Monday, February 20, 2017

100 Years in one Minute: Hair and Makeup Trends in Taiwan

By Asia Pop Culture

We came across this cool video depicts the hairstyles and makeup of women in Taiwan over the past century packed into a little more than one minute.

I think the video seems to have too much modern influence and did not reflect the full makeup and hair style in the 60's, 70's and 80s as seen in the pictures below from the top stars like Bai Jia Li (白嘉莉)and Louise Tsuei (崔苔菁) in the same era.

Taiwan's record industry used to dominate Southeast Asia before China's entertainment industry took off in the past 10 years or so.  Many Mandopop songs from Taiwan were popular in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

There is no shortage of talent in Taiwan; however, it has become very difficult for Taiwan to compete with China in TV, record and movies due to limited resource and home market.  Many of Taiwan's home grown super stars have shifted focus to the massive fan base and market in Mainland China.  It will be interesting to see how Taiwan's entertainment industry can adapt and evolve in the brave new world.

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Bai Jia Li, active in Taiwan entertainment industry in the 60's

Louise Tsuei, Taiwan's top Mandopop singer in the 70s and 80s

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Bill Gates Is Now on China's WeChat

By Asia Pop Culture

This week, Bill Gates announced his arrival on Chinese social media WeChat.  He said he "planned to use his new WeChat account - gatesnotes - to share stories about the people he was meeting, books he was reading, and things he was learning."

He even made an inaugural WeChat video to say "Hello. Welcome to my official WeChat account," in Chinese before switching to English (His Mandarin Chinese has ample room for improvement, a long way from Facebook's Zuckerberg, and WWE's John Cena.)

Bill Gates already has a personal blog called gatenotes, the blog of Bill Gates, so I imagine his WeChat account is a way to draw the potentially massive Chinese social media audience to his blog and perhaps his charity and causes. Gates runs the $38 billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2014, Gates wrote an editorial in People's Daily, which is considered a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece, to call on China's wealthy to "redistribute their wealth as Reuters quoted:
"China has many successful entrepreneurs and business people. I hope that more people of insight will put their talents to work to improve the lives of poor people in China and around the world, and seek solutions for them..... Investing for the poor requires participation from the entire community."
Reuters then went on to say that
According to the World Bank, the average income per capita in China was $6,091 in 2012. But the country's rapid economic growth has exacerbated a rural-urban wealth gap, with people in many rural areas living on annual incomes below $1,000 and struggling with access to adequate healthcare.
In addition, Reuters noted China ranks towards the bottom of the list of countries where people give money to charity, volunteer or help a stranger, according to The World Giving Index, compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation.

During the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan, the tiny Taiwan provided over $252 million in combined aid, and were among the largest contributors in monetary aid, according to Wikipedia. A lot of that money was raised through private fund raising efforts instead of official government sources.

There were reports of several private Japanese citizen groups went over to Taiwan in the years after 2011 to personally thank people in Taiwan for their just-in-time generous donation (Japanese government failed to officially even acknowledge Taiwan's humanitarian response due to political reasons.)

Reportedly, the mighty China sent $167,000 in aid along with a 15-member rescue team and an additional pledge of $4.57 million of humanitarian supplies.

In other words, philanthropy in China has yet to take off.

Yes, the New York Times and Bloomberg in recent years have chronicled the accumulation of spectacular wealth among family members of some of China's top Communist Party leaders, but it is like asking a famished lion to give up that piece of steak already in its mouth.  So unfortunately, Bill could be greatly disappointed if he sees China as a 'rich target' for his mission of charitable causes.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

1,000-drone Light Show to Celebrate the Chinese Lantern Festival

By Asia Pop Culture
A bowl of Tangyuan

The Chinese Lantern Festival (元宵節) is celebrated on Lunar calendar of January 15th each year, and traditionally ends the Chinese New Year period. In 2017 it falls on February 11. People usually take down all New Year decorations after the Lantern Festival. Since the Lantern Festival is also the first full moon night in the Lunar calendar, traditionally that means the return of spring and symbolizing the reunion of family. However, in the modern time, this is not a public holiday, so most people cannot celebrate it with their families.

The Lantern Festival can be traced back to 2,000 years ago. In the beginning of the Eastern Han Dynasty (東漢, 25–220 AD), Buddhist monks used to light lanterns in the temples to show respect to Buddha on the 15th day of the first lunar month.  Emperor Ming of Han (漢明帝), an advocate of Buddhism, then ordered that all the temples, households, and royal palaces should also light lanterns on that evening.

This Buddhist lantern custom gradually became a grand festival among the regular people with fireworks, lion dances, food, a variety of different beautiful lantern styles with riddles written on lanterns for people to guess. Lighting lanterns has also become a way for people to pray for smooth futures and express their best wishes for their families.

The traditional food Chinese people eat to celebrate the Lantern Festival is tangyuan (湯圓), which could be best described as round sweet sticky rice balls, typically served in a round soup bowl. Over time, tangyuan has developed into many sizes, colors and can be filled or unfilled in the center.

Because of its symbolism of happiness and good union, tangyuan also has become a dessert course in Chinese wedding, Winter Solstice Festival (冬至) and any other celebratory occasions such as a party for a newborn.

The traditional lanterns are made of paper and painted by hand.  I still remember when I was very young, I used to cry all the way home because the wind blew and ruined my paper lanterns (2-3 of them) on the night of the Lantern Festival.

Fortunately, thanks to the modern day high tech, we now enjoy lanterns and spectacular electric light shows with 3D art and drones.

Intel just set a new world record releasing 500 drones in the sky last November.  If you were impressed with Intel's show, check out this spectacular show of 1,000 drones lighting up the night sky of the Lantern Festival in Guangzhou, China.  The drones flew in various formations such as Chinese characters of Blessing (福), Lantern Festival, and the map of China. The performance set a Guinness World Record with the biggest number of drones involved, according to CCTV news.

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