Pink Dot 2013.

Lovely friends and I. Credits to Felicia Tan. :-)

Lovely friends and I. Credits to Felicia Tan. 🙂

There would be people choosing not to turn up for Pink Dot every year, citing reasons such as it being “a waste of time”. Sometimes, people simply do not understand why I would even make it a point to go down every year dressed in a colour I barely like. They would say: “You are not even fighting for your own rights. Why even go for the event?”

Let me just say that Pink Dot is not just an event.

Sure, Pink Dot makes sure that everyone is having a good time with lovely performances and enough food and drinks to go around. Everyone would take this chance to dress in their best pink get up and picnic at Hong Lim Park, sitting among fashionable pets and bright balloons.

But please, look beyond the surface and go deeper. Underneath the laughter and the excitement of forming the dot at the end, Pink Dot to me, is about human love.

It is about love being an emotional experience that is beyond gender and sexual orientation.

I still remember feeling a little sad when I first went for Pink Dot back in 2010, because I saw couples that were still uncomfortable being in the open. Hands started letting go when they felt like people were watching and eyes mostly looking at the ground.

This year, it was special for me.

Standing around while waiting to form the dot, I was surrounded with affection. I saw couples sneaking kisses while the shy ones were quietly holding hands. Some were swaying together with the music and others resting on shoulders or sharing a hug. The physical expressions of affection and love were all similar and beautiful and every couple was different and unique in so many ways. It was truly incredible, feeling the affection and the energy of love all around me.

This year, the smiles across faces were bright and the pride was strong. I could feel the love.

The love in the painstakingly done up decorations and planning of the event for the people. The love in the body language of people and animals. The love in the words and sounds traveling in the air.

To me, love is universal and everyone feels love the same way. Love is more than the appearances and preferences of people. Love is about acceptance and it is an emotion that everyone deserves to experience unconditionally. Why should some people be more deserving of love than others? Why should we label some people as ‘normal’ and some others not? What exactly is normal?

Aren’t we all the same really?

So, every year, I choose to make a stand for what I believe in. I might be one person and I may not know much about the struggles or the complications the LGBTs face, but if me going for Pink Dot would make a small difference, then why not?

Can you imagine if everyone thought it was a “waste of time” and simply choose not to turn up? The dot would not even happen.

Everyone has a choice and individuals choosing to turn up for the event are important. Standing in the middle of Hong Lim Park under a camera and forming the dot as one, it is about lending each other support and knowing that we have got each others’ backs.

As people, we are empowered to make a difference when we all come together and really make our presence count.

And the part about me not even fighting for my rights because I am straight?

That’s not true, because essentially, I am fighting for the right to love as a human being.

Because no matter the orientation, we are all made up of blood, skin and bones.

And we all have a beating heart to love.

Under The Stars concert 2013.

youtubeI attended Under The Stars: YouTube Sensations concert last Friday night. It was held at The Colisem at Hard Rock Hotel in Resorts World Sentosa.

This concert would be the second one in the series organised by Starhub. This event brings in YouTube stars that Singaporeans would love to watch live. It is a celebration of talent online and bringing them offline to showcase what they have got live to fans. Generally, this concept appeals to the younger crowd.

Compared to last year, I did not queue long this time, so I got a relatively good view this time round. And as the concert went by, my view became better and better because local concert goers tend to disappear once the acts they support are done. So, by the end of the concert? I was one row away from the stage.

Anyway, other than the stated YouTube stars, there were two other guest performers.

The opening act was Eirene Enriquez, the winner of the Starhub singing contest. She sang two songs, Demi Lovato’s Heart Attack as well as Jennifer Hudson’s You’re Gonna Love Me. Both showed off her voice control and techniques. I was slightly impressed by her techniques but she sounded breathless half the time, which was a little disappointing.

The other guest performer would be Miguel Antonio. He is a twelve year old boy and he sure knows how to please the crowd. Playing the keyboard while singing, he drew the audience into his sincere and simple performance. Other than singing Bruno Mars’ When I Was Your Man and Adele’s Someone Like You, What Do I Do (original song). He was the youngest performer throughout the entire concert, but his talent was evident. I think he gained many female fans that night, judging from the screams and high-pitched cheering.

First up from the featured sensations would be Tanner Patrick, pleasing his fans with his set of six songs. Here would be the list of songs he performed:

  1. Pumped Up Kicks – Foster the people
  2. Sideways Figure Eights – Original song
  3. Good Time (featuring Zendee) – Owl City Ft. Carly Rae Jepsen
  4. Stay – Rihanna Ft. Mikky Ekko
  5. Clarity / The A Team – Zedd Ft. Foxes / Ed Sheeran
  6. Merry Go Round – Original song

Throughout his performance, he had strong audience interaction. He kept trying to get everyone singing with him and well, he even threw his towel (after using it to wipe his sweat) down to the audience simply because they wanted it. I enjoyed his set quite a bit, though it would have been better if he was louder. Sometimes, I lose his voice, especially when the screaming starts.

Nate Tao, the next performer up on stage, kept the audience interaction going with jokes and his thoughts on Singapore. Instead of going acoustic like Patrick, he performed with a band and that hyped up the crowd a little more. His set had a mix of vocal range and emotions, which I appreciated very much.

  1. Sooner – Original song
  2. Beautiful – Mariah Carey Ft. Miguel
  3. Set Fire To The Rain – Adele
  4. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
  5. The Greatest Thing – Original song
  6. For Once In My Life – Stevie Wonder

Personally, I enjoyed him live because I thought he sounded so much better compared to his videos. Hearing him sing live enabled me to listen to his tone and nuances of the voice better.

The Sam Willows went up next, representing Singapore this year. No surprise, really. They have been at so many events recently after gaining fame, with their last big event being Asia Style Collection. The melodies sounded nice and they grooved to the music, but occasionally, their voices got messy which was a pity. Things also got awkward when the audience only kept cheering for half of the band, and not the other half.

  1. Crimson – Original song
  2. It’s Time – Imagine Dragons
  3. (Sorry, but I did not manage to catch this song’s lyrics or even find it.)
  4. Good time/Million Voices – Owl City and Otto Knows mash-up
  5. Riverdance – Original song
  6. Glasshouse – Original song

Out of their whole set, I liked Riverdance the best. The whole band looked very natural on stage during that song and everyone was having fun. I guess the energy was there and it engaged the audience better.

The 38 Years Ago came on right after and I must say that they were the most adorable people ever. They were very appreciative and gave thanks constantly. It helped that they were warm and friendly, and the audience returned the favour.

  1. Just The Way You Are – Bruno Mars
  2. Nothing On You – B.o.B Ft. Bruno Mars
  3. How Long – Original song
  4. A Thai song
  5. I Won’t Give Up – Jason Mraz
  6. A Thai song

I do not understand Thai but I liked the songs. In fact, I am checking out their channel right now. 🙂 The singer has a very clear voice and she was very genuine throughout her performance. So even though most of the audience may not understand the lyrics, they were listening.

Bringing us back to the English language would be Madilyn Bailey as she performs acoustic covers as well as some original songs for the audience. I would say that she was one of the main stars in the concert, considering the huge crowd that left after her set.

  1. Thrift Shop – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
  2. Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It – Original song
  3. Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
  4. Talking To The Moon – Bruno Mars
  5. Tragedy – Original song
  6. Titanium (with invited cellist) – David Guetta Ft. Sia

Throughout her set, the crowd was not cheering nonstop and her performance was quiet, but her voice definitely dominated space. For me, I was hanging onto her every word. When she sang Titanium, she did not disappoint with every note in its place. It was lovely and I liked it very much. It was a very strong performance.

Last but not least would be Zendee. Even though half the audience disappeared, she gave her all and blew everyone away with her strong vocals and stage presence. Before this concert, I have to admit that I did not know who she was but well, I am a fan of hers now!

  1. I Believe – Original song
  2. Go The Distance – Michael Bolton
  3. Runaway – Original song
  4. Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
  5. Just give me a reason (featuring Nate Tao) – P!nk Ft. Nate Ruess
  6. Love On Top – Beyonce

Her most amazing performance would be her duet with Nate Tao. Good chemistry and great voices! Yes, I really enjoyed that performance. It just showed how good her singing is and she proved herself worthy of the stage.

After her time was up, all performers were invited back up on stage to sing We Are Young (featuring Janelle Monae) by Fun. together and the crazy four hour concert ended. My legs were stiff and killing me by then, but the live performances were well worth it. I would say I enjoyed the concert, though I probably cannot say the same about the attitudes of concert goers that left halfway.

Money.

Are we that desperate for money?

In case you are wondering what I am referring to, it is the profiteering of the Hello Kitty dolls from Macdonald’s.

Almost every social media platform is splashed with multiple posts right now of individuals reselling the limited edition Singing Bone Hello Kitty at a much higher price to the people that might have missed out on the doll.

So far, the price range would be about 50 dollars to as high as 128 thousand dollars.

I recognise the fact that it takes two to tango and with people willing to pull out the money, these individuals will just keep reselling the dolls if they have them.

But why would anyone do this?

If you never wanted the doll in the first place, couldn’t you just let someone else with a greater desire to collect them buy the dolls at Macdonald’s at the original price?

There are many people out there that collect these dolls and it is sort of a hobby for them. And it brings them simple joys to add new ones to their collection.

And may I just add that not all collectors are rich.

Some may be students, saving their everyday allowance to get it every week. Maybe some are housewives with a soft spot for stuffed toys and have been collecting since the very first Hello Kitty series that Macdonald’s launched.

I am simply disappointed that there are people out there, taking advantage of other people’s joys and trying to make some petty cash out of it.

The first disappointment was when they could not get the doll after queuing and the second would be having to fork out so much more money for something they like. Or maybe completely forgoing the doll because of the prices, and being unable to keep a full set.

Just recently, masks have been treated the same way. Masks that could save lives and keep everyone on this country healthy and happy.

And now dolls?

What have we become, really?

Entirely driven by money and selfishness. I think this is a sad state of mind, and not the way we should be treating each other.

Santouka Hokkaido Ramen.

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I have never been a big fan of ramen. Most are served with char shiew and oily pork-based soup, which I do not favour at all.

So when I heard positive comments on this place and how it is the supposedly the best in Singapore, I was slightly skeptical.

I got myself a Kara-miso ramen set with gyoza, since it looked quite delicious on the menu. The set comes with one cup of tea, chawanmushi, salad, mini bowl of rice and your ramen as well as choice dish that’s part of the set.

Kara-miso soup was supposed to be spicy but it was not even close to spicy, really. I quite liked it though, because the soup was not oily. The char shiew that came with my ramen had a nice texture to it and quite lean (I do not like eating the fats).

The rice was legit Japanese rice an went well with the gyoza, which was of a convenient size to bite and was quite tasty, though the gyoza had a lighter taste than expected.

I did not really like the chawanmushi though. I felt it was too salty and it overwhelms the taste of the steamed egg. Pity.

As for the salad, I quite liked it. The sauce tasted good. And one cup of tea was sufficient because they actually serve you iced water, which was nice.

All the food was served fresh and hot. The service was relatively prompt as well, though the downside may be the queuing at the beginning due to the small space.

Other than that, you might want to check out this place because, well, the food was not bad and I think it was worth the price (approximately 25 dollars per person) even though pricey. 🙂

Volunteerism.

I have been approached many times by peers and family members on this topic.

Some just do not seem to understand why I would spend my time doing volunteer work or why I was even considering taking a degree in social work.

The answer is simple. I simply like volunteer work.

Currently, I am a volunteer under six different organisations and right now, I am still thinking of how I can reach out to more organisations.

To me, it is really about helping those that are marginalised in society or simply reaching out to various groups of people that need help.

They need help. They need someone to listen and understand. And well, I have got a bit of time to spare and I am young, so I can help out with my energy and ideas. So why not?

My dad would always tell me: “People are only making use of you. They make you do all the work and they do not pay you. It is a waste of time.”

It is true that money is important and I stress myself out about my future finances and how I am going to survive, but really, all my choices have never really been about money.

If money was my priority, I would never have pursued The Arts or even engage in volunteer work in the first place.

Because life is beyond money. Why let pieces of paper rule the way you live your life? And even if I do not have it all, there are some people out there who have nothing at all.

Honestly, if those that had money donated half of what they have and those that have the time helped out at any charity organisation, most people would be receiving help and everyone would be able to move forward as one.

Volunteer work does not only benefit the people receiving help. It benefits you too.

For me, after volunteering my time, it opened my eyes to so many things in life. It made me wonder if saying ‘no’ to domestic violence is ever that easy. It made me appreciate the things I have more. It made me realise that everyone is going through difficulties in life and helping each other would make our lives better.

It makes you experience, grow and wonder what life really is about.

Dim Dim (The Hong Kong Pantry).

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I have been meaning to try this place for quite some time now, since I keep walking pass it when I want to get to Suntec City or Marina Square from the City Hall train station.

So I finally did try it for dinner the day before! 🙂

It was rather quiet and empty when I dined in. The service was rather prompt as well, which I appreciated, even though the waiter and waitress barely smiled.

Anyway, I ordered the har kow, siew mai, custard bun, steamed rice roll with prawns and their ‘must-try’ pork chop baked rice, along with a cup of Hong Kong ice milk tea.

Hmm, the food were all fresh and served hot, which was awesome.

I enjoyed my sides very much and I am impressed by the siew mai dish. It consisted of fresh meat and a whole prawn, instead of the usual processed minced meat plainly stuffed into the dumpling skin.

As for their pork chop baked rice, I was rather disappointed by it. On the menu, it stated having wild mushrooms together with the pork chop. However, I only ate one thinly sliced button mushroom.

The rice was not your usual white rice, which was quite tasty, but got dry in the end due to the lack of sauce. The cheese was tasty though not chewy, but there were some parts of my rice without the cheese layer on top.

All I am saying is that it was not what I expected it to be, in terms of ingredients as well as how savoury the dish was.

So, let’s just say that I will be going there for dim sum and the drink (delicious and authentic Hong Kong milk tea) without the baked rice next time round.

(Note: The dishes and drink totalled up to about 30 dollars. A little pricey, so I would not suggest going there if you are not a tight budget.)

Falling.

You were once at the top. Or maybe, you just had everything you wanted in life. Or, you can just be leading an average life.

And one day, you fell.

You may have fell from expectations, from grace or maybe, you just lost the things you had.

Most people would simply smirk and dismiss it all, with snide remarks about your mistakes and that you deserved it. They may even place themselves in a higher position to talk down to you, laugh at you and ignore you.

At this point, you may be thinking: “Life sucks. What did I do to deserve this? Why must it happen to me? This is all so unfair.”

I am guilty of this occasionally, and would catch myself for being such a disgusting human being by wishing the unhappiness happened to someone else instead.

That aside, is falling really a bad thing?

This morning, I am sitting at a table in Coffee Bean and thinking about this random question.

Taking things away from you might just be Life’s way of telling you to stop taking everything for granted. Or a wake up call.

It is sort of like riding a bicycle. You fall once, so you can correct your mistake to ride properly. If you don’t, you will fall again.

Making mistakes and picking yourself up from them is not a shameful thing. Everyone makes mistakes right? Just that some are bigger than others. And some more serious than others.

So why do we ostracise ex-offenders and the people in prison? Or those that failed in school because they didn’t try hard enough the first time round?

Of course, the choice to learn from our mistakes may not be made from everyone. But I would like to believe most of us would, eventually.

Falling is not a disgrace, it is just a timely reminder for us to keep improving and make our lives better for ourselves.

To be able to realise where we went wrong would be a blessing, I think. Because sometimes, we try so hard for certain things in Life, only to keep failing and not know why.

And when that happens, there is no one to tell you where you went wrong.