Tuesday, 26 May 2015

SG Heart Map: 50 places of significance to Singaporeans unveiled

The 50 places are frequently-mentioned locations in more than 80,000 personal stories contributed by Singaporeans.
By Kimberly Spykerman, Channel NewsAsia, 25 May 2015

Fifty locations across the island have made it to the SG Heart Map - a compilation of places which hold the most significance for Singaporeans.

They were revealed on Sunday (May 24), six months after the project was launched, and were picked from more than 80,000 stories contributed by people. The map was created to mark the nation's Golden Jubilee.

One in four of the stories shared is centred on the lives and memories in the different towns across Singapore, said SG Heart Map in a news release. The frequently-mentioned places include Orchard Road, Toa Payoh, and Gardens by the Bay.

The 50 places were unveiled in Sentosa on Sunday by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Grace Fu, who is the co-chair of the SG50 Environment and Infrastructure Committee overseeing the SG Heart Map project.

Ms Fu thanked those who contributed their stories for the project. For Nina Liang and Ernest Choon, the Bedok housing estate holds a special place in their hearts. It was where their love blossomed more than 10 years ago - after they first got to know each other online.

Ms Liang chatted online with Mr Choon for about three years before meeting up with him in Bedok in 2002 and going to the library together. "I was in Sec 1, and he was in Sec 3 or 4. And at that time, there was something called IRC - a really old chat group kind of thing online. We met there in one of the chat groups."

Mr Choon said: "She went online to just chit-chat with me, and she said 'hey, I'm free', so that's when we said why not take this opportunity to meet up for the first time, and that's where we picked Bedok as a spot to meet."

The couple, who are now married, have a two-month-old daughter named Sage. The couple's story was among the 20,000 stories linked to HDB towns - which were submitted for the SG Heart Map.

But only one made the top 50 - Toa Payoh Town, which yielded the most number of stories. Twenty-three other towns - which came up frequently in people's stories - were also given special mention.

Ms Fu said: "We were very touched by how home has been featured so regularly. So many of the HDB towns have actually come across over and over again - reflecting I think for Singaporeans, that families and friends, and homes where we grow up, where we spend time with our friends, are still the most endearing places."

Others on the list include familiar places like Orchard Road, Singapore Changi Airport, and MacRitchie Reservoir.

Another SG Heart Map contributor, Lim Poh Lye, 49, spoke fondly about MacRitchie Reservoir where he trained for cross-country races as a secondary school student.

He said: "This is something very dear to me since I spent almost four years of running there for cross-country in the 80s. It's a place that represents many youth of my time, running cross-country races over there." In 2013, he revisited the green space with his wife and two daughters. 

While many old favourites made it onto the SG Heart Map, there were a number of newcomers as well - including Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands and the River Safari.

Ms Fu said: "It shows that we have some acknowledgements about the past developments, but also an appreciation of newer developments, so this is a good way for us to remember the past, but also looking forward to the future." Her favourite place is the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and she has many fond memories of it.

"I used to date there. My husband and I - then, he was my boyfriend - would go there and have a stroll. And there was one night we did not look at the clock, and we exceeded the time. So the gates were closed. I remember having to go around looking for the warden to open the gate for us," she added.

Following the unveiling of the SG Heart Map places, free guided tours to some of the places will be conducted between June and August, that will include stops at hawker centres such as Tiong Bahru Market and Jurong West Hawker Centre.

There will also be Heart Map celebrations in June at the Singapore Discovery Centre and a finale at The Float @ Marina May in November.

Artwork inspired by the SG Heart Map contributions, which has been co-created by Singaporeans and selected artists, will be unveiled progressively at these events. More details can be found at www.heartmap.sg.

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