| So what if we fall down once in a while on the
playground of life?
the time you read this, I might be fleeing terrorists and
dodging bombs in downtown Manila, all in the name of art.
part of a contingent of Singapore writers off to the Philippines
to network with writers there, and showcase some of our
own work - kinda like a business meeting-cum-concert tour,
without the lackeys and groupies.
say ''contingent'', but there's only four of us. It's
a cosy bunch of friends, not a noisy, tour-bus-riding official
delegation, thank goodness.
National Arts Council generously chipped in with the airfare
and accommodation when we asked nicely.
it did all the paperwork.
only approval we really had to get was from family and significant
others, who were concerned for our safety after the December
of the bombs had gone off just across the street from the
hotel we'd planned to stay in.
mean, we want to be in the news, but not that way.
contacted, our embassy in Manila had this useful piece of
advice: We neither encourage nor discourage you to come.
But stay away from crowded places, they said.
for this trip, amid all the recent talk about Singapore
trying too hard to manufacture fun, the lack of spontaneity
and the need to loosen up, was somewhat freaky.
about risk-taking. Try braving a terrorist bomb site two
weeks after the event for the sake of ''art'' - and without
diplomatic immunity to boot.
is not a familiar experience for most Singaporeans.
affluence and clean, finely tuned social environment means
we have few real experiences of the big bad world said to
be out there.
Poverty. Corruption. Table-dancing.
result: Gross ignorance about the region we live in, and
general apathy for world affairs.
the same time, we end up whinging about our own rules, restrictions
and OB markers, like teenagers with driving privileges withdrawn.
a sheltered lot - a no-no if we want to stand up to the
world at large as a global city.
need to get out more.
what if we fall down once in a while on the playground of
part of learning.
our visit to Manila - way overdue, if you ask me.
We're a sheltered lot – a no-no if we want to stand up to the world as a global city
friends in the Philippines may not have our per capita GDP,
low crime rates, or painstaking urban planning.
they have a world-class cultural tradition that would put
ours to shame any day.
Singaporeans might be squeamish about a mere five days in
Manila's hotel rooms and university campuses.
people there have to face up to fear and uncertainty on
the streets each and every day. And they live with it.
something to be learnt there - about tough-mindedness, looking
after ourselves and making our own way in the world, as
individuals, artists and Singaporeans.
we survive the trip, that is. Like I said, wish us luck.