Saturday, August 28, 2010

For a fortnight, I felt 16 (YOG)

WEekend today August 28 - 29, 2010, VOICES, PAGE 6
Edric Sng,, 05:55 AM Aug 28, 2010

PHOTO: Blazing the trail at the opening ceremony
The Marina Bay floating platform was the stage for the spectacular Opening Ceremony on Aug 14. A crowd of 20,000 watched a spectacular show, anchored around the theme of “Blazing the Trail”. Among the highlights were a lion dance show, a fireworks display and a sublime moment during which Singapore sailor Darren Choy ran, seemingly on water, to light the Olympic Cauldron.


PHOTO: On Feb 21, 2008 IOC president Jacques Rogge announced that Singapore would be the first city to ever host the YOG. The news sent thousands at the Padang, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, into exuberant celebrations.

What a journey it has been,Tan Yo-Hinn, Dr Jacques Rogge opened the envelope and uttered the sweetest 25 words: The International Olympic Committee have the honour of announcing that the first Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2010 are awarded to the city of Singapore.The Padang, and an entire nation, burst into cheers.

PHOTO: Team from TODAY and Edric Sng
The writer is Today's Voices editor.

PHOTO: From Athens to the heartlands
It involved some 2,400 torchbearers, from celebrities Joanne Peh and Randall Tan to ordinary Singaporeans from all walks of life and ages, crisscrossing the island for six days in early August.

The sight of Low Wei Jie chasing the flame reflected the spirit of the Games by a member of the public.


PHOTO: Blazing the trail at the opening ceremony
Asublime moment during which Singapore sailor Darren Choy ran, seemingly on water, to light the Olympic Cauldron.


PHOTO: Blazing the trail at the opening ceremony
By SPH-SYOGO C/Alph onsus Chern, Bryan van Der Beek, Chong Jun Liang, Gavin Foo and Leonard Phuah.

Today file photos


Ivan Heng, seated not five spots to my right, had whipped off his trademark black-rimmed glasses to wipe off a tear. He wasn't the only one.

On Thursday night, I somehow found myself seated just beside the team that put together the Youth Olympic Games closing ceremony. I would've thought that Heng, the event's creative director, would be backstage creatively directing things, but there he was in the stands with us, wearing the silly flashing hat, laughing and crying with the rest of us.

The bit that got to him - and to many around me - was a video montage of the Games highlights, a series of photographs of athletes crossing the finish line, dancing on the sidelines, having a laugh over a meal, biting their medals, cuddling Lyo and Merly stuffed toys. You remember.

The day before the closing ceremony, I was at Marina Reservoir taking in the canoe/kayak finals. The sport meant nothing to me, but that didn't matter; it could just as easily have been curling or kabaddi. I was there to find out for myself if there was any grain of truth to all the letters we've been publishing on the Voices pages about the infectious enthusiasm of the Games.

Some East European, I think, took the bronze in one of the events. When he was in his canoe, from far, he looked a man, muscularly cutting through the water, But up close, at the medal ceremony, he was all boy - ruddy cheeks, buck teeth, cuddling his Lyo stuffed toy. And when his name was announced, he bounced onto the podium with the kind of big, pure smile you don't see at the Olympics for Grown-Ups, the kind of joy that suggests he wasn't just doing it to score a better shoe sponsorship deal.

I could've cried.

If you've been moaning about the inconvenience the YOG has caused you, I suspect you didn't attend any of the events, didn't really watch the TV broadcast to see what the Games meant to the young 'uns playing their hearts out. I suspect you've missed the point of the whole shebang.

You'll be an adult for the rest of your life, but you're only young once - before work deadlines and housing loans get the better of you. Watching the athletes and eager volunteers throw themselves into everything they did with unfettered gusto, I felt that little bit younger.

I suspect Ivan Heng did, too.
By Edric Sng,, 05:55 AM Aug 28, 2010
The writer is Today's Voices editor.

PHOTO: Blazing the trail at the opening ceremony
By SPH-SYOGO C/Alph onsus Chern, Bryan van Der Beek, Chong Jun Liang, Gavin Foo and Leonard Phuah.

Today file photos


Thank you, Mum.
For enduring morning sickness and jeans with elastic waistbands.
For carrying us in your arms, slings, wraps, strollers and minivans.

For teaching us to crawl, walk and run before we could swim, shoot, fence, row and cycle.

For being a full-time mum, chauffeur, coach, personal chef, doctor and cheerleader.
For never missing a day at the track or in the pool.
For being at every practice, match, meet and competition.

For believing in our dream before anyone else did.

For seeing the first Youth Olympic Games as not the end of an Olympic journey, but the start of one.
For doing the hardest job in the world.
Thank you for being a mum

From P&G, Proud sponsor of Mums TODAY, FRIDAY AUGUST 27, 2010, PAGE 19

PHOTO: Blazing the trail at the opening ceremony
From Russia - with love

By SPH-SYOGO C/Alph onsus Chern, Bryan van Der Beek, Chong Jun Liang, Gavin Foo and Leonard Phuah.

Today file photos



A beautiful revelation

weekend today August 28 - 29, 2010, FOOD, PAGE T4
Don Mendoza,, 05:55 AM Aug 28, 2010

PHOTO: TV chef Rachel Allen really loves how much she is an inspiration to many across the globe. And she loves our beef rendang ...
weekend today August 28 - 29, 2010, FOOD, PAGE T4

MORE than perhaps a Michelin-starred chef might be able to, the television chef - armed with a stockpot of eureka moments and a gorgeous personality to match - seems to manage the seemingly impossible. Which is to inspire people to cook.

Also, celebrity chefs like Rachel Allen are beautiful to watch.

PHOTO: Learn how to bake cherry crumble cake with Rachel Allen

Viewers watch TV to escape the confines of a slightly monotonous reality, and coincidentally find real life inspiration wrapped up in a convenient ensemble of useful tips paired with a genuinely easy but no less sumptuous mixed bag of clever recipes.

For Rachel Allen - TV chef, journalist, cookery teacher, author, designer and, yes, mother of two boys and a girl - it is also partly why she finds doing what she does more gratifying than running her own restaurant.

She explained: "The fact that I'm teaching people to cook - through cooking classes, my books and my TV programmes, and arming people with the skills they need to throw together a simple or not so simple meal for friends and family - that's really gratifying."


And who can blame her. This 38-year-old multi-tasking Irish kitchen goddess is the author of six bestselling cookbooks, which has sold in excess of a million copies worldwide. In fact, her most recent tome of tantalising recipes sold 250,000 copies in the first six months of its release.

"I love it when people come up to me and tell me that they have started cooking since buying my books or watching my programme," she added.

Fans here had the opportunity to do just that when the Irish celebrity chef visited Singapore recently to promote the Rachel Allen: Home Cooking series, her latest programme to air on BBC Lifestyle.


So how does she do it all and still manage to stay inspired?
The answer to that would be undoubtedly as multifaceted as the charming chef herself, who also told Today that she just loves what she quite clearly does best.

"I love that it enables me to travel, and I am constantly getting inspiration from all over the world," she said.

We did enquire if she had dreams of owning and running a food business - a local restaurant close to fresh indigenous Irish produce perhaps - and her answer was a simple "no, not at the moment ... I'm just happy doing what I'm doing".

This level of satisfaction that she finds in her work is notable, but it does not stop her from exploring new things. Like a rendang dish, evidently.

Today wondered about the regional and global influences on her cooking and asked her how much of it is Asian. "At present, probably about 10 to 20 per cent of it," she admitted. "But after this trip (to Singapore), that may increase a bit."

So the one dish that's currently a big inspiration for her? "Beef rendang ... I've had it before in Ireland but it wasn't as it was here."

It will probably not replace a roast chicken with chorizo stuffing as her family's favourite dish anytime soon. But given Rachel's fast growing popularity, her clever adaptation might just give the classic Irish beef stew a run for its money.

weekend today August 28 - 29, 2010, FOOD, PAGE T4

What is most unique and exciting about Irish home cooking?
For me, it's really about the produce that we have in Ireland - we have amazing produce ... There has to be an upside to all that rain!


So we have really good dairy, really good cheese, and great vegetables and fruit which are fairly easy to grow at home. A lot of people grow their own and this is becoming even more popular.

Some of the favourites that you will be sharing on your new show?
The dark sticky gingerbread is something I absolutely adore - that's one of my favourite things to have with a cup of tea or coffee - just a little slice is fine.

I also love the raspberry swirls if I'm being a bit indulgent, or for a cosy Sunday lunch in, you can't go wrong with the roast chicken with chorizo stuffing and the ginger and limeade.

What are some of the most exotic dishes you've managed with relative success?
I go through phases of being more adventurous than others. My husband shoots a bit in the winter, so when he comes home with birds, I pluck them and roast or pan-fry them. And I did try former French President Francois Mitterand's apparent last meal - a bird inside a bird inside a bird, roasted.

I put a snipe inside a duck once, and also cooked the duck feet, but they weren't so great. So I do like to experiment a bit. I've also tried chicken feet here and quite liked them.

Does your husband cook at home?
Yes, he cooks a lot. He loves cooking and he's quite adventurous, too. But we often come back to favourites or play on favourites like shellfish ... We love shellfish!

In fact, last night when I was talking to him, he was cooking some shrimp ... We live by the sea so we can get these quite easily.

Will your sons be equally great chefs ... like mum?
I hope they'll always really appreciate food and be able to cook for themselves and their friends because it's such a nice thing to do. At the moment, the two boys want to be footballers. In fact, Lucca, the younger one, wants to be a footballer and a rock star, but I can't say ... Might not work - slightly different lifestyles.

Catch Rachel Allen: Home Cooking on Fridays, 8pm, on BBC Lifestyle (StarHub TV Ch 432).
By Don Mendoza,, 05:55 AM Aug 28, 2010



Settle down Yes, Settle for No

weekend today, August 28 - 29, 2010, COLUMN, PAGE T3, (the fairer text)
By Georgina Chang,, 05:55 AM Aug 28, 2010

PHOTO: I'd rather be single and sometimes lonely than be miserable in an unhappy relationship.
The writer's gonna take her time.

Art: Yen Yok)
I beseech attached people not to impose your fears of being single on those who are. Because I’m not on a journey just to find a life partner. I’m on a journey to find people who will be in my life forever.
weekend today, August 28 - 29, 2010, COLUMN, PAGE T3,
(the fairer text)

PHOTO: Georgina Chang
weekend today, August 28 - 29, 2010, COLUMN, PAGE T3, (the fairer text)
The writer is the senior creative director of 987FM and Lush 99.5.

IN THE past when I was in a bad relationship, we would argue about the most ridiculous things almost every day. I felt like I was in hell, on earth.

In reality, these silly fights were a symptom of underlying major problems and differences that could not be resolved. I would then make excuses to myself as to why I was still with him. I eventually came to my senses, but only after a lot of pain and disappointment.

Of course, I want to be in a fulfilling, loving relationship where we have the same priority - each other.

Parents and children are expected to leave you eventually, but your partner is for life, isn't he?

So I'd rather take my time to carefully decide who my life partner will be. There's plenty at stake, like happiness, joy, comfort, support and inspiration.

While I'm enjoying that dating journey though, it's challenging to be content about being single in Singapore.

I was at brunch with a group of friends when one of them, smug with her rich husband, two kids and a dog, said to me: "Hey, why don't you date our friend John since you're both available."

I've known John for years and she knows we've never had that kind of attraction. Still, she casually suggested that since we're the only single ones left in the group, we might as well hook up.

I wanted to put hooks into her presumptuous botoxed cheeks.

I have some female friends who have declared a little too emphatically that they have no interest in getting married, and that they don't need a man. These are warm, loving women, but they've had to go on the defensive to ward off the annoying question of: "Why aren't you married?". Which actually translates to "What's wrong with you?"

I have a handful of friends who are genuinely happily married, but there are so many more who aren't. I hear them constantly complaining bitterly.

A woman in a joyless relationship looks haggard. A man in a joyless relationship looks for other women. I want to minimise the risk of being joyless.

That means I'm not willing to settle for a guy just because he has a great smile and smells nice. No, no, I have a specific set of criteria, like honesty, a sense of humour, wisdom, courage and a touch of sex appeal.

Does that make me picky?

Women in Singapore are accused of that, just because they don't want to date someone with a lower income or education than themselves.

I've dated men with lower incomes, and the problems surfaced when he expected to be treated like the king of the house - I had to cook and serve him and obey his demands, yet he got angry if I didn't subsidise his expenses.

(Dude, if you want to be treated like a King, you have to treat her like a Queen, not an obsequious employee who has to pay you to make you look good.)

Sure, there are some girls who only want a rich guy, any rich guy even if he is obnoxious, fat, balding or a lying cheat. If you judge these girls as materialistic, don't get angry about it. You can simply choose not to date them.

I had a friend who insisted on only dating a guy who is tall, good looking, with an Ivy league education and a great job. Iasked her: "But what do you offer him in return?"

She looked disdainfully at me as if I had just picked my nose, and continued without missing a beat: "And he must drive a nice car and live in an posh condo."

As Gloria Steinem kinda said: "Become the man you want to marry."

If you expect your partner to be kind, generous, and always gorgeous, then you should have the same qualities too, right? Paunchy, flabby men should not make fun of their wife's chubby thighs.

So I beseech attached people not to impose your fears of being single on those who are. Don't pressure us to settle for anyone, or shortchange ourselves. Don't give us pitying looks
(especially if your own relationship isn't that great) or try to match-make us with whoever else is still single.

We're actually having a great life doing what we want, with whoever we want. And I want to take my time because I have that freedom.

Because I'm not on a journey just to find a life partner. I'm on a journey to find people who will be in my life forever.
By Georgina Chang,, 05:55 AM Aug 28, 2010

The writer is the senior creative director of 987FM and Lush 99.5.

PHOTO: Jennifer Aniston is close to turning 40 and she doesn’t have a man in her life. She wants to settle down and start her family right now. One guy who’s fallen for her in a pretty hard way, is no-one but Shemar Moore.

PHOTO: The husband cheats a beautiful wife and then seeks forgiveness.



Everyone’s special in his own way



The writer is a senior vice-president of Singapore Press Holdings’ marketing division.

I recently heard of a few cases of people suffering depression because they felt lousy about themselves, some to the extent of contemplating drastic measures, like suicide.

This has impelled me to share my thoughts on the topic of self-esteem.

In a country as affluent as Singapore, where the rich are fast getting richer while the poor find it a struggle to keep pace, the aspect of self-worth or self-esteem features as an important element that needs to be addressed across any individual’s scope of reference.


Someone once wrote that self-esteem is about how much you value yourself and how important you think you are. It’s about how you look at yourself and how you feel about the things you have accomplished.

Many people get the wrong impression that self-esteem is all about how great you feel about yourself and visibly demonstrating your confidence and ability, sometimes to the extent of coming across as being boastful.

To me, self-esteem is akin to quietly knowing that you are worth a lot, regardless of race, wealth, intelligence or station in life. It’s all about recognising that you are blessed, talented and “priceless”!


This brings to mind Master-Card’s Priceless” advertising proposition.

Dr Jim Farrell, a professor ofhistory and director of American Studies at Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, has commented that “MasterCard’s ‘Priceless’ ads are obviously designed to respond to the American public’s worry that everything is being commodified, and that we’re becoming too materialistic”.

So the ads emphasise the things money can’t buy, the intangibles that make the good life really good.

You need neither money nor a high position to know that you are worthy of being loved and accepted.

Stop for a moment and you will realise that nobody in the entire world is perfect, and that having a positive self-esteem does not stem from material things but from a perception that is within yourself.


I stumbled upon a story recently about a well-known speaker who started his seminar by holding up a $500 note. In the room of 200 people, he asked: “Who would like this $500 note? Hands started going up.

He said: “I am going to give this note to one of you but first let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the note up. He then asked: “Who still wants it?Still, the hands went up in the air.

Well, what if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked up the dirty and crumpled note and asked: “Now, who still wants it?Still the hands shot up.

The valuable lesson this speaker was trying to inculcate in his audience had to do with “value”. No matter what he did to the money, the people still wanted the note because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $500.


Friends, I’m sure you realise that life never promises to be a bed of roses. All of us go through ups and downs, with more downs than ups sometimes.

Yes, there are occasions we are made to feel like the $500 note – dropped, crumpled and ground into the dirt, to the extent that we feel as though we are worthless.

We live through situations that come by us and we make decisions to the best of our ability. But things don’t always end up the way we want them to be.


But, regardless of what transpires or what will transpire in the future, you need to remember that you – just like the note – will never lose your value. All of us are special in our own right.

Someone once said: “Never let yesterday’s disappointments overshadow tomorrow’s dreams.


So lift your head high and recognise that “value has a value only if its value is valued”!

The writer is a senior vice-president of Singapore Press Holdings’ marketing division.


我的字典: Wǒ de zì diǎn

Self-esteem: 自尊心 - zì zūn xīn
Boastful: 自夸的 - zì kuā de
Crumple: 农皱 - nòng zhòu
A bed of roses: 养尊处优 - yǎng zūn chǔ yōu