Twelve couples of differing national backgrounds are set to sing the national anthem with President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at New Year celebrations tomorrow.
"For the fifth year in a row our organization has been planning this celebration and each year we want to be creative," said Day Sheng-tung (戴勝通), chairman of the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (中小企業協會) at a press conference yesterday.
"Since Taiwan is becoming a more multicultural place, we decided to invite couples, in which one of them is not a native of Taiwan, to sing our national anthem for a change," he said.
The association ran ads in newspapers to invite couples to participate in an audition, which took place last week.
Out of the 20-plus couples that went to the audition, 12 were selected by a professional musician. The final 12 couples consist of eight married couples and four couples who are in steady relationships.
These foreign singers hailed from nine different countries: the US, Vietnam, Indonesia, Germany, Spain, the Philippines, China, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Cambodia.
"I saw an ad in the Mandarin Daily News and decided to sign up for it. We are glad to participate in this event, as it gives my husband an opportunity to really be part of our society," said Chiu Bi-hsueh (
Jhun Pontiveros, Chiu's husband of seven years, said he had been practicing singing an hour a day for the past week.
"My wife sings and I follow her tune. I practice before I go to bed and sometimes I even dream of singing the national anthem in my sleep," said Pontiveros, a businessman who moved to Taiwan from Laguna 11 years ago.
Pontiveros' love for Taiwan inspired him to try out for the audition.
The couple has two children, aged 7 and 4, whose first language is Mandarin. "The main language of [our children] is Mandarin, but they know a little English as well," Chiu said.
Terry Hornsby, an American from Indiana, said he considered singing the anthem and considered it a song of praise.
"When I sing [the anthem], I want to be lively and sing from my heart. It is a song of praise to the nation -- I love Taiwan!" said Hornsby, an actor who is cast in an English-language children's program.
Hornsby has been married for two years to his Taiwanese wife, Lee Ho-yin (
"I learned about this event through my sister, who works for [the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises]. We are very glad to be given this opportunity," Lee said.
Lee also said the association offered them two CDs of the anthem -- one in Chinese and one in English. In order to acquire accurate pronunciation, Hornsby used romanized Chinese words to help him out.
"I still have trouble with `zong' and `cong' ... these two sounds confuse me a lot," Hornsby said.
When asked by reporters if he understood the meaning of the anthem, Hornsby answered: "You tell me!"