Friday, 27 March 2015

Q&A Episode 3 Throwback: Balik Kampong

After the first two episodes of Throwback : Balik Kampong was aired, we found that we received the most comments and questions during the show itself, and the day immediately after. But it did not stop there. Comments would continue to trickle in during the week. We realised that this is because, due to the 9.30pm Sunday timeslot allocated for the show, lots of school going kids would be in bed by then. Many of our friends would either be unable to watch, as they are putting their kids to bed, or they would be watching alone without their kids. Then during the week, they would show their children the episode over, or watch the embedded vids on this blog. Some friends even told us that it has become a multi-generation affair to watch the show together, so that the older folks can reminisce and talk about their own experiences to their grandchildren.

We hardly received any comments or questions about Episode 3 of Throwback: Balik Kampong. We know why. Barely hours after the episode was aired, our first prime minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew had passed away. This post-episode blog post, which is usually written and goes on the blog on Monday, didn't even start getting written till Thursday. I did write this post in tribute to Mr Lee, though. Suddenly, I was seeing our kampong experience in a new light.
Kids, playing together, regardless of race, language or religion. The Azimullahs were terrified of the cats. The Tans were curious. And the Awads were fearless - and very helpful in gently removing the cats from the vicinity of Farzana.

What you see on tv is far removed for you. But it was something my family experienced intimately for we really lived there for weeks. It is a real kampong with real villagers there. We even know the village couple who stays in the Tan Family hut that the production house rented the hut from. The couple had to move out of the house for the few weeks when we were there for the stay and shoot. To make the kampong circa 1960s Singapore kampong style, the production crew had to remove certain conveniences that the 2015 kampong had, like halogen lamp lighting and television sets, and they blocked off the entire back part of the house where the toilets and the kitchen (and gas cookers!) were so that we had no access to those.

But, being there and mingling with the real villagers, our neighbours... we realised that the "piped water" to their kitchen and toilet and shower was piped in by generator, from the well! Suddenly we understood why many of the villagers still bathed by the well despite having a shower stall in their home - there wasn't much difference! It was the same well water, and they probably saved electricity for not having to pump the water in. Halogen bulbs hung naked from the ceiling, without even a simple light fitting covering it. A few of them had standing fans, ceiling fans didn't exist, much less air-conditioner units. The walls of the huts were usually bare cement, the zinc plate roof, the floor bare cement. Admittedly, it is better than the "dumbed down" house we stayed in that you see on TV - that was meant to be circa 1965. But what we saw there, was a real 2015 kampong! With the level of technology and know-how available in 2015, there were still many people in that country living in a kampong like that! It just really drove home how far Singapore has come since 1965 in raising the standard of living across the board for all Singaporeans. How sobering.

For many people, Episode 2 was the emo-episode. Yet, this blog post for Episode 3 is even more emo!  Anyway, here's Episode 3 Throwback: Balik Kampong - it's a light-hearted episode, have fun watching! Watch at if the video below does not play.

Now, since we did not receive many questions about this episode, I'd just talk about each segment of the show in the order that it was shown on the episode...

Rose Syrup - yes, we really drank the rose syrup that was made, as seen on the show. Of course, we made sure to drain out the solution to take away the rose petals. The solution was really fragrant and furthermore, it was the first sweet drink we have had in a few days now, at the kampong, so the kids really relished it. It was really such a treat, a luxury! I never knew rose syrup was literally made from roses, so that was an eye-opener for me. It's also good to know that you can control the sweetness of your drink by simply changing the amount of sugar you put in to boil, or by adding more water to dilute it.
Isaac's drawing of his kampong experience catching a rooster.
Chicken Chase - This was the one activity we, the Tan Family, went into feeling a bit apprehensive, but ended up enjoying it tremendously. All of us were a bit nervous about it, as we have not done it before. We were also afraid that the chickens would peck us when we tried to catch them. The kampong men told us that the part of the chicken to catch hold of, was their legs. Any one leg will do. We watched attentively as Mr Yeo the kampong expert showed us how to set the chicken trap with the basket propped up. But when we were all ushered into the huge coop with the many chickens, three broken baskets and given only 10 minutes to catch them all - we knew we couldn't go with Mr Yeo's method of setting a trap. One had to be patient with traps, for you are trying to catch the chicken unawares as they wonder toward the basket looking to eat the corn you scattered within. But the chickens we were trying to catch is certainly not going to be in the mood to eat corn, what with 8 children and 5 adults running around, chasing them?! 

So initially, we three mums were trying to fix the baskets. But there wasn't a lot of material we could work with. Also, I was itching to join in the action to start chasing and try my hand at catching chickens. When Hannah (Awad family daughter) came running with her first chicken caught, we gave up mending the baskets. We had a sudden brainwave and put one basket on top of another, and asked Hannah to throw the chicken in through the hole - the part we couldn't mend. Farzana (Azimullah family mum) then stepped forth to hold the baskets together so that the chickens wouldn't fly out. Mag (Awad family mum) and I quickly ran off to help the rest catch chickens. 

The three families initially discussed and decided that we would get the kids to chase the chickens into a corner of the coop, then the adults catch them. But once we went into the coop, it was mayhem! Everyone just ran everywhere, chasing the chickens. Hannah was excellent at catching the chickens gently, she would hold their bodies with her hands instead of just grabbing the legs like the kampong men taught us. Awad put his goal-keeping skills to good use lunging for the chickens like a pro. Matthew caught some and passed the chickens to the kids so that they can have the experience of holding the chicken by their legs. Isaac managed to catch a couple of chickens on his own. Even Farzana managed to catch a chicken - by throwing a basket on top of one! 

Speaking of which, I think it was great that the Azimullah gals, despite their fear of the chickens, were game enough to go into the coop with us and helped chase the chickens into a corner so that someone could catch them. Farzana especially, was so terrified, but yet she held on to the baskets firmly, and did her part to make sure that the chickens we caught did not escape. I think it is truly a milestone for her to even be in the kampong despite her phobia of cats, and moving, live chickens! I guess she explained it best when she said "We are not really animal lovers."
Isaac's illustration of the tiny chicken coop where the kids went to feed corn to the chickens.
Communal Dinner - It was really wonderful of Mag to volunteer to host dinner and be the main cook for our dinner that night. I have hardly any cooking experience, so I was very relieved to know that Mag and Farzana had more cooking experience - this made our communal dinners a lot more delicious that the ones Matthew and I had to cook on our own. I was very happy to just take instructions from both Mag and Farzana as they guided me with chopping ingredients and preparation of the meat etc. It was a very satisfying experience to cook alongside the both of them, with the men helping out too!

We have all come to love hanging out at the Awad's house as it is more airy and bright and had more open space for the kids to play. The Azimullah's house, and our house both had internal kitchens, and our front yards were along main thoroughfares of the village, and so was not as spacious a place for the kids to run around and play in. But still, it was very generous of Mag to invite us to their place for the communal dinner since she would need to clean up after we leave. We made sure to have the kids all chip in to wash the dishes and pots before we left, of course. Just that, it was bound to get sandy and all, when you have so many people there.

Coconut tree climbing - Matthew actually relished the opportunity to climb the coconut tree! After filming ended, he even had a go at it. The coconut trees in the kampong were much taller than the ones we have in Singapore, I didn't even realise coconut trees could grow that tall!? 20 metres, Fuzz said! Off camera, Matthew had fun climbing the tree, but even for an experience rock-climber like him, he stopped a third of the way up. Why? Not because he couldn't go any higher, but because he was very aware of the risk of him falling on his way down. And like what he told Isaac "It would be disastrous" if he did fall, so there was no sense in risking that. We did come away with something though, we realised that the canvas shoes I was wearing made great, cheap climbing shoes for him! hehehe...

Farzana was obviously relieved she didn't have to climb the tree too. It wasn't easy for her to be the only adult in her family - everything fell to her to do if the task needed an adult. Awad was so quick up the tree though! He is very sporting and seems game for any task they gave us. 

Shawna's illustration of herself climbing the coconut tree! The hanging circles are coconuts. She has grooves in the tree for climbing, and you can only see the back of her head because she is facing the tree! A chair on the side with a cup full of coconut juice and meat. See the real picture of this below!
Cutting open the coconut - Here's another prime example of something Farzana just had to take upon herself to do as she is the only adult. Even while she was at it, she was telling her girls to stand further as she was afraid the parang would fly off and hit them. But still, she gritted her teeth and got on with it. I was keen to chop the coconut as it seemed like a fun thing to do. But I was also terrified of accidentally chopping my fingers or hand off! Matthew was supportive and let me try, even though my first attempt at it was a horrendous one! By the time Matthew tried to chop the coconut, it was too late and we ran out of time. To make things worse, I had apparently chosen a leaking coconut - so most of the juice had leaked out onto the sand while I was hacking away at it. Sigh, what luck!

After the challenge was filmed, they did allow me to try my hand at chopping more coconuts. There were so many lying around anyway, and everyone was enjoying the fresh coconut drink - mainly from the Awads' bucket  - so I was allowed to chop away! Wow, what an experience that was. Someone handed me a different parang saying "Mrs Tan, try this parang, sharper." And boy what a difference that made! I cut opened no less than three more coconuts, getting faster and more proficient as I went - once I made sure I could chop the coconut and not my own fingers. I got the camera crew to time me for the last coconut, and it appears that I cut it open in less than 2 minutes! Woohoo personal best! hahaha...

Oh! Managed to find the ad below, that actually had some footage of me successfully cutting open some coconuts such that I could actually (finally!) pour the coconut water out!
Asher's drawing of his favourite activity so far - playing with the slingshot!
Isaac starting to like the kampong - As you can see, Isaac is starting to come around. Maybe he got used to it. Or perhaps it was because he had a good day. Chasing chickens was fun, coconut challenge was exciting and playing the kampong games was a novelty that has yet to wear off. In any case, we were really glad he was finally adjusting to life in the kampong.

So that's it for this episode. Remember to cast your votes through the ToggleNow (not Toggle) app, within 48 hours after the episode airs on Channel 5 - Sundays, 9.30pm :) Throwback: Balik Kampong!
Shawna attempts to climb the coconut tree! Photos courtesy of Rozz! Thanks Rozz!

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

We will remember you, Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Recent Mondays for our family has been filled with glee and excitement over just having seen ourselves on TV the night before, since the reality TV show Throwback:Balik Kampong started airing a few weeks ago. Hubbs and I would be inundated with messages from friends and family commenting on the latest episode just aired. And I would be busy writing my post-show blog post, trying to remind people to cast their votes before Tuesday night... But not yesterday. Monday the 23rd of March 2015 started with gloom and heavy hearts. The inevitable had happened, Mr Lee Kuan Yew had passed on. 
Isaac, watching Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announce the passing of his father.
Isaac was home and not in school as he was feverish and not feeling well. 
"Somebody important has passed away, Isaac."
"Is it Lee Kuan Yew?"
"Yes! How did you know?"
He shrugged. But I think I knew how. We have been well prepared to receive this news, after all. Every time the Prime Minister's Office issues a statement to say that Mr Lee's condition has worsened, hubbs or I would go "Oh no." and the kids would ask "Why did you say "Oh no."?" And we would say "Lee Kuan Yew is very sick, he may pass away any time now." But no matter how prepared one is, the finality of it all when it happens, is deafening. 

Together, we watched Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announce the passing of his father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, in Malay, Chinese and English. Next, we watched the following two videos which I thought was a nice concise summary of Mr Lee Kuan Yew - for Isaac to learn about him. Who he was, what he has accomplished, and why he was considered an important man. 

Following these videos, we scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed together, reading the comments people have written. It was a sombre morning. A quiet one, but one in which I would not forget in a long time. It is one of those days which you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing, when you receive the news of something momentous.

When I sent the twins off to childcare, they asked me what I was reading on my phone. 
"I'm reading the news. Someone important has passed away."
"Who is it, Mummy?"
"It's the first Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew."
"Why is he important?"
Now, how does one explain that to a couple of 5 year olds? And then it struck me
"He's someone who was very hardworking and a very good leader. He did what he thought was correct and not just what was easy. He had very good plans, and he managed to find good people to help him with these plans. Together, they built up Singapore. In fact, do you know what Singapore would be if it were not for Lee Kuan Yew and his friends?"
"What, Mummy?"
"Singapore would be a kampong. Most of us would probably still be staying in a kampong!"
Asher snorted out in laughter over this. Shawna just gave me an incredulous look. No, they weren't being rude. They just felt that it was ludicrous to even think that Singapore could be a kampong. For unlike most kids in Singapore, our kids really knew what it was like to stay in a kampong as compared to living in modern day Singapore. Despite the fun we sometimes had while living in the kampong filming Throwback:Balik Kampong - the Tan Family children (and adults!) definitely did not want to live in a kampong for good. 
"Hahaha don't be silly, Mummy. How can Singapore be a kampong?!"

And that's when it occurred to me that this generation of children would never truly be able to appreciate what Mr Lee Kuan Yew and the rest of the forefathers of this nation have done for us. Perhaps, I exaggerated a little in order to illustrate this to the kids. Singapore was certainly not simply a fishing village in the 1960s, but it is true, that if not for the housing policies put in place - most of us would all still be living in kampongs now.
"Shawna, do you remember that Singapore song that you like? The one that goes "There was a time, when people said that Singapore WON'T make it, but we did... ?"
"Yes Mummy, I like that song!"
"It was Lee Kuan Yew who kept telling Singapore:"You can! You can! You CAN make it!" He had a great plan for Singapore, and he got everyone to work hard together. He didn't give up! He did not whine and say we're too small, too tiny! To make more space, he got us to build upwards, to build high-rised flats. When Singapore didn't have enough water to drink, he didn't moan and groan that we didn't have enough wells or that the sky didn't rain. Instead, he told the teachers to teach children like you and also your parents, to save water, to not waste water. He made plans for large reservoirs to collect rain water for Singapore. He and his friends also had a great idea! They learnt how to clean sea water, to make it clean and safe for drinking!"
"That's why we're not a kampong now, Mummy?"
"Hahaha yes, that and many other things, of course. But it was a lot of hard work, by lots of people, and over many many years doing many many things. That's why Singapore is what it is today. So you must learn to work hard and persevere, like Mr Lee Kuan Yew. ok?"
"Yes, Mummy!!!"

It does not matter to me that Mr Lee Kuan Yew did not live to see the fireworks on 9th August 2015. To me, he did live to see Singapore the way it is today. SG50 is not simply a celebration of Singapore's 50 years of independence. It is a celebration of the legacy of Lee Kuan Yew. With the myriad of activities, tv programmes and events showcasing the past 50 years of Singapore celebrating how far we have come - these provide the perfect resources to educate our young on who Lee Kuan Yew was, and what he stood for. To recognise and remember that Singapore's success was one that did not come easy and not without suffering and sacrifice. And that if we wish to continue to be successful, we need to work together, and work hard for a better future. 

We will remember you, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Thank you, Sir.

Read more tributes to Mr Lee Kuan Yew in the links found here

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Q&A Episode 2 Throwback: Balik Kampong

Throwback: Balik Kampong - Three modern families in 1960s Singapore style kampong!

We didn't have that many questions from friends and families this time round - unless you count those who did not watch the first episode and so had the kind of questions that people would have if they were watching for the first time. For those people, please read the post Q&A Episode 1

After the Q&A Episode 1 came out, some viewers had the following questions:
Q1. Did you get to keep the clothes as a souvenir from Mediacorp ?
A1a.  No, we did not get to keep the clothes as souvenirs.
A1b. Throwback: Balik Kampong was produced by The Moving Visuals Co. for Mediacorp.

Q2. What did your children like and not like about the kampong trip?
A2.  They loved participating in the challenges and playing with the children from the other two families. They didn't like the accommodation, that's for sure!

Q3. Where is this kampong? Is it a fake kampong?
A3. The kampong is a real living kampong with locals staying there and living there. It is not in Singapore and is situated in one of our neighbouring countries. The houses we three families stayed in were rented from the real villagers staying there. So the real families staying there had to move out for the period of time we were there.

Q4. Did you have medication for your throat? What if the kids fall sick?
A4. We were allowed to have with us from our luggage all the medicines we brought from home. So we had medicine for the kids if they fell sick - which they thankfully didn't! The production firm also had a medic on standby the whole time we were in the kampong.

Guess what?! I found out how to embed the video! Here is Episode 2 of Throwback: Balik Kampong - and if the video below doesn't play, then watch it on
Q1. Did you guys really eat the clams for dinner?
A1. We, the Tan Family certainly didn't - because we didn't find anything edible. Anything life that we caught, were much too tiny to be eaten. It was the same for the Azimullahs. 

As for the Awads, I wasn't sure if they ate the clams or not, since Awad did say on camera that they were going to cook the clams for dinner. Hence I texted Mag to ask and this is what she said"Hey Pam, after Awad did the first cleaning of the clams & shells, I took the liberty to clean them again 4 to 5 times to get rid of the mud. After which we cooked clam shell soup which we didn't manage to share with you guys cause the crew and the kampong boys finished them. They were all hovering our porch when I was preparing the soup and devoured them as soon as I finished cooking. Gavin (the Director) was one of them! Haha.. Actually our family got to taste only a teeny weeny bit cause the clams & shells aren't many and we shared to most of the crew & kampong boys who were there. We had to cut the flesh to considerable pieces to give them with the soup. Little meat but more soup. The broth was really sweet from the clams & shells. By the time we finished  cooking it was about 9pm!"

Q2. The Awads' toilet was so beautifully decorated, how come Tan Family won instead?
A2. Fuzz actually explained this on the show:"The Awads toilet might have been more visually impressive, but the Tans deserve victory as the entire family chipped in whilst only Mr Awad did the hard work."

Q3. The Awads seemed very unhappy about you guys winning the toilet challenge.
A3. Are you serious?! Maybe you don't know the Awads like we do, but we could see Mag and Awad laughing amidst their complaints that we won instead of them. Now, if the judging criteria of the jamban challenge was one of beautifying the toilets, the Awads would definitely win us all hands down! Their toilets were so beautiful that Isaac and Asher insisted on using them when we were at the Awads house. 

Q4. You guys really used those toilets and shower cubicles?!
A4. Yes we did. In fact, compared to the public toilets at the kampong that we have a choice of using - the ones we built were not only much more beautiful, but also a lot cleaner and less smelly - since we haven't filled the pit with our waste YET.

Q5. So the production crew put in the shower head for you?
A5. No, no, there is no shower head, no piped in water. All we had in the shower cubicle is the waterproofed box with a scooper. Thus, in order to use it, we would have to get water from the well, and fill up the box in the shower cubicle. Then, we close the door, take off clothes, and bathe with the water we have fetched from the well.

Q6. Good job, about the win! Did you guys share the biscuits with the rest?
A6. Yes we did. We opened the tin immediately and shared the biscuits with the rest. The Awads too, shared their Milo. They didn't just pass us some Milo powder - they made Milo drinks for us whenever we went by the Awads house. Remember, they had to set up the fire to boil the water, before they could make hot Milo for us. What a treat it was for us! These were the small luxuries we were allowed when we were in the kampong. Milo and Khong Guan biscuits have never tasted so good before!

Q7. What happened? Why did Mrs Awad cry?
A7. Oh you didn't get that? Mag was so touched by how sweet Awad was when he commended her for being so supportive and pro-active despite being very particular about cleanliness and being a "neat freak". In my umpteenth interactions with Mag, she was definitely not an over-the-top OCD neat and cleanliness freak that Awad made her out to be. But yes, I could tell that she was certainly one that took pride in keeping the house clean and neat. 

And seriously, Awad was right - if you were one who was extremely particular about cleanliness and neatness, you would be expected go crazy in the kampong.  You don't see it nor experience it on tv, but the dirt is EVERYWHERE. There is sand everywhere, mud elsewhere, and dust in the air, all the time. No matter the number of times you washed your hands and feet, there was constantly dirt beneath the fingernails, and the toenails were black beyond hope. Even for someone like me who is not overly particular about being absolutely clean, I was bothered by the continual existence of dirt everywhere.

Q8. Mrs Azimullah doesn't like cats?
A8. Yes, Farzana is terrified of cats. Like she mentioned, she had a phobia of cats since young when a cat jumped on her. And that's why it's so brave of Farzana to take on this whole Balik Kampong experience. First, her husband couldn't come with the family as he couldn't take leave from work. So she had to handle the girls all on her own. Then, there were all these cats in the kampong! She was truly afraid of them. When we all realised that she didn't like cats, we all became her cat alarm, especially the kids. They would go "Auntie Farzana - CAT!!!" and Farzana would quickly scamper! Brings a smile to my face just remembering this.
Throwback Balik Kampong - Mrs Tan:"Let's be happy together."
Q9. Wah, you so drama, cry some more. You really can act!
A9. Hey, it wasn't an act! This is a reality tv show, none of the families have scripts. We are told of the challenges to do, but our responses are our own. We decide what we want to say or do. And frankly, beyond the first day, we don't think too much about it. We just behave as we normally do, and the cameras capture it.

Isaac's attitude about the kampong was a real challenge for us. What you viewers see on tv as two episodes was actually filmed over 4 to 5 days in the kampong. Thus, in real life, Isaac was crying and complaining about being in the kampong for 4 to 5 days already. We had tried almost everything we could think of. We spoke to him nicely. We scolded him harshly - because he started to go around scolding the camera crew. As a kid, he doesn't understand that the camera crew is just doing their job. So he blamed them for keeping him in the kampong, and started to scold them. This was what I meant when I said he shouldn't go overboard. We told him to focus on the positive and purposely pointed out the times when he was happily playing with the other kids, or participating in the challenges. But he was still grouchy and surly when he remembered where he was. In the end, it seemed that the family conference broke his dam. He was more positive then on.

Q10. You Tan Family really can cry!?
A10. Hahaha to be fair, it's only Isaac who's been crying a lot. It was the twins first time crying that night saying that they miss home and want to go home. If you watch carefully, Asher first cried because he saw Isaac crying. Asher is sensitive that way, to his siblings emotions. Then the kids all cried because I cried. For we're very close to the kids, so when the kids see that I am upset, it makes them upset too. I didn't plan on crying on national tv! It just happened!!!

If you have any other questions that were not answer in this post, do post them in the comments below in this blog and we can possibly answer them in our next post on Throwback Balik Kampong! Now, go get your voting done, and set an alarm in your phone for 9.30pm on Sunday nights to stay tuned to Channel 5 for Throwback: Balik Kampong! 

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Friends reactions to Ep 1 of Throwback Balik Kampong

Our friends and family loved watching the first episode of Throwback: Balik Kampong last Sunday night. We had immediate feedback via instant messages and such.
"My kids hearts melt..."
"He wants to accompany and stay with Isaac"
 Now for a commercial break! This is the ad for tonight's Episode 2 of Throwback Balik Kampong!

"Alamak! Isaac!!! I want to go home!!"

"I feel for Isaac... I feel like crying too..."
It IS a REAL kampong!!!
Nightmare! Scarred for life!
The last one from Corsage's 3 year old is my favourite! Haha! What were your kids' reactions when they saw the show? Share with us in the comments below! And don't forget to watch tonight at 9.30pm on Channel 5! But if you can't, no worries! Stay tuned to this blog, we'd put the link for you to watch the show online when Episode 2 goes on. Can't wait for tonight!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Day 12: Prayers for Those with Depression

It's been a long time since I posted a Pray With Us post. This is our series of posts where we pray for people around us. No matter what your religion is, or even if you don't have one, you are welcomed to pray with us.          

Tan Family Chronicles' Pray With Us series
Day 1: Prayers for the Dearly Departed
Day 2: Prayers for the Littlest Ones We Never Got to Know
Day 3: Prayers for Those Here, But Not Present
Day 4: Prayers for Children to Be Well
Day 5: Prayers for Those with Cancer
Day 6: Prayers for Those Who Want Kids But Can't
Day 7: Prayers for Those with Down Syndrome
Day 8: Prayers for all Marriages
Day 9: Prayers for the Safety of our Children
Day 10: Prayers for Those Who Look a Little Different
Day 11: Prayers for Those Who Need a Little More Courage in Life

Day12: Prayers for Those with Depression

2014 was not a very good year for us, the world lost Robin Williams and we personally lost a number of friends to depression. People who succumbed to depression... and did the unthinkable. Unthinkable by people who don't have depression. But for people with depression, the unthinkable may be constantly on their minds, all the time, lingering... The friend of mine that passed on, is a good friend of mine. It is painful to think, talk or write about it, even now. However, I found this series of comic drawings online which I think is very well done. I think this will serve nicely for us to join in the prayers for those with depression, and those around them. Thank you Colleen for allowing me to repost this. 
Depression is Quiet by Colleen Butters

We pray for those suffering from depression. We pray that you will cease to suffer from it. We pray that the condition will go away completely, immediately. We pray that any circumstances which led to you developing the condition, will be resolved satisfactorily, and remain resolved. We pray for you to have peace of mind. We pray that you have the support of your family and friends. Please let people help you. Perhaps not everyone would, but someone will! Please open your heart and mind to allowing people to help you. Please be positive. Please reach out, and call for help. It is okay to need help. And people will help. We pray that you will feel our love for you, amidst the darkness you dwell in.

We pray for the family and friends of those who suffer from depression. We pray that you can see the signs, and reach out and help, before it is too late. We pray that you have the strength and patience to help. We pray that you remember the love you have for each other, especially when the going gets tough. We pray that you will always have the heart and the ability to do what is right, and what needs to be done. Reach out for help too. There is strength in numbers, so please do not hesistate to reach out to others for help, so that you can rest too. There is no shame. There will be compassion. There will be people who will help. 

We pray for people to help when they see a need for help. We pray that people answer the call, when help is requested. We pray that more people in this world are willing to extend whatever aid they can render. Do not be afraid to help. The best form of giving is to give without expecting anything in return. We pray that we can all do what we know is the right thing to do.

We pray for those who had depression, and have already departed. We pray that you will not be judged. We pray that, no matter what your religion was, that you would be accepted into heaven. We pray that you are at ease, at peace, and finally free from all kinds of pain, physical, mental, emotional. Know that you still have people who love you and miss you.

We pray for the family and friends of the departed. Please do not succumb to depression as well. We pray that you have the support of the family and friends around you. 

Let us pray.
Here are some helplines you can call/contact for aid:

Samaritans of Singapore
The Samaritans of Singapore (SOS) provides confidential 24-hour emotional support by trained volunteers to people in crisis, thinking of suicide or affected by suicide. SOS also runs the 'Local Outreach to Suicide Survivors' programme, which is an outreach programme to provide emotional support to survivors bereaved by the suicide death of a loved one.

Singapore's National Council of Social Service (NCSS) has compiled an excellent list of resources for mental health related services. Also, the NCSS List of General Helplines (pdf file)

Here is more information on depression:
Health Promotion Board - Understanding Depression

Other bloggers' posts on the topic of depression
Owls Well - Dying of Depression by Becky Lee
PrayerFull Mum - {Thankful Tuesdays} Happy Family

If you have any other links which is useful, please drop me a comment or an email at tanfamilychronicles(a) to inform me, so that I can add it in this post. 

Monday, 9 March 2015

Q&A Episode 1 Throwback: Balik Kampong

Throwback: Balik Kampong!
The show we got invited to be in, Throwback: Balik Kampong premiered last night! Did you catch it? If you didn't, you can watch it now at this link on if the embedded video below doesn't work. The kids, Matthew and I, all had a good time watching it last night. It brought back many memories of our time in the kampong and it made us really miss our friends: the crew, the Awads, the Azimullahs and the hosts Rozz & Fuzz. It's our first time watching the show as well, so we were very entertained since we only knew what happened with ourselves but not what was going on with the other two families when we were not together. The kids (and us too, really!) were highly amused at seeing ourselves on TV. So much so that Isaac wasn't even bothered seeing himself crying on TV. During commercial breaks, our phones buzzed continuously with our friends and family making comments over whatsapp group chats, and on Facebook. Over the many ensuing conversations, we received many similar questions about our experience at the kampong. Hence, after each episode, I shall write a post answering questions you viewers may have about the episode. We will answer the questions as best as we can without giving any spoilers nor reveal any stuff from future episodes which has not been aired yet.  
Q1: How did your family come to be involved in Throwback: Balik Kampong?
A1: The producers contacted us through the email address provided on this blog to ask if we would like to participate in this. Read more about this in this post.

Q2: How long were you there in the kampong for?
A2: We were there for more than two weeks.

Q3: Did you know what you were in for when you agreed to participate in Throwback: Balik Kampong? You guys look so surprised at everything...
A3: We were only told that we were supposed to stay in a real kampong that is reminiscent of kampongs in Singapore in the 1960s. And that we will not be allowed any of our phones, electrical devices, nor computers with us. Every other question we had was not answered directly. That's why we did not know that everything we brought in our luggage would be taken away from us.

Q4: What?! Not a single thing from your luggage was allowed?!
A4: Oh they did allow us to use our own undergarments... Everything else they provided: clothes, towels, bar soap... 

Q5: So they provided all the clothes you wore, except for underwear?
A5: Yes that's right. I think Matthew was very comfortable in his singlet, as were the kids. Shawna wasn't used to wearing dresses all the time. And me, gosh... I have never worn a samfoo before, and all those flowers!? Never, ever, in my life have I worn such flowery clothing as I did there in the kampong. But I didn't have a choice, we just had to wear what they provide.
Hmmm not my best look, I'd admit. And those huge flowers?! Gimme back my black t-shirt!!!
Q6: There for weeks, and no phone? What if there was an emergency back home?
A5: We gave our family members the Production Director's mobile phone number, in case they needed to contact us. As a safety precaution, we also provided our family's contact numbers to the Production Director, in case anything untoward happens to us at the kampong.

Q7: You guys acted very well! You memorise the script the day before filming?
A6: Oh no no no, there is no script for the families at all. It is not acting. This is a reality TV show, they only script the events and stuff they want us to do, but the families' reactions and whatever we (and the other families) say is all NOT scripted at all. 

Q8: Oh so it wasn't in the script for you to let the Indian family choose the house first?
A8: No, no, as mentioned, our reactions are all not scripted. Matthew and I didn't really mind either way which house we got, since there were pros and cons for each house. At that time, it was starting to sink in that we were not going to have an easy life in the kampong. It was definitely not a beach holiday as Isaac thought it would be. We were could see that we were going to have a tough time coping with all this ourselves and we have two adults to our three kids. Farzana was going to be handling her three girls herself! So we felt really sorry for The Azimullahs that the girls' father could not take leave to join them at the kampong and this was just a small thing, to allow them to make the choice between the two remaining houses first.

Being there in the kampong, just us three families, we spoke a lot to one another. We found out that the Awads were very thoughtful with their choice too. The storm on that first night really scared us and the kids quite a bit as the entire house was shaking because it is entirely made of wood. The din the rain was making on the zinc roof didn't help either. The 2nd and 3rd houses were half wood and half concrete and so were definitely sturdier and were likely not to shake so much during a thunderstorm. Also, in times of emergency if we had to run to neighbours to get help, being the most isolated of the three houses, it would be the furthest one, and a problem for the younger kids. The Awads felt that since they had the oldest kids (Danish & Hannah are 13 this year), they would be able to manage best in that house if the above scenarios arose.

It is heartwarming to us, that even though we had only just gotten to know each other for one day, we were helping each other along in whatever way we could. Kampong spirit for the win!

Q9: What happened to your voice? Why do you sound so weird?
A9: I fell sick the very first day we went to the kampong. I think it was some kind of virus that made me totally lose my voice. Also, it probably didn't help that I didn't get enough sleep leading up to the trip. Slept at 3am packing all our stuff the night before we left. I had tons of phlegm; it was torturous! Furthermore, I had only anticipated the kids getting sick, so we packed a whole mini-suitcase worth of kids medicines, but forgot to pack some for adults! So I had to survive on over-the-counter cough medicine, lozenges, flumicil, and just drink lots and lots of water the entire time I was there. It's a good thing they subtitled me, if not, no one would be able to hear what I was saying!

Q10: Poor Isaac! Did he cry the whole time there?
A10: Ah hah! You need to continue watching our series to see what happens with Isaac. After the episode aired last night, we had some friends message us saying that THEY felt like crying when they saw Isaac cry. And there was even an 8 year old boy who offered to go stay in the kampong with Isaac to keep him company! We're very touched that there are people who empathise with Isaac.

Q11: How were the toilets like, there in the kampong?
A11: Ah! From the ad they screened after last night's episode, looks like they're going to show us constructing our own toilet in the next episode! Tune in next Sunday at 9.30pm to Channel 5, to watch Episode 2 of Throwback: Balik Kampong!

Q12: Wait! Tell us who the winner will be? Which family won?
A12: We don't know! We didn't even know they were going to get the audience to vote. Thus, we suspect that the winner will be highly dependent (if not solely dependent!) on how the audience votes. So YOU people should be the one telling us, who will be the winning family? Go vote for the family whom you think should win! Download the Toggle Now app (not the Toggle app). Details below on how to vote, and quick do it now! Voting lines are only open for 48 hours AFTER each of the first 7 episodes goes on air. Voting for Episode One ends tomorrow on Tuesday 10th March at 10.29pm. Vote on EVERY episode to increase your chances of winning $200! Watch this trailer!
How to Vote for the Family in Throwback Balik Kampong

If you have any other questions that were not answer in this post, do post them in the comments below in this blog and we can possibly answer them in our next post on Throwback Balik Kampong! Now, go get your voting done, and set an alarm in your phone for 9.30pm on Sunday nights to stay tuned to Channel 5 for Throwback: Balik Kampong!

Click on #ThrowbackBalikKampong to read all related posts in this blog.

Acknowledgements: Photo and poster above from MediaCorp Channel 5's Facebook Page

Monday, 2 March 2015

The Balik Kampong Families

Throwback: Balik Kampong! Hosted by Fuzz & Rozz.
Pic from Fuzz's Fukkah Fuzz Facebook Wall - used with permission.

That's right! 3 Families, 2 Hosts, 1 Kampong! Premieres this coming Sunday 8th March 2015, at 9.30pm, on Channel 5! In today's post, we shall introduce you to the three families of Throwback: Balik Kampong! For more background - and the trailer - of this reality TV series, read this post

Today, we have The Tan Family kidzes Isaac, Asher & Shawna to introduce The Balik Kampong Families to you. Without further ado, in the words of The Junior Chroniclers: Isaac, Asher & Shawna...
Throwback: Balik Kampong: The Awad Family (Picture from the this link.)
Isaac:"The Awad Family has the biggest and oldest kids of the three families. The kids' names are Danish & Hannah. They are gentle and fun because they play with me and the other kids nicely. They are older, which gives them certain abilities, like being fast in running and helping us with things. Their parents are very good in cooking, to me, because their food is very yummy. I have eaten it many times before in the kampong.  Even with the minimal amount of cooking utensils, it is still very yummy."

Asher:"They have two children. Their family has four people. Hannah and Danish plays with me. I have fun. I play with them swing around and chasing. Three of us eats together. Danish is a big brother and he takes care of me."

Shawna:"The Awad Family, Danish and Hannah takes care of me. They love to play with me. And I love to play with them too. I play hopscotch with them and I love them. They carry me."
Throwback: Balik Kampong: The Azimullah Family (Picture from the this link.)
Isaac:"There are three kids in The Azimullah Family. Their names are Neelufer, Mehrnaz and Roushana. Throughout the show, most of the time, you will see their mother, Auntie Farzana, with them. That is because their father has to work. They are the Indian family. Asher, Shawna and I enjoy playing with them. I think that Shawna is best friends with Roushana because: 
  • They have the same name. Roushana's family calls her Shona for short, but it pronounced the same way as Shawna. So it seems as though they have the same name. We always get confused at the kampong when a lot of people call for Shawna or Shona.
  • Shawna and Roushana are maybe friends also because they are about the same age. Anyway, they really like to play together."
Asher:"Azimullah has three daughters. Two is younger. The oldest one plays with me. The other two also likes to play with me. We play hopscotch and hide and seek."

Shawna:"The Azimullah Family has three girls. And they love to play with me. And they love to play catching and also hopscotch and they love to draw in the sand too with me. And my best friend is Roushana because she follows me.

Throwback: Balik Kampong: The Tan Family (Picture from the this link.)
Isaac:"Our family, The Tan Family, also has three children like The Azimullah Family. I am the older brother of a pair of twins. Their names are Asher & Shawna. Asher came out of Mummy's tummy first, so he is about one minute older than Shawna even though it doesn't make much difference. Papa is a teacher and he can be very fierce sometimes. Mummy is a board game seller, a blogger and is the person who is typing right now. You can read more of this Tan Family Chronicles blog if you want to know more about us Tan Family people."

Asher:" Hello, my name is Asher. I love my brother and sister and my parents. They love me too. We are The Tan Family and we love all of us. My favourite colour is green. And my favourite toys are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. They are green, and have an enemy called Shredder. Shredder is silver, and I love those colours. "

Shawna:"Hello, I am Shawna. I want to share some words with you. I love to draw and my brother loves to draw too. I love to draw nice things like flowers and houses and sun and clouds too. My Mummy and Daddy loves me and my brothers."

There you have it, the three Balik Kampong families, in the words of The Tan Family Junior Chroniclers. Remember now! Watch Throwback: Balik Kampong on Channel 5, this coming Sunday 8th March 2015, at 9.30pm.


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