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Blurring The Lines Between Us (Verve 2021)

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


The pride in writing

One lazy day of August 2019 as I was browsing my Facebook account, a post from Migrant Writers of Singapore (MWS) caught my attention. It said: “Submit your Story themed Life in Singapore by November 1, 2019.” I paused and reread the post. Interesting!

I told myself: I have written stories about myself already, though I know there’s more to tell. This time, let me write the readers a story that I know will catch their attention, something entertaining or intriguing. I had the story plot running in my mind already and was inspired to put the story into words. With all smiles and amazement whenever I see my fellow Migrant Domestic Workers (MDW), watching them in person or when I see their updates in social media accounts. Yes, the story would evolve into an MDW- her escapades on her day offs, her love of the clicks of the camera, wearing different outfits, striking different poses and flaunting her beauty in different expressions. On the dot of the deadline, I submitted my story to Migrant Writers of Singapore. Fingers crossed.

Months went by, and there were no signs that my story was chosen. So I let go of that. But then, in July 2020, I was added to the group chat of Migrant Story Writers team of Call and Response 2. I was so excited and at the same time, surprised! Why so? I had brushed off the thought of my story already and had told myself, better luck next time.

The day I had been waiting for had come! I couldn’t believe it but thanking God was the very first thing I did. I remember I was talking to my son and his best friend at that time who were both very happy for me. Another dream had come true.

In the book Call and Response 2, A Singapore Migrant Anthology, the migrant writers are paired up with Singaporean writers for their – stories and poems. The book was launched digitally ( because of the pandemic situation) last February 21, 2021.

In this book, several of my fellow HOME volunteers are also contributors. Kina Pitono- 28 Days story, Novia Arluma- Am I Wrong poem, Jo Ann Dumlao (yours truly)- Nuri in Her Wonderland story and Bhing Navato- In a Fine Country story. Bhing is also one of the editors for the poetry entries in the book.

I have my pen and paper in my hand, they are like the annexe of my mind. Writing allows me to express myself in words.

Jo Ann A. DumlaoMyVoice contributor

* The book Call and Response 2 is available at Books Actually, City Book Library, Epigram Bookshop, The Public Library *


By Juliet Ugay

It was an energy filled day as HOME celebrated its 11th year anniversary with a walkathon held at Garden’s By The Bay on November 29, 2015. Nearly 400 participants comprising of HOME staff, board members, volunteers, and migrant workers attended the event. The “Walk with HOME” event is the organization’s way of symbolizing the journey taken by each migrant worker that chooses to come to Singapore in search of opportunities to provide for their families. Since 2004, Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics (HOME) has provided assistance, advocacy and social integration services for migrant workers in Singapore. There are approximately 1.1 million migrant workers here. Every year, an estimated 3000 migrant workers received direct assistance from HOME. Their toll-free hotline, emergency shelters, vocational training, legal aid and health education are some of the important support services they are offering to migrant workers. However, HOME, a non-profit organization depends on donations from the public, as they do not receive any funding from the government to run its programs.

The ladies from the shelter rocked the stage with their opening dance number followed by an opening remark from HOME’s director, Jolovan Wham. The event was also graced by the presence of HOME’s founder Bridget Tan, who is now recovering from a stroke early last year. Natalia Goh, HOME’s President led the walkathon. It was a 3km fun walk. The excruciating heat didn’t stopped participants from enjoying the walk. Free lunches and drinks were served to the participants. There were also other activities to make the event more exciting and fun like the giant Jenga, giant snakes and ladders, photo booth, tug of war, balloon sculpting, spectrum art, ice cream and ice sticks booth, popcorn and candyfloss booths and a booth for JC Premier, who is one of the sponsors of the event. The afternoon activities include performances from different HOME groups. The event ended with happiness as HOME staff led by Jolovan Wham entertained the audience with their Hawaiian dance number. It was ended a fun day!