My Last Day

I was looking through tons of archives on my computer and I found a blog entry that I did not get to publish. And it struck a chord in me once again. Here is a blog entry from 2017.


It was not one of those nights. Somehow, something was amiss. And it wasn’t something as simple as forgetting to brush your teeth or drinking a glass of milk. It was the fear of dying.

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Even before Steve Jobs delivered his Harvard speech, I have already asked myself the question he asked himself. “If today was my last day, would I do what I would be doing now?”. It wasn’t his metaphor, it was a reality. The fact that one realizes that is the catalyst for change. But sometimes, some people just don’t care.

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That night, I prayed that I am given one more day to give to Matthew, to Judy and anybody else who might need me. And this morning, I gave Him thanks for giving me this one more day. Tonight, and every night hereafter, this would be my prayer. Until such time that nobody needs me anymore.

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For some reason though, Matthew was holding my hand as he fell asleep. He had his hand wrapped around mine. He’s never done that in a long while. I used to hold his hand when he was younger and he couldn’t fall asleep. But this time he held mine. He is special (we have always believed that he is), I may never know to what extent, but he is special. And I will be forever grateful for being blessed with very special people (there are too many to mention, but I promise, I will make a list).

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Until my last day then. Express your love to the people you care about. Make amends to the people you’ve hurt and those who have hurt you. Seize the day, make it yours, make it worth the time.

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Down the Rabbit Hole

The Singapore ArtScience Museum has recently launched a new exhibition involving a rabbit, a mad hatter, and a girl named Alice. Wonderland is an interactive exhibition running from 13 April through to 22 September 2019. And it has been a while since an interactive exhibition has gotten us interested and excited. Thankfully, Wonderland does not disappoint. Well, maybe it’s a bit too short, but that’s it.

Our journey began with a very long queue. Ys, this is what happens when you go to an anticipated exhibition near the dates that it has just started. On the other hand, you would probably see most of the exhibition in prime condition before wear and tear has a chance to wear it all down. But, I digress. We were given the Lost Map of Wonderland while we were on the queue and these maps were registered on the system before you follow Alice. Each map follows a character from Wonderland, the Queen, the Mad Hatter, the White Rabbit, and the Cheshire Cat and they each have their own unique artwork to find.

Right off the bat, you are given a choice to use the normal door, or a shrunken door just like in the book/film. Of course, we took the small door. It’s perfect for small kids but a bit of a squeeze for bigger kids (like, adults). And from there, your adventure begins as you follow Alice through her adventures in Wonderland. Actually, you would be following several adventures seeing as there have been over 40 films, over 30 television programs, pop-culture references in books, music, video games, and even fashion. So, if you venture forth, follow your map and learn more about the world of Alice and the various interpretations of her adventures.

The Hallway of Doors is where we began our journey. Quite a few doors were around and each one holding bits and pieces of the tale of Alice. Behind the doors are concept art, manuscripts, drawings, and more inspiring works that have led to the pop-culture icon which is Alice. There is one particularly interesting corner here which is the glass table with the key that Alice works so hard to reach since she had been shrunken down after drinking the potion in the bottle that was labeled, “Drink Me”. Soon after though, we find ourselves in The Pool of Tears. Of course, in the book, this pool was actually created by Alice when she cried so much during the time that she had grown nine feet tall. This room houses early image projectors that were called magic lanterns. Think of it as early animation techniques. And through those technologies, Alice made her appearances in film with better special effects as the years moved forward. The Looking Glass House takes us deeper into the special effects that were used on the olden day films of Alice and eventually, the sequel to Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass. As the name implies, most of the effects are done with trickery using mirrors. A very old, but very ingenious way of basically superimposing images on top of each other to create an effect.

Over at The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill, Alice’s adventure takes a detour from the normal stories that we may have heard. This is in part due to the interpretation of the story by a Czech filmmaker named Jan Svankmajer. In these bits of Wonderland, the world becomes surreal and everything becomes eerily interesting that you would do a double-take on the things that you see. You would then seek Advice from A Caterpillar. The Caterpillar is one more character that makes up the Wonderland crew and is represented in all sorts of ways by different characters and interpretations. But it is the question that is significant here, “Who are you?” asked the caterpillar to Alice. The Queen’s Croquet Ground is a small activity area where you turn yourself into one of the Queen’s guards. Yes, you will become a playing card. After croquet, it’s time to sit down to have tea with the Mad Hatter. You are invited to attend A Mad Tea Party which is an animated 3D tea party made especially for visitors of Wonderland. An amazing concept, but nothing really new if you have been coming to Singapore’s Art Festivals for the past few years. Who Stole The Tarts? This place showcases the Queen in all her mean and nasty glory. It is one of the smaller, but nicer places to visit before heading over to see Alice’s Evidence. This last room is where you realize how much Alice and her Adventures in Wonderland has influenced our culture. It has been one of the many stories that many know and remember, but some have only just vaguely heard of. But the influence of the many films show just how much Alice has been a part of our lives.

A Day Out With Lola (Grandma)

Lola came to visit us in Singapore. While we are shuffling around the days that we are free from school and work, we managed to stroll all the way down to Gardens By The Bay and see the pretty flowers.

Tulipmania is the main attraction at the Flower Dome and this runs from the 12th of April through the 20th of May 2019. We did not get to see it last year, so we brought Lola along to see the Flower Dome play host to the Netherlands. The Flower Dome itself had been home to different varieties of flora from the start. With Tulipmania, it was obvious which flora was at center stage. This year’s Tulipmania brings us to the Dutch countryside with rows upon rows of tulips. We were told that there were about 35 varieties of tulips across the display including the new “Singapura”, a red and white variant to commemorate Singapore’s founding some 200 years ago. The look was definitely ideal with Dutch cottages, a watermill, a windmill and dozens of wooden clogs scattered across the tulip zone. The tulips, of course, are amazing to look at spread far and wide like they were. Having the different varieties under one roof makes you appreciate it’s beauty even more. And if you get hungry, there’s a European Fair happening in the Flower Dome as well. This is where you get stuffed with sausages and pastries from a variety of local European food stalls. It would also be just in time for you to rest your feet by the time you get to the hall so it’s all well and good that the food is good.

After having a snack in the Flower Dome, we decided to use all our available time wisely and headed for the Cloud Dome next. Luckily, we were with a senior citizen and managed to get priority at the lift taking us up to the top of the Cloud Dome. As usual, we went about enjoying the colorful greenery. It also helped that the mist had just started and the Cloud Dome has transformed into this foggy, misty, wonderland. We took our time getting from place to place and reached the foot of the dome just as night time is taking over. It had been a fun and slightly wet day at the Gardens, but we’re glad that Lola enjoyed it. Because we did too.

Video Games Classics with the SSO

What is the SSO?
In this case, it stands for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Matthew had been drafted to join Military Band for his school’s Co-Curricular Activity at the start of his Freshman year. It was not his first choice, but he did not make an appeal to change it so we didn’t attempt to get it changed. They were given a chance earlier this year to attend a concert and then meet and greet the band that played. He told us that he enjoyed it and that he was happy that he had attended.

The stage for Video Games Classics with the SSO
This is our view while watching the SSO

I am personally not musically inclined because music does not seem to like me. Let me re-phrase that. I like music. Music does not like me. But I won’t let that stop me from taking my family to enjoy the things that make them happy. So, out of the blue, I saw this ad for the Singapore Symphony Orchestra playing Video Games Classics. So we booked seats. That was way back in February with the show scheduled for the 5th of April.

Video Games Classics is a show conducted by Eimear Noone. So, Eimear Noone is known for her work on the music behind the World of Warcraft. Her other achievements include the scores for Starcraft II, Diablo III and Overwatch. And this show, was amazing. I probably knew half of the pieces, and the rest were music that I have heard while playing games or watching videos on YouTube. It was a pleasant surprise, really. But the way that the show went was really quite a surprise because it was lively and it was fun. I didn’t even know you could do that watching an Orchestra. So, yes. My favorite band is now, an Orchestra.

Of course, this show was really about Matthew. After all, he is the person that is in a band. Yes, it is Military Band. But it is a band nonetheless. And in fact, we were told from the very beginning of his secondary school education that this CCA of his would be playing a big role in his overall marks by the time that he graduates. And that is one of the reasons why we brought him to watch Video Game Classics. The second reason was for him to actually have a bit of time to relax from school work. If adults burn themselves out from too much working, it is no different for a child to burn himself out if he cannot find a balanced study life.

Matthew and the SSO Pops programme for Video Games Classics
Matthew’s face whenever he does not want to give us a “nice” picture.

At the end of the night, we all had a good time. Video Game Classics with Eimear Noone was an excellent performance. It was a very enjoyable experience and one that you would look for should other performances come along that will tickle our interests.

Not Just A Dad

I wanted to write a blog about Fatherhood and I thought that was what I was doing. But I came to a realization that you cannot be a good father if you are not a good husband. Yes, there are technicalities in relationships in this day and age, but I would like to keep it simple.

Often times I find myself between a rock and a hard place whenever there is an argument at home between my wife and my son. These don’t happen often, but when they do, I am usually left to decide if I am going to take sides. And yes, there are times that it becomes a difficult choice (though you’d think it shouldn’t even be a choice).

We all have our thoughts about what’s right and wrong. It shouldn’t really be about who is and who isn’t but deciding on that is more difficult than it seems. During one of these tough tugs-of-war was when I realized that we, as parents, shouldn’t be biased. I had been biased towards my son most of the time because of my thinking that he was “still a child” and that he was “still learning” and all those other alibis that fathers can think of just to put an argument to rest. And that’s wrong.

I understand that it is going to take a while to fix that. But it needs to start with a thought. And that thought is my wife. I wouldn’t have been a father if Matthew didn’t have a mother. And to raise Matthew into a beautiful person, I need to do it together with Judy. I had been blinded by my need to become important as a “father” because the world has changed. It has now accepted and is even preaching that fathers play an equally important role as a child’s mother. I made that my goal without realizing that being a father is not a competition. Rather, it is a joint venture called proper parenting. And having two parents is definitely an advantage over having just one.

Then we come to the point of being a good husband, partner, and friend. It is very important to take care of your partner (and you should know that my wife is standing behind me as I type this). As a child grows up, he would be growing with the values and behavior of the people he spends his time with the most. And from the beginning of his life, his parents would be the primary source of his love and inspiration. Matthew grew up as a very caring person. He would attend to you when you are feeling sick. He would give you hugs and kisses for no reason at all. He would often hold your hand when you had to poop in the toilet. Some of those traits were slowly lost to us as he grew older. He is now thirteen years old and he has been exposed to a lot of people with different views in life and different ways of dealing with their emotions. Inevitably, this has affected him. And like all kids that are growing up, the people around him play a part in his development – mostly these are his peers.

Luckily for us, his foundations had been strong enough to allow him to keep his identity. He would still hug and kiss you out of the blue, though not as often as before. He would still take good care of you when you are sick and he would still make sure that you are comfortable, though he would always take care of himself first. But he would no longer hold your hand when you poop in the toilet. Some of the traits that he developed are understandable but there are still some that we have been having difficulty trying to understand. I guess that’s part of parenting. And like what we have always been telling ourselves, this is a journey that the three of us are taking together and that there would always be surprises along the way.

Right now Matthew needs to see more of our love and understanding. It would be wrong to give him all of ourselves. So, while trying to figure out how best to move forward, I think that I also need to rekindle love in our youth. I believe that setting a good example is always the best way to teach someone. And I know that I have been lacking in that department lately. So this is the year for a comeback. Matthew’s world is growing and I would prefer to be in a bigger part of that world as his life becomes fuller. At the same time, we would need to find ourselves again and live our own couple-lives as our son continues to grow. The future has just become more exciting.

iLight Marina Bay 2019

2019 marks the Singapore Bicentennial commemoration. Bicentennial meaning 200 years since the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles onto Singapore shores. Not to be confused with SG50 held back in 2015 where Singapore celebrated its 50 years of Independence. Therefore, iLight Marina Bay will also be in Bicentennial edition despite only having started in 2010. Leave it to Singapore to have something to celebrate and spend money on. So let’s not get into too much detail over those things.

This year’s iLight Marina Bay was a wet one. That being said, we were not really able to enjoy some of the installations due to the inclement weather conditions the night that we went. Still, you can’t let a good night go to waste so we made the most of what we had. The route we took started from the Prudential Marina Bay Carnival and the light only started coming on from the Promontory.

City Gazing Singapore
City Gazing Singapore

“City Gazing Singapore” is a suspended map of Singapore at night. Albeit upside down. However, it portrays a Singapore that is both “grand and humble” according to the artist/s (VOUW). It would have been better for us to see the installation in full if it wasn’t raining so I will leave it to the artist’s interpretation. Over on the other side of the Promontory were these lit up squiggly lines which apparently were named “Squiggle”. There were joysticks for visitors to use to interact with the installation which is an abstract reflection of the multicultural world that we live in according to artist Angus Muir. Again, the rain didn’t help much with our experience here. Trying to get away from getting sick, we passed by “Les Footballeurs” which looks simple with only a bunch of LEDs but when you see the fluidity of the movement that they managed to set with these LEDs, you just go “wow”. Kudos to the artist Remi Brun for this one.

Dune
Dune

Still trying to be in shelter from the rain, we reached the installation “DUNE” next at OUE Bayfront. According to artist Daan Rosegaarde, visitors become a part of the artwork, enhancing social interactions between themselves and the landscape. This happens as the light fibers brighten (or dim) as visitors pass by and touch the installation.

Over at The Fullerton, the “Time Traveller” stands between the old and the new as a bridge between generations according to the artist Eko Prawoto. It was inspired by bamboo fish traps from the past which is what makes this visitor in the present a time traveler. It looks nice but unfortunately, I still don’t get it.

Flower Clock
Flower Clock

Our plan was to grab dinner at Over Easy, but it was closed. And so was P.S. CafĂ©. So we walked along the “Flower Clock” in search of actual food. The design was inspired by the relationship between blooming flowers and time which also celebrates Singapore as a Garden City. This was an entertaining piece while looking simple so props out to the group of students from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts (China).

The Merlion has always been an integral part of iLight Marina Bay. This year, the lights are from Loom Prod of France and are called “The Cat in the Garden”. Viewers will travel through seven colors of the light spectrum which is a poetic bridge to nature reminiscent of a rainbow. Yeah, we didn’t get this either. Last iLight’s take on the Merlion seemed to have been better executed and was better in terms of overall design as well. Not saying that this installation is bad, maybe it would just appeal to others.

Sebastien Lefevre decorated the Jubilee Bridge with hundreds of vertical flags animated by kaleidoscopic lighting in an installation called “Oriflammes”. As the flags wave in the wind, the colors and the lights play along with it creating an interesting display. I guess the word is festive.

Time Frame
Time Frame

DONIS, on the other hand, lit up the Esplanade Bridge with his “TIME FRAME” exhibit. Using information from http://www.worldmeters.info, TIME FRAME displays various information under the Esplanade Bridge like a ticker box. Some information is surprising, some relevant and some are just nice to know. Being Singapore’s Bicentennial, this display shows information represented by numbers in Singapore compared to numbers in the world. Interesting and informative is what I would say about this.

We managed to score a very late dinner somewhere between Makansutra and the Esplanade. And we decided to take the long route home by going back to Marina Bay Sands just so we could pass through “The Time Vortex”. This installation by Paul Vendel and Sandra de Wolf is easily our favorite. Set up on the Helix Bridge, you will be drawn to the light like a moth to a flame. Our only gripe is that the transition seems to hiccup in order to reset the journey. It would definitely have had more impact if the lights did not seem to switch off and reset in between sequences but this is still one of the best, if not the best that this year’s iLight has to offer.

Matthew and the Motorshow

Matthew and the Motorshow.

We have always been car guys. And while it is extremely difficult for us to own a car in Singapore, I have always made sure that our passion for cars doesn’t disappear into the darkness. We did this by getting cars on a much smaller scale. Cars that would fit in our house rather than out in a garage. They may only be toys but they filled the void and we were happy with them. And then there’s the Singapore Motor Show.

You would have thought that the car market in Singapore is dry due to the exorbitant cost of owning a car here. You couldn’t be more wrong. The car market in Singapore is, in fact, flourishing with a modern fleet of cars. And they are as diverse as the people living on this little island. There is a good representation of automobiles from Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, and even the Czech Republic. We went to the motor show expecting to see some of our favorite cars and we weren’t disappointed. In fact, it was mostly a surprise.

There are a good number of cars representing the different types of transport demands. Sedans dominated the floor followed closely by SUVs. You have the executive class, the compact and sub-compact classes. You have people movers. You have fleet cars. You have hybrids. You have fully electric cars. You have sports cars. You have luxury cars. The list is exhaustive if you have money to burn. Of course, different people have different needs and different wants. Covering the motor show is a job for journalists. Here we are just going to talk about the cars that made an impression on us.

Subaru VIZIV Tourer Concept
Subaru VIZIV Tourer Concept

We were greeted by Subaru’s VIZIV Tourer concept car. The latest iteration of the car since the VIZIV name was introduced in 2013. As far as concept cars go, this is an edgy low-slung SUV-ish wagon. And it looks good. This was also your ticket to getting tickets for the Russ Swift Stunt Show by posting a photo of the concept car in your Facebook profile.

Honda Civic Type R
Honda’s Unicorn, Civic Type R

The Honda booth was dominated by Civics but it was the Civic Type R after all that was still the talk of the town. Under the shadow of the Type R is the Turbocharged Civic which is a pretty good car but the Type R is just on a whole other level. None of these made Matthew excited. The Honda motorbikes on the other side of the show floor did though.

The Nissan Leaf
The Nissan Leaf

While Nissan was giving away a free Tomica Nissan Leaf, it was the 1:1 version that was being promoted alongside the e-Power Nissan Serena. An electric car and a hybrid. After the dominance of the Toyota Prius in the hybrid arena, other manufacturers are finally stepping up into the ring with various vehicles utilizing electric motors.

Matthew’s favorite car in Forza Horizon was there in the metal which of course made the little man smile. Not in the pictures though. I told him that since he really loved the Range Rover Sport, we should take a photo of him with it to inspire him to own one. Maybe not now, but it could be soon. This Sport also happens to be the P400e, another car employing a hybrid powerplant.

Suzuki Swift Sport
Suzuki Art. The Swift Sport.

Colorful Suzuki Swift Sports were just what the doctor ordered for cuteness in a world that is now being overtaken by big, burly SUVs. The Swifts didn’t disappoint but there’s no hiding the fact that these are small cars.

Inside the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross.
Inside the Eclipse Cross.

The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is another addition and proof of the ever-growing demand for SUVs. SUVs have become a lifestyle vehicle for most people being stylish and usable in just about every situation. The Eclipse Cross is a big car though, and while it is a good looking car, it wasn’t the one that Matthew had been attracted to.

Funky Digital Dashboard of the Citroen Cactus.
Funky Digital Dashboard of the Citroen Cactus.

Over to the Citroen booth was the Air Cross and the Cactus. Two very cute runabout SUVs that will catch your eye because of their quirky looks. Even in the normal looking colors that were on display at the motor show, these small cars still shown. It is the Cactus though that stole our hearts. And as Matthew and I were talking about cars, we decided that realistically, the Cactus would be the car that we would own if we ever decided to buy one.

Soul Red CX-3. The Sub-compact Sport Utility Vehicle.
Soul Red CX-3. The Sub-compact Sport Utility Vehicle.

The Mazda booth was more of my personal haven. I have been a Mazda enthusiast for a very long time. And seeing all those Soul Red cars at their booth really makes my heart race. But while the new Mazda 3 is special, it is the CX-3 that has been calling me by name.

Mini was just as interesting and we had always had a soft spot for the little car. Unfortunately, the Mini is not so mini anymore. It still has its charm, but not the same as before when the Mini was still the icon of small cars.

The Hyundai booth made for an interesting presence with the Kona electric. Of course, Kia wouldn’t be left behind in the race and they have the Niro to show for it. But it was the Stonic that seemed to be bringing in the crowds. It is one of the new sub-compact SUVs after all.

The Pink Porsche Boxster.
The Pink Porsche Boxster.

Of course, we had to take a look at the Porsche booth as well. There was a pink Boxster on display after all. And not to be outdone in the green car race, the Panamera e-Hybrid Sport Turismo sits in silence to wow the crowds.

The surprise for me was when we went over to the Isuzu booth. Yes, they seemed to be the only one selling trucks at the show. And these are proper semi trucks and refrigerator trucks. And there was a plain white single-cab D-Max. It was barebones. It had a manual transmission. I had Matthew climb aboard and had him feel what it was like to shift a manual transmission gear lever. This seems to have left an impression on him as at the end of the show, he was torn between the Cactus and the D-Max.

Russ Swift at the helm of the Subaru Forester.
Russ Swift at the helm of the Subaru Forester.

And then there was the Russ Swift Stunt Show. We were expecting a wow experience. To a point, there was a wow-factor, but it was not what we were expecting. Maybe we expected too much. The show was a brilliant display of high precision driving and you really can’t say anything bad on that front. But we couldn’t help but feel that there was something lacking in the show. Maybe it was because of our seats. Maybe because the venue was too small. We went home after the stunt show that we liked but we never figured out what it was that was missing though.

And that was the Singapore Motorshow this early in 2019.

Growing Up

Matthew turned thirteen last November 2018. The key word there is “teen”. There are lots of different stories from parents about raising their teens. There are good stories and bad stories. Some of the stories may have been exaggerated and some may have been toned down but the fact of the matter is that the teenage years can be the most troublesome years for parents and their children. I know my parents had their own stories to tell about my teenage years and I have my own stories as well. It is time to get a helmet because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Thirteen
Thirteen

Honestly, this is not going to be pretty. I don’t think there is a way of sugarcoating raising a teenager. As parents, we need to understand that our children have their own minds and their own free will. We could guide them as best as we could but in the end, the choice is theirs to make. We have already been butting heads since his anxiety started acting up. It has not been easy and we even looked to professional medical advice at one point. And now here we are entering a new era in our parenting journey.

Matthew had already shown a different side of him since he turned twelve. This proved that he is growing more mature and that he is starting to experiment and change his experiences with us first. He would now normally keep to himself by staying in his room. He even locks the door now. An act that we had to take action and compromise on. I installed a chain lock on his door so that he would only use that instead of fully locking the door. We recently also just let him go to his friend’s house and spend the afternoon there with his friends. We are still new at this but he seemed to be happy with his experience. We had already laid down ground rules for him to follow when going to other people’s houses and we can only trust him to follow them. He also had his best friend come over during the holidays and they spent the afternoon goofing off in the house. We do believe that part of growing up properly means having to expose him to socialization. I am just hoping that we are going in the right direction with this.

Trouble brewing
Trouble brewing

As much as we would like to believe that he is growing up, the pace that he is growing seems to be irrational. A few of the things that we had hoped he would have changed for the better for are still the same after all these years. His room is still a mess despite having been told to clean up every day. He still takes more than an hour to finish his meal because he reads while he eats. We also still need to call him three or more times before he actually comes around to do what he is asked to do. And even then, the tasks he does are incomplete. He is still indecisive to the point where we have to decide for him because if we don’t, he is going to miss the opportunities that are sitting in front of him. And then there is this thing that he seems to have suddenly turned into the shyest person in the galaxy. He would hide behind me when someone talks to him and he would rather not drink anymore if you ask him to buy his own drink from the store. These traits were totally not him five years ago.

Like I said. It is time to get a helmet and prepare for an even bumpier ride. This is not going to be pretty.

Looking Forward

We welcome the new year with open arms today. As we poured our sparkling grape juice between the three of us, we talked about the year that was. And as we were talking, it occurred to me that this may have been the first time that we really talked about it.

Our New Year welcome dinner
Our New Year welcome dinner

2018 had been good to us. It had its ups and downs for sure, but it treated us more kindly throughout.

Matthew had been able to go to his chosen secondary school after the grueling assessment exam courtesy of the PSLE. And during his time in this new school, we realized that this was the school that we were looking for. Over the course of the year, we attended school events and gatherings. We made sure that we were able to attend parent-teacher sessions and we got to know the teachers well. We attended parent-child bonding activities to help us understand each other better. Through those interactions, the teachers were able to talk about their concerns and we were also able to voice out our own. As time passed, we felt that the way the school managed the way they teach is the right way for Matthew. Although all schools need to comply with the strict academic benchmarks by the Ministry of Education, they are given enough freedom to use different teaching methods. We are thankful that this school gives importance to a child’s potential rather than expecting them to perform at an unbelievable performance standard right off the bat.

Mister Matthew
Mister Matthew

We had good times just roaming around Singapore all throughout the year. We went to the Tampines Eco Green and tried grounding. We also frequently cycled to Pasir Ris Park. This served as our exercise and our bonding time as well. There was no fixed schedule and we went as often as we could. It could be to catch the sunset or to catch the sunrise. Sometimes, it is just to catch good food at the nearby hawker center. We went to a fair and rode the crazy swinging ship. We ate hipster food and drank hipster drinks. We visited the Turtle and Tortoise Museum for the last time before they closed the gates at the Chinese Garden. It was sad that they had to leave that place and we do hope they manage to find a new home soon. We rented a car from time to time just for the heck of it. And we finally got around to go to the places that we had only previously talked about.

Catching the sunrise at Pasir Ris Park
Catching the sunrise at Pasir Ris Park

We managed to go on a trip to Tokyo. And during our stay, we managed to go to places that we didn’t even think we could reach. Often times we got lost or got to a place that was not on our plan at all. We even got to take home souvenirs from nearly all the towns that we visited. A short visit to an aunt and our cousins made the trip a little easier during the first few days. And then a visit to a friend in Osaka also made it into our itinerary. But the best places that we managed to go to this time around were in Tokyo. Akihabara, Tokorozawa, Diver City and Yokohama to name a few. Okunoshima and Kyoto were also memorable places for us. Japan is definitely one of the highlights of 2018.

Welcome to Akihabara
Welcome to Akihabara

I also started teaching Matthew about photography. It’s time he advanced from just pointing the camera and shooting. It’s time for him to understand the concepts behind photography and make a hobby out of it. I can’t stand to just see him sitting on one corner and reading a book over and over. He really needs a more active hobby. And so do I. We do attend anime and gaming conventions now, but I don’t think that counts as an active hobby.

At Paradores Del Castillo
At Paradores Del Castillo

We visited our families in the Philippines at the end of the year. We tried to spend as much time as we could with them. We took them out to eat and to travel around the nearby provinces. We enjoyed our stay there and we had fun. While we also had a lot to eat, Matthew seemed to be the only one to not gain weight.

We had our downs too. But we’d rather not recall those. I think we already learned our lessons from those times. And its better to let those experiences go.

Yes. 2018 had been a good year. And here’s hoping that 2019 brings us more blessings and happiness that we can share.