Taiwan is gearing up for what could be the best festival of the year. Over 100 bands and performers will be coming to jam out at the Unlimited Freedom Festival. Bands from all over the world (Taiwan, Japan, The U.K., Korea, Hong Kong, Poland, the U.S., Singapore, Malaysia, and more) are ready to rock Taiwan, due to perform at literally “the highest and most central” music and arts festival on the island. This year boasts 6 stages, over 100 bands, and a slew of genres to peak the interests of all music-lovers (Indie music、Punk、Alternative Rock、Post Rock、Heavy metal、Hip Hop、Reggae、 Funk、Folk、Dance 、ACG Music.) The mission of the Unlimited Freedom Festival is to bring you various styles of art and music, married with elements from Taiwanese culture, so that the world can experience the unlimited freedoms of Taiwan, creating an epic experience you won’t soon forget.
The festival has been running since 2007; by the following year, 2008, the event had attracted some 10,000 attendees. In 2015, the festival took on new life, moving out from the city streets and into nature in the mountains of Nantou County, giving birth to its tagline: “the most central and highest festival in Taiwan.” Camping grounds are plentiful and access to these sites is included with select ticket purchases.
The three-day festival starts on October 18th and runs until the 20th! You can purchase single-day tickets, or opt for full festival passes. Special passes that grant ticket-holders full access to the nearby camping grounds are also available. More information is listed below.
At this point, you might be wondering what inspired the name of the Unlimited Freedom Festival. The festival organizers put it very simply : “Taiwan is a beautiful country full of freedom. That is why it is called the Unlimited Freedom Festival!” So, if you’re looking to experience great tunes and multiculturalism amidst nature in one of the freest, most beautiful countries in the world, then this is the festival for you!
Let’s answer all your questions here:
Where is the event?
pasture Yen 顏氏牧場 in Nantou Puli No.28, Shuishang Ln., Puli Township, Nantou County 545, Taiwan
Depression has been regarded by the UN World Health Organization as the three major diseases of the new century. According to the UN World Health Organization, there are at least about 50 million people with depression in Asia and their numbers are on the rise. By 2020, depression and heart disease will have become the top two diseases that affect human lives. Currently, there are about 2 million people suffering from depression in Taiwan, and 97% of them don’t reach out for help.
Now WARM (Women Anonymous Reconnecting Mentally) is trying to do something about it. WARM (Women Anonymous Reconnecting Mentally) is a women’s mental health support group in Taipei. Since December, 2017, WARM has been supporting women’s mental health, and has become a necessary part of their members’ lives. WARM IS THE FIRST AND ONLY mental health support group in Taiwan. WARM has been improving and inspiring women’s lives for the better since December, 2017.
Mental illness is extremely stigmatized in Taiwan. Treatments of depression in Taiwanese clinics are poorly covered by health insurance, it only covers about 2% to 4% of the expenses. On top of that, a single therapy session can cost about 100-120 USD.
In WARM, women meet up every Sunday. WARM provides women in Taiwan a safe platform to discuss anything that is plaguing their mental health. Generally speaking, in Taiwan, a therapy session is 50 minutes a week, a doctor’s visit is about 10-20 minutes a week, once we leave the clinics, we are all on our own again. WARM is trying to break that cycle and create a community that offers support 24/7. WARM further posts encouraging posts in their Facebook group and interactive questions or weekly challenges, such as: “look into the mirror and say ‘I accept you’ for three times, comment below and get a chance on this exclusive WARM gift”. WARM makes sure that they incentivize women every single day without failing.
In WARM, women are empowered by listening and sharing. Topics which were previously considered “unspeakable” or “weak”, or something to “be ashamed of” for women are now being spoken and discussed. Sensitive topics such as rape, abortion, body image and abuse are boldly discussed in WARM. They have given their members a voice and a place to talk about their traumas. More importantly, WARM is a place for women to find closure, support and healing. WARM exemplifies that mental health is as important as physical health, no one chooses to be sick voluntarily.
Recently WARM has been featured in the Taiwan Observer, Taiwan News, Taipei Times, and ICRT. This shows how much society needs them and the important jobs they are doing. They are not a group therapy but a support group. They do not offer professional treatment to “fix” people, but guide their members to seek professional help outside of the group when necessary. The WARM meeting style is based on the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) format, providing a safe platform for women to share and encourage each other. WARM has a safe and effective platform for women with mental health related issues. It has been proven by past meetings that WARM’s structure is more than helpful to their members.
WARM holds their weekly meetings at MOWES, a community space run by and for women. Besides their weekly Sunday meetings, they have various events dedicated to mental health at different venues with a wide selection of partners to collaborate with. WARM is the true example of what happens when people unite, speak up and raise their voice for themselves. WARM believes: together, we can fight anything, even the profound stigma of mental illness. WARM is trying their best to not just be a support group, but a cause for de-stigmatizing mental health and raising awareness about mental health. WARM’s ultimate goal is that hopefully, WARM won’t need to exist one day. When that day comes, hopefully, we can walk up to a stranger, and say “Hey, I don’t know you, but I support you.”.
This is the link to WARM’s Facebook group (ladies only): https://www.facebook.com/groups/323198761492476/
The link to WARM’s Facebook page (for the public) : https://m.facebook.com/warmoftheday
Looking back at the last 20-odd years of earthquakes and disasters in Taiwan and elsewhere in the region, one can learn a few lessons and prepare some necessities to ensure that you can survive similar scenarios to what we have seen play out here.
1. AT HOME, BUILDING DAMAGED, BUT YOU CAN GET OUT (The 9/21/1999 Earthquake)
During the earthquake of 9/21, we were living on the 10th floor of an apartment building in Taoyuan. The building swayed to such an extent that our bed moved away from the wall by about a meter. We got the kids into jackets and shoes in between violent aftershocks, and got them down the stairwell and bundled into the car. We covered them up with the duvet we had brought down with us, drove to an open space, and spent an
uncomfortable night sleeping in the car. The next day we spent driving around because there were still aftershocks and we thought the apartment was unsafe. 7-11 remained open but all necessities were quickly sold out. All other businesses and restaurants were closed, ATMS were dead, so we were running out of cash. On the 3rd day we found a lone bank employee with a generator, running one ATM! We snacked on whatever we could find at 7-11. Eventually we returned, but we had no electricity and no water for over a week. We did have gas supply so we could cook. The most severe problem, that was the most immediately sign that you were in a state of emergency, was the fact that without water, you can’t flush the toilet. We developed a system of only flushing once a day, and getting water out of the swimming pool for that. Carrying a 20l can of water up 10 flights of stairs was no joke, and that was barely enough for one flush. The men peed into the sink. It was almost 2 weeks before things were normal again.
2. AT WORK (The Fukushima 2011 earthquake)
You’re at work. You are uninjured but you need to get home. You don’t know where your loved ones are or if they are safe. PHONES ARE DOWN. Cellphone networks are vulnerable to damage to towers, complete power outages, and system overload immediately after a disaster. In Taoyuan after the 9/21 earthquake it took several hours before I was able to send and receive text messages. During the Fukushima earthquake, some of my colleagues in Tokyo chose to walk home because all transportation was halted. Some of them walked for FIVE HOURS in very unsuitable shoes.
3. AT HOME, BUILDING TOPPLES, YOU ARE TRAPPED (The Tainan 2/6/2016 earthquake)
You wake up to the building toppling. Everything happens incredibly quickly. Everything slides down, you are trapped at an awkward angle, with only the stuff next to your bed in a mess around you. You get the weight of the bed off you where it crushed you against the wall. The water pipes break and the water tanks on the roof tip out their contents. There is a gush of water, some of which drenches you. You are stuck in a narrow space because the floors pancaked. It is dark and cold. You can smell gas. A piece of rebar gashed your leg. It’s not bleeding too badly, but you’re not sure if it’s fractured. You are in shock. It may take hours, even days, before rescuers can get to you. You need to let them know you are alive so they can hone in on you. You need to dry out, give yourself first aid, you need to keep warm, and you need to keep your spirits up. You have to stay alive.
Some general thoughts in no particular order:
Have a plan
When the building is violently shaking and shelves come crashing down, it’s well past the time for you to think, “Aaaah what should I do?”
Discuss with all members of your household, and have a solid plan.
LARGE-SCALE DESTRUCTION such as in Haiti or Nepal is uncommon in Taiwan. It’s usually just single buildings that go down. If your building is still standing after the first shake, chances are that it will stay that way. If you can get out, you are safe – you can get to shelter, you will get government assistance, you can also go stay with friends or family – Best to have this conversation before disaster strikes.
Remember to take your house keys, with you, keep duplicates in your bag – you don’t want to evacuate, stay outside in the cold for a while and then discover you’ve locked yourself out of the house.
Keep your floors clear of kids’ toys etc. … you don’t want to be tripping over Legos in the dark.
Include your pets’ needs in your preparations.
If you keep your shoes by the door, keep at least a pair of flipflops right by your bed.
A car provides shelter and warmth and relative comfort, and the ability to get out of danger. If you have one, it is a very important part of your plan.
Check Websites/FB Groups if people offering help and rooms, and mark yourself safe.
EVACUATION CENTERS are usually at a school in the neighborhood. Go there to get help, to be accounted for, and to find loved ones. Don’t just bug out and go sit it out somewhere without letting people know you are safe.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE EARTHQUAKE HITS
Usually the following applies:
The building starts shaking. You wake up and assess.
Is the building just swaying, and then stops?You can probably just go back to sleep.
Is the building groaning and things falling off shelves?You should probably leave.
Is the building tilting/pancaking, pieces of concrete breaking out of ceiling and walls? – You should protect your head as best you can, ride it out. This will be a very violent experience, it usually happens VERY quickly. You will probably be hurt. Once everything settles down, check yourself for injuries, control any bleeding first, get your flashlight from your grab bag, and seek an escape route. Be careful of upsetting things that are precariously balanced. If there is no escape, keep warm, treat yourself with what you have to hand, try to communicate to let others know you are alive and your location (blow a whistle, tap on beams or pipes) and sit tight. YOU WILL BE RESCUED. The Taiwan Rescue Services are very experienced, very well equipped, and they do not stop before they have every single person accounted for.
IF YOU DECIDE TO EVACUATE
It’s best to NOT try to run out of a building when things are still shaking and falling. That’s the most vulnerable period. It’s best to STAY and COVER. Get under a table or bed or doorway (pick out suitable spots in EACH room beforehand) or whatever will protect you against falling things. Wait for the shaking to subside.
Now grab the THINGS ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE and your BUG OUT BAG (be prepared for aftershocks, take cover again if they come immediately)
PUT ON YOUR SHOES, PUT ON A JACKET, GRAB CHILDREN OR PETS, (maybe sit out another aftershock)
TURN OFF WATER AND GAS MAINS
THEN GET DOWN THE STAIRWELL AS CALMLY AND QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.
ONCE OUTSIDE, you now have the option to wait and see if it’s safe to go back inside, get in your car and get out of the area, or, if your building catastrophically collapses, vacate the area so that emergency services can get in, and get to a shelter.
NOTE ON IF YOU WANT TO HELP:
Some people will find their first instinct is to help others who may be trapped. In fact, in most disasters, such as the Haiti and Fukushima earthquakes, the first 24 hours is when MOST people are rescued – mostly under their own steam, or helped by relatives and others – many of them dug out by people using their bare hands. Therefore in my earthquake kit I have a hammer, cold chisel, hacksaw, pry bar, gloves, goggles and helmet. However, while I have had SOME experience with this kind of thing, I know my limitations. Once the trained and equipped emergency services arrive, give them whatever useful information you may have, then GET OUT OF THEIR WAY.
The FIRST RULE of rescue work is: DON’T BECOME A CASUALTY YOURSELF.
EARTHQUAKE EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT LIST
This is my list. Yours may be tailored according to your needs. Some of these are essentials, others can be described as “comfort Items”.
1. ON YOUR BEDSIDE TABLE:
Here you should have the stuff that you really cannot do without, things that you can grab in an instant – or, should you be trapped, they are immediately to hand.
Phone on charge
Wallet with money and ID
Automatic flashlight (plugged into wall, this keeps its charge and switches on automatically when there is a power failure)
2. BUG-OUT BAG
This bag should be tailored to your specific needs and will change depending on your household situation, do you have pets or children to provide for, etc. You might prepare a bag for each member of the family. This should ideally also be reachable from your bed.
Folder with personal documents
Powerbank for phone plus variety of cables
Wallet with 5k and small change Masks
Light plastic raincoat/s
Small roll plastic bags
Spare Reading glasses
Spare keys to everything including car
Hard candy/chocolate nuts
Small first-aid kit:
Water purification tablets
Any meds that you depend on
USB Memory stick with:
Scans of Passports
Emergency contacts in other city/country
Change of socks/underwear
Pry bar for jammed doors
Spare batteries for flashlight
Strong metal water bottle
Small battery-powered FM radio
Roll of plastic bags
Helmet (skating helmet is cheap and will protect against falling things.)
3. Elsewhere in your house:
Know where the electricity, water and gas taps are to shut them off. Do so if you have an orderly evacuation. In fact, it might be a good idea even to turn your gas tap off every evening before going to bed.
Large water container with water (for toilet)
Smaller water container (drinking)
Battery –powered LED Room Light
Large plastic bags
Canned food – soups etc.
Candles (Naked flame only to be used if 100% sure no gas leak!)
Stock of batteries for devices, flashlights etc.
Toilet foam (Spray into bowl to cover sight and smell so you can flush less.)
Battery-powered FM Radio
4. Always in car:
Silver windshield sunscreens
5. EXTENDED CAR KIT
What you keep in your car is a very personal choice. Many things like food on this list will spoil if you leave in your car too long. Maybe you could have a bin in your house in which you keep those items, and only put it in your car during heightened risk periods, like typhoons approaching, or earthquake swarms like we’ve been having. You can also check the expiry date on things at least once a year and swap them out. I like to camp so a lot of the stuff I have in my car is to survive in an outdoors, camping, living-out-of-the-car situation, but that would be almost unheard of in Taiwan, you will be better off going to a shelter or with friends.
Camping stove and gas canisters
Camping pot x 2
Baby stuff (Even if you don’t have a baby yourself, diapers are good for wound dressings, and also for barter with families with babies)
2 small Towels
Flipflops for everyone
Wide duct tape
20l Water bottle
Roll black garbage bags
Disposable underwear & socks
Water and gas main wrenches?
Dental floss (roll, many uses)
Green oil for insect repellant/smell
Solar charging panel
Blow up travel pillow
Spare camera battery
Pack of cards
Rope – paracord, climbable rope, towing rope
FIRST AID KIT
Bottle of saline
Foodstuffs – candy, trail mix, energy bars
Cans of food
6. At the office:
Small backpack with:
Empty water bottle (fill up from water dispenser immediately)
Emergency phone numbers of family members
7. TO GRAB:
All the stuff you keep by your bedside
8. TO BUY immediately if available:
Draw all cash money if possible
Water – 20l
In closing, remember that Taiwan has had a lot of experience in dealing with disasters, and if you can survive the first hours of an event, you will probably be ok.
On Feb. 6, 2018 at 11:50 PM Taiwan experienced another massive earthquake the largest in a series of earthquakes hitting Taiwan in the last few days. A building in Hualien has collapsed with photos emerging on social media right after the quake. The building is a hotel called Marshal Hotel (統帥大飯店). At this time it is unclear how many people were staying at the hotel when it collapsed. Rescue teams are currently responding to the situation.
Other images of damage was posted on Taiwan Observer’s Facebook post show damage to the Hualien Armed Forces General Hospital (花蓮國軍醫院) winch had part of the ceiling collapse. The hospital is next to to another building that has also collapsed. The Beautiful Life hotel building is teetering very close to the edge of total collapse.
Power outages have also effected the area after the quake, around 700 properties are currently without service.
Hualien Bridge, Chishingtan Bridge, and the Su-Hua highway have been reported closed due to damage by local media outlets.
Here is a live video of the rescue operation underway now at the Beautiful Life Hotel building:
On Sunday evening, the peak of what is said to be the coldest weekend of the year, the island was struck by a series of earthquakes.
The strongest earthquakes felt throughout the night occurred at the following times, all originating in or near Hualien County: 9:12 PM with a magnitude of 5.1, 9:56 PM with a magnitude of 5.8, and 10:13 PM with a magnitude of 5.5.
There was an alert sent out by the government for the earthquake at 9:56 PM for what is by far the strongest earthquake of the night.
A refinery owned by CPC Corporation (中油) in Taoyuan city saw huge blast that lasted nearly one minute, according to local residents. Many people said that their windows rattled and belongings on the shelves rang. The explosion happened at 6:42 a.m. A big cloud of smoke was hanging over Northern part of Taoyuan by the Freeway No.1 leading to and from Linkou.
Emergency services were sent to the scene immediately and the fire was put out in less than one hour. No refinery’s workers were hurt in the blast.
the Taoyuan Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement that the corporation will be fined NT$1 million (US$34,000) for all the toxic smoke released in the residential area.
It is tradition for every Filipino worker that had a chance for a stint overseas to send some money to their loved ones back home for Christmas. During the Christmas period in the Philippines prices of goods and services are way more expensive when compared with the rest of the year. For Filipinos buying Christmas presents, decorating and planning for Christmas usually starts very early. In the Philippines Christmas celebrations take longer therefore everyone wants to be well prepared. This is because of the Filipino cultural heritage that they’ve inherited from Spain, a predominantly Catholic country.
It is depressing to think about those Filipino workers in Kaohsiung, who didn’t receive their salary for several months after working diligently at a shipbuilding company. What about their Christmas? For many who are the only sole breadwinners of their families or sole supporters of their nearest and dearest back home, they just don’t have any means to send anything back home. This isn’t just simply about presents and other luxurious wares; very often families in the Philippines can’t even afford a semi decent meal on the most important day of the year. This creates a hellish atmosphere of uncertainty after having hopes up for an extra Christmas fund that never materializes. Such a situation is painful on both sides as one is simply unable to provide for their loved ones on the other end, usually they are really in dire need of cash in order make their festive season untroubled.
Who is responsible for such a dire state of many Filipino families?
CHING FU SHIPBUILDING COMPANY had been reported to be involved in several fraud and loan scandals over its contract to build navy ships. Earlier this month, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) has terminated a TWD35.85billion (USD1.1 billion) contract with the company because of corruption. Now Ching Fu is facing another scandal for failing to pay its workers.
There were no Ching Fu Shipbuilding Company’s representatives attending the meeting held by the city’s Labor Affairs Bureau. The 115 workers who haven’t received their salaries for October and November remain unpaid.
The Labor Affairs Bureau had helped 4 Filipinos to switch jobs, they helped 7 of them to return to the Philippines, and 4 have new pending jobs. There were 45 Filipino overseas workers working for Ching Fu Company, that leaves 30 of them still in Taiwan without many resources on what was supposed to be the happiest day of the year. Their living conditions are to not reported nor supervised by the employment agencies. The Labor Affairs Bureau is appealing to the public to help the affected Filipino workers who were left in this grim situation so they too can have a happy Christmas.
At 3:20 in the afternoon, just below a viaduct of recently finished airport MRT a terrible accident happened. On the Southbound part of the Freeway number 1, as many as six vehicles have collided creating a pile-up that eventually got partially engulfed in fire.
The crash took place in Linkou, New Taipei City. As the result of fire three people have lost their lives, two of them were trapped inside a van that got sandwiched between vehicles. Another live lost belonged to the truck driver that followed the van in his little articulated lorry.
The exact cause of the collision is still being investigated. A thick plume of smoke was seen from several kilometres away. Fortunately for the other drivers involved in the crash there were no more life threatening injuries reported. One driver was taken to a nearby hospital for his minor injuries.
The crash created massive disruptions for the motorists. At some point all lanes in the southerly direction were closed off to traffic. This was done so investigators could establish what exactly caused the fire and the accident in the first place. Most of the traffic in both directions, in and out of Taipei was affected. Our correspondents reported traffic jams in most of the eastern New Taipei City due to the accident and the sheer volume of traffic that was disrupted.
In the evening hours of a cold night residents of a building in Luzhou heard somebody having a loud karaoke session. A tenant went downstairs to check if it was in the basement, it wasn’t. It was on the second floor, which they went up to in order to check what was going. Upon reaching the floor they were astonished and stood outside of the apartment, some older gentleman was singing nostalgic songs in Taiwanese in the apartment. It was barely eight. Thinking that the music wasn’t much of a disturbance they didn’t think much of it and left it as it was.
Shortly after the administrator of the building sent a representative to go door to door asking if somebody made any changes to the gas pipe work because the whole building didn’t have gas and they suspected a tenant installing a new boiler to be the perpetrator of the whole situation. Most probably somebody must have connected p
ipes incorrectly when they were installing their new boiler. The person behind it has either connected the pipes themselves, hired an unlicensed builder or shady building service to do it for them and they didn’t want to come forward so they could save some “face”, some tenants gathered outside concluded. It was one of the coldest nights of the year and many tenants found themselves without hot water. Later on, building’s administration started a broadcast over the PA asking all tenants not to use gas or water for a while.
The Gas company’s engineers were dispatched to the building and the same door from behind which one could hear loud karaoke earlier on, now was wide open with all the lights off and cold draft was blasting through the desolate space. Feeling of emergency could be felt. Outside engineers were screaming at each other to turn off the gas immediately as it apparently went inside the water pipes and vice versa. A hacked pipe was sticking out from the wall; water was still streaming out of it. Smell of gas was all around and a crowd that gathered looked on in awe.
What transpired later was that the person who caused the entire building not to have gas that night was the very same person who lived in the apartment that hosted a little karaoke showdown earlier on that evening. This is just a speculation but it appeared to a few tenants as if the guy wanted to ‘sing off’ this blunder and forget it while emptying a glass of Kaoliang, or make it look as though he had no idea what was going on because it was so ‘loud’ in his apartment. It was quite a cold night, and plenty of people didn’t have water or gas, right when it snowed in some parts of Taiwan. It wasn’t until 16:00 the next day when the gas was finally turned back on in the entire building, allowing people to have a hot shower and cook normally again.
We are not sure how much the fine for such a blunder is. The gas company jad spent a lot of time repairing this massive mistake, so it’s safe to say someone will be paying for the mishap a hefty fine. However a burning question we have remains, is this even possible, connecting water to gas and gas to water pipes….. is this even possible without some major jerry-rigging ?
In the turn of events the ‘Changhua Missing Girl’ that failed to return home on Friday night has been found and is now safe and sound in her host’s house in Changhua . A friend of hers was informed early in the morning on Sunday (December 17th, 2017), that the girl was found and kept at a police station in Taichung. Without a second delay she rushed to pick her up. They were reunited with at 1:50 am.
Prior to her finding, the Changhua Police department released the last picture that was taken of her that morning, still at the Changhua Police station before she was dropped off at the National Changhua University of Education:
In the photo the girl looks overawed and intimidated by the surroundings. She only came to Taiwan recently, she doesn’t speak Mandarin yet, either. It was difficult for her to communicate with the locals and her family were beside themselves with worry since they couldn’t even contact her as her cell phone didn’t ring. What transpired later is that the police were trying to charge her phone, but they couldn’t turn it on and were unable to contact her friends and relatives.
At some point the family thought that the girl decided to go back to South Africa after apparently being unable to adapt to the life in Taiwan, they suspected she wanted to run away. Not long after she was located at a police station in Taichung. She was picked up in the early hours of Sunday at 1:50 am by a distant member of her family and then taken home.