Saturday, December 17, 2016

It has always been my dream to play in the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (MPYO) since young.
Yes, it's one of the top youth orchestras in the country, coached by professional musicians that a lot of music enthusiasts fall head over heels for it.
However, I started to play non-orchestral music instrument when I was a kid and it's very competitive to secure a spot in MPYO, especially for that non-orchestral instrument which almost everyone knows how to play.
Therefore, I finally picked up an orchestral instrument - flute, during my final year of high school.
That did not able to get me into the MPYO yet I was very fortunate enough to play in a symphonic band that eventually leads me to opportunities to play in orchestras.

Few years ago, I picked up the double bass in the university when I was very active and spearheaded the orchestra.
There was no music faculty in my university.
As an orchestra fanatic, I was kinda devoted to the symphony orchestra club in my university.

Many people has been asking me why double bass? (Why did I ditch my flute?)
Well, it started with a very simple reason, or rather circumstance: I was organising an orchestra concert and it was very difficult to get enough double bass players to play for the concert. So I decided to fork out my own pocket money and look for private teacher in order to pick up the double bass in short period of time, so that I can help out on the balancing of the orchestra.
3 years ago, I was very lucky to get through the audition and played in the YMGC orchestra under the baton of Mr. Kevin Field.
Mr Kevin Field was the first resident conductor for the MPYO since its inception for more than 7 years.
I was congratulated by my friend, who was the MPYO concertmaster at that time when I was listed in the MPYO's player list.
Surprised yet unbelievable - I was recommended by Mr Field.
Yet, I wasn't able to make it as it clashed with my university's final exam and I was in the midst of competition that I couldn't commit for the MPYO camp - it was too late for me to make arrangement when the MPYO management officially contacted me.
I heard no news from the MPYO management since then and I thought I'd never able to play in the MPYO anymore.

Miracle happened! (thanks to my former YMGC orchestra mate)
I received an invitation to play in the MPYO!
The offer came just right in time as I just resigned from work and able to commit to the intensive orchestra camp.
Yeah, it was an intensive sectional + tutti rehearsal where we spent almost 10 hours per day during the camp.

view from the suite that we're staying in the city centre

Double bass section
Some behind-the-scene photos...

Margaret, from SNYO
my double bass tutor, Wolfgang Steike

And here are some photos taken after our Merdeka Award night event...
Xinyi, the percussionist (fellow SPO) haha

Where's Aishah........

Conductor of the nights, Julie Debordes

So grateful and privileged to learn and play with the inspiring and aspiring musicians; well-spent December!

MPO & MPYO side by side concert (last MPO concert of the year)

Oh and... Merry X'mas! :)

Saturday, January 23, 2016

See you again...

that's my mentor, Pn Leong

2007 Choir Party

She's the one who touched and transformed my life.
I first met her in the school office and discussed about the transportation to the Solo Music Instrument competition which my school registered for me; she was the teacher-in-charge to send student for the competition.
We didn't talk much as I was a very shy and reserved student.
I happened to emerged as the 2nd runner-up (oh yes, the Harmonica world champion was the 1st runner-up) in that competition and was required to attend the Awards Night.
During the awards night, she spoke to my father and mentioned about establishing choir team in school.
I accepted the opportunity to be the pianist for the choir establishment.
My secondary school was a fairly new school where I am in the pioneering batch; it was just about 2 years old.
The plan started to roll out and we had our very first performance on stage in 2004 for school awards ceremony upon recruiting the members.
There was about 30 choir members.
Yet, joy of music under her tutelage attracted more students and the response of recruitment and audition was getting better year by year.

Things got more excited when she told us about the annual choir competition.
Together we geared towards the competition while prepare for the adhoc performance requested by the school.
Regular weekly sectional practices, laughters, learning and love for music - things we indulge in school right after our classes.
As hectic as some may regard, it was a fulfilling and satisfying growing journey.
Yes, together we grow.

my 1st time conducting during competition
Under her guidance and visionary leadership, we had a stellar progress year by year:
2005 - Secondary School Choir Competition District Level: 3rd runner-up
2006 - Secondary School Choir Competition District Level: 2nd runner-up
2007 - Secondary School Choir Competition District Level: Champion +
Secondary School Choir Competition State Level: 2nd runner-up

.. that's all?
Not quite, there's a long list of achievement in fact (click on the photo below!)
click to view

Happiest moment?

Together we we awarded as the 3rd runner-up during our debut competition in 2005! (that was the 1st time we put on the customised costume that was made just right in time)

Unforgettable moment?

Appeared as the 2nd runner-up in the district level where we got to compete with the renowned national choir champion!
Eye and ear-opening competition I must say. It was so close~

woohoo.. we did it together!
2011 Choir Party

2012 Choir Competition with alumni

Most challenging moment?

Had to arrange for the accompaniment of a patriotic song during Chinese New Year where I spent days in my teacher's house, cracking my head to draft for it and transcribe it into the computer (nicely re-arranged by Dr Chan) so that the members can get their respective parts in a good-looking score when all of us returned to school from the CNY holiday. Oh I learnt from scratch about the music notation software, thanks to this life-changing experience.

Choir 2005 - pioneer batch

Most exciting moment?

Rehearsed together with the teachers from other schools for a ceremony (I can't remember what event was that). It felt so honoured (and frightening) as I was the only student considering all of the people around me are school teachers.

Most touching moment?

Nah. There was no most touching one but there were so many that the answer must be in plural! Besides music, she likes to share her life stories e.g. family, school, teaching with us by weaving some of the life lessons into the music. Not only we got to understand and interpret the songs better, most importantly we enjoy while singing!
She's not a full-time choir coach but also a science subject and disciplinary teacher. Regardless of her hectic schedule, we had block rehearsal schedule even when she was pregnant that time. Did I mention that he's a mother of 3? We were so worry that she was spreading herself too thin but being pregnant was never an excuse and didn't stop us for having intensive practice, even during school holiday!

Most heart-breaking moment?

The time when I got the news where she had a stroke! Oh my, she also lost one of her eyesight due to overloaded and that news spread so quickly among us (even some of us were graduated that time). Thanks god, she recovered from the mild stroke and regain her eyesight after recuperation. Phew...

Being an ordinary piano student like most of you do where we usually have one-to-one class, I never thought that I can learn and do so much in choir.
She, who treated me and everyone of us like her own children.
She is Puan/ Madam Leong Ngan Ping.
She, who touched so many hearts is still soo deep down to earth and humble even after so many years.
It is her 27th year of teaching in 2016.

Teamwork, perseverance, servant leadership, musicianship, consistency, dedication, hard work, responsibility, integrity, compassionate etc. are all I learn throughout the years in choir.

down the memory lane (pioneer batch photos missing :P)

Merriment, Memories, Mirth (and awards) - our secondary school life.

Thank you Puan Leong Ngan Ping (and Dr Chan Cheong Jan)!

Have a fantastic time in Japan and we will miss you :')

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

this is not a real photo of Mr Anonymous
It was a chilly night at a foreign land.
I was trying to figure out the way to operate a washing machine at a self-laundry shop with my parent.
There was a guy staring forlornly at the corner of the shop.
Self-laundry shop is not common in Malaysia.
This guy who dressed in ripped clothes walked towards us from the corner and taught us how to use it.
He even gave us some tips to get to know the machines prior to utilising it.
He's a beggar, he told.
Yet he is a regular visitor at this shop.
Despite general perception of beggars are dirty, he do take care of his personal hygiene.
"Where are you from?", he asked.
We began to chit chat while we were waiting for our clothes to be washed and dried.
"Did you see the bento over there? I use to eat at here and throw it over there," he pointed at the dumpsite.
He began to share his story of daily (working) life.
There was laughter during the conversation.
"I was convicted and sentenced to jail - framed by my friend", he uttered.
Friends. With a tinge of disappointment and sadness, he continued "I was not liked by the employers. Do you know why? I don't have my identity card anymore."
The employers didn't want (and some dare not) to employ him.
He shared that he had a short stint after jail yet he was discriminated and being accused for wrongdoings that he did not commit.
Employment is more difficult when he's not in the city.
"I had no choice but to beg for money."
"I like to clean up myself daily but I cannot look decent when I'm at work - others will not bother to donate to me".
He then showed us how he will groom himself when he needed a place to sleep during winter; he sleeps at pavement when the weather is bearable.
"The rental cost over here is too expensive, I can't afford it".
He then showed us a bag of coins - his only treasure.
The drying machine stopped and he took his clothes.
"It has been raining these few days and it is really very cold, I only had this to keep myself warm," he smiled while telling us and wore the jacket.
As soon as he folded and packed his clothes in a small bag, he left.

I like to listen to stories. Never thought that I'd be able to learn and listen such sad sharing from an anonymous who is being despised and rejected by most of the people. Beggars are human too - they ought to be treated by respect.

Thank you Mr. Anonymous. May you have better new year ahead.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The recent badminton battle between Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan reminded me of this unfinished blog entry about the 17th Asian Games.

A lot of my friends curious and asked me about the 17th Asian Games that I've worked for and I hope following answer their queries...

In the end of 2013, I chanced upon the recruitment of the Official Writer for the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
I still remember the day when I was selected as the 2nd batch official crew - it was on X'mas eve!
2013 was a sweet ending when I received the official e-mail from the Incheon Asian Games Organising Committee (IAGOC) on the last day of the year.
Yes, I was one (and the only Malaysian) among the 28 official writer from all around the world that time!
This signified I'll have a challenging yet exciting 2014!
That was my final year of my undergraduate studies and I was about to start my internship in Jan 2014.
Oh yes, I was preparing for the semi-final of L'Oreal Brandstorm 2014 at the same time while having to juggle with my final year project too.

Nevertheless, I took the courage and challenge then embarked on my sports journalism journey.

Frankly, I am not an athlete, a journalist, nor a mass communication student with a flair for writing.

I was very lucky to have freedom to choose on the topics relating to sports and culture for the articles besides the monthly topic given by our Online PR manager.
Together we worked virtually, be it individually or as a team for the games' pre-buzz.
my AD card & entrance ticket
Here's the list of articles that I've written for the game:
>> Article listing <<

The tenure lasted for about 5 months for each batch.
Again, I applied for the last batch of the crew.
This time, it was getting more competitive due to the previous success of the pre-buzz initiatives carried out.
I've never thought I will be elected again.
Only 1 or 2 crew will be selected from each country.

This time, our role was slightly different as the games draw close: cover for our desired sports during the games!
For those in South Korea were granted with AD pass to ease our job too.
Thanks to the Homestay Programme by the Incheon International Relations Foundation, I was arranged to stay with Korean family that is near to my desired sports venues.

17th Asian Games Opening Ceremony

concurrent painting & music performance 
painting & music (cultural) show

panoramic view of the Asiad Main Stadium during the opening ceremony
posing with my AD card
 they are my colleagues from UAE, S. Korea, Japan, Myanmar & Canada

 Incheon Philharmonic Orchestra and their double bass hard casing (not coffin)

Lang Lang, pianist from China
JYJ - Asian Games Official Ambassador
with Elisa & Naoko
OTG device - gift from my Korean manager
 It comes really handy when we're always on mobile and on-the-go!


Yeorumul Squash Court
Spot Datuk Nicol David!
Aslan in action
Ong Beng Hee in action vs Saurav Ghosal 
 #TeamMalaysia supporters

Ong Beng Hee + other men's singles winners marching out
Men's singles victory ceremony
media at work
Brian, my Irish colleague
Olympic Council Committee with our minister: YB Khairy
with Youth & Sports minister
YB Khairy photobombing at the back
Datuk Nicol David was crowned during the victory ceremony
let's take a selfie - YB Khairy Jamaluddin
Malaysian team awarded as the 2nd runner-up
that's the legendary Ong Beng Hee!
Appreciation token awarded to the volunteers
happy faces upon the gratitude expression
World Squash Queen - Datuk Nicol David
Malaysia 2nd-seed - Low Wee Wern
Ivan Yuen, rising Squash player
Kim Soo Young, IOC volunteer
Min Ji, volunteer
I used to bump into Min Ji as we always meet at the entrance of the squash court - I was a frequent visitor to the squash court.
Clara, volunteer

KBS Interview

Interview invitation from KBS, for real?
"Mum, I got an interview invitation from KBS and they requested to schedule a time for them..."
Can't believe it was from the top national broadcast company; I thought I was dreaming.
with the KBS TV production team
They picked me up at my place and there we departed to the stadium.
Never thought that this similar scene where I used to watch in a Korean TV show: Taxi will happen to me - yet this wasn't a taxi but van. haha
Spent my off-day with the KBS production team.
I wanted to go to the Velodrom for track cycling event but they said it's way too far and may affect the shooting schedule, so yeah, change of plan and headed to the Seonhak Hockey Stadium instead.
KBS news reporter: Sung Myung Hoon
"my workplace" haha
opps, I didn't know shooting had started :P
group photo at the Seonhak Hockey Stadium
big bro...
and his camera
waiting for the driver
Mr Joo in deep thought... ummm...
that's the end product
I know I look funny...
Most of the Koreans watch the TV programmes via their mobile phones!
Even their mobile phones are customised with antenna.
A very different culture compared to my country.


Gyeyang Gymnasium
Datuk Sieh, Secretary-General of OCM
Lin Dan
Chen Long
Chen Long
Lin Dan
Lin Dan
Lin Dan media interview
Press conference after the victory ceremony
Datuk Khoo, GM of Yonex - Sunrise
thanks Datuk Khoo for the photo
I was waiting for Datuk Lee actually...
Datuk Khoo mentioned that he was going to meet Lin Dan for the sponsorship discussion.
A few months later, Lin Dan appeared as Yonex ambassador.
Guess the discussion went well.
Barame, Chumuro & Vichuon
finally meet Bee Theng, my colleague from Malaysia too
Lee vs Lin
Lee Chong Wei vs Lin Dan
Yoo Yeon Seong & Lee Yong Dae vs Ahsan & Hendra
South Korea vs Indonesia
Flag raising
Lin Dan took down Chen Long during the men's singles event
Tan Wee Kiong & Goh V Shem
we were so lucky to receive the flower bouquet from Men's Doubles 2nd runner-up
The flower bouquets were awarded to the winning athletes - precious.
thanks Tan Wee Kiong


Ever wondered how was the broadcasting take place?

Prepare to go on stage
Spot Son Yeon Jae rehearsing before the competition starts
meet my media friends from Malaysia too!
from NST, The Star and Utusan Malaysia
Gymnasium Stadium
Watching Son Yeon Jae live broadcast at the security room

Field Hockey

Team Pakistan

Team Malaysia
Pakistan vs Malaysia
Semi-final taking place soon!
Team Malaysia supporters
Team Malaysia supporters
Team Malaysia
Astro Awani interviewing Datuk Danyal - Chef de Mission
Team Pakistan supporters
They even brought a few drums to cheer for their team during the Field Hockey Semi-final!
Team Malaysia supporters
YB Khairy Jamaluddin was here too
tough match!

my Pakistani colleague, before he flew to US for his research paper presentation

Cycling - BMX

The venue of BMX is located far away from the city, on the verge of DMZ where it's difficult to reach and time-consuming by taking public transportation.
let's take a shot while we're on the way to the Ganghwa Asiad BMX Tracks
우리는 강화도로 가요!

we're here to support Amanda, our colleague!
Congratulations to Philippines!
singing the national anthem

Congratulations Amanda Carr!
Amanda's gear

Thailand TV interview 
That's Amanda, an athlete + official writer too


 Freestyle posing in front of the Ganghwa Dolmens.. haha

let's head to the Gymnasium in Incheon!
scenic countryside view
Last station of the day: IAGOC Office Tower
Meet-You-All Tower

Phew... It was an exhausting day going up north across a few stadiums and rushed back in the city.
Special thanks to Seieun for the ride.
Twas a fun-filled journey with my Korean manager and colleague from Philippines.
I'll remember that powerful phrase "배고파요"

International Broadcast Centre

Group photo with my colleagues after luncheon

reminded me of the Esplanade Theatre in Singapore

Athletes Village



Spot the North Korea supporters
Team Malaysia finished as 2nd runner up
flag raising


Tennis finals
Okay, I didn't stay for long at the Yeorumul Tennis Court as it was too sunny for me.
It was just located right beside the Yeorumul Squash Court.


South Korea vs Iran
together we witnessed the Basketball finals
spot the cute mascots!
IAG merchandise

Football/ Soccer

Football finals, a not-to-be-missed battle between North Korea and South Korea that I almost overlooked.
Thanks to Nick who told me about this and the exact location of this match.

Nick in action
it was a full house match
stretching before the battle starts
very lucky to get a nice spot while the stadium was full
my colleague, Nick from Canada
Battle of the century: KOR vs RPK

17th Asian Games Closing Ceremony

Datuk Nicol David - Nominee of Samsung MVP Award

with my Korean Manager, Seieun
with my landlord and primary school classmate
That's the end of 17th Asian Games, South Korea (photo credit to Oh Seieun)




That's all...?

Before we return to our home country, we had a scrumptious lunch with our Online PR manager
thanks Seieun for the treat!
다시 언젠가 만나고 싶습니다!
Throughout my period working for the IAGOC during the 17th Asian Games has enabled me to step out from my comfort zone.
No doubt, it was one of the most wonderful moment in my life.
I am very grateful to meet abundant of lovely people from all walks of life from all around the world.
I was privileged to work with colleagues of diverse background, ranging from student, corporate finance analyst, sports journalist, member of Olympic Council to university lecturers - bunch of talents among them with a common goal in mind, that's passion in sports.
May we cross path again in the future and see you in Rio?