After reading an email I received from the Verve Arts Festival 2021 committee, I was excited and happy! On one hand, I knew that participating in this event would widen my horizons. But on the other hand, I had doubts as I was involved in another project at the time. So I told myself, “Practice good time management.”
After our final discussion for the festival, I was all set to go.
Verve Arts Festival was organised by Ngee Ann Polytechnic students, and it was held online from 11 to 18 December 2021. Bhing, a fellow HOME volunteer, and I, participated in a segment titled, ‘Blurring The Lines Between Us’. This initiative aimed to raise awareness of the discrimination migrant workers face, such as moving freely in the city, through audio trails. We hope they will allow for more interconnection between migrant workers and locals. It’s undeniable that locals have a poor impression of migrant workers, and this programme seeks to change their perspective. May the local viewers come to see that migrant workers can navigate spaces in Singapore with dignity.
We narrated three audio trails set along the lines of Lucky Plaza, Orchard Road, and in one’s own home. Recording these audio trails made me think back to when I first arrived here in Singapore. The first time I entered Lucky Plaza, I was reminded of home as there were numerous Filipino products and food on sale. On my first day off, I remember feeling amazed by the sculptures around the area. There were so many differences compared to where I am from; stunning tall buildings, convenient underground passages that allow you to escape the hot sun or heavy downpour, and rows of shops and food stalls or restaurants. There are shopping malls in every corner, creating a lively and beautiful Orchard Road. As you walk along Orchard Road, you can see us migrant workers as well, and I am sure your thoughts and opinions about us flow.
I wrote a poem titled ‘One Fine Sunday Off’, which I narrated in the audio trail listed as ‘Along These Lines at Orchard Road (Audio File 6)’. You can listen to it below.
If you would like to know more about Bhing’s and my artistic journeys as writers and poets, you can watch this Q&A video below.
There’s a line in the programme that says, “Migrant workers form one-fifth of Singapore’s population, but do we consider them part of our community?” Insightful, isn’t it? It makes me wonder, “Do I feel recognised? Do you recognise us?”
I really appreciate the invitation to participate in this amazing project. I enjoyed the process of filming and recording the audio trails in different locations.
To find out more, visit their website or check out their Instagram page @verveartsfest.
Jo Ann A. Dumlao
HOME volunteer and MyVoice contributor