Showing posts with label longshan_temple. Show all posts
Showing posts with label longshan_temple. Show all posts

Friday, January 10, 2020

Chillin’ at the Freddy Lim rally

Tsai, Freddy Lim and Lin Fei-fan - and I think that's Lai Pin-yu

Update: now with photos! 

I really admire people who have the stomach to attend rallies for the bad guys - I just can’t do it. As in, it directly affects my mental health and I stay away for my own well-being. Considering this, while everyone was reporting on the big Han rally last night, I went over to Freddy Lim’s rally outside Longshan Temple. 

Lin Fei-fan takes the stage

First, I urge people not to compare these two rallies. Han’s big rally - which absolutely didn’t reach 700,000 people as they claim - was for a presidential candidate who organized attendees from all over the country (that’s not necessarily wrong, it’s just that it’s a national audience - though it’s worth noting that it seems to be the same people bussed everywhere). Lim is a legislative candidate, not a presidential one, and this was a local rally with local flavor. 

A cute sign for Tsai
The turnout was solid

In fact, if you compare Freddy’s rally a few weeks ago on the same Ketagalan Boulevard site as Han’s, you’ll note that a (mere) legislative candidate was able to fill the entire boulevard. A presidential candidate did that, and filled most (but not all) of the Jingfu Gate circle - if you look at pictures, there was still space to move around. That’s actually impressive...for Freddy. For Han, this turnout is good - at least it’s not embarrassing - but it actually compares poorly against Lim and Han’s own previous rallies.

How do I know it wasn’t 700,000? The Sunflowers claimed 500,000 - I’m not sure about that number, but whatever - and you couldn’t even approach Jingfu Gate. We were stuck way back by the National Concert Hall. 

And people seemed genuinely excited for Tsai and Lim

In any case, I headed to Freddy’s rally. As I got off the MRT, I grabbed my Freddy flag - you’re not supposed to wave those on the MRT as political campaigning is banned there, but it was in the way of my keys and metro card - and asked a bunch of Han supporters in front of the door to please let me off the train. Two women carrying ROC/Han flags quite deliberately not only did not move (although there was space, or they could have stepped off the train briefly), but actively blocked me. One sort of arm-nudged her friend to be more in my way! 

I found this behavior extremely rude, especially as I made a particular effort to sound especially polite to them in the beginning. In the end I was unable to get around them, and had to push through. I gave them a sharp “RUDE!” in Chinese as I did. If this is what Han supporters are like, I’m happy to be on the other side. 

The rally itself had a lot more local flavor than the Chthonic concert on Ketagalan. This was surely deliberate strategy. That concert was for general support, and for the youth vote. This was for the uncles and aunties in his actual neighborhood. The music was very old-school Taiwanese, the speeches were full of piss and vinegar (though some were more exciting than others) and were conducted almost entirely in Taiwanese, with a little Mandarin peeking through. Smoke machines, disco lights, background music - this rally had it all. It was less polished than the previous one, and that was entirely intentional. 

It was extremely crowded, a good turnout for a legislative candidate

The turnout was good - all seats were taken, plus a large standing crowd along the entire perimeter. Freddy goods - stickers, towels, keychains, t-shirts - sold at a good clip. Crucially, the turnout wasn’t just young people. In fact, I was in a sea of middle-aged and older folks who were all enthusiastic. That’s good news for Freddy, who needs this ‘older’ vote to keep Wanhua. These are the folks Lin Yu-fang could depend on, so it’s good to see that Freddy is netting at least some of them. Hopefully enough to win. The rally took up the entire length of Guangzhou Road outside the temple and towards the market at the far end, spilling onto the esplanade leading to the underground market entrance. I was hungry and thirsty, but there was absolutely no way to get to the Family Mart opposite. 

Speakers included legislative candidate Lai Ping-yu (known for her cosplay-inspired campaign), Premier Su Cheng-chang and his his signature raspy voice, DPP Deputy Secretary General and “guy in charge of mobilizing the youth” Lin Fei-fan, former Kaohsiung governor (now Vice Premier, yes? His roles seem to keep changing) Chen Chi-mai, Freddy Lim himself, and of course President Tsai. One of the musicians, who was very young, also spoke but I missed most of this as I was chatting with another young attendee. All of the folks who’ve been making the rounds speaking - Tsai, Lim, Lin - sounded a little hoarse. It’s been a long season. 

Really, I couldn't even get to the Family Mart

The speeches themselves were better than one might expect. Lin Fei-fan is known for being a good speaker, and he broke out his Taiwanese more than he has in the past (it is one of his native languages but you don’t hear it from him that often, he’s more likely to do public speaking in Mandarin). The gist of his speech - the Mandarin parts I could follow - were that Taiwan and Hong Kong are concurrently locked in a battle against China, and we are not going to let Taiwan become the next Hong Kong. “We don’t yield, we don’t kneel, we don’t walk on our knees,” he said, and I thought that was just great. 

Outside Longshan Temple

Towards the end he addressed some of the criticisms he’s received taking a position in the DPP, seeing as he’s so well-known for criticizing them. He said, “we know we haven’t done enough, we know we haven’t gone far enough, but we will, please give us a chance to do so” (not an exact translation). 

Freddy's speech

Typically, “we’re not good enough, we know that and we’ll do better” is not a great campaign tactic, but there’s something very old-school Taiwanese politics (that whole humility game, though it’s often performative) about it, and he’s the right person to deliver that message considering the criticism he’s endured. 

To be honest, I couldn’t follow a lot of the other mostly-Taiwanese speeches, though I think Freddy’s focused a bit more on local issues than he typically has. Tsai’s (in Mandarin) was pretty clear: One Country Two Systems will never work, Taiwan can never give up its sovereignty, the China threat is real, etc. etc.  She did better than usual, speaking with more clarity and emotion and less detachedness, wonkishness and repetitive call-and-response. This was a somewhat enjoyable speech, far more so than the one she gave on Ketagalan at the previous Freddy rally.

In fact, people seemed genuinely excited to see her, and genuinely energized by her speech. That's a win. 

I think the size of the Han rally gave the speakers renewed passion, and pushed them to speak with energy and emotion (well, except Chen Chi-mai, who always sounds a little removed and dorky, but honestly, I like him.) I wouldn’t call it nervousness, but everyone’s on edge as voting begins in a matter of hours. It felt like a final push, because it was one. 

Notably, after the rally ended, a group of Hong Kong protesters raised flags and shouted “Freedom for Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times” in Cantonese, attracting a sizeable crowd. Someone from the Statebuilding Party also waited for the rally to end to take out a microphone as volunteers lifted large posters and gave out tissues and stickers. He delivered an impassioned speech, and while Statebuilding is a little too close to nationalist for my taste, I appreciated their very grassroots, take-to-the-street strategy. In fact, that Hong Kongers and the Statebuilding Party felt this was a good rally to make an appearance made the whole thing feel very democratic. 

After all, all of these issues are connected - Hong Kong, Taiwan, what kind of country we want Taiwan to be - and the official speeches mirrored that. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lugang's "Rival" Matsu Processional

This is one of my favorite photos from the trip photo 401925_10151634612921202_1529303997_n.jpg

Lugang's Tianhou Temple (天后宮) is not on the official circuit for the Jen Lann Temple Matsu Pilgrimage (but nearby Zhanghua's Nanyao Both temples are quite old, quite famous, quite prestigious, and quite a part of the deeply knit old Hoklo communities here - and quite involved with local "brotherhoods" (Jen Lann Gong more so - so I hear).

As you can imagine, the two temples have something of a rivalry, although it's nothing compared to Yunlin's Xingang and Beigang Matsu temples.

As such, when Jen Lann Temple's festival starts up, Tianhou has its own festival the next day, and it's quite a good one. We were lucky to catch it - unlike the Jen Lann Gong Matsu Pilgrimage kick-off - in good weather.

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This festival was more traditional than ones you see in Taipei - when I finally finish editing my film footage I'll be able to explain why in better detail, with clearer examples.

For one, though, there were far more spirit mediums. Three in this group, and several more throughout the festival, including some in costumes and some without, and some women (which is not common - I've never seen a female spirit medium in Taipei, although maybe I'm just not looking hard enough).

The guy above is facing Thousand Mile Eyes, the green demon of Matsu's two demon-turned-good-guy attendants.

We saw not one but to Jigong spirit mediums in Lugang, at different times photo 406995_10151634608836202_1364682816_n.jpg

The first of two Ji Gong spirit mediums, the night before the big festival.
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These guys are carrying the sedan chair for Hu Ye (Ho Ya in Taiwanese), the Tiger God who sits beneath Tudi Gong, the Earth God. They're among my favorites - I have a great video in the clips I'm editing of them exploding a mound of firecrackers underneath the idol.

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You've seen lion dances before, I bet, but I love this photo.

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I tried to get a few more photos of people rather than "things" in this festival - here are a few that I did get -

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 Ears on the Wind is watching you photo 931249_10151634611346202_311935279_n.jpg

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Duuuude spirit mediums photo 12018_10151634612001202_563458796_n.jpg  photo 311027_10151634612241202_1448122666_n.jpg

With the blinding sun, though, it was hard to get good, clear photos without too much glare. Sadly, rather like a typhoon, one does not get to decide when a festival comes in.

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Everyone loves the San Tai Zi, or "God's 3 children". Yes, they're dancing to Gangnam Style.

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I don't know why this spirit medium has a pacifier photo 525373_10151634612831202_374246418_n.jpg
I have no idea why this spirit medium is sucking on a pacifier. I haven't seen that before. Longer-term Taiwan folks: is this a thing?

 praying to the gods - more like ghosts or petty demons or immortals - for rain, few storms, and good farming. photo 422051_10151634612866202_804106492_n.jpg

These guys are praying for no storms, good rain and sun. and good farming. It's all a part of a very traditional chant and ceremonial - more ceremonial than usual - burning of money for spirits. To me, the song sounded dark and ominous. To Taiwanese friends I've played the video for, however, it sounded perfectly normal, not scary at all.

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This guy was the second of two Ji Gong spirit mediums we saw.

A female spirit medium photo 374743_10151634613606202_102051355_n.jpg

A woman possessed like a spirit medium, but not injuring herself.

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A member of the crowd is also possessed. This happens sometimes. It sort of happened to me in Donggang, very briefly, although that was probably a combination of heat exhaustion, pounding waves, drums and heat.

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This guy's job appears to be to banish the bad ghosts photo 401205_10151634613976202_1937919994_n.jpg

This guy is writing "god characters" in the air and using the whip to scare away bad ghosts and spirits.

Passing idols over the incense photo 933898_10151634614236202_1804481216_n.jpg

Passing the idols over incense before bringing them out.

What follows after this are just some atmosphere shots of Lugang - Zhongshan Road, the old street, Tianhou, Longshan and Dizang Wang temples...if you're not really into that, you can stop here. But I felt the shots were good enough to warrant posting, so if you just want to enjoy some pretty pictures (or haven't seen Lugang before), enjoy.

Downtown Lugang photo 934900_10151634614441202_1582641267_n.jpg

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The Ding Family House, Lugang photo 309951_10151634614766202_194630786_n.jpg

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Longshan Temple at sunset (Lugang, not Taipei)

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Dizang Wang (Lord of Hell) temple in Lugang photo 374577_10151634616566202_586855847_n.jpg

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Lugang's famous - and crowded - old street photo 524624_10151634608571202_198134524_n.jpg

Tianhou temple by night photo 72115_10151634608951202_1576107050_n.jpg

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Tianhou Temple at night

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Fish eggs being laid out for sale - typically eaten with white turnip, scallion and maybe a touch of garlic.

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