Wednesday, 17 July 2013

BBGS@Singapore Reunion 2013

The last time BBGSians in Singapore got together, we headed out to the high seas on board a yacht.  This year, we decided to stay ashore and return to the charming hospitality of our warm hostess, Jillian Lee, who owns  Lee Tong Kee - a decades old restaurant that's guaranteed to delight the tastebuds of homesick KL-ites.  From the sign on the door welcoming BBGSians, to the balloons and crepe paper decorations that surrounded the upper room, it was undoubtedly an act of love and service born of a true BBGSian.  Thanks so much Jillian.  We love you! 

Class of 1975
Class of 1986

Class of 1987

The different generations of girls wasted little time getting to know one another.  Introductory questions like "What year are you from?", "How long have you been in Singapore?" and "What do you do?" quickly gave way to "Remember what happened when Miss Cooke/ Miss Yeap/ Mrs Choe/our classmates did....", which opened the floodgates of schoolgirl stories that left us clutching our sides with laughter while gasping for breath.  Story after story poured feverishly from our memories proving once again that "you can take a girl out of BBGS, but you can never take BBGS out of a girl!"

Ong Jin Kar (Class of 1986) with her family from Perth

Doreen Oh Craig (on the right) from the Class of 1986 joined us from Glasgow

This year, we had two girls from the Class of 1986 who flew in specially to join us.  Ong Jin Kar brought her family from Perth to say a quick "Hello" before they scooted nervously out of the venue, as most husbands and sons of high-spirited BBGSians have been known to do. Doreen Craig was on holiday from Glasgow and flew into Singapore specially for this reunion.  Thank you for making the special effort, ladies. We really enjoyed your company!

Last but not least, here's a group photo of all the attendees taken just before dinner.  We were kind enough not to make anyone kneel, as in our old school photos, just in case aged joints prevented anyone from getting up again! :)

All in all, a highly enjoyable evening.  Thanks to Moonlake Lee for organising the reunion and to everyone for coming.

Till we meet again, remember Nisi Dominus Frustra.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Game and Watch

To those of us who went to school in the '80s, it wasn't always about "five stones" or "catching" during playtime.  The electronics games industry was in its infancy and we wasted many hours glued to the screen playing games too.  In those days, Nintendo came up with a series of Game and Watch playthings that were all the rage.  Any girl who owned one of these gained instant celebrity status and became very popular especially before school and during recess. It's a wonder these weren't banned.

This version of Game and Watch called  "Octopus" turned me into a serious addict!

I posted this picture on Facebook and asked my friends for responses.  Here are some nostalgic (and hilarious) responses:

Vasanthi: I loved playing "Manhole" as well

Jin Hui:  I remember the one with the chef trying to catch food in a frying pan.  Was it called Chef?

Kar Hue:  Haha...I remember them all!  Twas one with Mickey Mouse collecting eggs

Patricia:  I remember playing, and playing in class too   (Joanna says: Hor..hor..Pat...I tell teacher then you know!)

Jenny:  I loved all these Nintendo games

Friday, 28 September 2012

Sexy Spaghetti Song

I made a trip back to KL on Friday 14th September for a very special event. Juwita Suwito was staging a concert at the Pavilion and dedicated the first night to BBGS. Under Mrs Abraham's guidance, Juwita and her amazing band conjured up magical music for the many BBGS girls and teachers who turned up to enjoy the evening. She even managed to surprise Mrs Abraham with a birthday dedication.

My favorite song of the night was the very sexy jazzed up version of "On Top of Spaghetti".

Monday, 3 September 2012

Sailing around Singapore

Last Saturday afternoon on 1 September 2012, sixteen BBGSians boarded a yacht at One Degree Fifteen Marina at Sentosa for a reunion with a difference.  Thanks to the brilliant organization of Patricia Chang (hip hip hooray!), the Class of 1987 had a wonderful 25th anniversary and were fortunate enough to have the company of other BBGSians living in Singapore.

There was no talk of diamonds, boob jobs or investment banker husbands.   Just plenty of genuine laughter and unfettered delight in each other's company on board a rented yacht.  This is exactly how 25th year school reunions should be celebrated.

Ladies, I salute you!


Quotes from the girls:

"It was a wonderful afternoon. Thank you all for reminding me how fortunate I was to be at this school and to have grown up with you." - Tomasina Oh

"Good fun.  My spirits lifted just being with you girls for one afternoon!  Energized to face the daily grind. We must meet more often." - Jeninder Kaur Gill

"Let's not wait another 25 years!  What a blast.  Could have yakked for another 4 hours." - Chen May Yee

"Had a really good yacht outing with BBGSians today. The experience was priceless and I will remember this event for the rest of my life."  - Patricia Chang

Xiao Ling - our very own yacht. For four hours only lah!

All aboard for a sun-soaked bubbly reunion

Lu Meng, Tomasina and Joanna chatting on the deck

Our very own HOT MAMAS - May Yee and Jeninder

From L-R:
1. Sweetest choral speaking conductor
2. Prefect.. Vice Captain.. School Captain
3. Superb portrait artist

4. Model rule-abiding BBGS student
5. Kongsi Gelap gang
6. Maths extraordinaire (kneeling)

Photo caption courtesy of Tan Lu Meng 

Spice Girls from Class of 1987
(Standing L-R) Joanna, Siok Chu
(Sitting L-R) Lu Meng, Patricia, Yee Git

Spicier Girls - Jessica, Melina & Moonlake

Cyndee & Joanne

School Captain passing out champagne. the mighty have fallen, or rather, have grown up.  CHEERS!

Beautiful cupcake presentation by Elis Chan (Class of 1995)

True to form, BBGSians cleaned up as the yacht was docking.  The crew rushed in saying "It's ok, we will clean!", to which I replied "It's alright, we are from BBGS."

Monday, 6 August 2012

Awesome Blossom

I must admit that when I think of BBGS girls in the 1950's, I see images of Stepford-wife wannabes, in floral skirts that twirl as they whisk themselves from the kitchen to the dining room.  Not for this BBGS girl from 1956.  Blossom Wong joined the Police Force before Merdeka and was a bona fide Special Branch police officer who kicked ***!  
Read her stories in this article which appeared in the New Straits Times on 5 August 2012.
Blossom Wong: Fighting crime in a cheongsam - General - New Straits Times

INTERNET SENSATION: Sultry police officer Blossom Wong was a real-life version of a 1960s spy. An old photograph of her escorting American politician Robert F. Kennedy and his wife, Ethel, when they were in Malaysia, went viral on Facebook recently with many on the social networking site bedazzled by her glamorous looks. Arman Ahmad managed to track down Wong, now 74, to talk about her time in the force. Starting her career in the Special Branch, she retired as a superintendent of police after 36 years of service

YOU may wonder where I got the name Blossom from. My real name is Wong Kooi Fong.  I have always loved plants and gardening. When I was still a child living in Sungei Besi, Kuala Lumpur, I used to plant flowers. My father reared chickens, so I had a lot of chicken droppings for the plants. They grew very well.  There was a Caucasian district officer who lived near my house. His wife called me Blossom because I loved flowers and everything I planted grew well. That nickname stuck. In fact, in my police retirement card, the name is Blossom. It became almost like an official name.

When I finished my Senior Cambridge in the 1950s, I honestly didn't know what I wanted to do.In those days, there were only two options available for girls. I could become a teacher or a secretary. Both were not my cup of tea. I was a tomboy in school and played hockey and badminton, and was in the debating and geographical societies. To me, teaching is boring, and to become a secretary, well you have to please your boss, and you cannot go out of the office. I'm an outdoor person.

After school, I worked with my dad in his poultry farm in Sungai Buloh. One day, there was a recruitment advertisement for the police force. They wanted people who were active and played games, and I thought why not give it a try.  I applied quietly without telling my father, who wanted me to be a teacher. I'd rather not because I was quite naughty in school and was afraid of getting balasan (retribution) from my students for all my misdeeds in school.

One day, I was walking in town (near the current Pavilion shopping mall) and saw a police patrol car. In the front seat was a lady officer and she had a cap on. She looked so smart. She looked at me and smiled and from that moment, I was sold. I would be a policewoman.  In my heart, I knew I wasn't prepared to be a teacher. Besides, if I became a police officer, I would get to ronda around Kuala Lumpur in a police car every day.

As fate would have it, I got a letter asking me to report for training on Aug 1, 1957. I went for six months of basic training. I learned all sorts of interesting things, including marching, musketry and the law. I remember we had a good law instructor. His name was Barcharan Singh. Marching three times a week in boots under the hot sun was the hardest part. All the orders were given in Bahasa Malaysia and at that time, my Bahasa was not up to par.  We woke up before 6am every day. By 6.10am, we were already marching from the barracks to the administration block. There were 15 women and an equal number of men in my batch. 

After graduation, we became probationary inspectors. I was chosen to join the Special Branch and given a posting in Penang. In those days, Sungai Besi was one of the communist hot spots and I wanted to be as far from my family as possible lest someone learned that I was a police officer. I had never been to Penang. Unfortunately, when I joined the Special Branch, I didn't get to wear the uniform, which had been my intention all along. 

I would travel incognito all over Penang as a decoy or undercover. Working with the Special Branch took a toll on my social life. I was very unhappy socially. I was not supposed to mix with the other uniformed girls. When I met one of them on the street, I had to ignore them because it might give my position away. Despite this, I found it all very exciting. After four years, I requested for a transfer to Ipoh to become the assistant area inspector. I was the second in command, and there were five police stations to take care of.In 1962, I was transferred to Kuala Lumpur after I got married. I was posted to the courts there. I became a prosecuting officer in the magistrate's and juvenile courts. 

In January 1964, Robert F. Kennedy and his wife Ethel came to Malaysia. I was assigned to escort his wife and I was asked by my superior officer to guard Ethel with my life.  Wherever they went, I followed. I even followed them swimming in Selangor Club. I couldn't swim so I just sat and watched them. They stayed at a penthouse in Merlin. That was the only swanky hotel at the time.

When Ethel was in the penthouse, I stayed in the outer section. She was warm and friendly and I remember her inviting me to have tea with her. We had conversations about her children. At that time, she already had a big family. When she went back home, she wrote to me in jest: "The TV had more pictures of you than me. If you ever come over, we would need a contingent to protect you."

During my career in the police force, I escorted numerous public figures, including Madam Park, wife of South Korean president Park Chung-hee, and Japanese prime minister Eisaku Sato and his wife, as well as the governer-general of New Zealand, among others. The Japanese prime minister gave me a Seiko watch that I wear until today.

In 1966, Albert Mah, an OCPD at the time, told me that we were setting up an anti-vice unit and I would be in it. He said: "Your fellow officers will show you the black cats."  I wondered what he meant. Then we went to Jalan Ampang, near Federal Bakery. On top of a Chinese coffee shop were numerous rooms. One of the men and I went up undercover and peeked into the rooms. Some of the girls were sitting on beds. I used this visit to plan my operation. It was the first anti-vice operation and we caught a van full of girls. Some of them were underaged. One of them was pregnant. In those days, they were all local girls. There were no foreigners. After the first operation, it dawned on me how widespread it was. From Jalan Walter Grenier to Jalan Khoo Teik Ee to Jalan Hicks and Jalan Alor, there were many of them. The mama-sans became afraid of me.

Later in my career, I would be called up to head another unit. This time, inspector-general of police Tun Hanif Omar asked me to set up the rape investigation section. We received training and a kit from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. We pioneered the use of DNA as evidence.

I retired in 1993. Now, besides spending time with my daughter and helping with her veterinary practice, I also do some gardening. I'm still quite good at planting flowers. I was with the police force for 361/2 years. I never regretted it. If I could do it all again, I would.