The staff of City Harvest Church the kampong days with 80 elderly members from House of JOY at a movie screening of Long Long Time Ago 2.
“I was the eldest among my eight siblings,” said Tan Geck En, 77. “I had to look after all of them. While a few of the younger ones went to school, I never had the chance to be educated. My parents only doted on the three boys; it was just like the movie.”
Tan was one of the 80 senior citizens who went on a movie outing with House of JOY on Apr 14. The movie she was referring to was the period film Long Long Time Ago 2 by local director Jack Neo, the sequel to Long Long Time Ago which was released two months ago during the Chinese New Year period.
Tan identified with the protagonist of the movie, Zhao Di and her daughter Su Ting, in that both of them were eldest daughters born to poor kampong-dwelling families living in the 60s and 70s, in which tradition dictated that family resources be bestowed upon the males first and foremost, and that the firstborns take the blame for their siblings’ mischief.
“I cried at the different scenes,” Tan said. “Life was so tough then.” Her husband, Ong Ker Eng, 78, who came with her on the outing, teased her, saying, “Women just tend to cry a lot.”
The movie outing is one of the many programmes organized by HOJ, a senior activity center run by City Harvest Community Service Association, to help senior citizens lead an active lifestyle. Forty of the participants were residents of the Mountbatten Estate and another 40 were from the Toa Payoh Estate.
While many other elderly also shed tears as they identified with the tough life that Zhao Di led, there were also moments that stirred laughter among the audience. A scene where the grandma chided the girl for sweeping dust out of the house during Chinese New Year drew laughter as well as murmurs of agreement while another scene with a little boy taking a piece of old newspaper to clean himself after taking a dump inspired a chorus of “Yes, the newspaper!”
The movie outing, a collaboration with City Harvest Church, is the third of its kind in an on-going initiative started in Jan this year, which aims to provide a platform for CHC staff to serve the community. This time round, 18 CHC staff members from the Pastoral, Editorial, and Office Admin departments were involved.
Before the day ended, the seniors shook the hands of the volunteers and thanked them for their time. “We had a good time, thank you for coming with us,” said one cheery-faced guest.