The Tribe That Disappeared From Songshan International Airport

The Tribe That Disappeared From Songshan International Airport
Photo Credit: Rosey Peng

The News Lens international edition is sponsored by Tutor A B C

By Rosey Peng

Songshan International Airport, the gateway for the city of Taipei. Although it’s only a 15-minute walk from my house, I knew nothing about its history. To me, it was merely a door through which I could quickly leave and enter Taipei. The connection between the airport and me, like for most Taipei residents, was departure, takeoff, landing, and arrivals. That is, until I traced my own family lineage, and unearthed a historic epic drama that began right here at Songshan International Airport.

I am a native Taipei resident, born in Beitou (北投). It was a part of the Yangmingshan Special District, where Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek lived during his reign of martial law. I grew up with nature in the Guandu (關渡) plains. When I was six years old, I moved to Minsheng Community (民生社區) in the eastern part of Taipei with my parents. It is the very first American-style subdivision community in Taipei, designed and built with the US foreign aid.

There were many foreign banks and diplomatic offices in this area, as well as those international brands that opened their first branches in Taiwan here to test the waters, like McDonalds, IKEA, The Body Shop, and so on. The community is also a popular location for shooting movies and TV dramas, due to its beautiful landscape. For example, Turn Left, Turn Right, the movie adapted from the work of Taiwanese illustrator Jimmy starring Kaneshiro Takeshi, was shot here. With interwoven parks and alleyways, this area is home to unique cafés, thoughtful restaurants, design workshops and prestigious schools. Furthermore, at the end of Dunhua North Road’s beautiful camphor tree-lined boulevard, which runs alongside Minsheng Community, is the unique city airport — Songshan International Airport.

Photo Credit: Screenshot of Ketagalan Media

Photo Credit: Rosey Peng

In Taipei, there are two streets with unusual names: one is the well-known Ketagalan Boulevard, which is in front of the Office of the President; the other, lesser known one, is Tayou Road (塔悠路), located at the end of Minsheng East Road. Different from the streets that were named either after places in the Chinese mainland by the Nationalist government after retreating to Taiwan, or by the Japanese colonial government, the names of these two streets are so unique, that those who hear them for the first time thought the names are translated from foreign languages.

It is not until the revival of indigenous Austronesian culture and the rediscovery of Taiwan Plains Aborigines in recent years, that we now know Japanese anthropologists grouped the Taiwan Plains Aboriginal people who lived in the Taipei Basin into the Ketagalan nation. Then what about “Tayou?” What’s the connection between Taipei and the name of the street alongside an embankment in the Songshan area? And what does it have to do with Songshan International Airport?

The News Lens international edition has been authorized to repost this article. The full piece is published on Ketagalan Media here: The Tribe That Disappeared From Songshan International Airport

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Lea Yang