Sunday, January 26, 2014

Why I'm Thankful Of Being Singaporean

Dear Stephanie Micayle (Mycale? Micyale? Whatever),

Now before I start, I would like to request that before you start reading the content of this letter, I want you to adopt a new fake accent; something exotic preferably, whichever you think is good enough for your Aussie bottom (I recommend something Scandinavian or any accents from Eastern Europe). Alright, ready? Good, now we're set and good to go.

Oh honey, where do I start?

Okay let's do something first. I want you, right now, at this very moment, to think about your parents, about your friends and families, about the happiest place that you love to hang out at, about your favourite Starbucks drink, your favourite website to visit daily, your funniest part-time job experience.

I want you to think and recollect on all those things and now, I want you to step back and realize and come to terms with this fact, this well known fact, that there are millions, MILLIONS out there who have nothing.


They have no parents, no friends and families, no jobs, no Starbucks to go to, never set foot in a place to hangout and chill with friends, no access to the internet and to the world, no clothes on their back…nothing.

So who are we to sit in front of our computers and bemoan about our plight and lack of reasons to be proud of our country? To say, "I am not proud to be a Singaporean" and then list down every single thing and reasons for saying so?

Yes Stephanie, this country is incredibly flawed and needs to be changed in the way it is being governed but is gratitude too much to ask for? Even I am not in agreement of many things that is happening in Singapore but I am thankful, I'm thankful that I get to wake up and see my parents, friends and family members, that I am able to put food on the table and am able to have three square meals a day and to go out as and when I desire.

Because I choose to see things in the bigger picture. Yes, I'm typing this out to you in a small four by four metre room, a pathetic pigeonhole and a far cry from bigger, more spacious rooms out there in the world. But I have a roof over my head. And so do you.

I have a roof that protects me from the rain and the sun. There are no bombs, missiles and snow falling down through this small four by four metros pigeonhole of a room.

I am thankful that the girls in this country can roam around in the streets at two in the morning (or any time of the day to be honest) and not get raped, beaten, bludgeoned to death.

I am thankful that my mum is able to walk around in public with her hijab intact, and proudly pinned on her head. In some countries, my mum could be fined, thrown into jail and sometimes beaten for wearing the hijab in public.

I am thankful that I am not living in a refugee camp, living in makeshift tents (okay those people at Changi Beach don't count).

So Stephanie, it is okay if you're not proud to be a Singaporean (trust me, even I feel the same way many, many times during the course of my existence) but be thankful of what you have. A little gratitude goes a long way.

If you don't like how your country is being run, CHANGE it. We are the next generation of Singaporeans. If you don't like your government, change it. Don't sit down and list out all of your grouses and not do anything about it, and worse while residing in another country. The elections are going to happen, YOU change it.

I know I will.

We need to stop this whole misguided sense of entitlement that our generation has right now, at this very moment.

If you fail at everything, migrate (I presumed that you have so nobody will be stopping you now would they?). But don't complain about something when you can do something about it but you don't. Because if you don't and the rest of our generation doesn't, then we're basically screwed.

And we have only OURSELVES to blame. Cause believe it or not, we have, as a nation, the power to change our country, but all we seem to do is to whine about it.

And of course as an artist you cannot make it in Singapore, everybody knows that. Have you seen Mediacorp? That is why artists like JJ Lin, Tanya Chua, Taufik Batisah, Stephanie Sun, Hady Mirza and many, many, many others go regional or global. The world now is so small Stephanie, nobody is asking you or our artists to remain here and bemoan about your stunted growth as an artist that is in a country that doesn't nurture your talent.

If you have the talent, you'll make it. Anywhere and everywhere. Talent and luck is all it takes, every self-respecting artist knows that.

Talent sustains. Complaining does not.

Now you can reach the world via YouTube…oh wait, you've done that already. So what is this whole "Singapore and Talents and Artists" talk about then Stephanie? Hmm? Aren't you already the "only Singaporean" in that talent show? This, I'm having trouble understanding.

In conclusion, though I honestly agree with you on many things that you have said in your video, I do wish that you would have handled the topic with a bit of gratitude and fairness to you famous statement.

Our generation needs to learn how to be a doer instead of a whiner. Our generation needs to know and understand the magnitude of their luck of having been born and raised in Singapore, a country questionably bridled with the flaws in its governance but have given them, simply, a childhood to come out ALIVE of.

And there are millions of children out there who sees our supposedly frustrating and monotonous regime of a life as their idea of a dream life.

And until we stop and do something about out country instead of sitting down and complaining (which to be fair is perfectly acceptable and dare I say it, encouraged once in a while to let off some steam) about it, nothing will be changed if our future generation doesn't change it themselves except for a growing list of grouses over time.

And yes, count your blessings while you're still at it.

A Son Of A Peach

My Ass-pirations

My 13 year old nephew is going for a CCA day at his school this coming weekend and he had texted me in Whatsapp (yes, our family is very big on texting, don't judge) asking for my opinion and I replied, "Anything that's not dance related. You have got two left feet, don't embarrass yourself."

That text got me thinking about careers and aspirations. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to share with all of you my aspirations when I was younger in this blog post.

When I was a small kid, I couldn't be older than nine years old; I harbored a deep desire to be a lawyer. I think we can all agree that as kids, our dreams were very lofty. A doctor, a pilot, a lawyer, a policeman, a scientist etc. Even my late grandmother had wanted me to become a lawyer.

My mum however wasn't sold on the idea. I wanted to put the bad guys in jail, fight crime and spend my days saying, "Yes your honour, no your honour, three bags full your honour" and earn lots and lots of money.

My mum however said, "If there is a snake and a lawyer in front of you, you will kill the lawyer first you understand? Lawyer first! Then the snake! A lawyer twists his words more than a snake can coil and for that he or she should be killed first!"

So you can imagine why my lawyer dream didn't blossom further during primary school.

In secondary school, I then started to harbor a deep desire to be a radio presenter or a newscaster. I would buy newspapers (Only the government sanctioned, the one sided, disgusting The Straits Times for me thank you very much) on a daily basis and read out loud all the articles for about an hour. I found the idea of reaching hundreds and thousands of people an exhilarating affair.

I never came around to being one but after two years of practice, I came out with near perfect diction and reading capabilities. Oral exams became a walk in the park and I took part in various oratorical, story-telling and debate events in school and out of it.

When I was 15, I had a great desire to be a literature teacher. I figured that I would be a brilliant educator and would make literature an easy and fun subject for my students; complete with music, song, dance, pantomimes and drama. For the next couple of years I toyed with the idea of being an A* Lit teacher.

It is also during these two years that I started to fall in love with theatre and the performing arts. I was so heavily involved in it during secondary school that after my "O" levels, I made up my mind to enroll in an arts college to pursue my tertiary education.

And so I got into Lasalle, after doing an Anton Chekov's Three Sisters Monologue for the audition piece.

By 17 years old, I wanted to be a playwright and an actor. I would go home from college and write mini monologues for myself. In fact, I even wrote an unfinished (they always remain unfinished) play titled Heat.

The story revolves around an ironing board and how different people from different lives reflect on their existence while ironing their clothes.

Typing that made me smile. I was so idealistic. I told myself, "You're going to write a play, go to a theatre company and have it staged three months later to a full house." Little that I know that the whole process is an impossible dream because simply, my plays weren't completed; an unfinished product.

But to be honest, wanting to be a playwright was my last dream career. and it stayed on for so long because it is a feasible possibility for me.

All I got to do is finish up on all these half-finished plays that I wrote back in college. And who knows, maybe one day, you will get to watch one of my "yet-to-be-completed" play on stage. And that of course is a huge stretch.

I cannot even finish a blog post and have it published on time sometimes, let alone a full play. (: