It's a date ... and more

It's a date ... and more
Ms Chew showing the different sizes of the horse-racing calendar.

For eight months, she pores over Gregorian dates, lunar dates and the almanac.

She also liaises with various organisations to obtain significant dates for the respective religions and cultures. 

Then she gets down to proofreading the artwork that will make the horse racing calendar.

It is tedious work, especially when accuracy is crucial, says Ms Chew Fong Ling, 28, who works with Chee Seng International.

The firm specialises in producing calendars, diaries, leather products and red packets.

Ms Chew is one of the faces behind the production of horse-racing calendars here, which retail for about $2.50 each.

Such calendars have seen their popularity wane over the years, giving way to modern desktop calendars and smartphones.

But the traditional calendar, which shows the horse-racing dates here and in Malaysia, still has its fans among the older generation.

The calendar features monthly pages, each day filled with details such as the Chinese lunar date, Islamic date, Hindu date, public holidays, school holidays and even daily do's and don'ts according to the Chinese almanac.

Most times, the calendars are given away free by companies to their customers, or they can be bought cheaply.

But the amount of work that goes into the production is tremendous.

Ms Chew and her colleague, Ms Marie Tan, start working on the calendar as early as April.

Ms Chew says her role is to source for the additional information that goes in with the dates, while Ms Tan, 44, a graphic designer, creates the artwork.

The challenge comes when the dates from different associations for the same faith or event don't match.

RESEARCH

That means they have to do more research and calculations on their end plus double-checking with the various organisations repeatedly. This is to ensure accuracy, explains Ms Chew.

"In the end, we have to decide which one is more reliable and follow that," she says.

Ms Chew also has to pore over the Chinese almanac on calendars imported from China, and summarise the do's and don'ts of each day to be incorporated into the calendar.

After nearly eight years into the job, both women say they can now recognise certain Tamil words despite not understanding the language at all.

After the designing stage is over, the next process right to the end product is labour-intensive. This includes cutting the printouts into various sizes, collating, gluing and metal-binding them manually, before distributing them to the smaller printing companies and shops.

Despite the hard work, Ms Chew is pleased when she sees people of different ethnicities use the same calendar.

She says: "It is truly a Singaporean calendar."

chaihyn@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Jan 04, 2015.
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