Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Caring for the less fortunate

It's always wonderful to hear from BBGSians. Here's a letter from Lily Chan (Class of 1989) who continues to live the BBGS spirit in a very special way - by raising funds for underprivileged families. Very much in line with all the values we were taught in school. She has a great idea to help us stay true to the founding principles of BBGS...read on..
Hi Joanna,

I'm not sure if you still remember me. But it was great to read your blog. I was like you too, for the past 4 years, I've been goggling the web to find BBGS, but there wasn't much about it. I'm glad you started one and have kept it alive. This is something I think, many of us would love to see - BBGS, The Spirit Lives On...

I joined Facebook when I was told that's how many BBGS girls have kept in touch. Having left teaching, I went into fundraising for NGOs. We organise charity dinners and carnivals. Don't know where I learnt those skills in organising... hehehe... Well, it is not so much about organising nor about being able to sell a RM20k table to raise funds. It is more about having the heart for the underprivileged. Helping them gain an education and giving them a second chance in life.

I have met a lot of very very hardcore poor families who have many children but can't afford to send them to school. One family's eldest daughter had to leave school at the age of 11 because her parents are too busy earning money to put food on table and no one is home to look after the siblings. My heart was moved. I thought to myself, "It's already the new millenium and we still have parents with such old-fashioned mindsets?"

I met another girl aged 16 who was abused by her mother because she thought her daughter had been exchanged at the hospital during birth. She was made to stop schooling at the age of 13. She was made to do housechores and please the whole family. My thoughts came to me again, 'Cinderella ah?'

I began to be more and more thankful that my mom didn't think of this, despite not being very educated herself. She insisted that we go to this school she knows - BBGS. She said Ms Glasgow, didn't look down on her but gave my sister a place in the school. Many people in those days, said, BBGS is very much a controlled school, they choose their students. But my mom went straight to the Principal's office - Ms Glasgow and asked if she could register my sister.

These years in fundraising have made me feel very sentimental about how BBGS began. It was the passion and heart of the missionaries, who left their homeland, came here to give education to girls. Many girls throughout the century have been given a good education.

I have a very big plan in heart, which I don't have the courage to start yet. I've thought of starting a BBGS Foundation. This foundation will help underprivileged girls to gain education and thus, to have a chance to a better future in life. The missionaries who started BBGS had this in mind at that time, I'm sure. With the BBGS Foundation, we'll be able to keep the dreams and the spirit of all BBGSians alive in the lives of the girls we would be helping.

What do you think?

Hope to hear from you.

BBGS Class of 1988 Reunion

Calling all BBGSians from the class of 1988! Please register for your class reunion at this Facebook link : http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=9564066115 or contact Belle Luer.

Event Info
Name: BBGS Class of 88 20th Reunion
Tagline: A Once in a Lifetime Event!
Host: BBGS Class of 88
Type: Party - Reunion

Time and Place
Start Time: Saturday, April 12, 2008 at 7:00pm
End Time: Sunday, April 13, 2008 at 12:00am
Location: To Be Confirmed
City/Town: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Coconut candy for food sales

As a child, I used to visit BBGS fun fairs with my mother. My favourite thing in the world then was the pink coconut candy sold in little paper baskets! It was only much later that I learnt that these delightful pink squares are a BBGS institution. They have been made and sold by generations of BBGSians at fun fairs and food sales since the 1950s.

In fact, we made it one of our signature offerings at the KL Schools Entrepreneurs Expo in 1985. It was so popular that even Dr Mahathir stopped to buy some when he opened the Expo. I witnessed it with my own eyes and even managed to get a quote from the VIP for the School Magazine. What a coup for a 15-year old!

What did our esteemed PM have to say? "It's very nice and you girls did a good job!"

My mum taught me to make these candies many years ago. This is a sample recipe that I found which closely resembles the BBGS version. Enjoy!

350 gm. grated white coconut
500 gm. coarse sugar
170 gm. evaporated milk
50 gm. Butter
1 tsp. vanilla essencea few drops of pink food colouring or any colour of your choice

(1) Place all the ingrediens (except butter)together into a heavy saucepan and stir continously over heat until sugar dissolves.
(2) Add in butter and continue stirring until mixture thickens.
(3) Pour thickened mixture into a greased 9" square tray and press till the surface is even. Leave to set and cool.
(4) When slightly cool, cut into squares. When completely cooled to room temperature, store in airtight containers.

*Note: Do not wait until completely cooled then cut into squares, the candy will break into pieces.

Mrs Abraham's Caramel Toffee

Ever since Mrs Abraham was featured on this blog, many of you have written in reminiscing about her caramel toffee fudge. Thanks to the generosity of her daughter, Anne-Marie (the only CBN-er whom we'll accept as an honorary "BBGSian") we are able to feature the recipe on this blog. Thanks Anne!

"This is a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips" - Mrs. Abraham


2 cups brown sugar
1 tin condensed milk
2 tablespoons golden syrup
Half a slab (4 oz) of butter
1 cup chopped nuts (preferably almonds, NO PEANUTS PLEASE – makes toffee rancid)
Third of a bottle of vanilla essence (star brand)


Place butter, sugar, condensed milk and golden syrup in a thick bottomed saucepan.

Stir continuously over low fire for approximately 35 minutes or until toffee turns dark golden brown. Keep stirring to avoid burning.

Add in nuts and vanilla, stir to incorporate the mixture.

Pour into greased tray and allow toffee to cool. After about 15 minutes, cut into squares (while still warm). Allow to cool thoroughly, then store.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Stories from abroad

Here are some articles on BBGSians contributed by Suet Poh. Keep 'em coming!

Hi Joanna,

Thought you might consider including the following articles in your blog. More BBGSians doing us girls proud.. :) although they are old news..


Suet Poh

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Labour of love

Hi Everyone,

It's the 9th of January 2008 - a watershed date for this blog. We broke the 1000-visit mark in just over 6 months!

THANK YOU to all of you for visiting the blog, contributing your stories and forwarding the link. Thank you for caring.

Many readers have written kind and encouraging words to me about this blog. Allow me to share with you about this labour of love.

Last June, I was in a hotel room surfing the web when I googled "BBGS" just to find out what was available. I found very little. And the little I found was outdated, sentimental and not of the quality that BBGS is known for. There was a lot of negative emotion about the loss of the school building, school name, school legacy and moaning about the evils of the Pavilion. I felt it wasn't representative of the BBGS I know and love. "Be the change that you want to see in the world" is a quality that I learnt at school. And so I decided to help re-build a positive image for BBGS in cyberspace.

When I started doing research, I learnt that a key to having a successful blog is to write about your passions. And so I started blogging about my two favourite things: BBGS and travelling -- check out http://aunty-jo-jo.blogspot.com/. I have always wanted to be a writer and these blogs have provided me an avenue to fulfil those dreams.

Standards? That was easy. The BBGS blog had to be good enough for Miss Cooke or my mother to read!

Content? That was a little more challenging. I began with some self-indulgent memories and semi-autobiographies. Thankfully, I found a stash of school magazines while moving apartments so I began to draw on these well-researched resources. I also began hunting down old classmates and teachers and begged them for stories. Felt like being Editor of the School Magazine all over again!

Networks? It began with a handful of emails to close friends - 6 to be exact. And the word began to spread -- slowly. Somehow, this little blog found its way to Facebook and the networking really began to gain momentum. And today, we're here celebrating 1000 hits.

So let's keep writing, networking and sharing those BBGS dreams and we'll make it to 10,000 hits by the end of 2008 shall we?

Take care everyone and remember...


Warmest regards,

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Down Memory Lane

I have always been fascinated by the history of BBGS, and grateful to the extraordinary women who were our school’s early pioneers. They dedicated their entire lives to build the BBGS legacy that we are proud to call our own today. This is why we must constantly strive to live up to the ideals that have been sown so many years ago.

This is the story of Miss Ma, one of those early pioneers. This extract is taken from her article published in the BBGS Centenary Magazine, May 1993.

Down Memory Lane
By Miss Ma Tak Yan
Ex-student, ex-teacher & first headmistress of BBGS Primary 2

I treasure the earliest memories of my old school where I spent 55 years of my life, first as a pupil, then a teacher and finally as headmistress. It is also the school where two brothers, six sisters, my adopted daughter and eleven nieces received their education.

I joined BBGS in 1922 when I was five years old (at that time there was no fixed age for admission). Although it was called a girls’ school, boys were also admitted. However, they had to leave and join a boys’ school after completing Standard 2.

During my student days, BBGS was under four fine Christian headmistresses who endeavoured to live and teach the faith which they professed. The first was Miss Luke and when she went on leave, Miss O’Connor took over the helm. Then came Miss E. Prouse, a disciplinarian who instilled a healthy fear of authority in students but was much respected by everyone. She is also fondly remembered as the person from whom we learned to do fine embroidery. When she went on furlough, our dear Miss M. Glasgow became our headmistress.

The early Davidson Road days

In those early days, BBGS operated from the Chinese Gospel Hall. This was a small wooden building in Davidson Road. Four classes were held in the main building, each occupying one corner of the Hall with the headmistress’ desk beside the main door. Two other classes were held in the vestry.

Lack of space and facilities did not dampen the enthusiasm displayed by Miss Prouse. As there was no playing field, she made full use of whatever space there was in front of the church building to teach us folk dancing, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and club drill. These activities made up for the sports of which we were deprived.

There was great fun when the school broke up at the end of the year. We always had a very interesting concert which was held in the church building. A wooden stage was erected in the vestry by my father, Mr Ma Tham Shun, who was the pastor of the Chinese Gospel Hall. There were singing items and plays and parents were treated to Christmas carols and hymns which students sang with gusto.

BBGS was established as a mission school by the Brethren Assembly. Its aim was not only to provide much needed education particularly for young girls, but also to give them the opportunity to learn the love of God and to acquire good values. Scripture was taught the first thing in the morning from 8 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. I enjoyed the Bible lessons given by some of our missionaries like Miss Shirtliff, Miss Falconer and Miss Daws. Students were encouraged to memorise Bible passages such as Psalm 23, Isaiah 53 and John 14. The teaching of the Word of God has certainly not been in vain and many students have gone on to make valuable contributions to society.

Moving to Bukit Bintang Road

It was a red-letter day when we moved to our own school building on Bukit Bintang Road in 1929. It was still called the Chinese Girls’ School for some time after that. I clearly remembered scrubbing the floors of the classrooms and painting our desks. Standards 7, 8 and 9 (Forms 3, 4 and 5) occupied the classroom next to the headmistress’ office. Woe betide us when we made noise which was immediately silenced by the sound of the press-bell in Miss Prouse’s office.

When I entered Form 5, there were only two pupils – Lizzie Tan and myself. When my classmate fell ill (which she often did), poor me was the only one answering Miss Glasgow’s Literature and Bible Knowledge questions. There were terrifying moments when I failed to answer any of them correctly. This made me more or less memorise every word in the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles so that I could perform well.

Our school was in the limelight when our Badminton Team won the coveted Silver Trophy for four consecutive years in the Selangor Inter-School Badminton Tournament held at the Victoria Institution hall. There were three singles players (I was one of them) and two doubles players. Miss Prouse was very concerned that we should not only perform well but also set an example in sportsmanship. Students, therefore, were strictly instructed not to show delight when our opponents lost a point!

Torture Chamber

When I became a teacher in 1934, the importance of maintaining strict discipline was impressed on me by Miss Prouse with whom I shared a classroom. My class occupied half the room while her class the other half. I used to call that classroom my “Torture Chamber” for while I was teaching my class, I had a pair of blue eyes focused on me from the other end of the room.

In 1936, our school participated in the King George V Silver Jubilee Celebrations held at the former Stadium on Circular Road (now known as Jalan Pekeliling). I was given the task of training the participants for the Maypole Dancing. Imagine my relief when the performers received loud applause from the audience.

Then came the Japanese

During the Japanese Occupation in 1942, we had to study Japanese. I cannot imagine how I managed to teach Algebra (Dai-su) in Japanese! The classes were small and were made up of girls from St. Mary’s and Pudu English schools which amalgamated with BBGS and operated at our school, then called Bukit Bintang Gakko (meaning school in Japanese)

Mrs de Silva from the Pudu English School was the headmistress and we worked in harmony with the teachers from these two schools. However, Miss Prouse and Miss Glasgow, who served the school until the last possible moment, were captured by the Japanese army and interned in Palembang. Miss Prouse did not survive the internment and passed away from malaria six months before the war ended. We will certainly not forget the courage and sacrifice of people such as these. Miss Glasgow returned to BBGS as the headmistress until 1957.

After the Japanese surrender on August 15, 1945, it was a day of great rejoicing when we returned to BBGS in September 1945 to teach in English again The school was denuded of furniture because the Japanese soldiers who camped there had used our chairs and desks for firewood. They also converted the School Hall into a kitchen. Anyone who joined the school had to bring her own desk and chair and we had an interesting assortment of classroom furniture.

The call to be headmistress

I was appointed headmistress of Primary School 2 in 1958, and there were about 1000 pupils under my care. It was a huge responsibility and I recalled the lessons of those years as a class teacher under Miss Prouse and later under Miss Glasgow. Miss Glasgow, in particular, taught me the importance of applying Christian principles and values in discharging my responsibilities. I was privileged to have their own shining example to follow – how to be caring and dedicated but at the same time, to be strict.

I also had the help and the support of a very efficient senior assistant Mrs Bux (nee Wong Sau Lan), a conscientious senior teacher, Mrs Lim Peng Nyun (who succeeded me when I retired and a very capable and industrious school clerk, Mrs Lim Ngoh Moi. These factors enabled me to cope with the challenge and difficulties of the job until my retirement in January 1977.


My retirement in January 1977 marked the end of my teaching career. It was a sad day for me to leave the school and to hand over the reins to others. However, I am thankful for the precious memories I have of BBGS and am always delighted when I hear of the successes achieved by my former students and their contributions to society. BBGS has produced generations of students of fine calibre. I am very proud that three of my students, Miss E.M. Cooke, Mrs Lim Peng Nyun and Mrs Siew Pick Yoke, who became headmistresses of BBGS.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Everyone's a critic!

Just found this really cool tool that assesses the reading level of blogs. Here's the result for this BBGS blog.

cash advance

College level. Not bad huh? :-)

Life in Primary 6

Jennifer Wan is a true-blue BBGSian who found me on Facebook and has shared this photo of Std 6 Merah and her memories of having Mrs Yeoh as class teacher. It always amuses me to read stories of my mum in action. Hope you enjoy the read too.

Thanks so much for the contribution, Jennifer.

"So, I signed up for Facebook and it exceeded my expectations. I soon got back in touch with quite a number of my high school friends. And mind you, we've lost touch for almost 13 years. Some of them are mothers now, while others are high flying corporate women. And the one thing that we treasure so much, besides our friendship and aquaintance, are the memories of our school.

Yea, no big deal?!

No, it IS a HUGE DEAL for us.

We all went to Bukit Bintang Girls’ School - me being a true blue BBGSian, going from Std 1 right up to Form 5. Even my aunts (3 of them) went to BBGS. I think if BB had a kindy, I would’ve attended that, too.

Anyway, another person that I stumbled upon on Facebook was the daughter of one of my teachers (she studied in BBGS, too, obviously!). Mrs Yeoh was my class teacher when I was in Primary 6. She was also the school’s discipline teacher and upon discovering that as a 12 year-old, I was terrified! Imagine having the discipline teacher as your class teacher!

Anyway, I have to confess that she was the only primary school teacher that still have a spot in my rusting brain. I do not know why but it might be because I was reprimanded more than a 12-year old would like to be. Lol. Yea, although I seem to be a decent, hardworking girl now, I used to be quite naughty when I was young.

The clearest memories of me being told off was rattling off non-stop to my Chinese friends in Cantonese. I shouldn’t really be doing that, I know, cos as soon as we set foot into secondary school, we would be ‘punished’ for speaking in other languages besides BM and English.

Thinking back now, Mrs Yeoh probably wanted me to get used to speaking either in BM/English before I opened my mouth and get punished in secondary school. Well, unfortunately, her efforts didn’t really work cos I was still quite rebellious, and used Cantonese. Honestly, I have lost count on the number of ‘world maps’ that I have drawn. To those who are confused, we were required to draw world maps every time we were caught by prefects communicating in our mother tongue.

Besides being the talkative girl, I was one who constantly forgets her flute for music lessons. It is funny thinking back now, and I am unsure why I still remembered this so well. I couldn’t remember the name of our music teacher, but I hated music. I can’t even sing now to save my life (but I did join the school choir once, which is another story altogether) and I couldn’t at all read the music notes. So, how can I play the flute if I can’t read the music notes? I don’t know, but somehow I managed to pull through.

What I remember vividly was Mrs Yeoh reminding me to bring my flute the 1st time I forgot and I kinda took the reminder too lightly. However, when I forgot the 2nd time, she got a bit upset and reprimanded me. Still, I don’t know why I didn’t really care. And when the 3rd time came, I got scolded. I was, of course, very scared and never forgot my flute anymore.
I wasn’t mad at Mrs Yeoh (cos I knew it was my fault), nor did I run complaining to my parents (parents those days will side the teacher instead of their kids, unlike now). It was just a lesson that I learnt. However, I also remember finding out that she sort of wasn’t in good terms with my music teacher and because I did not bring my flute, it gave her (the music teacher’s) a chance to pick on Mrs Yeoh’s students.

That — made me feel even more guilty.

In addition to that, being in the first class (coupled with the discipline teacher as our class teacher) meant no hanky-panky and fun. I remember how jealous the whole class was when friends from the other Primary 6 classes could go on trips and play games after the UPSR exams while we were stuck in class with Mrs Yeoh teaching us Form 1 Maths. I still remember what it was - Nombor Perdana (ie Prime Numbers, if I’m not wrong). "

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Sounds of London Town

This poem has been requested by an ex-BBGSian and I'm happy to oblige. It brings back fond memories because I first taught this poem to Mrs. Abraham's English class, 2S, who won the Junior Choral Speaking Competition in 1989.

The London day begins with
The first trains,
The first trams,
The first workers, traders and newspapers,
The first birds in Trafalgar Square,
The last lights, the last lurkers;
The sleepy heads get out of beds,
And off to work they go;

Then, the rustle hustle bustle starts,
Racing taxis, noisy carts,
Rustle hustle bustle, rustle hustle bustle,
Rushing here, rushing there
Running here and everywhere
People shopping, people looking
People eating, drinking, laughing,

And we go by Underground.
Down we go, down the escalator, down,
Down, down, down.
Follow the red light, follow the blue light,
This way! No, I'm sure it's that way.
We thunder through the hollow tunnel of the tube.

Pitter patter, pitter patter, pitter patter,
Clipper clapper, clipper clapper, clipper clapper,
Hello-o, hello-o
Keep right, keep left
Pass along the platform
More room at the front of the train.
Ch-ch-ch, ch-ch-ch, ch-ch-ch, ch-ch-ch, PSHSH...CHUNG!
Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner, Picadilly Circus,
We're on our way, we'll soon be there.
We're on our way, we'll soon be there.
We're on our way, we'll soon be there. PSHSHSH

Apples, apples, lovely ripe apples.
Paper, paper, read all about it.
Choc-ices, choc-ices, lovely choc-ices.
Honk, honk! Peep, peep!

Let's have a cup of tea, cup of tea, cup of tea.
Let's have a cup of tea, cup of tea, cup of tea.
Let's have a cup of tea, cup of tea, cup of tea.
The mingled chitter chatter over plates of bread and butter
And the clink of cups of tea.

Gossip, scandal, news and views,
Dresses, cousins, friends and shoes,
And my latest operation.
Waiter! Yessir. Waiter! Coming.
Waiter! Yessir. Waiter! Coming.
Waiter! Waiter! Waiter! COMING.
Clink! Tinkle! Rattle! Chucke!

Travel in the morning or the early afternoon.
Please avoid the rush hour, if you can.
Rush hour...rush hour!
From shops and desks the people come,
Pressing, pushing on and on.
We've got to get home. We've got to get home!

Away from London's crowded streets,
Back to suburbs, country seats.
We must get away!
On the train, slam the door,
On the racks, on the floor,
Crammed like fish in an oily tin
Can't read the paper because of the din
Pushing and swaying, swaying and pushing,
Away, away, away,
Away from the smoky city they go.


Blogger Karenyin said...

Dear Joanna,

This poem brings back a lot of memories for me as we won the choral speaking competition in 1974 with this poem. I think it was 1974 or 1976. We all loved the poem and from memory it was taught to us by Mrs Wee, an Australian born English teacher. Miss Moey was our form teacher at the time.

We all had different voices to match the words and one of the girls Catherine Mcleod who was English had one of the most perfect English accents to match.

My name is Dr Karen Yin and I was a BBGS girl from 1966 to 1976. Standard 2 to Form 5 till I migrated to Perth. I used to go to Sunday School with Miss Cooke as she lived next door to my aunt in Ampang.

I would love to catch up with my year of 1976 as I think they all have spread their wings and flown to various parts of the earth...Kon Sui Phin was the headgirl in my year who must have been the only head girl to have been in Form 5.

I am back in Singapore now and would dearly love to network with any old BBGS girls form that era.

BTW, you are doing a fantastic job.


Karen Yin

Good for a laugh

I just found a new group on Facebook with a hilarious description. Well done girls - definitely no self-pity here!

Group: Traitors who like BBGS Shopping Centre


I know we were all very sad to see the school go. I personally felt a real rush of emotion as I drove through where the primary school gates used to be.But let's face it, if they were going to tear down our school to build something, it could have been a lot worse. At least we got a nice, classy mall with lots of very nice shops, and (even more important for us BBGS girls) lots of nice places to eat.

To put it in perspective, when they tear down St Mary's it will probably be to build some Grade C Offices and Service Apartments while if they ever pull down CBN, it would probably be a late night entertainment centre for Ex Johannians.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Happy New Year!

Here's wishing all BBGSians a wonderful 2008!

Thanks for your support in making this blog a success. In the last six months, we've had:
  • 785 visits
  • 424 visitors
  • 30 countries
  • 2255 page views
  • No. 5 hit on Google when you type in "BBGS"

I look forward to sharing more memories, songs and stories from BBGS girls and teachers in 2008. Maybe even a reunion with our favourite teachers - wouldn't that be FUN?

May the spirit of BBGS continue to take hold in our lives, and help us to dwell deep in the things that are right and true.

Warmest regards,