Tuesday, March 9, 2010

While President Ma Ying-jeou prepares to visit Solomon Islands, Ambassador Beraki Jino and wife Ellen Jino say goodbye to friends

By Nancy T. Lu

Ambassador Beraki Jino, who has been appointed the new High Commissioner of the Solomon Islands to Australia, will leave Taiwan on Sunday, March 14, only about a week before President Ma Ying-jeou heads for his country on March 21 as part of his seven-day six-nation tour of the South Pacific. Ma will also travel to Palau, Nauru, Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands, all diplomatic allies of Taiwan. Jino will already be in Canberra when U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Australia after his visit to Indonesia.

Diplomats and their spouses are very familiar with the whirl of despedida parties in the weeks leading to the end of their tour of duty in a particular post.

Solomon Islands Ambassador Beraki Jino and his wife, Ellen Jino, have made many friends during their six-and-a half years of posting in Taiwan. As a result, the lunch and dinner invitations in the last few weeks have kept them very busy. They will leave with their 11-year-old daughter. Their son will stay behind for another three years to finish his college education in Pingtung.

Ambassador Jino and his wife accepted the invitation to the luncheon hosted by the Taipei International Women’s Club (TIWC) on International Women’s Day on March 8 at FranSir Dining Room in Tienmu. In fact, when the diplomat thanked all those present led by Connie Pong, the TIWC president, he remembered to propose a special toast to all the women from different countries actively working to improve the status of women.

Just about everyone at the farewell lunch proceeded to join the International Women’s Day celebration hosted by the National Women’s League of the Republic of China at the Grand Hotel that afternoon. While there, Ellen Jino spoke briefly with Charlene Yang, wife of Foreign Minister Timothy Yang.

Among those who showed up to say goodbye to the leaving friends of the TIWC were: Jasmine E. Huggins, Ann Keke, Mariann Tertak-Hergovits, Margaret Ledoux, Sandrine Borgeaud, Dr. Chang Po-ya, Lily Lin, Mayumi Hu, Lily Assana, Annie Yung, Jennifer Liu, Julia Wang and Susan Huang.

Packing up all the belongings and souvenirs accumulated over the years has been quite a rigorous challenge, according to Ellen Jino. Ambassador Jino expressed how much he valued particularly his collection of blue-and-white vases from Taiwan.

The diplomat and his wife will always cherish memories of warm hospitality during travels around the island. Unforgettable was their trip to the heartland of Puyuma culture in Taitung one New Year’s Eve to participate in a very colorful aboriginal celebration.

Taiwan’s indigenous people could be said to be the island’s important bridge with its diplomatic allies. In fact, President Ma will be bringing along the Formosa Aboriginal Song and Dance Troupe when he blazes a trail through the six nations, including the Solomon Islands, in the South Pacific.

The Taitung trip arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs proved a beautiful encounter with Austronesian brothers and sisters in Taiwan for Ambassador Jino and his wife along with other members of the diplomatic corps. The young Puyuma men turned up after four days and three nights of Spartan training in the chilly mountain forest

Ambassador Jino and his wife joined hands with the dancing Puyuma men and women on this occasion, forming a circle and performing traditional steps to aboriginal singing. The lyrics of the repeated song went: “We are all one family, staying close and loving one another.”

From the musically-gifted Puyuma tribe in the Taitung area originates Taiwan’s pop diva A-mei. Well-known song talents Kimbo, Pau Dull and Samingad also trace their roots to Puyuma communities.

When asked if he tried betelnut-chewing while in Taitung, Ambassador Jino replied: “We also chew betelnut in the Solomon Islands.”

The ambassador and his spouse confessed that they will miss all the good food and the fine dining in Taiwan. In fact, Ambassador Jino wished he could continue enjoying Taiwan’s fresh fruits, especially mangoes.

Ellen Jino, a lover of Taiwan’s beautiful orchids, said with regret: “Too bad I will not be around to see the Taipei International Flora Exhibition later this year.”

All the photographs were taken by Nancy T. Lu.

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