Blog To Express

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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Nov 6, 2011

Where to come, where to go?

"Where do you want to go today?" Microsoft slogan in 1994.

This blog title: "Where to come, where to go?" is borrowed from Microsoft's first global image advertising campaign launched in November 1994 - "Where do you want to go today"!

This is a catchy innovative slogan to answer a question with a question.

On this blog topic, there are more questions than answers. I am searching for answers to these questions all my life too.

This is not a brain teaser quiz or a Sudoko game to keep the mind occupied for fun.

In "It's not where you're buried..." by Tabitha Wang published in
Today on Sunday on 6 November, 2011, where does one go.

The Cenotaph War Memorial, Singapore.

A cenotaph (战亡纪念碑)is an "empty tomb" or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of people whose remains are elsewhere. The inscription at the base of The Cenotaph reads:

"They died that we might live".

The Cenotaph was built in memory of the 124 British soldiers born or resident in Singapore who gave their lives in World War I (1914–1918), with a second dedication (but no names) added in remembrance of those who died in World War II (1941–1945).

During the unveiling ceremony, a chaplain blessed the Cenotaph with the words, "The stone is well laid and truly laid to the Glory of God and the memory of the illustrious dead."

In peacetime, many Singaporean ancestors, rich and poor who died of old age and natural death, will need a proper burial ground somewhere for their resting place in Singapore.

In the olden days in Singapore where land is not as scarce as they are now, individual rich owners were allowed to bury their ancestors on their own land.

Where I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee, my landlord's great grandfather's body was buried in a big tomb located at the back of his house. This was the "playground" where my childhood neighbour friends played "hide and seek" when night was dark, having fun. We thought nothing about it as a cemetery for the dead, something to be feared. The living in their homes and the dead buried in the tombs were located at the same place "physically", not "spiritually", so to speak. We are from different realms, with due respect to each their own "worlds". Leave them alone to each their own universal space and time on the cosmos.

In Jalan Bukit Ho Swee where I stayed at the "emergency flat" after the Bukit Ho Swee fire, the public housing estate was a cemetery...known as "Ma Kau Thiong" ("Macau cemetery" in Hokkien).

"History, Memory and Identity in Modern Singapore: Testimonies from the Urban Margin" by Dr Loh Kah Seng here .

A photo of Bukit Ho Swee housing estate today. This place was once a cemetery over a century ago.

Tiong Bahru or "New Cemetery" ("thiong" as cemetery in Hokkien; "bahru" as new in Malay) in nearby Bukit Ho Swee was decades ago a cemetery too, so was Bishan and many more places in Singapore.

Many major roads and buildings in Singapore were developed by the British colonial government since the days of Sir Stamford Raffles when founded Singapore in 1819.

When pondering over the problem of scarcity and choice and land utilisation in Singapore, I wondered where my "skeletons" will go to after death.

In case I have not told my children and relatives about my decision. God willing, to die in Singapore, I choose to be cremated at a Buddhist crematorium, where both my parents' ashes are placed. I would just need a small space in a urn, but a boundless space somewhere to go in the after-death. No problem for cemetery land in Singapore for my descendants.

This blog topic about death sounds morbid, but this is a reality.

My old friend once told me: "There are two places in life when we have to go, we must go...".

"One is the lavatory. The other is a cemetery!". Think about it, he told me.

Most of us were displeased by his flippant remarks about life and death. He was speaking the facts of life though.

I replied, "Excuse me, friend, I will go to the lavatory and be back in a minute. Not the other one (sic)..."

When I watched a 1960 movie, "The Savage Innocents" starring Anthony Quinn. This popular conception probably originated with the popular work of literary fiction, "Top of the World" (1950)by Swiss writer Hans Rüesch.

The movie's themes include the Eskimos' survival in the extreme arctic wilderness, as well as their raw existence and struggle to maintain their lifestyle against encroaching civilization.

Whether fiction or facts, it was mentioned in the movie that these are the stories of generations past. They are part of who we are, our history. These stories describe the union between the animal and human world.

A poignant scene in the movie which I watched as a youth and have not forgotten to this day:

One dark night, the grandmother who was too old and sick, walked out of the igloo without the knowledge of anyone, sat on the ice floes waiting for the howling, hungry bear, to feed her weakened body calmly without fear. To her thoughts, to sacrifice grandmother as Eskimos tradition, "They died that we might live". Her younger generation to hunt these bears for food so that they might live to survive in their future generations.

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Blogger lim said...

One of my primary school clasmates was living at Mount Pleasant Rd in a provision shop ran by his parents. Right behind the shop were all the graves. I didn't know touring a cemetery could be such fun. Must be the innocence of childhood.

November 9, 2011 at 1:40 PM  

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