30 June 2014

Whirlwind of Island activities in July!

Thanks to Marcus Ng and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow, special trips to our islands are available this July for free! Also talks, film screenings and an awesome exhibition. These are part of the National Heritage Board's HeritageFest 2014.
Trips to our wild shores include Raffles Lighthouse and Sultan Shoal, Kusu Island, Sentosa Tanjung Rimau, St John's Island and its neighbouring Lazarus Island and Seringat-Kias. Also film screenings about the effort for Chek Jawa, as well as about Pulau Ubin. And lots of talks about our shores too! Including one by the Hantu Bloggers and me about our amazing marine life on the intertidal and underwater!

All activities are free, places are limited. Online registration opens from 1 Jul.


Island visits

16 Jul (Wed): Tanjong Rimau Walk, Sentosa
Join Marcus Ng to explore the hidden side of Sentosa, a corner of the island that has remained largely untouched since the days of Raffles. Tanjong Rimau, the western tip of the island, overlooks Labrador Park and marks Longyamen, the ancient gateway to Temasek and a long sought-after passage between East and West. At low tide, these shores, lined with natural cliffs, caverns and a coastal forest, also unveil a remnant reef and rocky shores with tide pools and corals, scenes which once greeted travellers as they passed by this historic channel.

19 Jul (Sat) - 20 Jul (Sun): Lighthouse Trail
During this tour, participants will get a rare opportunity to journey to Raffles Lighthouse, which stands on Pulau Satumu, the southern-most landly possession of Singapore. Visitors will also get a chance to tour the small heritage corner of the Lighthouse and to climb to the top of the tower for a memorable view of Singapore from its southern-most shore. On the way to Raffles Lighthouse, participants will also sail by the picturesque Sultan Shoal Lighthouse. During the tour, the guide will provide participants with a brief history of the importance of lighthouses in Singapore’s history and the stories behind some of these remarkable beacons of light.

19 Jul (Sat): Homes, Hills and Habitats: A Morning at St John’s, Lazarus and Seringat
Led by Subaraj Rajathurai and Marcus Ng, visit three islands-in-one in this special tour that focuses on the social and natural histories of three southern islands. At St John’s Island, where time seems to have stood still, former quarantine quarters and school buildings are a reminder of the island’s past. Take a peek at the research and facilities of the Tropical Marine Science Institute on the hilltop, where you can also visit touch-pools of local marine life. Then head to Lazarus and Seringat Islands to explore a lush coastal landscape and a ‘secret’ swimming cove.

26 Jul (Sat): A Night of Nanyin at Kusu Island
Join Victor Yue and Chan Chow Wah for a night of Nanyin or “songs from the south”, with a difference. This musical performance is usually held only during the ninth lunar month, but by special arrangement for SHF, the Siong Leng Musical Association (established 1941) will hold an evening performance of their repertoire of Hokkien nanyin music at the Tua Pek Kong Temple on Kusu Island. The visit will included a guided tour of the temple and the keramat, and a simple vegetarian meal at the temple. Special guest speaker Chan Chow Wah will also explain and interpret the music and the history of the temple. The tour will be conducted in English.
Musical instruments associated with Kusu Island
also on display at the Balik Pulau exhibition.

27 Jul (Sun): Homes, Hills and Habitats: A Morning at St John’s, Lazarus and Seringat
Led by Subaraj Rajathurai and Marcus Ng, visit three islands-in-one in this special tour that focuses on the social and natural histories of three southern islands. At St John’s Island, where time seems to have stood still, former quarantine quarters and school buildings are a reminder of the island’s past. Take a peek at the research and facilities of the Tropical Marine Science Institute on the hilltop, where you can also visit touch-pools of local marine life. Then head to Lazarus and Seringat Islands to explore a lush coastal landscape and a ‘secret’ swimming cove.

Film screening and discussions

20 Jul (Sun): Pulau Ubin on Film - A Screening of Moving Gods and Discussion
Commissioned as part of Arts Central’s Stage to Screen series, Moving Gods (2005) is a feature TV drama is adapted from a play by Lim Jen Erh for The Theatre Practice. The story revolves around a filmmaker, Jen, who explores a mystery around a German girl who is worshipped at a temple on Pulau Ubin. Who is this German girl and why do people pray to her? More importantly, why does she always appear in Jen's dream?
The screening will be followed by a discussion on the landscape, folklore and people of Pulau Ubin with Ho Choon Hiong, the director and November Tan, whose parents used to live on Pulau Ubin.

27 Jul (Sun): Talk on "Protecting Chek Jawa – Past, Present and Future"
Despite the odds, several groups of passionate volunteers documented and publicised the site, educated the public and provided feedback to the government to rally support to protect Chek Jawa. Remember Chek Jawa (2007) documents the work of one of these volunteer groups, who followed their hearts to make a difference against the odds. A screening of the award-winning film "Remember Chek Jawa" and discussion on the activist efforts in 2001 and the future of Chek Jawa with Eric Lim, the filmmaker; Joseph Lai, the botanist who ‘discovered’ Chek Jawa and began raising awareness about it in 2000; and N. Sivasothi, who led the Raffles Museum’s surveys and education efforts at Chek Jawa in 2001

Talks

15 Jul (Tue): Island Archaeology -- An Obscure But Bountiful Past
Pulau Seking was home to the last village community in Singapore’s southern islands. It survived until 1994, when the islanders were evicted to make way for a landfill. As recently as in the 1980s, it was a “lively settlement” with 500 or more inhabitants, whose ways of life and cultural outlooks could be traced back to a time when Singapore’s offshore islands were the home, habitat and hunting ground of people from all over the straits. What links did Pulau Seking hold to Singapore’s ancient past, and what have we lost from the disappearance of these island villages? Geoffrey Benjamin, Vivienne Wee and Normala Manap will offer a rare look into a vanished world, based on their research and stays at Pulau Seking in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

18 Jul (Fri): Talk in mandarin on "The Story of Singapore’s Outlying Islands"
Due to the National Development Plans during the 1970s and 1980s, residents on these outlying islands were gradually been relocated to mainland Singapore. And the reclamation projects for the past two decades has caused a drastic change to the looks of these outlying islands. Using the old photos, Mr Ng Ching Huei will present to the audience the changes of the outlying islands of Singapore for the hundred years. Lecture is conducted in Mandarin.

19 Jul (Sat): The Turtle and the Temple - Old Tales and New Ties at Kusu Island
Thousands flock to the Tua Pek Kong temple at Kusu Island every year, a pilgrimage practice that began more than 150 years ago. How did this tradition begin and how have the associated rituals and beliefs changed over time? In turn, how have changes to the island and its physical and socio-economic environment affected the practice and future of this pilgrimage? Drawing on his research and interviews conducted in the late 2000s, Jack Chia offers a look at Kusu from the inside out, through the eyes of the temple's caretakers and their stories of the island.

22 Jul (Tue): Talk on "Singapore’s Other ‘Underwater World’"
In the 19th century, Pulau Blakang Mati and other southern islands were surrounded by dense coral reefs, a sight that impressed many visitors. Today, many of these habitats have been lost to industry and land reclamation, but a few reefs still survive and offer intrepid visitors and divers a chance to see dazzling marine life up close. Ria Tan, founder of www.wildsingapore.com, will share about the natural wonders that can be found in the intertidal regions of Singapore’s offshore islands, while Neo Mei Lin and Heng Pei Yan, from the Hantu Blog, will talk about their encounters with exotic reef creatures at Pulau Hantu and other local dive spots.

23 Jul (Wed): Talk on "Pulau Seking: The Final Link to Pre-Raffles Singapore"
Pulau Seking was home to the last village community in Singapore’s southern islands. It survived until 1994, when the islanders were evicted to make way for a landfill. As recently as in the 1980s, it was a “lively settlement” with 500 or more inhabitants, whose ways of life and cultural outlooks could be traced back to a time when Singapore’s offshore islands were the home, habitat and hunting ground of people from all over the straits.  What links did Pulau Seking hold to Singapore’s ancient past, and what have we lost from the disappearance of these island villages? Geoffrey Benjamin, Vivienne Wee and Normala Manap will offer a rare look into a vanished world, based on their research and stays at Pulau Seking in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Exhibition

Don't miss the awesome Balik Pulau Exhibition at the National Museum curated by Marcus Ng and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow! The exhibition features amazing stories from Singapore’s islands. Singapore is not just one "sunny island, set in the sea", but used to be an archipelago of more than 70 islands.
Marcus explaining the exhibition during the media launch.
For centuries, these islands have been important landmarks for sailors, and also home to different communities who lived off their waters. After Singapore gained independence, the islands were transformed dramatically and nearly all their inhabitants resettled on the mainland.
Yumei during the media launch of the exhibition.
Balik Pulau, is a return to the islands, in memory and spirit, to recover the stories of those who lived, worked and played there. We chart the changes that have taken place and how a new generation is rediscovering our islands and forging new links to them.

There is lots for the kids to explore and learn.
A wonderful slide show of our islands past and present reveals interesting and thought-provoking facts.
 Among the specimens is a stonefish, which attracts a great deal of morbid fascination! Borrowed from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.
 Visitors also get a chance to leave their wishes for our islands.
My favourite is this model of the dugong, borrowed from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. This is what the dugong looks like from underneath!

Exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore, Stamford Gallery, Level 1
Open 1 Jul - 10 Aug, 10am – 6pm
Free admission.

Free Guided Tours- Balik Pulau Exhibition
English: 11am-12pm (Every day 18 July-27 July)
Mandarin: 1.30pm-2.30pm (Every day 18 July-27 July)
Malay: 3pm-4pm (Weekends: 19, 20, 26 & 27 July )
Tamil: 4pm-5pm (Weekends: 19, 20, 26 & 27 July)

Guided tours are subject to availability of volunteer guides.
For more information, please enquire at the Stamford Visitor Services Counter.
Estimated duration: 45 mins
*Limited to 15 participants on a first come, first served basis

Related links
A return to our islands in the sun from The Long and Winding Road

Related media articles

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