Happy 49th Birthday Singapore!

Celebrating your 49th Birthday might sound old to some, for a nation that is celebrating 49th Birthday, it’s still a young nation. This young nation is Singapore, celebrating her 49th Birthday today on the 9th August 2014. Today, as I took a step back, reflecting back over the years that I called Singapore home since the day I was born and taking a step forward, looking ahead into the future. Many many many things/landscapes/society has changed over the past 49 years of independence. Reading back my posts in 2012 and 2013 on my National Day posts, it was filled with a sense of nostalgia too.

As a young nation, growing and opening up bit by bit, slowly over the years, with the help and proliferation of social media platforms and channels. It will still need to take more time to be more mature, be more open and be more tolerant. There were many times and probably most recently, we had a lot of frustrations, stress, anger, selfishness that spilled over to the community, revealing the ugly scenes in our community. Things are not perfect, let’s be honest and open about it. While things/processes/steps are taking place to improve, it still needs time.

The social media sites published a number of interesting articles in lieu of Singapore’s 49th Birthday, 1 year more to the Jubilee 50th Year in 2015. Here are some of the articles title and their links –

The few articles strike a deep chord in me, nostalgia and my early childhood memories brought me to “go back in time”, to go on my personal journey to photograph and document, old places, memories and things/areas to be gone forever. This also came at a time when I took a few steps back and said to myself, not to be driven by chasing of monetary assets sometimes fuel by greed and wants. It was also like getting back into the flora and fauna, the beauty of the outdoors.

Nostalgia is a pretty big matter/topic in my humble personal opinion because our relentless and furious pace of development resulted in our loss of identity, culture, history and heritage. The pace was pretty fast in the past 10 years and that may be why people started to feel for the losses and started to do something about preserving memories and places in Singapore. I am happy and honoured that I am able to play my small part in documenting and photographing Singapore’s Old Places, memories, history and heritage, through my humble collection of stories and photographs here on my Flickr collection and my photography website.

Nostalgia, can be a double-edged sword too, from the TODAY article. It’s inevitable and the truth that we need to grow, improve and develop for the future generations and not live in a world that are years behind. If we are in a world 20-30 years ago, we will not be able to match the level and connectivity of the current world economies today. The key topics for future discussion are likely to be

– Where do we strike a balance between preservation and growth?

– How many can we preserve without compromising our growth?

As we all take a step towards SG50, our jubilee year in 2015, the discussions and involvement by everybody in Singapore are important and crucial while Singapore grows and mature in the coming years/decades ahead.

Singapore is not perfect, nobody is perfect, no country is perfect. We had grown and prospered in Singapore, let’s not take things for granted. Together with everybody’s involvement, from the person on the streets to the civil servants, we can make a difference and grow Singapore stronger together.

Happy 49th Birthday Singapore!

My recap of recent Heritage and Conservation news

The roles, significance and importance of Singapore’s heritage, history and culture had been in the limelight and headlines recently. Happening at an important crossroad in time for Singapore, 2014 is Singapore’s 49th year birthday and we are reaching the 50th mark in 2015, that’s a significant milestone for us since our independence in 1965. While there were events, exhibitions, trails and guided walks during Singapore HeritageFest 2014, there were also other news that showcased our delicate balance in conservation and preservation versus future development for the nation.

Here are some of the areas that came into the limelight recently

Tanglin Halt Estate

One of the older HDB housing estates in Singapore,  it was reported in Channel News Asia on 27th June 2014 that 31 HDB residential blocks will be re-developed. While the relocation of the residents and local businesses around the  Tanglin Halt area will take place over the next few years, it’s inevitable that the changes and re-development will come eventually in the near future. The flats were iconic in a way that they were part of Singapore’s early HDB residential blocks, after Singapore’s first HDB estates in the areas of Queenstown, Toa Payoh and Tiong Bahru.

Before the time comes to an end for the rustic neighbourhood, I am planning to capture more of the lifestyle, architecture and surroundings. While I managed to photograph Queenstown area before it was torn down and getting ready for future developments and new residential flats, I reflected and realised that I didn’t do enough when it was still around. I must remind myself not to make this mistake again.

Dakota Crescent

Another housing estate that will bite the dust, an area that I like to go and explore because of the Old Dove Playground located there! This rustic and retro housing estate is built by SIT when Singapore was still under Colonial rule. The SIT flats designs were unique and there were not many SIT housing estates in Singapore today – Tiong Bahru where it is full of life and residents, while Silat Walk, the residents had left and relocated nearby their former neighbourhood.

Located in a prime plot of land on the edge of the city/cbd circle and right beside Circle Line Mountbatten MRT Station, it was reported in Channel News Asia on 24th July 2014 that the residents of Dakota Crescent will have to relocate by end of 2016. It will be interesting to see if the Old Playground at Dakota Crescent will be preserved with some of the SIT flats for history and conservation purposes.

Having photographed and documented Dakota Crescent over a few years when I started to photograph and document the Old Playground in May 2011, I visited the Dakota Crescent occasionally and added photographs to my collection. Dakota Crescent had many friendly and cute cats and if you are a cat lover, you will definitely love them!

While the Dakota Crescent has a shorter life span left as compared to Tanglin Halt Estate, I hope that I can go more in-depth into Dakota Crescent and add on to the photography documentation here on my Flickr collection, before the decision for Dakota Crescent future takes place.

Sungei Road

The place to find used goods, a market that breathes a kind of totally different kind of life from the modern cosmopolitan Singapore city lifestyle. An area that attracts both the local and international visitors, it is unique and special that brings us back into early Singapore days. While I may not buy the things from Sungei Road, you may never know what you can find in Sungei Road market.

I wonder what is the lifespan left for Sungei Road ? Time for me to do something.

We are now at a crossroad in our history, while we are tracing our roots, history, heritage and culture from our early days till today, we are facing urban renewal and re-development dilemma situations. The decision to preserve versus the decision to change, renew and  redevelop for the future generations.

This is the time for all of us, everyone of us in Singapore, to come together and make decisions. Let’s not change everything, renew and redevelop, we still have to keep some history, conservation and preservation for the future too.

Earth Hour 2014 is on 29th March!

Earth Hour 2014 is coming in a week’s time and it is happening on the 29th March 2014 at 8:30pm local time in your area. Earth Hour Singapore is planning many events and activities on the 29th March, starting from 5pm onwards at The Float @ Marina Bay. Spider-Man, Earth Hour’s first ever Super Hero Ambassador will be in Singapore! There will be many exciting events and activities and do drop by the Earth Hour Singapore for more information!


Photo: Earth Hour Singapore website

Earth Hour has been a worldwide movement that I have been supporting over the past few years, Earth Hour Singapore 2009, Earth Hour Singapore 2011 and Earth Hour Singapore 2013. All of us can play a part in Earth Hour, as an individual, as part of the schools or part of corporations and institutions. Together, we can all make a difference for the generations of our future.

At 8:30pm, it’s time to switch off our lights and spread the word of the Earth Hour movement, we can all send a powerful message for action on climate change! 

As an individual, we can do the following things to make a difference to our Mother Earth

– Turn One degree up

– Use Fewer Bags

– Switch to LED

– Take shorter showers

Remember, just like our Super Hero Spider-Man, we can #UseYourPowerSG for #EarthHourSG !

22nd February – Happy Founder’s Day!

22nd February, to everybody in the Scouting movement, it is Founder’s Day or World Scout Day. Even though I am not as active as before in the Scouting movement, I am still connected with my alma mater Gan Eng Seng Dragon Scout Group and the Dragon Chapter (for us Old Boys to stay connected).

Looking back at my photographs that I took of my alma mater Dragon Scout Group during their special events and projects, it always feels great to be back to a family of great heritage, history and culture, with our roots dating back to 1922! The role now that I play and support to my alma mater is of mentoring and guidance in their special projects, it is where I learned a lot of life and outdoor skills in the Dragon Scout Group family. This is something that I have to Pass It On and Pay It Forward, the Dragon Scouting fire and spirit!

Time to find and allocate time going back to my alma mater!

If you would love to connect with my alma mater, you can find their links below and connect with them –

Dragon Scout Group website

Dragon Scout Group Facebook Page 

Dragon Chapter Facebook Page

Wishing all a Happy Founder’s Day to all in the Scouting movement! 

What is SG 50 ?

What is SG 50? What are the Icons of SG?

Singapore is turning 50 soon, in the year 2015, while 50 may sound like a big number, we are still a relatively young nation, still growing and learning. 50 years of nation growth and development, a milestone landmark. What are your memories during these 50 years? What are the things that make us Singaporean? As we look back, reflect and recollect our unique SG memories, history and heritage, we also look forward to the future. What are the icons that make Singapore uniquely and culturally Singaporean?

SG 50 is about Singapore, a time to come together and celebrate. How do you plan to celebrate this special SG 50?

Looking Back at 2013

This is last day of 2013, looking back at the year 2013 and beginning to look forward ahead to the new year 2014. How was 2013 for you? It is a good move to reflect upon the year 2013, from a personal perspective and a holistic perspective of the society and the world. The year 2013 has been a very interesting especially in how our society changes during this year 2013. This newspaper article “When Fortress Singapore lost its aura” by Chua Mui Hoong, there were a few things that crossed my mind upon reading this article, invoking deep thoughts into our hearts and souls of Singaporeans.

The year 2013 is like a transition year for Singapore, it’s like growing from a teenager to a young adult, entering into a new set of difficulties and challenges in a totally new era ahead. We are at a crossroad in our growth an development, where people are stepping forward to sound out and make a difference to how we want to change things and situations for the better and for the future. On the other hand, we are also seeing people who have turned more ugly and nasty, hiding behind the walls of social media channels and platforms, with their keyboard warrior typing skills delivering their words that would probably do more bad than good.

Have we become too successful (from a certain perspective) for our own good? Have we become too complacent and lazy? Are the current hiccups we are facing, the failures necessary to make us pull up our socks and get our act together, be more proactive instead of reactive, be more forthcoming and less lazy in everything we do (from work to social issues)? Can we complain lesser and instead work together towards finding a Win-Win solution for all? Are we able to chase less money and material wealth?

In this transition year 2013 as I felt it was, there were good, not so good and issues of both the First World and Third World Countries face. We need to embrace not only the good, we also need to work on the not so good together and improve on it. Everybody plays a part, no matter how big or small, to make the changes and make Singapore a better home, not just for us, it’s for the future generations and beyond.

What do you want to see in the new year 2014 from a personal perspective and a holistic perspective as part of the Singapore community? Can we all make the changes and make a difference?

How Much 100% Singapore Do You Remember?

I haven’t been writing down here for quite some time, especially those from my deep thoughts and feelings on topics that are close to my heart. Today, after watching the first episode of 100% Singapore – ?????? on Channel U Singapore, it was like going back in time again, whereby Royston Tan Old Places and Old Romances coming together to invoke my nostalgic childhood memories growing up in Singapore.

What are the unique and special things/memories that make us 100% Singapore that a fellow Singaporean can identify themselves with together, a common bonding and understanding? How much of these memories were lost? How much can we remember or even recover? Will this provide the spark again to encourage Singaporeans of young and old to strive forward together and build a stronger common bonding and togetherness in memories, history, heritage and culture? Is it too late? Or is this cross-road that Singapore is now currently going through, a good timing to start coming together even stronger and recollecting our history, heritage, culture and memories?

I believe everybody can plays a part, regardless of how big or small. With my fellow photography enthusiasts and heritage buffs, we have embarked on our own personal documentation journeys of our memories and history, at times bringing fellow enthusiasts along to share our adventures together. This gives me a good time to reflect as well, with my Old Playgrounds Personal Project completing in the near future, I am looking back, thinking, reflecting and planning on my Old Places Personal Projects that I have personally embarked upon. I am asking myself, where and which area of Singapore’s Old Places, Old Romances, History, Heritage, Culture and Old Memories can I embark on next?

Maybe I will keep on watching 100% Singapore every Monday from 8pm to 9pm on Channel U, it might just give me the spark/inspiration that I will choose for my next Personal Project. It’s an ideal time for us to take stock of our lives, at a cross-road and stopping to look at the directions, ahead, left, right and before/behind. The pace of life at times is crazily fast and furious and we have lost a lot of our wonderful childhood memories and fun. While we continue to strive and create the wealth and prosperity for a better living in the future, we must not throw our memories, our history, heritage and culture behind and away into books/social media platforms/digital backups.

Alright, time to also ask myself, how much 100% Singapore do I remember too?

Old Playgrounds – Personal Project & Adventure

My personal project and adventure with the Old Playgrounds started around August 2010 when I first watched Royston Tan first documentary titled Old Places on Okto channel. After watching it, the memories came coming back to me, it was very nostalgic and heart warming. It seems like that was something missing inside me and I was searching for it, searching for the purpose somewhere. The Old Places documentary inspired me to do something different with my photography shooting and story writing. I wanted to go and explore all the locations listed in the Old Places documentary, photograph them, document, tell and share my photo stories to everybody. In the process of searching for all the Old Places, the journey took me over 3 years and still counting, making new friends who loved the nostalgia and wanting to explore their childhood memories or growing up memories of the Singapore they knew and looked back fondly upon.

My main Old Places adventure trail got me more into writing about our history, heritage, conservation and preservation matters, I dare not profess that I am an expert nor an historian or even a specialist in them. I am doing my small part to document, photograph and share my photo stories and my adventures to be part of a bigger memory pool by fellow enthusiasts to remember our Singapore Memory. The Old Playgrounds was part of the a few locations inside the Old Places list of locations and it was part of my bigger adventure to explore Singapore all over again. During my adventure and exploring Old Places, I started to discover my Old Playgrounds and they were iconic cultural locations that shaped Singapore in her early independent years, a place where children had their fun, leisure, recreation and play time, long before the arrival of the internet and IT gadgets. I always remembered playing at the Old Playgrounds, the joys, the laughters, the tears, the sweat, the pain if we fell down or knocked ourselves. Our memories of playing at the Old Playgrounds were priceless and pulls many heart strings inside me, that got me more in-depth into discovering the Old Playgrounds that are still remaining in Singapore’s history.

I confessed that I slacked off and deviated away from Old Playgrounds Personal Project and Adventure, it was very embarrassing for me considering how much I wanted to do it and complete this particular adventure. I was around the half-way mark based on my research and reading up of the Old Playgrounds in Singapore, through Singapore Memory ProjectMosaic Memories ~ Remembering the Playgrounds Singapore Grew Up In and the Google map showing the Old Playgrounds locations produced by Justin Zhuang. There were a few more Old Playgrounds that were not inside the Google map, that I discovered when I was exploring other Old Places and areas with my friends and spotting them. As the time gap got bigger, I woke up and decided, it’s time to complete my Old Playgrounds, I want to and I will finish where I started and left off. I will first finish up visiting, photographing and documenting the remaining Old Playgrounds on my list. The selected photographs will be uploaded into my Flickr Collection on my Old Playgrounds first. Every Old Playground in Singapore is unique and special therefore, I will dedicate and write for each Old Playground location on my list. The older photographs that I took will reappear from my hard disk database and prepare them for the recognition that the Old Playgrounds deserve. Their photo stories are already on my Photography website/blog!

While it may be easier for readers (and Search Engine Optimisation) to read and find all the Old Playgrounds in one lengthy post, I want to give each and every Old Playground that is on my list a unique post/page on her own. This is my Old Playgrounds Personal Project and Adventure.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

The MIDWAY Journey

I have been an outdoors person since my scouting days and it’s a great great place to be out there in the outdoors, in the wild and away from the stress, crazy pace of the modern internet connected society today. Although I am not a hardcore environmentalist, I do try to keep up with news and reports on conservation and preservation in the outdoors both locally and internationally. There was a video clip that when I first watched it sometime back, it got me gutted and thinking that how we are treating our Mother Earth. Every one of us is guilty in one way or another, from our thirst for new technological gadgets, pollution to wastage of food. While we, the human race, seeks to fulfil their desire for goods and services, it will be good to take a step back and not over consume from the edible to non-edible products.

This clip was known as Journey to Midway, that you can watch it below.

MIDWAY : a short film by Chris Jordan from Midway on Vimeo.

The documentary clip speaks great volume and a strong reminder to ourselves. For more information, do drop by their website Journey to Midway and the photographs taken by Chris Jordan titled Midway : Message from the Gyre.

Rekindling Old Romances

My journey in photographing and documenting Old Places in Singapore was inspired a lot by Royston Tan first documentary, Old Places. While watching Old Places, it got me thinking a lot about my photography, the society that I am currently living in and reminiscing my good old days when I was young, stress free and carefree. A lot of history, heritage and culture were slowly fading away into history or were already into history archives of photos, books, blogs etc etc. Therefore, when Old Places was first released, this sparked me off on a new photojournalism journey that I never looked back since the day I took the first step in photographing Old Places, cultures, history and heritage in Singapore.  There was a section on my photoblog dedicated to Old Places and you can find my photographs of Old Places that I explored here on my Flickr.

All these never fail to amaze me that we had our own history, heritage and culture that we sometimes never knew about it or we all had forgotten about it. This journey is not something that is one day or one year, it’s always ongoing and continuing. When I was at National Museum of Singapore to watch the premiere of Old Romances, the stories, the love behind their business, old places, cultures. You can feel the love and nostalgic about something that holds dearly to our hearts, especially for those who tasted and enjoyed the lifestyle during their days, whether as a young teenager or adult. For me, a lot of my memories were through my childhood and teenager days. Those were the days; those were my own Old Romances.

Singapore had transformed very fast in the past century, the landscape, culture and environment had changed tremendously. It’s no longer a sleepy fishing village; it’s now an international city hub. The pace of life today is so much faster than before. While watching Old Romances, the provision shops, traditional kopitiam, KTM Railway etc etc, I was glad that I was covering and documenting some of them down into photographic and photojournalism memories. Moving ahead into the future, Singapore faces more challenges in this current climate, to protect and preserve history, heritage and culture while expanding the needs for growth and development whereby some land/Old Places might have to give way for the future expansion.

We all can do a part, no matter how big or small, to make a difference and create an impact to preserve our history, heritage and culture. I am currently active with mini-projects and was happy to be part of these few heritage works (personal and participating with organisations e.g National Heritage Board)

–       Void Decks ~ Our Cultural Communal Space

–       Motoring Heritage Weekend and Community Exhibition

–       The Art and Profession of a Knife Sharpener

–       Regenerating Communities – Regenerating Puppetry in Singapore – Sin Hoe Ping Puppet Troupe

–       Regenerating Communities – Dang Anum: A Bangsawan Performance

–       The Green Corridor

–       Old Places Collection

Do support Old Romances, it’s not just for you to rekindle your love and memories, it’s also something to share with your children and grandchildren about the good old days that you lived in and how different compared to the modern lifestyle that we are living in. With all the success and wealth, we must not forget our roots, history, heritage, culture, ethics and hard work that brought us from humble beginnings to what we have today in Singapore.