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Seniors blogging about yesteryears

Folks 60 and above are blogging about their childhood, ancestors, history and traditions

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KEZIA TOH on 24 Mar 2014

Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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To plumb the mysteries behind his great-grandfather Chew Joo Chiat’s life, 79-year-old Philip Chew started blogging in 2008.


The creator of the MyChewJooChiat blog hopes that by posting online, he will gain more information about his famous ancestor, who made his fortune as a trader before becoming an owner of gambier, nutmeg and coconut plantations. The Joo Chiat area in Singapore is named after him.


Mr Chew’s blog has since garnered more than 72,000 page views.


Says the retired public health officer: “People might say blogging is only for young people, but I feel proud that at my age, I am blogging and on Facebook, interacting with readers about my ancestor.”


He is among a group of senior bloggers aged 60 and above who are making their presence felt on the Web.


Besides his blog, there are other blogs by sexagenarians recounting their childhood memories, as well as one looking for a long-lost nanny.


A request to find a long-lost amah turned Mr Lam Chun See’s nostalgia blog, GoodMorningYesterday, into a lost-and-found notice. A British woman sent him an e-mail last year seeking help to find her Chinese nanny from the 1960s. When he blogged about the search, comments from readers hit the jackpot – one had a link to the nanny’s husband.


“People interact and form a community and it is very exciting when you find something you thought was lost,” says Mr Lam, 61, a freelance management consultant who started the blog in 2005. It has garnered more than 1.4 million page views.


The blog, which records memories and places of days past, also spun off a book in 2012.


Mr Lam’s documenting of memories also inspired retiree James Seah, 65, who started writing his BlogToExpress in 2007.


In it, he records his childhood memories of being displaced during the Bukit Ho Swee fire in 1961 and his late mother’s plucky preparedness – she had packed important documents such as the family’s birth certificates in a sarong, which she immediately grabbed and ran off with.


Engineer Victor Yue, 61, also records childhood memories on his BullockCartWater blog, where he blogs about growing up in Chinatown. He also writes another blog that tells the stories of deities and the history of Chinese temples in Singapore.


The BullockCartWater site has garnered about 66,000 page views, while the one on temples has more than 200,000 views. Both were started in 2005 as a storekeeper of the days of yore, says Mr Yue. For example, the blog on temples shows how they evolved as a place of worship to becoming a community centre that held residents together.


Memories of old days may disappear with older folks since most of them speak mainly dialect, so Mr Yue, who is fluent in Teochew, Hokkien and Cantonese, records their stories for online posterity.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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