Tuesday, October 11, 2011

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Double Ten Day: 100 years of Republic of China celebration

10/11/2011 Taiwan Explorer
Double Ten Day 2011 in images from various sources.


Today is 100 years of the Republic of China, which is the official name of the country most of you know as Taiwan. For the historic and political buffs out there, I recommend you to read an article on a website called Wikipedia, that goes in depth about the last 100 years of the country, that is today known as the heart of Asia (see video on the left). What is there to say about a national day of a probably sovereign country, that officially doesn't have many foreign relations with other sovereign countries? There's a lot to say, as a matter of fact. Yes, we did not see Obama in Taipei today, nor Hu Jintao, the current paramount leader of a neighboring country, that (to the much of the world's confusion) uses a similar official name as Taiwan. We also didn't see political titans such as Angela Merkel, Fidel Castro or George Papandreou, but we did see the President of Burkina Faso, Mr. Blaise Compaoré, honoring us with an official visit and strengthening the ties with us. It's telling, that this is our president's biggest achievement in terms of foreign relations this year. But Taiwanese don't really care about which world leader is roaming around the island and smiling for the cameras. Of course Taiwan has a lot of foreign relations, they're just under the table, which is probably much better than in other countries, because it's impossible for politicians to use these official visits for campaigning and propaganda - it forces them to do something and work in the shadows.

Today was not a sunny day. And most of the past days were rainy or at least covered with a blanket of grey clouds. The lead up to this year's October 10th or the "Double Ten Day" or 十十節 was full of anticipation and partial excitement. ROC flags were placed along avenues in most Taiwanese cities and towns, patriotic ads were running on TV, people were looking forward to this work-free day for a long time, which conveniently came on Monday. And everybody (well, many) were looking forward to the big parade in front of the Presidential palace in Taipei, the President's speech and the fireworks in the evening. I would say most Taiwanese, be it blue or green leaning were happy today (it was after all a work-free day) and felt somewhat patriotic, some more, some less, but very few people were untouched. Today I felt that Taiwanese, like any other nation, realized that they do need something to belong to. And the 100 years of the Republic of China is all they have now and all they know for the past 60 years. The ROC is like a wife from an arranged marriage that you never really loved. You think about exchanging it for a younger one of your own choice, but then you know it's not possible at this moment and you just try to get to love and cherish what you have. Whatever baggage there is attached to this day, to the history behind it and to the uncertain future ahead, many Taiwanese have honestly celebrated their nationhood and did not care about anything else. Whatever doubts or raised eyebrows there were, they disappeared when the first fireworks started to color the evening sky.

This is how my wife and I spend this year's Double Ten Day:

We watched the President's speech on TV.

Then we went on the roof of our apartment building and watched the jet fighters flying over Taipei. There were many other spectators on roofs of other buildings.

In the evening we went to the central Taipei and saw a lot of flags.

We went to see the Presidential palace. There were many people taking photos of it.

This colorful paifang was placed over the Ketagalan Boulevard.

Many people were taking photos in this area as well. In the nearby Guest House VIPs were leaving a party. Most roads in the area were closed down and secured.

After we walked around the city, we returned home and went to the roof top to see the official fireworks. We did not take too many good photos today, so if you wanna see the fireworks through a better lens, I recommend you this photo stream.

I'm generally not a person, that would truly celebrate the national day in my own country. These celebrations are usually boring, with long speeches and performances, that are not interesting for very long, but days like this do touch me. But being in Taiwan today and seeing all the happiness of the people I have adopted was truly a great experience. I was happy for them, even though most of them knew, that only the past 15 years have been truly good to them. But once again, it wasn't a time for nitpicking, it was a time to celebrate and celebrating means switching off and only giving way to the most basic emotions such as joy, ease of mind and optimism (daily life's already very challenging). Taiwan and its people did not have it easy in the past ten decades, however, the latest two prove, that things are changing for the better. Today I am hopeful about this country and its future, because I know that the foundations of this nation are strong. Soon there will be free elections again and Taiwanese will prove to the world (once again), that this small forgotten island is fully committed to democracy, freedom and human rights and that it's crying for recognition and respect from the rest of the world, something that the honorable people have truly earned in the past 100 years and fully deserved. Today I'm not wondering, why Taiwanese have celebrated, I'm wondering, why foreign democracies wrapped themselves in silence. All I can sat us: Shame on them.

This is Taiwan.

This is Republic of China.

親愛的台灣朋友們,今天是你們的國慶日,你們感覺如何呢?你們覺得驕傲嗎?你們如何看你們的ROC國號、旗幟以及定位呢?請原諒我只是個好奇的老外。

Further read:

- Popular blogger writes about Double Ten Day
- A short video of today's celebrations on Apple Daily
- Chinese teacher Peggy's video about the National Day

[My UNIQUELY TAIWAN page][Marked photos by MKL, 2011]