It is early Sunday morning but after subuh prayers. I couldn’t go back to under the blanket, something which I would on normal circumstances. Somehow I wanted to check my facebook for likewise status from fellow countrymates, to read channelnewsasia and the straitstimes. I wanted to get connected with the people whom would want to share this sentiment with me today. For today, she celebrates her 44th birthday. I’m talking about our motherland.
I won’t exactly call myself patriotic because when there are criticisms to be made about this republic island city I hailed from, I would be amongst the first to second it, if I already have not came up with the criticisms myself. Living out of it for quite a while has given me ample opportunities to look at it from the outside, to be able to look with discerning eyes without the fear of being a ‘traitor’ of sorts. And to be very candid about its weaknesses.
From the outside, I began to apprieciate what it has done for me having been born and bred there. I went through the education system and having worked there both under the ministry and a short stint in the private sector, I’ve learnt amongst other things, the importance of work ethics, efficiency, struggle and focus–something which I cannot seem to find in many places, especially here. Ironically, it is also from the outside that I apprieciate the fact that I’ve left it, for there are things in there that are just not for me. There are many weaknesses of the island which myself and fellow ‘live outside the island’ mates are able to see/realise/acknowledge. That makes us apprieciate the fact that we are given the opportunities to be out of it. Out of there.
However, all those factors are quite irrelevant to what I feel today. I feel proud of the island, its progress and achievements despite the lack of resources. I admire its survival instincts and have this warm and fuzzy feeling that I had been a part of that nation building, which in the education sense, I was in the frontline. I apprieciate the safety it has given me, my family and friends and the education it had provided for me.
No matter what, that island is home. Where I belong. Where I grew up, where my memories are, where my family and friends can be found, where my heart is rooted–which is more than about the red passport I carry. The place which has moulded me to be who I am, be it in the positive or negative sense and which has given me the sense of identity. Where I learnt that life is not about waiting for handouts and free ‘gifts’ from the government just because you are born into the right ethnic group, but about struggling and working very very hard to get what I want to achieve. Where I learnt that we may not perfect, but we can always strive to be the best that we can be, in all areas. And we must be the best. That’s just the manic focus ingrained into us day in and day out. The competitiveness can be quite OCD, I know but well in most cases, it got us ahead, so that’s cool. 🙂
So today I’ve got lunch and tea dates lined up with people from back home and I can’t be happier doing our national pastime on this National Day–eating! 🙂
Happy 44th birthday. Dirgahayu Singapura!!!
Where I belong, the theme song for 2001 National Day has always been my personal favourite, because it says wherever I am, that is the place I know I belong… 🙂
And oh, the title of this blog entry came from the first line of our national anthem, and yes it is still in Malay 🙂