I have been sitting on my ass (don’t I always?) to write about this.But today’s repeat telecast of the recent National Day Parade triggered that overwhelming emotion again – I found myself excited, nostalgic, ready to jump and beat this, teary all at the same time. I am a sucker for big events that have thousands of people involved. And yes, blame it on TK Band!

I was not the best saxophonist that the famous school band ever had. If anything, I am pretty sure that I was the one who led the school band’s downfall during the 1988 National Band Competition at the Singapore Conference Hall, where I had to open an entire score with a saxophone solo. All 16 bars. And yes, I squeaked without mercy. My band conductor frowned. Cis bedebah!

Anyway, this is a post about National Day. I took part both during the years when the parade was held in Kallang Stadium and then at the Padang. I remembered the march-past at the Padang in 1987 was very nerve-wrecking, as we had to play AND turn our heads sideways as a mark of respect to the President. How I managed to blow my lungs into the reed, marched in swift, synchronised movements, AND turn my head sideways is still a big puzzle to me. Goodness. I swear I could have been a crab.

The year that TK band took part in the National Day Parade in the Kallang Stadium was equally magical. I did NOT, however, appreciate the fact that we had to form a contingent and stand in ‘Senang Diri’ position for at least 2 blinking hours before the President arrives. Many members (from other contingents of course !) dropped and fainted which only sent the St John’s personnel scrambling into the field with their stretchers. I am convinced now that our Drum Major’s tip to wiggle our toes often while standing stationary for 2 hours straight helped us in combating our fatigue. And no, I do not practise that during long tarawih prayers!

Then came 1996 when my life as a journalist started. Covering the National Day Parade was something else. “Please! No quotes from spectators who said ‘I am proud to be a Singaporean!’ “ – that was the brief we got from the then News Editor. You have to understand why. It is a cliche thing to say. And after many years of National Day coverage, that kind of quote does not make it into newsprint. I remembered too that there was one year, I think it was 1997 or 1999 when I climbed onto the makeshift light tower that the army set-up. It was one of the best spots to be – so high up above everybody else. And ooohh…I love the Press Pass for that. Opportunist.

Years went on and I ran out of ‘fronts’ to take part in the National Day Parade. I am too old to be a TK Band member, and have been out of newspaper journalism for a while. So what am I left with? I have to get in the act! The fireworks of course, came to the rescue.

One year, I drove an equally manic group of friends to Sentosa, parked right at the tip of the island – on a deserted piece of landstrip just so that we can catch the fireworks display. That must be in the year 2000. Then, another year I was with a convoy heading to Marina Bay – parked where the would-be Casino is to be located and watched the fireworks again. Those were also the times when I do ‘rehearsal drives’ across the highway on Preview days – just so that I can know what time exactly the fireworks display will be. Precision is important here. Hey, there is a big difference between 7.15 pm and 7.35 pm ok. I want to be there when the first burst of glitz break the monotony of the dark, island sky.

Last year, I joined thousands of Singaporeans at the Marina South breakwaters to watch the fireworks. Awesome! Plus the fact that I had a brand new digi cam. So a bit of a jakun, I was.

Then came this year, when the National Parade is brought to the heartlands. Tampines was one of the chosen ones. Do you think I would miss this chance to watch the National Day Parade with all of Tampines via giant screens and watch fireworks burst right here in my estate to boot? The carnival was held right at the field in front of my house. Thousands of people were in my area, and the car park downstairs were filled with so many cars, even the tiny ant would have lost his way.

I trooped down to the field with my family and friends, walkie-talkies in hand and our own stools as well. I had no Singapore flag with me, so I grabbed the next best thing I had – the Canadian flag ! Nah, no one will notice I thought. The entire Singapore is awashed with red and white anyway. My friend commented I was not being politically correct, especially when I am leaving the nation-state to be a resident of the new country.

This time next year, I dont know what I will be doing on Aug 9. I consoled myself and said hey, I can celebrate Canada Day with DH and still wear red and white, but will it be the same? I will not have ‘Muneru Valiba’ to sing my lungs out to. Sigh.

Today, I realised I really love National Day Parades here. So yes, shoot me. But wait! There is one more fireworks display at Marina Bay later in the evening to close the week-long celebrations!

No guesses where I will be. I will leave the Canadian flag behind this time. I will take the Ferrari one instead.


  1. ada kah patut bawak bendera canada.i am a big bendera and merdeka fan. and i will be at the fireworks do tonite. see you there!

  2. oh me God – sorang band mad, sorang bendera mad, thank God I just go for those dashing oung chaps in uniform! cecececis!

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