Showing posts from April, 2009

Green Post: Remembering Chernobyl

This is a fact. Chinese just do not like the number four. In the Chinese language, four in both the Hokkien or Cantonese dialect means death and four is therefore considered unlucky or inauspicious. I suppose four to the Chinese is what thirteen is to the Westerners. Both numbers have the bad luck of being considered unlucky. Incidently as I was planning to post on the Chernobyl Disaster to commemorate the sad event of April 26 1986 that occured in Ukraine which was then part of the Soviet Union, I came across an article that states that it was the reactor number FOUR at the Chernobyl plant, near Pripyat in the Ukranian Soviet Socialist Republic that had exploded. Two people were said to have died in the initial steam explosion but many more uncalled for deaths were attributed to radiation. A plume of highly radioactive fallout that was 400 times more than that released by the atomic bomb that was dropped in Hiroshima then drifted over western Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Western Eur…

Lifting Heart

I remember vaguely watching a black and white Hokkien movie in the mid-sixties. I think a big python was featured in one scene and if my child mind had it right, the snake could transform into a man! Hong Kong, I heard churned out Hokkien movies then. In fact, you could find a 1960 Hokkien film called The Loyal Couple if you were to rummage the vaults of Hong Kong Film Archive. Production of Hokkien movie stopped abruptly and according to my sister, that was because the main star of Hokkien movies, Ng Eng passed away suddenly. I don't really know whether there was a Hokkien male star by that name but it is a fact that Ivy Ling Po, the queen of Huang Mei Tiao opera used to go by the name Siew Kien when she acted in Hokkien or Amoy movies. In the 60s and 70s, Mandarin cinema dominated the scene but Cantonese cinema was aslo reaping a bumper harvest especially during the early and mid-1960s, I suppose famous Cantonese stars like Josephine Siu Fong Fong, Connie Chan Pao Chu and Nancy …

Couplets for Decoration

When I was taking a stroll in Penang's Queensmall Bay early this year, I came across a little fair selling all things Chinese. Red strips of papers with Chinese characters written on it reminded me of this traditional Chinese practice of pasting duilian on the doors and walls of the homes. Duilian is couplet written on vertical strips of red paper in the best calligraphic style possible. Dui Lian by the way, should not be confused with chun lian. The latter is actually a special type of duilian. Since it was just after Chinese New Year when I was at Queensbay Mall, I thought the couplet I have seen should be chun lian since chun lian is used for decoration during for Chinese New Year celebration and unlike duilian which is permanent, chunlian is a temporary decoration. Both however, have positive, inspiring phrases which lifted the spirits.

A Glimpse of Baba and Nyonya

Heard about this 34-episode TV drama from Singapore's Media Corp, The Little Nyonya starring Jeanette Aw and immediately thought of the local TV production many years back, Baba and Nyonya starring Kenny Chan and Chee Hood Siong in their transgender roles.Baba and Nyonya refer to the male and female descendants of the very early Chinese immigrants to the Nusantara region, which include both the British Straits Settlements of Malaya and the Dutch-controlled island of Java. In the 15th century, the Malacca Sultanate, the power that was in the Malay Peninsula often paid tribute to various kingdoms such as the kingdoms of China and Siam. Close relations with China were already established then when Parameswara, an Indian-Hindu king ruled. According to traditional accounts, in 1459 CE, the Emperor of China sent a princess, Hang Li Po, to the Sultan of Malacca. The entourage who accompanied the princess initially settled in Bukit Cina and eventually grew into a class of straits-born Chi…