Red and white are the colours of our flag, but the diversity of our backgrounds and cultures can be likened to a kaleidoscope. Bursting forth with vibrancy, a dynamic tapestry – yet harmonious. Everyone who lives in Singapore is part of a one-of-a-kind ‘rojak’ (the Malay word for 'mixed'; also the name of a dish with Malay and Chinese influences), whether you were born and bred here or you moved over from another country! This was exactly what our children in the centres celebrated today, all dressed in red and white or beautiful ethnic wear. At Little Olive Tree (Bukit Arang), teachers set up various stations for children to experience different aspects of Singapore culture. Children tried their hand at traditional games such as pick up sticks, 5 stones and chapteh which would have been popular during their parents’ childhood days.
They were introduced to cultural food representing different ethnic groups such as roti prata, curry puffs and ang ku kueh, and admired national costumes such as the ‘baro at saya’ (which means blouse and skirt), a Filipino costume that one of their teachers wore. They were also especially enthusiastic about donning themselves with temporary tattoos of motifs such as the merlion to show their Singapore spirit!
After a morning of learning about Singapore’s history and sampling delicious food from a variety of cultural origins, parents of our Ang Mo Kio children were invited to join in the festivities at a multi-purpose hall in the vicinity. Our board members Mr George Goh and Mr Arthur Lim also came down to interact with the children, while they surprised them with handmade artworks in return. Children and adults alike couldn't wait to show off their moves during the mass dance to this year’s theme song ‘Shine Your Light’ as led by teachers and students Sha Sha, Jen, Esther, Sivan and Min Er.
Just as they thought the day couldn’t get any better, the children’s faces lit up when the teachers kicked off a series of games including ‘knock down the can’, ‘peg the flag’ and a sack race.
The grand finale of the day was an epic showdown between the adults who battled it out over a good old game of tug-of-war, with the children cheering them on and eventually joining in! Then, attractive prizes were given out to the winners of the various games.
Regardless of the final champion, everyone walked away a winner that day, with infectious smiles as their crowns.
Of course, a National Day celebration is not complete without a mass karaoke session of beloved National Day songs! Children and teachers at Holland Village and Ghim Moh centre soaked in the atmosphere as they sang, swayed and danced their hearts out to their favourite tunes together.
The songs included familiar ones such as ‘We are Singapore’, ‘Chan Mali Chan’, ‘小人物的心声’, and ‘Munnaeru Vaalibaa’. Children also proved to the teachers that their knowledge on Singapore was not limited to patriotic song lyrics when they totally aced a trivia quiz about Singapore!
Ghim Moh Centre
Children from Holland Village
Across most centres, children turned up in their best outfits in hopes of getting the title of ‘Best Dressed’. The motivation behind such a contest was not just to put up a mini fashion show (which the children always love), but also to encourage every individual to be confident in who they are while appreciating and respecting that everyone looks different due to their backgrounds, ethnicities, and even developmental needs.
The children understood that National Day was after all, about loving their nation, which included their friends around them.
'Rojak’ is only delicious because of the mix of ingredients which each offer their own flair to the dish, just as our diversity is what makes this country quintessentially Singapore, our home. Blessed National Day, everyone!