Dear Faith

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Brave Flower

Have no fear,
The Almighty is here,
For He is never far but always near,
And you’ll be alright, my dear.

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A Confession

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“I’ve never had a girlfriend before, partly because I’ve been in all-boys schools all my life till now. But it was never a concern for me as there are always things that keep me occupied: textbooks, family-time, and of course part-time jobs.

I never knew my father, and for the longest time my mum was the sole breadwinner. But back when I was in secondary school, she fell ill and lost her mobility. Being the eldest child, naturally I took on the responsibility of taking care of my mother and younger sister by taking on multiple part-time jobs. The only relative we have is an aunt, and she has been generous enough to pay my mother’s medications and part of our rental fee every month.

Ever since then, my life has been a blur of part-time jobs, buying back dinners for my family, spoon-feeding my mum, making sure my sister is being taken care of in terms of academics, allowance money, and mental well-being. Luckily I have a knack for studying last minute or I probably would have flunked long ago because there is barely any time to spare for mugging. Since there are lecture recordings and no attendance-taking in university, I worked long shifts on most weekdays and all weekends. My friends kept telling me I always look sleep-deprived, which is a fair statement to make.

From the first day of tertiary school, there was this girl who came by and sit beside me. I remembered she asked if she was in the right class, and I gave her a curt yes. That could easily be the end of our conversation, but she went on to ask more about me. Perhaps it’s just my reserved personality, but I find it a little uncomfortable at first. Then more people started pouring in the LT and two guys sat on her other side. One of them eagerly started a conversation with her, and it’s not difficult to see why. She’s good-looking enough to turn heads, dresses well, is nice when spoken to, and has a demure feminine charm that’s rare to find. And although by the end of the lesson the two boys had probably spoken more to her than I did, she rejected their offer of grabbing lunch together and stayed with me. I told her that my part-time job was starting soon, but that did not deter her willingness to talk to me. In the end, she came all the way to Bishan (my workplace) with me, saying that she needed to buy some birthday present for a friend, but I have a strong feeling that what she really wanted was to talk to me longer. It was nice talking to her, and she even bought an ice cream from the shop I worked in just to see how I was at my job.

We happen to take a lot of the same modules in the first semester and consciously collaborated for the subsequent semesters. Everyone who knew us thought that we were an item because we always sat beside each other in class. We both laughed it off, but I knew that she did not see me as a friend. Although I never did anything more than a friend would, I too wondered if I felt something for her. My heart would race every time our elbows brushed while walking or resting on table tops, we share the same tastes in food and topics, and she quickly became the only person I feel comfortable talking with about anything. After a while, I stopped skipping lectures to go to work even though they are recorded, and had to resort to taking later shifts just so I can attend my lessons in the afternoon. I tell myself that it was because I absorb the materials better onsite, but deep down I know that it’s also because I crave spending time with her and have our daily banters. And it irked me a little that there are suitors who would swoop in to chat her up whenever I skip class.

I hated confronting such thoughts; hated I even have such feelings for her. At the end of the day, I know that I have nothing to provide her. With my jobs and my family, I have no time to go for dates; and I barely have enough money to pay food court meals for my own share on a regular basis, let alone pay for movies or restaurant food. She deserves to be able to have a normal relationship with someone who can give the time and love she truly deserves.

Last Valentine’s Day, as usual she had a handful of guys asking her out on dates. But unlike previous Valentine’s Days, she said she was going to spend it with a ‘special guy’. I tried asking her nonchalantly who the guy was, but she just smiled saying it was none of my business. On Valentine’s Day itself, I was surprised when she came by to my workplace for a walk-in interview. Obviously she got the job, but for a girl who lives in a landed property, she surely has no need for a waitressing job. I asked her if she was going out on a date later, but she gave me this “are-you-really-that-stupid?” look. So she shove me a handwritten letter and let me read it while she avoided eye contact. It was a confession of how she truly felt about me, and how silly of me to not realize or make a move for the past two years, and how silly of her to not make a move earlier. She also wrote that she understood my family situation and it did not change the way she felt about me at all. At the end of the letter, she drew three boxes saying ‘yes, I’d like to be your boyfriend’ or ‘no, but I still like us to be friends like before’ or ‘hell no, and I don’t ever want to see your face again after this’. I jokingly ticked the very last box and gave the letter back to her, to which she gasped in horror. In all honesty, I wanted to choose the second box, but at that moment my brain was overridden by a wave of emotions. I have been alone and bogged down by so many things throughout my life, and she was the strongest ray of light in my life that chases away the shadows. So I hugged her and whispered yes.

It’s been more than a year since it happened, and I thought both of us would regret this decision by now. Yes, it’s not easy choosing this path. We have to resort to eating hawker centre food and the occasional food court food. Over the course of our relationship, she had treated me to restaurant meals and movies several times, all of which I had aggressively insisted on paying at least for my share but she double-insisted not to. We had some of the longest cheque dances ever until she suggested to keep track of the tabs she’d paid for me and I can return her the money after I have a full-time job. That was a great idea but her giving nature makes me doubt that she would keep track of the tabs, so I jotted it down on my own notebook instead to this very day.

Still, I am very glad that we chose this path. For the first time in my life, I have something to look forward to. And both my mother and sister had already taken a huge liking to her, although I can’t say the same for her parents and me. They had barely spoken to me whenever they saw me sending her home, which is completely understandable considering how their only child took on a part-time job for me. But I know I will win them over. Someday.

Right now although my physical self still ached from the hours of working, I’ve never felt more alive during the working hours because I get to be with her.

If you’re reading this, I just want to say that you’re the most incredible person that ever stepped into my life, and I’m just a lucky guy who gets to be close to you. Though I may not voice out my feelings often, know that you mean more than the sun or the stars to me. ”

https://www.fb.com/NTUConfess/posts/639064656197681

Future Alfi Will Thank You

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Hey Wayne. I was in the neighborhood and thought I’d stop by. Man, look at all these dust. Looks like you’re having fun doing what you do best. So, what nothings have you been up to? 

I’m still patiently serving my country.

Queenstown. That’s my ghetto.

It’s been a year and as much as I’m beginning to like doing what I’m doing and getting really comfortable with my new colleagues, I can’t wait to get this weights off my shoulders. It isn’t as bad as what Hazim experienced but doing this day in and day out has definitely gave me a lot of me time to think about the problems I have with myself. And I thought maybe now’s a good time to fix those things.

I’m calling this Project FAWTY.

Here a list of problem set.

1) I’m not very good with other humans

2) I don’t have much stuff/hobby to be passionate and talk about

3) I can’t judge 2 things and decide why one is better than the other

4) I’m not quick enough to think of a comeback

5) I’m not leaving my house often to explore new places

There’s five to get the ball rolling and fill you up Wayne. Not too difficult. Given time.

Let’s do it.

One at a time.

Life’s Instructions

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  1. Have a firm handshake.
  2. Look people in the eye.
  3. Sing in the shower.
  4. Own a great stereo system.
  5. If in a fight, hit first and hit hard.
  6. Keep secrets.
  7. Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen everyday.
  8. Always accept an outstretched hand.
  9. Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.
  10. Whistle.
  11. Avoid sarcastic remarks.
  12. Choose your life’s mate carefully. From this one decision will come 90 per cent of all your happiness or misery.
  13. Make it a habit to do nice things for people who will never find out.
  14. Lend only those books you never care to see again.
  15. Never deprive someone of hope; it might be all that they have.
  16. When playing games with ! children, let them win.
  17. Give people a second chance, but not a third.
  18. Be romantic.
  19. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
  20. Loosen up. Relax. Except for rare life-and-death matters, nothing is as important as it first seems.
  21. Don’t allow the phone to interrupt important moments. It’s there for our convenience, not the caller’s.
  22. Be a good loser.
  23. Be a good winner.
  24. Think twice before burdening a friend with a secret.
  25. When someone hugs you, let them be the first to let go.
  26. Be modest. A lot was accomplished before you were born.
  27. Keep it simple.
  28. Beware of the person who has nothing to lose.
  29. Don’t burn bridges. You’ll be surprised how many times you have to cross the same river.
  30. Live your life so that your epitaph could read, No Regrets
  31. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on life, you’ll regret the
  32. things you didn’t do more than the one’s you did.
  33. Never waste an opportunity to tell someone you love them.
  34. Remember no one makes it alone. Have a grateful heart and be quick to acknowledge those who helped you.
  35. Take charge of your attitude. Don’t let someone else choose it for you.
  36. Visit friends and relatives when they are in hospital; you need only stay a few minutes.
  37. Begin each day with some of your favorite music.
  38. Once in a while, take the scenic route.
  39. Send a lot of Valentine cards. Sign them, ‘Someone who thinks you’re terrific.’
  40. Answer the phone with enthusiasm and energy in your voice.
  41. Keep a note pad and pencil on your bed-side table. Million-dollar ideas sometimes strike at 3 a.m.
  42. Show respect for everyone who works for a living, regardless of how trivial their job.
  43. Send your loved ones flowers. Think of a reason later.
  44. Make someone’s day by paying the toll for the person in the car behind you.
  45. Become someone’s hero.
  46. Marry only for love.
  47. Count your blessings.
  48. Compliment the meal when you’re a guest in someone’s home.
  49. Wave at the children on a school bus.
  50. Remember that 80 per cent of the success in any job is based on your ability to deal with people.
  51. Don’t expect life to be fair.

GOD IS GOOD

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Professor : You are a Christian, aren’t you, son ?

Student : Yes, sir.

Professor: So, you believe in GOD ?

Student : Absolutely, sir.

Professor : Is GOD good ?

Student : Sure.

Professor: Is GOD all powerful ?

Student : Yes.

Professor: My brother died of cancer even though he prayed to GOD to heal him. Most of us would attempt to help others who are ill. But GOD didn’t. How is this GOD good then? Hmm?

(Student was silent.)

Professor: You can’t answer, can you ? Let’s start again, young fella. Is GOD good?

Student : Yes.

Professor: Is satan good ?

Student : No.

Professor: Where does satan come from ?

Student : From … GOD …

Professor: That’s right. Tell me son, is there evil in this world?

Student : Yes.

Professor: Evil is everywhere, isn’t it ? And GOD did make everything. Correct?

Student : Yes.

Professor: So who created evil ?

(Student did not answer.)

Professor: Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things exist in the world, don’t they?

Student : Yes, sir.

Professor: So, who created them ?

(Student had no answer.)

Professor: Science says you have 5 Senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Tell me, son, have you ever seen GOD?

Student : No, sir.

Professor: Tell us if you have ever heard your GOD?

Student : No , sir.

Professor: Have you ever felt your GOD, tasted your GOD, smelt your GOD? Have you ever had any sensory perception of GOD for that matter?

Student : No, sir. I’m afraid I haven’t.

Professor: Yet you still believe in Him?

Student : Yes.

Professor : According to Empirical, Testable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says your GOD doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?

Student : Nothing. I only have my faith.

Professor: Yes, faith. And that is the problem Science has.

Student : Professor, is there such a thing as heat?

Professor: Yes.

Student : And is there such a thing as cold?

Professor: Yes.

Student : No, sir. There isn’t.

(The lecture theater became very quiet with this turn of events.)

Student : Sir, you can have lots of heat, even more heat, superheat, mega heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat. But we don’t have anything called cold. We can hit 458 degrees below zero which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold. Cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.

(There was pin-drop silence in the lecture theater.)

Student : What about darkness, Professor? Is there such a thing as darkness?

Professor: Yes. What is night if there isn’t darkness?

Student : You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light. But if you have no light constantly, you have nothing and its called darkness, isn’t it? In reality, darkness isn’t. If it is, well you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?

Professor: So what is the point you are making, young man ?

Student : Sir, my point is your philosophical premise is flawed.

Professor: Flawed ? Can you explain how?

Student : Sir, you are working on the premise of duality. You argue there is life and then there is death, a good GOD and a bad GOD. You are viewing the concept of GOD as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, Science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing.

Death is not the opposite of life: just the absence of it. Now tell me, Professor, do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?

Professor: If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, yes, of course, I do.

Student : Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?

(The Professor shook his head with a smile, beginning to realize where the argument was going.)

Student : Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor. Are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you not a scientist but a preacher?

(The class was in uproar.)

Student : Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the Professor’s brain?

(The class broke out into laughter. )

Student : Is there anyone here who has ever heard the Professor’s brain, felt it, touched or smelt it? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established Rules of Empirical, Stable, Demonstrable Protocol, Science says that you have no brain, sir. With all due respect, sir, how do we then trust your lectures, sir?

(The room was silent. The Professor stared at the student, his face unfathomable.)

Professor: I guess you’ll have to take them on faith, son.

Student : That is it sir … Exactly ! The link between man & GOD is FAITH. That is all that keeps things alive and moving.

In Polite and Vehement Objection to ‘Singaporeans Too Weak? LOL’ – For all our NSFs/NSmen past, present, future.

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Ever since PTE Lee Rui Feng Dominique Sarron passed away in an unfortunate training incident, there has been a flurry of discussions and comments. I watched first with interest, then frustration, and then finally anger. Anger that we’ve trivialized the issue. Anger that we are doubting our own in defending our home. And anger that we perhaps do not appreciate the work and sacrifice our citizen soldiers do.

It is my duty to speak out for them.

I am a Company Commander (OC) of Bravo Company, 14th Mono 4SIR, a sister battalion of 3SIR. Although I do not know the soldier personally, I can understand the loss of a soldier. Because the soldiers we have are the toughest, most motivated and most committed bunch of people I know. The things they’ve done, just like the things countless soldiers have done before, nobody will understand until they’ve been through it.

Just take the smoke grenades. My soldiers don’t just throw one. They don’t throw a few. In an urban break-in fight, they throw a BARRAGE of smoke grenades – all coordinated to create a huge smokescreen to disorientate the enemy and provide some concealment. What for? Because in a real battle, they will be charging in the face of deadly bullets, fired by enemies entrenched behind windows and mouseholes. Without fear, but with courage of a warrior. The smokes give them a fighting chance to survive. We train as we fight. Is this weak?

Our unit just came back from an training stint overseas. Part of it, was a 8-day outfield evaluation. 8 days, 3 missions, all out in the field. 1st mission – 30km tactical walk in one night, up and down undulating terrain, carrying packs up to 15kg. And at the end of it, at daybreak, violently and aggressively assaulting an objective. No rest right after that. Transit to 2nd mission of defence. 2 nights. Little sleep, watchful eyes, valiantly defending what we have captured. And 3rd mission. 20km. Mountain hook. Climbing an altitude of 500m. And then down. And at daybreak, violently fighting, again.

And in a Battalion of 500-odd soldiers, number of soldiers who gave up or fell out due to injuries? ZERO. BIG FAT ZERO. All of them had the look in their eyes. Is this weak?

And these doesn’t happen overnight. In 2 active years, they train hard for this, so that they can walk, they can last, they can fight. And in the 2 years, they do more than just train.

In Homeland Security, for 4 weeks over Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year, Chinese New Year, while the rest of us celebrate, our soldiers stood guard in Jurong Island, Changi Airport and Sembawang Wharves. Live 5.56mm rounds in magazines. Live 7.62mm rounds on MGs, mounted on patrol vehicles. With watchful eyes, they deterred any aggressive action in the economic and strategic centres of our country. And 24/7 our citizen soldiers are always there. Is this weak?

Our soldiers participated in bilateral exercises with our neighbours, promoting friendly relations and peace. They stood shoulder to shoulder with professional armies, and guess what? Our citizen soldiers impressed. Is this weak?

Our soldiers went on standby. In short notice, they will be weapons drawn, ammunition loaded, vehicles revving, ready to respond to any call of duty the nation requires. Yes, Mas Selamat and a Tekong robber was probably the highlights in the last decade. But do we want more to happen? Are we glad our soldiers can respond, even to the smallest threat to our nation? And 24/7, citizen soldiers stand by, ready to respond, while the rest of us sleep. Is this weak?

Do not be mistaken. Our training is tough. There are always risks involved in training to fight. To say we can erase the risks is to say lets train a paper tiger, an Army with no aggression, an Army that cannot last, an Army that cannot defend. But what we do is to mitigate and minimize these risks. Have the safety systems in place. Train progressively. Condition the body. And most importantly, take care of our people. But the risks will not disappear. This is the cost our society needs to pay for its own defence and survival. Are we prepared to continuing saying yes, or hide behind our cowardice and pray someone will save us one day?

Are there near-misses, definitely. I was in Officer Cadet School before this, training Officers, training leaders. The training is tough, because we need to ensure these young boys can lead, and these young boys will never give up in adversity. I will always remember G, who collapsed during training despite our watchful eyes. I will never forget the safety rover speeding and swerving through traffic to get him to a doctor. I will never forget his eyes opening and closing, his speech slurring, his body shaking. I will never forget holding his hand, keeping a strong face, and keeping him awake. I will never forget in desperation to get him to respond, I recited the Officer’s Creed. And I will never forget, in his semi-conscious state – he repeated – “I am… an Officer… of the Singapore Armed Forces… My duty… is to lead… to excel… to overcome… I lead my men… by example… I dedicate… my life… to Singapore…” 

G commissioned, became a Platoon Commander, and was a great leader of men. Is this weak?

G, yes, Officer Cadet, but he’s not the only one with such determination. Our mono-intake soldiers – yes, some of them will try to fake injuries, malinger their way out of training. But most – I have to watch them closely not because they are faking, but I have to watch them closely, because despite injuries, these soldiers want to push on. The L9 (undeployable in field) soldier asking me whether he can go outfield. The soldier who sprained an ankle during soccer, with his leg in a cast, apologized to me for not able to train. The soldier, who on the eve of flying for overseas training had stomach ulcers and internal bleeding, asked me whether I can force his discharge from hospital so that he can fly. The soldiers, with back, knee, ankle injuries, that I have to force to sit out. There any many more stories. Is this weak?

Of course, we have our Jeremy Kos. Read it here (http://www.jeremyko.com/2012/04/staying-alive-and-injury-free-serving-the-saf/). His logic is impleccable. Why serve so hard, when you may injure yourself? Do the bare minimum, serve the two years. Flawless logic. But let me ask you, when the first shot is fired, who do you want on the frontline? Our Jeremy, who I suspect, in his flawless logic, will save his own skin first, ‘staying alive and injury-free’, or my dear G, who I suspect, with bullets lodged in his thigh, shoulder and a sharpnel to his neck, will continue to fight on. Who do you want defending your country?

That is the nature of National Service. We train hard for something we hope we never have to do. But if the button is pressed, we’d better be ready.

But why are they so silent? Why do they not speak up? Why do they allow themselves to be insulted by the minority? Because they are professional citizen soldiers. They serve, so they do not boast. They do what the nation requires of them. They, our citizen soldiers, go on with their duty, 24/7, most of the time. All they ask for, is that their leaders take care of them, their families and girlfriends a little love, and the nation a little appreciation.

George Orwell says – “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Are my soldiers ready to do violence if need be? I bet my life they are.

What is worrying is that these are not career soldiers, signed on for life. These are citizen soldiers, young 18-year old boys. These are our very own people. When we talk “the Army”, its not regulars like us, it is these NSFs, and NSmen. Our friends, our brothers, our sons, our fathers, our boyfriends. Has our society lost their appreciation for them? Has our society forget what they have done? Has our society – worryingly – lost the will to defend itself?

PTE Lee’s passing is sorrowful. But lets take his passing as an awakening – an awakening to appreciate what our citizen soldiers have done for us for the past 45 years. That there are sacrifices made, be it time, effort, or sometimes – life.

Do share this, to speak out for our citizen soldiers. We all know with social media, the noisiest wins. We can allow the vocal minority to belittle all the sacrifices – including PTE Lee’s life – or we can be united, be loud, and be heard. Write your own story and experience, like he did (https://www.facebook.com/notes/nicholas-anthony-ethan-lim/singaporeans-are-weak-lol/10150737962292299). With NSmen like him, I’m confident our citizen soldiers will continue to defend what we call home.

Most of us will die while doing meaningless stuff. But he died while serving his country. Its not what we lived for, but what we die for.

For PTE Lee Rui Feng Dominique Sarron.

Author: Yongcong Choy (https://www.facebook.com/yongcong)

Day 77 at Smaato Inc.

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50 years down the road, what do we remember of our days when we were all young?
When we all discover what life had installed for us.
The littlest things that we find joy in,
The conversations we used to have,
The photographs we capture.

Do we remember the choices we made that impacted the path we will take?
Do we remember the friendship forget and lost along the way?
If they all matter, will we remember them all?

Smaato is the first ever company that I’m attached to since pursuing an IT course and the past four months has been filled with joy if not sweet memories that I will always carry with me forever. Never have I thought that this internship in a matter of four months will be the one I proudly share my experience with strangers on the streets.

I remember the first day I arrive in Smaato for the interview. I was nervous. And deeply worried. Even after the interview, I was even more anxious after some scary Chinese-Saxon lady bombard me with questions I wouldn’t even think about. I’m not even confident I will get a placement in Smaato after failing terrible at the interview. But lucky for me I guess, I got in.

Everything seems blurry on the first day of work. Things were going too fast and there were so many terms and so much to learn. But on that very first day in Smaato, everything changes. What seems like a scary façade of a company on the outside is filled with merry people on the inside.

Being the youngest in the company, everyone was like a brother and sister to me. In a matter of a week, the two interns (Pei Fen and I) were already welcomed into the Smaato family. I’m just so glad how things have turned out because as always, I was prepared for something much bigger and worse.

Fast forward 4 months now, I can finally say I truly enjoy the time I had in Smaato. Especially to the development team leader, Yaru, for teaching me more than I could ever ask for as well as Jude, Thae Su, Mathew and Alvin for always being there when help is needed. Also not forgetting our Director Marcus for having us in Smaato. Your kindness and generosity will always be etched deeply in our heart.

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