第二次說再見

對於《蘋果》的被自殺,除了憤怒,還有感慨。因為隨著《蘋果》的消失,《飲食男女》也無可奈何的要結束。我離港赴美前的最後一份工作,就是在《飲食男女》當編輯,所以感受特別深。

雖然在《飲食》只做了不足兩年,但那600多天對我來說,可說是意義重大。

*以上影片是我現存少量當年在《飲食男女》寫的作品

2001年初,《東周刊》被星島集團收購,我和其他幾位同事不幸被裁員。就在有點徬徨之際,舊同事問我有沒有興趣到《飲食》當記者。大概兩個星期之後,我便開始到將軍澳上班了。在此,我深切的謝謝A先生和E小姐!

想當年,《飲食》是全港第一家中文傳媒會付款給記者在餐廳用膳,然後寫食評的。其他報刊的慣例是記者跟餐廳的公關表明要介紹他們,然後約時間拍照及訪問,之後記者回報館寫「食評」交稿。《飲食》讓我明白真相與觀點的重要,也讓我明白專業是甚麼一回事。

幾個月後,我當上了雜誌編輯一職,跟同是編輯的潘小姐每星期輪流寫「編者的話」一欄。我和潘小姐不太熟稔,但我非常欣賞她的認真,也喜歡她的文字。所以每星期寫這一欄的時候,都會不期然地認真起來,免得失禮自己。現在回看,有幾篇「編者的話」仍是我自己最喜歡的作品。

《飲食》給予我很大的創作空間。一年多下來,我有機會寫了幾篇旅遊飲食專題,香港老店介紹,以及中英對照的食譜,算是我對food writing的一點致敬。

不過要算在《飲食》的最大得著,必定是在那些年一起捱夜趕稿的戰友們。我們雖然現在處身在世界不同角落,不同行業,但我希望有一天,我們能在煲底相見,吃個痛快,舉杯盡歡。

第12季芝城亞洲躍動電影節3月15日開鑼

網上欣賞來自香港、日本、台灣、南韓及中國等地最新電影

我算不上是個電影狂熱,只是對不同的故事敘述形式及媒體都很有興趣。以前在香港,每年都是香港國際電影節的座上客。在美國定居以後,由於長期居於市郊,加上要帶孩子,並沒有太多機會看非荷里活製作的電影,看香港電影更是難上加難。

在美國,較有規模及水準的國際電影節一般都在人口較多元化的大都會,如紐約、三藩市及洛杉機等。若果不是在這些大都會,想要看香港及其他亞洲地區的電影,實在不容易。

第12季芝城亞洲躍動電影節

我在芝加哥居住的時候,認識了一位來自香港並非常熱心的電影愛好者Sophia。她在2015年創立了每年兩季的亞洲躍動電影節,一方面讓芝加哥的觀眾有機會認識不同類型的亞洲電影,另一方面請來亞洲電影人到芝加哥面對面跟美國的電影人互相交流。

今年電影節踏入第6個年頭,也是陣容最頂盛的一年。本季(第12季)由3月15日至5月1日,分別以網上及露天電影院(drive-in theater)兩種形式播放33部來自10多個亞洲國家的電影,其中多部更是全美首影。由於版權問題,網上播放的電影只限美國觀眾(其中一部只限美國伊利諾州)。

文念中執導、紀錄許鞍華對電影的熱誠與貢獻的《好好拍電影》

當中我最期待的是文念中執導、紀錄許鞍華對電影的熱誠與貢獻的《好好拍電影》,以及來自蒙古、講述一家三口兩代完全不同的生活的《I, The Sunshine》。前者上星期才開始在香港上影,用好評如潮來形容實不為過;後者故事感人,加上蒙古的大漠風光,是一家大小一同觀看的好選擇。

網上播放的門票由$3至$10(美元)不等,其中有4部更是免費播影的(要預先登記)。有關電影節的電影資料及購票詳情,請參看電影節網站:https://www.asianpopupcinema.org/12overview

Por Por

Por Por means maternal grandmother in Cantonese. My Por Por left us last week, on Thursday, February 25th, 2021. It’s never easy to say goodbye to loved ones, but I’m thankful she lived a full, blessed life. She was 95.

Por Por, my mom, and me. 5 years ago.

When I think about Por Por, I think about her sweet smile, her kindness, and her generosity. But now looking back at her life, I realized there was something else about her that I had not previously thought much about: her strength and her preseverence. She was such a gentle giant.

Por Por belonged to the Tankas, or boat people, a small ethnic group from Southern China. She grew up on a boat in a fisherman family in Hong Kong. It is difficult for my generation to imagine not having the opportunity to go to school and having to spend all day every day doing physically demanding chores, on a boat no less. But just two generations ago in Hong Kong, if you were a girl, you had no option but to stay home and work, unless you’re from a wealthy family.

Gary & I at our wedding in Hong Kong, with Por Por, my aunt, and my uncle.

My sister and I used to mimic her Tanka Cantonese. In general, Tankas speak Cantonese. But there are some slight linguistic differences between Tanka Cantonese and the Cantonese we speak. For example, instead of “yu,” fish, Tankas say “yi.” For my sister and I, it was a way to make us feel more connected to Por Por, by saying things the way she did.

Life was not easy for Por Por back in the day. She was always working. When she’s not cooking, she’s cleaning; when she’s not cleaning, she’s sewing. Things eventually got better, as my aunt and my mom were able to provide for her. But she would not let herself stop.

When I was pregnant with my oldest, Por Por hand sewed three sets of traditional Chinese outfit for him. She was already in her late 70’s at the time. She could have just sit back and relax. But instead, she spent hours making those outfits for her great grandson, one stitch at a time. They’re not only the most stylish jackets you will ever find, but they’re also full of love. These jackets have become some of my most cherished treasures.

My dad and my oldest, and the most beautiful jacket handsewn by my grandma.

I used to spend my summers at her house — not so much a house as it was a tiny apartment in the projects. There wasn’t really much to do, but it was a special time for me to hang out with Por Por and my aunt. My aunt, who’s only five years older than me, would take me with her everywhere she went. Sometimes, we would help Por Por at her stall in the market to sell her homemade snacks. At the end of the shift, Por Por would give us some spare change and we would go get candies.

Por Por‘s specialty snack was agar agar jelly with egg drop that was made in the shape of an egg using plastic Easter egg molds. I don’t think you can find it in Hong Kong anymore, or anywhere else, for that matter. But it was a popular street food in the 1970’s. It cost close to nothing to make, and kids were happy to get a sweet treat for pennies.

Agar agar jelly in egg molds. (Photo credit: Apple Daily)

The last time I saw Por Por was five years ago when I was in Hong Kong. Little did I know that would have been the last time I held her soft, wrinkly hand. Although I will never see my Por Por ever again, I know I will always have the sweet memories we shared.

A Look Back on 2020: Review, Reflect, and Restart

I don’t typically do year-end reviews and set goals for the new year. But, as most would agree, 2020 is such a wild year that I’m convinced I should do something different. So as the year comes to a close, I’m writing this brief note to sum up happenings around me in the past 12 months, how I feel about them, and what I plan to do next year.

Review

January actually started off with quite a bang for me and my family: we started a monthly social club at our home, aka the Salon, to share food, wine, art, and conversations with liked-minded people in our community; my husband started a food business and was getting some promising interests from prospective clients; and I completed 2 semesters in my MBA program.

Everything seemed to be on the right track, until March, when Covid hit and all in-person social gatherings became almost non-existent and the food industry pretty much went bust. No more salons at home and my husband had to figure out how to keep his budding business afloat. The only saving grace was that I continued to thrive in my MBA program and was able to keep my job and work from home.

It didn’t help that there was an endless flow of bad news coming out of my hometown Hong Kong throughout the year: high profile activists and regular folks were being arrested and sent to jail one after another. To avoid jail time, a few of them had to flee the city and went into exile.

As a result of all of these, different groups from around the world had sprung up to try to get international support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Other groups were formed with a simple goal of helping Hongkongers who came to the US for fear of political prosecution to start a new life in their new country. I got involved with a couple of these groups and started to contribute my time and expertise in some of their projects.

By summer, my husband figured out a way to pivot his business and keep it in survival mode. With the time and freedom he had on hand, he decided to launch a grassroot program to feed some of the food-insecured in our community. He started the program with some seed funding from our church and recruited volunteers from and beyond our church to prepare, package, and distribute meals to those in need in the Greater Boston area. From August to December, the program has given away over 2,000 meals.

Days before Christmas, just as we thought the worst would be behind us soon, we received the worst news of all: someone very very dear to us lost his life in a senseless gun violence. He was shot and killed in a robbery at the store he was working at. No words can describe the sorrow and pain we feel. We are still coping with the loss, but we’re okay. We have a strong family to support each other, and we also received an abundance of love and support from our church and local community. For that, we are grateful.

Reflect

Looking back to all the challenges we faced in 2020, I don’t know I can say I learned any new lessons. But the wildly unpredictable year did serve as a good reminder of things that I already knew but did not always pay attention to:

Be appreciative of what you have: it’s wonderful to have dreams and goals. But do not lose sight on people and things that you already have — whether it’s your family, friends, neighbors, or the fact that you’re alive — because those are the foundations on which you build your dreams. Without a good support system, there will be no dreams come true.

Focus on what you can do: Do not stress about things that are not in your control. We cannot control when there will be a pandemic, but we can all do our part to keep it manageable. We don’t know when we will lose someone we love, but we can make sure we do our best to keep a strong, loving relationship with those alive. Tell your loved ones you love them every day.

Forget about “normal”: As this year has so boldly told us, there is no such thing as “normal.” What is a routine in the past 100 years can become irrelevant in a second. Keep an open mind and prepare to adapt and evolve. Things might be different, but there’s always a way, as long as there’s a will.

Know yourself: No self improvement can come without a good understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to know who we are, what we want, and what makes us happy. The pandemic has shown a lot of us that what we thought was important actually meant very little to us. Finding out what makes you tick is the first step to finding true happiness. I found this free personality assessment very helpful (and accurate in my case). If you must know, I’m a Mediator.

Restart

I’m an optimist at heart. I choose to believe there’s alway light at the end of the tunnel. I see 2021 as a hopeful yet challenging year. I believe we have to continue to work hard and be ready to adapt in the coming months. But behind every challenge, there lies a new opportunity. I don’t have a lot of lofty goals for the new year, but I do have a few things I’m looking forward to:

Graduation: I’ll be graduating with my MBA in May 2021, with a double concentration in Marketing and Business Analytics. On top of that, my teenager is graduating from high school this summer. There’s a lot to celebrate!

Entrepreneurship: While my husband’s budding business had been kept on hold, the two of us do have other ideas about potential new businesses. We just started to work on a couple of those ideas and I’m excited to see where they will take us.

Family: I’m committed to putting more effort to strengthen the bond with our extended family. Between my husband and I, we have a big family that is spreadout across the country and the world. I haven’t done enough in the past, but this year, I’ll work harder to build and sustain those relationships.

Hong Kong: From all the negative news, it is hard to imagine a better Hong Kong. But I’m here for the long haul. With all of these new groups springing up here in the US and elsewhere in the world, I’m hopeful that the tide will gradually change for the better.

Whether 2020 was a triumph or struggle for you, let’s keep our heads up in the new year! Wishing you a wondrous new year filled with joy and blessings! The best is yet to come!

Your Enemy’s Enemy Is Not Necessarily Your Friend

I know it’s only days before the election, and whatever I say here probably won’t change anybody’s mind. Worse still, it will only attract trolls to my site. But this is something I feel strongly about, and I need to just spill it out.

First and foremost, to all my friends in Hong Kong and around the world who support Hongkongers’ fight against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), please know that I’m with you all the way. But I cannot agree with you in supporting Donald Trump–because he is a selfish, racist, misogynistic liar and a dictator-worshipper. He is not someone anyone can count on.

Trump could care less whether the people of Hong Kong suffer or not. He only cares about how he would look in front of his supporters. He does not do anything that is not beneficial to himself. Whatever he does, it always goes back to the question of “what’s in it for me.”

His “tough on China” stance is only a facade with no actual substance. It’s just optics. It’s smoke and mirrors. It is simply used to show his supporters how macho he is. Everything he did to “punish” China either yields to nothing, or ended up harming his own people. When he called the corona virus the Chinese virus, China did not suffer from it, but hundreds, if not thousands, of Asian Americans were faced with racist attacks of varying degrees, from verbal attacks to physical assaults. His trade war with China is costing a huge amount of taxpayer money and American farmers, businesses in the steel and manufacturing industries are all negatively impacted by it.

He does not support the freedom of speech. Anyone who says anything negative about him is “fake news.” Please tell me how he is any different from the CCP?

He supports police brutality in the name of “law and order.” He fails to publicly condone white supremacy groups, but instead, asked them to “stand down and stand by.” He admires dictators like Putin and Xi Jinping. With everything going on in Tibet and Xinjiang, he never condemned CCP for all the humanitarian crimes against minorities in China.

Kevin Yam made some very good points in his op-ed in Ming Pao, a major Chinese newspaper in Hong Kong, a couple of days ago. You can also read a summary of the piece in English on his Twitter posts. Unfortunately, as I expected, he was called a “friend of China” because of this.

But, friends, your enemy’s enemy is not necessarily your friend. Just because you and another person have the same enemy doesn’t mean the other person is someone you should support. It is a matter of principles. We should not support an evil monster just because we happen to hate the same bad guy.

Please think thrice before you declare you’re a Trump supporter, because when you support Trump, you’re also supporting lies, misogyny, racism, and a totalitarian regime.

Understanding Racism: a Book and Movie Recommendation

I’ll be the first to admit that I do not fully understand the deep-rooted racism in America, and how that negatively impacts not only the black community, but also all people of color. As Asians, we’ve been taught to work hard and keep our mouths shut. Our internalized anti-blackness taught us that the sufferings of black people were somehow their fault.

Growing up in Hong Kong, racism seemed like a problem so far from me. But over the last 17 years since I’ve lived in the U.S., I have slowly started to recognize the importance of learning about the history of racism. First of all, I’m married to a black man and we’re raising two brown, biracial kids. I have to know how racism is affecting the lives of the people I love most. But also, I realized it’s up to every single one of us, no matter what color of our skin is, to open our eyes to the injustices around us. It’s not enough to just say, “yeah, I know racism exists and I don’t condone it.” We all need to stand up and do something about it.

Below is a list of books and movies that I have read/watched and found very educational, and others that I plan to read/watch in the coming months (thanks to friends who have sent their recommendations my way). I hope this is helpful to my non-black friends. I’ll keep adding to this list as I find more.

Start reading some of these books. Recommend it to your book club. Read it with your children and/or your friends. Discuss it with them. These books should all be available at your local library. If not, request them. Or you can buy them from a black-owned bookstore (here’s a good list).

Books

       

  • Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in The Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

       

  • White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo
  • Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi
  • Unravelling the Model Minority: Listening to Asian American Youth by Stacey J. Lee

       

  • Yell-Oh Girls: Emerging Voices Explore Culture, Identity, and Growing Up Asian American, edited by Vickie Nam
  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  • The Source of Self-regard: Selected Essays, Speeches, and Meditations by Toni Morrison

       

  • Women, Race, and Class by Angela Davis
  • They Can’t Kill Us All by Wesley Lowery
  • How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

       

  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald
  • White Rage by Carol Anderson

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir by [Patrisse Khan-Cullors, asha bandele, Angela Davis]    An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States (REVISIONING HISTORY Book 3) by [Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz]    The Making of Asian America: A History by [Erika Lee]

  • When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
  • An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
  • The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee

Movies and TV Shows

13th, directed by Ava DuVernay (available on Netflix)

13th (film).png

The title 13th refers to the thirteenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which “abolished slavery throughout the United States and ended involuntary servitude except as a punishment for conviction of a crime.” This film features interviews with activists, academics, political figures, and other public figures, including Angela Davis, Van Jones, Newt Gingrich, Cory Booker, Henry Louis Gates Jr., etc.

 

Asian American, a 5-part series from PBS

Asian Americans DVD

This documentary tells the epic story of Asian Americans in the last 150 years, and examines their journey in American history through the lens of racial politics and international relations. It is a bold departure from the stereotypical portrayal of Asian Americans as the model minority.

I’m Not Your Negro, directed by Raoul Peck

I Am Not Your Negro.pngJames Baldwin was himself a well-known activist, and the inspiration behind this documentary, his unfinished manuscript Remember This House, was a collection of notes and letters which tells the lives and stories of his friends and leaders in the civil rights movement, including Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr.

 

 

When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay

When They See Us (TV Mini-Series 2019) - IMDb

I know, I know. It’s Ava again. I can’t help it. I’m her fan! Adapted from the real story of five young black men imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, this is a powerful miniseries from the award-winning director. I challenge you to not cry watching this movie. If you’re a parent, you’ll ache with all those parents in this movie.

 

 

If Beale Street Could Talk, directed by Barry Jenkins

If Beale Street Could Talk film.png

Based on James Baldwin’s novel of the same name, the movie is a deeply moving story about love, race, and the struggle of the common people.

 

 

 

 

 

Just Mercy, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

Just Mercy Official Poster.jpg

I just watched dthis movie and would recommend everyone to do the same. The movie is based on the book of the same name, written by Bryan Stevenson, who’s the lawyer in the movie. If you want to see how race affects the judicial systems in American, and how people of color and people from poor communities are hurt by the criminal justice system, watch this movie please.

 

 

 

    TheHouseILiveIn poster.jpg    3 12 Minutes, 10 Bullets poster.jpg

  • White Savior: Racism in the American Church, directed by Aaron J. Christopher
  • The House I Live In, directed by Eugene Jarecki
  • 3 1/2 Minutes Ten Bullets, directed by Marc Silver

The Cruelty is the Point: Hong Kong Edition

Illustration by Ah To @ah_to_hk

Since the weekly mass protests broke out in Hong Kong last month, I’ve been thinking a lot about the social conflicts in my hometown, Hong Kong, and my current home, the United States of America. While the causes of the social divide are not the same (or are they?), I keep thinking there is something very similar in the way people behave. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it—until the violence started escalating very rapidly over the last two weeks: gangsters clad in white attacking anyone in their path in Yuen Long a couple of weekends ago, police firing tear gas inside the Yuen Long train station Sunday night when protesters were simply trying to take the train home, while numerous rounds of tear gas canisters and rubber bullets were fired around the same time on the other side of the city in Sheung Wan. It finally dawned on me that the excessive force employed by the police, gangsters, and other pro-establishment groups all point to one thing: cruelty.

I’m instantly reminded of an article by Adam Serwer in The Atlantic, titled THE CRUELTY IS THE POINT. In the article, Serwer argues that what brings Trump and his supporters together is the shared joy of seeing “the suffering of those they hate and fear.” One striking example is the collection of photos in the Museum of African American History and Culture: white men in different times and locations all smiling happily in pictures of black men being tortured. According to Serwer, the horrific act, and, perhaps more importantly, the fact that they’re doing it together, creates a special bond between them.

In the case of Hong Kong, maybe it’s not so much smiling faces, but more of smirks and sneers. The cruelty, however, is the same. After repeatedly criticized for violating international code, police kept firing tear gas canisters and rubber bullets directly at protesters, knowing full well that this would induce maximum damage. This is beyond crowd control. This is aiming to hurt, or even kill.

When legislator Junius Ho shook hands with gangsters in Yuen Long, congratulating them for a job well done after a night of violence, it was a sign of comraderie. They’re basking in the joy of achieving a common goal. It’s the same sentiment expressed when, during a pro-police rally last month, a couple of men destroyed the makeshift memorial that protesters set up for the young soul who fell to his death in Admiralty. It’s the same reason why medical crews were not allowed to give necessary treatments to injured protesters. They want to see the other group suffer, emotionally and physically. These acts of cruelty are a bonding mechanism.

Many wonder why such hate exists. The answer is simple. It’s a tactic that has been employed by the wealthy and the powerful around the world for centuries. They knew that if they throw a wrench between two groups, there will be a fight. And when people are busy fighting each other, no one would paid attention to them.

There’s a Chinese saying, “When the crane and the clam fight, the fisherman reaps the benefits,” because now that they’re both injured, the fisherman can just scoop them up as his catch of the day.