Dr. Sun Ta-chuan (孫大川), a Puyuma author and scholar, delivered a speech on "Taiwan's gifts to the world” from an aboriginal point of view at a Tea Philo salon session held in Malaysia on Sept. 9
Born in Taitung's Pinaski community, Sun is also known by his tribe name Paelabang Danapan. Holding a doctoral degree in Sinology from the Catholic University of Leuven, Sun currently serves as the Vice President of the Control Yuan and the convener of the Yuan's Human Rights Committee.
Raised in a Catholic family, Sun's life was shaped by religious faith. Since an early age, Sun has contemplated on the existence of the Puyuma, which has around 10,000 people in Taiwan, due to the lack of information about the origin of Puyumas in academic textbooks.
During the Sept. 9 session in Malaysia, Sun shared the four values of Taiwan he has identified from the perspective of an indigenous individual living in Taiwanese society.
The first value is "Role Model of a Democratic Society,” which Sun explained as social movements such as land protection raised by aboriginal activists help society advance by strengthening human rights and accepting diverse cultures as a true democracy.
The second value is "Protection of Nature,” which refers to how aboriginal cultures safeguard nature and how their reverent respect toward nature can remind the world of the importance of environmental protection.
Sun used indigenous rituals of the mountain and sea to illustrate reverence, noting that the existence of nature is a blessing, and that people should seek to build a future that maintains harmony between mankind and nature.
"Social Norms and Music” is the third value that Taiwan has to offer to the world, he added. Though the aboriginals have no formal written languages, their songs are used to pass customs, rituals, and accumulated wisdom down for generations.
This particular value has made Taiwan the quintessential pool of Austronesian cultures that has preserved many prehistoric cultures, languages, and rituals valuable for archaeological studies.
Moreover, contemporary indigenous writers and poets have founded the Mountain and Sea Culture Magazine and several aboriginal literature awards to connect and interact with mainstream society based on indigenous principles, Sun pointed out.
The last value is "Openness of the Ocean,” which refers to the connections and exchanges of culture between Taiwanese aboriginals with the rest of the world. It allows Taiwan to form different viewpoints and prompt interaction among rural and urban communities, he concluded.
At the end of the session, Sun stated that these four values are the gifts from aboriginal cultures to Taiwan as well as to the world. He called for the public to respect the historical experiences, past roles, and evolving identities of different generations and promote tolerance and harmony among different ethnic groups.
Co-organized by the Ministry of Culture and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia, the Tea Philo salon invites outstanding artists from Taiwan to share their experiences in Malaysia.
The next session will feature noted photographer Liu Zhen-xiang (劉振祥) next month in Malaysia.