Iruan Wu bids farewell to Taiwan after 17-day visit


TAIPEI — Iruan Ergui Wu, a Taiwanese-Brazilian teenager who returned to Taiwan this month for the first time since a bitter custody battle a decade ago, bade farewell in tears to his Taiwanese relatives Sunday.

At the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, the 18-year-old Wu gave his uncle Wu Huo-yen an emotional hug. Then out of the uncle’s expectation, the nephew, who is also known by his Chinese name Wu Yi-hua, knelt down in front of the senior Wu.

Wu Huo-yen said he was very much touched by Iruan’s move, which in Chinese tradition shows a person’s gratitude and respect for another person.

Revealing that he wrote a letter to the nephew before the latter’s departure, Wu said he asked Wu Yi-hua to keep in mind that he is “a son of Taiwan” and urged him to return to his father’s land often.

Saying he is happy to return to Taiwan, Wu Yi-hua noted he will come back after finishing school in Brazil. At the airport, he bade farewell to more than 10 relatives and friends with tears welling in his eyes.

The most important occurrence during his 17-day visit to Taiwan was a reunion with his Taiwanese family and elementary school classmates in Kaohsiung, Wu told reporters at a farewell party hosted by the Rotary Club of Taipei Nanmen earlier in the day.

He said he felt “reluctant and sad” to leave Taiwan and hoped he could come back soon, though the most important thing for him at present is to focus on his studies.

Wu took a flight for Brazil with his adopted mother, Etna Borkert. She and another son Cassio Borkert accompanied Wu on his visit to Taiwan, which began Jan. 3.

While here, Wu participated in church-sponsored activities and visited relatives in his father’s hometown of Jiading, Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. He was warmly received wherever he went.

The death of Wu’s father triggered a custody battle, which resulted in the 8-year-old being sent to Brazil in February 2004 to be looked after by his maternal grandmother, Rosa Leocadia DaSilva Ergui.

She died last year but, by then, Wu had been with the Borkert family for four years.

The developments of the lengthy court battle, the police-enforced execution of the court order, and especially the frightened-looking boy’s departure from the airport, were widely covered at that time by Taiwanese media.