The Ministry of Culture held an awards ceremony on Feb. 12 to confer the National Cultural Award of the R.O.C. to three cultural masters in recognition of their outstanding contributions in carrying the torch of Taiwan's cultural heritage. The 87-year-old poet Yu Guangzhong (余光中) and 91-year-old novelist Chi Pang-yuan (齊邦媛) attended the ceremony to express their gratitude for the importance the Executive Yuan has attached to culture, while the late architect Han Pao-teh (漢寶德) was represented by his daughter.
Yu has maintained a proliferate literary output for more than half a century and many of his poems and essays are now included in textbooks across the Taiwan Strait, profoundly impacting modern Chinese-language education. Many musicians, including Yang Hsuan (楊弦) and Lee Tai-hsiang (李泰祥), have adapted his poems to compose enduring popular songs. The renowned poet said when receiving the award that "culture is the rare height where science cannot reach, and the poise that politics can not influence.”
Chi, a famous writer who has methodically promoted the translation of modern Chinese literature into English so that Taiwan's literary works can be read in other parts of the world, is known for her contributions to the establishment of the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, and the enhancement of Taiwan literature's visibility through international literary exchanges.
She wove the story of her life into the epic memoir "River of Big Torrents (巨流河)” by portraying major changes of the times as well as the absurdity and ruthless of war and history. Upon receiving the National Cultural Award medallion, she said emotionally that "I wrote ‘River of Big Torrents' not for myself but for my parents, family, and that era, hoping all displaced individuals may rely on this book to survive. Whether you were born in Taiwan or from the mainland, we all have gone through those suffering years and came to set up homes in Taiwan. Now we should work together to develop this land and make Taiwan a place where we can always come back.”
The late architect Han had made a profound impact on Taiwan's architectural education, especially in the fields of investigation, renovation, and preservation of cultural relics. He was also an educator, an arts administration expert, and an intellectual who had actively promoted the aesthetics of living and the development of humanities. Han passed away on Nov. 20, 2014 at the age of 80.
His daughter, Han Ke-fan (漢可凡), recalled that: "My father was a typical intellectual whoexperienced war and chaos, and was forced to leave his hometown. He decided to dedicate his life to his country and convey what he had seen and heard to society through teaching after he arrived in Taiwan. His last wish was to promote aesthetics, and I hope his students will be able to continue my father's dream.”
From left to right: Culture Minister Hung Meng-chi; the late architect Han Pao-teh's daughter Han Ke-fan; writer Chi Pang-yuan; poet Yu Kuangzhong; and Premier Mao Chi-kuo.