Ujutj

This house was built 28 years ago when my mom was a chief of the tribe. Being a chief isn’t easy as a woman. But, in the Paiwan tribe, whoever is the oldest in the family can become the chief. It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or a boy. At that time, she already wanted our traditional Paiwan tribe cultural and artistic artifacts in the house. All the drawings on the walls have indigenous meanings. My mom had artistic talent without ever learning it. My uncle knew how to carve, so all the carved things inside the house were carved by him. They naturally could do it; they didn’t have to learn it. Just like we can breathe, they can draw. Before, older people liked to paint and draw to tell stories, like all the drawings here tell stories. My mom was 60 years old and drawing on the house. My son drew some on the walls, too, when I was making it into a hostel.

After the house was built, there would be a lot of tour groups coming by to look at the house. My mom would be like a model and take pictures with them or tell them some stories. A hostel opened up next door and a lot of the guests would come look at our house, too.  

Before I retired, I thought about how so many people like coming to look at the house, so why not make it into a hostel? So, I decided to do it and have been doing it for the last few years. It’s been going well. There’s room for improvement, but I think it’s pretty good. I don’t need a luxurious 6-star hostel, as long as it is special and I uphold the uniqueness.

Besides sharing the artistic elements of the hostel with others, I wanted to do it because I thought about how I was born here and I had to come back and live here after I retire. I was in the city for over 30 years and there’s a lot of pressure living there, so I decided to come back and make the hostel. Now that I am doing the hostel, the air is better here in the countryside, you get to be around people from your own tribe and your own family is here, and almost half of my customers are my friends and coworkers.

I think the most fun part is connecting with a lot of people, talking to them and making friends. Before, I worked in the post office and I would meet a lot of people. Working in the hostel is the same, serving customers. I think my previous job helped me become friendlier. I’ve learned about communicating with customers. When I see people, I smile.

I think the way to live life is really simple. It’s not about making money; it’s about earning health. Even though it’s a lot of work, at this age, earning health is about habits like eating and exercising. My wife and I always walk everywhere. I think earning health is what I want to pursue in this life. It makes working in this hostel not my first priority.

I was a musician when I was young. I played in a band as the lead singer and played guitar. In that time, we wanted to make money. I was going to work in the day and singing at night, performing. It was tiring. I will like singing all my life. I’m just scared that my voice doesn’t sound good the older I get. But, if a group of people rent out the whole hostel together, I’ll ask them if they want me to sing for them. Or, other people in the tribe will come sing, too. If there are younger people, I’ll find some younger people in the tribe to come sing. If there are older people, I will sing for them. It’s just my interest so if other people are interested, I will perform for them and charge a little. I like to perform.

In reality, you really have to have perseverance when you do anything, no matter what you do. Once some people run into problems, they just want to change to do something else. If you build houses or do something but then get tired and just want to change and do something else, you’re not going to have the opportunity to grow. As long as you have faith, then you can keep doing anything. Don’t be thinking about any shortcuts; just do it step by step.

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