Missed out on island-hopping? HeritageFest has more to offer

Mr Lee Pok Sew, 83, and his granddaughter Ariel, four, enjoying an exhibit on Kusu Island during a visit to the National Museum. The museum will be one of the 11 hubs for this year’s HeritageFest.

Hopping on boats to Singapore's outlying islands may be one way to learn more about the Republic's island heritage - but it is not the only one.

Those who do not manage to register for the popular island-hopping trails, organised as part of this year's Singapore HeritageFest, can still glean nuggets of history from the festival's other programmes.

These include film screenings as well as activities and exhibitions at 11 festival hubs islandwide.

They are among more than 60 different programmes put together by organiser National Heritage Board for the annual festival, which is focusing for the first time on Singapore's island heritage.

Now in its 11th edition, the Singapore HeritageFest will be held from July 18 to 27.

At the festival hubs located at shopping malls and places such as the National Museum of Singapore, visitors can browse exhibitions featuring themes ranging from Singapore's myths and legends to its kampung history to its island heritage.

For instance, the Tales From Our Shores festival hub at Century Square, a mall in Tampines, will tell six stories that have been passed down through the generations.

Some will dwell on the origins of places and things - such as the hot springs of Sembawang and the kompang drum, a Malay musical instrument - while others will centre on how places in Singapore were named.

Visitors to the exhibition will learn how Bukit Merah - which means "red hill" in Malay - got its name after a jealous ruler ordered his men to kill a young boy, causing his blood to flow down the hill.

At another festival hub, at Jurong's Westgate mall, visitors can find out more about the different forms of traditional healing from the different ethnic groups - traditional Chinese medicine; jamu, which is traditionally Malay; and ayurveda, a traditional Indian healing form.

Traditional Healing hub curator Angeline Tong, 38, said: "The exhibition aims to inform visitors that traditional healing is a collection of ancient wisdom that we should treasure."

The festival's offerings have piqued 26-year-old bank analyst Daniel Govindan's interest.

"The festival hubs in heartland malls will be convenient to visit, and I'll pop by on my way home from work," he said.

Island-hopping trails oversubscribe

A ballot will be conducted for registrations via e-mail for the popular island-hopping tours.

Following strong demand, the National Heritage Board (NHB) has laid on more tours beyond the Singapore HeritageFest period.

When the festival website opened for registration at midnight on Monday, there was an overwhelming response. NHB has since asked people to register their interest by e-mail.

It has worked with its partners, such as the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, to open up more slots, but registrations will have to be balloted and the tours will take place after the festival ends on July 27.

Themed Our Islands, Our Home, the festival aims to tell "lesser-known tales of our trading past" and showcase the cultures and traditions of immigrants who settled here.

"The public can also participate in the other programmes at the festival to learn more about our island heritage," said NHB.

There will be more than 60 different programmes and 11 festival hubs at locations such as Century Square, Changi City Point and the National Museum of Singapore.

The following are three events that visitors can still sign up for:

Pulau Ubin on Film: A Screening of Moving Gods and Discussion

When: July 20

Time: 4pm to 6pm

Where: National Museum of Singapore (NMS) Gallery Theatre, Basement; Register by e-mailing nhb_shf@nhb.gov.sg. First come, first served for up to 245 people.

Island Archaeology: An Obscure But Bountiful Past

When: July 15

Time: 7.30pm 9pm

Where: NMS Gallery Theatre, Basement; Register by e-mailing nhb_shf@nhb.gov.sg. First come, first served for up to 245 people.

Protecting Chek Jawa - Past, Present and Future. A Screening of Remember Chek Jawa and Discussion

When: July 27

Time: 4pm to 6pm

Where: NMS Gallery Theatre, Basement. Register by e-mailing nhb_shf@nhb.gov.sg. First come, first served for up to 245 people.

audreyt@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on July 05, 2014.
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