"Kindred Memories: A Flash Fiction Collection" by Lynette Wan
This is the Foreword of the new book:
The oral tradition of storytelling predates the first historical recordings. Pervasive across cultures, storytelling simply points to man's obsession with narrative and its ability to draw audiences together. It is also my preoccupation. When I first contemplated publishing a collection of stories as a project proposal for SG50 Celebration Fund, the idea of gathering true accounts from our nation's pioneer generation came almost naturally as I recounted the many occasions in which the older members in my family readily shared their strangely distant but fascinating memories of their youth.
While I had very quickly come up with a concept for the project, I tussled with the form and presentation of the stories. I was reluctant to portray them as they are - accounts written from a third person's point of view - as such depictions often diminish and simplify the dramatic actions and emotions experienced by the characters in the stories. I wanted my readers to be in the stories, not observers and well wishers on the side. Then came this crazy idea to present the true accounts as fiction, as flash fiction - particularly suited for the highly energised and slightly restless younger readers.
A year on since that decision, I have come to learn that the resilience and can-do attitude of our nation's pioneer generation are no mere legends. They truly are a community of people who do not allow adversity to change or define them. Rather, their readiness to accept, adapt and persevere reflects their belief in something larger than themselves. Their stories have also profoundly moved me.
It is my hope that readers of this publication will experience for themselves the same spark that ignited in me a warm fuzzy sense of familiarity and strength to go on - for out country, our families and more importantly, for themselves.
Happy 50th birthday, Singapore!
Lynette Wan, 2015
HOME [BUKIT HO] SWEE HOME
I would like to thank Lynette Wan for the invitation to share this story as a contribution of pioneer generation Singaporeans for her SG50 book.
"Time flows like memories on the shores of the past" - Michael Joseph Murano
How did I celebrate Christmas Day on 25 December, 2015 in Singapore?
It was a blessed bright, sunny day to enjoy the festive holiday.
Although it was a public holiday in Singapore, many of the shops at Sim Lim Square were opened for business.
As my well-maintained 5-year-old Canon Exilim 27mm wide optical 4x was not working for many months, I decided to check with one of the camera shops at Sim Lim Square for my old faithful to be resurrected. Fortunately, the condition of this outdated camera was revived with a change of the batteries.
At the shop, a helpful Mr Ho Leng of SQuare United 2013 and I had a friendly chat and he wanted to know how this pioneer generation guy use the camera. He knows that I am an amateur photographer who cannot afford to own the latest and best camera to keep up my the latest photography trends. "Oldies but goodies" stuff to look for the best bargains whenever possible.
Mr Ho, an expert in cameras and photography for many years of experiences. Many things to learn from him about his photography hobby since he was young.
He then recommended me to use the wireless SD memory card to replace the conventional card for my camera. This is a "new thingy" which I have not heard about.
Although this product was not available in his shop, he advised me to buy it elsewhere in Sim Lim.
For an experiment on the use of the Wi-Fi SD card later, I took the 2 photos with the Canon Exilim below:
Photo taken at Sim Lim Square on 25 December, 2015
Photo taken at Rochor Road outside Sim Lim Square on 25 December, 2015
The Learning Journey with friends, Facebook and the Internet
There are many things about photography and cameras which I do not know.
Knowledge is not confined to the resources from the text books in the old days.
Nowadays, a search on Googles for the required useful and helpful information discreetly from like-minded people to learn and share from them, not "spoon-fed" :)
Leading Innovation Products by Toshiba
Toshiba Announces Third Generation FlashAir III Wireless SD Card
Memory Card Provides Consumers with Quick and Seamless Ways to Share Captured Moments Wirelessly
LAS VEGAS - (BUSINESS WIRE) - CES 2015, LVCC Central Hall Booth #11028
Toshiba's Digital Products Division (DPD), a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., today introduced the FlashAir III Wireless SD Card, a third generation memory card that serves as its own wireless LAN access point, allowing users to share images, videos and files wirelessly. Now with enhanced photo sharing and management features, users can quickly designate which photos to instantly share and easily manage files from a web browser on a PC.
The FlashAir III delivers speedy data transfers so users can quickly upload their images and videos. The FlashAir III Wireless SD Card's Internet pass - through feature allows users to access the card and Internet (via your separate wireless router) simultaneously - enabling the ability to upload images in real-time. Using a wireless LAN chip, The FlashAir III Wireless SD Card is accessible to any wireless capable computers, smartphones or tablets, and can support simultaneous access from up to seven devices. In addition, the built-in Wi-Fi access point also allows for transfers without an Internet connection.
"We understand how important it is for consumers to share their photo and video memories with family and friends," said Maciek Brzewski, Vice Presidenty, Branded Storage. Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., Digital Products Division. "We have eliminated the cumbersome task of uploading pictures via a USB cord so users can effortlessly share and manage their files, leaving more time for what's important."
Toshiba also offers a free FlashAir mobile app that makes it easy to share via iOS and Android-based devices. The FlashAir Wireless SD Card is backed by a five-year standard limited warranty.
Known as the "Inventor of Flash Memory," Toshiba has been providing storage solutions worldwide since 1967 and has more than 47 years of experience developing storage offerings that complement our comprehensive ecosystem of devices. Leveraging an annual $3.1 billion investment in research and development, Toshiba continues to push the boundaries of storage technology to meet customers' needs.
Test-run with the "New Tech Toy"
This is my "new tech toy" for Christmas !
All of a sudden, I was turning back the clock and became a child (second childhood?) filled with curiosity and anxiety to play with a toy to see how it works. Spending hours to play with the "toy" to learn from the experiences and where and why certain things went wrong. There's a sense of satisfaction when it works and we can share the experiments with friends on Facebook and the blog.
Its kinda fun because useful knowledge is to share and not keep only to myself ... as if I am the only person to own some trade secret information to make money :)
Of course, for those who are not interested in such stuff, its OK and no harm to go elsewhere.
Photography of Most Popular Tourist Spots in Singapore (Day & Night)
Memories of Merlion, Singapore's Mascot
The 43-year-old Merlion sculpture when it was built in 1972. It was originally located near the mouth of the Singapore River as shown in the archived photo courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore.
In the 11th century, a Palembang Prince landed in Singapore. From the shoreline, the Prince spotted a mythical beast. Was it a lion? A fish? A mythical creature borne out of the Prince's imagination? Whatever it is, the Merlion has definitely become Singapore's beloved unofficial mascot, and a symbol of Singapore's grander ambitions - its lion head gave birth to our name, and the fish tail represents Singapore's humble beginnings as a fishing village. And just like the Merlion, Singapore has become bigger than life - a vibrant island city with a lion's heart.
When Jesus Christ was born two thousand years ago into abject poverty to homeless refugees on the outskirts of a brutal empire, the story goes that angels appeared in the sky to impoverished shepherds singing, "Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth!"
Message of peace on earth on Christmas Day on December 25 when Jesus Christ was born.
Jesus Christ is not a Christian. He spreads the message of peace in the gospel to mankind.
Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni is not a Buddhist. He spreads the message of peace in the teaching of Dharma to mankind.
Prophet Muhammad is not a Muslim. The Islamic prophet spreads the message of peace in the Koran teachings to mankind.
The teachers of all mainstream religions on earth spread the message of peace to everyone in the world. The world leaders of all peace-loving countries which belong to the United Nation also spread the message of peace to their citizens.
Why then not all countries in the world are peaceful in the 21st century?
Watching the TV daily on the news in the world, we are aware the security threat to live with the dangers of terrorist attacks in world cities?
News of World War Two
The related blog on the "Beginning and the End of World War II" is available here .
The memories and reflections of the hardships faced by those who lived through the darkest years of Singapore's modern history have been captured befittingly in a permanent exhibition, 'Syonan Years: Singapore Under Japanese Rule 1942-1945' at the Old Ford Factory, Bukit Timah Road, Singapore.
On 15 February 1942 after a week of intense fighting, the British Lieutenant General Arthur E. Percival surrendered Singapore to the Japanese forces under the command of Lieutenant General Tomoyuki Yamashita to sign the surrender instruments at the Japanese HQ in the Ford Factory in Bukit Timah, Singapore.
My heritage friend SC Chia sent me this audio recording from his 78 rpm vinyl record from his personal rare heritage collectibles. I am pleased to post this to YouTube to share on the blog. With thanks to my old-time friend, Chew Kee Boon for the conversion of the audio file to YouTube.
1. The announcement of 5 or 6 languages by the Japanese propaganda team to broadcast in 5 or 6 languages on the day of the surrender of Singapore in 1942. "Singapore has fallen, Singapore has fallen ..." The "great victory" was announced to the whole world.
2. The speech of General Yamashita, the "Tiger General" of Malaya from Japan.
The War Crime of Tomoyuki Yamashita
Meanwhile, please watch the YouTube videos to see the other side of the coin during World War II.
Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima - CBS Radio on 8 July, 1945
24 Hours After - Hiroshima
Memorials were held Thursday in Japan to mark 70 years since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima. CBS News correspondent Seth Doane reports.
This is a home recording of the bombing of Hiroshima in Japan that took place on August 6, 1945. The report describes some of the event and mentions the origin for the name of the modified B-29.
August 6 1945, during the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.
Hear first-hand accounts from the air and ground, re-telling every memory from the day the world first witnessed the horrors of atomic warfare. Watch more Hiroshima from BBC Worldwide…
The purpose of featuring the war stories of Singapore and juxtaposed with the war stories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which changed the world to realize the importance to live in peace with all the countries in the world, regardless of their religious or political ideologies or preachings to the peoples of the world.
Lets pray that there be peace in the world. We only have one world, many countries. Would the Gods and gods allow the world to be blown up to pieces, no more lives in a nuclear war which cannot play computer war games for excitement for thrill.
A nuclear bomb in the world would be "Game Over" for all earthlings. Are the Martians are coming?
Collective memories to share with heritage friends
In a time of ever-accelerating change, memory still provides important threads of identity and connection to the past. While famous people and great events get written about in history books, whole areas of social history risk being obliterated from memory altogether. In Southeast Asia, as elsewhere, millions of ordinary people lived extraordinary lives over the course of the twentieth century, being caught up in historical events that were beyond their control. Often they witnessed great political changes, from the era of colonialism to World War II and the Japanese Occupation, to struggle for independence and the subsequent building of new nation-states. In the process of all these transformations, so many aspects of everyday life have changed beyond recognition ..... It takes a lot of luck for memories to be successfully transmitted. The amazing wealth of photographs preserved in this volume could so easily have been lost, throw away, or simply decayed beyond recovery in a story to tell must not only feel like telling it, but must also find a receptive audience at the right moment. To enter into that story takes an effort of imagination on the part of a listener from a younger generation, whose own life is already so much changed that they might find it hard to relate to such tales from the past.
- Excerpts from the Foreword by Roxana Waterson in "Life Beyond the Big Top" by Adele Wong: Stories of the Tai Thean Kew Circus.
Take a one look at the blog title, this is a shocking, offensive racist topic.
Please read on and let me express on the blog.
Have you ever seen a black chicken? The black-feathered Silkie chicken is black-pigmented right down to its bones.
Silkie chickens are a highly-prized breed of chicken that has beautiful silky white plumage, and startlingly black skin.
This is the traditional herbal black chicken soup I had for lunch at a coffee shop near my workplace.
My health-conscious pioneer generation friends would like to share this food diet tips on the blog.
I was wondering whether this type of "halal health food" could be prepared by my Muslim friends at home or sold at restaurants or food centers in Singapore.
The "halal" herbal black chicken soup stall-holders could be licensed by MUIS to Muslim customers.
The Singapore Religious Council better known as MUIS (Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura) is the sole authority in Singapore which can certify restaurants, manufacturing facilities, food outlets etc as Halal. MUIS is a statutory board setup to advise the President of Singapore on all matters relating to Islam in Singapore.
MUIS has a long track record on halal certification and is well respected for developing processes and methodologies to ensure credibility of its certification. It has also introduced the Singapore Muis Halal Quality Management System (HalMQ), an initiative to boost the credibility of its Halal certification mark internationally.
At the launch of the Woodlands SG50 Commemorative Book and Ebook "Heart Choices" at the Woodlands Community Centre on 30 August, 2015, I met Jessica Bong again after over a year.
I was assigned by the Singapore Memory Project as a Memory Corps volunteer to interview Jessica Bong and to share her memories of Woodlands, the place of heart choices.
Memories of Woodlands
Daughter of the vegetables farmer of Hock Choon Village
Ms Jessica Bong, 62-year-old, was born in 1952 at a vegetable farm in Lorong Chikar of the Hock Choon Village in Woodlands, Singapore. She lived all her life in Woodlands and is residing in a 5-room HDB flat now. Her 43-year-old daughter lives in Woodlands and another daughter and 2 grandchildren stay in the East.
Jessica’s father was a farmer from Kwangtung Province, China and migrated to Singapore in the 1940s. Her mother was from Malacca and her parents were married in Singapore in 1945 during the Japanese Occupations. Jessica is the fourth child and the parents have 12 children - 4 boys and 8 girls. The eldest brother is now 68-years-old.
Jessica’s mother is now 86 years old, still active and healthy. Her father passed away a few years ago at the ripe old age of 100.
Jessica Bong's father at his vegetables' farm
Photo (left to right): Jessica's mother, her father and the two gentlemen are their visitors.
The house which Jessica’s father built and owned at Hock Choon Village, was made of attap roof and the walls from wooden planks. In front of the house, there was a small plot of land for vegetable farming. The vegetables were then sold when harvested.
There were about 15 to 20 families at Hock Choon Village. They all farm for a living. There were poultry farmers who rear chicks, ducks, pigs and fresh-water fishes for food. It was a tightly-knit community and the neighbours and their families live together in harmony.
Hock Choon Village Community Centre
The former Hock Choon Village Community Centre (now called Fuchun Community Centre) was located at the end of Lorong Chikar , now known as at Woodlands St. 13. It was the first rural community centreopened by former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 19 November, 1962. Photo credit: National Archives of Singapore.
Jessica’s father and their neighbours, 楊丕時 and 楊順 were community grassroots leaders at Hock Choon Village.
Jessica’s Schooldays Memories
Jessica attended Primary 1 to Primary 6 at the Nan Chiau Public School (公立南僑学校) from 1959 to 1964. (Please refer to her photo with the Primary School Leaving Examination certificate).
It was a school building with zinc roof and wooden plank walls. She had to walk to school and fro school daily and each trip took her 30 minutes.
Her favourite school subject was Mathematics and her favourite teacher Mr. Lin.
For school extra-curricular activities, her favourite sports was basketball and she played in the school team. When the school team had to compete with other schools, they travelled in lorries arranged by the school for the participants.
Jessica completed her school certificate examinations after attending Secondary 1 to Secondary 4 at Bukit Panjang Government School from 1965 to 1968.
She helped her father on the vegetable farm since her young days. Farming as a livelihood was meaningful and had given her a sense of satisfaction to help the family. It was hard work to toil on the land under the sun and rain.
Sometime in the 1950s, the vegetable farm as cash crop of local vegetables of “chye sim”, brinjal, “kangkong“ and other varieties sold through wholesalers in the markets in Singapore and Johore . In the mid 70s, many farmers started to farm tobacco leaves. Her father then decided to switch to farming tobacco leaves as it was a lucrative business and earned more then the sales of vegetables. The tobacco leaves had to be harvested,dried and processed to be sold to one of the tobacco companies in Singapore.
However,after a few years, the government banned the farming of tobacco leaves for manufacturing of cigarettes. Hence, Jessica’s father went back to farm vegetables.
Jessica remembers her young days when her father would tell her stories and legends from China whilethey worked together on the farm. Those educational stories with moral inspired and influenced her. Her favourite story was [ 西游记 ] the Chinese classic “Journey to the West”.
For recreation in the evening, she went to Hock Choon Community Centre to learn dressmaking and sewing and became a qualified tailor. She then later build a career in the garment industry.
In the early days, she watched Chinese movies at the open-air theatre in the village with her parents and siblings. She fondly remembers the theatre called Mei Lu Cinema which is located near the current Woodlands Checkpoint.
The nearest indoor theatre was at Sultan Theatre at the Chong Pang village in Sembawang.
Her favorite movies were [七仙女] and [甲午风云] in the 1970s.
They also do not have television sets at home. The family watched TV at the community centre in the evening.
The family did not have Rediffusion at home. The radio programmes broadcast on Radio Singapura on portable radios from which they regularly listen to dialect stories by Lee Tai Soh in Cantonese, OngToh in Hokkien and Ng Chia Keng in Teochew. Her lessons from these dialects were listened from the radio.
Jessica’s favorite hobby is reading the Chinese newspaper [南洋商報] daily. She was a frequent contributor to the newspaper and saved newspaper cuttings collection over the decades.
The newspaper article published on 18 December, 1977 in the [我的得意] feature entitled [试种包菜成功]. (Translation: Experiment of cabbage planting with success). It expressed how Jessica’s father experiment the planting of cabbage with seedlings from Malacca and grew at his vegetable farms in 1977. The “king-sized cabbage” experiment attracted the attention of the Primary Production Department of Singapore and was reported in the local newspapers.
Resettlement of Hock Choon Village for public housing developments
Hock Choon Village and the precints of Woodlands was considered “ulu” or rural but has undergone major changes since post-independence. The resettlement plan outlined new towns to house the rapidly growing population that was expected to follow as a result of industrialization in the north. Rural settlements or kampongs in the way of industrialization and new towns in Woodlands were cleared.
By March 1994, about 23000 HDB units were built in Woodlands.
Jessica and her family were offered resettlement compensation and allocation of flats by HDB. They prefer to stay in Woodlands where they had their roots for their three-generation family.
She would like to share her personal memories of two unforgettable memories in Woodlands:
Rumours are dangerous. Do not listen to rumours.
This happened on 21 July, 1964 during the race riot in Singapore. Jessica’s father heard rumours that Malays would attack the village and to kill the villagers. The birth certificates of the family were stored and packed to bury in the nearby forest. All female villagers would hide at the forest until further notice.
The male villagers would prepare sharpened wooden sticks as weapons. They stayed awake to guard the village from dangers throughout the night.
As it turned out, there was no attacks. The rumours were fake. Peace and order was then restored.
Water is Priceless. Do not waste water.
In 1962, Singapore and Southern Johore suffered a severe drought. Rain did not fall for months.
The well in Jessica’s family farm was running dry. The natural elements would affect the vegetable farmers as they depend on water for their crops to grow.
To help save the water for the vegetables and plants, Jessica and her brothers and sisters would not use the water from the well. However, when they need to shower and wash their clothes , they would cycle to their friends’ house which is about 30 minutes away.
This is the learning experience on the importance of water in Singapore which Jessica would never forget.
By: James Seah, Memory Corps Volunteer
In collaboration with Woodlands Galaxy CC
Photos contributed by Jessie Bong from her family album to share on this blog.