Monday, June 29, 2009

Of Body & Body of Work

There's the body of work and there's the body. Whichever reference you wish to make, they're both prize-winning, respectable and worthy of recognition. Chan Wai Teik recently came away with the title of 'Mr Singapore' at the 47th National Bodybuilding & Fitness Championships.

(above: A foregone conclusion about how the arm-wrestling match turned out!)

Although Wai Teik's been bodybuilding for the last 14 years, it wasn't till just two years ago that he decided to raise it a notch by pursuing it competitively. The impetus, he said, was a diagnosis that showed he suffered a prolapsed disc. So in two years, he raced against time to be the best bodybuilder he could be. His determination and perseverance has reaped rewards.

Despite his frame, the 187-pound thirty-seven-year-old is modest of his achievements and most personable. Barely into the first five minutes of conversation, Wai Teik came across as just an ordinary fella whom you could easily have mistaken to have been a classmate from years back or perhaps in the same soccer team in school.

Though off-putting pride exuded by celebrities didn't seep through, I sensed pride - the unassuming self-deserving sort of pride, that comes with his meeting his mark. About three quarter way through our chat and with a twinkle in his eye, he disclosed that his series of works entitled 'Nocturnal Solitude' had won an honourable mention at the prestigious Prix De La Photographie in Paris. "It was announced just two days ago!", he beamed. It was 'breaking news' at that precise moment in The Living Room; you heard it first on 938LIVE from the photography buff of eleven years.

Many people would see a marked distinction of disciplines when you hold up bodybuilding to photography. What possible similarities could they have? Well Wai Teik didn't think they were worlds apart, in fact, he saw a lot of similarity in the disciplines. "Photography to me is sculpting with light, whereas bodybuilding is sculpting with the physique".

He explains how he melds his knowledge and understanding of the two. "As a photographer, I go on stage and look out for where the stage lights are and how it falls on me. When I photograph a bodybuilder, I look at how light falls on his physique and I think that gives me a slight advantage over the rest".

(above: Wai Teik opting to lift my colleague Evelyn rather than free weights at 938LIVE!)

And if there was just one thing I learnt about health and nutrition, it would be that bodybuilders are prone to water retention too! Wai Teik shared that in their 'off seasons', bodybuilders can look between 5 to 10 kilogrammes heavier due to the rentention of water in their bodies. It's a period when training becomes less intense and muscles get more rest. So women, who says men don't suffer water retention?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stan on the Other Side!

When I first joined The Living Room in Oct last year, Stan did an interview with me on our blog. Well today, I had the privilege of interviewing him on-air, and oh what a blast!

Stan on the other side: With Agapella team-mate & renowned artist Namiko Chan-Takahashi.

Stanley is part of an a capella group called Agapella and this year, they turn 7! *grin* In celebration of their 7th birthday, they're putting up a concert called seven@8, and tickets will go for a "whoppingly" cheap $7!

I heard them sing @ the Esplanade last Christmas and it was really heartwarming. The thing that strikes me most is that Agapella is more than just a "singing group". They're like family.

Listening to Namiko Chan-Takahashi & Stan share about how the members hang out, how some members are married to each other, others with kids.. gave me a sense of the bond they share. I think that's gonna make the greatest difference, compared to many other a capella groups out there.

These guys may not be celebs (well, except maybe for Stan!) but their YouTube vid, which was recorded a year ago at one of their regular practices, has received more than 22,000 hits... and counting! *gasp*

I'm told it's a rehearsal for a friend's wedding, and Agapella has never performed Pachelbel's Canon in D 'live'. But for this upcoming concert, they will. So don't miss it!

10-11 July, 8pm
NAFA Lee Foundation Theatre
NAFA Campus 3

To access their updates & pics, go to Agapella's blog by clicking here.

I'll be there on Fri 10 July to catch my buddy in action (yes, he's dancing!). Hope to see you there! :o)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bringing Justice to Khmer Rouge Victims

I first visited Phnom Penh when I was doing a travel feature story for SilkWinds - SilkAir's inflight magazine. I was sent there with a photographer to capture the pulse of Cambodia's capital city and to write a destination story.

But after four days there, the story I felt compelled to tell was not about Phnom Penh's tourist attractions, but a sombre account of how this fragile, battered & grieving city is slowly rising to her feet and recovering from her horrific past under the Khmer Rouge regime. I entitled my article: The Pulse of Post-War Phnom Penh.

To this day, I'm surprised SilkWinds published my story, wholesale.

What really happened under the Pol Pot regime? As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. And so, I post this YouTube link as a brief "visual" history lesson for you, and to explain in part why the Khmer Rouge Tribunal - which is currently putting war criminals on trial - is so important to the Cambodian people & the international community.

Several months ago, I learnt that a Singaporean lawyer Mahdev Mohan, who was lecturing at the Singapore Management University, had been appointed an international civil party lawyer by the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, representing victims of the Khmer Rouge. I decided then that I wanted him on our show, so I tracked him down!

BUT at the time, Mahdev had just left for Stanford Law School in California to pursue his PhD. Through email exchanges, he told me that it was his wife Vinita Ramani Mohan who first inspired him through her work as an Asia Fellow back in 2007. The couple had lived 6 months in Cambodia, where she was exploring the use of the arts to help victims deal with trauma and jump-start the process of healing. What a powerful couple!

I wanted both of them in TLR and I was prepared to wait. Vinita told me they'd be back in June, so I kept in touch with her via Facebook. About 2 weeks back, Vinita emailed me to say they're coming home, and so this interview (months in the making!) is finally brought to you...

Mahdev and Vinita are founders of a Singapore-based NGO called Access to Justice Asia LLP, where he's the Director & Lead Counsel, and she Head of the Arts & Justice Programme.

Using their unique gifts, they are doing what they can to make a long-term, sustainable difference - bringing justice to the 2 million Cambodians who perished during the Khmer Rouge regime, and closure to those they've left behind. And they welcome YOU to join them, if you have a gift you'd like to share. You can email them directly at

Come early 2010, the couple will again uproot and live 6 months in Cambodia. That's when Mahdev's legal duty on the Tribunal begins. At this juncture, we wish them all the best! And if you're keen to follow the proceedings of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, click here.

Justice League: Mahdev & Vinita Mohan @ the 938LIVE newsroom.

Monday, June 22, 2009

All The Hurry for Steve McCurry

The 'unguarded moment' is that nano second where what you see is what you get, where what you capture is what IS. That momentary instant where there can be no preparation for, no foretelling of nor repeating. As soon as it happens, it's lost forever.

The Asian Civilisations Museum is presently home to celebrated American photojournalist Steve McCurry's first solo exhibition in Singapore. It captures these fleeting moments of life and living across Asia - from Afghanistan to Kashmir, from Cambodia to India. The exhibition shares its name with the hardcover title of a portfolio of beautifully stunning photographs by Steve.

Perhaps Steve's most talked-about piece of work that had tongues wagging and many print media clamouring for permission to publish his photo was this photo below.

The photo first made headlines after it appeared on the front cover of the National Geographic magazine in June 1985. Twenty four years later today, the image remains a conversation piece. Was it the 13-year-old's demeanour and piercing gaze that conveyed a sorrowful past, yet disarmed by a resolute fortitude for a brighter future? The orphan refugee whose image spread far and wide was a face without a name until January 2002, when she was tracked down in a remote area of eastern Afghanistan. Married to a baker, the mother of three owns the name Sharbat Gula (which Wikipedia states means 'Rose Sherbert' when translated from Pashto, an Indo-European language widely spoken in Afghanistan).

When I asked Steve if he ever tires of being known as the man behind the Afghan Girl, especially since he's taken countless more photographs just as or even more stunning and powerful, he replied, "I think if you're known at all, if you're remembered at all...better to be remembered for one photograph than (none at all). But I've published ten books and I do have people around the world who appreciate my other photographs, so I'm only grateful and humbled by the recognition and appreciation for my work in that particular photograph".

The Afghan Girl and other powerful photographs are now being exhibited at the Asian Civilisations Museum till 19th July at the Shaw Foundation Foyer (2nd floor). Admission is free.

(above: Here I am getting aquainted with Steve's other photographic masterpieces at The Unguarded Moment exhibition last weekend)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Profile: Renowned Photographer, Steve McCurry

Tune in to The Living Room
Mon, 22nd June, 11am to noon
as Stanley Leong chats 'live' with:

Steve McCurry...

... The Man Behind The Afghan Girl!

Call through with your questions for Steve at 66911-938!!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Daddy Day!

Fathers are perhaps understated in the role and power of influence over their children's lives. It's not uncommon to hear and see mothers acknowledged, recognised and celebrated for their role in raising children. Fathers on the other hand hardly receive a word of thanks, much less, tribute.

What may be true in the past of fathers working hours on end to bring home the bacon while mother stays home to take care of the children and chores is no longer practised. How times have changed. There are increasingly more programmes and organisations that encourage and support men in how to be fathers who are involved and engaged in their children's lives. Take for instance the Centre for Fathering and the programmes they offer and efforts by the National Library Board to get fathers to read to their children. My guest today, Adrian Lim, (on the right in the photo) also leaked that a Father's Movement will be launched by MCYS in the not-too-distant future. I'm glad fathers haven't been forgotten, conversely, their place and purposes are being farthered.

Adrian was a former school psychologist, but is now freelancing and is a certified three-in-one social worker, counsellor and psychologist. Having recently completed his doctrate dissertation on "Men's Transition into Fatherhood", he was on our show to share the expectations of 20 men before becoming fathers and how on or off-target they were thereafter.

He was joined by stay-home-dad Glenn Ang (on the left in the photo above) who though armed with a Law degree and taught for three years, gave them all up to dedicate himself fully to playing fulltime dad. With three kids (the eldest being an 8-year-old boy and the youngest a one-year-old daughter), I asked him if the sacrifices he's made in forgoing a career in the marketplace were worthwhile. He replied, "Watching them walk, their first step. Just being able to play with them throughout the day. (The) little things...the nicest thing for me is just putting them to bed at night. When you're watching them fall asleep, it's just a beautful way to end the day".

Speaker at the upcoming Singapore Parenting Congress 2009, Alan Yip of MindEdge, too made clear that it's not just about spending quality time with children. In order to even have quality time, he said a father needs the quantity to make it possible. He challenged fathers on air to look at their priorities and suggested small ways of 'creating' golden opportunities for when dad and bond with his children.

I salute all fathers this Father's Day for the many sacrifices that go unacknowledged, that your contributions will reap long-term rewards.

I love this verse in the Bible taken from Psalm 127:4,

The children born to a man when he is young are
arrows in the hand of a warrior.

Fathers, you are that warrior! You are that archer. Sharpen your arrows and aim well.

To my own dad (photo on the left) ,

Thanks for the many years of sacrifice, of patience, of teaching and discipline!

You taught me more than arithmetics and spelling, but inculcated in me a love for sports and adventure, had me pick up your zest for life (not forgetting your weird sense of humour), developed in me a fondness for campfires 'cos you were such a great leader and challenged me to pick my battles and conquer my fears.

How blessed I am to be your son!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Actress Karen Tan Shaves for Hair for Hope 2009!

I received an SMS from actress Karen Tan last week. She told me she's shaving her head in support of Hair for Hope 2009, to raise funds & awareness for children with cancer.

To be honest, I've thought about this for years. I've even come close to taking a deep breath and declaring "Oh what the heck, let's just do it!" But each time, I chicken out because... well, I love my long hair. And losing my mane is tantamount to losing a part of my identity, my femininity.

So when Karen took the plunge, I invited her to come on-air to share her experience. For Karen, it's all about getting more people - especially women - to step forward, and to raise more funds for the Children's Cancer Foundation (CCF). So without hesitation, she said OK.

When I first caught sight of her outside our fish-tank studio, I thought she looked gorgeous. "Bald and beautiful", I tease her. But it's not all smooth-sailing for this mother of two. Firstly, even though she prepared her daughters mentally for her shave, her four-year-old wailed uncontrollably when she first saw Mummy botak. Perhaps she thought Mummy was sick, or perhaps Mummy just didn't look like Mummy anymore?

Also, as an actress, Karen had gigs lined up for months - like Crabflower in August. How will her hair grow back in 2 months? And her project requires her to be in Chinese period costume, almost like a muse or fairy that has wandered out of a Chinese painting.....

"They will be wondering what sort of painting I wandered out from!" Karen quips with a hearty chuckle.

We meet her just 2 days after her shave. She's still wondering if she should put on a Buff to cover her head and avoid stares from the public. In any case, we asked her to demonstrate for us how a Buff is worn. She was going to, but digging into her huge sack of a bag, she couldn't find it - only to realise she had left it in another bag! *haiz*

But as fate would have it, I bump into Karen after work at my block! And since I'm given a second chance, I filmed her on the spot. So here's Karen with the demo:

If you'd like to shave in support of Hair for Hope 2009, the main event will take place on Sun 5 July at Velocity @ Novena Square. There's a minimum $30 donation. For more details, click here.

Also our guest today was Jason Ng, a Family Life Educator and one of the speakers at this year's Singapore Parenting Congress 2009. We had a very enlightening conversation on parenting in the Digital Age, especially how to get our kids to log off from cyberspace and to log in to real life.

BUT what's cool about Jason is that he came bearing gifts for Stan and me. We don't often get gifts from guests, but I guess Jason felt he was "visiting" our Living Room, so just as he wouldn't visit someone empty-handed, he brought chocolates for us. Ferrero Rondnoir! Mmm, I just downed 3 balls of dark chocolate, and it's ooooh-so-good! *happy sigh*

Stan and I love receiving gifts. We're thinking now whether this should be our new standard for guests?


Monday, June 15, 2009

Can I have some Rhythm please? Make it Latin!

The walls of The Living Room have reverberated with the rhythm of drums from an assortment of cultures - African, Asian and today, Latin percussive instruments like the Conga and the Cajon (pronounced as 'Car-horn' though it sounds no where close when struck) took the limelight.

Drumming up the conversation today were directors and instructors at Latin Beats Production, Faiser Fiorez and Nicholas Lin. Faiser who's Columbian has been a percussionist for about 20 years and he definitely proved his mastery. There was one sequence when my jaw almost dropped when Faiser's palms scampered over five drums in a split second. If it helps you visualise it better, picture a handful of mice on steroids that are running amok on a barbecue grill. Talk about needing to be on the edge of your seat to play at such speeds! One word - INTENSE.

Though there were only two dudes seated across from me, I wouldn't have been surprised if you thought there were six pairs of hands on the seven drums that made our living room their temporary stage for the world.

Latin Beats Production do offer Latin percussion workshops and one-on-one coaching as well and if you'd like to learn the drums (the types Gloria Estefan would jiggy along to), none other works up a sweat and produces as much of a kick as Latin percussions. Bonus forutuna!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sizzlin' Grills & Supermodels

Who will be Asia's next hottest face? You can vote at

"Why didn't anyone think of this before?" ~ was the first question I asked Karen Seah, Executive Producer of Refinery Media & Managing Director of The Refinery Studio that's responsible for What's so unique about this reality model search? Well, it's 100% online.

That means you get to interact freely & directly with the models through virtual chat-rooms, web conferences, and participate in online voting. Also, with an innovative technology called Hyperspot, you can simply click on a model's dress and information about its price & brand pop up instantly. Or how about clicking on her face and getting instant beauty tips?

It was also a pleasure to meet & chat with the host of, Charmaine Harn, who really is no stranger to the modelling industry. In 1996, she was specially picked by Eileen & Bill Ford for the 'Ford Supermodel of the World' competition. She then went on to grace runways, magazine covers, advertisements & TV commercials in Paris, Milan, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and all over Asia.

I do remember a time when Asian/Pan-Asian models like Charmaine, Junita Simon, Glenda Chong, Nora Araffin & Hanis were household names. But flip through any local fashion magazine these days and all you see are East European girls. Can you even think of one Singaporean supermodel now?

"The numbers have dwindled, and it's sad. We need to bring back that Pan-Asian look. And that's why we're doing, to find Asia's next hottest face," Karen explains. "And the panel of judges we've put together also share this vision, which is very important."

I got to chat with two of these aspiring models, Singaporeans Christabel Campbell and Emilia Soh. They're regular girls - albeit being 1.78m and dwarfing the rest of us. Christabel admits to an irrational fear of heights, and the girls were apparently put through a number of tests that required them to face this fear. Look out for Christabel in them! *evil cackle*

[L to R] Charmaine Harn, Karen Seah, Emilia Soh & Christabel Campbell. debuts Tue 16 June. It's 20 episodes, broadcasted twice-weekly over 10 weeks. It begins with 10 girls, and one girl gets eliminated each week. YOU have the power to keep the faces you want to keep seeing by voting online. Sign up here.

My second conversation today was with celebrity chef & host of License to Grill, currently showing on the Asian Food Channel. He's of course the sizzling BBQ expert Robert Rainford, who gleefully goes "mush! mush!" while marinating his meats! *amused chuckle*

Originally from Jamaica, this Canadian chef sure is passionate about his meats & marinades. I tossed him many questions and he juggled them with absolute confidence and finesse!

I have to admit that my stomach was growling by the time he was sharing with us a simple BBQ shrimp recipe...*drool* Then I went on to torture myself even further by asking him about BBQ desserts.

Oh man... Robert described glazing pineapples & peaches with sugar, grilling them till they caramelise, then serving with vanilla ice cream... I swear I about died and went to heaven there.

Well, to find out more about Robert Rainford and his backyard BBQ programme License to Grill, log on to Asian Food Channel's website.

What a grand way to end my week of memorable conversations! *happy dance* Well, Stan is back next week, while I take Monday & Friday off for a well-deserved rest. Do tune in for more exciting conversations coming up. For now, it's over & out. TGIF!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Everest Girls Rock!

On 20 May 2009, they made history by being the first Singaporean women to plant a Singapore flag on Mt Everest, 8,850m above sea level.

Today, I had the great pleasure of having Jane Lee (team leader), Lee Lihui, Sim Yihui and Lee Peh Gee as my guests in The Living Room to share their stories on their adventure of a lifetime!

I remember the first time I met these girls. It was about 2 years ago when I was still with Vanilla magazine. I wanted to do a feature story on them, and Yihui invited me to join them for their regular meeting after work at YMCA. I sat in for their meeting and they were brainstorming about how to raise funds for this gargantuan project...

In fact, getting funds and sponsors seemed a task even more insurmountable than Everest itself! That's why these girls are genuinely thankful for all the support they've received from friends and family. Each one echoed that sentiment when I asked them what they were most thankful for, looking back. In fact, it was the lack of funds that forced them to postpone their climb by a whole year.

I feel proud of them. Not so much that they're the first Singaporean women to conquer Everest, but that they never gave up nor took their eyes off their goal. It started as a dream 5 years ago, and they fought hard to make it a reality.

And dreams do come true! Here's a postcard I received from them recently. It arrived at the 938LIVE office, with a handwritten note scribbled behind - thanking us for our support. Wow.

Girls On Top: [L to R] Sim Yihui, Jane Lee, Lee Peh Gee & Lee Lihui.

Sim Yihui was supposed to make the summit with the 2nd team on 22 May, but chest pains caused her to step down. She shared with us earnestly about those pains (diagnosed as inflammation of the breast bone & rib bone) and what went through her mind as she struggled with the decision to continue or give up. My heart really went out to her.

"But this is a team effort," Yihui reasons, and for that reason, she's at peace. In fact, she was there clanging pots & pans when her team-mates made it to the summit, one by one. Her support of them was total, and I really admire her for her strength.

My encounter with these amazing women left me truly inspired. But for people who have made it to the top of the world, they are surely the most down-to-earth chicks around! *chuckle* It seriously felt like we were a couple of girl friends sitting cross-legged on the sofa, chit-chatting!

So will the Singapore Women's Everest Team stop existing now that they've conquered Everest? "No!" the girls chorus. They tell me they've plans to take their stories & experiences to others, to motivate them to pursue their own dreams.

"We're now thinking of what to call ourselves after this," team leader Jane Lee says with a chuckle. "But we'll definitely still be around!"

Monday, June 08, 2009

Singapore Women's Everest Team: Tue 9 Jun, 10.10am!

The Singapore Women's Everest Team will grace our couch:
Tue 9 Jun, 10.10am
Encore broadcast at 10.10pm & 2am on Channel NewsAsia.

Catch team leader Jane Lee, Sim Yihui, Lee Lihui & Lee Peh Gee on-air as they share their behind-the-scenes stories.

And keep your eye on this BLOG as I'll be sharing my after-thoughts & pics right here!

Yale Alley Cats

They are young, but such gentlemen in the way they carried themselves. But then, these lads are Ivy Leaguers from the prestigious Yale University. 

They're part of the 14-persons, all-male a capella ensemble called Yale Alley Cats. Since 1943, the group has been sharing their music around the world, and these guys are on tour this Summer break. Singapore is their last stop on their Asian tour. 

But I'm sure you'd want to listen to them, so here they are. Well,  just 4 out of 14... 


They will be performing this Thursday, 11 June @ The Arts House Chamber. You can get your tickets from SISTIC

Friday, June 05, 2009

Jane Goodall in The Living Room!

Jane Goodall is one of those legendary people whom I've heard about, read about, but never imagined I'd spend an exclusive hour with, in intimate conversation. I swear I so love my job! *grin*

I came to work in green because today is World Environment Day. And what better way to commemorate this day than to chat with this world-renowned primatologist & conservationist?

In the summer of 1960, Jane left England for Tanzania, Africa, to study chimpanzees in the Gombe Reserve. At the time, it was unheard of for a woman to be living in the African forest. And she was then just 26! 

But her study became such a scientific milestone that Jane was admitted to Cambridge University in 1962 as a PhD candidate - one of the very few ever to be admitted without a college degree. Jane graduated with a doctorate degree in Ethology in 1965. 

In 2002, Jane was appointed a United Nations 'Messenger of Peace', and in 2004, a Dame of the British Empire, the equivalent of a knighthood.  

Yet, what struck me about Jane Goodall was how simple, soft-spoken and gentle she is. There's a Zen-ness about her. She's not one who trumpets her ideals atop a soapbox, but one who rolls up her sleeves and goes quietly to work. 

And travelling with her to 59 countries is her stuffed monkey, Mr H. [pictured] 

In preparation for this interview, I Googled her and came across many photos of him online. So I was thrilled to see him sitting at the waiting area outside the 938LIVE studio with Jane! 

After a quick 'hello' to her, I zoomed in on Mr H because to me, he's almost as famous as she is! *chuckle* He was given her by an inspirational blind magician, Gary Haun, 13 years ago. Since then, she's carried this stuffed monkey wherever she goes. Isn't he just so adorable?

Jane's stuffed monkey Mr H. sits facing me on the conty counter.

We had such an enlightening conversation with Jane! She took our questions calmly and answered with such wisdom & clarity that it upped my respect for her 100 notches. 

And when I had the opportunity, I scrambled over to have her to autograph my copy of her book, Reason For Hope. I had gone down to Borders the night before just to grab a copy!

"Follow your heart" ~ Jane Goodall wrote on my book. Simple. Succinct. Yet, when I think about how she, at age 11 (in the midst of World War II), had a dream to live with animals in the wild, and how she followed her own heart - despite naysayers - this piece of advice becomes nothing short of priceless. 

Because Jane followed her heart, she challenges & empowers me to follow mine. And follow my heart, I will. As Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry wrote in one of my all-time favourite books, The Little Prince:

“It is only with the heart
 that one can see rightly; 
what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
To find out more about her, visit the Jane Goodall Institute website

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Does she look like Agony Aunt?

When I think of Agony Aunt,
I think of someone with hair bunned up, horned-rimmed glasses,
and quite a witty, wisecrack sort of magazine columnist.

Not that The Living Room's resident Agony Aunt isn't witty or a wisecracker. She's quite a feisty one, but she looks anything but...

She is Psychologist, Life Coach & Managing Director of Wand Inspiration
Wendy Chua
And she'll be joining us 'live' Every Thursday in June & July, 11am - noon.

So if you're seeking some clarity in your career, relationships or parenting, do call in at 66911-938. On-air consultation is FREE!

Alternatively, email us your questions at and we'll gladly pass them on to Wendy. You can email us anytime ~ just include in the Subject Head "Agony Aunt".

Here's to many insightful Thursdays ahead with our very young & pretty Agony Aunt, Wendy Chua. Only here in The Living Room!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Special Olympics in Singapore!

The Special Olympics is blazing into town this weekend, and you'll be able to catch the various athletes in action at the National University of Singapore. Most of the land games are held there - including track & field, soccer & basketball, while the swimming events are held at Clementi Swimming Complex. Admission is FREE!

It's the June holidays. Why not pack some snacks & drinks, grab a cap and take the kids down to watch the Special Olympics? It will be a great experience for them, plus our Singapore athletes - a contingent of 500! - will need all the support they can get! *wink*

Our guests today were Chairperson of the 7th Special Olympics National Games 2009 organising committee, Josephine Chia; Chairman of the Parent Support Network, Mimi Tan (whose son Benson is a swimmer); Operations Manager Dexter Ho and bowling champion, Hanako Sawayama.

Hanako is such an inspiration! She's so cheerful, so "un-inflated" by her sterling achievements: 1 Gold & 2 Silvers at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Ireland. She was also appointed a 'Global Messenger' (2004-2006), which saw her speaking at national & international conferences, and representing the attitudes & opinions of 1.4 million Special Olympics athletes throughout the world. What an amazing young woman!

Our friends from Special Olympics Singapore: Dexter, Mimi, Josephine & bowler Hanako.

Oh, if you're wondering why the photo makes everyone look so "slim", it's thanks to my good friend Marie L. who was fiddling with my Panasonic Lumix last night. She owns a Lumix LX-3, and was excitedly showing off this cool "vanity" function she discovered.

"If you select 'Scene' mode, you can choose 'Transform', and it will make you look really slim in the photo!" Marie enthuses at Clark Quay last night where we caught a magic show. We left for dinner after, happily leaving my camera setting at this "vanity" mode.

This morning, when Stan had the above photo snapped of our Special Olympics friends, his puzzled frown made me look up after reading the news. I burst out laughing at the realisation!

Monday, June 01, 2009

United Colours of... Eurasians!

I first fell in love with Eurasian culture when I read the book The Shrimp People by Rex Shelley many moons ago. He painted such an intriguing picture of the early Eurasian community in Singapore - the social parties, hockey games etc - that I went in search of Shelley's other books! *grin*

So I was looking forward to having our guests from The Eurasian Association (EA) join us in The Living Room today to tell us more about what their community is up to today - in particular, how they are nurturing leadership among their young people.

We had a lively chat with 3 volunteers from the Mentoring Young Leaders Network (MYLN), a sub-committee of EA's Youth Chapter today. Meet them here:

Eurasian Professionals on a Mission: MP Christopher de Souza, Sybil Rocha, Kimberly Gordon & Zaf Coelho.

Sybil Rocha (Chairperson) is a corporate lawyer, Zaf Coelho (Vice-Chairman) is a Conference Manager and Kimberly Gordon (Creative Manager), a media professional. Yet these passionate 20-somethings give of their time & energy to engage, equip & empower other young people - and not only within the Eurasian community.

As Christopher de Souza (MP of Holland-Bukit Timah GRC & EA volunteer) tells us, the Eurasian Association does not limit its activities to just the Eurasian community. The doors have always been wide open for anyone from any other ethnic group to join them. Now talk about being "inclusive"! *wink*

"The Eurasian Association has always been inclusive," says MP Christopher de Souza. "Our door is always open to all."

Their upcoming seminar "What's Next" Exploring Post-Secondary Options is open to all upper-Secondary students & their parents - regardless of race, language or religion! *chuckle* It's on this Sat 6 Jun, 3pm @ the Eurasian Community House. Admission is FREE.

And I think their upcoming musical Eurasiana is going to be quite a spectacle as well. After all, aren't Eurasians known for their flair in music & drama? That's on 26 June @ Esplanade Concert Hall. To find out more about both events, just click here.