Portia Placino

Repository of my thoughts and images of art, literature, travel, and life.

Memories of Painful Pasts: Human Rights Museum

DSC02245One of the most thought-provoking things that I have witnessed in Taipei is their National Human Rights Museum. Albeit all the sensitive issues that this may provoke, at the very essence, they are preserving their painful memories so that they may never allow the same suffering to happen to their people ever again.

It was an incredibly gloomy and rainy day. It sets the stage for the gray walls of the museum.

You literally have to pass through a claustrophobic inducing structure, mimicking the experience of political prisoners of the Taiwanese dictatorship.

The former barracks were recreated to serve as a briefing room. Here, the guide would retell the story of the Taiwanese period of dictatorship and the White Terror.

The bare grey walls speak for itself. I am not a Taiwanese, but the story of dictatorship is also my story as a Filipino.

On top of the highest grey walls are dove sculptures. Until now, I think we are still fighting for our flight towards freedom.

This entire complex was created for the sole purpose of holding political prisoners.

Still, a mythical figure looks on. I truly wonder how they felt about this.

Irony of all ironies, this prison also holds a Chiang Kai-shek memorial. How was it like to pass through a structure memorializing the very reason you are imprisoned for? They memorialized the person who robbed them of their freedom.

The museum showed how communications were monitored at the time.

Even phone conversations. Lifting those phones, you can hear the conversations that the political prisoners had. I don’t speak Chinese, but it gives a sense of loneliness, isolation, and fear. Maybe it is the context that I am viewing it from, as I have absolutely no idea of what is being said.

An opening to the prison cell.

No conversation is allowed in the small exercise yard below.

The story is painful for the to tell, but they tell it anyway. It is the subject of endless debates. Is it right to represent something that cannot be fully conveyed? By doing this, do you prevent the people from moving forward?

Is it a valid point, to keep on telling the story so they may heal? So that they always remember, and through collective remembrance, learn.

They invited one of the former political prisoners to speak with us. He does not appear to be a sad man, even if he did went through so much pain. He believes in the museum and what it aims to do. The museum tells a story of terror. And through that terror, a story of freedom.

It leads me to thinking about our own struggles as Filipino people. Why are we so intent to forget? We don’t try to remember. We forget and let go of our past hurts and terrors, but we don’t learn the lessons. In forgetting, one generation may heal from it, but the coming generation forgets.

This place feels bleak. You will leave with a pain in your heart and a disturbed mind. But still, they teach a lesson. They don’t forget. They teach a lesson to always fight for the freedom that they earned. They grow  from that belief. Taipei is rising around these walls, but these walls still stand.

I wonder how I can carry this home. How can we remember the pain? So we may never allow such terrors again. I still have no answer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Archives

Categories

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,571 other followers

Follow Portia Placino on WordPress.com

Instagram

How this morning was spent. I didn't capture it on video, but she said this was "mountain, mountain." She learned that word when we were in Lucban, visiting her Lola. She knows Lola lives near the mountain and she misses her. Sigh, someday again. Also, yay to fine motor skills, attention to details, and attention span! Old school play. #toddlerplay #toddlernarratives
#gamerchef has been experimenting with new dishes so he can expand our vegetable repertoire. This banana heart teriyaki fried rice is such a success! Little one loved it. So now, we can include banana hearts in our vegetable orders. Last night, he added okra to a stir fry. It was still yummy, but the slimy texture is still there, so I'm not a big fan. Little one refused to touch the okra. Now we discover okra also dries up quite fast, so not adding okra to the list. I wonder what vegetables we can to our list... #toddlerfood
Experimented with chewy oatmeal raisin cookies. Perfect for the rainy afternoon. Finally baked something that the little one really liked. I think I baked too much bread the past few weeks. Lol. #baking
She also developed a taste for pickles. She loved the Korean-style radish pickle. And aside from a little fried chicken, she also likes tapa rice. But it should be tapa flakes and already mixed in the rice. Literally the only meat dishes she would eat. I'm not complaining. Lol. #toddlerfood #toddlernarratives
One of her favorite treats. #toddlerfood #toddlernarratives
Baked some chocolate orange bread. Needs more chocolate, I will try one more tablea tablet next time. I wonder if I should also add more orange zest. Yummy for a thunderstormy afternoon. I just wish the rain would just fall, the humidity is giving me a headache. #baking
%d bloggers like this: