President Tsai Ing-wen will lead a delegation themed "Oceans of Democracy" on state visits to Palau, Nauru, and the Marshall Islands, three of Taiwan's allies in the Pacific, from March 21 to 28. On this trip, the president will present distinctively Taiwanese gifts to the respective heads of state and others. On the morning of March 19, the Office of the President convened a press conference to showcase those gifts, and Department of Public Affairs Director-General Chang Wen-lan (張文蘭) described their special features and significance.
Director-General Chang stated that President Tsai will present Palau President Tommy Remengesau with an oil painting titled "Life in Endless Succession" by Atayal tribe artist Miru Hayung (米路·哈勇). President Remengesau, she said, is a staunch supporter of Taiwan, and has a long-term vision for Palau's development. In recent years, Palau has been working to develop sustainable tourism, and to protect coral reefs, Palau has become the first country in the world to prohibit the use of reef-toxic sunscreen. These measures demonstrate a vision that resonates with the idea of "life in endless succession."
Director-General Chang said that "Life in Endless Succession" provides a stylized depiction of an Atayal fish trap, which only catches large fish, while allowing smaller ones to slip through. This environmentally sustainable cultural wisdom aligns with the steps that Palau has taken in recent years to preserve its maritime resources and develop sustainable tourism.
Director-General Chang said that Nauru President Baron Waqa will receive a guitar fashioned from driftwood by Amis tribe artist Talaluki (范志明). President Waqa has often given outstanding spontaneous guitar performances during meetings with Taiwanese officials. The people of Nauru love to make music, and regard songs as the best gift they can give. President Waqa, moreover, comes from a long line of musicians, and has an impressive collection of stringed instruments at his home. When President Waqa visited Taiwan earlier this year, President Tsai gave him a ukulele as a gift, and he played it on the spot to express his thanks.
Director-General Chang said that the guitar was made from driftwood left behind after the flooding caused by Typhoon Morakot in August 2009. This proves that Taiwanese wood can be made into fine stringed instruments, and it reminds us of the dire consequences of climate change.
Director-General Chang then said that President Tsai will give Nauru Speaker of Parliament Cyril Buraman a work called "Seed Lamp," made by Amis artist Iyo Kacaw (伊祐噶照). Nauru takes environmental sustainability issues brought about by climate change very seriously. Crafted from driftwood and using a seed as its theme, "Seed Lamp" symbolizes the circle of life, alluding to Nauru's seat of democracy, the National Parliament, which "gives birth" to important national policies.
President Hilda C. Heine of the Marshall Islands, the first woman ever to serve as president of a Pacific island nation, will receive an artwork that depicts the deep love between a mother and daughter. This work was created by Cheng Mei-yu (鄭梅玉), a teacher and previous winner of the National Crafts Award. President Heine's daughter, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, created a sensation when she presented a self-authored poem at the 2014 UN Climate Summit. Cheng's work highlights the fact that President Heine and her daughter have set an outstanding example in their respective fields for women throughout the world. In addition, the people of the Marshall Islands are renowned for their excellent weaving skills, so presenting their president a rush-woven artwork, a well-known Taiwanese specialty, promises to spur dialogue between weavers in the two countries.
After Director-General Chang completed her remarks, Miru Hayung, Talaluki, and Cheng Mei-yu then explained the creative concept behind their works.