are adding to the mix languages such as Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Malay, English, among others.

Taiwan’s linguistic diversity is one thing Yen plans to showcase at this year’s Taiwanese Waves at SummerStage. Of the three groups attending this year, the band FireEX will perform in Taiwanese, the singer Sangpuy will perform in Puyuma, and singers Berry J and Dadado Huang will perform in Mandarin.

Moreover, music in Taiwan has always been deeply connected to social movements, provided commentary on injustices, or has been used as rallying calls to action. Songs in Taiwanese were censored by the then-Nationalist authoritarian regime of Chiang Kai-shek, and songs like “Mend the Broken Net” (補破網) were used to infer the suffering of the Taiwanese people.

Similarly, FireEX rose to prominence after their 2014 single “Island’s Sunrise” (島嶼天光), which essentially became the theme song for the Sunflower Movement, a mass social movement initiated by students and NGOs in Taiwan in 2014 as they protested against government actions they deemed undemocratic, as well as China’s encroaching involvement in local affairs. During the month-long protest, students occupied the parliament floor, and riot police were unleashed onto the student protesters in a crackdown the likes of which Taiwan has not seen in half a generation.

“Island’s Sunrise” served as a source of strength for the protesters. The band sang:

Darkness breaks apart
Horizon lined with a hopeful crowd
A voice echoes, beckons
Wave by the wings below the sun

 

Darkness breaks apart
The flags raise high, the wall breaks down
Link my spirit to your heart
Together we stand proud

Other artists and songs have also reflected the recent growing pains in Taiwan’s civil society. “Enter the Battle” (入陣曲) by the popular mainstream band Mayday (五月天) alluded to many social controversies and student protests, such as the illegal demolition of a pharmacy and home by the Miaoli county authorities, nuclear proliferation and a resort development on beaches within indigenous territories. “Hey Kid” (囡仔) by the musician-slash-professor Chang Jui-chuan (張睿銓) runs through the history of abuses by the Nationalist  regimes, including the 228 Massacre in 1947.” The rapper Dwagie (大支) is known for his sharply critical songs, and his 2011 album People features a track recorded with the Dalai Lama.

 

It’s the freedom of speech and thought, itself a novelty for merely thirty years in Taiwan, that allows Taiwanese artists to forge this uniquely powerful and dazzling message for the world. Yen believes that this energy in Taiwan’s culture is enough to project onto the rest of the world, through technology and with more Taiwanese presenting at festivals and events at all levels.

Through Taiwanese Waves, Yen is determined to realize her vision of telling this story of Taiwan’s unique music to the world. “I want to build a bridge that connects the two music worlds. I think there is a major gap between the two. Asia is exposed to Western music all the time, but Western world doesn’t get a lot of opportunities to experience music from Asia.”

“I have always believed in the power of music. Music crosses boundaries, even cultural and personal boundaries. Music resonates with people,” Yen says. “A part of me, I think, just wants to prove to the world that Taiwan produces some of the world’s most outstanding musicians and bands.”

This year’s Taiwanese Waves at SummerStage will take place Saturday, July 29th, at 6PM, in Rumsey Playfield, Central Park. Admission is free.

(Feature photo of Anpu by Jhane Hong courtesy of Taiwanese Waves)

 

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為台灣揮拍:看莊吉生將網球與台灣融入生活中 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/20/swing-for-taiwan-pro-tennis-player-jason-jung-tw/ http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/20/swing-for-taiwan-pro-tennis-player-jason-jung-tw/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 17:28:28 +0000 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/?p=26169 身為台裔美國人的莊吉生,一直以來都想用網球幫助台灣。在台灣待了幾年後,他不僅更能欣賞台灣文化,也更希望能用他的世界排名增加台灣在國際的能見度。

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Translation from the English original, by Yi-Chia Chen. Original “Swing for Taiwan: Pro Tennis Player Jason Jung,” click here.

這是一個典型的陰沉十月天,在台中一個忙碌的交叉路口,我從計程車上匆匆離去,試著找尋約定好的咖啡廳,準備展開人生中最令我期待的採訪之一。

我通常不會因為採訪而有情緒起伏,但次的機會很不一樣,我必須好好把握才行。好不容易找到咖啡廳,才發現一位身穿運動服裝的年輕男子早已端坐在角落,等候我的到來。我一邊迅速找了位子坐下,一邊偷偷捏了自己,告訴自己──「這是真的。」

自稱網球愛好者的我,在十歲拿起球拍的那刻就已經愛上了這項運動。雖然我沒有足夠的天分,沒辦法將網球當成職業,卻也投入了好大一部分的生命在其中。從 2001 年起,我便開始關注台灣的網球發展。讓我驚訝的是,台灣的網球狀況並沒有因為盧彥勳而有太大的起色。

正當媒體及網球迷們擔心台灣網球生命會因盧彥勳的退休而終止時,莊吉生出現了。2016 年初,莊吉生就已經是台灣排名第二的網球選手,也在世界排名兩百名內。能夠有機會親自採訪他,當然讓我感到興奮不已。

他的網球生涯起源

莊吉生於 1989 年出生在美國加州。和大多數的職業選手一樣,莊吉生五歲就開始將網球視為休閒運動,但很快地,八歲時就開始參加比賽。他說,要得到排名很容易,因為加州幾乎每周末都有比賽。他一路參加各年齡層的比賽,維持在南加州排名前五名的好成績。但維持州排名還不夠,進入大學需要的是國家排名。因此,莊吉生從青少年時期就開始參加國家級的比賽,也得到了前十五名的佳績。

「我當時打得不錯,也把全部的精力都放在網球上。」莊吉生說。「我不斷地參加國家及區域性的比賽,偶爾也會有一些國際比賽。因為有名聲,進入大學也就相對容易許多。最後我選擇密西根大學,為他們打了四年的比賽。」

經過一段漫長的比賽生涯,莊吉生在大三時終於受不了,決定嘗試一些新事物。畢業後,他回到加州工作。但才工作第二天,公司便宣布要裁員。暑假結束,他失去了工作,更不知道下一步該怎麼走。兒時玩伴知道他的情況,便建議他去試試西雅圖的國際網球總會(International Tennis Federation,ITF)。

「我不知道該做什麼,所以就決定去參賽看看。」莊吉生說。「雖然幾個月沒碰球拍,但我還是輕易贏了比賽。比賽結束後,我決定要試試看全職比賽。我以為我會輕易拿下我的第一個 ATP 積分,但我卻在印度的第一場比賽中就生病了。後來又陸陸續續生了幾場病,我才驚覺職業球員並沒有我想像中的那樣容易。」

成為網球職業選手的第三個月,莊吉生便開始自我懷疑。終於,在 2012 年二月,莊吉生成功在墨西哥拿到他的第一個積分。爾後幾年,莊吉生也都能持續提升排名。2015 年時,他已經在世界排名兩百之內了。

雖然他自己也認為路途會越來越順利,但懷疑與壓力卻從未真正消逝。莊吉生說,「有人說,拿到第一個 ATP 積分後,就會比較放鬆,可是對我而言卻還是相當困難。不過話又說回來,我能夠每年持續進步,並將花費都控制在預算內,這些事可不是每個世界排名兩百以外的選手都能夠輕易做得到的。」

對莊吉生而言,職業網球選手的生活不只是網球,他也要安排行程、訂機票等等大小瑣碎的事。但同時,他也覺得,凡事都自己來,很容易看不清缺點。所以,他的進步速度並不如他預期。

「那些才華已經受到肯定的球員,背後總是有一個完整的團隊支持著他們。而我也認為那是對職業選手最好的訓練方式。」莊吉生說。「不過,樣樣都自己動手做,也讓我學習很多。有點像經營一間新創公司。」

職業生涯轉捩點--為台灣揮拍的渴望

2015 年,莊吉生決定代表台灣參賽,為父母生長的國家比賽。身為台裔美國人的他,一直以來都想用網球幫助台灣。在台灣待了幾年後,他不僅更能欣賞台灣文化,也更希望能用他的世界排名增加台灣在國際的能見度。

除了希望能用網球推廣台灣,莊吉生也相信,若能代表台灣參賽,他也更有機會被認可。得到認可,自然也就能吸引更多贊助,幫助他的職業生涯。

不論如何,身分轉換比他原先想像的難度要高上許多。因為不熟悉台灣的網球生態,廠商贊助和政府補助也都相當有限,莊吉生只得用更多時間建立聲譽。

「很多事我都不太清楚,比如網球協會和體制的運作。」莊吉生說。「廠商贊助不多,要得到政府補助也需要先拿到台灣身分證。我花了一陣子才搞懂。不過事情已經漸入佳境了,現在有 Yonex Taiwan 贊助,也有幾家私人企業聯繫我。雖然稱不上非常好,但我想已經比我在美國能獲得的還要多了。主要還是要表現好,才有機會獲得更多贊助。」

雖然沒有非常熟悉台灣的網球生態,莊吉生仍然認為,台灣需要有更好的設備才能支持網球選手。缺乏國家訓練中心,網球選手只能自行培訓,使得多數歸國的網球選手沒有辦法規律練習。莊吉生說,現階段政府最該做的事便是建立中心培訓下一代。

「最重要的是建議適合網球培訓的環境,所以才需要有國家訓練中心。」莊吉生說。「不論是日常練習還是正式培訓,選手們都需要場地。而現在多數的年輕選手都採自行培訓,若能有國家訓練中心,對他們來說會是一大福音。」

2016 年十月,莊吉生成功在中國闖出佳績,世界排名提升到143名。熬過過去幾年的自我懷疑,能走到今天著實不容易。不過,莊吉生也說,他發現在中國打球比在台灣打球還要容易專心。

「我在中國之所以會打得比較好是因為比較少事務讓我分心。」莊吉生說。「在台灣,有時會有朋友約我出外用晚餐。因為很少見到他們的緣故,我也會答應。但同時間,我應該要為隔天的比賽做準備。反觀在中國,我就能更專注在自己原先安排好的行程上。」

當被問到是什麼原因讓他在 2016 年一躍而上時,莊吉生回答,除了持續努力精進,他的雙打隊友也提供他很多意見。他說,經過幾年在職業場上的打滾,他才終於懂得詮釋他人的建議,進而將之轉化到場上表現。他不僅抓到進步的訣竅,也更能體會輸球的原因。

更健康的 2017 年及網球之外的人生

對所有的網球選手來說,退休後的生活是他們都應該考慮的事。花了大半人生打網球,莊吉生對於全職的網球教練並不感興趣。對於運動和營養有著高度興趣的他,希望未來能更進到健身產業,甚至自己開業。

「我認識一些開設健身房的朋友,因此可能有機會加入他們,或是自己出來開業。」莊吉生說。「不過這也很難下定論。我也認識一些在銀行或高科技產業的人,說不定也會有其他機會。雖然我很喜歡健身,但有其他機會,我也不排斥試試。」

2016 年底受的小傷已經痊癒,莊吉生準備好要在 2017 年好好表現。他計畫調整行程,另外建立團隊,希望能讓他的身體更健康。代表台灣打完他的第一場戴維斯杯後,莊吉生還計畫要在八月代表台灣參加世大運。由於沒有硬性的職業規劃,莊吉生想要一步一步來,保有選擇的機會。

「我想,現在至少會試著參加世大運。」莊吉生說。「另外 Yonex 的合約簽到 2017 底,所以我也會打到那時候,再看看結果如何。」

球季開始,期望能看到莊吉生延續 2016 年的佳績,在 2017 年達成更多新紀錄。

(照片為莊吉生,由莊吉生提供)

 

 

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回顧台灣婚姻平權的漫長之路 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/20/taiwans-long-road-same-sex-marriage-tw/ http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/20/taiwans-long-road-same-sex-marriage-tw/#respond Tue, 20 Jun 2017 16:30:25 +0000 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/?p=26166 即使同性婚姻合法化,運動也不會就此停止。唯有繼續發聲,才能使同志被看見、聽見。他相信,若能有更多理性的討論,將會有效幫助同志面對在台灣的反對聲音。

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Translation from the English original, by Yi-Chia Chen. Original “Taiwan’s Long Road to Same Sex Marriage,” click here.

全球有21個國家通過同性婚姻,但很遺憾地,沒有一個在亞洲。而這樣的困境,很快就要被打破。5月24日時,台灣司法院大法官會議釋憲,宣布現行《民法》親屬編第二章婚姻部分為違憲。

由於外交上的困境,台灣並不常躍上國際新聞。但過去八個月,在推動婚姻平權的努力下,台灣贏來了許多國際鎂光燈的注目。被賦予「LGBTQ亞洲首都」之稱,更加證實台灣在這方面的努力已經備受肯定。

台灣其實早在三十多年前,還不是民主國家時,便已經開始為同性婚姻鋪路。在這三十多年間,同志權益多次在立法院內來來回回。這不僅代表同志權益的相關議題是民主化過程的產物,也常被用作是政治認同的手段。

現在,台灣司法院大法官同意同性婚姻合法化,不僅為台灣民主歷史及公民社會發展寫下漂亮的一頁,也為全世界的同志運動邁向了一大步。

我們怎麼走到這裡?

說起台灣的同性婚姻運動,要追溯到 1986 年。當時,同運人士祈家威遊說政府,希望推動同性婚姻合法。根據祈家威的說法,他之所以開始請願是因為有一次和他的伴侶吵架,伴侶吼道:「反正我們又沒有結婚。」

(圖/祈家威,KOKUYO攝。)

1986 年,台灣仍由國民黨一黨專政。祈家威的請願不但被回絕,他還被當成政治罪犯,和一些民主運動人士一同關進監獄。而那些民主運動人士也就是後來民進黨的創黨人士。

祈家威又分別於 1992、1998 年各試了一次,2000 年、2015 年更是直接轉向法院,但最後都無疾而終。

不過,受到伴侶啟發後的三十年,台灣社會也有了巨大的改變,不僅開始了總統、立委選舉,公民社會也開始為少數族群的權益發聲。越來越多人加入祈家威的陣線。

例如,台灣伴侶權益推動聯盟便於 2012 年提出三項草案,向社會大眾取得認可。草案於2013 年正式進入立法院議會,卻在通過一讀後便遭撤除。

「當時立法院是由國民黨把持,他們不支持該法案。民進黨也沒有機會讓法案通過,最後草案才會在一讀後就被撤除。」伴侶盟理事長許秀雯說。「伴侶盟發現這其中存在著結構性問題。法案的通過需要多數黨支持。但 2013 年時,沒有半個政黨在背後支持法案。」

2016 年,台灣經歷大規模的政治版圖轉移。當時的執政黨──國民黨在總統及立委選舉都慘敗民進黨。許秀雯說,「選民對新總統蔡英文有著高度的期許,希望她能盡速改革,其中也包括她在選前影片中提到的同性婚姻。」

去年十月,在國民黨、民進黨以及時代力量分別提出不同版本的同性婚姻草案時,同性婚姻再度站上報紙頭條。由民進黨籍立委尤美女及國民黨籍立委許毓仁領軍,幾位不同黨籍立委組成小組,開始在立院內為同性婚姻法案付諸行動。而這對許秀雯來說,跨黨派合作是她始料未及的。

「一般來說這並不常見。因為台灣的兩大黨幾乎從不與彼此合作。」立委許毓仁說。「我希望能架起橋梁,建立好的模範讓後人效仿。這樣一來,大家會明白,有些議題兩黨也可以攜手合作。」

當立院開始討論草案時,婚姻平權的支持及反對者都召集了許多民眾,在立院外表達意見、提出各自的論述。

然而,直到台大法籍教授畢安生自殺,婚姻平權才開始逐步獲重視。畢教授是在伴侶因癌症過世後,才決定結束自己的生命。在伴侶治療期間,因為沒有婚姻關係,畢教授無法為他做任何重大的醫療決定。

「我想,是在畢教授去世後,大家才開始團結。」台灣國際酷兒影展酷摩沙獎創辦人林志杰說。「我們意識到這次事件將對同志權益及未來發展有重大影響後,我們便開始在去年積極連結各方團體。」

立院終於擬定一版本草案,並在去年十二月時交付委員會。當時,場外的反對者企圖爬越架有鐵絲網的高牆以示抗議。不過,到了2017年初,立法院似乎將焦點轉移到其他非婚姻平權相關法案,媒體關注也開始漸漸下降。直到三月二十四日,司法院大法官決定要針對婚姻平權召開釋憲會議,同性婚姻議題才又逐漸浮上檯面。政府對於婚姻平權的回應使得支持者及民眾懷疑,蔡政府及民進黨是否又計畫要將該法案再次撤除。

是政治算計,還是在等待下一次的政治機會?

對一些贊成婚姻平權的團體來說,蔡總統模稜兩可的表態,以及民進黨在立院內消極的作為,都是政治算計的一種表徵。一些較著名的支持者,例如:政治大學台文所的陳芳明教授便不斷透過媒體表明,希望蔡總統及民進黨能將婚姻平權優先審查。許秀雯也提醒,若四年內婚姻平權法案沒有通過,將會付出很大的代價。

「若蔡總統沒有辦法在她的第一任期通過婚姻平權,民進黨肯定將會在下一次選舉中流失選票。」許秀雯說。「選前與選後的態度轉變顯示這其中的政治算計。我不認為政治人物可以這樣壓制立法院。當法案關乎人權時,他們就該站出來捍衛。就這麼簡單。她的做法明顯是在為選舉做考量。」

雖然不知道立院內的協商何時才會展開,立委許毓仁表示,蔡總統已經沒有多餘時間可以考慮婚姻平權。因為明年就要舉行地方選舉,若沒有在2017年底討論出共識,法案將很難有進一步發展。

「我很怕現在的情況會使婚姻平權議題在接下來的兩年內停滯。」許毓仁說。「她可能想利用婚姻平權在下次總統選舉中再次獲得支持,但這可能會是一步錯棋,因為很多民眾早已對她失去信心。」

然而,有些人相信,蔡總統是在等待下一次的政治機會。傅爾布萊特2016-2017年研究員梅漢娜(Hannah Fazio)說,蔡總統正在等議題討論的走向。

「我想,蔡總統是在試著等風向。」梅漢娜說。「這是個帶有強烈政治動機的舉動,而政治機會將出現在哪便是一項重要的問題。2018和2020的選舉會是關鍵,因為立委們都在看自己選區的民眾怎麼投票。民眾需要遊說自己選區的立委,讓政府及民進黨知道他們要的是什麼。」

在亞洲立下典範

儘管婚姻平權法案目前在立院呈現停滯的狀態,關注運動的民眾仍然相信台灣能透過同性婚姻合法化在亞洲立下典範。成為第一個在亞洲通過婚姻平權的國家,將會為台灣及亞洲留下許多正面影響。

「若台灣能成為第一個通過婚姻平權的亞洲國家,將成為其他國家的榜樣。」梅漢娜說。「我想台灣在婚姻平權議題上,是亞洲地區的希望。」

對一些人來說,國際媒體對於台灣婚姻平權的關注也在外交、人權及公民社會等等方面有助於台灣的發展。

「我想,像婚姻平權這樣的議題確實能為台灣提升能見度。」林志杰說。「相較其他亞洲國家,台灣更自由也更開放。而媒體對於類似婚姻平權這樣的議題,有著高度興趣。這不僅是關於婚姻平權,也代表著整個社會的轉型。另外,台灣的同志運動是從民間開始的,因此同運人士能吸引到許多國際媒體的注目,這也未嘗不是一件好事。」

(圖/2014年台灣同志遊行,William Yang攝。)

下一步是什麼?

釋憲後,婚姻平權運動的下一步是什麼?確定的是,由於法條細節需要修改,立法院的角色將會變得更加重要。

「在立法的過程中,將會出現許多攻與防,甚至可能會有許多冒犯的話。」許秀雯說。「但我們絕對不會在這裡停下腳步。雖然我們可能會達成一些階段性目標,但未來的路還是很長。伴侶盟計畫運用我們所有的資源在性別及人權議題上努力,另外在政治上,我們也會繼續向地方及中央政府施壓。」

雖然許多人都對未來懷抱希望,他們也都同意,遊說立委並向他們施壓,是推展草案的必要手段。

「向立委展現民眾的支持,並持續遊說是很重要的。如此一來才能提醒他們之所以會獲得選票,是因為民眾在乎婚姻平權,並相信他們能兌現選前承諾。」林志杰說。

即使同性婚姻合法化,運動也不會就此停止。林志杰強調,唯有繼續發聲,才能使同志被看見、聽見。他相信,若能有更多理性的討論,將會有效幫助同志面對在台灣的反對聲音。

「我想,就算婚姻平權法案過了,也無法自動改變反對者的想法。」林志杰說。「歧視不會自動消失。希望未來的討論會更理性、有邏輯。」

司法院大法官會議釋憲結果出爐,希望能藉此督促立法院進行關於婚姻平權法案的相關協商及討論。希望這次台灣能做出對的決定。

(照片由 William Yang 所攝)

 

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Plastico: Turning Plastic Bags Into Lifestyle Goods http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/19/plastico-turning-plastic-bags-into-lifestyle-goods/ http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/19/plastico-turning-plastic-bags-into-lifestyle-goods/#respond Mon, 19 Jun 2017 22:27:15 +0000 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/?p=26146 Plastico, whose recycled plastic vessels were selected for the Golden Pin Concept award this year, has already garnered a strong online community with its concept.

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I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lucas Chen from Plastico, whose recycled plastic vessels are entrants for the Golden Pin Concept award this year.

Plastico has already garnered a strong online community with its concept, and  it has collaborated with H&M for the Taiwan launch of their Conscious Exclusive collection made of recycled shoreline plastic. Plastico also provided recycled plastic coasters for a media event with in collaboration with copperplate script artist Jibu Le Designs.

I met with Chen at the at Escent Bookcase, a quaint bookstore-slash-cafe in the middle of Daan where their designs were being exhibited in collaboration with Bago, maker of wallets constructed  from recycled bags. We discussed Plastico’s inspirations for their design concept and its aspirations for the future.

Copperscript artist Ji Bu Le enscribing Plastico’s recycled plastic coasters for H&M Conscious Exclusive press event. Photo courtesy of Plastico.

Please tell us about yourself!

I’m Lucas Chen (陳亮至 Chen Liang-chi), one of the founders at Plastico, a recycled plastic concept. This project originally started with me and my two classmates Ryan (楊其寰 Yang Chi-huan), who was supposed to be here today but he had to do a last-minute physical since he is studying abroad at Pratt next year, and Lai (賴樂齊 Lai Le-chi), who is at Delft University in Holland – he’ll be back in July.

Plastico began as a project in my fourth year of design school, from September 2015, to June of 2016. We had a take a break in the middle, but as long as two of us are able we agreed to keep the project going. We started up again in February this year after I left my previous job. Actually, many people have been messaging us about Plastico in the interim, so I finally followed up with everyone and that’s how we landed a collaboration with H&M for their media event.

What is your concept behind the design? Why plastic?

Our concept is “continuing life” (延續生命), whether it’s tableware, furniture, or stationary. In the beginning we were working with paper. It was for our graduation final project, which was required to be completed by a team of 2 to 4 people, which is a tradition at our school.

On our teacher’s advice we went to the Tainan Municipal Recycling plant to find out more about recycling. We found out that paper recycling is actually very polluting to the environment, because you have to break down the paper and there are a lot of toxic chemicals involved.

We had known for a long time about a Dutch designer Dave Hakkens who is making machine pressed recycled plasticware, which inspired us to look at plastics.

We felt that there wasn’t anyone working on plastic bags in Taiwan, so we wanted to solve the problem from there. We feel that the plastic bag culture in Taiwan is unique. The sizes and shapes are different from other places in the world — for example, in Holland the bags are more transparent, but in Taiwan the bags can be brightly colored and quite thick sometimes. The imagery is also unique to our region.

Many people save their plastic bags but they don’t know what to do with them and end up throwing them away anyway. Furthermore, most recycling plants don’t accept plastic bags either, because they are easily contaminated. It’s different from plastic bottles which are easy to wash and refabricate.  Even if a recycling center collects plastic bags the efficacy of recycling is quite low. Many places don’t recycle them at all and they are treated as regular trash. This is what we’ve found through our research.

While we hope that eventually we can move to a plastic-bag free economy — and even if we do do it immediately — there is still all this pre-existing material that must be used up. So we came up with this solution.

How are you sourcing the plastic? How do you prevent contamination?

We post on the internet, on our Facebook page, asking for bags. People send them to us from all over. We have also gone out and collected bags too. We just put out a call and go around with a giant box and pick them up. It’s pretty fun!

For example, once we got a call from a private dessert kitchen. They messaged us and said they had a case of plastic bags and they also gave us a small cake when we went to pick it up. We’ve also picked up from the Jane Goodall Society at National Taiwan University, and different environmental groups, but most participants mail the bags to us.

Since our storage space in Taipei isn’t that large, we can’t store that many bags at once, so we will send out messages to let the community know when we don’t need them anymore, or when we’ll need them again.

We don’t have to worry about contamination since they are donated by our community, so the bags are clean.

What is your manufacturing process like? Is it all Made In Taiwan or do you outsource?

We use heat and pressure. First we sort the bags, then stack them, and then we use a machine. Everything is made by hand for now. We did create a simple machine for the process, but the details are a trade secret!

What inspired you to enter the Golden Pin Concept Awards? What has your experience been?

I was inspired to enter Golden Pin after seeing this light entry called Heng (衡) from China. Last year we entered the Young Design 2016 Next 設計獎, where we won gold prize for Plastico. There I saw this  light with two wooden spheres. Then I saw the same design at Golden Pin and I thought, if they can do it I can do it too! So this year we submitted our project.

Since entering we’ve been selected for this interview and had our works featured on Taiwanese design magazine La Vie.

What are your hopes for the future of Plastico? What are your next steps?

We hope to establish Plastico as a company and scale up production before making it available to the public. Since there is so much interest we want to be able to meet demand — if we can’t make enough units it will adversely affect our customer’s perception of us. It is very important to us to preserve the integrity of the brand.

Currently everything is made by hand but that is too labor-intensive if we want to scale. Right now we are researching machines and we will build one. That’s our next step.

Thank you so much Plastico!

We are very excited to be interviewed as well! Thanks so much for having us.

You can follow Plastico on their Facebook Page here: https://www.facebook.com/plasticotw

More information about Golden Pin awards here: http://www.goldenpin.org.tw/en/pgpnyg2.asp.
Golden Pin is accepting entries through the end of June. Interested applicants may apply here: http://member.goldenpin.org.tw/GPCDA/index.

(Feature photo of the Plastico team at Plastico exhibition. From left: Lucas, Lai, and Ryan)

 

 

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Hard Cider & Hardware: How Taiwanese Startup Alchema is Making it in America http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/18/hard-cider-hardware-taiwanese-startup-alchema-america/ http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/18/hard-cider-hardware-taiwanese-startup-alchema-america/#respond Sun, 18 Jun 2017 14:05:09 +0000 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/?p=26137 When asked what Taiwan looks like in the eyes of Americans, Chang says potential customers have a limited scope of what the country he calls his home entails.

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West of Taipei’s Songshan Cultural and Creative Park lies the office of Taiwanese entrepreneur Oscar Chang. Inside, the 26-year-old crouches in a corner, rummaging through a crowded mini fridge. His office space is akin to his fridge: every inch of the space is crowded with loose papers, open boxes and broken bits of hardware. I even spy a sleeping bag underneath the table. Moments later, the man whose face has graced the pages of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Asia produces two glass bottles from the fridge.One was an old swing bottle, the other, a former wine bottle. In each, a fizzy concoction swirls with life. “This is a strawberry and honey cider,” Chang says as he pours some out for me to sample.

The drink is alive; it sizzles across my palate, sparkling like the end of a lit firecracker. The taste of alcohol is very much there, but it’s classy and mature, dressed up in button-down bitterness, tailored acidity, and a subtle hint of barky astringency. It’s like Angry Orchard’s more worldly cousin. However, the amazing thing about this cider is not its taste (while it is amazing), but rather, how it was made.

Chang’s company, Alchema, makes fermenting tasty, fruit-based alcohols surprisingly easy and accessible for enthusiasts of all levels. The company’s product is a pod-like device (about the size of a hardy toddler) that allows users to control and oversee the fermentation of their own alcoholic concoctions anything from complex ciders to zippy beers to even crisp wines. All you need to do is pour fresh fruit, water and a packet of yeast into the pitcher housed within the device, and you’ll have 2.4 liters (equivalent to about three bottles of wine) of fruity booze by the end of a couple weeks. The rest of the work is left to Alchema’s app, which monitors and informs users what stage of fermentation their fizzing pitcher of fruit juice is at.

Last fall, Alchema garnered the explosive support of almost 900 backers, who have since contributed over US$300,000 to Alchema’s Kickstarter campaign a definite success for the young Taiwanese startup. When asked what it was like to watch the numbers climb on Kickstarter, Chang laughs and admits, “We pulled a lot of all nighters.”

At this year’s CiderCon 2016 (the largest annual conference for cider brewers), there was a total of 18 million cider drinkers in the United States in 2015, a five million increase from just four years ago. In that year, these 18 million consumers generated $1 billion in revenue. In other words, if all hard cider sales were grouped together and compared to beer, they would be the second-most successful beer category between IPAs and seasonals.

This is good news for Alchema. It’s exactly why over 80 percent of its Kickstarter backers are hip and wealthier Americans located in coastal cities. “America already has the home-brewing and DIY culture. It is also the second largest country for cider sales,” says Chang.

Current cider offerings can also get pretty boring: according to a study done by the Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics at Virginia Tech, apples are the core ingredient of an overwhelming 94 percent of the hard cider market. Alchema capitalizes on the homogeneity in the hard-cider market, dazzling consumers with its device’s capability of endless customization. It’s app boasts a library of pre-made recipes that incorporate a wide variety of fruity ingredients like raspberry, pomegranate, pineapple, strawberry, peach and cherry.

Now, despite the success of Alchema’s Kickstarter campaign, appealing to and communicating with the American market has been anything but easy. Chang says understanding the American demographic and navigating its culture proved to be one of his most challenging tasks. “Because I’m from Taiwan, there is a cultural barrier,” he says. “I needed to understand the culture, learn how to speak English and figure out how they use English to have conversations for work. There were tons of feedback that we had to reply to.”

A crucial turning point for Chang was when Alchema joined the American hardware accelerator, HAX. They not only helped Chang develop a better, more marketable product, but also provided guidance in bridging wide cultural gaps. As a result, Chang and his team were well equipped to engage with the American press, customers and big name retailers when they attended crucial trade shows.

“HAX helped us bring the product into the American market,” says Chang.“We invited a lot of press to our booth at trade shows and introduced our product for their stories. We also asked buyers [retailers] to meet us at our booth so they could feel and touch the product, and see whether they liked our products enough to bring it into their channel. Even our backers would travel to attend our trade shows.”

With the information gathered from these trade shows and their backers, Chang was able to improve upon three prototypes before arriving at its fourth and final model (the very first looks akin to a archaic coffee maker).

When asked what Taiwan looks like in the eyes of Americans, Chang says potential customers have a limited scope of what the country he calls his home entails. Nevertheless, he says most are well aware of its manufacturing rigor. “People think Taiwan is capable of building high-quality hardware products compared to China.”

Chang goes on to say that Taiwan is an important asset and a partner even to the American tech and startup community.“Most of the startups in the U.S. build software, but people still need something to touch and feel, he says. “Hardware is this interface. Because Taiwan is very good at building hardware, people can go to Taiwan to look for hardware stuff and bring it to the U.S. market.”

Chang and his team are currently finalizing production plans with local Taiwanese manufacturers, and are excited to deliver their first batch of shipments this upcoming July.

This journey to understand a different culture and demographics is a two-way street that takes time and patience to develop kind of like Chang’s strawberry and honey cider. Hopefully, over time, exchanges like the ones Alchema is facilitating will help Taiwan rebrand and redefine itself in the eyes of consumers overseas, ultimately allowing Taiwan to make a name for itself in the world of startups.

(Feature illustration by 王語蓉)

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What is Left of Taiwan After Panama? A Lot http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/17/what-is-left-of-taiwan-after-panama-a-lot/ http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/17/what-is-left-of-taiwan-after-panama-a-lot/#comments Sat, 17 Jun 2017 14:40:40 +0000 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/?p=26132 That Taiwan upholds its belief in the values of freedom and democracy is already recognised by the like-minded groups, particularly the non-governmental agencies, in the international community.

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On 13 June, Panama announced it will establish formal diplomatic relations with China, and break ties with Taiwan’s Republic of China (ROC) government. This abruptly ends a relationship that began even before the ROC was founded, and a relationship that served as a cornerstone for Taiwan’s international status as a sovereign state against China’s claim that Taiwan is a “renegade province.”  

In recent days, we saw an avalanche of diplomatic setbacks for Taiwan, sounding alarms for a possible complete international isolation, orchestrated by Beijing’s increased aggressiveness to assert its claim over Taiwan.

Only six months ago, São Tomé & Príncipe abandoned Taiwan and pledged its diplomatic allegiance to Beijing. In May, the World Health Organization declined to invite Taiwan to attend the World Health Assembly, the first time in eight years. The pressure is also felt by Taiwan’s non-diplomatic allies; this week an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) reportedly said that China has exerted pressure to have the names of Taiwanese representative offices in five countries changed.  

Only 19 countries and the Vatican now formally recognise the Republic of China regime currently ruling Taiwan. As China steps up pressure on Taiwan, politicians from both the pro-Taiwan and Beijing-friendly camps within Taiwan warned of a possible “domino effect” on the diplomatic front. To ease the pressure facing Taiwan, Taipei-based National Chengchi University (NCCU) professor of diplomacy Huang Kwei-bo (黃奎博) reportedly suggested that President Tsai Ing-wen should take Taiwan-China relations into account first. Opposition Nationalist Party  (KMT) caucus whip Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) further noted, “cross-Strait relations are the cornerstone of our international relations. If the cross-Strait relations are bad, (Taiwan’s) international relations will further deteriorate.”

Are cross-Strait relations really the only key to unlock Taiwan’s constrained international space? If Tsai accepts Beijing’s assertion that Taiwan is part of China (known as the “1992 Consensus”), will that bring back Taiwan’s diplomatic allies? Is Panama’s cutting off its over-a-century diplomatic ties with Taiwan’s government a death knell for Tsai’s presidency?

On 16 December 1978, then US President Jimmy Carter announced that the US would establish diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China, and cease to recognise the Taiwan’s Republic of China government. Ten days later, when US Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher arrived in Taipei for a post-mortem arrangement, he was greeted by over ten thousand of Taiwanese protesters who broke his car windows and tried to punch him in the face.

To some extent, the Panama’s switch is as significant as the US’s switch. But now, the mood is anything but inflamed rage. The Economist commented that “the concern among Taiwanese is that Panama’s change of heart will spur further defections in the region,” but that  might only be half right. After Panama decided to cut off its over-a-century diplomatic ties with Taiwan, there was no demonstration or even a small scale social movement protesting Panama’s move or Beijing’s wooing.

(There was, interestingly, a demonstration with about thousands of retired public servants, public-school teachers, and military personnel gathering in front of the Parliament, to protest Tsai’s proposed pension reform and guarding their pension fund.)

A Forbes commentary said cynically: “Taiwan had grown so numb watching its powerful rival China pay off its diplomatic allies to switch sides that people in Taiwan cynically bet on which country is next to go.” Losing more allies to Beijing, to a lot of Taiwanese people, is just a matter of time, something that is  no longer a surprise.

As the Washington DC-based think tank Global Taiwan Institute Executive Director Russell Hsiao commented, “(Panama’s switch) was only a matter of time before Beijing pulled the trigger, despite the Tsai’ administration’s pledge to maintain the ‘status quo’ in cross-Strait relations.”

When the decline of the number of diplomatic allies becomes something anticipated by the Taiwanese people, what else can they do to maintain Taiwan’s international space? The answer lies in another arena altogether.

The international community, regardless of the mangled legal status of Taiwan, already sees Taiwan simply as Taiwan. In the last couple of decades since the number of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies hovered around twenty, Taiwan’s international space has not been demonstrated by its formal relations with other countries, but by its liberal values.

That Taiwan upholds its belief in the values of freedom and democracy is already recognised by the like-minded groups, particularly the non-governmental agencies, in the international community:

  • Just last month, British paper the Guardian named Taiwan “Asia’s liberal beacon” after the island’s top court made a landmark ruling in favour of marriage equality.
  • In April this year, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) chose to open its first Asia bureau in Taipei rather than in Hong Kong, as the latter “lack of legal certainty” for the entity and activities for the RSF.
  • Before the World Health Organisation (WHO) slammed the door on Taiwan this year, Medecins Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) last year already came to open a branch in Taipei, in a nod to Taiwan’s role in the Medecins Sans Frontiers’ operations in the world.

In the past ten years, social movements in Taiwan have proved that the Taiwanese civil society, particularly invigorated by the millennial generation, are taking action to steer the direction of the polity, moving towards a more open, democratic, and inclusive society.

The people of Taiwan, and any democratically formed state representing them, deserve to be formally, legally recognised by the world’s nations. Intentionally pretending they don’t exist is ludicrous and must stop. But beyond that, Taiwan is already building itself as a brand that goes beyond the traditional definition of “state,” and may even become a symbol of a set of values in the world. Taiwan’s diplomatic status may still be constrained by China’s bullying, but the world should certainly pay more attention to the changing nature of the society and people that is Taiwan today.  

(Feature image of President Tsai Ing-wen addressing an event, from Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

 

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人物專訪:在台灣演藝圈闖蕩的台裔美國小生湯以理 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/16/taiwanese-american-actor-in-taiwan-daniel-tang-tw/ http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/16/taiwanese-american-actor-in-taiwan-daniel-tang-tw/#respond Fri, 16 Jun 2017 13:12:13 +0000 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/?p=26130 他們在美國常常因為臉孔被界定是亞洲人,但在台灣的第一年他才知道,大家都覺得他就是美國人。但他會漸漸變得不美國、更台灣人嗎?

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Translation from the English original, by Yiling Lin. Original “Taiwanese, American, Actor, in Taiwan: Daniel Tang,” click here.

「我要…這個」我指著菜單上的圖案。坐在我對面的湯以理 (Daniel Tang),是「有著台灣面孔、住在台灣的美國人」也就是所謂的「台美人」。接著,穿著圍裙、袖子半捲的老闆娘點了頭,記下了我點的東西,在這一瞬間,彷彿嗡嗡叫的蚊子在空中靜止,店外吵雜的西門町街口也凝結了,我跟 Daniel 做到了一件很多美國人做不到的事:我們成功像本地人一樣點了餐。

一直以來初學中文的我,總是因為中文音調的問題,很少一次就點餐成功。就在這瞬間,我驕傲的稍稍挺直了腰桿,短暫享受著偽裝點餐的成功。因為對我來說,這表示自我台灣血統的那部分得到了最好的認可,我沈浸在這喜悅中,就像我點的鹹豆漿裡面的豆花,沈浮在碗裡。

但是對 Daniel 來說,像這樣的「偽裝」並不是什麼特別值得開心的巧合,而是在磨練技巧,一個他工作所需的重要技巧,「我可以騙過一般人」他說,「但參加試鏡得時後,有些導演覺得這樣還不夠」。

Daniel 是一個演員。

近來,出現一股亞裔美國人回亞洲發展演藝事業的潮流,湯以理就是其中之一。跟很多年輕亞洲美國人一樣,Daniel 受不了亞洲臉孔在好萊塢出不了線。南加州大學 2016 年一份關於演藝圈多樣性的研究報告 (Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment) 指出,有台詞的角色中只有 5.1% 是亞裔演員。除了這份報告之外還有一些研究也有類似結論,這些研究讓 Daniel 的父母諒解他為何決定回台發展。

但回到亞洲的亞裔美國演員其實也有一些優勢。Daniel 舉例,接觸不同文化的經驗與更優越的社經地位就是關鍵。亞裔演員可以為亞洲演藝產業做出一些貢獻:「亞裔美國演員可以為產業帶來改變並帶領這個改變」Daniel 表示。

一定沒有人可以一眼就發現其實 Daniel 是個土生土長的俄亥俄州人。他膚色白皙、頭髮微捲,加上合身的衣著穿搭,看起來就像是個韓國明星,而不是來自美國。在美國中部 Seven Hills 市長大的他,過著很不同的生活,也因此造就他的與眾不同,這多歸功於願意讓他嘗試表演的父母,以及總是給予支持的亞洲人社區,還有最重要的就是不合身的 Polo 衫。

Daniel 成為西北大學的醫預科生沒多久後就發現醫學並不是他喜歡的領域。「醫生是英雄,但不是每個人都適合當醫生」,這段經驗雖然短暫但卻十分珍貴,看著同學們,Daniel 第一次知道這就是所謂的熱情,「我知道我要什麼,但那不是醫學」他解釋。

不久後,他發現了 Kpop (韓國流行音樂)新世界,提供他一個從來沒想過的方向。「一個來自美國中西部、跟亞洲沒有太大接觸的亞洲男孩,偶然看到叫 Big Bang 和少女時代的韓國偶像團體,才發現有這麼一種橫跨全球的娛樂產業,而在裡面活動的人就長得跟我一樣。最重要的是,他們的作品全球都知道,所以我開始考慮往這個方向發展。」

接下來,他開始尋找在亞洲圈的表演機會,「我一路從韓國嘗試到日本,從日劇嘗試到韓劇,最後我選擇了台灣,我就想,也好,反正我是台灣人!於是大學的時候我就修了好幾門跟電影、表演相關的課,最後差一點就可以變成輔系。」2013 年春天,Daniel 從經濟系畢業,拿到整合行銷傳播的文憑,然後動身搬到台北。

2000 年代初期,台灣在製作偶像劇與製造偶像明星是亞洲最強(大家還記得流星花園嗎?),但在韓國和中國隨後加入這個行列後,台灣就受到了相當大的競爭壓力,Daniel 認為,韓國和中國在拍攝電影、電視時有國家等級的銀彈支持,因此作品品質自然比台灣來得好。「中國花了大把的錢請來好萊塢的電影攝影師、燈光師、音效師,還有購入設備,所以幾年內品質就提升到全球的等級,當一國的經濟強大,可支配收入就高,文化就會跟著興盛。」Daniel 表示。

我問到 Daniel 是否認為台灣有機會再次稱霸影視產業。他覺得雖然台灣有競爭優勢,但仍需要挹注大筆的資金來進行大改造:「台灣因為歷史的關係,受到荷蘭、英國、葡萄牙、美國、日本、韓國與中國等文化的影響,其中尤其受到中國和中國的次文化影響最深。台灣將這些融合進自己的文化,創造出非常有趣的東西,如果台灣的影視公司能將資金整合起來,並嘗試與中國合作,重振過去的輝煌是有可能的。」

Daniel 常常因為為了達到導演的需求,還有混亂的拍攝現場相當疲累,但當他偶有時間停下腳步、重新檢視這段時間以來在台灣演藝圈發展的過程,他發現他在雙重身分認同這件上有了很深的感悟,「『亞裔』美國人的確是一個很特別的分類。」

他的想法跟我一樣,雖然亞裔美國人唸起來很順,但在亞裔跟美國之間,時常有著相當大的不同、甚至衝突。Daniel 繼續說道,我們在美國常常因為臉孔被界定是亞洲人,但我在台灣的第一年才知道,大家包含我自己在內都覺得我就是美國人,但我會漸漸變得不美國、更台灣人嗎?答案是一半一半。

「我確實發現我需要適應、調和兩種不同而且常常衝突的聲音,如果問我認不認爲這是一種犧牲,以痛苦的角度來說,是沒錯,這是一段持續掙扎的過程,因為對我來說,找到適合的角色,還要讓觀眾覺得我就是那個角色而不是我,需要付出比別人更多的努力。」

但 Daniel 認為他心裡這兩種身份意識是可以合而為一的,「適應、學習兩種不同的溝通模式的好處就是你可以更精準地與觀眾互動」我頓時恍然大悟,跌回西門町的椅子上,我打了腳上的蚊子,而外面的人們還在走著。原來,今天的觀眾不僅是店員,還有在西門町的所有人,以及我們自己。

自從 Daniel 來到台灣,已經接演好幾個廣告,他認為這些是在累積經驗,希望有一天他也能領銜主演偶像劇。

(封面 Daniel 照片由 Daniel 提供)

 

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Podcast: Being Gay in Taiwan http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/15/podcast-gay-taiwan/ http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/2017/06/15/podcast-gay-taiwan/#respond Thu, 15 Jun 2017 12:54:06 +0000 http://www.ketagalanmedia.com/?p=26122 ‘My mom saw the picture I posted on Facebook, kissing and holding hands with my boyfriend. She said it was like I was using a knife to tear her heart open.’

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This episode is a special cross-cast, co-produced by The News Lens and Ketagalan Media.

‘My mom saw the picture I posted on Facebook, kissing and holding hands with my boyfriend. She said it was like I was using a knife to tear her heart open.’

We take a close look at what it is like to be gay in Taiwan today and discuss whether the advance towards marriage equality actually reflects deeper progress across Taiwan society.

On May 24, after decades of protest by the LGBT community in Taiwan, the country’s Constitutional Court ruled that laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. While the court’s decision didn’t immediately legalize gay marriage, it gave Taiwan’s government two years to implement the ruling, and said if the law isn’t changed within two years, same-sex couples could get married regardless.

In the wake of the Court’s decision, Taiwan was heralded for being one of the most progressive countries in Asia. While this may be true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Taiwan society is particularly advanced when it comes to accepting people from the LGBT community.

Following decades of silence about issues like homosexuality, HIV and AIDS, misinformation and fearmongering from a few corners appear to have led to an underlying current of misunderstanding and widespread discrimination. While this situation is probably not unique to Taiwan, when coupled with the complexities of the traditional family relationships, simply being gay or transgender in Taiwan today may be more difficult than it seems.

This episode features Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association’s Jennifer Lu and Ketagalan Media’s William Yang.

They give personal accounts of: what it is like to “come out” in Taiwan; why their parents thought being gay or lesbian was an illness that could be fixed; why parents in Taiwan feel a heightened sense of shame when their child is gay; the fallacy that religion is to blame for the opposition to same-sex marriage; whether the momentum created by the same-sex marriage movement will transfer to other human rights causes; and, the real-life implications of the same-sex marriage decision for Taiwan society and other countries in Asia.

Today’s guests:

Jennifer Lu, 34, is a long-time gay rights campaigner and activist with the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline Association.

William Yang, 28, is a journalist with Ketagalan Media, where he writes about social issues in Taiwan.

This podcast is available via the SoundCloud, Stitcher and iTunes apps.

 

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