TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - The fifth annual Taiwan Migrant Literature Award ceremony was held at the National Taiwan Museum in Taipei on Sunday, Sept. 30.
The event included a modern contemporary dance performance along with script readings from the winners, including Loso Abdi, Yuli Riswati, and Pratiwi Wulansari, all from Indonesia, also Louie Jean M. Decena from the Philippines.
The opening ceremony itself was choreographed by modern dancer Liu I-chin (劉詣芩), and performed with background music by Chen Tzu-chi.
This year, a former Indonesian migrant worker in Taiwan, Loso Abdi, managed to win the first prize, with his piece of writing which was titled "Tentang Cinta" or "About Love" (關於愛). It tells the story of a foreign care worker who takes care of a special child.
It was the second time Loso Abdi won the competition, as he also won first prize in 2016, with his work entitled "Song of the Waves" (海浪之歌), a short story about a foreign fisherman crew and the ship's captain. Both of his works have also received the teens choice award.
Meanwhile, Melinda M. Babaran, who joined the competition for the first time, wrote "Latay sa Laman" or "Whip Scar on the Flesh" (鞭打的痕跡), which tells about her life experiences and also shares a lovely tale of reconciliation between a daughter and her father who had passed away. She received the jury award for her work.
Another participant from the Philippines, Louie Jean M. Decena, expressed her love for her family in her hometown through her work "Ang Mahiwagang Kahon ni ltay" or "Dad's Mysterious Box" (爸爸的神祕箱子). She was inspired to write the story when her father sent a "Balikbayan," which made her recall her childhood memories. Apparently, Balikbayan is a term for a huge package that is usually sent by Filipino migrant workers to their family or vice versa. She won the teens' choice award and also the jury award.
Some other works that were recognized and received awards shared thoughts and stories about the hopes of migrant workers and their relationships with people in Taiwanese society.
Two Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong, Yuli Riswati and Pratiwi Mulansari, travelled to Taiwan to receive their awards. Additionally, another award winner from the Philippines was not able to come to the ceremony as she was serving a prison sentence in Taiwan. Her work tells about the difficulties she faced defending her innocence in court, and also about how she was prevented from hiring a lawyer from the Philippines.
Hosted by the Southeast Asia Educational, Scientific and Cultural Association and sponsored by Ministry of Culture, this year's competition received a total of 553 submissions in Tagalog, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Thai, mostly submitted by migrant workers or new immigrants. The competition was open to those who have worked or lived in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, or Singapore.
There were some VIP guests at the event, including Hung Shih-yu (洪世佑), Head of the Taiwan National Museum; Chen Ying-fang (陳瑩芳), Head of the Ministry of Culture's Public Relations Department; Liao Fu-te (廖福特), CEO of the Taiwan Democracy Foundation; Tung Tzu-hsien (童子賢) CEO of Pegatron Co.; Chen Fang-ming (陳芳明), a professor from NCCU; Juan Shu Ting (阮舒婷) and Juan Ho-an (阮荷安), the Vietnamese judges; the teens' award judges; the representative from the Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, Carlo L. Aquino; and last but not least, the representative of the Indonesian Economic and Trade Office in Taipei, Adila.