Sunday, April 24, 2005

Post No.11: The Forgotten

Don’t be mistaken. I would not be writing about the movie: “The Forgotten” in this post. As proficient as I am with a pen, it would remain quite impossible for me to write about a movie I haven’t watch before (although I did see the trailer for the movie while inside a movie theater and found it to be quite intriguing). Instead, I would be touching upon a topic which, coincidentally, the title of the movie is an appropriate title for.

However, before I start discussing the topic I have in mind, I think that it would relevant to the discussion that I recount my experience in helping out with last year’s National Day Parade (NDP). During last year’s NDP, my unit, in addition to contributing people to form the Armour parade contingent, was called upon to be mainly in charge of the seemingly unimportant task of setting up the tarpaulin covering the grass field of the National Stadium. Why do I write that this task is seemingly unimportant? That’s because although this setting up of the tarpaulin is not featured as part of the performance for the NDP, the performance would not have been able to proceed, or proceed as smoothly, without the tarpaulin being set up. The reason for this? Simple. The tarpaulin is covered with markings (on colour-coded & number-coded square pieces of cloth tape) which were painstakingly pasted on by the men of my unit during the course of one night. Without these markings, the performers of the various performing groups would not be able to go to their positions or change positions swiftly (of course, I’m not saying that their rehearsal efforts did not count but the markings facilitated them quite a bit). Hopefully, you all now understand that this task my unit was tasked with was an important one, though it may appear seemingly unimportant.

I must not forget to mention the incident which took place on the day of the NDP itself that greatly irked my platoon mates and I. After the performance was brought to a momentous closing and after all the performers and audience have left, the men of my unit was required to remove the tarpaulin from the grass field and pack it up, something which we have done for quite several times. To our shock & disgust, the tarpaulin was covered with rubbish of all sorts! Empty mineral water bottles, half-finished cans of soft drinks, cardboard boxes and puddles of mineral water & soft drinks… This horrendous mess was obviously left behind by the celebrating performers whom didn’t bother to clean up after themselves. Thus, the men of my unit were forced to clear up this mess as we needed to keep the tarpaulin. That night, as I went around picking up rubbish, I got a better understanding of the label: “Ugly Singaporeans”…

Now, eight month later, thinking back to those experiences I mentioned above, a sudden epiphany occurred to me. It occurred to me that there existed groups of people who, similar to the men of my unit during last year’s NDP, did seemingly unimportant yet no less important jobs but are not given recognition by us. In fact, it would not be inaccurate to say that most of us conveniently forgotten about them; they are “The Forgotten”.

Who are they? Look around you, they wouldn’t be hard to miss, they’re everywhere and you see them almost everyday. Still don’t know whom I’m referring to? Okay, I will stop playing with you all… These people are the cleaners, grass-cutters, construction workers and rubbish collectors. “Them?”, I can imagine the reaction of you all. Yes, them. I put forward the idea that, without these people, our society, as we know it, would most probably come to a standstill, if not collapse. This is no exaggeration. Just think about it. Imagine a day without these people doing their seemingly unimportant jobs. A week. A month. Get the picture I’m trying to show to you all? If you all haven’t get the picture, let me be more explicit…

Piles of rubbish will start appearing, the ground will be covered with litter of all sorts, your tables at hawker centers and food courts will become filthy & uncleared, the air will reek of decomposing rubbish, the grass will grow till knee-height and the construction of houses & upgrading projects will be halted… Do you all still think that I’m exaggerating?

Too far-fetched to happen? I don’t think so. In case you all aren’t aware, in the 50s and early 60s, the rubbish collectors in Singapore will purposely delay their collecting of rubbish till weekends as they would receive additional pay if they worked on weekends. This resulted in rubbish piling up over the weekdays. But that was decades ago, you all may argue. However, being a student of History, I must remind you all that, relative to the great of Time, a few decades is but a blink of the eye. History can still repeat itself.

What I’m trying to point out to you all is that we all shouldn’t take these people for granted. Yes, perhaps they do not get to be in the limelight or forefront of things but the service they provide is nonetheless important to the smooth flowing of our society. We all should give them the due recognition they deserve and not look down on them just because they work in seemingly unimportant lowly jobs. Their jobs may not be as high-profile as doctors and lawyers but they are equally important in their contribution to the well-being of our society.

Extending and expanding my argument, I would like you all to think about whether there are people in your lives who you have taken for granted or “forgotten” about. People who are there whenever you needed someone. People, who my OBS instructor of 3 years back, Brandon, refer to as the “belayers” of our lives. My advice to you all (and myself as well) is to stop taking these people for granted and start showing them that you do appreciate them and what they have done for you.

All in all, my point of this entire post: recognise & remember “The Forgotten”…

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