The Alliance for Immigration Rights Protection yesterday announced its plan to hold the second "Southeast Asia Sings" -- a singing contest featuring Southeast Asian songs -- in Taipei in October.
"We've always wanted [immigrant spouses and workers] to learn Mandarin or Hoklo [also known as Taiwanese] so that they can immerse themselves in Taiwanese society; but we should also respect their languages and cultures ? and try to learn about their cultures as well" said Wu Chia-pei (
The rules for the contest are simple -- no matter what their nationality is, anyone who can sing in Indonesian, Thai, Tagalog or Vietnamese may sign up, Wu said.
Wu explained that due to limited resources only these four languages could be used in the contest.
Li Li-hua (李麗華), a Taiwanese woman who married a Filipino and a volunteer for the alliance, described from her own personal experience how simple things such as learning a song from a foreign spouse's culture can help to improve family relations.
"The first time I visited my husband's family in the Philippines, my mother-in-law sang a beautiful song in Tagalog," Li said.
Li said that she had recorded her mother-in-law's singing, and learned the song by listening to it repeatedly.
As she learned to sing in Tagalog, she felt closer to her mother-in-law, and "whenever I went back to the Philippines with my husband, he would be so proud to tell his friends that I could sing in Tagalog," Li said.
Wan Fang (萬芳), a Taiwanese singer and the spokeswoman for the event, learned to sing an Indonesian folksong, Begawan Solo, or The Beautiful Solo River, for the event and sang it during the press conference.
"It was quite hard for me to learn the song; I can just imagine how hard it would be for foreign spouses to learn a new language, culture, lifestyle and cuisine," Wan said.
"I really encourage family members or employers of foreign spouses and workers to get involved," she said.
Last year's contest winner, Phayao Kudrangnog, who comes from Thailand, invited her culture course teacher to sing and dance with her.
"It was about sharing and cultural exchange," she said. "I was very nervous but I'm happy [to have participated]."
Registration runs from Saturday until Sept. 15. The contest will be held on Oct. 7 at Ta-an Forest Park in Taipei.
For further information call: (02) 2517-5464.