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June 29, 2017

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Celebrating the nation's birthday

The Republic of China (R.O.C) will celebrate its 101st birthday next week on Oct. 10, the country's National Day. In addition to the flag-raising ceremony, the National Airborne Service Corp's flyby over the Presidential Office and the National Day fireworks display in Miaoli, this year's festivities will also include something new — the "I Love Taiwan" picture mosaic initiated by British expat Shaun Bettinson, which will take place at Taichung City Hall on Double Tenth Day.

The plan involves gathering 2,012 people who will then form a 20m by 50m mosaic displaying the words "I Love Taiwan" on Taiwan Boulevard (台灣大道).

"Within one week we had more than 1000 people. It's growing quickly," Bettinson told The China Post in a recent phone interview. As of yesterday, the organizers have successfully brought together the required 2,012 people. The event aims to break the Guinness World Record for the world's largest picture mosaic.

Bettinson's "I Love Taiwan" project began with a YouTube clip in April that said: "I have a crazy idea. But I can't do it by myself." He asked people to join him by uploading photos of themselves stretching their arms over their head in the shape of a V. The original goal was to collect 201,210 photos and to arrange them into a photo collage that would be displayed on Taipei 101 on Double Tenth Day. This plan, however, was altered after Bettinson learned of the costs involved in putting up the photo collage — around NT$10 million.

"I am not going to use 10 million to put on the collage. I think it is a huge waste of money. I will just keep collecting photos and find anther place to put it," he said.

Gathering photos is only a part of the bigger picture in Bettinson's head.

"The goal in the end: I am gonna look into setting up a I love Taiwan Foundation, which would cost around the same money as putting the picture on Taipei 101," he said.

"When I first began doing something I never thought it might grow so big. Now it has become very popular and I have the opportunity to do something worthwhile," he added.

"I have ideas to help children and poor people ... We can do an annual event that brings a community together in Taiwan. I think that will be the best way to say 'I Love Taiwan,' not just taking a photograph," he explained.

With the support and help of the Taichung City Government, as well as LiveAll, a Taipei-based social media platform that is helping organize the project, Bettinson is experiencing the hospitality of the Taiwanese people — one of the reasons why he loves Taiwan.

Celebrate It Your Way

This year, the National Day's fireworks display is to be held in Miaoli near the site of the county's future High Speed Rail Station. In the hope of bringing more visitors to Miaoli, fireworks displays will be held every weekend from now until the end of this month.

If you don't want to join the big crowd during the holiday, you can watch the military parade, the president's speech and the fireworks display on TV. Or you can simply return to your favorite place in Taiwan, savor delicious Taiwanese delicacies, and get together with your Taiwanese friends. The possibilities are many — invent your own way to celebrate this joyful event with the R.O.C. ■

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