Saturday 23 June 2012

Majulah Singapura: What it means to me

By Royston Tan, TODAY, 22 Jun 2012

When anyone asks me if I know what our National Anthem stands for, one memory comes up: The assembly session where one of our National Education teachers stood amidst thousands of fidgety children, trying to explain the meaning of Majulah Singapura.

I recall having difficulty understanding what the teacher was talking about, partially because the anthem was not in my native language. I was also more interested in chatting with my friends around me.

The only words I caught - the two that immediately pop into the heads of most Singaporeans - were "Onward Singapore".

For a student who was not faring too well in school, as I look back now on my different milestones, I would say that one of my biggest achievements was entering Temasek Polytechnic's Visual Communications course.

It was a feat that I qualified for a course that attracted thousands but admitted few. I managed to achieve my dream not just through hard work but also the support of my loved ones.

I count myself blessed to have many opportunities to hone my craft, locally and internationally. I have seen many people walking similar paths. Sometimes they fumble, sometimes they succeed. The most important thing is that they never give up.

For me, that is the essence of Majulah Singapura.

I have come full circle in learning what the National Anthem means to me. This year, I am honoured to be part of the National Day Parade through the LovingSG: One Heart, One Voice project.

I have been collecting videos of Singaporeans singing Majulah Singapura, which I will put together for a big surprise for Aug 9. As part of the project, I have approached uncles and aunties at several coffee shops to lend me their voices.

Often, I have found myself explaining what the anthem means and even mouthing the lyrics to those who happened to have forgotten it.

To me, the anthem is like a thread which weaves through many of our experiences. Be it working hard for our first major exam, stepping into the corporate world for the first time, and surviving it, it is important to hold tight to one's dreams and never give up.

The writer is an award-winning film-maker

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