Everyday stories, one Singapore

Everyday stories, one Singapore

There were no big-name stars to headline the event. Nor was there the usual re-telling of the Singapore success story.

Instead, it was the ordinary Singaporean who took centrestage at the National Day Parade (NDP) to mark the country's 48th birthday.

Deploying cute little kids dressed up in military uniforms and a 68-strong choir drawn from all walks of life, first-time creative director Selena Tan weaved a tapestry of music and colour to reflect the inherent diversity of Singapore's people.

In the process, she painted the stories of their everyday hopes, struggles and triumphs on the canvas of the big screens mounted on the Floating Platform at Marina Bay.

There was Ms Yvonne Goh, 40, a karung guni woman who collects old junk and donates to a charity that feeds poor foreign workers, and grandmother Josephine Roman, 71, who still goes dragonboating with young people who are five decades her junior.

Inspiring stories like these, normally known only to family and friends, formed the anchor of the Many Stories... One Singapore theme and contributed to a fun and engaging NDP show that scored high on its connection with its audience.

An ode to Singlish by singer Shimona Kee had the crowd in stitches as they joined in a mass singalong. Even the Merlion turned comedian, "swimming" from its spot near the Fullerton Hotel to appear onstage and break into a rap.

After eye-catching displays from groups as diverse as wheelchair athletes and freewheeling BMX bike-riders, the show reached its climax with the 68-strong choir singing this year's National Day song, One Singapore.

An honour usually reserved for a local celebrity, it was one in a series of parade firsts last night.

Another first was the involvement of Singapore sporting heroes like paralympian Laurentia Tan and paddler Feng Tianwei.

But Third Warrant Officer Shirley Ng was denied the chance to make history.

She was to have been the first woman to skydive onto the parade floor as part of the annual Red Lions parachuting display, but cloudy conditions forced the team to cancel its appearance.

The night ended with a plaintive rendition of the National Anthem by jazz singer Rani Singam, which reached a crescendo with golden fireworks breaking out in a cascade above the city skyline.

"It was really amazing. The lyrics were dense with emotion. It made me feel more Singaporean," said 17-year-old student Rebecca Defoe.

Building on this year's National Day theme, President Tony Tan Keng Yam said in a Facebook posting yesterday: "All Singaporeans have a duty to build on the foundation laid down by their forefathers, and develop the Singapore story further in their own unique ways."

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