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Happy National Day

Singapore celebrated its 44th National Day on Sunday. I am proud and honoured to be a Singaporean. The progress Singapore has made in many areas (infrastructure, education, science and technology, living conditions, housing, etc.) since its independence is truly a miracle.

My wife and I just returned from Myanmar a week ago. Many of the things we take for granted here in Singapore was absent over there. The remote villages that we visited in the Irrawaddy delta area could only be reached by boat. Being the monsoon season, the usual muddy land became even more slippery and the mud reached calf level at times. The villagers overwhelmed us with their kindness and extra-mile hospitality as they offered to piggyback us to which we profusely declined. We opted instead to abandon our footwear and chose to walk around barefooted like the locals. Unfortunately, city dwellers’ feet have become pampered and unaccustomed to uneven ground, tree trunks, bamboo platforms and slim wooden bridges. In a nutshell, we’ve lost our sense of balance, being so reliant on “high-tech” shoes. The villagers treated us like royalty and held our arms not unlike the Empress Dowager with ladies in waiting on both sides. We felt clumsy and handicapped, especially when even young kids no more than 5 years old zipped past us effortlessly. Electricity and clean water were also not readily available. There was widespread shortages of rice in the villages due to the poor harvest this year. Many of their padi fields still have remnants of salt in the soil after the tsunami/tidal waves hit during last year’s Cyclone Nargis. In one village, the entire 70 children were unable to go to school which had been wiped out by the Cyclone; they now have to take a half-an-hour boat ride to school at another village. Yet in another village, what remains of the school were dilapidated facilities which the students make do with without complaints, contented that they could still go to school. I have much to be thankful for here in Singapore and like my wife said, “We should count it a privilege and not expected rights for all the blessings we enjoy here in Singapore!”.

I will post a more detailed update on the Myanmar trip soon with some photos. Till then, here are a few photos from a shoot I did last year for the Love Singapore network of churches for a National Day event. Happy Birthday Singapore!