June 2007 Archives
The memories that I had about the Handover, now ten years ago tomorrow, was that I was all very excited about the whole thing, and as certain as ever that it would mean the end of civil liberties for the people of Hong Kong.
Our family (both sides) is not strictly-speaking from Hong Kong, but rather from the nearby province of Guangdong. My paternal grandparents emigrated to Madagascar in the 40s, and had my father there; it was the same for my maternal grandparents, but to Vietnam. The latter grandparents transited by Hong Kong and stayed there for around a decade before coming to Canada in the early 80s. My mother's younger brothers and sisters all grew up in Hong Kong, and some of them went back there to live. My father's family is also connected with Hong Kong, as all of his first cousins (sons and daughters of his father's brother), except one, emigrated and made their life there. We call Hong Kong home, because we speak Cantonese at home, and culturally-speaking, Hong Kong still shines the brightest.
The pre-香港回歸 year was perhaps one of the first periods where I did more to know about the culture "back home", without the help of my parents. I was in my last year of high school, and the Internet was starting to make its way into our classrooms. Very naturally, it seems, I surfed the web, and browsed English-language newspapers like the SCMP, became very interested in the politics, in understanding the simply put slogan/concept of "One Country, Two Systems", and knowing the political characters of the time, such as Deng Xiaoping, Martin Lee (who I walked next to during a 7/1 march in 2005 in HK) and Tung Chee Hwa. It was a very important period for me, and a starting point for the interest that I have for what I tend to consider as my homeland.
In practice, things have not changed much for ten years in Hong Kong, while China kept leaping forward economically. There was 2003, with the SARS outbreak and Article 23, and 2005, with the emergence of Donald Tsang as CE of the HKSAR, and this year's CE election. Perhaps as a teenager, I was hoping for some sweeping action, but in Realpolitik, I feel that the most important notion is stability for economic prosperity, and Hong Kong in China has been fairly stable.
If people were not aware of this already, I am throwing a Hong Kong Handover party on Saturday evening at home, complete with mah jong tables, a HK flag (the bauhinia one), a menu which includes siu yok / bok choy, music from the Fragrant Port, cha chaan teng drinks, and more!
BBC News: Hong Kong Brits few but faithful | Audio Slideshow: Hong Kong memories.
The Economist: Special Report on Hong Kong.
Radio-Canada International: Reports by Bethany Or, in English as part of The Link, and a in French, as part of Le Courrier Mondial. Yvonne Lo, former volunteer coordinator and current board member at CFS, was interviewed in the reports.
It's once again this time of the year, that of Montreal's Fantasia film festival, starting on July 5th to 23rd, with more than 125 feature films instead of just a mere hundred last year, thanks to money from the provincial level. I definitely going to hit the East Asian films first, although I've also tried European horror flicks and American sci-fi movies in the past. Fantasia is also adding an extra venue, Théâtre DB Clarke, which is a 380-seat room (the one that we call the Hall is 700-seat), home of Concordia University's Department of Theatre, at the basement level of the Hall Building.
This year's installment will celebrate Russian cinema with seven films spanning the 30s and 80s, as well as five others exploring the theme of urban apocalypse (see special events).
From Hong Kong, you have the winner of like all HK movie awards of this year (three of them: Best Actor, Best New Actor, and Best Director), After This Our Exile, not to be confused with the excellent-looking 200g Johnnie To Exiled. The latter was also nominated in the best film category, and both Isabella and Dog Bite Dog each had a Best Actress/Actor nomination at HK's movie awards (nominees list - you have to guess the best ones, b/c they don't seem to consolidate them on one page). There is also an Oxide Pang movie called Diary.
Too many to parse through right now, but this year's lineup also includes a bunch of "oddities", like documentaries on animated film director Hayao Miyazaki or cinematographer Christopher Doyle. And as usual, the animes, the Japanese horror flicks, and a couple of Korean commercial films, like 200 Pounds Beauty.
More on the Green Life website, and specifically this entry.
Come out and meet/join us! Green Life is having a kiosk at the Chinatown street fair at Sun Yat-Sen park on the following days:
- Sun June 24 (1-6PM)
孩子 (child) is really my favourite song by Cheer Chen, and I found a YouTube video of a live performance at the Spring Scream music festival last April, in Taiwan.
At this point in my life, I think that The Chinese In America was the most important book that I could read. I picked it up almost at random, because I thought I read a review of it a couple of months or years ago. The book itself is written like a story, from the mid-19th Century, when the first Chinese immigrants ventured to California in search of Gold Mountain, pushing into present day, with the arrival of immigrants from HK and Taiwan, and the rise of the PRC.
The last chapter is the most powerful one, where the author exposes the same conclusions or ways to "respond" to the phenomenon of looking foreign in a land that you call your own. They are the principles of individual choice, and that of responsibility-taking. The latter, I consider that I've tried to go into that direction, wrt my involvement with the Chinese Family Service at various levels this past few months. As for the former, it has been a seemingly right answer to attitudes that displease me in the society I live in.
The book might have its problems, critics, but I say that it is good enough for me, as I wouldn't remember all the facts, and would only remember that the Chinese, or any other visible minority, was not treated fairly by those in power at certain moments in history. The exclusion act, in the US, but also in Canada, is a dark moment of our history that I did not know about until last year, when former PM Paul Martin apologized for the head tax during the 2006 winter election.
I've rarely finished voluminous non-novel books (I read most of it when I was still working full-time, too), and The Chinese In America is an easy read if you consider the topic to be of some importance.
Oh, Jolin. Last Tuesday, at that restaurant on St-Laurent/De La Gauchetière, the television was blurting out one cheesy Jolin Tsai music videos after the other. Her hotness is striking, yet in a very "omg, why the heck are you doing this" type of way. Perhaps it is because it plays into every cliche that Britney Spears et al. brought to the early 2000s popular music landscape (a few years ago, I blogged about Utada Hikaru being the Japanese Britney - which may not have been 100% correct, I recall, but now Jolin...).
... all that to report that Jolin wins the Best Female Vocalist at the 18th Golden Melody Awards. A certain Nicky Lee that I never heard of before, a Korean-American who sings in Chinese, was Best Male Singer. Sodagreen, who had seven nominations, topping all other nominees, went home with Best Band (its leader Wu Ching-feng also got Best Composer).
My Chinese is limited and the consensus seems that this site, designed and hosted by Naka.tw (notice their use of a Gmail as their main e-mail address), is the most official one of all, according to searches on Google Taiwan. Maybe it's a government thing, as the Wikipedia entry has govt links at the bottom.
Related reports: China Daily via AFP | IHT via the AP
Well! Radio-Canada seems to have dropped using ActiveX in favour of a shell in Flash for its new Audio-Video zone.
Nine minutes of worthless nothings:
Other videos if you're interested in Green Life 綠色生命.
A couple of weeks late... But Street View is really something. Just a few years ago, we were dazzled by satellite images available on one's favourite online maps site. Now, Street View just takes it to another level, literally.
Cheuk Kwan's Chinese Restaurants: Song of the Exile (English w/ French subs), on Friday June 15th, 6:30PM, at the CFSGM. Free admission.
A poster in Chinese! (I should really speak up against the trivial use of Chinese characters, when the event itself has nothing at all that we could call Chinese!)
Green Life, a group that promotes environmental awareness in the Montreal Chinese community, is today's cover story (aside from Lewis Hamilton getting the pole - eventually winning it) in the Gazette. A second story on take-out containers can also be found on page A4. Sandra Lee, our group's organizer, has a Wordress blog at https://greenchinese.wordpress.com/. I'd like to get ourselves a domain.
Apparently, Radio-Canada.ca has a new section with multimedia contents... I say "apparently", because it uses ActiveX to deliver the contents, and I can't access it with Firefox! What a choice of web technology, when Flash has become a dominant format for video contents, thanks to Youtube, and while other alternatives like the mix of embedded WMV/QT used by the CBC (R-C's English-language counterpart), or RM/QT used by the Beeb. It's a long way from using an open standard for multimedia (I don't think OGG really caught up), but at least don't try to go in the opposite direction...
There is a webpage for distraught Firefox users, and there is nonetheless an ActiveX plugin for Firefox, but only up to version 1.5. Widespread adoption of Microsoft technology within R-C (even compared with their anglo counterparts) really stirs a lot of incomprehension inside me. Shouldn't a state-funded body try to be a little more independent from big software companies, or be a leader in adopting and promoting new technology standards?
This week on The Link we're taking a look at how different generations of the same cultural community can sometimes be opposed to one another. Some of the first immigrants to arrive in Canada were the Chinese, and since then, the Chinese community has grown into one of the biggest in Canada. But saying "Chinese community" is a bit of a misnomer, since there are many different ways of being Chinese-Canadian, it's actually a very multicultural community. And not everyone is necessarily comfortable with one another. For more on this, we're joined by Bethany Or.
McGill University's Edible Campus project. See Urbanphoto.
Well, at least the Habs' farm team could win a championship tomorrow!
We finally had the round table. It was a very positive experience, I think, and will hopefully spark some interest for more. The topic is simply too expansive and universal to cover in a single session. From a personal standpoint, I guess that I know better what to expect.
So, does the Chinese Canadian community in Montreal need a voice? I know from seeing today's attendance of twenty-ish people that there are people in this city interested enough to spend their Sunday afternoon with strangers to talk about stereotypes, their experience growing up here. We are by no means a monolithic group of people, and share a vast range of opinions about the place of Chinese people in Canada.
Next activity: Cheuk Kwan's Chinese Restaurants (English w/ French subs), on Friday June 15th, 6:30PM, at the CFSGM.
Christopher DeWolf of urbanphoto.net wrote "Cultural Kung Fu" / "No Ching Chong Here" after meeting us (Shuang, Sandra and myself) at Magic Idea last Friday. The first article was published in the News section of the Montreal Hour, a free English-language weekly, and the second article is an extended version of the first, w/ a photo of our poster:
Previous press coverage include this interview where I attempt to speak about complicated matters in my unrecoverably broken Chinese.
Future press coverage include a part in a report by Bethany Or of RCI, to be aired this coming Tuesday.