A short, little history.
OMG it has been more than a year.
A year has passed but the work has only just begun.
It has been a year since we started Orang Laut SG. Though the idea has been with me for the longest time, the COVID-19 pandemic was a little wake-up call for me.
What is important to me at that very moment? It was to make sure that our stories are kept alive. I thought, with everything else that has been going on, there’s really nothing else to lose. Even with doubts and uncertainty, I summoned the courage of creating a page out of sheer passion.
How Orang Laut SG started:
During family gatherings, my family and I would look through our old photo albums. I sat down with my aunts and uncles and I listened to their stories about the island they once called home, Pulau Semakau. Every photo had a story.
I thought about what the page could be: a virtual space to reclaim the narrative of Pulau Semakau, because it was and has got to be more than a landfill. I thought about how the page could reach out to more people. What is that one thing that connects all of us?
After many discussions and bickering, my family and I agreed that we should use food as a vehicle to share our stories. Because food is the gateway to the heart, yes? I got the blessings and approval from my family members especially my aunt to work on this project. And a year’s into Orang Laut SG, I am so grateful that I had the courage to kick start it.
But to me, the hardest part wasn’t to start but to sustain it.
(Here’s a throwback to the very first draft of the Orang Laut SG logo I tried to illustrate based on a photo of my grandparents above. I believe I’ve failed.)
I have to say that over the year the page has grown into ways I couldn’t imagine. In a way, I try to use the page as a voice for the community. I see it as a platform for the uncles and aunties who are unempowered to talk about their lost lands and livelihoods, and the little but important narratives that only come up during a conversation over a cup of teh pandan. We should tell them all.
And I thank you for listening thus far.
What’s coming up for Orang Laut SG?
We want recognition, we want presence. But let’s start with a book!
I am compiling personal anecdotes from my family and hope to share these in-depth narratives by 2023. Fingers crossed!
We want a physical space for community engagement.
Our friends and partners have been so kind to us so far. Recently we did an amazing pop-up event at Crane. It was intimate and unforgetful. We hope to do more of this.
I believe we are just getting started and there are more stories to be unearthed and love to be shared from the community. For now, I would like to stay connected with you and invite you to our virtual storytelling session hosted by the great people at National Heritage Board’s Community Gallery. It is happening this Sunday at 4.30pm to 5.30pm!
Hope to see you soon! <3