| Orchid Island’s wild nature has long been preserved by Tao people. Syaman Rapongan reveals his tribe’s respect for living things and how the spirits watch over fishermen as they harvest the ocean from hand-made boats.
Orchid Island’s jagged volcanic landscape, lush tropical jungles and clear blue waters are home to a unique mix of wildlife of Indo-Pacific and Chinese origin, and to the Tao people, an ocean-going culture with ancient beliefs and deep respect for nature.
Over a thousand kinds of fish and numerous seasnakes populate the island’s coral reefs, while Lanyu Scops Owls, Whistling Green Pigeons and Birdwing butterflies thrive in the forests alongside a host of reptiles, colorful insects and huge spiders. The Tao’s guardianship of both forest and ocean has preserved the island’s wild nature since their ancestors arrived from the Philippines nearly a thousand years ago. To this day, they harvest the sea from painted boats, hand-made from forest timber, and though the Tao’s world is changing fast, many spiritual beliefs and links with nature survive.
This powerful High Definition production provides a unique insight into the island’s landscape, wildlife and people as Syaman Rapongan, a much-respected Tao writer, reveals the traditions of his tribe and their sympathetic view of nature. He shuns the bright lights of nearby Taiwan and lives the life of a true Tao, following the old taboos and revering nature and the spirits that watch over it. He acts as a passionate and thoughtful guide to the colorful ceremonies, rituals and taboos of the island as he works to build a new boat. His insights into this unique island and its ancient culture have much to tell a modern world whose values have lost touch with nature.
This film was largely shot on a Panasonic Varicam DVCPRO-HD camera (AJ-HDC27FP), at 720P 24fps, using the high speed facility when required and to provide quite a filmic look to capture the island’s dramatic scenery, wildlife and human activities in both detail and rich color. A cinematic feel was brought by the use of revealing camera moves and careful cinematography. The sounds of the island were painstakingly captured by patient recording methods and a Dolby 5.1 surround sound mix used to recreate the sense of actually being on the island.