Passing us on

 

We have a single mission: to protect and hand on the planet to the next generation.’ – Francois Hollande


 

My foot caught a weird crack in the rocky path and my leg gave out. I fell forward and though my hands reached out to the ground to break the fall, my face still hit the grass and soil. It was wet. It smelled bad. I’m still not used to the fact that everywhere around me is now green and brown when it used to be a pristine, pure white.

I pulled my head — my left side covered in dirt, dew, and leaves — and laid on my back to take a breather. The crack shouldn’t have made me fall but I was exhausted. I’m not half what I was before. So much of my weight was gone and I hated when my arms would rub against my now prominent ribs. My skin sagged against the force of gravity and I’m barely strong enough to support my tall skeletal frame. I stared up at the sun and it looked even bigger than yesterday. Its light hurt my eyes but what gave me true despair was its unavoidable heat.

In the past, it brought a luminescent radiance of comfort and warmth against the harsh biting snowy winds and the sharp, biting cold of the ice underneath our feet. But now, it was just… bright. It was so hot, I could feel my skin get set ablaze. What once was a scintillating, prismatic thing of nature that one appreciated in the blue sky was now a blistering beam of unconditional burning. I didn’t want it.

But I can’t complain. Not audibly. Not when my father was now atop of me. His head covered the sun from my gaze completely and I was enveloped in darkness. But I still knew how he was looking at me: annoyed, judging, practically hateful.

“Get up. We are a strong kind. Get. Up.”

He projected his voice loud when he said ‘we’.

“Do not forget, child. We were once a great, powerful clan.”

He placed his heavy hand on my shoulder and I nearly fell forward again. I heard the voice of a courageous fighter but in no way did his weak body match. It was very shocking to remember that he once was a massive, fighting leader for his community. It was even more so to see him now in his sickly form. He seemed to heave and trudge with every step. It’s even more terrifying to think that the change — the decay of his might and body – happened so quickly.

“In my time, these lands were not just covered in blankets of snow; every day was a literal fight for your life. When the only flowing liquid was the blood in our hearts, and every breath of the cold air felt like blades slashing your throat, and your eyes barely saw what was beyond your arm’s reach, only the strongest would survive. We were the strongest, and everyone else bowed down.”

He’s told his stories many times, but I let him continue as we walked. Our goal was to look for food, but the vast, barren land prompted a lot of talking to keep them sane. We’d notice if there was food, so he talked.

“It wasn’t until the ‘Others’ came. You remember the tale, right?”

“Yes, I do. They came in small groups but had kept their distance.”

“Yes! Even those that defied what we knew was natural knew not to challenge us.”

Even if I knew what was going to happen – having been told of the story many times – a crack in his voice betrayed the sadness and pity he had for his  foolish hubris. My head hung lower because I knew how this was going to end.

“Then they came in stronger and more numerous. We fought back and yelled our gravelling roar. We won battles but there were so many confrontations. At first, their capture of one of our kind was though sad, quite complimenting. ‘They adored us’, we thought! ‘We were a fantastic bunch that was worth admiring and keeping!’ We paid our respects to our fallen comrade but laughed and celebrated hard at our greatness.”

He stopped.  The winds were louder than our silence. I knew the next parts from my fallen relatives and kinsmen and started reciting them in my mind. He didn’t even have to say it.

“Then more of them came. Soon we realized how stupid we were for celebrating a casualty count. We started to plan for counter-attacks but it was impossible to fight back against an  ultimately superior opponent. It was even understating calling them figures of belligerent oppression. They were a force that did whatever they pleased. Soon the hierarchy of power in our lands were shuffled to have them as the ultimate of ultimates.

They disappeared as soon as they left. But their malevolence was still felt. Before they came, our frozen tundra, cold and cruel as it was, was beautiful, clean, and full of food. Ever since they came… everything started to melt and our lands have gotten worse and smaller. Fearing the struggle for resources, our kind spread out to the far lands in search for more. Many groups never returned. Those that did bore only bad news. The sun grew hotter and our numbers died out. Worst of all, we had no way to fight something that could not be fought. 

We knew it was because of them.”

But my father never got to those parts. I knew a reality so terrible and so full of despair at my age and my father would be foolish to think I did not. But he never talked about it nor brought it to attention. We saw a pile of refuse nearby and we walked towards it.

“The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all.”

He continued to talk like this despite his pathetic form past his prime.

“Remember, son. We may be so few left,  but our kind will forever be remembered. If not by others, but within us in our memories.”

The refuse had things that did not belong to this land. Hard, tough, inedible things that were washed ashore or were dropped from the sky. But there were the few rare things that seemed edible. They were soft and had no flavour to them but if we could get them down to our stomachs, it was good enough.

“They may take our lands and beat us in an unwinnable battle. They may weaken us and make our bodies brittle and soft. But they will never take our spirits. Fight. Fight for me. For us. For yourself.”

It seemed so foolish. Why bother at all? But, in the grand scheme of things, we struggled because we could. We’re a proud race, and no matter what, I will fight.


 

The man stood a way’s away on a hill, looking down at the valley below. He remembered a time when he had to wear white coverings to mask him into the surroundings. Now he just wore whatever and felt fine, only having to wipe the sweat from his brow every now and then from the intense heat. He trained his camera to a spot along a path. His subjects were closing in. A young polar bear with a shriveled, hungry body tripped over a set of rocks. Unfortunate, but it was a great shot for when the father bear — just as depressing and disturbing to look at — came over to pick him up. The cameraman could pity the bears as they rummaged through the plastic and garbage to pick out few paper bags and food-wastes the bears thought were edible.

“What a damn shame.”


 

Author’s note:

Do not be fooled by the fact that we still have cold winters. Climate change caused by Global Warming is upsetting a delicate balance in our world — our only home — and we are the sole cause of it. I don’t know how it is that we can live with our ways for so long and not do anything about it quick enough.  If we’re roommates with all of the species in the world, we’re giant assholes not cleaning up after our mess.

But, this isn’t just about the environment. The quote is in many ways refers to the responsible adults who have chosen to raise a child to ready them for reality. No matter how terrible it is, and no matter how much the child knows so much more than the parent will ever know, it will forever be ingrained into the child’s mind that ‘Yes, you can do it.’

Thank you, pa.

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F&B – Making Heroes

She was tired and old. Her knees clicked and her heels ached with every step. She could barely manage to roll her wrists around on their joints. Short to say, everything hurt. There wasn’t a moment when she wanted to give up and give in.

 

Yet she endeavoured. Though the restaurant had demanding staircases, an incredibly wide floor plan, and what many people dread an outside terrace exposed to the harsh weather, she went to work anyway because the shifts were filled with great staff. Personalities and a talented workforce made all the difference in how any F&B establishment survived, going on dynamicity, functionality, and most importantly, trust.

 

Though the bars required incredible specialist knowledge, etiquette, and customer service, dealing with the customers that ranged from the patient, educated, and nice to the disserviced, unreasonably furious, and those that lacked the characteristics of human beings, all the knowledge and experience in the world could not prepare any person to the Food and Beverage industry; it takes an almost literal forging and hardening of one’s character to handle the hardships, mishaps, and disappointments. A literal Survival of the Fittest contest occurs every day in any cuisine and drink establishment. In so many ways, she was stronger than the average Olympian, despite her failing body persevering wear and tear.

 

Yet worst of all… she often felt unappreciated back at home. Supposedly a place of love, comfort, and rest, she still masterminded and did every single chore.

Cleaning the floors, washing the clothes, cooking the food, shopping for necessities…

Her hard-earned money spent on rent, luxurious meals had outside, tuition fees, school needs…

Barely enough time to warrant calling any of it proper rest, hardly any money for any kind of enjoyment for herself, constantly thinking that returning home might as well be unpaid labour…

Almost never hearing a word of thanks or receiving a form of gratification, watching other people with the freedom to foster, grow, and travel, and perhaps even a form of regret of many decisions made past – opportunities that were thought could be pushed back, thinking it could wait until it was too late, or chances and desires dropped simply because other things happened (or did not happen, unfortunately).

 

Despite all of this, she continued to work hard to be the money-maker and carer of this home because she believed in the investment of her children. She raised them well. Her children were decent, civilized, educated children that previously had just taken things for granted, but now understood with great empathy that they owed everything to their mother. They knew they were difficult and F&B was many different definitions of ‘bullshit’, so anything that their mother did could and should be recited as tales and legends of a daring, loving Hero.

 

That’s what F&B is really as an industry. Last long enough, and you will bear the scars of every triumphed villainous customer. You will reap the reward and realize what truly matters after every apocalyptic trial, be it parties, events, or even just lunch hour. You will learn how to read people’s minds, tones, and body language. You will be able to endure any challenge you receive thereafter with your acumen for professionalism, diligence, and improvisation. Your employment will be narrated as sagas and epics with your comrades, management, returning customer, and even your children. Every bar, cafe, and restaurant is pantheon for the Gods.

 

That’s why on this Christmas Day in this year, I don’t need any more gifts from you. Your work speaks for itself in the physical. But the stories of your day at work, for a bookworm like me, are gifts enough for me.

 

Relics of the Past

Based on real events


Grandpa Wong entered the convenience store and exhaled a great breath of comfort as the air-conditioning cooled the sweat of his body. He knew it was a temporary escape from Hong Kong’s blazing summer heat; though he tried to prolong each movement to extend his time at this haven he frequented, he would have to go back out to work. Grandpa Wong limped to the refrigerators at the far end of the shop, greeted with an even cooler gale of air as he pulled out a glass bottle of soybean milk. He went to the cashier to pay what’s due but not before closing the fridge door.

Bang.

“Same thing again, Grandpa?”

“Yes, yes,” he replied with a chuckle. “It reminds me of the older days.” Grandpa Wong regarded the young, healthy, able-bodied cashier with much envy but he hid it all with his smile. The old man chuckled, as he’d be lucky to muster up enough breath to lift the stack of magazines that just came in, where the energetic cashier, albeit apathetic to his work, lazily reached over to place the stacks over the counter. Grandpa Wong’s current form made anyone look giant but it was compensated with the most fervent determination and drivethe kind that is not readily seen with the new generation nowadays. He knew what he wanted to do, and he would work hard for it. How he wished he could have this cashier’s body now. Grandpa gestured for the glass bottle cap to be pried open, said his thanks, and returned back out to work.


Grandpa Wong parted the crowd to make way for his large trolley. The people split for the old man and converged back into a mass behind him. Grandpa Wong paid no attention to the annoyed, busy, and pitying audience. He shared the pedestrian walk with other senior citizens labouring past with what their bodies allowed them to do, yet as each party worked to move around each other, none of them would be registered as a passing thought to the pedestrians. It all felt so tight, small, and unnecessarily busy. Everyone and everything competed for space. But unfortunately, it was not just space:

Move out of the way, stupid kids!”

So rude!”

Bloody children always using their phones…”

Watch where you’re going, old man!”

The elderly shouted loud to be heard through traffic, conversations, and earphones. Grandpa Wong was not one to shout but he, like everyone else, was a victim to the endless noise. Alongside the piercing sounds were bright, garish, even unsightly visual stimuli that fought for your attention such as moving screens, large televisions, posters plastered on other posters.

There was not one single space that did not show an advertisement displaying the latest hit or the hottest trend. It was as if every second there was something new and everything that came before that second was now obsolete. Time moved fast for new ideas and objects that everyone vied for. Time would not stop and slow down for those who could not keep up. It seemed as though it was only a few years ago when Grandpa Wong suffered his injury and was no longer fit for his delivery services. It seemed even more recent that his son had just become a father. It seemed like a blink of an eye ago that his grandson no longer liked playing with his own grandfather with his plastic toys and was now glued to the electronic screen like everyone else. Playthings and imagination to be replaced with gadgets and monitors. Precious, expensive commodities only to be so quickly replaced and forgotten. Grandpa Wong now collected these commodities on his large trolley to sell to a buyer, hoping to make some small money for these used goods. He had been working hard for his goal, saving up enough money to buy the latest touchscreen phone. That way, his grandson would notice him again, as the loving grandfather, not a relic of the past like his limp or the plastic toys that served so much fun, or the many other senior citizens of burdening society.

Grandpa Wong had agreed with the used-goods collector to meet up at an old neighbourhood. He sat down by the trolley, tugging on his shirt to create some wind to cool himself down. ‘Just a few more jobs,’ he thought to himself. He was almost there. The familiar van turned the corner and stopped. The collector exited from the van and made his way to the back to open the back door.

“Grandpa! No wayyou carried that by yourself?”

Both acknowledged that the sight of the trolley was intimidating. Several box televisions and speakers placed precariously atop each other, loosely bound by tough string and laboured through the city by a very old man.

“It’s okay… I’m stronger than I look.”

The collector withdrew himself from his chuckle.

“I’m sorry, grandpa. No one buys these box TVs anymore… and for the speakers I can only give you thirty dollars.”

The collector took out his wallet and pulled out a crumpled twenty-note and a ten-note which Grandpa received with much gratitude. The collector arched his eyebrow, noting the old, but thick wallet Grandpa had, filled with what must be hundreds of twenty- and ten-notes. He said nothing, packed everything into his van, and slammed the back door down.

Bang.

He bid farewell and drove away. Grandpa Wong noted his hungry stomach but ignored his want to eat. He could not spare any money to eat outside and could only count on the leftovers at home. In a few minutes, the sky would be completely dark and any person would make their way back home for dinner. But there was always still time for one more job. ‘So tired…’

Just then, his mobile phone, ancient by today’s standards, rang. Someone must have read his roughly hand-written ad about his service and wanted something gone. He flipped his phone open and listened. It was in this neighbourhood and the family wanted an old refrigerator gone.


There was no elevator in the old building so he left his trolley down by the street and walked up the stairs to the third floor. Back in the day, this would have been brand new and Grandpa Wong would have been excited to live in such luxury. His limp did not make the journey upwards easy with the many broken steps.

Grandpa Wong rapped on the doorbell and a moment later a man opened to answer him.

“Oh good, we’re just about to start dinner. Come in.”

Grandpa Wong battled to resist the smells of the food and instead planned on how to move the enormous refrigerator. Just next to it was the much slimmer, shorter, but more advanced replacement.

“We don’t want it. You can take it away.”

“Okay.”

The man helped Grandpa Wong to move the refrigerator out of the door. The man then turned to call the children out for dinner. Still within sight, Grandpa Wong could see the children saunter their way out of their rooms, eyes and hands still attached to their electronic screens. As they sat, they never left their virtual world.

“I have to help set dinner. Thank you so much for taking this fridge away.”

Grandpa Wong only nodded as he was greeted by the door once more.

Out of sight, out of mind.

He turned to take in the challenge he had to endure. Turning back, he tried to hug the fridge and reach the back but realized there was no way to grip it that way. He could only pull on the fridge door that would keep opening. He pulled the fridge right to the edge of the staircase as he set his feet as firm as he could against the stairs’ steps. Once he tilted the fridge over, all the weight would come crashing down and he had to conjure all his strength to stop from falling. Step by every aggravating step, he slowed the fridge’s flight down as he dragged the heavy machine down. It was loud as the weight would come crashing down on the tiled steps.

Bang.

Bang.

Bang.

He nearly slipped on a broken step but his slipper caught the corner of the broken piece and he held on.

He finally made it down the first flight of stairs, but there were still two-and-a-half flights to go. Grandpa Wong dragged and dragged, knowing that it would all be worth it. The condition this appliance was in would surely inherit him a lot of moneyanyone could still use a cheap, old fridge. He just had to make sure it would not break as he brought it down. He pushed bags and bins of rubbish to make way. After this flight, he would be on the second floor and be almost there.

He repeated his strategy again. He dragged the fridge just over the edge and he braced his feet on the steps to prepare for the fridge’s weight. He pulled it ever so slowly to get ready when his limped leg gave way on a broken step and, just like every old and broken appliance, he fell straight towards the bins and bags of rubbish below. He rolled and bumped on each step and his old body took in every shock of pain and damage.

He was in so much pain. Tired and hungry in body, but driven and strong in mind, he fought the anguish as much as he could. Grandpa Wong rubbed his hands on his leg to try and soothe his limped leg’s pain. Just then, an eerie creaking sound was heard.

He looked up to see the large refrigerator still on the top of the staircase. The tiled step it was on broke on the weight. The fridgethis hulking, unstoppable mass of metaltipped forward, falling towards the bottom of the staircase. Grandpa Wong tried to scream, but the fridge rolling down the stairs was much, much louder.

Bang.


Author’s Notes:

This story was based on a true story my mother read many years ago when we still lived in Jordan, a very old part of Hong Kong where many elderly people like Grandpa Wong lived. Despite the Urban Renewal programmes to develop and modernize the environment, there will always be relics of the past in the presence of the previous generations that still walk among us. In our busy lives, some of us have become apathetic to their existence, despite our family love and respect for our ownand even then, perhaps not. Nothing can stop the march of time and its influence effects ravages on us all. It’s fair and unfair.

Technology and culture as well develop so quickly; it’s insane. It’s foolish to think that we’ve plateaued and things aren’t changing as fast as they did back then. We’re simply unaware of it. It’s as unavoidable as time itself. It is just unfortunate that some cannot keep up, lost in an insane world. Sometimes all it takes is a helping hand and the presence of mind to acknowledge that at one point in our life, we did not know how to ask a question, how to read, or even how to use a spoon. One day, inevitably, we will be old and confused too.

Edited by: Gordon Lo

 

5, 6, 7, 8

I only started taking dancing classes about 4 years ago, but my love for dance kindled its first spark as early as six years old. The obsession that ignited this flaming passion started, in fact, not by choice. I was forced to join a dancing competition during my secondary school days. I had so much fun with my friends, gained popularity and confidence, and most importantly, we won the competition. Had we not won, perhaps I would have given up on dancing. In innumerable ways, I am so glad we did. Dancing then became a scalding sensation I wanted to keep and fight for. I have joined cheerleading competitions and ballroom dancing for grand parties. I also spend many hours in a dance studio that I have loyally been a part of. Despite its infancy, I have danced alongside many generations of dancers and teachers.

I get annoyed when people tell me that dancing is just ‘a hobby’ or ‘a form of exercise to lose weight and keep fit’.

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Preparing for showcases, performances, openings, closings, dance videos, and collaborations

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Sweating, falling, enduring, and suffering cuts, bruises, tears…

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Laughing, smiling, crying, screaming, cherishing, regretting…

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Being confused, nervous, lost, excited, hopeful, and amazed…

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The many days I spent with such a low budget I ate the same cheap meal every day before rehearsals…

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The number of hours I used to practise rather than sleep…

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The precious moments I missed when my friends would ask me out only for me to reject them because I was not free…

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The opportunities to display my ability and performance that make it all worthwhile.

 

Even if I never become an amazing professional dancer, I will always work hard for my love. Many times in my dancing life, I wondered if I was wasting my time when I could never be as good as everyone else—in technical skill, performance, team management, formations, and among many things. I also wondered how I should balance technique and skill versus individuality and creativity—when I was told that I was like either a robot who only memorized steps or a crazy person who had no control or rhythm.

 

At the end of the day, I strive for improvement in myself because dancing is a tool of expression for me. To be able to express myself to the fullest, I have to sharpen my skills. I want to be in touch with my happy, energetic power and swag as well as my soft, sensitive and genuine fragility. But without a doubt, I dance because I enjoy everything about it and I am willing to work for it.

 

Dancing has made me a better person in too many ways to count. I’ve become more confident, creative, expressive, cooperative, and not to mention fit, healthy, strong, and flexible. In the process of all the hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, I found purpose. Though perfection is impossible, I, and my many like-minded friends, see progress in me. I, in turn, see progress with my talented friends. I will keep the fire going for as long as I live, no matter what happens. With that, I am happy, proud, hopeful, alive, and inextinguishable.

 

Edited by: Gordon Lo

Much love to: Cherry Lee, who never gives up on me. Thank you for all the memories in 2Live.

 

Building up Self-confidence

Everyone I know would say that I am incredibly approachable and some have even said that I had a special charisma and a trusting aura. The closest few admitted to being in persistent surprise, having said I was “multi-talented and inspiring”. However, in spite of my sociable persona, my easy success in making new friends, and my many hobbies and eclectic knowledge, I would never say that I am anything but an outgoing, simple introvert. I almost never want to be the highlight of the party in spite of all my efforts of naturally being so. Furthermore, I am not a specialist of any skill; I am a generalist of the worst kind in every skill.

I felt like I never deserved the attention or compliment. It boiled down to my self-esteem and confidence. Confidence is a delicate quality I struggle to sustain because it comes down to accepting one’s strengths and limits in the face of comparison and in the realization of one’s uniqueness.

Unfortunately, I have lived my life with nothing but comparisons.

If someone said that they were good at a certain talent, skill, or disposition, it always appeared so unnatural to me simply because: one, there would always be someone else better than them or that there would always be room for improvement, and; two, admitting you had a strength in the first place made me think you were proud and arrogant for thinking that you were somehow entitled to say you had that strength.

That’s why I would think that I was never that great of a person to my friends despite my joyful memories with them, that I never deserved to be in university despite my what some would consider excellent grades, that I was just wasting my time when I spent more hours in the dance studio than in my bed, despite comments of vast improvement from many qualified teachers.

I tried to shape this way of thinking more positively. I tried to think that instead of focusing on strengths that I was told to have, that I had better try to solve my issues and overcome my weaknesses so that I could be the best that I could. But in the end, I have come to realize that my shortcomings—a sense of constant nervousness and self-doubt—stem from an insecurity of not having a model answer“. I had to know if I was doing something right and I wanted to make sure that my way of doing something was objectively correct. Like how 1 + 1 = 2, I had to know that there could be a reachable standard before I attempted to do anything.

If there was no way to realize and reach “good”, how could I ever improve it or be confident of it? This is why I only ever focused on the “bad”. Imagine my struggle was a hobbyist writer with a passionate love for dance.



 

Everything changed when I finally applied and successfully landed a job. I was being trained to be a class therapist in Aoi Pui School, an institution that employs the Applied Behavioural Analysis system to cater children with autism. I was only two weeks into my expected four-week training period when they asked me to leave. Every therapist had to be energetic and fun but at the same time follow a plan prescribed to each individual autistic student. What I could offer—being spontaneous, hyper, and dynamic—was, for them, unfit, unorthodox, and was just not right.

I will never forget that day. To be told that I was not good enough only halfway into the training because of my character and work ethic really crushed me. I was upset for weeks.

Now in hindsight, it was a good sign that I did not get the job. I would never have been good at the job if we were told to be systematic when indeed I was very dynamic. I know that I am simply not right for that kind of specialized career.

More importantly, they told me that regardless of my weaknesses to conform to what they sought out, I had my strengths that really highlighted how I was, in and out. This has honestly done very much to boost my confidence and my low self-esteem. I was told that I was worth something and desirable, albeit not a right fit for the job. But that’s okay, because hardly anyone can ever be so cookie-cutter and do any job they wanted. So… yes, I’m happy that I lost my job.

You might say that this is like what I said above: a type of confirmation that I am doing something right. Yes, that is true. But the rounds of interviews, hands-on tests, critiques, praises, and the parting words of the school principal in our final farewell did so much more for me than any positive comment or support from my friends or my dance teachers. It had given me the revelation that in this day and age, in this stressful society with a mania for immediate success, I was really, actually worth something.

They saw the potential in me. I did things right. I conveyed moments of excellence and tenacity under pressure. I showed gradual improvement and initiative and was rewarded for it. Yes, it did not work out, but their efforts to push me to be better made me better.

I now write with a fire to say my thoughts, burning with ideas but still mindful for a meaningful and structural narrative. I remember that dancing is supposed to be a fun and interactive way to express the soul, but I remain critical and receptive to theatricality (to look good) and improvement. Best of all, I stay true to myself and be who I am with my friends. They love me for being me anyway.

I’m not magically cured of my old ways, of course. I am, however, much better and more assured about my views on (my) strengths and confidence. Now, I know that confidence and humility are not two sides of a coin.

That’s such a relieving fact to learn.

Edited by: Gordon Lo

‘Many’ Me / ‘很多’的我

(中文版本詳見下方)

Growing up as an ethnic minority in Hong Kong does things to you. Hong Kong likes to say it’s international – and within reason it is very international at face value – but it does it in a way like how a mixed-race person will yell at you that they’re 1/18th Scottish when they’re in fact primarily Chinese. That’s Hong Kong: it will yell at you that it’s a cosmopolitan, a melting pot, a global city, but it’s still predominantly HK-Chinese. (But that’s a discussion about multicultural acceptance for another time)

So, growing up within the Filipino community, I accepted my fate as the underprivileged mess I was going to be – the life I was foretold to have, the prospects and miseries by my own parents’ forecast.

…Yet, they put me in a local (Chinese-speaking) kindergarten and a local primary school. By the time I got to my teens into my English-speaking secondary school years, I was already better in Cantonese than my fellow schoolmates. I had developed mixed feelings about where I belonged.

It was when I entered Chinese University when I really started to question my self.

  • Was I able to/allowed to even call myself a local with my detachment to the intricate details of the culture and my less-than-proficient Cantonese?
  • Was I able to call myself a Filipino for the same reason?
  • Does this justify me as being a World Citizen, whereby I learn, appreciate, and live alongside the many cultures and creeds of the world?
  • Or am I able to be reflective and simply relinquish myself from the stresses of identity and live myself as just me, free of labels?
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My dance-mates and me – undeniably local
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My Filipino friends and me – undeniably Fi- you get the idea

I’ve decided for myself to relax more with identities – more specifically, I’ve taken a more lax approach to labels. For one hand, identity is not important for survival, but it is vital for self-importance. (I’m not Spanish; I’m Filipino, Hong Kong people and Chinese people are not one of the same.) With that said: I may not be a complete HK-local, nor a complete Filipino, but I’m not the best son either, or the best brotherdancer, staff member, or even writer for that matter. But hey, I’m trying my best, and one can’t be the exact example of their one descriptor.

On the other hand, people are a lot more comfortable if we could label things/people, seeing them as recognizable things rather than ‘other‘.(He’s a cisgender bisexual, racially Hispanic, ethnically Mexican but American in nationality.)  It’s completely fine to have a label, but wow is having that many labels to take note of very tiring. So many connotations, so many political agendas, so many meanings… With my linguist’s background, the semantics of terms is so complicated; there is no meaning for meaning without context. Of course, it pays not to be ignorant in a globalized world, but to be always mindful of so many things

It’s the duty of every person in  every conversation to remind each other of our lives.

I’m many things, but I’m also just me. Now your turn. Do tell me more about you!


 


身為一個在香港成長的少數族裔人士多少也有些意義。香港喜歡說這是國際化 – (在有合理理由下,香港表面上是國際化的) – 但是它會像一個混血人士會對你大喊:他是十八分一蘇格蘭,但是其實主要是中國人。那就是香港:它會大聲稱自己是一個國際大都會、一個大熔爐、一個全球性的城市,但它的組成主要仍舊是香港人。(但這也關乎接受多元文化的討論)。

所以,在菲律賓社區成長的過程中,我接受了自己的命運,就像我將要遇到的那貧困無權、一團糟的人生 – 早已注定會有的生活,以及我父母預測的前景和痛苦。

然而,他們把我帶到了一個本地的幼兒園和一所本地的小學。當我十幾歲的時候升上英文中學時,我的廣東話已經比我的同學好多了。我對自己所屬的地方有著複雜的感覺。

當我進入了香港中文大學,我開始質疑自己:

  • 我是否能夠甚至被容許自稱自己是一個本地人呢?儘管對這地方複雜的文化一竅不通,而且還帶着滿口不流利的廣東話。
  • 同樣地,我能稱自己是菲律賓人嗎?
  • 這是否證明我是一個世界公民: 從中我學習、欣賞世界上的許多文化和信仰並與一起生活?
  • 我能夠反思這些問題,最後純粹地把自己從身份的壓力中解脫出來,不帶任何標籤去活出自我嗎?
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跳舞友和我 - 肯定 係local
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菲律濱來的朋友 - 肯定係Filipino

我決定讓自己從身份的枷鎖中解放:我對標籤採取了更寬鬆的態度。一方面,身份認同對生存並不重要,只是對於自我重要性卻至關重要(我不是西班牙人,我是菲律賓人;香港人和中國人不是同一種人)。也可說:我可能不是一個完完全全的本地香港人或菲律賓人,但我也不是最好的兒子,或最好的兄弟、舞者、工作人員,甚至作家。但是,嘿,我正在盡我所能。任何人都不能成為他人口中一個完全符合描述的例子。

另一方面,如果我們能把事物/人物貼上標籤,把人們看作是可以識別的東西而不是“其他”,那麼人們就會舒服得多。(他是一個雙性戀者,西班牙裔種族,種族上墨西哥人,但是美國人是國籍)。有標籤並不是問題,但值得留意是過多的標籤非常累人。這麼多的隱喻,這麼多的政治議程,這麼多的意思……用我的語言學家的背景,術語的語義是如此複雜,沒有語境也就沒有意思了。當然,在這全球化的世界裡不能無知,而要時刻注意不同事情……

在每一次談話中,每個人都有責任提醒對方什麼是自己的人生。

我身上有很多東西,但我也只是我。現在輪到你告訴我更多關於你的事情!

Edited by: Cris Lui

First Breath

I take in everything the world has to offer – good or bad – and my thoughts come out.

Metaphorically, I could say: humans take in oxygen, respiration occurs, carbon dioxide comes out.

Hence the theme.

I’ve decided to write these thoughts down and share them with readers like I have done with my peers. Some have called me observant with an encompassing mind. Some have called me unsettling and weird.

I’m weird, you say?  Well, how weird, exactly? Hahatatata. 

Let’s see where this goes.