Tue, Aug 25, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Documentary film shows community's struggle for a home

DESTRUCTION Ten years after filming the plight of the residents of Sanying Community, Mayaw Biho is back to record their fight for right of abode

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

For the Lu family — an Amis couple and their four children — living in the Sanying Aboriginal Community (三鶯部落) for decades has been one long battle as they repeatedly witnessed their home being demolished and struggled to rebuild it.

Sanying Community, located under the Sanying Bridge (三鶯大橋) that connects Sansia (三峽) and Yingge (鶯歌) townships in Taipei County on the banks of the Dahan River (大漢溪), consists of dozens of houses built with abandoned wooden boards and other materials.

Its residents are mostly Amis Aborigines from Hualien and Taitung counties, many of whom lost their land in their home county after it was either expropriated by the government or designated a conservation area.


Forced to move, many migrated to Taipei County, taking on low-paying and labor-intensive jobs and building their houses using whatever materials they could find on the unused land along the river that the community has now stood on for about 20 years.

However, the Taipei County Government says they are not allowed to live there based on the Water Conservancy Act (水利法) and has torn down the community several times.

Mayaw Biho, an Amis film director, first shot a documentary on the community in 1998, which recorded the demolitions that took place between 1995 and 1998, as well as the life of the Lu family as their house was repeatedly torn down and rebuilt.

Ten years later, Mayaw returned to the community last year to shoot another documentary, and the demolition of the community was still the main subject.

The premiere of the documentary was held in Taipei yesterday.

“I’m always frightened when I see a bulldozer,” said Lu Ching-hsiung (呂慶雄), one of the Lus’ four children said in the film. “It’s like a monster that takes away my home.”

Ten years ago, Lu said something similar as a child after the community was flattened.

“Many people don’t understand why the government keeps demolishing the houses there, why the residents don’t want to move if it’s really a dangerous area to live in, or if it’s right to tear down those houses,” Mayaw said.

“I’d like to invite everyone who’s interested in the issue to watch the film and talk about it,” he said.

Lead vocalist Chiang Yu-ta (江育達) of the band The Village Armed Youth, who was invited to perform before the screening, said that he may have an answer.


He said that loss of land was not a problem for Aborigines only.

“In my home county in Changhua, the government took our farmlands to construct a petrochemical industrial park,” Chiang told the audience. “The farmers lost the land they’d been living and working on and all that was left to them was the pollution from the petrochemical park.”

He said the same thing was happening everywhere in Taiwan.

“I feel an unbearable grief that land has now become a commodity controlled by economic and political powers,” Chiang said.

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