Last update 1/17/2012 5:00:59 PM (GMT+7)

Parkson hosts Tet lion dance contest

In conjunction with the upcoming Lunar New Year celebration, Parkson Vietnam and the HCMC Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism have organized the 3rd annual Parkson Lion Dance Competition at Parkson Flemington shopping and entertainment center in District 11.

With the participation of 12 professional lion dance teams in HCMC area, this festival last week delivered interesting performances to the audiences as a special Lunar New Year, or Tet, present.

Lion dance is a symbol of prosperity, joy and fortune, and represents the beauty of folk art which requires excellent skills to perform. It is also considered one of the most entertaining and indispensable activities.  

Apart from professional lion dance teams, there were special performances by two famous guest lion dance groups: Hang Anh Duong and Nhon Nghia Duong. Total prize money for this competition is VND55 million.

Tham Tuck Choy, general director of Parkson Vietnam, said in a statement: “As a symbol of prosperity, joy and fortune, the Lion Dance represents our best wishes to all of our customers this Tet. We truly hope that this Lion Dance competition will continue to enjoy your support in the many years to come and become a highly anticipated event for the local community.”

Tet flower markets open in HCM City

A series of flower markets opened in Ho Chi Minh City on January 16 to serve local residents’ decoration demands for the traditional Lunar New Year festival (Tet).

In addition to three city-level flower markets at 23/9 Park and Le Van Tam Park in District 1 and Gia Dinh Park in Go Vap district, HCM City has allowed traders to sell their flowers at 56 additional venues.

Nguyen Thi Hien Luong, Deputy Director of the municipal Department of Transport, says the city was organised markets for the first time at Phu Dinh Port and along the Tau Hu canal in District 8.

Besides major flowers for Tet such as apricot blossoms, kumquat, chrysanthemum and orchids, many gardeners and traders from Ben Tre, Long An, Tien Giang and even northern and central provinces are displaying many new and different kinds of flowers, including Mon nhung, Mon do, Thanh Tam and Dai Phu Gia.

Flowers from cold regions like Nhat Tan peach and Da Lat lily are on display at the markets, drawing strong attention from visitors.

According to small traders, prices of Tet flowers are up between 5-10 percent compared to last year.

The additional Tet flower markets will be open until January 22 (the last day of the Year of the Cat).

My Tam and Karik top music video award

The first-ever Vietnam Music Video Contest held by cable music channel MTV Vietnam wrapped up Sunday evening in Ho Chi Minh, naming top singer My Tam and new name Karik its first season’s winners.

My Tam, a local dominant pop artist defeated 11 other singers in her category including big names like Hong Nhung or Dam Vinh Hung to claim Best Music Video with her “Danh thuc binh minh” (Waking up the dawn).

Young rapper Karik tops the Rising Artist category with his “Rac roi” (Trouble) video, and left behind other young stars like Anna Truong or Dong Nhi.

The winners will receive a VND 300 million (US$ 14,200) cash prize and their videos will be broadcast on the regional music network MTV Asia.

8 critics’ choice awards were also announced, with the trophies going to Dam Vinh Hung as Best Male Singer, My Tam as Best Female Singer, Quai Vat Ti Hon as the Best Band and Anna Truong as the Best New Artist.

At the start, 24 artists were chosen by the award’s organizers and received VND 40 million (US$ 1,900) and a HD camera to make their videos.

The videos were then edited by songwriter Quoc Trung and director Quang Dung and later voted by a jury of industry experts, as well as audiences through SMS.

“Vietnamese Music Video Contest” was on air every Saturday night from September 24 and the award ceremony took place Sunday night at Nguyen Du Sport Stadium, Ho Chi Minh.

Photo exhibition focuses on sea and island tourism

A photography exhibition entitled “Spring – Vietnam Sea and Island Tourism” opened in Ho Chi Minh City on January 16.

On display are more than 200 photos taken by members of the HCM City Tourism Photography Association in 2011.

The exhibition highlighted the beautiful beaches and islands and people’s daily lives in many popular tourist destinations such as Ha Long, Cat Ba, Phu Quy, Con Dao, Phu Quoc, Ca Mau and Truong Sa.

The event was co-organized by HCM City Tourism Magazine and the city’s journalists’ association as part of the lunar New Year celebrations.

Saigon Zoo opens new gibbon zone with Japanese apes

Saigon Zoo has imported a pair of adult gibbons from Japan, and opened its new gibbon zone on January 14.

Each of them weighs around 60kg and stands about 90cm tall, The Saigon Times reported.

According to Saigon Zoo Co. Ltd, the zoo is now fostering 921 animals of 120 species, including some Vietnam’s, and the world’s, rarest species.

Gibbons are social animals which can be found in tropical and subtropical rainforests from northeast India to Indonesia , including the islands of Sumatra, Borneo and Java, and China.

They are strongly territorial, and defend their boundaries with vigorous visual and vocal displays. Their voice can often be heard for distances of up to 1 km.

The species is now threatened or endangered, most importantly from degradation or loss of their forest habitat.

“Madame Vietnam” passes away in the US

American college professor Judith Ladinsky, who is known as “Madame Vietnam” for her significant social work in Vietnam, passed away at the Wisconsin – Madison University Hospital last Thursday at the age of 74.

She succumbed to stroke-related complications.

The college professor was widely known in both Vietnam and the US for her tireless efforts to improve Vietnam’s medical infrastructure, public health system, preventive medicine, scientific research, and education in the post- American War years.

Former American Ambassador to Vietnam Douglas “Pete” Peterson (1997-2001) once referred to her, not himself, as the “first ambassador to Vietnam” for her substantial contribution at a banquet held several years ago celebrating her service in Vietnam.

Judith first came to the country in 1980 after the US Committee for Scientific Cooperation with Vietnam (USCV) approached her and asked her to help develop a primary health-care service in Vietnam’s villages.

Over the years, Judith helped the committee build a thriving clinical infrastructure and establish joint-research and primary-care programs in pediatrics, corneal surgery, nutrition, and HIV/AIDS and cancer treatment.

She also organized medical and scientific exchange programs, through which Vietnamese physicians visit American medical schools to learn surgical techniques and treatment options.

Judith traveled to Vietnam so often after 1980 that she used to say she could not remember how many times she had visited the country.

She won recognition from Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong in 1999 for her work in science and technology, and she received another medal in 2001 for her commitment to improving education.

In 2004, Vietnam's Ministry of Health awarded Ladinsky a medal in recognition of her dedication to the health of the Vietnamese people.

Born in Los Angeles in 1938, she earned a Ph.D. in reproductive physiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1968, and she became an associate professor of population health sciences and international health at the UW School of Medicine in 1975.

During the 1970s, her research played a central role in the design of northern Wisconsin's rural health system.

MoU signed on setting up Laos Records Book Centre

The Vietnamese "record keeper" has signed an agreement with a Lao publishing company on establishing a similar organisation in the neighbouring country.

A memorandum of understanding was signed on Friday by the Viet Nam Records Book Centre (Vietkings) and the Laos State Publishing and Book Distribution House to establish Lao's Records Book Centre (Laokings).

Laokings, based in Vientiane, will find and recognise national records in different fields including culture, science, society and economy.

Siviengkhek Konnyvong, director of Publishing and Library Department of the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, said the establishment of Laokings would a big step forward the distribution of publications on diverse topics.

Vietkings and Laokings expect to jointly publish this year the first directory of Lao records in two languages – Lao and English, as well as a book titled Laos – the Country and the People in English.

Classical music concert series a hit with audiences

A season of Luala concerts drew to a close on Sunday in Ha Noi with its 31st performance, with a second season set to run through autumn and winter this year.

The season started on November 15 with free performances of classical music.

Each performance attracted around 200 people of all ages including both locals and foreigners, said Do Ngoc Minh, chairman of the DX Group that jointly organised the event with other music bodies including Music Publishing House and the Viet Nam National Symphony Orchestra.

"The enthusiasm of the musicians and the warm welcome they received showed that our efforts were appreciated. We are convinced that authentic art always gains a place in the audience's heart no matter where and how it is performed," said Minh.

The concerts were also listed as one of the top 10 music events of 2011 by the Viet Nam Musicians' Association.

As a follow-up to the concert, the Luala Open Show, an open space for different types of art and street music, will kick off in March.

Traditional southern cake festival debuts on Monday

A traditional southern cake festival will open on Monday at an ancient market in Can Tho City, providing a cultural and gastronomy exchange ahead of Tet (Lunar New Year).

The event will also help promote agricultural products of the Mekong Delta provinces through local specialties.

The image of a southern village will be reproduced with traditional cakes eaten on Tet days or major holidays like banh tet (sticky rice cake), banh xeo (Vietnamese pancake), banh bo dua (sponge cake with coconut flavor), banh canh (rice spaghetti soup served with meat, crab and shrimp) and banh u (small pyramidal glutinous rice cake), among others.

There are around 25 family-owned businesses showing off more than 50 kinds of cakes prepared by seasoned artisans.

Moreover, the festival is expected to attract more participants with an exchange program with ambassadors of Vietnamese products to highlight traditional Vietnamese cuisine. Participants can join in some folk games at the event which is organized by the Investment and Trade Promotion Center of Can Tho City with the sponsorship of Vietravel.