Ye Lai Xiang (夜来香) by Sandcastle

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the live band, Sandcastle performing during Stephenie and Danny's wedding night

the live band, Sandcastle performing during Stephenie and Danny's wedding night

When I attended Stephenie and Danny’s wedding dinner last December, there was a liveband, Sandcastle performed many wonderful songs including Ye Lai Xiang (夜来香 in Chinese, fragrance of the night) for the guests of the dinner.

The song was originally sung by Li Xiang Lan in the 40s of the 20th century. Then the song is covered by many popular artists such as Teresa Teng and Fei Yu Qing.

Ye Lai Xiang is a Chinese name of a kind of flower, night blooming jasmine or scientifically known as Cestrum nocturnum. The flower blooms at night and are strongly scented which released at night. The lyric describes the beauty of the flower however it has another hidden meaning of missing a lady when nightfall.

During Stephenie and Danny’s dinner night, Ye Lai Xiang was the last song performed by Sandcastle and I managed to record it and share here:

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January.February 2010

By | Life Journal, Photography | No Comments
Chinese New Year red packets (红包)

Chinese New Year red packets (红包)

The ChinesEE New Year 15-day celebration was just over last week and we would like to wish everyone a happy Chinese New Year. May everyone be happy and healthy always.

During the first day of Chinese New Year, children will greet their parents by wishing them a healthy and happy new year, and red packets from their parents. These packets often contain money in certain numbers that reflect good luck and honorability. In Malaysia, married person would not turn down the request when asked for red packets as it would mean that he or she would be “out of luck” in the new year. So next Chinese New year, when you meet someone married, do not hesistate to request for red packets.

Last month in mid of January, we too celebrated Thaipusam together with the Tamil community. During the colorful celebration devotees would carry out rituals like shaving their hair and carry various types of kavidi (burdens) undertake a pilgrimage along a set of route while engaging in various acts of devotion. Besides devotees would subject themselves to painful rituals such as piercing themselves with hooks, skewers and small lances. It was a nice feeling to be among friends and sharing the joy of one’s festival.

May everyonEE be happy and healthy always. Sharing some shots taken these two months festival season.

1 Malaysia lion dance

1 Malaysia lion dance

Hi there!

Hi there!

fishing village in Merlimau, Melaka

fishing village in Merlimau, Melaka

brothers

brothers

vibrance

vibrance

dusk

dusk

inside

inside

blessing of marriage

blessing of marriage

sisters

sisters

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Wedding – Stephenie and Danny

By | Photography | 2 Comments
Stephenie and Danny in the wedding's tea ceremony

Stephenie and Danny in the wedding's tea ceremony

On a very hot day of December 2010, Stephenie and Danny were married in a traditional Chinese ceremony in front of their closest family and friends, including their adorable daugther, baby Ashley. Stephenie and Danny wore amazing Chinese customs which made the wedding day even more vibrant and joyous from start to finish. It was a true pleasure to be a part of their lovely wedding day.

Stephenie is the sister of my friend, Kenn-Wai. who is also a wedding photographer. He invited to join the joy the of big moment. Few of the good friends, Fred, Angel, and James were also joined to shoot on the very fine day. They have experience in wedding photography so it gave me a good chance to learn from them for the first time.

Congratulation to Stephenie and Danny. Thank you so much for having me along. May you both be happy always.

Shots after the jump.

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The generous vegetable seller

By | Compassion, Wisdom | No Comments
Chen's frugality has allowed her to donate over $3000,000 to many charitable causes. (Photo: Marc Gerritsen)

Chen's frugality has allowed her to donate over $3000,000 to many charitable causes. (Photo: Marc Gerritsen)

“This extraordinary woman thinks nothing of living a life devoid of luxuries in order to help those less fortunate than her”
By Esther Liang

After the morning hustle and bustle, the atmosphere at Tai-tung county’s Central Market quietens as every stall shuts for the day and their owners return to the comfort of their homes. A lone lamp shines on a vegetable stall. With head bowed, Chen Shu-Chu silently sorts out the vegetable leaves as she waits for the occasional afternoon customer. Decades of hard work have caused the fingers on the right hand to curl and joints to swell; her feet have deformed slightly. 

Chen leads her life with a daily routine – waking up at three in the morning, she makes her way to the vegetable wholesaler and sets up her stall, which she tends till seven or eight in the evening. Being the first to arrive and last to leave, the other stall owners have fondly given her the title of ‘market manager’. 

In the dark and damp market, Chen, nearing her sixties, holds the stall her father left her dearly. Yuan-Jin Vegetables is her everything. With her vegetables selling at “a bundle for 30 dollars, three bundles for 50”, Chen earns only marginal profits. Yet, her frugality has allowed her to donate about NT$10 million ($321,550) towards various charitable causes, including helping schools, orphanages and poor children. 

The selfless generosity of a woman with such humble income has placed her under the international spotlight. In March, Forbes magazine named her one of 48 outstanding philanthropists from the Asia-Pacific region. A month later, TIME magazine selected the year’s top 100 influential people and Chen emerged under the ‘Heroes of Philanthrophy’ category. Fellow Taiwanese and Oscar-winning director Lee Ang wrote her entry personally. “Money is only worthy if given to those in need,” he quoted Chen. He also wrote, “Amazing, but of all she has given away, her greatest gift is leading by example.” 

Despite the honour of receiving the TIME award in New York, gaining global recognition, and a personal meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou, all Chen really cares about is her vegetable stall. If not for President Ma and the foreign minister personally convincing her to go, she would not have agreed to visit New York as she felt “this is not a competition and I did not win anything”. Amid the frenzy of applying for a passport and preparing for the visit, Chen’s main concern was that her regular customers would not get their vegetables. 

Chen has become a celebrity in Taitung county. Local authorities decorated her stall with congratulatory posters and banners hailing her as the ‘Pride of Taitung’ and the ‘Model of Philanthropy’. There are fans who turn up at the stall with a vegetable basket and a camera, hoping for a picture with Chen. Despite all the attention, Chen remains humble. “I have done nothing extraordinary and everyone who wants to can do it. There are many other charitable people; we just don’t know about them.” Chen, who is unmarried, adds, “I do not place great importance on money. When I donate to help others, I feel at peace and happy, and I can sleep well at night.” She also feels for the poor having experienced hardship in her younger days. 

All she needs is food and a place to sleep. Everything else is a luxury.

All she needs is food and a place to sleep. Everything else is a luxury.

Born in 1950, Chen lost her mother after completing her primary school education. Her mother was admitted to hospital due to difficulties in labour and the family had to pay an insurance of NT$5000 ($160) before medical attention could be granted. Chen saw her father asking their neighbours for money but it was too late to save her mother. The eldest daughter in the family, Chen had to grow up overnight. She gave up her studies and dedicated her life to helping at the vegetable stall. 

When she was 18, her younger brother fell sick and the illness dragged on for over a year, gradually depleting the family’s savings. Doctors suggested the family send her brother to Taiwan National University Hospital, but how could they afford the fees? Huang Shun-zhong, a teacher at Ren-ai Primary School, started a donation drive. Unfortunately, her brother could not be saved. 

After experiencing the kindness bestowed upon her family, Chen made up her mind to help the poor once she was able. When her father passed away 17 years ago, Chen, a devoted Buddhist, generously donated NT$1 million ($32,140) to Fo Guang Shan Monastery. In 2000, she donated NT$1 million to her alma mater, Ren-ai Primary School, to set up an “Emergency Relief Fund” to help poor children obtain financial help. 

Assisting in the setting up and maintenance of the fund is Li Guorong, who teaches Chen’s nephew. In 2001, Li had a plan to build a library for the school and estimated the cost to be between NT$4 million and NT$5 million. When he approached Chen, in the hope that she might contribute NT$50,000, Li was shocked when Chen said she would fund the entire project. While the school was sceptical, Chen was determined. In May 2005, the two-storey library was completed and named “Chen Shu-Chu Library” in honour of the ‘Vegetable Market heroine’ alumnus. She had donated NT$4.5 million. 

Chen’s ability to donate such large sums of money has led many to ask, How can a mere vegetable seller earn so much? 

“Spend only what you need, and you’ll be able to save up a lot of money!” says Chen. Since 1996, she has been donating NT$36,000 ($1150) to help three children in the Kids-alive International organisation. To achieve this, Chen explains that she empties her loose change into three little cardboard boxes at home every night. “This is a simple act that can be done by anyone, isn’t it?” says Chen. 

Chen leads a very simple life without any luxuries. Neither does she have any desire for material gains nor any form of enjoyment. Work, she says, is her enjoyment. “I love my work. If I didn’t, would I be able to work 16 hours a day?” All she needs is food and a place to sleep. Everything else is a luxury. 

Has business improved after winning the award? “Business is as usual,” Chen says. “I still need to sell my vegetables, not much has changed.” Advertisers have approached her to film commercials, financial managers have offered to manage her finances and other well-wishers have offered to donate money. Chen rejects these advances politely. “It is easy to return borrowed money, but difficult to return a favour,” she says. 

“My philosophy in life is simple: If doing something makes you worried, then it must be a wrong thing. If it makes you happy, then you must have done the right thing. What others say is not important,” says Chen. She is content with what she has and feels that as long as she “lives a life she wishes for and does the things she wants, that is good enough”.

[article: Esther Liang, published in Reader’s Digest]
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Year of Rabbit – Chinese New Year couplets for charity

By | Chinese calligraphy, Involvement, Photography | 2 Comments
Chinese New Year couplets for charity sale

Chinese New Year couplets for charity sale

Malaysian Contemporary Chinese Painting & Calligraphy Association of Melaka are organising Chun Nuan Ren Jian, Jia Jia Tie Chun Lian (春暖人间、家家贴春联) to promote Chinese calligraphy and decoration of New Year couplets for the household. Experienced Chinese calligraphers including children are helping to write the couplets and promote the sale.

Chinese couplets known as dui lian (对联) or “contrapuntal couplets” may be seen on doorways in Chinese communities worldwide. Couplets displayed as part of the Chinese New Year festival, on the first morning of the New Year, are called chun lian (春联). These are usually purchased at a market a few days before and glued to the doorframe. The text of the couplets is often traditional and contains hopes for prosperity.

Chinese couplets are normally written on vertical strips of red paper in the best calligraphic style one can muster. The first (called upper) line is posted on the right side of the front door. The second (called lower) line is posted on the left side of the front door. The couplets should correspond with each other phonologically, syntactically and semantically word for word and phrase for phrase.

This coming Chinese New Year will be the year Rabbit and also the 8th year the Malaysian Contemporary Chinese Painting & Calligraphy Association of Melaka is doing the event. The sale of the Chinese couplets from this event is for charity as fund collected will be donated to the Bachang St John’s Dialysis Center providing treatment for patients suffered from kidney disease.

Unfortunately I am unable to join the team these two weeks for going to school by school in Melaka to promote Chinese calligraphy and the sale of the couplets, however I am doing my best to write as many as I can and pass to the team for sale. So far, I have written about 30 pieces of the couplets and will keep on writing before Chinese New Year.

Thanks to the organizing committee for your hard work and friends for you support. To my friends who are interested in buying the couplets and doing charity at the same time, kindly contact me.

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone! May all beings be happy.

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兔年“春暖人间、家家户户贴春联”活动开跑了

By | Chinese calligraphy, Involvement, Photography | 3 Comments
“八糟”(猫名)在春联中开跑了!

“八糟”(猫名)在春联中开跑了!

由马来西亚书画联盟甲州联委会发起的“春暖人间、家家贴春联”活动开跑了!

推广书法艺术、鼓励农历新年贴春联的文化之余,这活动还为峇章圣约翰洗肾中心筹款,帮助患有肾脏病的患者,十分有意义

我想感谢书法老师刘明亮一年的教导和鼓励,书法班的朋友丽丽时时分享书法的心得,筹委会主席戴桂珠女士不断鼓励我写春联,和宋群礼、邢福兴、蔡天成先生等等的书法家朋友响应这项活动和所肃立的好榜样。

今年由于工作忙碌无法参与这项活动巡回马六甲的一些华小挥毫,我还是会尽力在家帮忙写春联。至今才写了30多对,还要更努力。

有兴趣为家里贴上春联,增加家里的春意的朋友们能联络我义买,让人人在春节感受人间的温情。

祝大家新年快乐,身体健康!

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