A new season in life

Book matters, Lists, Singapore

It’s the second week being out of full-time employment. Quite surprisingly, each day has been full and fulfilling. I am meeting people, writing stories, arranging flowers. I also have time to cook and tidy the house.

I have also submitted the complete manuscript of my book to the publisher for editing. Another milestone reached!

Some stuff I found online and have become my favourites in these two weeks:

The Hustle – Daily emails with a smart-ass version of global news

Skillshare – Learning platform with tons of videos to teach you all kinds of things. Even Seth Godin is on it! (Paid membership required, but new members get a month of free unlimited access.)

The Futur – Brand agency but they provide some great content for free. Geared towards business education for the creative entrepreneur, the resources can be found on their website and various social media platforms.

Jeraldine Phneah – Personal blog by a 26yo Singaporean. She has a very well-written post on the non-existent 2017 Presidential Elections.

Launch Summit – Virtual conference for tech start-ups, presented by Launchpeer

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The Proposal

Singapore, The Big Day

The meats were smoking on the grill. I was sipping on my second can of Coke, nursing a sore throat with sugar and caffeine.

It was a thai-themed barbecue. We had invited our close friends to enjoy the evening with us. The guys from R’s secondary school days lounged by the side. Our friends from church sat on chairs we pulled over from the poolside.

“Thank you for being here tonight,” R spoke to the group. I smiled at the unexpected speech that unfolded, mildly amused. He stretched his hand towards me, beckoning me to join him at the front. I went forward and stood by his side as he continued speaking.

By the time he got down on one knee, I was overwhelmed with total surprise. My drug-induced state of drowsiness took a while to make sense of what had happened. He had asked me to marry him.

Design Galore

Book matters, People, Singapore

It’s Singapore Design Week. It’s only Tuesday and the week is just busy, busy.

There is SingaPlural, Maison&Objet Asia, IFFS. I’ve got interviews and press events to go for. At these many, many press events, I meet lots of people and the team has been introducing me to the different brands we work with.

Even without these things going on, my mind has been quite fully occupied with work on the weekdays and I haven’t been doing much for my book even on the weekends. I’ve been telling myself that I’ll get back to my book once I’m more settled in my job.

But I think that’s not what God has in mind.

I met an editor of another publication yesterday and bumped into her again today. We started talking and the subject of my book came up. She then suggested something which I thought was absolutely brilliant–design for autism.

As she elaborated on her suggestion, I found myself being simply impressed.

I guess I’m always impressed by people who can come up with ideas and different perspectives on the spot. So cool, these people. I do come up with ideas but it takes me time.

So anyway, I got excited about that idea and decided that it’s something I definitely want to pursue, but probably when “I’m more settled in my job”.

But just half an hour later, I bumped into her again and she very excitedly introduced me to a designer from a very prominent local architecture firm. What they have recently done was put together the first-ever all-inclusive school in Singapore. It’s not yet fully operational and I think there hasn’t been much publicity because it’s just really, really new.

So, this seems to be a nudge to start work on the online platform.

In the Least Likeliest of Places

People, Singapore

It’s an unexpected place for an autistic kid to find friends.

Yet on two different accounts, it is where friendships have reportedly been forged.

One parent said that his son had a friend who became his unofficial study buddy. This friend would regularly get him to study together in school or at the library.

He calls the boy “an angel” and even goes as far to credit him for helping his son pass the final examinations.

Another parent said that her son was no longer bullied and was even asked to go on outings.

She feels that he was finally in a place where he was simply accepted for his differences.

It’s not therapy.

It’s not a special school for students with autism.

It’s the Institute of Technical Education, or more commonly known as ITE.

Before you call me out for being elitist (because I expressed surprise over something good that came out of ITE), allow me to say that I’d have been equally surprised if this were to have happened in any junior college or polytechnic.

Simply because students in these tertiary institutions are mostly still kids.

It’s quite common to hear of autistic individuals thriving in universities. One reason is that students get to focus on a specialisation. Another reason is that university entrants are usually hitting their twenties and have by this age, realised that kindness is an option when responding to someone who seems odd to them.

So for kids in ITE to take an autistic individual as one of them is something I did not quite expect.

Neither did these two parents.

Their respective sons had gone through mainstream education enduring much bullying and embarrassment and they hadn’t expect ITE to be any different.

Yet it was a world of difference.

Reflections from The Purple Parade

Singapore

I was in Taiwan the past week and so haven’t had the time to update this space. Before I left for Taiwan, I managed to take some time to attend this event called The Purple Parade.

Now I know the name sounds like it was a gay pride parade, it’s not. It’s an event that aims to raise awareness of disabilities in Singapore by inviting the public to celebrate abilities together with the various disability groups.

Games booths, food, drinks and ice cream stalls created a lively carnival atmosphere. Various organisations also had booths selling merchandise made by their clients. There were balloon sculptures, paintings, tee shirts, and many purple-coloured props on sale. In the centre of it all was this huge stage where the students and clients from the different disability groups and schools put up performances to showcase their talents. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong graced the event. So did a few other local celebrities, including TV actor Chew Chor Meng and singer Stefanie Sun.

Big, big event.

Yet it felt, to me, like way too much noise for too little results. But yes I do understand that my definition of ‘results’ may be quite different from that of the organiser’s.

So afterwards, I was talking to an early-intervention teacher from one of the special schools and wanted to know her opinion on such events. Was it effective in creating an inclusive society? Did she feel that it helped the public to better understand disabilities?

She felt that it was at least effective in raising awareness. This event gives the public an opportunity to interact with, or at least have a glimpse into the lives of, these individuals with disabilities. The platform for interaction has been built and all that is required of members of the public is to take that step in.

She then brought up ‘Light It Up Blue’, an annual event that raises awareness and support for autism. Volunteers station themselves along Orchard Road during the event to hand out leaflets on autism and are ready to explain more about it if passers-by are curious or interested to learn more. On one occasion, a burly male passer-by glared at her as she handed him a leaflet, told her that it was bullshit and proceeded to throw a whole stack of leaflets into the waste bin. That had got her all riled up and so for now, she is glad for anyone who is simply tolerant of these events.

What she shared gave me another perspective on the level of acceptance in Singapore. I suppose we still have a long way to go. Events like The Purple Parade are perhaps what is suitable now for a society like ours.

Visiting Coney Island Park

Singapore

Coney Island, or rather Pulau Serangoon, is open!

Remus and I went to check it out last week. We took so many photos that it will be a good idea to blog about our visit in two separate posts. This is Part 1.

To get there, we took bus 84 from Punggol Bus Interchange and got off at Punggol Settlement. Even though neither of us has been there before, it’s quite clear where we had to alight. The bus makes a U-turn at Punggol Road End and we had plenty of time to realise that this is the stop to get off at.

From Punggol Settlement, we walked eastward along the coast and pretty shortly, in ten minutes, we spotted the connecting bridge. It looks like a mini causeway.

Punggol Settlement to Coney Island @jazziegoh

It was quite a hazy day. The background scenery in the photos can hardly be seen. Oh well.

Entering the island, we ventured onto the earth track which would bring us closer to the beach area. There are few rest areas and shelters along the way. I like that the entire park is kept very basic and mostly left in its natural state.

This is one of the four shelters on the whole island.

Coney Island Park Singapore @jazziegoh

In the three hours we spent there, we didn’t manage to cross over to the eastern side and so explored only the west of the island. We will need to make another trip. Hopefully the haze would have cleared by the next time and I can have some nice blue skies in my photos.

While on the western side, the earth track led us to two bird hides and also to Beach Areas A and B, two of the five beaches on the island.

Coney Island Park Singapore @jazziegoh

Coney Island Park Singapore @jazziegoh

Coney Island Park Singapore @jazziegoh

We were there on a weekday so there weren’t many people around. I saw pictures of the island taken on the weekend and it looked like east coast park (read: overcrowded).

I’m glad it was so quiet and peaceful the day we went. Doesn’t the scenery of casuarina trees look lovely?

Coney Island Park Singapore @jazziegoh

More information on Coney Island Park can be obtained here. Also, Straits Times suggests six things for you to check out when you’re here.

That’s all for now. More photos in another post!

7 online magazines from Singapore

Lists, Singapore

I was browsing through The Platform Collective looking for collaborations when I stumbled upon a host of independent digital magazines all based here in Singapore. I looove magazines and couldn’t resist digressing from my original intent to look through each of them.

Most of them are really new, which is perhaps why I haven’t heard of them. (Or maybe I’m just lagging? Haha)

Anyway, here are seven that I bookmarked.

One of these may end up being the next Vulcan Post, The Smart Local, or City Nomads. Who knows?

1) Poached Mag

For arts, food, culture, reviews and opinion pieces. Basically, everything lifestyle.

Poached

2) Backpack Singapore

For backpackers who want a local insider guide to Singapore and curious locals who want a deeper insight

BackpackSG

3) Popspoken

For lifestyle features, entertainment news, and a say on local issues

Popspoken

4) Native Entertainment

For music and entertainment news

Originally known as The Native Music when it was launched in October 2013, this online magazine now also covers film, television, and the arts.

Native

5) M.O.D.A Mag

For discovering emerging artists and designers in Asia

MODA

6) Unravel

For the linguist in me that lived on after I graduated

Entirely run on a voluntary basis, this linguistics magazine aims to reach out to both linguists and non-linguists alike with their jargon-free writing.

Unravel

7) Actually Mag

For fashion, people, and places

A literary extension of its namesake–a retail fashion outlet in Orchard, this magazine also serves as a Singapore city guide.

Actually

Post Election

Singapore

Results: The People’s Action Party takes 83 of the 89 seats and has won Punggol East SMC over from the Workers’ Party. The remaining 6 seats are taken by the Workers’ Party who has retained Aljunied GRC and Hougang SMC.

It’s not quite the watershed election that everyone was expecting.

But, it makes for excellent psychological and sociological research fodder. How did a watershed election turn into a landslide victory for the ruling party? And, how did only so few see this coming?

Election Season

Singapore

In a few hours, Singapore will be going to the polls.

The electoral battles are fiercely fought this time, surpassing the ferocity of the last General Election. Held in 2011, the previous General Election was described by many as a watershed election. It was news: pre-election, it had the highest proportion of contested seats since independence (82 out of 87 seats); post-election, it was the first time a Group Representation Constituency was won by an opposition party. People were expecting change, big change, yet one year on, as local author and political commentator Catherine Lim puts it,

“…political observers, reading the signs being sent out by the government, must be wondering about when—or if—the changes that had then seemed an inevitable consequence of the election, would actually take place.” (emphasis mine)

Compared to the current political climate and imminent financial crisis, 2011 seems to be just scrapping the surface of real change. Already, the PAP, in particular Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, is calling the 2015 General Election a “watershed election“. (Again?)

I’m inclined to agree, except that 2015 may just be like 2011—simply scrapping the surface of something bigger that will happen, just slightly deeper.

This General Election can be considered a watershed in Singapore’s history for a few reasons as clearly marked out by this article in The Financial Times. Mainly I feel, it’s because this is the first election where founding father Mr Lee Kuan Yew is not around. And yes, it’s also the first time since independence that all the seats are contested, allowing the whole nation to go to the polls.

Well, whether it lives up to the title of being a watershed election to be studied in history books remains to be seen. Meanwhile, these memes created by local graphic designers provide a good laugh while giving a succinct round-up of what has been going on.