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.

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.

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.

Ongoing Movement – Preservation & Conservation

In an era of internet connectivity, whereby people are inter-connected via social media channels and applications, along with the proliferation of smart phones and tablets, it brought out different impacts and changes to how our lifestyle has changed and adapt in this modern highly connected internet world.

While social media makes/turns people into anti-social (sometimes or many a times) at the dining table or gatherings, between friends and relatives e.g. everybody just keeping quiet and looking at their smartphones and busy typing away with their fingertips, without talking to each other and looking at each other face to face. On the other hand, social media today allows the boom and growth of community activism further and reaching out to a wider audience than before. Here’s the Channel News Asia report on the blossoming of Singapore’s social activism!

Being involved actively in the social media, I slowly got myself more actively involved, mainly through my photography, documentation and sharing of my journeys and thoughts. The photojournalism journey of my projects and causes can be found here on my photography site while my personal site here is an in-depth writings on my inner most thoughts and feelings.

Here’s a brief recap on some of my past writings and photojournalism stories

– History, Heritage, Preservation and Conversation

Saving Bukit Brown

The Start of the End of Rochor Centre

Regenerating Communities – Regenerating Puppetry in Singapore

What lies ahead for the Green Corridor 

Old Places Singapore ~ collection of my photojournalism stories and adventures

The above personal collection of mine is a testimonial of how all of us can use and harness the power, impacts and outreach of social media, to spread a noble cause, rally the interest and support. Every drop makes an ocean, every one of us can make an impact, no matter how small it is, just imagine each of us just broadcast it out, each word spreads to 3 people and these 3 people continue to spread out 3 more people each. This is the power of Pay-It-Forward.

My most recent heritage, conservation and preservation project was covering Sin Hoe Ping Puppet Troupe performance during Regenerating Communities at Empress Place, it was a very enriching and humbling experience, to learn something new, about our heritage and culture. The challenges that they faced in this modern era, their succession issues and whether this traditional art performance can continue into the future down the road, remains a question mark. It was an honour to cover their story behind the story, as much as possible, to help spread a meaningful cause and hope the few of us (think about 20 of us), would be able to reignite the community’s interest in puppetry, thus helping them in their growth, continuation and succession.

For Bukit Brown, it’s an ongoing movement getting stronger in interest and publicity, check out the Chinese newspaper coverage on Bukit Brown here! The decision is made to make way for the 8 lanes expressway and this is going to impact the natural beauty and heritage of Bukit Brown, with the newspaper report on Straits Times – “Development of Bukit Brown Cemetery will proceed as planned“. Do keep a lookout for more news and updates on the community group’s activities and findings on their Facebook Group – Heritage Singapore – Bukit Brown Cemetery and join in their walks, to learn about the history and heritage, as well as enjoying the greenery, flora and fauna, with the peace and tranquility, away from the hustle and bustle of city living.

What’s next up for me ? Currently, I would be going back to Bukit Brown again soon, my maternal Great-Grandfather and 2 Great-Grandmothers are buried there and they are slated for the land needed to build the 8 lanes expressway. Therefore, I would like to do some documentation and photography before the crunch time for my ancestors to leave their “homes”.

Other projects would be the continuation on covering the Green Corridor, Old Places e.g. Rochor Centre HDB blocks and the Old Provision Shops. Besides, there might be more other heritage, conservation, history and cultural events/places that might have an opportunity to document and photograph them.

The year 2012 is going to be a year of History, Heritage, Preservation and Conversation !

History, Heritage, Preservation, Conservation

What you are going to read from here on, is like a compilation of some of the photography/writing that I had been doing, what’s happening recently with history, heritage, preservation, conservation and what action groups, movement had done and still ongoing. With quite a few things/situations happening around us in Singapore over this year 2011, let’s take a walk through this short timeline

The Green Corridor 

When it was announced that the KTM Railway will be returned back to Singapore, it didn’t kick start a major reaction until closer to the last days of the end of the KTM Railway. The 2 train stations were preserved and conserved, the railway tracks were removed and returned back to Malaysia, leaving the current entire stretch very different, just a path with grass, while waiting for the masterplan to be out on the plans for the Green Corridor. The future of the Green Corridor, with an exhibition at the URA centre, known as Re-Imaging The Green Corridor, showed that between public and private sectors, we can come together to work, discuss, plan and decide together for the future of the Green Corridor. Do follow this facebook group “We Support The Green Corridor” for updates!

My coverage of The Green Corridor can be found here on my photoblog and the special folder The Green Corridor on Flickr !

Old Places

Singapore is developing at such a fast pace, especially for me in the past 5 years, the transformation is remarkable and it gives us a modern cosmopolitan city landscape. However, in the quest for modernisation and change, Singapore had already lost and are losing things, from history, heritage, landmarks and many old places. After watching Royston’s Tan Old Places, I was very motivated to do my own photojournalistic coverage and write up of the Old Places in Singapore before it’s gone forever and they can only be seen on DVDs, libraries, micro-films, internet, photographs etc. For those who are into Old Places in Singapore, do check out the Facebook Group – Old Places for more updates !

My coverage of the Old Places in Singapore can be found here on my photoblog and a special folder Old Places on Flickr!

Interest Groups – Preserving, documenting and sharing early days of Singapore – On a little street in Singapore

This Facebook group is started by Jerome Lim, a blogger/photographer, someone who has very great passion in sharing and preserving the history and heritage of Singapore. His Facebook Group is sharing and connecting like-minded people of different age groups, who are keen on Singapore in the early days from the colonial days to independence days and early nationhood days. This is a very informative and interesting site, especially for the younger generation to learn beyond the history books on our culture and heritage and those landmarks and lifestyle gone by. Here’s the link on Facebook !

Recently, a few other areas surfaced into the picture

Bukit Brown Cemetery 

With a rising population in a limited and small land space Singapore, a thirst for more cars and expected heavier traffic, Bukit Brown Cemetery was slated for re-development, not just for roads, it’s also being planned for housing development too. This caused quite a stir too, with people stepping up to write, share and document down. This cemetery is iconic because of Singapore’s early pioneers, who helped to build up Singapore’s economy and society, some of them were buried there. Removing them is like tearing what builds up Singapore in the first place, way before independence during the British Colonial days. However, with the inevitable quest and thirst for more land, space and housing, where does the balance lies ? This is a question that is not a million dollar question as some people would put it, there might be no answer that fits everybody.

For more information and following on the updates, follow them on Facebook – Heritage Singapore – Bukit Brown Cemetery 

Save Old School

The Old School, perched on the top of the hill known as Mount Sophia, another rich history and heritage of early Singapore. A few historic buildings on the hill, which housed Methodist Girls’ School, is slated for re-development purposes and plans. It’s disappointing that more plans are being made/planned to change/remove these historic landscapes forever from our sight, for the sake of modernisation, growth and expansion. Let’s hope we can do more to Save Our School and preserve, conserve and protect more old historic iconic buildings!

For more information and following on the updates, follow Save Old School on Facebook !

Rochor Centre

This is stamped and sealed, in local terms “already decided, stamped chopped”, an area of very colourful of (Yellow, Blue, Red and Green coloured) Housing Development Board (HDB) flats in the area of Bugis, not too far from the Central Business District and Marina Bay area. They will be torn down, the residents and local businesses there relocated somewhere nearby, for the sake of building a new expressway, known as the N-S, North-South Expressway. The reactions, thoughts and feelings of the residents and Singaporeans are spreading in a viral manner on the social media channels and networks, on the traditional media and on the street level – the Heartlanders hearts, mind and soul.

My humble and simple coverage is just the tip of the ice berg, however, I hope that it helps to spread the word, cause and concern for us to Save Our Spaces, history, heritage, culture, preserve and carry it on for the future. This is also something to remind me again and again to continue on with my Old Places and Green Corridor coverage, something personal that had stagnated for quite a number of months.

As much as there is a need to replace and remove some of the older places and buildings for the inevitable growth and expansion of a country, surely and definitely we go around tearing historic landmarks and monuments that are part of our growth and expansion from her British Colonial days to early nationhood days to the cosmopolitan city that we are living in today ?

I believe we can find that balance, if everybody does their part.

Old Places – Now in DVD

Dear readers, will you remember Old Places?

There was a time when everything was so much different from the current pace of life and living lifestyle today, whether it was your childhood days, teenage days or schooling days, so much things have changed over the years, technology, fashion, wealth, environment, tastes and the list probably goes on and on.

Will you look back and reminisce the Good Old Days? The Old Playgrounds that you used to play at when you were a kid? The friendly shops and stalls nearby your neighbourhood? How many of these Old Places are still around today in modern cosmopolitan Singapore? Looking back a documentary production, known as Old Places, by Royston Tan, Eva Tang and Victric Thng, shown on Okto Channel a year ago. This beautiful documentary definitely strikes a deep deep chord inside me, brought me back many memories to my childhood days, when I was growing up. This documentary also motivated and got me started to documenting, photographing and sharing my own personal Old Places photojournalistic journey, using the Old Places locations as a guide and the journey so far is enriching and humbling, as we marched forward into the future, we must not forget our roots, traditions, cultures and Old Places!

The passion and desire by the people behind Old Places, the heart and soul, Royston, Eva and Victric, to document and capture them down before they are gone forever from Singapore’s landscape and into books, let’s all stand up and put our hands together and give them a big warm round of applause!

On 7th May 2011, it was their official launch of their Old Places DVD at Takashimaya Kinokuniya bookstore and they were there to meet their supporters, share their thoughts and experiences and autographed Old Places DVD too! Being an avid supporter of their works and a strong supporter and advocator to preserve Old Places, I was there to buy a copy, got their autographs and shake their hands, congratulating them on an awesome job well done!

We all can make a difference here, to spread, share and tell our current generation to preserve our unique culture, heritage, history and Old Places, if not, our future generation will probably be looking at it from their laptops, tablets, books or photos and unable to see, feel and experience it for themselves. As much as growth and expansion is imminent and it is a human’s trait to improve for a better life and living, we do not need to take away our Old Places and make way for them.

Together, we can all play a part and keep our Old Places alive!

Preserving Heritage, History and Losses

In the space of 1 week, a part of Singapore’s heritage and history was lost, it’s an abandoned railway track, disused in Singapore. How was the lost confirmed ? Through photographs and social media networking, sharing between friends and social networks, all passionate to preserve history, heritage and  the flora and fauna.

(Abandoned) Railway Track Photography Walkabout

Digging up the Jurong Line : Losing A Bit of My Childhood by wanderfolly

With the space of capitalisation and commercialisation, the pace of economic growth and expansion, in Singapore or other places around the world, it’s at a pace of fast and getting faster, and sometimes to a point of no return especially towards the loss of the entire location, history and heritage. Sometimes, looking back in time, into my younger days, the fun and good old days, it slowly dawned upon me that we are slowly losing some (and probably many more) heritage and history. Things, locations, places etc that we associate with when we were younger, are slowly being replaced or had already been replaced.

What’s the price to pay? What do we want to leave behind for our future generations? Some things lost, cannot be replaced and replication will not be the same at all. As much as there is a thirst and need for land scarce Singapore, no matter what, we still have to find and strike a fine balance between preserving our heritage and history, and making way for new expansion and future growth of the society and economy.

Looking ahead in the very near future, the next few months ahead, stories of Old Places preparing to disappear and gone forever, Dover Close Estate Old Playground and Queenstown HDB estate, when will they be gone? How about the rest of Old Places/Heritage in Singapore? How many can survive?

Let’s preserve our Heritage and History, as many and as much as possible!

Will YOU Remember OLD PLACES ?

Do you remember the time when you were young ? What was your surroundings like ? How different is it compared to the environment today ? Extrapolating back further in time, how different was it from our parents era ? How about our Grandparents and Great-Grandparents era ?

Singapore today had grown so much, from a fishing village, world harbour of call and cross routes to a modern and clean cosmopolitan city today. However, how much history, places and buildings were being preserved, how much were those used for modern economic growth and development ?

What would be left behind for our future generations ? Just digital images or old films ? Royston Tan, Singapore’s film maker, produced a very nostalgic documentary OLD PLACES and before I proceed further, let’s all give him a big round of applause for producing this documentary, it brought back many beautiful memories for many of us here and leave behind many important and social history for the future generations and beyond. The documentary OLD PLACES was shown on Okto TV and there was a repeat telecast.

Being only to watch 1 hr out of 1.5hrs of OLD PLACES during its repeat telecast, I managed to copy down the names of the OLD PLACES by scribbling on my paper.

– Old Bus Stop ~ Lim Chu Kang (It’s along Old Choa Chu Kang, I been there before)

– Old Post Office ~ Mandai

– Old Elevator ~ Kadayanallur Street

– Seletar Airbase Estate ~ Seletar

– Abandoned Railway ~ Bukit Timah (It’s from Sunset Way leading to Bukit Timah)

– Vailli Floor Mill ~ Serangoon

– Loong Fatt Confectionary ~ Balestiar

– Syed Alwi Barber (passed by there before)

– Yangtze Cinema ~ Chinatown ( I went inside there and watched movies before !!)

– Old Woodlands Cinema ~ Old Woodlands Estate

– Capitol Theatre ~ City Hall (I went inside there and watched movies before !!)

– Cantonese Opera ~ Hougang

– Thian Hock Kheng Temple ~ Telok Ayer

– Jalan Mempurong Mosque

– Cedar Estate Longkang

– Kampung Lorong Buangkok ( Went there for a photowalk before)

– Dragon Kiin ~ Lorong Tawas

– Kelong ~ Punggol

Other locations that I missed out because I missed the first 30mins, that were found / seen in other sites/videos, details to be advised and confirmed

– Old Playground (Where I can find them ?)

–  Dragon Statue ~ Whampoa Housing Estate

– Glee Leong Bakery ~ Balestiar

– Chin Mee Chin Confectionery ~ East Coast Road

– Any more that I missed ?

As much as I would love to capture them down in photographs, I urge everybody not too be too over frenzy and start to disturb their peace, working environment and living environment.

Take pictures only and take away beautiful memories for everybody to view and share, let’s all help to preserve OLD PLACES of Singapore !