Every time I attend a VIOS Reunion. I am reminded of the best things in life: gratitude to one’s alma mater, friendship through the ages, and joyfulness in experiencing both. Each and every Reunion had its own lesson to impart; at the end of a Reunion, we, the participants, come away deeply grateful to the Organizing Committee, for striving to give us an experience that we would treasure for the rest of our lives. The Singapore VIOS 2015 Reunion brought back for me the wonderful memories of recent Reunions, and the knowledge of how much they meant to me.
Cambridge 2012: The Grand Celebration of the VI gave us an opportunity to savour the atmosphere of an institution that traces its roots to mediaeval times.
The Organizing Committees: Throughout, no matter where the venue, or when the season, one common thread linked all the Reunions. This was the ardent desire of the Organization Committees (OCs) to imbue the event with the VI spirit. To this end they all worked with tireless passion, taking on the difficult task of playing host to a big contingent of Victorians through the ages; paying immense attention to the tiniest detail that could contribute to the comfort and enjoyment of those who cared to make the long journey with their loved ones, many of whom had nothing to do with the VI, but were loving enough to be a part of these bonding sessions. Those of us who had the good fortune to enjoy the fruits of their labour will remain eternally indebted to these small bands of men and women, Victorians all, who have managed to present us with a slice of our common past, to enrich our memory with all that was best in an institution that was able to mold a part of our character, and which will always be a beloved part of our personal history. There are no words to thank them sufficiently; for how does one thank those who have enriched our lives, by harking back to a part of our past which we might well have put aside, but now realize how important it was in our personal development.
OCs—take a bow! You were all magnificent; and you all have our heartfelt thanks.
Accommodation: On my own, I could never have hoped to spend so little and stay so long at a place like the Sentosa Hard Rock Hotel. It was indeed a great idea on the part of OC to tap Victorian links to the hotel group, to obtain such a good deal for the Reunion participants. The theme complex made it an ideal location, as one could shop or relax within the environment of a 5-star hotel.
Goodies: Generations of students have identified with the VI crest. It gives the idea of strength (via the Seladang) and the combination of blues is pleasing. I was glad for the T-shirt, emblazoned with the crest. Victorians at the Registration desk did me the honour of giving me a medium-size, which I was pleased to receive, but alas! in which I could not comfortably breathe! Had to quietly exchange it for a large! The scarf for the ladies is a designer piece of beautiful shades of blue, and big enough for all the calls made upon it throughout the Reunion. I am not sure how OC managed to persuade various sponsors to give us the goodies: but certainly, the batik shirts, the T-shirts, and the scarves were a touch of home, and made a beautiful display at the Gala Dinner.
Programme: Fortuitously, this year’s Reunion coincided with the 50th Anniversary of Singapore’s Independence. Part of the Programme therefore could be linked to a glimpse at the remarkable progress that this island-state has made in just five decades. We could not but be impressed with the vision of public housing ownership: planned and executed for the national benefit, with improvements along the way. The OC was spot-on in including this into the Reunion’s Edutainment: probably nowhere else in the world can one expect this high degree of ensuring that citizens can call their own the roof that is over their heads. We were treated to a morning at the Gardens by the Bay — not many countries have to move their gardens upstairs! It was an elegant experience. Perhaps only Singapore can manage to make aerial gardens seem natural. I spent a pleasant afternoon by myself at the Aquarium, admiring various species of denizens of the deep. This was a part of the Programme that I also appreciated - a little time by oneself for quiet relaxation.
Meals: The OC managed to keep us together, yet satisfied each one’s different and individual taste by the creative idea of meals at Malaysian Food Street and Lao Pa Sat. This was a relief! For those who have returned to this part of the world from afar, local food, the food of their VI days, was a godsend! So, it was not surprising that “ooh” and “ah” could be heard up and down the ranks as discoveries were made of char keow teow; fishball and fishpaste noodle; laksa; rojak; roti canai; ice kachang; and plenty more - reminders of the exotic and somewhat weird tastes of our youth!
Entertainment: It is always a surprise to me that Victorians are ever-ready to showcase their talents. Organ-playing; singing: in duets or in groups—all were performed with enthusiasm and fun. No one can deny that Chung Chee Min is a one-man Hollywood act! Who is not amazed at the depth of his research in the documentary on ‘Famous Singaporean Victorians’; and on ‘Proudlock’ in which he traced the tenuous threads binding a young VI acting Headmaster to the likes of Bette Davis, and who finally settled to roost in an environment similar to the VI, in far-off Argentina! And who could have believed we had our very own V.I. bred magician, who dazzled us with his sleight of hand - rope tricks, card tricks, metal ring tricks, the lot. No, magic wasn't in the V.I. School Certificate syllabus in his time but Shaun Yee Thiam Fook certainly made it his calling.
Participants: This is the most important ingredient of the Reunion equation. One can arrange the best programme of food and fun; lace it with an array of goodies; and top it with the most attractive of entertainment. But, if there is no one to enjoy all of these, then there can be no Reunion. VI@SG50 was blessed with a good turnout of some 180 participants. This included kindly spouses, children and even a son-in-law! For the archives, let it be recorded that present were seven School Captains (Ronnie McCoy 1948-49, Lee Choong Keet 1957, R Krishna 1959, Kuan Beng Teik 1963, Phua Juay Chee 1964, Tan Kee Kwong 1966 and Yap Kian Fui 1971) and three Head-Girls (Teh Paik Lian, Leong Siew Mun, Teh Pak Bee). For me, a wonderful statistic was the significant number of Victorian husband-and-wife teams who were present.
Although Cupid might have taken a slow and more leisurely walk through the VI corridors at times, indubitably, Love was in the air! All this reflects a wonderful coincidence; when and will it happen again?
In conclusion: The happy throng who were part of the VI@SG50 are in no doubt that their time at the Reunion was very well spent. For those who had been to either the Cambridge or the Vancouver event, or both, it was a grand occasion to meet up with others who had attended before. Once is never sufficient to get to know each other well; one looks forward to future times as warm and as nostalgic as these past Reunions have proven to be. These are truly islands in the sun. We bask in the memory of days gone by, when even the endless polishing of door knobs as part of detention punishment takes on an unbelievably rosy hue.
These Reunions have a magic value of their own. Undeniably, the corporeal VI is in a dismal state; the spick-and-span school environment of spit-and-polish is sadly no more. The physical VI of today: of broken window shutters, doors barely hanging on by their hinges, missing doorknobs, unpainted walls, and many more derelictions would have been unthinkable in the days of yore.
What remains is the old indomitable VI spirit. What are important are the values for which the VI stood firm. In these days, especially, the wise and stirring words of the school song have never rung more true: ‘Not one race, but one in feeling’; ‘...instruction be not all, nor this School just roof and wall.’ Never before have such sentiments been as important as now; thus a School that was so wise so long ago, cannot but serve to remind us of our need to stand by her code. The VI spirit is engendered once again every time we meet; it is palpable throughout each Reunion, and it reminds us that values that were good, remain so for all time. It comforts us that friends we made during those ‘halcyon’ days remain true, for those friendships were forged in younger times, and none had any axe to grind.
Let’s meet again, ....soon!
DAY 1: Where it all began....
Arrival and Registration
Name tags, badges and souvenirs for all
Long time, no see!
First official item: Gorging at Malaysian Food Street
The invisible bond connecting alumni from 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1987
The handing over of the much-travelled Reunion Banner from the 2013 Vancouver rep to VI@SG50 OC Chairman.
Getting ready for show time
Post-dinner song and dance....
....and the first of two shows by Old Victorian Shaun Yee, a professional magician from Milan, Italy
DAY 2: A quick breakfast...
... then off to board the two tour buses...
... to the first destination ...
...the National Museum
...with its many interesting exhibits
Lunch at the Singapore Island Country Club
A spot of post-prandial joviality
Then it's off to the HDB Headquarters where HDB officials
.. briefed us on how Singapore houses its citizens
Final stop: the Palm Beach Restaurant at Marina Bay
Enjoying the sea food and company....
... into the evening...
... when the lights come on at the Marina Bay Sands!
DAY 3: Gardens by the Bay
Admiring a Supertree
Jennifer Vadiveloo and Lee Choong Keet (1957 VI School Captain) joined in too
The Cloud Forest..
.. and its waterfall
A break before boarding the buses
Lunch was at the historic Lao Pa Sat..
..tucking yet again into mouth-watering delights
THE GALA DINNER
Pre-dinner Bonding (photo-montage)
Yet more bonding...
SCHOOL CAPTAINS AND HEAD GIRLS:
Sitting: Teh Pak Bee (1962), Teh Paik Lian (1956), Leong Siew Mun (1957), Ronald McCoy (1948-49),
Lee Choong Keet (1957)
Standing: Phua Juay Chee (1964), Tan Kee Kwong (1966), Kuan Beng Teik (1963), Yap Kian Fui (1971),
Krishna Rajaratnam (1959).
SENIORS FROM THE 40s AND 50s:
Sitting: Teh Phaik Lian, Lee Choong Keet, Susheila Vethavanam, Ronald McCoy.
Standing: Krishna Rajaratnam, Kok Wee Kiat, Chung Chee Min, Leong Siew Mun,
Loh Yoon Kwai, Helen Koh, Chang Chee Lee, Wong Yew Kin.
CLASS OF UPPER SIX 1962:
Sitting: Koh Tong Bak, Lim Meng Eng, Quah Chooi Hon, Teh Pak Bee, Sung Kam Yip, Susie Lim, Gan Kong Eng
Standing: Ho Yik CHee, Lee Kim Tian, Tan Kee Keong, Tan Yoke Yee, Cheong Yong Young,
John Vadiveloo (hidden), Wong Sia Kow, Wong Cheng Lim, Tan Kim Bee (hidden), Tang Wing Chew, Yee Sek Kum,
Koh Swee Pheng, Wan Kim Woh, K Parampathy, Michael Loh Meng Kei
CLASS OF UPPER SIX 1964/SC 1962:
Sitting: Phua Juay Chee, Chris Liew Peng Fook, Mee Mee Leong, R Thillainathan, Kong See Wah
Standing: Khoo Seow Hong, Lee Ban Yew, N. Ganesan, Lee Ah Bee, Tai Koon Hoong, Lim Yin Kiat
CLASS OF UPPER SIX 1965:
Sitting: Khong Kim Hoong, Teacher Ee Paik Lian, Kan Ah Chye, Chia Kia Ngee, Ngui Thiam Khoon, Lye Mei Yoke
Standing: Lee Chee Kuon, Chin Lik Suan, Wan Kee Yio, Zen Loy, Jennifer Hong, Quah Chek Jwee, Chia Hoi Meng
CLASS OF UPPER SIX 1966:
Peter Tang, Yong Chong Hee, Ananthasivam Sellapah, Pong Kai See, Gui Wee Kee,
Chong Sun Ming, Tan Kee Kwong, Rex Toh
CLASS OF UPPER SIX 1968:
Sitting (L. to r.): Sieh Kok Swee, Chong Siew Meng, Khoo Loon See (actually 1969), Ron Liew Kon Swee, Lai Kim Leong
Standing (l to r.): Kenneth Koh Hong Wai, Daniel Chan, Goh Chak Wong, Au Yong Mun Bong, Chow Yoon Seng
Soya King Michael Loh Meng Kei and his ex-biology teacher, Dr Yeoh Oon Chye
(1) Two SC classmates from 1951: Dr Tay Chong Hai (standing) and Col. Khong Kim Kong;
(2) Singapore judge Justice Tan Lee Meng (VI 1961-1967)
FIRST KL SCOUT TROOP
Phua Juay Chee, Rex Toh, Liu Tai Koh (with beret), Au Yong Mun Bong, Yong Lum Sung,
Koh Tong Bak, Chong Sun Ming, Tan Kee Kwong, Khoo Seow Hong, Julian Fong,
Ng Seng Peng, Ng Chee Peng, Yee Sek Kum, Nah Seang Chew, Liew Kon Swee, Lai Kim Leong.
Our Ronald McCoy delivered all their babies... way, way back!
The school song, backing by Stanley Loh and John Vadiveloo
Chee Min gave presentations on
(1) Prominent Singapore Victorians of yesteryear, and
(2) The Proudlock Saga, the story of a murder at the VI HM's bungalow
Lucky Draw for copies of cookery book Seventh Kitchen, One Passion by ex-teacher Old Girl Liu Tai Meng (right)
Shaun Yee returns with part 2 of his act with ropes, blindfolds and rings
Volunteer Pong Kai See keeps a watchful eye as a blindfolded Shaun Yee pulls off a stunt
V.I. Ex-scouts sing of their camping misfortunes:
(l. to r.) Chong Sun Ming, Phua Juay Chee, Ng Chee Peng (hidden), Au Yong Mun Bong,
Ng Seng Peng, Zen Loy, Koh Tong Bak, Tan Kee Kwong, Yee Sek Kum.
"... The kampong folk chased us; we ran for our lives;
We hid in the belukar amidst the bee hives..."
"Anything you can do I can do better.." sings Quah Chooi Hon to hubby Ho Yik Chee
The twosome expand into the VIOS Fun Singers doing a medley of songs
Thank you to the hardworking OC!
Gan Kong Eng, Kenneth Koh, Chow Yoon Seng, Chew Kia Ngee, Kan Ah Chye, Chris Liew, Christine Cho
....And thank you to R. Thillainathan for his connections
to Resorts World that enabled us to get the best rates at Hard Rock Hotel!
Created: October 15, 2015.
Last update: November 30, 2015.