Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stained Glass Window TLS

As far as I can remember when I came to the school in 1959 this stained glass window was already there.

To an ulu boy the fact I did not know anything about European art history of stained glass window remains a significant part of my life. I just looked at it as if it was a part of urban structure - very pretty and took it for granted.

As I slowly acquired more knowledge in school the significance of stained glass dawned on me.

Nevertheless it is still a remarkable piece of art in a small part of Borneo. I suppose it is even more remarkable that it is one of the few pieces left in Borneo.
And perhaps Mr.Nicholl had a hand in its design and specifications. I was too young being just 9 years old then and too "ulu"

Friday, November 28, 2008

Upper Sixth Arts Class of 1967

Staff of Tanjong Lobang School Welcoming Mr. Kum Boo

Mr. Kum Boo was the Director of Education Department of Sarawak.

It was a big occasion for the school.

This photo is truly a collector's item.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Tailor Who Won the Hearts of Native Boys

Tan Chi Kim and David Chin (Photo from David Chin)

It seemed there was only one tailor in town (Miri) and we the native boys who were in dire straits but in desperate need of attire would flock to his shop for some tailoring whether it was to cut a pair of badly needed trousers or to make a drain pipe pair out of a cheap shop bought trousers.

He owned the Nam Kong Tailor Shop on River Road situated opposite the Ban Hup Coffee shop where politicians and government officers sat down for happy hours after they knocked off from work.

Mr.Tam was very friendly and he won our young and innocent hearts. Each trousers he made for us then was just @7.50(material included). And we would be asking him all sorts of questions about tailoring. Aloysius Lisu was a student by our standard a towkay who would always suggest that we went to see him. This was a chance for us to admire the materials and the already tailored trousers. We would also fantasize about our future attire in the shop.

Besides Towkay as we called him was always ready to call us to do a bit of grass cutting and other odd jobs. One day I did a full day's job for him and earned a handsome figure of $5.00. I was rich like a king and felt like one too.

And then there was one incident I would never forget. The kindly Towday offered to send us back to Tanjong in his car instead of us having to walk all the 6 kilometres. When we were at the steep Tanjong hill the car engine suddenly choked and stopped. It was a blue Hillman Hunter by the way. He asked me to step on a pedal and not release it until he said so. I was seated next to him.

He asked" Can you reach the pedal?" I was small and short but my foot just managed to touch the pedal.

I did not know anything about driving at that tender age. But I did as I was told. He then struggled with the other pedals and managed to start the engine. He then told me to let go of the pedal which I did. I felt so proud of myself!! The car then went up the hill like a very ill and arthritic buffalo which had to finish its ploughing.

I can still remember him clearly as if it was only yesterday.

I feel sad that a good and caring man who was an icon to all the native boys of Tanjong has left us. He had touched our hearts and we will remember him fondly. In many ways he was an adult who had played a very important role in our lives when we as boarding students needed that fatherly touch and mentoring very much.

May his soul rest in peace.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Girls' Relay Team 1961-1963

1961-63 : The Girls' Relay Team

When we were in junior secondary school in TLS, the boys, especially the native boys formed a very strong and unbeatable athletic team which "conquered" almost all the trophies of local school and open amateur athletic events. We were the golden boys.

But Mr. Sia, our sports master, found it a little challenging to get a girls' team together. He had to scrounge amongst the pitiful small number of girls who might just be able to run and last, more importantly, a few fifty meters or more.

So with a great effort and in the end, he was able to assemble Ngik Koon, Kamariah,Chellenga and Alice Darieng. They were the most unusual looking bunch of girls to be on the sports field. Both Ngik Koon and Kamariah were still having their puppy fat and looked at the most plump and not at all lithe to beat the flying girls looks of the Chung Hua school team.
Only Chellenga and Alice looked a little more promising.

Come sports day, we boys got all excited, knowing that we could be the champions of the day. But we were a little more than apprehensive about the girls. When it was the girls' relay event, we boys were all ready to do all the cheering and shouting by the side. Hoping that at least by our shouts they could just run a little faster.

"Come on, Ngik Koon!!" we all shouted, over and over again.

She ran like a boxer, with her hands pounding the air from her face. Her steps were firm and small. But she was able to finish her part to our delight.

Kamariah , in her sporting best, trotted on but nevertheless finished her part of 100x4 to the glee of all the TLS support team. Her smile was good enough at the end.

Alice ran with all her heart and brought the team forward a little.

Chellenga was light and she managed slightly better.

But in the end our girls' team came in a delightful last.

Our team, especially the girls' team ,happily took part in the athletic meets for three years. We raised and shook our TLS flag high and with the highest of morale. Later the dynamics of the runners and events changed and the four girls delightfully took their places away from the tracks.

The Olympics Games said, "Participation is more important than winning."

But the girls' sportsmanship will always be remembered by us.

Ngik Koon , now in Miri, continues to be charming, helpful and friendly. She has never changed in her attitude towards her fellow school mates. Her warm nature and permanent smile have made her a winner in life.

Kamariah is now a success as an educationist in Brunei. Still the same Karmariah - kind and cheerful. But extremely trim and healthy.

Chellenga is still the same - helpful and caring. She has good words for her friends and relatives and teaches Aborigines students in a school in Katherine, near Darwin, Australia.

Alice is retired from her teaching in St. James, Brunei and now owns a native craft shop in Miri. Always charming, cheerful and a good conversationalist, you will never feel rejected by a charmer like her.

But the years of the Girls' Relay Team would always fill my heart with warmth and laughter.

Those were indeed happy days.