Blog To Express

A blogosphere learning experience to express with blog

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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Nov 29, 2010

Tribute to Samsui Women of Singapore

This blog to express as a tribute to the Samsui women of Singapore, the silent heroine who built Singapore over five decades. The immigrant construction workers from China, the synonymous red headgear workers (all female) with tough, resilient, hardworking and weather-beaten characters who are the vanishing workers of Singapore.

The blog is created with acknowledgement of thanks to the contributors at National Archive of Singapore (NAS), YouTube and other "memory-aid" resources of the Internet fraternity to share with our bloggers.

Samsui women came to Singapore in large numbers. As many as 200,000 are thought to have arrived between 1934 and 1938 alone. From the Sanshui District (三水區) of Guangdong, they took a vow to never marry before leaving China, and wore large red headdreses as a symbol and reminder of their vow. Most found menial employment in construction or as domestic servants and were known and respected for refusing to work as prostitutes or opium peddlers.

Many of them had taken root in Singapore as their homeland.

The modern day immigrants to Singapore and other neighbouring countries are no longer of the Samsui women breed of the past generations. However, immigrant workers have contributed to the development of Singapore, regardless of whatever roles...talented or skilled, formally educated or informally educated within the acceptable immigration requirements.

The Samsui women and other foreign immigrant workers, who travelled and contribute to their host countries in search of adventure in a place at different times for a different journey and life experiences, have changed their profiles over the several decades. Singapore is a global city today, very different from the days of the Samsui women who left their country home over five decades ago.

Mr Anthony Chen who graduated from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, produced the NDP filmlet in 2007 about Samsui women on YouTube .

Who are the Samsui women?

The brief description of the Samsui women at Wikipedia .

Where have all the Samsui women gone?

Almost all the Samsui women who left China in boatloads to Singapore in the 1950s or earlier, have retired or passed on. As the traditional sources of manpower supply in the construction industry, these Samsui women ceased to seek employment and were replaced by other younger alternative foreign immigrants or overtaken by advanced technology and mechanisation, demand of other earning of livelihood elsewhere and history of events.

Start of the day with a simple meal cooked food at the community kitchen at home.

Off the Samsui women daily in the early morning with their red headgear, symbol of the construction brigade in the days yonder.

Work, work and work...

These Samsui women at construction sites in the Toa Payoh housing estates. Toa Payoh was still built with toil and sweat of the Samsui women in the early 1970s.

Meal for energy

Meal taken anywhere to save time. It doesn't matter where...

A drink, a brief nap and loosen the sandals to relax the tired feet...

Small pieces of firewood (foc) for the kitchen stoves...

These Samsui women with smile of satisfaction for cleaning job completed at the Empress Place building.

Waiting by the roadside for the pickup to arrive...

At the evening of the day...returning home for rest and to sleep till the next day.

Getting ready for the National Day Parade "Samsui Women" march-past contingent as an honour and tribute...

Dr Lien Ying Chow, Chairman of the Overseas Union Bank Ltd, hosted the Lunar New Year luncheon to samsui women at Mandarin Hotel on January 29, 1996. "Fatt ah, fatt ah...everyone to lou hei". Cheers!

Demo of the Samsui woman's red headgear in 3 easy steps...

Step 1...

Step 2...

Step 3...Job done! Cheers!

Thank you very much. "Kong Hei Fatt Choy"...

These modern art statues of Samsui Women are located at the Urban Renewal Authority Building at Maxwell Road, Singapore.

The plaque placed beside the statues reads:


"From the Samsui Province we emigrate young and frugal,
To the Lion City in Nanyang, we labour and struggle.

To seek employment and fortune for our families
We toil and sweat and witness the building
Of Singapore, our pride and future".

The figures, carved from solid dusty-pink granite with rough textured finishing, reflects the hardship and the perseverance of these tough women during the 1950s and 1960s.

Professor Liu Jilin, June 1999

Uncle Dick Yip posted this to my Facebook profile page:
Some of the best workers in S'pore were these Samsui women. My late father chose some of them to work for him. I've been and seen them at their "samsui" work...very hard, even dangerous on sloping roof tops without any safety ropes ! They were always punctual for work, worked long hours and never GRUMBLED, ate simply under the hottest sun and heat. Truly...these Samsui women are legends in their days. I knew some of them thro my father, all living in "ngau chieh soi ".


Nov 18, 2010

"Online Interactive Blog Workshop"

Inspired by Fotozup for "Life – Same People, Same Place, Different Time".

The "Online Interactive Blog Workshop" experimental project of the blog topic "Same Place, Different Time, Different Journey" targetted at young students. The theme on "Chinatown - Then and Now".

The series of blogs for Part 1 to Part 7 are classified and group as:

1. Market Street
2. Street Scenes
3. Chit Chat
4. Traders and Craftsmen
5. Five Foot Way
6. Flood
7. Shopping for Chinese New Year

The 3 components are:

1. "Same Place: Chinatown - Then"

Archived related photos with courtesy of the National Archive of Singapore (NAS) and PICAS database of the individual contributers and newspapers donated generously to NAS.

2. "Different Time: Chinatown - Now"

Current and prevailing photos on the Internet in the public domain for sharing by everyone. They include fellow bloggers, friends, family and contribution by community agencies.

Wherever available or as requested, photo credit is mentioned with thanks and appreciated accordingly.

Please send the "The" and "Now" photos of various groups or categories as email attachment to Thimbuktu . The acceptable images as JPG, GIF or BMP formats. The image resolution of 640 x 480 pixel preferred.

The appropriate match of the different time or periods of photos taken are gratefully acknowledged.

3. Different Journey: Individual personal travel experience at Chinatown Chinatown". For this component, the active participants are invited to share the stories of your journeys, with details of dates and events if possible. Else just a caption of each photo.

As each "journey" would rely on either "Then" or "Now" or even both sets of photos (to appear on the blog) are separated by 50 years or more.

For each contribution of the "journey", no two persons will have a similar experience, perspectives and reminiscenses while viewing the same photos.

Its like travelling each journey as a time-warp within a time machines through every change of each person different journey of experience at different times. We may all be visiting the same physical place in Singapore though.

Please join us on this series of related blogs for a fun-filled educational and memorable walk down memory lanes of Chinatown "then and now".

When these blogs were published at "Blog to Express", my helpful and supportive school teacher friend Miss Sim Hui Hwang posted her comments at Part 1 of this blog. Please check it out here .

I appreciate the spontaneous response and feedbacks from Miss Sim to enhance and improve the "online blog workshop" project.

Miss Sim shared with us our similar sentiments which went beyond my initial thoughts of the stand alone blog. Thanks to Miss Sim for her constant encouragement and inspiration to sustain my blog interests.

Her innovative ideas intend to go beyond cyberspace to "brick-and-mortar" classrooms in the school building to extend the project via the social networking website on Facebook, YouTube and other related educational blog.

Its gonna be fun learning and teaching Singapore history, memories, heritage, social studies and other interesting school curriculums as appropriate for students to increase their knowledge and wholesome enjoyment for all.

Thank you.


Same Place, Different Time, Different Journey (Part 7)

Shopping for Chinese New Year at Chinatown...Then

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Shopping for Chinese New Year at Chinatown...Now

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