Home is where the Heart is

The Singapore Spirit. This year’s NDP theme was all about the culture we share that makes us all one united people, regardless of race, language or religion. It tugged at the heartstrings of Singaporeans living locally and abroad. The message it was trying to bring across was short and sweet, which is, home is where the heart is. As a young adult living in Singapore, I feel proud to be part of this young rising nation. An affection for their motherland that many would chose to hide.

For me, this year marked the first time of not celebrating National Day at all. In fact I was halfway across the globe, 15,000km away from home. Being on vacation in USA, it never crossed my mind that I would miss the feeling of National Day.

On 9 August, my emotions ran high as I recalled the times in school we were made to learn patriotic national day songs, including those in horrendously cheesy national day songs and not to mention the occasional crowd pleasers and taking part in mock parades held in schools. Most importantly, I will never forget the overwhelming pride I felt in my little body when I performed for NDP in Primary 5.

That was the merely the tip of the iceberg. The safety, cleanliness and convenience of our city-state are aspects all overseas Singaporeans will miss. The fact that you can walk on the streets at 3am and have nothing to fear is a comfort in itself (well, only the recent phenomenon of random parang-wielding gangsters, compared to thugs carrying guns on the streets, is considered mild). The efficiency of our transport system is something that we often take for granted as well. This is the effort of the government to instil traits of law-abidingness and determination, hence portraying the ethos aspect.

All these are the comforts of home and the spirit that defines us is close to the heart. Which leads me to believe that the organizers are invoking the concepts of Pathos and Logos as well.

So, what is this culture that we share? The unofficial language, Singlish, that we are proud of. Locals embraced local sitcoms like Phua Chu Kang, which had a strong local flavor injected. Show it to an American and I assure you, he will be bewildered. Another simple situation is in out coffee-shops. Comparing a Caucasian and a local ordering food, it would be clear that we would get our message across in with minimal speaking while we’re already tucking into our lunch, the Caucasian would probably still be struggling. I think we all secretly gloat in the fact that no one else can understand Singlish like we can.

Food is another defining culture of Singapore. We have a unique food culture that blends the flavours of the four distinct races in Singapore that one cannot find anywhere else. Our love for chilli is something unique to us as well. It’s something that you will not find easily in America or European countries. Devouring our beloved Chicken Rice without chilli or even MacDonald’s fries without garlic chilli is simply unforgivable. Our love for the durian, an exotic fruit only for the acquired, is unconditional.

This year’s national day campaign was such a success because they managed to make use of the concepts ethos, logos and pathos. Even through the uproar where a popular Lady Gaga song was modified, Singaporeans rallied to drop the song as it was a shame that we had to modify someone else’s song instead of coming up with an original piece. It demonstrated the immense pride, the ethos aspect, Singaporeans have for their country that we all have and that we are indeed one united Singapore.

Majulah Singapura.

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16 thoughts on “Home is where the Heart is

  1. I’ve stopped watching the National Day Parade since a time I can’t remember, but nonetheless, I still feel patriotism like you said. Singapore is safe. Possibly one of the safest country to live in across the globe. The lack of crimes (though up and rising), no natural disasters, no worries about who’s turn is it to shove snow. But it’s a bit too regimental, don’t you think?

    Durian stinks!

    1. I’ve also stopped watching the parade for a really long time already but somehow when I was away from SG on National Day, there was this urge for me to want to watch the NDP! Perhaps signs of patriotism? It may be a bit too regimental but I guess its an opportunity cost incurred for the safety of our country, no?

      Durians are like an awesome only! Our national fruit!! 😀

  2. this is an interesting topic. however a balance of culture and identity must be maintained or else singaporeans will lose their sense of belonging to singapore.

    1. Agreed. We need to create our own identity out of our diverse culture we have in Singapore to make us uniquely us and it will in turn increase the sense of belonging to SG!

  3. Culture seems like something only Singaporeans deem as foreign. Seriously, what does the term ‘Singaporean’ actually mean to the locals of this tiny dot of the global map? It doesn’t really help that the government constantly blames the ‘Western’ ideals for our eroded roots; neither does the public’s never-ending complains about the government’s ‘social engineering’ scheme. I think it’s time to take a step back and look at ourselves and ask…

    ‘What does it really mean to be Singaporean?’

    Is it the unique food that I have virtually everywhere 24/7 ?
    Is it the language I speak lor ?
    Is it the icons that I hold endearingly next to my heart (Liang Tai Tai, Mr. Kiasu)?

    Or is it really where the heart belongs?
    Home… Truly? Where I know I must be?

    1. Ditto that. We are too proud in a sense to show who we are but yet I think deep down every (well, almost every) Singapore feels something for her.The government blames the ‘western’ but now they are trying to teach American English in local school…irony eh?

      I think its up to the individuals to define a culture as our own. We are many parts of the body, separately we are useless but if we come together as one, we are strong and a resilient force. We need to have a common goal for what we want Singapore to be seen in the eyes of foreigners. Are we just a Garden city which is very hot or a small country somewhere in China?

      But nonetheless, we all would eventually still call Singapore our home, truly, no matter where on earth we are, the grass may be greener on the other side but nothing is better than home soil.

  4. Certainly agree with you man! Especially when you are physically not in Singapore, the feeling is so overwhelmed! Most of the time, we always take things for granted, the safety of our country, the accessibility, the global status and not forgetting our local delicacy! Honestly speaking, being away from home for merely 1 month plus, I already started missing Singapore’s accessibility and food! Though people always say “grass is greener on the other side” literally speaking yes, but still, nothing beats home!

    1. Time makes the heart grow fonder and in this case, fonder of Singapore. Even how much we enjoy the sights and sounds of a foreign land, we still feel the ease when we land back in Changi Airport. The familiarity of the space we are so accustomed to makes us feel right at home immediately. We take for granted many things we have in SG and I think sometimes Singaporeans are too harsh on the government to improve our transport system when it is already top notch and although there is a need for this ‘push’ force from the public in order for constant improvement, I do think that they could tone it down.

      I’m pretty sure the moment you hear a ‘loh’ or ‘lah’ or ‘sia’ you would feel a little piece of home right? (:

      Miss you!

  5. You have certainly hit the nail on the head! Being Singaporean is an identity that all of us Singaporeans have embraced albeit the multitude of judgement that are being thrown our way. We have continued to brave strong and have since become one of the most successful countries in Asia and in the World. And yes, I do agree that certain icons in our culture are superbly unique that foreigners will have no way of understanding them unless they have thoroughly immersed themselves into our culture. So yeah, pretty spot on! 🙂

    1. We have to be united as one to weather the trials that maybe thrown our way, only then can we come out stronger and be surer of our identity as Singaporeans and so not loose our unique culture to the influx of western influence!

  6. with all the cheesy national day theme song, no doubt anyone when listen to past years theme songs, will feel nostalgic about it, and also the strong feeling been singaporean. Sometime things are moving so fast that we forgot and take things for granted.
    Some of us are oversea studying or even working.
    but still deep in our heart, we just know,
    singapore, is our only home.

    1. Agreed. At the pace Singapore is forging ahead, its east to take things for granted and we do not have the luxury of time to stop and smell the roses, if not risk being overtaken. Maybe that’s one we are one of the most competitive countries in the world today. Perhaps its time to slow things down just a little to make sure we do not loose our unique Singapore spirit too.

  7. I think my only memory now of National Day is that I GET A BREAK FROM SCHOOL because of the public holiday. It’s true that you’ll still feel the sense of pride of being a Singaporean. Having live abroad on my own for one and a half months, it made me appreciate Singapore. Things like bus shelter, clean streets, not hearing the sirens of the ambulance every 5 minutes, etc. The only thing i never missed about Singapore is probably the exorbitant prices that we pay to shop here.

    1. totally agree with you. most people look forward to national day only because its a national holiday and i feel that we need to perhaps spend more time appreciating what we have instead of doing something typical of a Singaporean, complain. We complain about transport system amongst many others which i think we have one of the most efficient in the world. Why not say we have safe streets, effective police force or we have an excellent education system instead of constantly berating your own country?

  8. 9th August. Without fail, I would feel an extra sense pride that I’m a Singaporean on this day. It has nothing to do with the NDP, nothing to do with the fireworks, and nothing to do with the long holiday. This sense of pride is simply derived from my roots – I am a Singaporean by birth, by mind, and by heart.

    *wahlao, your post sibei long, i read til i want to faint liao*

    1. its hard to find someone who openly declares their pride for Singapore but I’m sure many feel some sense of pride for singapore even though they might not express it. its nice to see that you actually look pass the superficial “perks” of national day and truly not take for granted the many things that Singapore has or can do that you will not find overseas.

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