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It’s National Day tomorrow! And the parade is back!

I am so looking forward to seeing the crowd at the Marina Bay Floating Platform again, to celebrate how far we have come — 57 years! — as a country.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen videos and photos of the NDP rehearsals but watching the real thing just hits different.

It may sound uncool to be this excitedly patriotic but I am proud of how we made it through a global pandemic to be able to celebrate as a nation again.

This year, I’ve got an extra excuse to be excited: Many of my friends are personally involved in this year’s National Day celebrations — working in the background.

Of course, most of the attention goes to the performers every year. From the Red Lions (including three women parachutists who are performing for the first time ever!) to the marching contingents (I think we’ve teased them enough for marching out of sync by now) to the entertainers and celebrities of the post-show concert, all eyes are on them most of the time!

The theme this year, “Stronger Together, Majulah!” sounds like a perfect fit to what our nation has overcome together.

Spectators can expect two parts for the parade this year: The first segment, titled Strength of our Nation, has our national servicemen putting their best foot forward in the Total Defence Display with over 500 participants.

The Parade & Ceremony portion itself has over 2,000 participants representing the Youth, Social and Economic contingents!

The second segment, titled The Story of Us, is what I am most excited about, of course.

The live performance at The Float at Marina Bay will be a tribute to the different parts of our society that have played a part in enabling us to overcome the pandemic.

But it’s also the backstage crew who ensures everything goes according to plan. It’s time to appreciate these unseen stars of the show — students and national servicemen who have worked hard to bring the show to life!

Here are some of them:

Eugene Tan, The Student Photographer

Eugene Tan, The Student Photographer
Image source: Savanna Tay

“Being a part of the NDP feels like I’m giving back to my country,” says Eugene Tan.

The 19-year-old is in charge of a team of four student photographers from Republic Polytechnic who are supporting this year’s NDP.

Being a part of the Photo Republic interest group at Republic Polytechnic, Eugene had the opportunity to get involved in this year’s NDP, an invitation extended by parade organisers to the different schools every year.

He takes pictures of the performances, and of the performers offstage and the photos are uploaded on social media to help promote the parade among youths.

 

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Over the past two weekends, he has captured some stunning shots during the rehearsals, some of which have been  used as promotional material for this year’s NDP. (In fact, you can see some of his work right here in this article!)

As a student volunteer, he gets to learn from and work alongside the veteran professional photographers at NDP.

He has been attending practice sessions every Thursday and Saturday since rehearsals started in May, leading his team to find the best angles and locations to snap the perfect picture.

He jokingly asks his team if he looked more “tan” now. Being a photographer means spending most of his time in the hot Singapore sun, but the pictures are worth it, he says.

Aside from his photography work for NDP, Eugene is also going through his internship and shares the struggles of having to juggle work and parade duties.

What keeps him going are the friendships that he has made at the rehearsals — peers with whom he has bonded with throughout the months of rehearsals.

One of the performances that he is looking forward to is the display of our armed forces as he is proud of how far we came as a country. And it makes for some stunning shots as well!

One of Eugene’s favourite shots from the rehearsals.
One of Eugene’s favourite shots from the rehearsals. Image Source: Eugene Tan

One of his favourite shots that he took during the rehearsals was of eager spectators crowding under the Merlion to see the CH-47F heavy lift helicopter in action over the Singapore River.

He’s proud to contribute to this year’s NDP as a photographer, but Eugene adds that there are many more who work tirelessly to make the show come together.

“In NDP or any show that you are a part of, there are many ‘gears’ turning. If one ‘gear’ gets loose, the whole show falls apart,” he says.

Ilyana Sufiah, The Student Coordinator

Ilyana Sufiah, The Student Coordinator
Image source: Ilyana Sufiah

At the NDP, everyone works together, from directors to producers to cleaners to backstage crew, to bring the show to life.

Backstage, there is a group of coordinators whose job is to make sure that other people know what to do — like 22-year-old Ilyana Sufiah Ali.

The Republic Poly student is one of those in charge of the students who are performing during the second segment.

Since they started training in May, Ilyana has been responsible for a group of 40 performers. Every Thursday and Saturday, she ensures that the students meet for rehearsals. She takes care of student welfare and administration and is in charge of their attendance.

She also makes sure that the performers know their roles and responsibilities for the show. On top of that all, she’s also performing in the Indian Drums portion of the show.

Ilyana, a member of the Beats Encore interest group at Republic Polytechnic, shares how excited she is to perform with her friends and be a part of the celebrations.

“Being a leader, I have to ensure that my other performers are all on the same ‘key’ while also having to worry about my own performance,” shares Ilyana.

One thing that she brings up is how grateful she is to the SAF soldiers who help out backstage to ensure the show runs smoothly.

From simple tasks like handing out food rations to ensuring performers were in costume, and helping out wherever they could, these young soldiers are a great source of help in the controlled chaos that happens backstage with a cast of over 2,000 performers!

Muhammad Taufiq, The Equipment Guy

Muhammad Taufiq, The Equipment Guy
Image source: Muhammad Taufiq

While Ilyana is in charge of welfare for the 40 students, another 19-year-old, Muhammad Taufiq, is in charge of the musical instruments for their performance.

They work together to ensure things go according to plan.

Taufiq is also a member of the Beats Encore interest group and shares with The Pride how much it is an honour to be able to be a part of the NDP.

A keen musician, Taufiq usually plays Brazilian percussion.
Image source: Muhammad Taufiq

A keen musician, Taufiq usually plays Brazilian percussion. He shares his excitement about how he gets a chance to explore other cultures for the parade this year.

Both Ilyana and Taufiq talk about how much effort they have put in for the five minutes on stage to showcase the hard work and dedication that he and his peers have trained for.

Being both a performer and a member of the backstage crew, Taufiq sees how both sides work together for a successful performance.

“The chief choreographer would always thank the backstage crew for their help after each rehearsal. They should get the credit as well,” he shares.

Coming together for Singapore

Coming together for Singapore
Taufiq and Ilyana. Image Source: Ilyana Sufiah

With the amazing lineup for this year’s parade, all three interviewees can’t wait for the audience to see what there is in store tomorrow.

Ilyana shares her excitement to see our own students who have worked so hard to put on a show.

For Eugene, it’s the marching of our national servicemen and the display of our armed forces.

For Taufiq, it is the finale where everyone comes together as one united nation.

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With every performance, let’s keep in mind that a large crew is working behind the scenes to bring out the best in each set. I am looking forward to National Day like the rest of the country and seeing everyone’s hard work pay off.

On that note, even if you can’t attend the celebrations in person tomorrow, you can still download a copy of the Parade Guide.

The Pride wishes all our readers a Happy National Day!

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