The Bully

The Bully

Dear Boys,

Ian didn’t have a good Secondary One, the transition was rough as the primary school years were kind of rough. and you wanted to put all that behinds and start afresh, eager for a clean slate. a bit too eager I’d say.

As your parents we remembered your Sec One form teacher telling us on your first Parent Teacher Meeting (PTM) that you are great, assimilating well into secondary school life, but a bit too fast to raise your hands, and perhaps working a bit too hard to try and fit in and get accepted.

Poor judge of character

In the early months of your Sec 1, you were grouped into a team to do some work, and you told us about these few boys whom we singled out a particular individual- let’s call him Johnny. I told you to be wary of Johnny as he don’t look like someone I’d consider decent, based on your account of him and his behavior.

You decided to go ahead with his group and true to our opinions, you didn’t have a good time.

Bad to Worse

It turns out this Johnny was of all sorts of wayward character, making things difficult in class, and turns out to be the kind of delinquent we warned our kids to not become and warn our kids of. Unfortunately, he decided to pick on you, since you’ve sort of worked with him earlier in a project, and looked like you can be pushed around for being amiable and nice.

Over the school term, we keep hearing you coming home to tell us about the things Johnny did in class, and things got so bad he was caned in class. That was his problem but he also decided to embarrass you by ‘pants-ing*’ and gets physical through rough play.

No use going to the teachers

We mentioned this to the school but it was no helpful, despite of the school telling him not to come near you, he still continues to harassed you. It looks like there was little that could be done to deal with him.

One evening while you were talking about him, again. and we got quite agitated because Johnny is really getting on my nerve, and yet I cannot do anything about him. In exasperation, I asked:” Why is he still messing with you!?” Something like that.

You finally blurted out, with tears in your eyes “Because I’m scared of him!”

The Truth is Out

That revelation puts things in perspective. Now we know we need you to deal with your fear, otherwise you will never overcome this bad experience and it will haunt you for a long time to come.

We also knew that the establishments will not be able to help you anymore, so we need to take matters into our own hands.

Last Straw

Towards the end of Term 4, you came back and told us that Johnny started another antics of trying to hug you from behind, and tried to be ‘friendly’ in this way towards you. We knew you didn’t like it and he is not at all that friendly, so he’s just being him.

I told you this- take the fight to him.

You have my full blessings to beat the living daylights out of him, and apply necessary violence to send the message, not to trifle with you anymore. Our rules of engagements is simple: ‘Don’t start a fight, and if you found yourself in one, you need to end it with you standing.’

So I give you my blessings, Take Him Out. I would expect a call from your principal informing your parents that you are involved in a gnarly fight and I have to go to the school to sort this out.

The End

So the next day I came home and asked you about it, you nonchalantly told us that you knocked him out.

We were like “YOU WHAT!?”

You proceeded to tell us that Johnny was up to his usual nonsense and tried to hug you again, from the front this time, you saw that coming and pushed him away once, and warned him not to do it.

Johnny ignored you (no surprise there) and came at you again. You did the same thing pushed him away and then swung your small bag, with a half filled water bottle in it at him. It caught him at the side of his head and he went down, lights out.

He wasn’t out for long and got to his feet groggily. It happened so quickly no one has got a chance to even register what happened. According to you, some other naughty kids saw you did that as well, but no one said a thing.

Training paid off

While your dad is an Aikidoka by training, I’ve never taught you boys anything martial arts, instead I teach ‘dirty fighting’ getting you boys to punch, kick and deal with a larger opponent, getting pinned to the ground and fighting your way out and up. Fighting is very physical and overwhelming and I’ve always prepare you both to fight someone larger faster and better than you. The only way to prevail in such a situation is to throw the rule book out, and fight like hell.

Of course part of these trainings is about timing and distancing, which paid off when Ian took out Johnny. While I never wanted any of you boys to get into a fight, I’m glad you could get out of one, quickly and expeditiously without being hurt.

Smooth sailing

After that event, Johnny learned to stay away from you, thankfully that was the only year you were in the same class with him and it did helped to minimize interactions. I think the other confidence builder is that you know you can stand up for yourself, and people has seen you done that, and the rest of your secondary school says, no one decided to pick on you anymore.

That fight, thankfully didn’t change you for worse, you’re still that good natured, often goofy, aloof boy, but I think word would have spread that you can do what is needed to protect yourself.

*Pants-ing is a trend back then where kids tries to pull down each other’s pants in a bid to embarrass them

Do not get into fights

Do not get into fights

Dear Boys,

While this might sound like a no-brainer, sometimes emotions can get better of us, and we get triggered by overwhelming external circumstances to act in a hurtful and violent manner.

Just recently, there are 2 case of such altercations. one of them involved a 36 year old Stanchart staff called Chua who hit a 74 year old smoker, Ng, who wasn’t happy that he was filmed smoking at places he shouldn’t be smoking. The older man kind of attacked Chua, who charged at the guy, knocking him to the floor. Ng sustained head injuries and died later in hospital. Chua received a jail sentence of 4 years for voluntarily causing hurt which causes grievous hurt. The other case looks similar, a 53 year old man, drunk, punched a 66 year old guy, who died when his head hit the ground.

There is no winner in violence

We lived in a generally civil society surrounded by laws and rules of all sorts. sometimes it may look as if the people are breaking the law, and we would like to take some self-righteous actions, and be civic minded. Chua, in the earlier case, took pictures of Ng, who was smoking at non-designated area. One man ended up dead and another one jail. Is it worth it for a moment of being indignant of being right?

That doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to blatant flouting of the law, or right the wrong when we can. It is really a judgement call. Use all your sense and don’t get blinded by wanting to do the right thing, and end up doing the wrong one. When you need to resort to violence to uphold the law, or stop crime, then we might have crossed the line and we become the lawbreakers instead.

Civil society

To be honest, I need to keep myself in check as well, since I can be passive aggressive and vocal in telling people off, but as I age, I took a more mature perspective. Recently I started to quietly count the number of infractions I see on the road while I’m on the road, cycling. I lost count.

Cyclists, pedestrians, pram pushers, all sorts of walking humans crossing the road when the Red man is on

Motorists sees the zebra crossing as a ticket to speed

Drivers on their phones when they are driving

School children crossing the road looking at their phones

Illegal parking

The list goes on…

The whole point is this, I didn’t give up, I choose to look for good behaviors instead, and be thankful that I get to my journey safely. Surely there are times I can’t help it but feel angry when a car zipped pass me instead of stopping at a zebra crossing for me, it’s my right of way after all! These days I let it go, really no point arguing and get into an altercation, the motorist needs to get somewhere and so do I, it’s just unfortunate that our fate intertwined at that junction.

Lose/Lose in any fight

There consequences, unfortunate and unforeseen if we get into a fight. Like Chua, he will leave jail at 40, with a criminal record for the next 30-40 years of his life. One guy is dead because of his rash act. For me, at my age, it will be stupid foe me to get into a fight with a younger guy. If I win, that guy will look bad being trounced by a older guy, he will bring more friends the next time to even the odds, and if I get whacked by him, then I probably deserved it, going fist to fist with a younger guy. Like I said either way no one wins. If I happen to be the younger guy fighting an older guy, the outcome is still the same, I win, I still lose.


Back in the days when I just started out in Aikido, everyone who is practicing Martial Arts have to have this from the Martial Arts Control Unit (MACU) as martial artists are somehow common bedfellows with triads and secret societies. This was abolished in the later years, but the point I want to bring across is that if your dad, a trained Aikidoka gets into a fight and someone gets hurt badly, the newspapers and social media will have a feast. Imagine the headlines: “Martial Arts Expert kills/maimed/ hurt, cripple old man.”

There is an additional level of restrain for my case as people will hang me for the slightest atercations I unwittingly find myself in. So it is better that I don’t get into a fight, especially when most fights are totally unnecessary and a simple clash of egos.

More importantly, my life will be disrupted, if I go to jail, like Chua did, I’d lose my job, and put the rest of you in hardship, all for a matter of ‘principle’?

Just live and let live so that everyone can go their way and live their life. Yes, I might get angry, but acting on anger is the a very bad idea, holding on to anger only feeds it more and it’s a slippery slope down. Nothing good usually comes out of anger, so remember to deescalate internally, play your own harmony movie in your head instead of a violent vengeful one. Have a happy cartoon to play when you come across a totally unnecessarily tensed or angry situation. Learn to defuse your own bad temper and always let go of the bad.

Act only when the reality of you or your loved ones are close to being harmed. Or you need to put a stop to a dangerous situation, but most of the time err on the safe side, and the safe side often means doing nothing too vengeful or angry.

Stay safe and be safe.


Man admits tackling elderly smoker at void deck who later died

Man punches 66-year-old who later dies in hospital

I got my 4th Dan

I got my 4th Dan

No one knows this but I was close to tears back in November last year when Horii Shihan announced that we have passed our grading. ZZ got his 1st Dan, Tri- 2nd Dan, MJ-his 3rd Dan, and me my 4th Dan.

I’m not sure why I wanted to cry, perhaps it is because Harry sensei just died back in April? If it hadn’t been for his demise, I would be getting the 4th Dan from him, like how I got my 1st to 3rd Dan.

Perhaps it is because if it had been Harry sensei grading us, getting my 4th Dan would be an platonic reality, and now with Horii shihan grading, I’m not so sure if my standards meets his expectations. Maybe it was an overwhelming wave of relief to hear Horii shihan announced that all of us got our grades and pass his scrutiny.

Harry sensei’s legacy

When he died, we were in kind of a limbo, as an Aikidoka, I was already thinking of hanging up my hakama, my days on the mat ends now that Harry sensei is gone, but as fate would have it, I continued his work on the mat, stepping into this role.

While I can somewhat sit in his place, doing my atomic bit to continue the class, I cannot fill the void left behind by him in the bigger larger Aikido universe. Harry sensei is very connected and his loss is certainly felt. He has made many, many friends through his Aikido practice.

Horii shihan is one of Harry sensei’s friends who came and answer our limbo. He came to our humble dojo, trained with us, and graded us. With his guidance, we are able to see a bit clearer into the future as a dojo.

It’s so true to say that we exists because we are standing on the shoulders of giant, for our case, we move from the giant shoulders of Harry sensei to another. This is the true spirit and soul of of Aikido. That peace, love and harmony really works, to build friendship, bond and support; this is perhaps the reason why I continue to train and carry on the good work Harry sensei has left behind.

What does the grades in the Belt means?

What does the grades in the Belt means?

There is some confusion about what a coloured belt looks and feel. Sometimes we look at a black belt and we go like ‘wahhh… that guy’s got the swag!’

To put this in a more simplistic way other than having a functional purpose of just holding your Gi in place, we can use the grades to think and solve problems.

Shoshin (初心) Way

Harry sensei always tells us to keep a beginners mind, so much so our Dojo is called Shoshin. How then, on the mat and in our lives are we supposed to live and act on this values.

Beginner’s way of solving a problem.

A couple class back, Radek and Lois was working together to figure out a particularly complex waza. Both has clocked a good many years of training and they were moving and adjusting how the uke and nage should move. I suggest them that they need to break down their approach down to white belt level.

Sometimes, clocking those years of experience and perceived seniority can cloud and block our ability to learn new things and see the solution from another view. Other times we become so senior we foolishly held onto our ranks and reject new ways of doing things, hence making ourselves irrelevant to the dynamics of the world.

Remember your time as a White Belt

When we first joined as a white belt, we know nothing about Aikido, everything is new and we are starting from zero. Everything seems so awkward, but we weren’t shy about it, and learned with gusto, and well, failure is a given. There was no expectations about what we can get out of it, and learning like this we get everything we could out of every touch point.

White belts soak in the moves, step by step and under a good sensei, procedural guidance can help white belts gain some proficiency in the moves and eventually a white belt can, mechanically complete a basic technique.

As we become Brown Belt

This is somewhat between proficiency and exploration. I remember my times as a brown belt, I was always looking for senior black belts to train with. Being a bustling brown belt, we have gotten out fair share of mistakes and injuries, yet we are technically proficient to bring some moves to play. We are not afraid to make mistakes and we know how to avoid some of those mistakes. Brown belts are still rough around the edges but honing their moves to become more refined and polished.

Take a specific waza like Irimi-nage, a typical brown belt would have spent about 2 years practicing it, so we can execute it with finesse and speed. During my time, my brown belt friends and I look to eat black belts for breakfast lunch and dinner, since brown belts are more junior to the blacks, we can go full out with them, since they should be better than us. Anyway those are the guys we aspire to become so why not test them out?

Being Black Belt

When we become Black, we have philosophically reached the foot of the Aikido summit. We are technically proficient and we can explore more complex techniques, dive a little deeper into how the dynamics between uke and nage works, and also give Aikido back to the juniors.

We experiment with complex and compound waza moving faster and more dynamically. We are also more confident and possess a balance of technique finesse and skill.

But we get stuck sometimes

Sometimes we get stuck with a problem, we try to make sense of how a technique works. Similarly when Radek and Lois got stuck, I suggested that they dial back on their experience and approach the waza like a white belt, Put their brown belt one side and just explore with a beginners’ perspective, no risk, no expectations, no pride, explore, try, experiment, ask for help, open to learn.

Once we can understand the moves, the basic building blocks leading to the complexity of the waza, we can slowly dial it up and think of it from a brown belt level, or from a black belt level. That means we can speed it up and see how it works.

Training with different belts

I share with the class it is the same with partnering a junior belt, being a black means we must be able to dial down to a more basic junior, step by step, mechanical level of Aikido. That means I’ll need to become a white belt for my white belt partner, to match that person’s competency. There is no point for me to be a black belt and hurl the poor beginner around, as if they are at my level to take high falls and throws. This is not a sustainable way to train.

This is how we can apply Aikido spirit to help solve problems in a team, in our lives. Being a 初心 means we are continually exploring, and even when we reach an advance grade, we must not be too proud to drop to a baby’s level to learn crawling all over again, have fun, laugh and be happy. This keeps us harmoniously aligned with our world and makes sure that our ego never gets the better of us.

The Failed Nest

The Failed Nest

Dear Boys,

Life is always bittersweet, we have to experience loss and tragedy to understand the value of our existence.

Not too long ago we have a pair of Yellow Sunbirds building a nest at the netting outside out our kitchen window. There was a buzz of activity as the Sunbirds were chirping and building their home that hung precariously on the net.

It was obvious that we are going to bear witness to them laying eggs and having little chicks just outside out window!

So we left it alone, and before we know it, there’s a constant chirping from the nest and we reckoned that the eggs must have been laid and the chicks hatched.

Until a tragedy happened.

I got this WhatsApp message on our family group chat.

The Nest is no more.

The both of you went downstairs to check for any ‘survivors’ but the outcome is predictable.

Spontaneous Epiphany

While life throws you a sudden unexpected tragedy, you both acted without hesitation in an attempt to save the chicks. There was no holding back, choosing inaction, and just let what happened happen, and be sad over it, or worse indifferent. Which is honestly a done deal, the chicks are dead, I wouldn’t have bothered to go downstairs to check.

You both did more, instead of just leaving the carcass of the dead chick there, you dug a shallow grave and buried it, and place the nest on top of it as a mark. There is so much compassion and empathy from the both of you, I know deep down inside that you both have the courage to do something about death and suffering. There was no hesitation, you both knew it was simply the right thing to do, as a form of closure.

Your dad would have left it alone.

Being a Parent, Raising Children

As any parent, there is always this worry that my boys will go wayward, and turned out to become less of a person I hope you can become. With all our best intentions, there is no guarantee that kids will turn out to become decent human beings. All I can do is show you both the right way, and explain values, principle and ethos on how to live a decent life.

Showing is one thing, but I cannot tell if you boys will heed my words and have it in you to do the right thing, especially during times where there is no template. Both of you rise to the occasion that day and showed me that you both will work together, and embrace how precious life is.

This tells me that what I’ve been telling you boys, the stories I’ve shared is working.

You are the Reason why we have children

It was at this moment I got my answer as to why we have kids. With Singapore’s dipping birth-rate, it’s indeed very hard to comprehend why would we want to spend time, money and a huge part of our lives raising little human beings. I even heard younger couple say things like: “I don’t want to bring children into this world to suffer!” Back then I couldn’t comprehend this reasoning and it’s compelling given that the world’s going through a few wars, global warming, cancer, epidemics and all, it does seems like we shouldn’t make anymore human beings for them to come here and suffer with us, how noble! Oh did I mention the exorbitant cost of raising little people?

Despite of all the reasons not to, you boys gave me one single reason we did, and I’m glad we did. You have shown me that there are still good in this world, and that good lies in the both of you.

Death and destruction is constantly all around us, and there will never be any shortage of suffering, but there will always be a shortage of people who will stand up take action and make their world a little better.

One thing I know for sure; you boys will become a better person than your dad.

Your Dad’s Bunch of Blokes

Your Dad’s Bunch of Blokes

Dear Boy,

Your dad has a bunch of friends that are all dads, and I’m not sure how I got involved in these group of good people, but I think it was a a bunch of guys on a Facebook group called ‘Daddy Matters Group’ and during the more active days we talk a lot about all things in common, Dad matters. Parenting and sometimes husbandry stuffs.

While the group has quieten down a bit. we still occasionally meet up and have dinners and catch up.

Prata is the name of the game

Typically, this very much savored dish is what we dads can agree on, if all else fail, this comfort food is the go-to eats. Once we can get whoever is available and agreeable to meet, we chat over all things mundane and talked about some of the things we have done. Also relish some past memories for previous gatherings.

The 2023 Gathering

Over the years, conversation changes and we are talking about not just our kids’ schooling, behavior, good and bad. We talk about jobs and how some of us has moved on to other work and some are still in the same job after all these years.

Conversation has changed as our kids has grown up, Those with daughters are talking about their daughter’s attire. We talked about how tall our kids have grown, some have gotten into relationships. Other with sons, waiting or have gone into National Service.

No more Bloggers!

What a change, Blogging is no longer vogue! Sob! That’s how things have evolved, quickly. These days we are no longer reading blogs, or putting up blogs, the new term is ‘Influencer’, no more Bloggers, Instagrammers, and all that terminologies. It’s official, Blogging is dead!

Its a good alternative channel for me to catch up with my peers in the same ‘industry’-Daddying, and catch up with professional fathers on the latest developments in their lives.

I’m sure when the time comes for you both to become dad of your own, you will hopefully find like minded folks to have as friends for life.

Your Mother is the No-Go Zone

Your Mother is the No-Go Zone

Dear Boys,

Recently over dinner, the 大哥 decided to mention something about the mother being overly exaggerated when it comes to giving instructions. Ian even when to say something like being treated as if ‘We are an idiot’. when his mum gives very simplistic instructions on how things are to be done.

I was kind of taken aback by the rather critical remarks. I can’t remember what was the topic we were having that leads to Ian making this comment.

Later on in the dinner, Ian remarked that his mother is agitated over something and accusing her of over-reacting. Which I can tell from the tone, is putting your mum on defense. There were some palpable escalation of tension.

That is when I stepped in and put a stop to this.

“How your mother conduct or behave is not open for discussion in this family.’



One thing for sure your mum is the best person I know. She holds no malice, no ill-will, doesn’t plot untoward schemes against anyone. She will protect the family with her life. She loved my boys and will do anything for them. She always puts her family above and before herself. She is the most giving and selfless person and she will go through hell and high water for the both of you.

So I do not allow any critical disrespectful comments whatsoever about her, at least not from her children.

Sure, she might be overly-zealous about her children. She might get frustrated when her kids cannot get simple things done and have to resort to exaggerated actions in an attempt to teach you boys the same thing for the umpteenth times. She might over-pack her lunch box for you boys, that because she do not want to see you starve, not under her watch.

The Good Son

Like I told you, Ian, your dad hadn’t been a very good son. That’s on me, but as much as I can help it, I will not allow my sons to treat their mother anything less than the best. There is still time for me to show you the right way to be a good son, so when she fails as a person, the last I want you both to do is to criticize her, you both have to hold her up, protect her, keep her safe, and never let her down. Whoever she becomes, she is still the best mother you boys will only have.

This, you both need to do so that you can be a good person, a good man, and an individual of value and virtue. Men needs to treat their women right, and the first place to start is at home, Love your Mother unconditionally and make sure she can depend on her men to stand with her, for better or for worse.

Be the Better Man

Throughout this marriage, as your mother’s husband, I have my shortcomings, tempers flared, quarrels ensued but we always find a way to make it work, sometimes find an uneasy truce, and slowly limp along. Wounds from hurt, healed to become ugly scars, we fought and become war weary of each other, that’s how marriage works, we never give up fighting, and after every fight, we go back to each other, forsaking everyone else. Sometimes it’s a bit too late for me to take back the hurtful things I say to her, all because of my insecurities and fears. Marriage is different as we both choose each other to spend our lives together, and sometimes that choice is put to test through our differences.

Being our children, is also different as you both have no choice over who to be their parents, so I need to make sure that you both make the best choice, so that the outcome can be most favorable for you and for this family. Start to treat your mum right and you will learn to treat your own wife right when you grow older to start your own family. So learn to put the woman in the household first so that our women an trust us to take care of them, and they will in turn take care of us and more.

Playing Monopoly

Playing Monopoly

Dear Boys,

We will always remember Monopoly as our go-to board games, and we started this game back around May 2020, where the whole world was still gripped dealing with COVID-19, and Singapore was caught in a Circuit Breaker where most of us were made to stay home. Your dad lost his job, and with nothing else to do, we huddle and play games!

Other than Monopoly, we also dabbled with Uno, as well as Scrabble, but it is Monopoly that kept us playing the longest.

Turn of Fortunes

It is really a very engaging game and your dad has the dubious record of going to jail for 4 consecutive times. The final 4th time had your mum laughing in stitches. I was just one move away from the ‘Go To Changi Prison’ spot and I swore no way in hell I’m gonna roll a ‘One’ on 2 dices, with 2 dices, with both getting ‘1’, I’d still pass it right?


It had to be that the 2 dice got stacked and the one on top turns out to be ‘1’! It just has to be this way. Off to jail I go. That means I missed collecting $200 FOUR times, $800 bucks gone, sitting in jail.

Other than this story of a lifetime, playing Monopoly also teaches us that luck, fate and fortunes changes.

For the first time Wayne play this game, you got very upset to the stage of tears when you start to lose your money to taxes, and paying us for landing in our property. There is a strong sense of pessimism and dread when things don’t go your way. It took us a while to explain that this is the rule of the ‘game’ and not everyone wins consistently, and some others, (like your dad) suffered worse fate!

I had to borrow, mortgage my property at one point in time to get myself out of financial woes. Ian, your elder brother fared much better in terms of financing and wealth.

However, as we played on, more often than not, Wayne you end up either the richest, or one of the richer ones. You own Queen Astrid Park and every time we stepped in there, we are taxed heavily to the verge of bankrupt! You also had the first hotel in the game.

Dec 2022 Monopoly

We played this game again in Dec 2022, during the school holidays and again, you seem to suffer the same detrimental outcome. This time you were older and we can explain the Law of Attraction, and see it in action. While you lament and whine about your pitfalls, the more pitfalls you seem to have.

When we tried to change your world view and see some glimmer of hope in the dice you rolled, which sometimes favours you, things seems to look up, one way or the other. It’s a strange thing, this Law of Attraction, but there is some experiential truth to it. you think yourself into the reality you want, even when things are not going your way.

Roll of the Dice

Sometimes, it is really the roll of the dice, and that is how it is, Monopoly is a good microcosm of the life at large. Sometimes you get what you want, sometimes you don’t and you have to wait your turn, for things to get better. Being negative, whine, gripe, complain and sulk won’t change a thing, and staying in negativity will often cause you to miss a good turn (pun intended). We simply wallow in self-pity that even when things are looking up, we are not able to see it, because of our closed negative mindset.

Sometimes, it can be just plain dumb luck, but luck aside, which is not something we can control, but we can control how we perceive things. A simply game of Monopoly can teach us if we are going to crumble because of a bad dice roll, or are we going to keep our hopes up, keep playing and before you know it, you’re winning. well if you ever go bankrupt, just remember it is just, Monopoly.

Leaving a Legacy


Dear Boys,

Joel’s Ah gong did one heck of a job with his garden. He took an empty piece of land and turned it into a little oasis that everyone can enjoy.

More importantly, he has build something to be left as a legacy. All of us will leave something behind when we die, the question is the what we leave behind. As your parents the biggest legacy I have and will continue when I die is the both of you, this is the most direct form of legacy. You will continue my genes, my stories and carry on my history. you will tell you children(if you plan to have children) about my stories, and your children(if your children plan to have children) will tell their children about my stories and yours. Legacies usually goes from word of mouth to word of mouth.

Sometimes having a legacy means that you leave your work undone, for people to continue. Work can be large or small. Mr Lee Kuan Yew left us the entire country as his legacy for us to continue, that is a monumental task!. For Joel’s Grandpa, his garden will be his legacy.

The pond.. where little fishes swims

It is a beautiful piece of work, and it is all him, he got the land from his Resident’s Committee, did the planting, and segregation, there is a little pond, some chilies plants, there is a small corner for cactus and it is all well spaced out. It is a simple piece of joy to walk in it and it will be a spot for everyone to enjoy! He is still working on it and every little plant and flower has been touched by his green hands.

Of course, he couldn’t have done it alone. But if he hadn’t started something, then other people can’t follow. His garden draws fellow gardeners there, to help him, and also to work and make the garden nicer.


And gardening is a never-ending job, if you do it well, it can go on and on. There are constant challenges, in making sure the plants are watered, pests, kept at bay. When the plants bear fruits, you can distribute it to the community. when plants whiter and die, you grow new ones. and when Joel’s Grandpa dies, his garden will continue and someone has to take over the task. To keep up the good work. and when people look at how magnificent the garden is, they will remember the person who first bring about its fruition.

We will also remember him, because he has given us place that we can enjoy.

First Published: July 22, 2015

The Toy Train


“And if this misunderstanding sinks in, it will become a bitter reality for you two when you become adults.”

Dear Boys,

Wayne got a toy train set for his 6th birthday, compliments of your uncle Philbert. You two have been bugging me to open it ever since you got it and I only relented until the weekend.

It is a nice little train set, with the train engine, and a little coal carriage (which hides the 4 ‘AA’ batteries), 2 passenger compartments and a cargo carriage. The track itself, is where the story begins.

It was an ease to fix, but a pain to get the train to run smoothly on it. it was either very precise or very imprecise, we ran the train a couple of times and it gets derailed again and again. My experience tells me that we have to run it a couple of times for it to get run in.


Until then the little train continue to get derailed, and I stood back to see how the 2 of you troubleshoot the situation. Looking back, the efforts you both put in can be best described as ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’

弟弟 was doing what he thought would be helpful, by turning the train on and off, but it only frustrates the 哥哥 while the 哥哥 tries to align the wheels on the track. It didn’t take long for the both of you to get caught in the cycle of perceived mischief.

The 哥哥 will be thinking that 弟弟 is into mischief when he tried to turn on the little train, when all the 弟弟 was trying to do was to solve the problem. And 弟弟 didn’t know that 哥哥 was beginning to accuse him of disrupting the problem solving process (something which 弟弟 has done in the past, as he does have a strong history of mischief) So I witness a slippery slope down, where both of you are trying to solve the problem in your own way, not knowing that in doing so, you both are sabotaging each other’s effort.

It was interesting to see this and I became conscious that if no one intervene, it will eventually be a little nasty seed planted between the both of you, as you both grows up, both of you will see each other’s effort to help as a sabotage. And if this misunderstanding sinks in, it will become a bitter reality for you two when you become adults.


I stepped in and explained what has happened, more importantly, turn the whole perception around. and make the both of you see that the whole problem solving approach together, and as a fun thing. Working together to try and align the train on the tracks, and monitor it while it moves, and when it gets derailed, one alerts the other and we all stop the little train so that we can fix it. 弟弟 becomes the assistant and helped 哥哥 who is the ‘engineer’.

Truth to be told, once the little train runs in, the derailment becomes a lot less and both of you boys began to enjoy playing with the little train set. More importantly, I’ve change the way you boys see that the train derailment, as part of the fun, and not just a problem.

First published: March 10, 2015