Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mr Moo Moo Milkman

I first met David Yim when an old friend of mine, Chong Hai-Yen, invited me to the official opening of his ice cream cafe, Udders, some time back.

Her introduction of him was: He's involved in adventure training, did dragon boating, and was a fellow teacher. I was already curious then as to why this man would give up everything to put on an apron and make ice cream!

Little did I know that my buddy Stanley also hung out at Udders Ice Cream Cafe! For him, it was an after-tennis pig out session on Wed nights... So when Stan raised the idea of possibly doing an ice-cream making workshop with Udders for The Living Room, I was all for it!

Through the weeks of planning that ensued, David struck me as being open, obliging and extremely generous. Not only did he offer to give away $100 worth of ice cream vouchers to our listeners during our 'live' interview today, he also packed tubs & tubs of his bestselling liqueur ice cream for all of us at 938LIVE ~ even delivering them personally. 

Chief Milkman @ Udders Ice Cream Cafe, David Yim.

He was a teacher for 6 years before leaving the field of education to start an ice cream parlour. "I always wanted to do something that was my own," he explains, referring to his first foray into business. "I was at a point in my life where I said to myself: If I don't try, I'll never know. So what if I failed? At least I tried." 

Today, Udders is doing well. It took David 5 months to break even, and come May, two new branches will open up. 

As Stan and I were driving out for a media lunch after the interview and were chatting in the car, it dawned on us that these words had struck both of us. I asked him what was his unfulfilled dream. He said, "To write and publish a book." Mine's to travel the world. 

Although our dreams had nothing to do with cows, milk or ice cream, our encounter with David had stirred up in us our own dreams. So I guess it's not just ice cream you takeaway from Udders! *chuckle* When you're in a special space that's created by pure passion and a dream, somehow you just can't help but takeaway much more. 

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Udderly Delicious!

Ice cream has a way of bringing on the smiles and uplifting the spirits. As such, we had 25 very happy & contented listeners today as The Living Room presented our ice cream making workshop @ Udders.

I got my hands dirty in making my own vanilla ice cream, and it's easier than I thought! 200ml cream + 200ml milk + 50g sugar + half a vanilla pod, and voila! Ice cream mixed!

To freeze it without a freezer, we filled a Ziploc bag with ice cubes, threw in a bag of salt which served to bring down the temperature to minus 20 deg C, and then put our ice cream mix (in a bag) in. With a towel to protect our hands from the extreme cold, all we did was massage... massage... massage... and voila! again, vanilla ice cream!

Freezing our ice cream mix by massaging it in bags of ice cubes and salt.

Look at the photos of our participants & you can tell that ice cream at Udders simply melts the hearts of everyone, regardless of age & appetite.

Congrats if you live in Upper Bukit Timah or Bukit Batok! Two new Udders outlets will be sprouting out in May at Lorong Kilat & West Mall respectively!
Lucky you to be living so near to Udders' irresistibly delectable flavours & friendly scoopers!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Love Conquers All

Why aren't you married? Do you know of someone who is keeping from taking that step towards marriage? We wanted to know why and so we asked our guest today, Director of Marriage at Focus on The Family, Mitch Temple. Mitch puts it down to fear. Fearful that the knot they tie becomes undone. Fearful that it wouldn't work out.

There's good reason to be concerned with staggering figures indicating that about one in two marriages in the West end up in divorce. In Singapore, we're not too far behind with one in three marriages breaking down. If it's so easy to fall into love, it looks like it's just as easy falling out of love! No wonder there are some among us who'd rather play it safe. Even celebrity couples (who many an impressionable mind look to as people they aspire to become or are simply bowled over by) are parting ways. Not exactly the role models we want for keeping the family unit intact.

Listeners today needed a reminder that perfect marriages don't exist. If they did, you'd be suspicious if these unions were between human beings rather than robots. We're emotional beings; we're reactive, we're inconsistent with own selves, what more our relations with others! Just like a steaming mug of coffee in the morning, we don't stay hot all day long.

What takeaway is there for couples in love but standing along the aisle rather than walking on it? That marriage is a journey. It's WIP (work-in-progress) rather than a destination or state like an RIP (rest-in-peace). There is still purpose and place for marriage and much benefits to be reaped for the individual and the couple who've sworn their lives to each other.

Co-habitation is for those who live in fear of commitment, who live with a myopic view of taking each step as it comes into view rather than a long-term vision of paving the road to an amazing journey like no other.

Marriage needs work and there are seasons according to Mitch's wife Rhonda. It needs patience. It needs respect. It needs to be given a chance to prove that marriage can indeed be sustained and enduring.

Mitch & Rhonda Temple speak at Marriage Convention 2009
this weekend! Tickets now selling at SISTIC!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Hantu Blogger

She's a scuba diver, a marine conservationist, a photojournalist with Asia! magazine, and founder of The Hantu Blog

If I were still Deputy Editor of Vanilla magazine (which celebrates ordinary women who make a difference), I just might have put Debby Ng on the cover. 

I feel inspired when I meet people who look beyond themselves, who roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty in things they believe in, things that matter. 

That's very much how Debby is - and in an unassuming, unimposing sort of way. She's not one of those in-your-face activists. She simply shows, through her actions and words, that there's work to be done and that she's willing to stand in the gap. And to think she is only 27! 

Well, The Hantu Blog started as a mere blog to share the beauty and diversity of marine life in Pulau Hantu, a lesser-known island off the southern coast of Singapore. But the blog elicited so many incredulous responses from local divers (who didn't believe she saw what she reported to have seen underwater) that Debby started leading regular dives at Hantu for her readers. 

As the story goes, what started out as a website five years ago grew into a full-fledged conservation organisation in Singapore. 

Woman on a Mission: Debby Ng makes a quiet stand with The Hantu Blog.

Well, the last time we had Debby in The Living Room was when she was sharing about her photo exhibition, The Life of My Sisters, which sought to raise awareness and education funds for underprivileged girls in Nepal. 

I guess if you have a gift in journalism and photography, why not use that gift to make a difference to others? I like that very much. And I'm sure we can expect much more from this passionate young woman! 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Edmund Chen Is My Forrest Gump!

I wrapped up the interview by asking him, "So what's next for you?" 

He breaks into a boyish smile, runs his hand through his hair, and admits with a chuckle, "I don't know! Lunch?" 

And that's what I love about actor Edmund Chen. He isn't sure what's next, just like he didn't know - as a boy growing up in the '60s - what he wanted to be when he grew up. 

"All I cared about was playing marbles and catching spiders!" he laughs. "We bought a black-and-white television set later, but hardly watched it because there weren't many programmes then. So I never thought I'd end up as an actor!"  

The Peter Pan of Television: Edmund Chen doesn't look a day past 40!

Fast forward a couple of decades and he has under his belt 70 television serials, 11 movies and most recently, a juicy role in 20th Century Fox's movie Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li opposite Kristin Kreuk of Smallville fame (Superman's pretty Pan-Asian girlfriend). 

What's more, Edmund's an accomplished singer who has released 4 albums, a director/producer, and an award-winning designer who has bagged numerous Asian and international awards. All these, he claims, were not pre-planned but opportunities that presented themselves at the right time, and which he seized. 

Now doesn't he remind you of Forrest Gump? *grin*

What struck me most about Edmund is his easy-going, kampong-boy vibes. He recounts his childhood fondly, and makes it a point to take his kids outdoors whenever he can, to have them experience "the simple life". And also, it's hard to miss the importance he places on passion .  

It helps that he has his eggs in different baskets. "When I feels my passion waning for something, I'll drop it for a while and focus on other areas," he reveals. "Then I'll return to it when I feel I can do it meaningfully again."  

That may be a luxury for most of us, but a philosophy of life for Edmund. My hour with him left me unexpectedly inspired and recharged. I was refreshed by his simplicity and clarity, his easy-going nature, and how grounded and humble he is despite his achievements. I only hope he enjoyed our chat as much as I did! *grin*

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ha Ha Ha Ha ...

Ha Ha Ha Ha... You might have heard the trailer on 938LIVE. It's quite a catchy one, that. Well, the event associated with that trailer was Laugh & Learn 2009, which happened last Thursday. The whole 938LIVE team was down at Meritus Mandarin Singapore to laugh & learn along with over 300 of our listeners & friends who turned up.   

Being together at the same place and at the same time is a rarity for us producer-presenters simply because we're all on different shifts (or "belts"). It's a curious sort of office situation because there's always a pair missing at any one time, even at our monthly family (staff) meetings. So tonight was a treat, and I thought everyone looked fabulous! 

Under One Roof: The 938LIVE producer-presenters @ Laugh & Learn '09

This is my first Laugh & Learn since joining 938LIVE last October. Well, the event is as its name suggests: You laugh a lot throughout the dinner, and you take away a thing or two from the speakers. And this year, we had Alan Yip (Memory Trainer), Dr John Ng (Dim Sum Leadership) and Wilson Chew (Personal Branding) grace our event.  

We also had a celebrity in the house ~ Jazreel Low. I remember her back in those Star Search days. And I must say she looks hot, definitely one of those women who gets better with age. Interviewing her was my colleague & F-Cuber, Melanie Oliveira, who has practically interviewed all the celebrities you can think of... and more. 

As photographer for the night, I got to move around the ballroom, mingle and say hello to all our listeners! I must admit I felt a tad tickled. When I introduced myself as "Pam", a few of them went "Pamela Ho"? It's weird to be recognised as a name, a voice without a face. Yet it seemed like they knew me. Hmm.  

But it was really nice to tag actual faces & names to our listeners. Well, if you missed Laugh & Learn '09, come next year! Or join us for our monthly Living Room events, starting with our Ice Cream workshop @ Udders this month. See you there! 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Neu Man in An Old World Charm

He's a new man! From the third quarter of last year, he traded his class of secondary students for a roomful of government officials, some of whom could hardly string a sentence in English. He was paid half his salary by the Ministry of Education for six months and is presently on no-pay leave for the remaining six. To help him get by his stint as a volunteer, he gets an allowance as an in-field volunteer under the Singapore International Foundation's Singapore Volunteers Overseas (SVO) programme.

Meet Russel Neu Wee Teck - a secondary school teacher at East Spring Secondary in Tampines who's transplanted himself to teach English to Laotian government officials in Vientiane. He's a volunteer staff at Lao's Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) under their Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

His one-year stint will come to an end in the middle of this year, but he harbours hopes to have his stay extended by six months. This driven young man expresses his desire to stay on(subject to MOE's approval) due to how he's introduced curriculum changes to the course which equips the locals with English.

His supervisor at IFA, Ms Phimpa only had a glowing report card for Wee Teck and his dedication to his adult charges. She remarked how he not only made time to help his students outside of classroom hours, but how he even chipped in to help fill sandbags when the Mekong River threatened to break the banks last year.

Wee Teck's proactivity was also evident in his recommendations to tweak the current curriculum and the way he conducted his lessons in very creative ways, such as through music and movies.

Until he hears word on whether his request for an extension is approved, he's continuing to do Singapore proud by being our ambassador in the classroom among government officials of Laos.

It's been a wonderful linguistic exchange between Wee Teck and the locals. His command of Lao is enough to help him get by on a day to day basis at the markets and stalls that line the streets of Vientiane.

A Snapshot of Laos

Barely two weeks ago, I embarked on my second media trip to observe and feature the work of Singaporean volunteers overseas under the Singapore International Foundation's SVO programme. It was during my first trip in December last year where I was introduced to Singaporeans who were devoting their time, energy, resources and literally their life in Cambodia. This time, my eyes were opened in the Laotian capital of Vientiane.

Rural and rustic, some compare the city to the Singapore of the 60s. Landing at their airport, only three conveyor belts conveyed passenger baggage. The air was heavy, yet it wasn't so for the heart; there was an unhurried charm in the city. No metred taxis ply the roads, only three-wheelers or what resembled 'tuks-tuks' of Thailand.

The city's compact. No high-rise building attempted to pierce the sky. Apparently, there is a historical monument there of which no other building can surpass its height. However. work's begun in erecting the tallest building in the area - an eight storey shopping mall presently being built by Singapore investors, of which would be three quarters complete by the time Laos hosts the SEA Games at the end of the year.

About 60 Singaporeans are registered with the Singapore High Commission in Vientiane, but Singapore's Ambassador to Laos Benjamin Williams believes Singaporeans there number about a hundred. Apart from the new mall being built at the morning markets, there are also visual symbols that you can 'taste' Singapore right there. Notice APB's Tiger Beer brand on the sidewalk?

In fact, high-level state visits between the leaders of Singapore and Laos have intensified in recent years, suggesting that bilateral ties are surely improving. At the KuaLao Restaurant where I had local fare, there was a framed photograph of our President and the first lady atop a wine cabinet. What tickled my palate at dinner was the deep-fried Luang Prabang riverweed sprinkled with sesame seed and mak nam nom, or the 'milk' fruit - a name given to it due to the colour of the meat and juice. The peach-size fruit that looks purple or green on the outside, tastes like a cross between the mangosteen and duku langsat.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The 3 Cs - Challenge, Consulting, Cause

We hosted the leaders of tomorrow today. The eloquence of our young guests, the foresight, the maturity, the unhurried calm and considered demeanour shone through from the four undergrads we spoke with this morning. Goh Aik Chuan, Yeoh Keat Loon, Naresh Subhash and 'Touty' Pholsena make up four-fifths of a team of undegraduates from three tertiary institutions here (SMU, NTU, NUS).

(above: Touty, Keat Loon, Aik Chuan, Naresh & Ruby who's Mgr of Youth Challenge S'pore)

The tie that binds these young adults is a programme initiated by Aik Chuan under the Youth Challenge Singapore umbrella called "Consulting for Cause". Its aim is to bring business solutions to non-profit organisations and their social enterprises. The idea was hatched one and a half years ago and barely two weeks earlier, the group had touched base with the social enterprise in Laos. There, the team members pooled their training and knowledge together to present solutions to their 'client' after extensive research of the needs and issues that needed to be worked out. It was a rojak of expertise each brought to the table, but what looked at face-value disparate was in fact a potpourri of valuable skills. The students were pursuing degrees in Economics, Marketing, Business, Information Systems and Digital Film-making.

The first project has come and gone and we hear a follow-up trip is being planned down the road. Also in the pipeline are three more potential consulting assignments - a second one in Laos, another in Cambodia and one right here in Singapore. The call goes out to tertiary students equipped and able to contribute towards such causes. There's so much that our education system has bestowed on students here and the young people of today are the next best minds (apart from professional business consultants) we can share with communities where consultants are grossly lacking.

If you are keen to be a contributing business consultant or a student (especially in Engineering) who is confident and big-hearted to devote time to consulting for a cause, get in touch with Youth Challenge Singapore today at 6336-3434!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

PamStanality Profile

I'd make an excellent "QA Engineer" and a "Logistic Executive"???!!! You've got to be kidding!

But these were the professions that ranked 'Very High' in the Job Fit Index (JFI) after I sat for a personality profiling test at Career Fair 2009 yesterday. The JFI provides general estimates on one's natural personality-driven propensity to excel in various professional domains.

Perhaps I'd really be good at those jobs had I had relevant training in those fields, but the fact that I don't strongly suggests I don't have the slightest interest in those areas, much less, an ambition to chart a career in them. But to my relief, "Media" was also 'High' on the JFI, so that's affirmation I'm not off course.

Yesterday, Pam & I conducted The Living Room interview live from the expansive halls of Suntec Convention Centre - home to Career Fair 2009. There, we chatted with our guests David Blakely and Lydia Lim about Research Communication International's PEAKS profiling system. This psychometric profile is a validated prediction of one's natural disposition based on the well-researched Five-Factor personality model and resilience studies. The profile's meant to help one gain a better understanding of oneself and how you can perform at your peak in your personal and professional pursuits.

PEAKS is the acronym for 'Purpose', 'Energy', 'Affirmation', 'Knowledge' and 'Sustainability'.

We're going to be transparent about our results here (only a peek from our PEAKS report), and here's how they read for Pamela and myself. Here goes....

Snapshot of Stan's Results
High Purpose (COMPELLING)
Tends to be focused in every endeavour. Willing to give what it takes to get there. Clear minded and determined to succeed.
Medium Energy (READY)
Tends to be dynamic at times but at other times reserved and quiet. Moderately paced most of the time.
Affirmation Facets for 'Other Centredness'
You are a people-focused person who helps others sacrificially and enjoys seeing them grow to the fullest of their potential.
Knowledge Facets for 'Open Mindedness'
You are keen on exploring broad and innovative alternatives, usually energised by change and thinking 'out of the box'.
Sustainability Facets for 'Embarrassment Bridling'
You value the habit of presenting yourself well before others in social occasions because you are highly mindful that others are watching.

Snapshots of Pam's Results
Purpose: Capable of covering priorities at work, but have tendency to over-commit at times. Serious about being successful & prepared to do whatever is within logical, practical & attainable means to reach your goals.
Energy: Enjoy speaking up, fighting for issues that matter to you & at times stepping up to the plate as a lead voice in communicating publicly on issues close to your heart. You thrive on life experiences that provide intense excitement & fun on a periodic basis. Enjoy working & communicating with others in a fun-loving & energetic manner.
Affirmation: You desire to see & bring out the best in people around you, preferring to give others the benefit of the doubt. Honesty to you is very good policy. You are responsive & readily moved by the condition of the disadvantaged & especially invigorated by performing acts of compassion & kindness.
Knowledge: You are an imaginative person who has the ability to dream up ideas for tomorrow. You are very open to exploring broad & innovative alternatives, energised by change & thinking "out of the box". You are open to new intellectual ideas & possibilities, ever ready to learn & understand new things & to birthing new concepts.
Sustainability: You handle stressful situations well with steadiness & composure. Relatively few situations would drive you to great panic or turmoil. You are seldom provoked to anger, but on occasions when it is stirred up, you manage it well. You are sensitive to failure, but resilient enough to recover from intense disappointment when it happens.

Very High:
Media/Design, Event Coordinator, Marketing Executive, Public Relations, Design Engineer
Consultancy, Trainer, Presenter, Performing Arts, Advertising, Teacher, Interior Designer, Hotel Manager, Air Steward - Hostess

Chatting about Career Profiling with David Blakely & Lydia Lim.

Here we are broadcasting 'live' from Career Fair 2009 @ Suntec, finding out about PEAKS from counsellors David Blakely and Lydia Lim from Singapore Professional Centre.

It was my first off-site broadcast, and it was fun! *grin* I wish we had this sofa set-up in our studio permanently though...

Friday, March 06, 2009

The girls who carried rifles...

What's it like to be an 18-year-old girl and called to enlist in National Service? What goes on in Basic Military Training for girls in the Israeli army? Call me a curious cat, but I really wanted to know! After all, Israel is the only state in the world where girls have the compulsory obligation to serve in the army.

So when I found out that the Embassy of Israel here in Singapore was screening a documentary film (in celebration of IWD) on women in the army called Seeds of Summer - and was flying in the film's Director and Producer - I scrambled at the opportunity to host them in The Living Room for our Wonder Women series. 

The Embassy had sent me a copy of the DVD the day before, and I spent the evening curled up on the sofa watching the 63-minute documentary. All I can say is that when it was over, I was dying to meet Director Hen Lasker and Producer Elinor Kowarsky

Well, I did on the very afternoon the ladies touched down in Singapore from Bangkok! *grin* For some reason, I half expected beefy, tomboyish girls. I don't know why. But they were petite and pretty young ladies who were very articulate and with a delightful sense of humour! Joining them was Idit Abu, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Israel here. 

Hen Lasker, Elinor Kowarsky & Idit Adu share about NS for girls in Israel.

From them, I gained tremendous insight into the lives of young girls in Israel, where NS is part and parcel of life. Whether one looked forward to it or dreaded it, it is a rite of passage for all girls in Israel, a pivotal point in life where 'daddies' little girls' grow up to be independent women who learnt responsibility and contribution. 

"In high school, you think the worst thing that could happen to you is that the boy you like doesn't like you back or maybe you did badly for a test," chuckles Hen, "Being in the army taught me to see things in perspective."

"Those two years impacted me in a very deep and personal way," Hen continues. "That's why I decided to go back to my [elite combat] unit to make this film. I wanted to explore what we went through, because when you're in it, you don't pause to reflect." 

Hen shares why this documentary film is so close to her heart. 

Elinor adds, "I was in the Air Force communicating on the ground with pilots in the air. When you think about it, the responsibility is huge for a teenager because you have others' lives in your hands. And that's how we grow up."

Personally, I found Seeds of Summer moving and insightful. If you'd like to catch it, there's a screening at The Substation this Sunday 8 March, 12noon to 2.30pm, as part of the 3rd Indie Doc Fest, in celebration of International Women's Day. Hen and Elinor will be there for an open dialogue session after the film screening, if you'd like to meet them.  

And with this conversation, we conclude our Wonder Women in The Living Room series. So to all our women listeners out there, Happy International Women's Day!!! 

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Scripting for the Academy Awards

If you're a movie buff, you'd have chalked up enough experience to know if a film is going to be a great movie or one you'd regret having paid sub ten dollars to watch - all this in the opening sequence. "You can tell in the first few minutes of a film", says Syd Field. Syd's a top-notch screenwriter who's earned the label as "the most sought-after screenwriting teacher in the world" and "the guru of all screenwriters" and it was most thrilling chatting with the man.

He's worked with some of Hollywood's biggest names including Academy Award-winning Canadian-American director, producer and screenwriter, James Cameron (behind Terminator 2) and is in town to conduct a 2-day Screenwriting Masterclass. Syd sets the record straight that it's not for film students or budding script writers but anyone who wants to learn how to appreciate movies better.

So if you're keen, book yourself a seat online or call 6100-2005 now. You'll never watch movies the same way again after you hear Syd out.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Meet-The-MP Session

There are some people you talk to who have the ability to dull your senses and mellow your mood after you speak to them. You walk away from the conversation with your head hung low, shoulder drooped and the weariness of one who needs urgent re-invigoration. Well, that wasn't the case for Pamela and I today. In fact, it was quite the contrary.

We don't get many lawyers who leave a smile on our face hours after an interview, much less someone from government. But Indranee Rajah did all that and more and it was wonderful catching up with her again. Indranee who's MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC was last in The Living Room in June 2003. Things were much different then, though in some peculiar coincidence, similar. Back then, it was the height of the SARS epidemic in Singapore and Indranee and two other colleagues of hers from government (Amy Khor & Ho Geok Choo) were on our programme to allay fears and to re-assure listeners that the government agencies and healthcare workers were doing their utmost to contain the spread of the virus. Those were crazy desperate times. Fast forward to March 2009 and we ARE in crazy desperate times once again with the economic gloom, whose dark clouds aren't about to dispel any time soon.

We were amazed to learn how Indranee gets by with four hours of sleep per day and who's still able to effectively contribute in so many high-powered capacities. I can barely get by a day with under 7 hours sleep without feeling lethargic and moody. Maybe for Indranee, it comes down to a mind that's heavily engaged with her myriad of obligations and a body that's driven by her heart's passions to serve others to the best of her abilities.

Yet she admits to being somewhat a solitary being when it comes to staying in shape and keep her fitness leverl up. She's into jogs and runs (brilliant choice since she lives near the beach) but gave up on social dancing some time ago due to a lack of time to keep in step with it. Having said that, Youtube has proof that she still has the moves to do the salsa and the guts to land a death drop.

In every way, Indranee didn't come across as just an interviewee. Had Pamela and I been in Marymount Covenant (okay, maybe Pam), we'd have been great friends. It's rare to feel you have that special connection with an interviewee - the kind that bosom friends have.

And I garnered enough courage (as any dear friend would not be embarrased to ask) to ask Indranee why she'd kept her signature bob hair-do from when I first remembered her entering politics. She leaked that her type of hair wasn't like the types seen in shampoo advertisements - long, silky and that blow out straight when the wind blows. She confessed to having thick hair that would have made the world's strongest rope! And since it was that way, keeping it short would be the easiest for maintenance purposes.

Pamela had described Indranee as 'spunky' on air, but she quickly picked up on the adjective and replaced it with 'funky'. She chipped, "Sorry, there's a lawyer in me and there's a distinction between the two". It was laughs all around the coffee table. We like this MP and hope to see and hear more of her around.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

What's IWD all about?

Not too long ago, I did not know there was a day in the year dedicated to women. And even when I did eventually find out about International Women's Day, I had no clue which day it fell on.

It was only through writing a 20-page feature story on IWD for Vanilla magazine a year ago that I did some research on its history, and I came to understand that there were historical circumstances that led to the establishment of IWD.

As part of the Wonder Women in The Living Room series, I felt we had to include a segment on the history & background of International Women's Day because it forms the foundation of WHY we celebrate it.

To help shed some light on the matter, we invited Saleemah Ismail, President of UNIFEM Singapore (United Nations Development Fund for Women), to be our guest today. Saleemah shared that the first women's movement arose in 1909 when female garment workers took to the streets of New York City to demand for better wages.

That was exactly 100 years ago. It was very much an isolated event at the time, a response to unjust circumstances. But what was significant was that it was the first time women - who had no status or voice - banded together and stood up for their rights.

It was only in 1975 that the United Nations declared a Year of the Woman. And in 1977, the 8th of March was set aside each year to celebrate the contribution of women around the world. That marked the birth of IWD, as we know it.

To catch more of that conversation, tune in tonight at 11.10pm. It's a "palatable" history lesson for you, I promise.

Monday, March 02, 2009

A Week of Wonder Women!

You must have heard the trailers on air. Yes! This week, we celebrate International Women's Day (Sunday, 8 March) with our special series, Wonder Women in The Living Room

What better way to kick-start this series than by inviting a couple of real-life Wonder Women onto our couch? And that we did, when we had these spunky girls who are on a lofty quest to conquer Mt Everest.

Meet Jane Lee, team leader of the Singapore Women's Everest Team (SWET) and her team-mate, Lee Li Hui

Everest Girls Li Hui and Jane on our couch today!

It was a lively chat we had with these girls, who more than amused us with their insights on preparing for the biggest adventure of their lives. Like learning to be comfortable enough to pee & poo in front of each other (there are no toilets on the mountain!), and simply getting used to each other's quirks. 

"It's like getting married," quips Li Hui. "When we spend so much time together, we realise we have very different ways of doing things - like tying plastic bags!" 

And what will they be packing? Well, 60kg each of baggage and food enough to feed the 6 of them for 3 months. And being the true-blue Singaporeans they are, these girls will be bringing along Bak Kut Teh mixes, sambal balachan and bakwa

19 days before they set off for Everest. All the best, Wonder Women!

And do they have a message for us this IWD? I love what Jane said, "We all have our own Everest. May you find yours and conquer it."  

Thank you for being role models, for inspiring young girls to do the seemingly impossible, and for opening doors for more women in Singapore to venture into the challenging world of mountaineering. 

To find out more about the Everest Girls and their climb, click here. And for a rundown of the conversations we have lined up for you in this Wonder Women series, click here