The Songs We Sang

This documentary is shown as part of the Singapore International Film Festival (SIFF). This documentary has been eagerly awaited by my friends and I as we were part of the filming process when they held an outdoor event at Bras Brasah Complex last year. Two of my friends had their second of fame in two separate parts of the movie.

This movie is a documentary on the birth and journey of Xinyao (新谣). A large part of the movie was on the demise of Nantah in 1981 and its merger with Singapore University to form NUS. After all, it was at Nantah that the Poetry society started adding music to their poetry, giving birth to the pioneer of xinyao. These poets held concerts showcasing their own compositions and invited JC students to attend, with the hope that this will inspire them to continue this unique local Chinese Culture.

The JC students, mainly from the Chinese stream NJC, JJC, NYJC and HCJC, returned to their campus, formed groups which became the xinyao that we know of today.

1981 was my last year at Nanyang Girls High School, and marked the official end of Chinese schools. Students from Chinese schools had difficulty looking for jobs, and were looked down upon by society. This generation, including many of my classmates, were the sacrificial lambs of education. Thus I was deeply moved by the portray in this movie.

The Xinyao groups got to know each other and had joint concerts. They were hugely popular with students. Local radio DJs and the Chinese Press also helped to increase their popularity. With exposure on radio and subsequently TV, the xinyao movement was on the rise and the pinnacle was when the song Xie Hou 邂逅 topped the charts. These entrepreneurial young people not only only organized their own concerts, they even raised funds to produce their own recording, looked for investors and the rest, I should say, is history.

There were many nostalgic moments in the movie as we watched old photos flashed across the screen, past clips of TV variety shows with comical dances and game shows. (One clip was of a game show sponsored by Mortein. Can you imagine winning a carton of insecticides?)

I think the movie touched the many of us there who were the last batch of Chinese educated Singaporeans. There are now laments of poor standard of Chinese among the younger generations. Yet, I feel this change in education policy actually propelled Xinyao to where it was, with the urgency to protect the language then.

I wonder though, would anyone else other than my generation, be interested in this documentary?




About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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