Blog To Express

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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Mar 27, 2014

Never Too Old To Blog

"Friends of Yesterday" (FOYers) Philip Chew, Victor Yue, Lam Chun See and myself were featured in The Straits Times (LIFE! People Section)  written by Kezia Toh and published on March 24, 2014.

The special feature is reproduced here with the courtesy of The Straits Times to share with our blog friends and fans.

Senior blogging about yesteryears

[Folks 60 and above are blogging about their childhood, ancestors, history and traditions.

To plumb the mysteries behind his great-grandfather Chew Joo Chiat's life, 70-year-old Philip Chew started blogging in 2008.

The creator of the MyChewJooChiat blog hopes that by posting online, he will gain more information about his famous ancestor, who made his fortune as a trader before becoming an owner of gambier, nutmeg and coconut plantations.  The Joo Chiat area in Singapore is named after him.

Mr Chew's blog has since garnered more than 72,000 page views.

Says the retired public health officer:  "People might say blogging is only for young people, but I feel proud that at my age, I am blogging and on Facebook, interacting with readers about my ancestor."

He is among a group of senior bloggers aged 60 and above who are making their presence felt on the Web.

Besides his blog, there are other blogs by sexagenarians recounting their childhood memories, as well as one looking for a long-lost nanny.

A request to find a long-lost amah turned Mr Lam Chun See's nostalgia blog, GoodMorningYesterday , into a lost-and-found notice.  A British woman sent him an e-mail last year seeking help to find her Chinese nanny from the 1960s.  When he blogged about the search, comments from readers hit the jackpot - one had a link to the nanny's husband.

"People interact and form a community and it is very exciting when you find something you thought was lost," says Mr Lam, 61, a freelance management consultant who started the blog in 2005.  It has garnered more than 1.4 million page views.

The blog, which records memories and places of days past, also spun off a book in 2012.

Mr Lam's documenting of memories also inspired retiree James Seah, 65, who started writing his BlogToExpress in 2007.

In it, he records his childhood memories of being displaced during the Bukit Ho Swee fire in 1961 and his late mother's plucky preparedness - she had packed important documents such as the family's birth certificates in a sarong, which she immediately grabbed and ran off with.

Victor Yue of the BullockCartWater blog

Engineer Victor Yue, 61, also records childhood memories on his BullockCartWater blog, where he blogs about growing up in Chinatown.  He also writes another blog that tells the stories of deities and the history of Chinese temples in Singapore.

The BullockCartWater site has garnered about 66,000 page views, while the one on temples has more than 200,000 views.  Both were started in 2005 as a storekeeper of the days of yore, says Mr Yue.  For example, the blog on temples shows how they evolved as a place of worship to becoming a community centre that held residents together.

Memories of old days may disappear with older folks since most of them speak mainly dialect, so Mr Yue, who is fluent in Teochew, Hokkien and Cantonese, records their stories for online posterity.

He says: "Blogging is my modern version of the old uncle sitting in a corner during Chinese New Year or birthday celebrations, telling grandmother stories and attempting to make sense of history."

As for genealogy-keen Mr Chew, he is interested in finding out the name and life of his great-grandmother, the first of his great-grandfather's two wives, whose grave has not been found.

He documents his findings online genealogical software Family Tree Builder.

"I am building my family tree, but if no one takes over, it will probably die with me," says Mr Chew, who is married with four children aged between 48 and 51.

Combing the backlogs of history also debunks some myths:  He is particularly riled by reports describing his ancestor as a Peranakan.

For the record, Chew Joo Chiat arrived in Singapore from China in 1877, then married his second wife, who was a Peranakan.  That is possibly how the misunderstanding occurred.

He explains:  "If I do not put these facts right, other people might follow the inaccuracies."

Setting truths to light has earned him a reward.  A reader e-mailed him a list of members of Tongmenhui, the Chinese Revolutionary Alliance started by Dr Sun Yat Sen, who founded the Republic of China.  Mr Chew found his great-grandfather's name on the list.

It was a surprising revolutionary find after years of searching, he says.

"Perhaps it was more like joining a golf club in those days - not because you liked to play golf, but because you needed to  rub business shoulders ... Who knows?"]

Bloggers Lam Chun See and James Seah will speak on topics such as using technology to bridge the generation gap at 50plus Expo, an annual event to promote active ageing by the Council For Third Age, from Friday to Sunday at Suntec Singapore Halls 401 to 404.



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