Taipei, Aug. 25 (CNA) A lawyer, an acoustic singer, and an indigenous boy band won in their respective categories in the finals of an annual songwriting competition that promotes Taiwan's native languages on Saturday.
A total of 30 musical works, 10 for each division, were chosen from 215 competing pieces to enter the finals of the 2019 Taiwan Music Composition and Songwriting Contest, which is now in its 16th year, according to the Ministry of Culture (MOC).
In the Hokkien division, 49-year-old Su Ming-yuan (蘇明淵), who is a lawyer by profession and was competing in the competition for the first time, outshined nine other performances, including hip hop, rock, and soul versions of the most widely spoken dialect in Taiwan other than Mandarin.
Accompanied by a cello, harmonium and set of drums, Su played an acoustic guitar while he sang and serenaded the audience with his winning composition "Wu Ken Te Jih Tou Hua (無根的日頭花)," which can be translated as "Sunflower without Roots."
The song tells of his personal story, Su told CNA.
As a child, he grew up in Kaohsiung and ended up coming to Taipei to study law after graduating from high school. Even though he has settled down in Taipei, the song describes his reminiscence for his hometown, he said.
"We all know that the sunflower continues to face the direction of the sun even if you cut off its roots," he said. "So my heart is like a sunflower, it still feels for my hometown."
Prior to becoming a lawyer, he previously released two Mandarin music albums, "101 Tzu Piao Pai (101次表白)" and "Mo Shih Chi (末世紀)," in 1995 and 1996, respectively.
Su said even though he has been a lawyer for the last 20 years, he has not lost his passion for music.
In the Hakka dialect division, 25-year-old acoustic guitar singer Chen Yen-chu (陳彥竹) returned to reclaim the title this year after winning it in 2017. She did not enter the competition in 2018 because the rules of the competition do not allow first place winners to compete two years in a row.
Her winning song "Niang Hua Pai Pai (娘花白白)," which was performed as a solo, was written for her grandmother, who told her that the spirits of her late grandfather and uncle presented in the physical form of two black drongo birds have been visiting the family's farmland in Chiayi starting this year.
"Because of this story, my grandmother taught me some jingles and rhymes about the black drongo bird and that's partly how the song was developed," she said.
In the indigenous languages division, a duo called Vusum Hana (扶桑花) rocked the house with an upbeat and funky song named "Jia Pe La (甲呸辣)," which was not originally an indigenous term, but used nowadays in the community to describe a person who takes advantage of friends by eating and drinking for free when he or she comes to visit.
The duo's members, 27-year-old Suyu (林忠培) and 25-year-old Vulu (呂傑), cousins from the Paiwan indigenous ethnic group in Pingtung County, said the song is based on their observations about people around them in their daily lives.
"We indigenous people have a culture where we share things, but sometimes the people who we share things with take it for granted and just take advantage of people," Suyu said.
"However, the song was not aimed at creating negativity because in part of the lyrics it says 'I take advantage of you and you take advantage of me, but we are still very good friends,'" Vulu said, adding that it was the first time they entered the competition.
The top winners in the three divisions each took home a cash prize of NT$300,000 (US$9,541).
The annual competition is aimed at promoting the creation of original music in native languages. It is co-organized by the MOC's Bureau of Audiovisual and Music Industry Development, the Council of Indigenous Peoples, and the Hakka Affairs Council.
Photo courtesy of MOC's Bureau of Audiovisual and Music Industry Development