Monday, April 27, 2015

Hedwig Anuar Children’s Book Award

I have been very upset with the National Arts Council (NAC) of late, especially when they rejected my application for the Iowa University's International Writer's Program (IWP). What's up with you NAC? This is like the rejection? Am I not a good author? Although I am a new writer, I have written 3 good books. How much more must I prove to you NAC?! Suddenly, few days ago, I received news that my second book 'The Mango Tree' has been shortlisted for the Hedwig Anuar's Children's Book Award (HABA). Dig that NAC!

The HABA is presented biennially to an outstanding, published children’s book by a Singaporean author or authors. 'The Mango Tree' is one of the 6 books shortlisted from 63 submissions and 3 shortlisted books had won other awards before HABA. 

Let's hope 'The Mango Tree' will bear sweet, juicy victory this time round. Fingers crossed! 

And the mother of irony is that the one who will be presenting the award is the Minister who knew about the Mango Tree saga (and he obviously let the Malay Heritage Foundation and the Mamanda restaurant do as they pleased). Imagine if the book wins the award, I will go on stage, smile widely, accept the prize and tell that Minister, "Sweet revenge!"

ps. The Mango Tree was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize 2014 (English non-fiction). It was the only children's picture book while the other 4 were non-fiction novels. An amazing achievement for children's books!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Oh my Tosh!

I don't quite fancy Jack Neo's films but I was pleasantly surprised by his Ah Boys to Men 3: Frogmen. Politics (lack of minority characters in the film etc.) and other serious critiques aside, the film was quite touching and inspiring. Spot on casting, human interest issues, redemption, and of course Warrant Alex Ong! Alex Ong (actor/rapper Tosh Zhang) uncannily reminded me of two Chinese boyfriends from my frivolous junior-college-university years. Like Alex, both were tall, lean, fit (those 6 packs!), sweet, firm yet shy, and intelligent. Ok, so the one who was a doctor was an #$%* who two-timed me. The other was a college athlete and an overall nice guy. was reliving my puppy love period through the film. *blush... 

Oh my Tosh, I am so crushing onto you... how, how? Perhaps, this is an intentional diversion from a current interest who also has a mole on his left cheek. Damn it lah.

To my old boyfriend 'Alex Ong' (1:01, 1:13. 1:49, 2:18 in the music video below), settled? Hooyah!

Monday, April 06, 2015

Berkalungkan bintang berkelipan (Garlanded by shining stars)

I know I don't look like one but I am a closeted Minah Rock. I like songs of yesteryear Malay rockers such as Awie, Rahim Maarof, Wings, etc. I find the lyrics of their songs poetic in a rockish sort of way.

I recently discovered this Malay rockish, inspirational song 'Gemuruh' (Thundering) by Faizal Tahir launched in 2007. Ironically, the song brought back memories of USA days when I actually followed through my cousin's harebrained idea. Ok, so I pursued it (with blessings from my mother) but the idea didn't materialise (well, I guess it was indeed a very long shot). When I returned to Singapore (with wonderful memories of the USA, interning at the United Nations as well as that Fulbright Scholar status and a masters degree), the one 'failure' was that harebrained idea. I then blocked whatever memories related to that idea from my mind. Refusing to listen to my cousin's pleadings to persevere, I told her off, "What is the whole bloody point?" I even used the Malay proverb "Hidung tak mancung, pipi tersorong-sorong" to drive the message across. I had my dignity and I felt it was not right to pursue something that would not work out. 

Fast forward 2015, the past revisited me. Surprise. Surprise. I felt that I was given a second chance at the harebrained idea. And after much soul-searching and reflections, I acted upon it. Why? Like the deep, meaningful lyrics of 'Gemuruh', I discovered that I still have the passion in wanting to pursue my dreams. I want to reach for 'angkasa' (space), 'berkalungkan bintang berkelipan' (garlanded by shining stars) and 'menyerlah jauh dari yang biasa' (to shine far from the ordinary). And even if I could not shine, I would like to grow together and support that special star who could. The problem is, perhaps I am the only one who is feeling these thunderous, pulsating emotions as that special star has already shone, and is probably oblivious to this small, faraway star.

ps. How many of us are given a second chance (after a nearly 8 years hiatus) at pursuing something worthwhile? Don't you think we should take that second chance?