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Tuesday, August 09, 2005
5:30 pm

On National Day.


Remembering the 19 National Days that I've witnessed to date - it seems to me that with each year, it seems to get increasingly uneventful and insignificant to me.

When I was littler, as far back as my memory can take me, 8 August was about prancing around in red and white clothes and singing happy little patriotic songs about Singapore. Then it'd be followed by a celebration til midnight (always a big thing for someone who had a really early bedtime then) with my parents, playing with pretty sparklers until it was time for the countdown to National Day.

Then on National Day, I would wait eagerly for the NDP to start showing on the television. Instead of eating dinner in the dining room as we usually do, we would move the entire table out to the living room so we can eat while watching the parade at the same time. The fireworks at the end of each parade would always be the highlight of the day, and my sister and I would excitedly run to the balcony window to watch the fireworks display.

Later on, it was about wearing the little red pleated skirt that RGPS made all of us wear to school every National Day eve. The 9th of August is a holiday, we don't have to go to school - we all can play! I'm dressed in my best, especially for today...Hip, hip, hooray! It's our National Day... There was the annual performance in which I would never fail to take part in - be it a dance or a skit. I still remember the year when my class won first prize for the dance we put up on National Day - the first dance I ever choreographed, at the age of ten.

Somehow, I think the turning point from all this yearly anticipation to apathy was in 1999. That year, NYGH was selected to put up a mass display for NDP, and I was one of those chosen to take part in it. It was a mixture of gruelling rehearsals interspersed with a lot of fun and laughter during the breaks and waiting times (which was, in retrospect, most of the time). That year, I experienced first-hand the amount of time invested in the annual parade that we watch but promptly forget about in a few days. I had to go through the regular muscle-ache I would get in my tired, weak arms because I was one of the "banner girls" carrying the very heavy and huge banners proudly flaunting the logo of a NDP sponsor (in our case, it was for the National Sports Council).

Quite an irony, really - technically, I should appreciate NDP even more after witnessing for myself what a tiring hassle it is to put up the show we take for granted each year. Yet somehow, from that year onwards, I never did bother to watch the NDP properly again. I realised that every year, we get almost the same performances, the same routines in the same order, only with the slightest of variations.

At first, I would skip the marching and speeches and whatnot, only tuning in to watch the dances, singing and of course, the fireworks at the end. Then my interested waned further, and all I did was wait for the fireworks display. And now, this year - we didn't even bother about the NDP at all. Instead, my mom and I happily sat on the couch watching vcd after vcd while pigging out on the endless supply of food we have at home.

Now, National Day is simply just another holiday to me. Or worse, this year it isn't even a holiday, considering that everyday is a holiday now that school has yet to start for me.

Rather sad, isn't it?

Nevertheless: happy birthday, Singapore.