History through arts at Singapore Fringe Festival

We all hear about how the people of Singapore are disciplined, how it has contributed to the prosperity that Singapore now has. But we hear little about how Singapore is a hodgepodge of nationalities, migrant workers and other men and women from outside Singapore who can be more justifiably credited with the bull run of the Singapore economy.

With that said, allow me to blog about the Singapore Fringe Festival that is ongoing here until Jan. 27. What’s in it for us Filipinos if Singapore holds an arts festival 2,000 kilometers away from the Philippines? Because Singapore is doing something important that the Philippines is not. Not arts festival, but an attempt at identity recognition in the middle of its multihued Singapore society.

Singapore is a country whose population of 4.68 million (as of September 2007) is one-fourth not originally from Singapore. Like me, for 30 days at most, unless I could evade the immigration police from my hotel room here at Tekka Hotel in Singapore. And like the Samsui women from Guangdong, China, who came to Singapore in the early 20th century in search of work.

Singapore Fringe Festival

Samsui Woman in Singapore


Women of tenacity and independence, the Samsui women worked in Singapore as migrant workers do so now: often deprived of the families they send their pays to. In exposition of the Samsui women and the role they played in nation-building, the Singapore Fringe Festival has documented the lives of three old Samsui women through pictures taken by local photographer Sim Chi Yin.

But, instead of displaying the photos inside a gallery, the Singapore Fringe Festival brings to the public the life in pictures of the Samsui women at bus stops across Singapore. The photos at the bus stops were provocative, something that forced me to introspection as I waited for and boarded a bus. So I know it’s great.

Other highlights of the Singapore Fringe Festival is the Asian premiere of Eclipse, a stage play about a young man in Singapore who goes on a journey to the birthplace of his father in Pakistan, only to retrace the journey that those before him had done in 1947 during the war between Pakistan and India.


Singapore Fringe Festival 2008

Also, there is this choir I so want to see. Called the Complaints Choir Project, these traveling minstrels from Birmingham bring its culture of complaining charmingly to Singapore. Got complaints? Belt it out. That’s what I hear the Complaints Choir Project is all about.

For full list of festival schedules, you may visit the website of Singapore Fringe Festival. For flights to Singapore, you may look for local flight schedule at SkyScanner. For hotel accommodations in Singapore, you may want to check out the Singapore branch of Tekka Hotel. Okay, a disclaimer: I do volunteer work for the Singapore Fringe Festival. Okay, okay, I do it for free passes! 😛

Now, seriously, do get here and get to know Singapore. You just might find a reflection of the Philippines.



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