Sunday, February 11, 2007

싱가포르 사랭해

In Singapore, there is probably only one day for lovers which is Valentine's Day. Yuanxiao (元宵, 15th day of the 1st month of the lunar calendar) and Qixi (七夕, 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar) although known as the Chinese's equivalent of Valentine's Day are not celebrated here. Yuanxiao has not much significance to the Singaporean Chinese. It is probably taken as the last day of the Chinese New Year celebration. As for Qixi, it falls in the what is known as the "Hungry Ghost Month". Generally, Singaporean Chinese halt all major life events like wedding ceremony, house-shifting and opening of new company during the 7th month of the lunar calendar. Love will, of course, have to take a back seat during this month.

Going by the extent we celebrate love here, it is not too wrong to assume that Singaporeans are generally not a romantic bunch of people. Several years back, there was a movement to promote romance among Singaporeans during the month of February. The organising committee must be feeling the heat of trying to soften the heart of the ever-so-pragmatic Singaporeans. I have not heard about their programme this year so I think they might have given up fighting an uphill battle. It will probably take quite a while for things to change. As of now, a proposal for marriage can be something like, "shall we register for a flat?" So if the woman says "yes" that is sort of an agreement to marriage. Singapore public housing policy only provides married couple with subsidised-rate flat and low-interest housing loan. To register for a flat, that comes with all the perks, means a couple must ultimately be married by the time the flat is ready for moving in.

Honestly, romance is not dead in Singapore. Singaporeans can be romantic but, most often than not, we will cringe whenever we are being described as romantic. Perhaps we are shy to the extent of self-denial or perhaps we are afraid to be the centre of attention by being associated with the word "romantic". To take out the goosebumps every time the word "romantic" is mentioned, we have kinda given "romantic" a Singlish twist and pronounce it "lomantic". All these may sound strange and even funny to foreigners but trust me, we are not a nation of oppressed people. Romance is in every one's heart. It is just the method and language of expression that differs and one of the shaping factor is the culture of a society. Singapore is an immigrant society. Immigrants are not known to be a cultured lot. It is only true as culture means nothing when the stomach is empty. However, decades of stability and economic growth has taken away the fear of survival in us and it is only natural that our society moves towards developing its cultural aspect. With the right culture, love will bloom in Singapore like bougainvilla under the scorching tropical sun.

To love is natural and romance will naturally follow. But until that happens, perhaps Korean dramas can serve as comfort food for those in need of love and romance in Singapore. By the way, I am currently watching the Korean drama "Alone in Love" (연애시대-戀愛時代) which was recently released here. It was quite demoralising for me to listen to the dialogue in Korean. I just don't know how to breach the language gap so that I can understand the plot without looking at the Chinese subtitles. But I think I am improving with time though not a lot. I am now able to pick out bits and pieces of conversation which I can understand. Perhaps I should just let nature takes its own course.


  1. I watched "Alone in Love" two weeks ago, but I stopped at disc one. Even after strong recommendation from Chief of Asean SSK fan club, I have not started disc two yet.

  2. Take your time. It is not as if you must finish them before Valentine's Day :)