Friday, July 31, 2009

Youtube video...Things So Singaporean !

This is the Youtube video of the song written by Judith dSilva and sung by Ann Hussein. In many ways Singaporeans can identify with the catchy lyrics, the nice beat and the lovely images that accompany the video.

Unk Dicko hopes the NDP 2009 committee will be able to use the song for this year's NDP celebrations.

Thank you Judith for your exceptional talent and Ann Hussein for making it come alive for us.

THINGS SO SINGAPOREAN..should be an NDP song!

Home > Breaking News > Singapore > Story
July 26, 2009
Song with local appeal 10 min-->
Ode to Singapore posted on YouTube finds fans young and old, with calls to make it an NDP song
By Nicholas Yong and Valerie Wang

Civil servant Judith d'Silva (left) and singing teacher Ann Hussein wrote Things So Singaporean, an affectionate and slightly irreverent ode to Singapore. --PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN, ST FILE, YOUTUBE
Even as some Singaporeans are learning to sing this year's National Day Parade theme song, there are calls for an uncommissioned song to be included in the National Day Parade celebrations.

Things So Singaporean is an affectionate and slightly irreverent ode to Singapore written and composed by civil servant Judith d'Silva and singing teacher Ann Hussein. The song mentions things and habits that are uniquely Singaporean, such as using tissue packets to reserve seats at hawker centres, leaving slippers outside the front door and queueing to buy lottery tickets.
In contrast to the moody-sounding What Do You See?, which was commissioned for National Day Parade 2009, Things So Singaporean has caught on like wildfire among Singaporeans after a video clip of it was posted on YouTube.

Tampines North Primary School has adopted the song for its National Day celebrations this year and Raffles Girls' Primary School has used it in its social studies classes. The pupils from Raffles like it so much that they have memorised it.
Ms Poon Wei Ling, 29, a social studies teacher at Raffles, says: 'Many of my pupils were able to identify and relate to certain parts of the song and they laughed at the part about using packets of tissue to reserve seats.'
One of her pupils, Belinda Zhang, 11, says: 'I think it could be used as an NDP song. It's not dull and the melody is quite cheery, it really makes you want to sing along.'

Ms d'Silva, 57, wrote the song in May last year because 'I have always wanted to write a song about Singapore that people can recognise and relate to in concrete ways'.
It had to be 'easy to sing, easy to learn, with a catchy tune and beat', she adds.
Indeed, an online campaign has started to make Things So Singaporean official.
Public officer Victor Tan, 28, who heard about the song through a former colleague, was sufficiently moved by it to set up a Facebook page called 'Let's make Things So Singaporean one of the songs of NDP 2009!'.
Read the full story in The Sunday Times today.

Unk Dicko's comments:
I first met the songwriter Judith at NJC's 40th Anniversary celebration Dinner in mid May this year. She happens to be the twin sister of Julia d Silva...both of whom are among the original 1st batch of NJC students. And Julia played a key role in arranging our very memorable 40th Anniversary 1st Gunung Tahan Expedition Re-union on 20th June 2009. This was the only reunion we ever had in this 4 decade span. You can read that blogpost

About a week before this, Julia sent me a Youtube link to the song "Things So Singaporean" asking if I had heard it before. I haven't.
When I eventually settled myself down comfortably to listen and watch the was the kind of Singaporean song that I have not heard in a long, long time. To catch the beat better I played it over again at least 4 times.
This is the kind of song that gets better if you listen to it more often.
And the lyrics...Singaporeans of all kinds will love it!
I immediately emailed Julia my initial reactions which has not changed one bit todate.

My response:

On 14-Jun-09, at AM 05:33, dick yip wrote:
Dear Julia,

Wow ! What a song ! I played it over and over at least 4 times just to listen carefully to the rhythm, the flow and the background music within. My conclusion and's a TOP CLASS song, with lovable lyrics that all S'poreans can identify with easily. It has a nice, catchy beat to it...esp the chorus. My deepest hope is that THIS song will be played and sung for NDP 2009. It has meaning, has character and is TRULY Singaporean all the way! Will find time to forward to others as well as make a special Blog post on my Blogs.
Pl send my warmest compliments to Judith and team.

[ Online report above is from Straits Times Online Breaking News ]

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's not the Age we award, it's the ACTIVE !

Yesterday, I managed to pop into the same Seven-11 store around my neighbourhood. The counter lady handed me a copy of TODAY newspaper of Wednesday 29 July 2009. I often patronise the coffeeshops, shops and foodstalls around my kampong. Ordering a cup of good kopi-o, I sat down to digest the news in an orderly manner. When I reached page 8 of the even clearer picture of the Active Agers Award Publicity ad stared at me. This time the accompanying text is in English.
To read the text, simply click on the photo image. In any case, I will reproduce it here.
50 plus Active Agers Awards 2009
Active Ageing, Active Living

Do you know an active ager?

They work, volunteer and look after grandchildren. They blog, surf and twitter. They pick up new hobbies and sports and travel the world with their friends. They live with zest and energy, and are happy to share their secrets to active ageing with their peers.
This year the Council for Third Age will present the Active Agers award to seven seniors. If you know someone who fits the bill, go ahead - nominate them now!
Attractive prizes await both winners and nominators.

Nominations close on 17 August 2009.
Go to www.activeageingfestival.comsg/awards

or you can pick up a nomination form from the following places:-
  • Bugis Junction
  • Bt Panjang Plaza
  • Century Square
  • Heartland Mall Kovan
  • Hougang Mall
  • Junction 8
  • Lot One
  • Sembawang Shopping Centre
  • Tiong Bahru Plaza
  • Vivo City
  • West Mall
  • White Sands

The Publicity Ad for 2009 Active Agers Award

As mentioned in my previous post, this appeared at the bottom half of page 11, Shin Min News paper of 15 July 2009.
For new readers of my blog who may not know who these people are or why we have been featured so prominently in many public places, magazines, visit my Archives for October 2008 and you will see many posts and photos about last year's Active Agers Award Winners.
One of my recent AYG teacher volunteer " Kim", who is based in the north sent me a SMS recently which read," ...saw you in the MRT train in the N-S line. You look great!"
Haha...she saw me ! I haven't yet seen myself on the train yet.

Unk Dicko on SHIN MIN news 15 July 2009

This appeared on page 11 of the Shin Min Chinese Paper of 15 July 2009 edition. I had absolutely no idea about the article and report which featured me and Mona Yeo. Both of us were among the 2008 Active Agers Award winners presented by the Council of 3rd Age ( C3A ) in ) October
last year.
It was my very good neighbour who tipped me off a few days after the report appeared. He read about it at his restaurant but did not have a copy to show me.

About a week later, a few of my regular badminton "kakis" who all read the Chinese papers told me the same thing.
One of them..Eric, later handed me the copy.
Mona is very active in community work and in voluntary service especially in story-telling to little children.
On the same page below this report was a sponsored ad inviting nominations from the public for this year's 50 plus Active Agers Awards. You can see this in the next post.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Computers...can be Heaven and Hell !

My friend from Hong Kong sent me this very apt poem about his experiences dealing with the ups and downs of the computer. In his latest email to me, he told me of his 4 days of "hell" when his modem malfunctioned. And just last week until yesterday, I endured a week of "hell" too when I could not log on to the internet on account of some widespread phenomenon peculiar to Bloggers usuing Singnet service.
unk Dicko Blogging at home.
However, my longest frustration with the computer problems was 3 weeks!
So, those of you who must have had your fair share of woes to about sharing some of your problems, how bad it was, and how was it solved. And if you had gone to get some pro IT help and had to pay..did you get the feeling that somehow you were overcharged for whatever ?

Eddie's Poem ( HK )

Hong Kong is a dichotomous place
It is both Heaven and Hell;
It’s Heaven for technology
And things to buy and sell.
It’s Heaven for computer-ware
To assuage my thirst,
But to get any service here -
You must to Hell go first!

A saleswoman, rudeness had
To a fine art honed,
She had the face of a Gorgon
Seem’d she was always stoned.
When she replied,
it was in grunts
Knew not, ‘Thank you’ nor ‘Please’,
Her face would quickly curdle
milk To Gorgonzola cheese.

( I think salespeople are much more polite in Singapore than in HK)

An orphan’s curse would drag to Hell
An angel from on high
But just as horrible as that
Is the malice in a Triad’s eye;
Daggers and curses I get
- when Dud goods to swap,
I try But despite all my misgivings
At going to G-C-C,
I still find it fascinating
New technology to see.

To see the new computers
With all the bells and whistles,
But not for long,
do they stay strong
That’s the rub and thistle.
Computers are both boon and curse
Data’s moved round like lightning,
But when they crash, there’s little worse
That’s absolutely frightening

GCC = Golden Computer Centre

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The simple solution to the BIG Problem

Hi folks, visitors and all fellow users of BLOGGER,

In my previous post I had briefly described a problem that had frustrated me for over a week.
It concerned the "create a new post" page or interface. All the posting commands were missing and different people reported a mish-mash of scrambled lines, dots and whatever. I understand from what I have read through at BLOGGER HELP FORUM that this problem affected only Singnet users and not the other service providers. I sincerely hope SINGNET will take notice and direct their IT experts to CLEAR UP this problem once and for all. After all, we the users are paying them good money and it is not cheap! I am certain many others who have encountered similar problems this whole week ( and many have not solved their problems yet..and btw, are we to solve such unknown server problems on our own??? Is it fair? Not many are that steep in the understanding of the workings of internet connections, LAN settings, proxy servers etc..), are downright frustrated as I was. Many might have spent hundreds of dollars trying to get professional help to "fix" the problem....and still the problem persists as I just checked at the latest postings I saw in the FORUM page.
If I had not taken the trouble to look at the various postings at the BLOGGER HELP FORUM and realised it was a WIDESPREAD phenomenon peculiar mainly to SINGNET users... then I would have wasted my time and money as well. ( See why in my previous highly-qualified computer shop owner friend wanted to remove my entire harddisk to reformat it! ).
Imagine how much that would have cost me!
Instead..I came upon a few really helpful posts that provided a possible solution FOC !
After I copied down the instructions and tried it...the problem was SOLVED!
Now, everything is back to normal. Phew...a near miss. A near disaster averted.
As my good friend Lam Chun See( Goodmorning Yesterday ) suggested ... I should post the link for all you visitors.
Highlighted below is the actual comment from one kind soul who even provided the solution, step by step.
Hope all of you can solve it as I did!

11 people say this answers the question:
Hi Gatsby! Me using singnet and has encountered the same problem.
I tried out the link from seagullible\

and followed the steps:
* For IE 7.0 & below:

Tools -> Internet Options
Click on "Connections" page tab
Click on "LAN Settings" button (if you are using Broadband)
Check "Use a proxy server for your LAN ..." checkbox
Click on "Advanced" button
Under HTTP type, input "" for proxy address and "8080" for port.

And it worked for me!

I'm gonna publish something now that all the editor toolbar is working.
Will post again i have something published successfully.

It also worked for unk Dicko too. Cheers!

Monday, July 27, 2009

A BIG problem with posting " create a post" for over a week!

Hi all readers and visitors,

Since last week, a Sunday my Blogger "create a post" interface page had gone bonkers!
There was nothing of the usual page all of us bloggers are so familiar with.
Instead, it was a non-sensical half page with all the command buttons and icons missing. Gone was the posting box too.
It did not dawn upon me to check up the BLOGGER FORUMS and GROUP ISSUES site.
Instead, I called upon a computer shop contact who advised me to bring my CPU to his shop.
After a few days and a installing a new router "EDIMAX" the problem still persisted.
Everything else worked fine on my computer except opening to " Create a Blog Post" page ...
which again was defiled.
Only moments ago, I asked my same computer engineer friend/shop owner for advice.
His advice: " Bring your CPU again to my shop. I think your hard disk is affected/infected. We will scan it together and I will reformat everything from scratch. You'll need to save all your files
on backups first. And it will take about 3 hours and it will involve labour charge ( I know what
this warning means! It has already burned many holes in my pocket in previous trips !).
My response to him was this: " Everything ELSE is working FINE except this defiled blogging
create a post page. My instinct is telling me differently this time round. It may have to do with some SETTINGS connected with BLOGGER or with our ISP...that is not congruent, that has somehow cropped up about a week ago."
His response: " Maybe you are right after all. But you still need to bring down your CPU ( server) to my shop and together we will try out various options. But I have to remind you I have to charge. "
Unk Dicko: " Ok, see you tomorrow ".
In the meantime, I immediately went into BLOGGER GROUP FORUM and hey Presto!
Jackpot! Adacadabra !
What did I find?
There are so many countless queries and postings by Singapore bloggers about this same problem I was encountering. They all faced the same thing this week. One smart user asked the question " are u all Singnet users". Invariably, almost all are!
Then it is an ISP protocol problem...not so much BLOGGER's problem.
One cool user posted what seemed to be a solution. I must really thank him/her.
Following the instructions to reset the " Connections" and "LAN" settings to a given code
which I tried immediately, I was keeping my fingers crossed as I clicked on my Blogger Dashboard and posting page.
Domo Arigato!
The page has opened up properly again.
And I responded by doing this post to signal to one and all how to overcome this problem.
I hope Singtel or Singnet wakes up. There is something very seriously wrong about this problem.
Did any of you had similar problems recently?

Monday, July 20, 2009

AYG - A Big Thank You to all Volunteers!

On the very last day that these Special Squad members performed their Village duties, I thanked each one of them personally and presented them with AYG souvenirs. This group of student volunteers and the teachers who served till the final day July 8 were the only ones I managed to give the souvenirs to.
Many of the other students and teachers from various schools had served in the earlier period starting from June 18.
I did not forget them. No matter how long it took, I spent the whole of last week visiting those who had served and presenting them with the souvenirs. Many of my volunteers were truly surprised and touched that I bothered to drive all the way to their school to deliver them.
And some have suggested that we should have a get-together day.

See what I meant?
At the Training session for all Village Volunteers on June 8 at Swissotel, I ended my training presentation with a particularly interesting and poignant slide.
I mentioned that "once the AYG is over we will not remember it for the hardwork we all put in but for the friendships made among fellow volunteers and wishing that somehow this nice feeling can continue and not go away."
How true!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

AYG - A Birthday Celebration and a new Ukulele fan!

One day, I received an SMS from one of the student volunteers asking for permission to skip her Sunday duty at the Games Village. Yes...we all worked through all the Saturdays and Sundays from as early as 6.30 am to 10 pm plus.
I then asked her for the reasons. She related that she would like to celebrate her birthday on that day.
When I met her the very next day on her shift duty I suggested that she could, if she wanted to, celebrate the occasion right there at the Intro Bar and we would all rejoice with her.
That was what actually happened as this photo showed. Happy Birthday!

Here is the latest fan club member of Unk Dicko's ukulele group. Lydia, who is a teacher volunteer from Christchurch Secondary was able to observe my ukulele playing very closely...not just the fingering of chords but strumming patterns and styles.
I encouraged her to give it a try and she somehow displayed quite a natural gift for the ukulele. Hope she can really pick it up from here.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Unk Dicko entertains at Athletes' Lounge , Swissotel..AYG.

The volunteers on duty at the IntroBar venue of the Athletes' Lounge were treated to a special Ukulele Performance on 2 days of the last week of the AYG. Being so busy with AYG Village work, I simply had no time to devote to my Ukulele practice and working out the music and song arrangements for my next public performance.
That afternoon, when the changeover shift had been completed, those on the earlier shift were able to relax and unwind from their duties. I treated all of them to their 1st Ukulele session seen close up.
This group of students from Serangoon Sec were really able to not only enjoy the music I provided but joined in the with clapping and singing as well.
After a while, I paused and asked some of them to give the ukulele a try.
Teaching them a few of the basic chords...they began to strum. Not bad at all..I would add.

As soon as I played some keroncong style music, I could see even the athletes attention were attracted.
One particular song was requested again and again.
They told me they love its catchy beat. What was that song?
Leron Leron Sinta [ Philippines ].

Friday, July 17, 2009

AYG - The Athletes' Lounge, Part 2

An athlete in the background having a go at Tennis on the Wii set. I was rather surprised they played the game sitting down. No wonder they often missed the shots !

A special AYG Mixed soccer competition in progress. Can't remember which side won. Makes no difference as it was Sg/ Uzbekistan versus Uzbekistan/Sg. But there was much fun and laughter especially when own goals were scored!

This was from the Straits Times edition of Wednesday July 8. The press came a-visiting and captured the action in the Games Room. Some members of the Korean team were playing Table soccer. Teacher volunteer Lee KC is on the left.

AYG - The Athletes' Lounge

The AYG kicked off with the arrival of teams for the Preliminary Soccer Competition starting from June 18. That was also the same day I awoke at 5 am to catch the early MRT train to Dhoby Ghaut, then changed to the N-S line to City Hall station. I met my Village volunteers at the Foyer outside the Operations Room at 6.30 am. After my briefing and attendance taking, I led them to the Intro Bar where meals were served for the workforce and volunteers.
Some days later, the Intro Bar was converted to an Internet Games Room for the athletes and was renamed "the Athletes' Lounge". It was opened from 8am to 10 pm daily and I assigned some of my Special Squad members to man it throughout.
There were 7 notebooks with free internet access, 2 TV sets showing all the "Live AYG" action, 2 X-box sets, 2 Wii sets and 2 table soccer sets.

At all hours of the day, the athletes and officials would stream in to have some fun and just simply unwind.

Most of my volunteers had no experience with Wii games and I conducted a brief hands -on session for them. Those who were fortunate to have seen me in action were mighty impressed.
I can still remember one FA chief who was present with her set of helpers and was watching my demo saying......." My Goodness! Look, he has not missed a single shot !"
I told them I have a Wii set at home.

On the very last day of the Games Room operation, these 2 Uzbeskistan athletes wanted to have a game of table soccer with a parting gesture. I obliged them with my key right hand man Ho CH joining in too.

The Games Room was a very popular place for the athletes to hang out, have fun and make friends with other fellow athletes as well as student volunteers.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

AYG - Kazakhstan Silkscreen Printing

There were many highly interesting activities that I found while browsing the Asian Cultural booths. I chanced upon a group of students working with paints. On closer look, they seemed to be doing some kind of printing. One of them welcomed me, Choon Ling and Allan. They were actually demonstrating the art of Silkscreen printing...passed down from ancient times. This was at the Kazakhstan booth.

They asked me to choose a pattern on offer. I did.

Then working with the chosen engraved block they applied a thin coat of paint to the red bag.

We waited 5 minutes for the paint to dry. A hair dryer was further applied to expedite the drying process.

A student explaining the simplicity of silkscreen printing to C Ling.

The finished products were presented to us. Well done students and well done Kazakhstan !

Now we have really understood what silkscreen printing is all about.

AYG - Good Morning Vietnam!

The Vietnam section was manned by a few very capable Vietnamese students who are all studying in SJI. They can speak English quite well and projected confidence and a great love for their native land. On the display tables were artifacts, artwork, musical instruments and samples of tea, coffee etc..from their land of birth.
I introduced myself to them by asking," Do you happen to know who looked after the large Vietnamese Contingent at the 1993 SEA Games in Singapore? "
When they smiled and shook their heads... I pointed to myself. Suddenly there was a flurry of excitement as the import of what I said registered.
One of them then blurted out, " That was the same year I was born in ! " I related my involvement with the Vietnamese Contingent and other delegations from Vietnam over many years since.


Unk Dicko and a SSC volunteer from the Philippines with the guys from SJI.

In 2001, during the 1st ASIAN Schools Swimming C'ships, I was chief LO to VIP delegates, including Vietnam. Mr Lee Van Quan...the chief delegate taught me a song from his homeland.
I sang some lines of this song to this AYG group. They knew the song and joined in ! What was the song?

" Nhu' Co' Bac Ho trong ngay Vui dai thang'."
The chorus is quite simple and goes like this...Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh ( x 4 ).

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

AYG - How we kept H1N1 at bay.

As soon as the thermal scanners were placed in the strategic locations and control points, my volunteers got into action. SSC also had their own set of volunteers helping out.
In the main Operations Room area, all workforce or visitors have to get their temp taken twice daily and given a sticker to identify their OK status.
These temp takers were the adult teachers in my Special Squad aided by student volunteers.
Top...Ms Mawaddah from PLMGS performing her task well.
Bottom...the visitor filling up particulars in the temperature log book. Green stickers were for use after 5 pm.

AYG - 5 star Service and food !

There were no complaints about the service or food at the Games Village.
It was 5 star standard.
Not many of today's volunteers and workforce had served in the last 1993 SEA Games which S'pore hosted and the many other major Sporting Championships over the last 30 plus years. I have...and thus with hindsight can compare with the past.
I can assure all you were truly well-taken care of.

Me, Allan and Fauzi ..2 members of my Special Squad sampling the food over dinner at the Ballroom.
Verdict? Thumbs Up!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

AYG - Meals for Volunteers and Workforce

There were 3 main meals provided for all our volunteers and workforce at Swissotel...Breakfast ( 5.30 -9.00am ), Lunch ( 11.30 - 3.00pm ) and Dinner ( 5.30 - 9.00 pm ). The food spread was sufficiently good, with plenty of desserts thrown in too. Coffee and tea and a variety of fruits.
Around day 3 into our work, we started on June 18, Nicholas from YOG roped me in to give instant feedback to Executive Chef Allan Koh on the F and B thus far. I opted for frank but positive feedback method and made some requests.
I am most happy to say Chef Allan Koh was a very accomodating person and almost daily we had some of the very BEST chocolate cakes added as a bonus. These were not on the menu but I asked him to try" kidnap"any of these leftovers from the many conferences and meetings held there.
All you people who enjoyed these tasty cakes, please say 'thanks' to Chef Allan !

The dining places were not at one same place. We had them at the Intro Bar, Padang Room, Canning Room, Olivia Room, VIP shown in this photo.
It was dinner time. I walked in and saw that almost all the curtains were drawn, making the place very dark.
No one thought of pulling away the curtains! When I did so, this was what greeted my eyes...a beautiful, setting sun hovering just above the roofline of the buildings in the distance.
This was the 1st sunset dinner we had! And what a splendid reddish sunset we witnessed.

AYG - Kazakhstan and Myanmar

One of the major attractions of the Games Village that was always crowded and filled with visitors was the area set up by the participating nations the form of booths showcasing their respective nation. On the very 1st day they were up, I happened to pass by a couple of booths.
This was one of them...Kazakhstan. There was this handsome young man dressed in a beautiful costume of his native land and he was using a pencil to draw a portrait of this student volunteer. I love portraits and so went closer to have a look. He was very skilful! Pity that I did not have the time to be his subject.
Astana is the capital city of their country. It happens to be the 2nd coldest capital city in the world after UlanBator ( Mongolia ). In winter, temperatures can reach -35 to -45 Celsius! And guess what is their population figure? Only about 750,000 people.

As I was going into the Operations Centre, I was invited by these lovable Myanmese guys to stop and have a closer look at the Myanmar booth.
After looking around at their nice set-up, I related that I love Myanmar especially Yangon the capital. I was there less than 2 years ago.
These booths and the idea behind it was simply fabulous. It provided everyone with a real opportunity to have a better understanding of our ASIAN neighbours and friends, their culture, history, music and arts.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Campfire !

When I was a very young cub-scout back in the 50's, two of the activities I enjoyed most were outdoor camping together with hiking and the traditional old scout campfire.

In a year we may have our own group campfire plus the chance to attend other campfires when we were invited.

Without a doubt, the Annual Campfire was one of the major highlights in the year's programme...almost like an Anniversary Dinner and Dance function.

Great care and committment when into the organisation
and planning for such an event. Different sub-committees took care of different aspects of the campfire event. Approval, invitations, venue, ( administration), logistics,equipment and furniture ( operations ), drinks,food and refreshments ...and finally the most important Campfire programme itself.

Months before the campfire, we scouts would have been taught the songs and yells that would likely be featured. This is something often often overlooked by many modern-day troops...many of the hosting/visiting scouts and guides do not know their campfire songs well.

I have always enjoyed the magical atmosphere and ambience of a properly organised campfire. From the 60's to the early 70's, I was closely connected to Campfire planning and organisation, and teaching of traditional campfire songs, rounds and yells especially to the scouts of 6th ARROW Group, Victoria School.

The scouts had an advantage over others. Singing is always more inspiring when accompanied by a musical instrument. In this instance, they learnt to sing properly to the accompaniment of my ukulele playing.

In 2003, Gongshang Primary School Cub-scout group discovered my "scouting" background and invited me to their Campfire. They had help to organise the event from a Secondary School Scout troop. What I saw and experienced that time was typical modern day campfires which

I would describe in Cantonese slang as
" hoh tai, um hoh sek".
Literally means " good to see, no good to eat".
Put another way, you have what looks like a fire, a large circle of people (invitees and host ) who never seem to stop shouting and screaming, no one really knows what's happening as the sound system they all use drowns out everything. They have too many leaders in the ring trying to control the noise and mayhem without any success. There is clearly no Campfire Leader...and if there was one, I never saw him or her at all!
The campfire resembles a modern day retro-rock event with everyone doing his own thing in anyway he likes.
To me and a few other"old birds" thoroughly trained in the old scouting is one huge and big disappointment. Quite a few left way before such campfires ended. I don't blame them at all.
It was sheer torture seating through these modern -day campfires which have completely lost the traditional touch and the magical ambience I mentioned above.

Starting from 2004, as I was a regular honoured VIP guest at GSPS Campfire... I decided to teach them the "ways of old", how the circle is kept small and compact for warmth, companionship and doing away with sound system. With such closeness, you can feel the warmth of the real fire.
I began to introduce long-forgotten songs...very popular in the old days of the 50's onwards.
The kids, teachers, parents and other invited guests were literally mesmerised!
They all told me that "this was the MAGIC they had been waiting for!"
Every year since then...the cubscouts and the others in the campfire cannot wait for the moment
when their Akela announces, " ...and now it's time we call upon unk Dicko to entertain us with
songs only he knows and to give us a yarn or two!".

Below is a blogpost from an open Cubscout group in the north which I came upon while googling
one day recently. I had no idea I had made such a BIG impact on them and their scoutmasters.
They were present at the GSPS campfire held in May this year.

After the debrief, we were off to the other side of Singapore! From West to East, literally. We were going to Gongshang Primary School for the Camp Seeonee 6 Campfire. It was very a long ride in the bus, providing us with the opportunity to rest our tired feet. We had a quick dinner at Long John Silver's (LJS) before a long awaited reuinon with our friends of Gongshang Cub Scouts and Leaders.It had already started to rain so the campfire was held the hall. We still had alot of fun, nonetheless. What better experience than to have a campfire with friends? Our favourite segment was by Uncle Dick from whom we learnt many traditional campfire songs like Cai Qui Dao, Chee Chong Fun and Tng Swa Nang. This segment was also best because of the musical support of Uncle Dick's Ukulele. The Senior Sixers choreographed their own action/dance for "Di Sini Senang" and also did a reprise of the "Taman Negara Song". The campfire was a nice ending to a long and tiring day.
(for more information about Uncle Dick Yip, see his blog.)
Thanks, Gongshang!
Yasaka! Yasaka! Yasaka!
Posted by Lamuel Sim at 12:19 PM 0 comments
Labels: , , ,
Saturday, 30 May 2009

AYG - Team Welcome for Japan.

Japan CDM receiving a souvenir gift from DHS school rep after the TWC.

The flag from Japan being raised during the TWC.

The Japanese delegation was as usual very impressive and very well organised. Not surprising at all as they have hosted the Asian Games and even the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the shared Olympics too.

What a nice-looking delegation!

DHS was the "twinning school " for Japan. Here they are with Village Chief and yours truly for a memorable picture.

AYG - The Special Squad

Before the AYG started, all the Functional Areas ( FAs ) had been identified and structured into the overall Organisational Plan of the Games Village...all that is except for this Special Squad that I created under my own initiative.
There were doubts that I could even get more than 10 persons into such a squad and operating daily from the word "Go".
The early reasoning was that we will be probably be short of volunteer manpower from the schools both teachers and students to manage the various FAs in the Village. The Secretariat sent emails to schools requesting for volunteers...but the response was slow and inadequate...and the days were fast approaching towards the AYG. That is where networking and very good H R comes in handy. I made a personal and direct approach to just a few schools namely DHS, Zhenghua Sec, Naval Base Sec, Serangoon Sec, Commonwealth Sec, PLMGS ( Primary )..and just from these, secured most of my manpower needs, in addition to the teachers and students from some schools and later some Hq staff.


These are the students from Serangoon Secondary with one of their teachers Ms Peh SF. They were valuable members of my Special Squad.
In all, I had nearly 30 teachers and more than 25 students in the squad assigned to various tasks under my command.
The number of teacher and student volunteers under my charge was nearly 500.

AYG - Behind the Scene at TWC.

As the flag of each country was slowly raised in a much rehearsed ritual of protocol, the National anthem of the country was played over the PA sound system.
To ensure that the correct anthem was played for each country, a proper and official digital copy of the approved anthem for each country was ready.
Here is the DHS student volunteer i/c of it behind the scene.
The 30 students from DHS are all selected from the Uniformed groups in their school. They were highly disiplined and responsible.

The CDM from Nepal during the Exchange of souvenirs.

After the flags were hoisted...a flurry of camera activities followed. Most teams wanted to capture pictures of themselves with the beautiful backdrop of the AYG banners and posters.

The CDM of Yemen was very impressed with the gift from this school....represented by the student.
He was genuinely interested in the artwork and asked the gift bearer to explain some of the culture behind it.
He sure made the boy and his school very proud by his animated enthusiasm.