Pushing toward the finish line

Saturday night, Kang introduced his friend, Yang to be my translator. What a savior! That’s one thing I worry the most about. I can’t go home without having all 30 hours of footage translated.

Sunday morning’s planned trip to Ah-Che’s sister’s home didn’t yield anything. The son wasn’t home and I had to come back in the rain. Worked with Yang in the afternoon and made fine progress. He is a bit slower than the son but he is always around and also has good patience. Kang took off at night for the provincial capital to bring his sick brother-in-law back home. He’s been a great help, despite the little free time he can manage.

Monday was my last day of filming. Only a few things to do. The kids were happy because I brought “baba”, some fried bread stick this time to them and Ah-Che’s wife was happy to see pictures of the birthday gathering.

As usual, they waited for me for their morning meal. I made Ah-Che said a few sentences to introduce the rest of the music he played before. At the workshop, I tried to make him listen to part of Symphony No.9, though the reaction wasn’t that great, I should’ve waited until this time instead of letting him do it with A-Ci the other day. Oh well, a lesson learned, you can’t expect the same reaction from your subject if you show them something twice.

While the wife took the kids out for laundry, Ah-Che did some more Qibon polishing, and we went up the hill behind their house for a little bit of short flute and “kou xuan”, an instrument made out of thin bamboo, you blow and use fingers to cause the bamboo to vibrate, hence tunes. He’s only okay at it, though I like the sound playing to a forest background.

Not so much to do after that, I did some shots of the interior. The son came home with some meat and we had an early dinner at 5ish before I said good-bye (hwa hwa) to them. Really glad they opened their door and life for me to be anywhere I need. The process, with low points and high points all together is just amazing. I learnt so much from them and about myself. I even enjoyed the moments of self-doubt and loneliness – once you grasp your feeling and recognize its presence, it’s just a matter of time before it no longer holds power over you.

Before going down the mountain, I stopped by Ah-Yoo’s home and he took me to find another musician, or better put, a used-to-be musician’s home. He used to play much better than Ah-Che because he is older, but once Christianty came back to these villagers’ life, they burnt their Qiben and stopped playing and singing these old songs all together. “I haven’t played for thirty years”, he told me. Another older player he brough in didn’t fare much better, he tried endlessly tuning but couldn’t really get one tune out. If we’ve come to the realization of protecting native species from invasives in the natural world, how about our own world? Can removing drinking habit and all the trouble it causes justify the removing of a native culture?

Ah-Yoo insisted on bringing me down the mountain with his motor-taxi. In his good-heartedness, I still see hopes for their own tradition to continue, but they defintely need some outside stimulus, something to make them realize the importance of what they have.

Worked the rest of the the night with Yang on translation. Much better feeling now seeing I can actually get everything done in a couple of days!

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