I've moved!

I have moved!

This is the new address, without the hyphen :D


This is my first time moving since the blog started in September 2006. Thanks everyone for reading over almost these 5 years. You can continue reading there! I just blogged a minute ago about a hauntingly brave poem.

See ya there!

(via sunset)

I would write about cats, death, and what I learned about God's sovereignty, but I feel overwhelmed right now and I guess I'll write next time.

We're not halfway through 2011 yet, but so much has happened especially in the past few months in my life and lives of people I hold close to my heart. I am so thankful for them.
God is not human, that he should lie,
   not a human being, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
   Does he promise and not fulfill?
Numbers 23:19
There is so much in my heart, and you know it all, Lord. I love you and I trust you.


I visited my grandpa again few days back for the first time in a few months. We call him Ah Gong and were told that he was getting weak very quickly. As usual, I tried shamelessly to speak to him in my smattering of Teochew, which was possibly mixed with Hokkien especially since I don't really know the difference between both. I know he can understand Mandarin though he can't speak it. But somehow I don't feel comfortable speaking in Mandarin to him. Whether I speak to him in Mandarin or noob Teochew, communication will still be one-way.

Because the problem is with me.

I cannot understand Teochew. I wasn't taught and continue to be refused by my parents when I ask them to teach me. And yes it is a problem because there are so many things I want to say to this dear old kind person, but I can't.

And because of that I broke down in front of him. Just two of us in the stuffy room, him looking straight and me looking at the cold rain and sunshine outside the glass window. Without my Ah Gong, there wouldn't be me. Or even if I was around, I would probably have been born in China in a place poorer than Singapore. And yet I couldn't talk to this man who was quickly fading away with his paper-thin skin covering a network of green veins that vulnerably shielded his skeleton.

I left that afternoon feeling very upset and angry. And even right now, I still am. I, like most other people my generation, are unable and uninterested in non-Mandarin Chinese languages for various reasons including its low instrumental value in Singapore, and them paling out in comparison to other more exotic languages as publicly imagined. And you notice that to call them dialects of Mandarin is a political construction of Chinese languages to justify Singapore's Speak Mandarin campaign in the 1990s to just 'let the kids learn the common Chinese language', i.e. allegedly Mandarin. Apparently, our brain was only competent enough for two languages, and so the campaign's rhetoric was that if parents continue to teach and/or speak to kids in Chinese 'dialects', then that would affect their grades in Mandarin. And surely no good parent would want to sacrifice their kids' academic performance knowing that they are the ones who affected them right? But apparently, this assumption was also wrong, because the enlightened leaders have realized that our brains can actually only take one language, and hence Chinese becoming increasingly optional in school admission up to university level. Isn't this brain thing better explained by socialization patterns than something psychologically inherent?

Looking back, this early aim of the Speak Mandarin campaign to replace 'dialects' with Mandarin in both media and society has been remarkably successful. My parents know how to speak a few dialects, and they choose not to do it at moderate extents with each other, and they choose not to speak any dialect to us at all. And I suspect that somewhere in their worldview, they have naturalized the campaign's rhetoric and expanded on it - not teaching Teochew to your kids seems so natural and it is difficult explain why (as with why pink is for baby girls, and blue for baby boys, or why pretty girls are usually thin with non-frizzy hair).

Isn't it as ironic as slapping yourself in public that by advocating Mandarin at the expense of my learning of Teochew in order to pass down the celebrated values of Confucianism, I have been denied an urgent and genuine expression of the very same values?

What I experienced that Sunday afternoon is the effect of this heinous campaign. I would even say that it borders on immorality, given its already moralized discourse when people are encouraged to speak Mandarin and preserve the Confucian values of propriety, righteousness, humility, trust, loyalty, filial piety, integrity, and love.

Some say "it's the thought that counts, so don't get too worked up that you can't communicate". But if you are the one fading away into nothingness, won't you desire to communicate with others? Dying or alive, we all know how precious it is to be able to talk with someone in your own language, especially your heart language/s, the one that allows you to connect people at a deeper level than other languages you know.

It is futile to wholly blame the social engineers behind this Speak Mandarin Campaign because I know that it is also my choice to have not learned Teochew all this while. But what I do want to underscore is that our leaders lacked foresight, and now we are systematically affected by their successful eradication of non-Mandarin Chinese languages from most Singaporeans' linguistic repertoires. I say that they lacked foresight because I do not wish to give them the benefit of doubt that they saw this coming but decided that it was ultimately not worth protecting anyway.

This is my Ah Gong. He came from Shantou, a formerly bustling coastal city in the Chinese province of Guangdong appointed for Western trade and contact in the 19th century. He was born into a commoner's family in 1901 and later sailed with many other Chinese immigrants across the South China Sea to Singapore to hopefully eke out a living and then later have his wife and his son (who unfortunately passed while he was away) join him.

He carries with him an entire century of history - from the Qing Dynasty, the early days of modern Singapore, Japanese Occupation, Singapore's independence all the way through till today. And not to mention what little I know about his very hard life, a life that would be unthinkable for many of us in our comfortable cushy world.

And this is the grandpa who will pass on, burying with him the real stories that media has sometimes only fantasized about in serial dramas, burying with him the socially marginalized status the government has relegated to him when they owe him credit for building Singapore to what it is today. But before that, I have many things to say to him, many very important things that he needs to know while he still can.

My Pandamian e-book!

I just started an e-book this afternoon! It's on Pandamian. It's the brainchild of three guys from my Navigators fellowship - Yipeng, Cedric, and Joash. Extremely talented and I can see this becoming something big!

I've titled my book tentatively as Heartbled Muse. This is a collection of the poems and/or songs I write. I've blogged a few of them here, but I did not tag them well and so it's difficult for me to track them. With Pandamian, it's much easier with a 'Table of Content' function. More importantly the nature of the website emphasizes on personal authorship, so it helps copyright my work. A default blogspot can't protect your work at all.

Check my book out!

It'll be exciting to see my e-book grow as I write more!

And nope, I wasn't paid to publicize Pandamian. Just doing this to support a really good idea started by ingenious undergrads from my university, especially when they are people I know/friends!

Power of Words

Words can do a whole lot, yet often we don't have to be responsible for them since we can direct them to specific people without actually explicitly mentioning them in our words.

Which can be used wisely and graciously. Or maliciously.

No wonder God says that the human tongue is restless and evil, fully of fatal venom: "People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God."

Words can affirm people and keep peace. Words can also sow lies, and cause self-delusion, division and pain - just look at how popular media prescribes romance and how women should look like for one, and the social, emotional and spiritual consequences in the lives of people we know.

Yesterday I could really feel it in the bus on my way home. It was as Satan had the strings on the people in the bus, manipulating them and swinging them here and there in their emotions so easily.

First there was this 50s-looking man publicly insulting this other 50s-looking man whose shoulder touched his because they both had shoulders broader than their own seat gave space for. He accused the 'offender' for being deliberately obtuse and inconsiderate, and rashly concluded on the spot, announcing that such a person could only be really blind even though he had eyes. In colloquial Chinese, to call someone blind is insulting because it implies that the person is stupid enough to not know the obvious.

He insulted the man once, twice, thrice, repeating his insults in the form of questions. "Can't you see that your shoulder is touching me? Are you blind or what?"

Everyone looked to see what was happening. The man who was insulted retaliated by replying his insults but inaudibly. Imagine the hurt that have been caused just because of one angry, irresponsible, selfish remark.

And then this group of big-sized teenage boys kept spewing vulgarities at the bus exit door that was getting faulty and wouldn't close properly. They also insulted the bus driver because of the faulty door (???). Illogical and irrelevant person to blame if you ask me.

What was it that Satan was doing when he got these boys to scold the door? Surely it wasn't to do anything to the door, but to frustrate the people around them. The boys knew we were listening, and abused this ambiguity as a chance to curse in public.

And the people sure were frustrated. They turned around at noises in a seemingly annoyed manner, and I could feel the bottom of my heart burning in this overcrowded bus too. The spirit of anger was at work in the bus, and thinking of this excerpt that I meditated on for the day, I resisted the temptation to be angry and annoyed as well.
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

John 1:10-13
Children of God walk in the light of clear conscience and blamelessness because Jesus has taken our punishment on himself to cancel the debt of unholiness and impurity we incur on ourselves. In the angry darkness that filled the bus, I saw light in me that shone, the light of Christ. Us of supernatural birth...can people see it? Will they be attracted by it and have the courage to expose themselves to the light and have it inside themselves one day?

30 days: day twentyeight

day twentyeight – a picture of something you’re afraid of

YUCK. I couldn't bear to look at the photos of real roaches that I googled, thankfully this photo was peeking out of my hand (I was covering the other disgusting photos).

30 days: day twentysix

day twentysix – a picture of something that means a lot to you

The guitar pick Spencer lent to me

It means a lot to me because he offered his pick to me, and he had been carefully keeping it in his wallet, never forgetting where he left it. (Spencer's the younger of my two younger brothers.)

It means a lot to me because it reminds me of the care and support Spencer has for me, and him being an extremely reliable and dependable person whom you can trust as a friend in need.

I don't know if he gave the pick to me or if it's on loan, but I'm definitely wanting to return to him sometime!

30 days: day twentyfive

day twentyfive – a picture of your day

Frozen yogurt with mochi and pomegranate on top :)

by Fred

Yep, that pretty much sums up my day today! Had a great time over lunch followed by two desserts. Followed by Subway about an hour later since it was the nicest place to study at the mall I was at while waiting for friends. I was supposed to go play cage soccer with them, but I really needed the time to study! Good thing I had a productive 2 hours :)

Hope your day has been good too!

30 days: day twentyfour

day twentyfour – a picture of something you wish you could change

If there's one thing I could change, it would be my feet. I have mallet toes so they look like kitty paws to me. This means I get blisters on the middle joints of my toes if my shoes are too flat or tight since they form the peak of how each of my toes arch. If I do really intense footwork during sports (as I regularly did especially back in secondary school playing netball), my nails bleed at where my cuticles are and my socks occasionally get stained with a small spot of blood. Few times the cuticle will tear, and once or twice the nail will break from there.

My feet underpronate so I don't use the ball of my feet when I walk, run, or stand, which accumulates stress on my spine right now and will probably mean chronic backache when I'm older. Also, my first toes grow diagonally as if I'm wearing pointed shoes, which also means less shock absorption when I walk and putting stress on my spine.

I think it was only in recent years that I realized my feet are the way they are today is because I used to wear shoes that are too small as most Asians (girls especially) seem to do seemingly in some belief that bigger feet are less appealing. Perhaps it is a reminiscent of the lotus-foot tradition? Shoes and flip flops that just fit you and cuts off just at the heel is too small, not just nice!!! And my mom grew up as a village kid who wore her shoes out as much as possible even if it meant squeezing into them. That probably also influenced her judgment on what she saw was the 'right size' for us.

But I like my feet! Because God made them :) And without my awesome feet, I wouldn't be walking, running, jumping, skipping, and doing silly stuff, unlike people who cannot do these things because they cannot walk with their feet (if they still do have them).

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