A Taiwanese friend who was working in Hong Kong once told me: “Ah Yuan, it’s just a matter of time that we’ll be like Hong Kong. We’ll become part of China and their people, you’d better get used to it.” He pointed proudly at his new apartment saying: “Not everyone can afford houses like these in Hong Kong, this area comprises of mainly China investors.” (His new apartment is less than 30 sq feet and it costs a little more than NT $27,000,000, and I’ve heard these type of apartments are not considered expensive!) Better yet, a lot of my Taiwanese friends tell me: “ Taiwan is too small, come on, let’s go to China. Yuan Soap will definitely make it big there! Raw materials are cheap and there is an abundance of manpower. Didn’t you know that the population of entrepreneurs like us in Shanghai alone exceeds a million? Taiwan is not competitive anymore.” Sadly, I even think our government has that same mentality that Mainland China is superior to us and does silly things merely to please them. If China wanted to educate us, feel free to calk up our blackboards. If they needed a holiday destination, they’re always welcome here. If its property they seek, we have plenty to offer. It’s as if our government is saying: “If China buys 7 million worth of Taiwanese grown fruits, we will bundle 1.4 billion worth of our local harvests. And if it makes you happy, we will even throw in our traditional Chinese writing method for you, at no cost whatsoever”. Pathetic. But true. The thing that keeps me true to my roots is by flipping through pages from old novels. It makes me wander away into my childhood dreams and teenage ambitions. Suddenly the whole world freezes into silence. All I can hear is the sound of my heartbeat and my dog barking from afar, reminiscing innocence and forgotten feelings. It is these simple thoughts that motivate my life journey, and it eases the challenges I’ll have to face in the future.
Let me explain. Huang Chun Ming novels have been published into numerous new editions. Even though old-school philosophies were outdated in this modern age of time, going through the pages gives me flashbacks of when I was just a kid with my haversack and khakis pants fully equipped, spending hours at the old bookshop, sipping tea through a mug while enjoying my novels. In contrast to the present me - carrying my laptop bag, strolling through the aisle of my farm, harvesting natural resources for the creation of my soaps. In one of Huang’s books “Sayonara, Good-bye”, the main character, Huang Qiun is a man who brings Japanese clients to local prostitutes. Although it’s the pride of his own race that he’s betraying, at least he felt shame and regret…as opposed to our government. Another book called “Days of Gazing at the Ocean” illustrates an 8-year-old adopted little girl named Bai Mei. She too, was sold for prostitution by her stepmother at the tender age of 14. After 10 years of working as a sex servant, a trip back to her hometown made her felt a sudden need of having her own child. Because to her, only in a child’s eye that she won’t be judge. Only with a child, she will have someone to rely on. And only a child would give her meaning to life. Against all odds, she finally gave birth to her own baby girl. She carried her child, bought a train ticket to Yu Kong and never looked back. The train passed through tunnels, with the Pacific Ocean breeze blowing gently through her eyelashes, waves reflecting the winter sunlight as the train steadily heads towards Yu Kong. I sometimes imagine myself as Bai Mei, with the burning desire to be a mother. No matter what people tells me, I still have my soaps and my people to rely and fall back on.
In Taiwan, there are thousands who follow Yuan Soap’s every move. In the office, my people have aligned dreams and we walk cohesively as a team to achieve them. I can’t be selfish to think about how am I going to make it big in China, but I have to be sensitive to the people who supported me from the beginning, Taiwan. How dare you say Taiwan is not competent and not good enough? Isn’t not competing and making peace a good thing? I’ll let you decide. In the 50’s, Taiwanese learned to write calligraphy, growing up listening to music by the likes of Fung Fei Fei, Lee Chung Sheng, Lu siao Feng and Anita Mui. It was as though the skyscrapers in the city grew alongside the old bookstore. Along with our dreams, our hopes, our ups and our downs. Every thing seemed connected. We resemble Bai Mei back then, passively giving away our youth for our master to puppet. However, as I grew older, I developed a passion to life that gives me hope in fulfilling anything I wanted to. Life itself has so many different expressions. Success has different meaning to different people. I have my soaps. I have the sunlight of the ocean. I have the Da Wei Mountain’s cool breeze. When I’m free, I’ll walk my dog and have a cup of coffee.
That’s all I ask for and all I’ll ever need to ask for. Although I still need to pay my rent and my car installment, I’m living my dream in my home soil. It has character. And even though disappointments surrounded me for more than 40 years and there are still many hurdles to come, I would be happier to endeavor them in my homeland. So to all my friends who want to encourage me, please invest in me, instead of asking me to “give up Taiwan, and go to China”.
NOTE: I like reading Yuan's words even thought my Chinese comprehension is at an elementary level. I am sure many of you bought Yuan soap because of his thoughts and philosophies that you read from his site/ brochure/ blog. For those who are like me, I will try to have his monthly newsletter translated to share with all of you. For those who wants a copy of the Chinese version newsletter, email me at email@example.com . Reese