[chinese blood, irish heart] - DEFUNCT: December 2006

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Chink in the Armour

All Chinese or "bananas" like me, should check this short doco out.
Not exactly inspiring or provocative, but worth a look and quite funny too. Haven't see anything like this out yet. If video doesn't play click here.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Xmas Eve in jetlag

Even though it was a mere five degrees Celcius as I exited Dublin airport, I took some really deep breaths and it was so gratifying to have clean, fresh air again.
The ride home was surreal, it looked different somehow yet I couldn't really tell. I even felt like a stranger in Dublin's bustling city centre where all the punters were making their final shopping rounds. But was sure glad to make it to my house again, that familiar smell, my room, carpet!
I spotted an odd sight today that made a lasting impression: while stopping at a petrol station, there were five police officers surrounding a Chinese taxi driver. Couldn't hear what they were saying but some of the officers seemed to be scolding him even though they didn't seem provoked in the first place. Turns out he was in a slight collision with another vehicle. The other driver was native, and the police treated him with more courtesy. Since I was in the car closest to what was happening, a few them saw me looking at them. I just returned a blank expression. The Chinese driver's face was scornful to say the least, or maybe he was just distressed at the police's behaviour. For those few moments I became even more detached.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My own year-ender

Well it's my last day in Hong Kong for the year. I fly back to good 'ol Ireland for the Xmas holidays for only a measly week.
Since everybody at the office is busying with their year-enders for the news, I figured I might do my own considering it's been the longest time I've lived abroad here.
So let's go back to the very first hour of 2006: endured the annual stampede at Lan Kwai Fong for the new year's and hung out with some cool people I'll probably never meet again: Lisa and Mateya (plus some other chick I forgot, sorry whoever you are.) Mateya from Chicago and Lisa from Germany were both interning at Christine Loh's NGO.

It was also a rough start, since my skin condition flared up on my foot and I was limping... fucking agony.

In February I applied for an internship at HK Magazine, there I met the insatiable Adam White, Cassandra Chan, Billy "Vanilla Face" Clarke, Debbie Chow et al. Whom are my good friends.

It was a fun 10 weeks. Although I didn't get in too much writing, I did do a lot with photography and it proved to be a good experience for my beginner skills, and plus I got to get them published. The most famous piece I did for HK was the Street Talk with an old lady doing that Chinese voodoo shit. Creepy.

At that time I also applied to for the Masters Programme for Journalism at HKU. Tom Hilditch, the editor, had a little chat with me about employment opportunities and urged me to "do my masters at the magazine" instead. I somehow bought into that and although he completely blanked me at the end of the internship, I did make the decision after all and I don't regret it. However it didn't quench my seething anger towards him and the establishment. Ah but now it's cool, I just brush it off whenever they're mentioned. The internship didn't really help me achieve much, although the network opportunities were invaluable. Through them I got to meet others like Emma-Jade Li, Jean Arcadi whom I also consider my good friends in HK. Not to mention Trevor Morris, who's also a good guy to know when you're in the media industry. Brother of Karen Mok!

So after a rather sour end to that stint, I took it easy for awhile. Dad and Grandma came over to stay for an annual mass at Yim Tin Tsai village off Sai Kung where my Grandma grew up. It was a fun trek - my Grandma was surpisingly agile! I was so glad when she got to meet all her old neighbours and even the esteemed Cardinal Zen who gave a mass. I even coerced a TVB reporter to interview them since I mentioned we came all the way from Ireland! My great cousin Stephen and his girlfriend also came to visit, and it was good to see him again. Still had his accent! Watch the interview here

I had long decided to abandon my WTO documentary because I had just too much footage and at that stage, the whole thing would've been a bit irrelevant. But the opportunity came up at a gallery in Yau Ma Tei to show case independent videos and photography from the WTO demonstrations. I quickly pieced what I had together in 9 hours and submitted it. Didn't get any feedback but at least someone got to see it. You can also watch it here.

It was also the first time I spend St.Patrick's Day abroad. Partied at Delaneys in Wan Chai and it was just as good back home, well less rough I suppose. Still couldn't drink then since I was on medicine. Speaking of which, by this time I was seeing a Baptist University Doctor.

After leaving HK, I posted almost a dozen portfolios and application letters to various production house companies. Not one single fucking reply, nada. Not even a courtesy message to say they received or whatever - you can all go fuck yourselves. Billy worked at ATV before landing at Asia City so he hooked me up with them and alas with fateful coincidence, they needed someone to fill in that particular position! I go the job in mid April. It's a wonderful team of people. The place is so chilled and it makes me reminice about all the previous jobs I had where everytime it's such a chilled, easy going environment. Hope this is a winning streak!

It was pretty quiet for the next three months. Mom came over in between. Seamus and his girlfriend Terumi popped by from Japan and we showed her just how much he's obsessed with buying stacks of DVDs. The stuff she has to put up with hehe. I'm happy for him though, and I really respect any couple who can endure a long distance relationship. Here's to you guys, kampai!

I attended my first July 1st rally also. A lot of people turned up to support democracy. Over the year I've learned a lot about what democracy means to Hong Kongers. Sadly, a lot of people are too busy to bother with concepts like universal suffrage and what not. While thousands of people marched in the intolerable hot weather, millions more were busy stocking up on the latest summer deals. What does democracy mean for Hong Kong? Not much, so long as people get to shop, spend and listen to an endless supply of Cantopop. Does Hong Kong deserve democracy? Yes, every country does. But passive engagement can only go so far. Radical action is needed. That's yet to be seen. Okay maybe Longhair is up in the list, but I think he's become more of a gimmick. He needs to up his ante. Hmpf, I'm sure he'll be willing to go to jail for his beliefs?

The quality of our air also became my concern. It's so different from the fresh air we get back in Ireland and so I guess I've always taken it for granted. Living in Mong Kok where the average API is at least 80, it's painful to know that ordinary hard working people are suffering from these fumes. Yet cleaner air demands a heavy price and sacrifice to be paid, something these same hard working people cannot always afford.

In August I finally saved up enough money to splurge out on a brand spanking new HDV camcorder, the JVC HD-101E. It's pictured with an awesome dolly tripod which I picked up on Apliu Street - full of wonders if you have enough patience and determination. I sold my trusty PDX10 to Cassandra where it's in good hands now. That camera and I had sure been through a lot, protests, riots, parties, gigs, overseas and making movies. And what essentially help kickstarted my portfolio (which again needs more kickstarting.)

In September, Emma had the idea to do a short doco on graffiti in HK for the ishothongkong festival. We went out on shoots in the middle of the night, got chased by cops and all that riff raff. One of the nights we shot in North Point at 4am, we then needed to do a string of interviews that following morning till later afternoon and I had never endured such a night. I literally only had 45 minutes sleep in between. I remember we all kicked back at Emmas to do some final editing and pondering over what to title our work of art. Cassandra came up with "Tagspotting". I came up with "Art Attack" from that stuipid kids' show. Emma laughed, a lot. So we promptly went with Tagspotting. Check it out here

An old friend of mom's, Mr.Tsang - who's Vietnamese - recommended this doctor he used to see when he was back in 'Nam, who apparently did wonders for skin ailments. So I thought what the hell, it was good opportunity to visit the place. Mom and I travelled to Ho Chi Minh (or Saigon for you anti-Commies), and met this jolly looking doc at his rundown clinic. He said I had a problem with my liver which is causing this skin condition. He promptly gave me a few days' worth and told us to return before we leave. The initial doses did wonders! My skin cleared up quicker than it usually did. And of course we were quite enthused so we bought a whole month's worth. I swear, after a week of the doses, my skin practically healed, and I have never seen my palms and soles so smooth. I was convinced I finally found a cure.

The deadline for Ishot was postponed for another two months and that gave us more time to do some shoots, and the editing process was agonising! But like everything, I did to the best of my ability.

In October, I returned to see the Vietnamese doc again, this time bringing some of my relatives. By then my skin was still cleared and he only gave me a week's worth and said I should be okay from now on. During that week, my face mysteriously puffed up and started to get stomach cramps.

It wasn't till late October when my skin ailment started to return. I suspected the Vietnamese doc prescribed me some steroids - which explains why my skin healed up quickly and puffed me up. And steroids of course, are only a temporary measure and only in the short term or else you'd suffer some serious internal damage.

I was quite depressed after that. Deep in the mind I knew this was too good to be true. All the things I wanted to do, like quitting my job, doing some serious projects going travelling and going back to the gym had to be once again put on hold. I still needed to search elsewhere and maintain my current diet of no beef, eggs, most seafood and ugh, alcohol. I've been sober for more than 18 months at this stage. So it's weird when I go out on the town - I found myself less engaged and detached from all the other party revellers. But it's for my own good.

So while I was down and out, mom popped by again and urged me to look to other medical alternatives. I took a full blood test and started to seeing this other herbal doctor in Mong Kok for almost 2 weeks now. I also learnt Chi Kung meditation from a sifu. I'll see how it goes.

So now as I pack all the presents and dried foodstuffs for the folks back home, I literally can't wait to get back to see everyone, the people who worry about me and my condition so much and supported me. Alas, I can't really bear much good news about my condition, but only to say it's gotten less serious overall, yet with no clear end in sight yet. Some say I'm nationalistic about Ireland, since I occasionally wear Irish emblems. And yes I do confess I'm fanatically proud to be Irish. Although it's been odd how sometimes people react to that fact. Some think it's a gimmick! I really do miss the country, everything about it - the dingy weather, the atmosphere, my house, our garden, the people, the clean air... Once I get back I'll do something I haven't done in over a year - a nice hot bath.

See you Hong Kong in 2007!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Oh great... more medals

God I'm so bored of China's huge medal tally at the Asian Games in Doha. CCTV or Closed Circuit Television as I like to call them, had this achingly long montage of China athletes' wins. If China are such superior athletes, why don't they have just a 'China' Games? Maybe then you'll see some more intense competition and no more Commie ass-kissing to from sports programmes.
And is it me or did I hear a distinct Irishman's voice on their sports coverage? Bloody hell...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Looking for more alternatives

So anyway, I reckon the Vietnamese doctor's medicine contained some steroids, that would partly explain the reason why my skin healed up so quickly, and adversely made my face and tummy puff up. And of course, steroids are just a temporary measure for the short-term. Consequently, I can't continue taking that kind of medicine as long term use of steroidal medicine causes a whole rake of problems - it's even banned in Hong Kong, apart from steroidal creams and ointments.

Enduring another flare up, and with the news of the possible steroids I ingested, I got a full blood test. Results were normal except that my liver enzymes were a little higher than normal - doesn't really help!
So then a GP recommended me to go see a 'Chi Kung' master to learn his meditation techniques.
I met him yesterday and he was quite an englightened fellow. Wong Chung-shek learned Chi Kung meditation from a master in Tianjin over 30 years ago in an effort to help his wife find a cure for her skin condition. He was so inspired that he learned the technique and teached it to people for free in Hong Kong - often holding classes several times a week. But now at 78, he doesn't really have the time and energy to devote fully into it, he is quite wealthy after all, owning several towers and buildings across HK. He teached me the technique which is remarkably simple, yet as he says, equally complicated. It's just like the saying: "I can open the door for you, but you have to walk the path." Undeniably so. Chi Kung meditation is hardly scientific, and is entirely up to the subject to subject's own determination, faith (not in a religious sense) and patience in order to succeed. It doesn't have any particular rules, apart from the way you sit on a chair. Which is good cos I can't sit cross-legged for too long!

Meditation is believed to increase the flow of 'chi' (energy) and can boost one's stamina, pyshcological and physical health and more importantly for me, my immune system. But there are no guarantees I can do anything beneficial. So maybe it can even act as a placebo? I am so tired of looking... all that time, money, travelling I've spent to see various doctors - not to mention the disappointment - It's a hard thing to have faith in, but thinking of all the things I want to do in life, all the places I want to travel and film projects or whatever I want to take, it's not just a desire to fully heal, but also imperative for the things I want to achieve.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Products for charity? Pfftt...

A lot of buzz recently about buying certain products where some profits go directly to charity. Bono started his Project Red a new ad out for a compliation CD - Rhythms del Mundo: Cuba.
But it's Project Red that's the latest blitz by global do-gooder Bono. He stresses that us as first world consumers, we have the power to choose what to buy or what not to buy... in this case buying 'Red' products so some of its profits goes directly in the fight against AIDS. Big companies like GAP, Apple and Mastercard have the joined fray. Reality is, mixing business with charity is just a new marketing trend: philathropy is the new buzz word with marketing execs. You don't have to be cynical to see through the companies' startegy!
And seriously, are people so greedy now that they need to be coerced in giving charity thorugh materialistic consumption of goods? If they wanted to be charitable can't they just pop it into a donation box or wire some money to UNICEF? I don't give to charity much I admit but hell I won't even fathom of buying a 'Red' product for the sake of it. Don't buy into the gimmick people. Hell, they don't even tell us how much profit's going in. And if you really want to help fight against AIDS, protest or lobby against those pharmaceutical behemoths instead. Now they have the power.