A very special street party: 20th years at Jln Bintang Tiga

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Who says the kampung spirit is dead?

Meet residents from Jln Bintang Tiga. For 20 years as of writing, they have kept their special street party tradition alive.

The residents would come together annually on National Day.

 

The parties started out small. There were few families present and it involved a simple potluck dinner.

Since 2013, the event has even been supported by the Singapore Kindness Movement!

One of the residents, James Suresh pointed out:

We had a small gathering at the suggestion of one of our old neighbours who has since moved out. It piqued the curiosity of some of the other neighbours, and so we decided to organise a proper party that everyone could attend.

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The yearly tradition has grown much from its humble beginnings: better organization, more food, more participants, and most of all, more joy.

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Suresh’s wife, Evelyn Chew, runs a well-oiled publicity process. She announces the celebrations by posting flyers into each letterbox. She later follows up with respective phone calls and arranges who’s bringing what.

Even old neighbours who have moved out still return for the yearly gathering. Evelyn would extend the invitation for them, keeping the love alive even if they have moved.

The parties gives residents a chance to interact beyond the small talk and the “hi bye” formalities.

Suresh substantiates:

We’ve got neighbours helping to prepare food, and collate names for registration. There’s also a couple just down the street that helps with the games – the husband puts in a lot of time to craft a piñata for the children, and the wife makes a beautiful jelly cake that commemorates how many years the Jalan Bintang Tiga street party has been going on for.

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Facilitating and continuing on the kampung spirit is why residents consistently look forward to the yearly party, and that it has lasted for a good 20 years.

Suresh also reflects on fostering a friendly and welcoming neighbourhood:

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In neighbourhoods that are not very friendly… you can just have a quarrel with your neighbours over parking spaces, for example, and not feel anything because there’s no love lost.

But if you’ve built strong friendships with your neighbours, you won’t have issues when someone parks outside your house or celebrates a wedding or festive occasion. You’re willing to let them take your space, and you have no qualms handing your keys to your neighbours for safekeeping when you’re on holiday because you trust them.

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The 20th anniversary of the celebrations was extra special as Jalan Bintang Tiga would be recognised as Singapore’s first “Friendly Street”.

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The event usually ends off with an exciting water bomb session, planned by Suresh’s and Evelyn’s adult children.

If anybody sends over their maid to help, we’ll say, ‘No, get the kids to clean up’.

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Suresh also reflects, back during the 16th anniversary of party celebrations:

Are we really the only street that does this? I hope not! We don’t have to wait for someone else to build this neighbourhood spirit for us – we can do it ourselves! I hope many more will do so.

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Go beyond the small talk today.

Despite festivities being held at Jalan Bintang Tiga, other neighbourhoods can take inspiration from the friendly neighbourhood and foster their own communities with our newfound Kampung spirit!

 


Cover image from here (left) and here (right).

Gift a smile, share a mooncake with a migrant worker today!

Got leftover mooncakes at home? Or simply watching your waistline?

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People tend to buy more mooncakes than they can consume. In 2016, it was reported that Hong Kong had wasted an astonishing level of 1.6 million mooncakes.

Share your mooncakes with someone else!

For Itsrainingraincoats, they have decided to donate mooncakes to fellow migrant workers in Singapore.

 

Itsrainingraincoats

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Itsrainingraincoats originally began with wanting to show gratitude towards migrant workers. It is an initiative that prompts people to pass migrant workers disposable raincoats when necessary.

Their Facebook page writes:

A migrant worker who falls sick due to having worked in the rain rarely gets a medical day off or the luxury of being tucked up in bed with a hot cup of tea and a television to watch. He will have no choice but to show up at work the next day exposing himself to further injury, as work place accidents are more likely occur when a worker is weak, unwell or unable to function fully.

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Today, they have moved beyond raincoats, and have gone on to collect other essentials such as: umbrellas, water bottles, clothing, etc.

Most recently, they have chosen to collect and donate mooncakes.

 

Donating

Also they need the extra calories given the hard labour they undertake for more than 12 or more hours a day!

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Beautiful mooncakes can be put to good use by planting a smile on the faces of the migrant workers.

Itsrainingraincoats also makes it convenient for everyone to help out. They have designated various collection points throughout Singapore, allowing one to donate items easily and efficiently.

To view the collection points, you can click here.

 

Taking initiative

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Itsrainingraincoats has truly brought a smile to much of the migrant worker community. While we may simply throw our mooncakes away, we sometimes forget that others can benefit from what we do not want or need.

The love and joy that Itsrainingraincoats has spread to migrant workers invites us to think about those who are just living amongst us, and be more aware of various communities.

 

 

 

Giving birth in a GOJEK car

On 23 August 2019, at about 5:30am, I started to feel light contractions.

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Nurisah Mohamed initially ignored her contractions, though they started happening every 5 minutes at around the 8:30am mark.

Nurisah opted for a GOJEK to the hospital due to the fact that she was not due for birth just yet. Her sister-in-law was by her side.

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To the hospital

They met Mr Leng Khee Kwong, who was instructed to drive Nurisah, her sister-in-law and the little one to KK Hospital.

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But before we could reach the hospital, I was in labour… It was such a chaotic moment! I was shouting so badly because of the pain. My water bag burst, and my sister-in-law said she could see the baby’s head coming out…

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Driver’s kindness

The driver was very nice to assist us with the support by calming me down and saying 123 push… Don’t worry we will reach soon…

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Mr Leng was calm and level-headed, and consistently reassured Nurisah to breathe and that they were reaching the hospital soon.

After an exhausting 20 minute period, Nurisah welcomed to the world her second daughter – in Mr Leng’s car!

Eventually, they arrived at KK Hospital. Nurisah and her little one were sent to the labour ward. She was later assisted by the nurses on the proper tools and safety precautions.

 

Thank you, Mr Leng

I’m sorry for the chaotic moments and the mess in your car. Even when we insist to give him some cash, he doesn’t want it and congrats us on the safe delivery.

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We could learn a thing or two from Mr Leng. For starters: his calm nature and ability to support Nurisah when she needed it most! Giving birth is undoubtedly a physically excruciating experience, and Mr Leng was able to let her remember to breathe throughout.

The fact that he also rejected the extra cash as perhaps an offer for the mess made in the car. Mr Leng’s kindness transcends the transactional bounds, rejecting the extra money being offered to him.

Sure, the circumstances were presented as such, but Mr Leng took his newfound responsibility and embraced it with gusto! Thank you Mr Leng for your kindness, and helping Nurisah every step of the way!

 

You can check out the Facebook post here:

 


Cover image from here (left) and here (right).

Day in a life of a special education teacher

Hi, Cher!

Meet Daisy Khng, a special education teacher for 9 years. She currently works at Rainbow Centre over at Margaret Drive.

Daisy initially worked as a relief teacher at Towner Gardens School under MINDS. Fortunately for her, she managed to witness a father’s unwavering love and devotion to his son with special needs in a bus ride. She noticed that even though his son did not listen, the father still loved him unconditionally. Moved, she eventually converted from her relief teacher position to her current full-time position at Rainbow Centre.

She currently teaches the Junior Section, for children aged 7 to 10 years of age.

 

Starting the day right

Every day, Daisy does a check-in with her fellow students.

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The check-in involves taking their attendance, talking about the weather, and last but not least “Letters of the week”.

“Letters of the week” is about sharing words and things associated with the alphabet. Essentially, it is a word-association activity.

Daisy reflects that the daily check-in is helpful:

because the kids like structure and routines

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Routines help convey a sense of order and allows the class to be primed for Daisy to teach.

 

Teaching style

Daisy has to adapt to the learning conditions of her students, of which most can’t speak.

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Yet, it is not a setback for Daisy. She is still able to have fruitful and engaging conversations with the students through Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display (PODD). PODD is a system with various visuals in attempting to aid sentence formation, prompting a response from her students.

The visuals on the PODD system are sorted into categories such as food and drinks, activities, etc.

Besides helping the non-verbal kids to communicate, it also encourages the rest to speak up more.

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The children point towards specific images and attempt to construct sentences. The visual aid enhances the learning of both verbal and non-verbal students to be able to engage in a discussion and communicate together. This gives students a platform to speak up and express themselves.

The students also do try to engage in a bit of fun:

Though sometimes my cheeky students use the PODD to say nonsense

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Ahh, kids will be certainly be kids.

 

Challenges in teaching

Daisy once reflected on having to teach about the challenging abstract concept of emotions, explaining that it was extremely difficult for her students to be able to grasp the concept.

She remembers teaching the feeling of being scared, but students could not capture the emotion she was trying to explain.

The implementation of cartoons saved the day: used as a teaching tool, they greatly helped facilitate her teaching.

Daisy reflects that teaching strategies should constantly be tried and tested to cater to the needs of the children.

Fostering communication

It is important to have patience and an open mind.

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Teachers like Daisy inspire us to take the time to learn more about others, that we ought to have patience and have a willingness to treat those with special needs as individuals before their needs.

She also comments that while some of those who have special needs may not have verbal capabilities, they still have a voice. It is up to us to give them a platform to establish their voice and accept them for who they are.

 


Cover images from here (left) and here (right).

Man vs Python: mop as a secret weapon outside nightclub in Singapore

The take down

What would you do when you come across a python? One is likely to shriek in fear, run away, or even come to a stop – for those “if you don’t move, it will not provoke you” types.

This man, on the other hand, handled his meetup with a python like a champ outside a nightclub in Serangoon Road.

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He immediately came with a mop at hand, and pounced on the python.

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And skillfully grabs it with his bare hands.

Perhaps what is most wonderful about the situation is his weapon of choice: the good ‘ole mop. You know, the thing you use to clean your floor with.

 

Response

Netizens generally gave positive feedback, reaching 303 shares as at time of writing.

Many lauded his quick-thinking and bravery:

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Others made jokes at the expense of the snake, referencing that the snake was caught at a nightclub:

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Snake handling

Perhaps, we’d see an increase in mop sales – investors, we’ve said it first.

Jokes aside, the man’s quick-thinking, while unconventional, has helped the majority of us who may be frozen without a clue of what to do when faced with a python.

Pythons are relatively harmless animals since they lack venomous properties. They also happen to be a common occurrence throughout Singapore.

According to Wildlife Reserves Singapore, they receive around 40 to 50 pythons from around the island each month.

However, when one encounters the presence of a python, their best course of action is to contact agencies such as Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), the Animal Concern Research and Education Society (ACRES) at 97837782, or even the Singapore Police Force.

According to NParks, it is best to stay calm on one’s snaky encounters. One can also call NParks at 1800-476-1600 on how to properly handle a snake. It is best to check back with experts on the appropriate course of action required.

The man’s actions over at Serangoon teaches us to not be afraid of fellow animals that may be living within our own communities. The community’s effort is required in creating a safe space for both people and animals to live in harmony.

 

You can watch the video here.


Cover image from here (left) and here (right).

Technology’s role in alleviating emotional labour in kindergarten teachers

Emotional burden

According to Channel News Asia, despite needing another 3000 teachers in the early childhood education sector, it is still extremely difficult to have more childhood educators in Singapore.

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Ms Syairah Zahira Azhari was among one of the aspiring childhood educators, but later quit as she learnt about the harsh working conditions at a pre-school:

Some of them are very particular about what exactly has happened to their children, even like a small scratch – sometimes we didn’t how that had happened. But they’d question (us) – What happened? Why weren’t you … attentive?

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Childhood educators have to bother about the smallest of things: energetic children, chasing for homework, ensuring their safety, the occasional cries. The emotional labour that early childhood educators undergo cannot be understated.

Ever spent a full day with a child? Know how much energy a child has, and how you feel exhausted at the end of the day? Now multiply that by 15 children, five days a week.

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And yet, we’re only scratching the surface. Early childhood educators still have to communicate with parents, handle administrative tasks, report to management, among other things.

 

Technology as a solution?

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For the most tedious of tasks, Sun Ho has created a management app, LittleLives, in hopes of alleviating the emotional burden brunt by such educators. LittleLives strives to take away all the administrative work from educators such that they can focus on teaching.

Sun Ho believed in harnessing the power of technology:

My affinity for technology led me to pursue a degree in Computer Science in NUS and subsequently a career as a software engineer. Technology allows you to build solutions to problems, measure the results, and then tweak and evolve the solution.

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Sun Ho focused on education since it “made a big difference in my life”.

She does admit going into early childhood education specially by chance.

LittleLives has also partnered DBS in enabling digital payment for one in three pre-schools. In doing so, families can easily purchase uniforms, pay for field trips, and sign up for extra-curriculars through the application and DBS’ integration.

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Digitalising payments makes the process easier:

By partnering LittleLives, we hope to take the hassle out of payments so pre-school operators can better manage their cash flow. By building payments capabilities into the app, we have made banking invisible and seamless, so pre-school operators can channel their energy and resources back into building their business.

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Holistic development

Do you know what children learn in preschool? On top of basic numeracy and literacy, they learn to name their feelings, discover the world around them, play and share with their friends, not to give up after falling, and many more skills we need in life.

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LittleLives understands that early childhood education focuses on the holistic development of children, while caring for their mental and physical well-being.

The application currently serves thousands of preschools throughout Singapore.

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The early childhood education industry is often sidelined, with many individuals not wanting to enter the sector completely due to the immense challenges.

Sun Ho understands that it is essential to be there for a child in the earliest stages of development.

Sun Ho understands that being there for a child at their earliest stages of development and their accompanying delivery of education is of paramount importance.

Being able to streamline the very mundane tasks gives them space to truly spend time and be with the students. It gives teachers a break from other tasks so as to ensure that they are able to focus on what truly matters.

In the grander scheme of things, initiatives such as this application can truly help increase efficiency in reducing efforts pertaining to administrative matters. While it will still take much effort in attempting to reduce the emotional labour that early childhood educators face, it certainly is a step in the right direction.

May applications such as this, as well as other innovations allow for the early childhood education sector to be more inviting as a workforce.

Hong Kong protesters pause: a moment of silence for 9/11 incident

9/11 attacks

It was September 11: the Day that never Ends.

What started as a normal, beautiful, blue sky kind of a day spiraled into a day of death and chaos that would almost feel like it would never end.

– Gédéon Naudet

2019 marks the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks, as people observed a moment of silence for the fall of the World Trade Centre in New York City.

 

Hong Kong: the situation

For months, Hong Kong faced great political unrest. The ongoing series of demonstrations are centered on gaining more democratic freedom due to their current status as a semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Closer to September 11, a Chinese-owned tabloid accused the Hong Kong protesters of planning “massive terror attacks” on 9/11.

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The Hong Kong edition of China Daily wrote on Facebook attached with the above image:

Anti-government fanatics are planning massive terror attacks, including blowing up gas pipes, in Hong Kong on September 11.

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They later followed:

The 9/11 terror plot also encourages indiscriminate attacks on non-native speakers of Cantonese and starting mountain fires

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According to ABC News, the information came from a leaked message on a Telegram group.

 

Calling off the protests

As a result, the protesters declared to put a pause on the ongoing protests:

In solidarity against terrorism, all forms of protest in Hong Kong will be suspended on Sept 11, apart from potential singing and chanting

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One poster reads:

We honour those who died in the attacks, and all those sacrificed in the fight against all forms of terrorism.

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#NeverForget911

In remembrance of the 9/11 attacks, many people in Hong Kong have responded as they honour those who have died in the attacks 18 years ago.

Some protestors can be seen attending a protest at New Town Plaza in Hong Kong:

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Being able to halt the Hong Kong protests showcases a sense of respect for the unforgettable 9/11 incident from years ago.

As they stand together in silence and in solidarity, may we also remember the incident and #NeverForget911.

Former Nurse springs into action and takes care of uncle who fainted until an ambulance arrives

A former nurse, Ms. Michelle Kwok, sprung into action and helped an uncle who fainted and injured his head, and also stayed with him until an ambulance arrived.

The incident occurred at Junction 8 on August 22 at around 8PM.

An onlooker, Mr. Li, told Shin Min Daily News:

我上前去看,发现一名阿叔倒在地上,后脑勺在流血,手上也都是血,身旁有3名公众在帮忙。

Upon looking, I noticed that an uncle fell to the ground, his head was bleeding and his hands were soaked with blood, there were 3 people were helping by his side.

 

The Fall

According to an employee working at a nearby store, the man fainted and hit his head upon the impact of the collapse.

Ms. Kwok, one of the 3 responders, happened to be a nurse who previously worked in the Accident & Emergency (A&E) Department.

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Now a financial consultant, Ms. Kwok shared:

我当时听说有人晕倒,立刻上前查看,发现他的头部有两处伤口,一直在流血。

I heard that someone fainted, and immediately went forward to see that the man was bleeding profusely and had two wounds on his head.

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She took the reigns and ensured that no one touched the man initially to check if he could move his hands and legs.

She later took his pulse and checked his breathing. He was unresponsive for about 3 – 5 minutes, and had immense breathing difficulties.

 

The Response

He later gained responsiveness but only remembered his name.

Ms. Kwok asked if he had diabetes, which could be a possible reason for the fall, though the man denied it so.

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Another person used the man’s phone to inform his wife of the incident.

And yet another called the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), and passed the phone to Ms. Kwok for her to relay the information.

 

To the Hospital

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Since then, the man was brought to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for treatment, and Ms. Kwok stayed with him until the ambulance arrived.

While the man’s condition is uncertain, the quick thinking and initiative displayed by Ms. Kwok and other members of the public was well-received.

Their willingness to help out promptly could be the very vital seconds that the man requires.

The efforts of the responsive community have certainly helped the man get better, and we wish him a speedy recovery!

 


For any medical-related emergencies, do call ambulance 995 promptly.

Chinese family eventually accepts son’s African partner

Clarence Tan shares his wonderful story of how love conquers all on popular Facebook Group Subtle Asian Traits.

 

The couple

Clarence is Chinese. His newly-wedded wife, Edna Sophia, is from Ghana, West Africa.

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Having dated for 3 years, they managed to tie the knot with Clarence’s father’s full blessings.

 

Trials and tribulations

Perhaps almost naturally, Clarence’s family reacted with resistance, especially from his father.

While it was easy to simply brush off his family’s disapproval and married Edna anyway, Clarence refused to due to having fostered a close relationship with his dad. Clarence was adamant about gaining the approval of his parents.

Clarence’s father commonly raised comments to do with the distinct cultures and backgrounds the two came from, and that he might potentially face challenges in the future as a businessman.

“Hurtful” comments have been passed:

Clarence, this is your choice so you can do whatever you want. But don’t expect my blessing. I may or may not show up at the wedding if you marry her.

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Undoubtedly a demoralizing comment, but Clarence saw hope that his father did not outright declare that he would ultimately not show up at the wedding.

 

The plan

Clarence decided to bring her home on a weekly basis to get to know his parents.

The beginnings were especially rough, for the tension was palpable. His father often puts on a look that conveyed a mix of disapproval and wanting to maintain his composure. Edna too, had to struggle since she was hyperaware that she was unwelcome.

Edna and Clarence often got into arguments as the latter often pushed her into visiting his family. At one point, Clarence even had to lie that she was personally invited for dinner.

 

I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face

Slowly but surely, his family eventually warmed-up to Edna. They’ve come to learn of Edna’s wonderful attributes, as detailed by Clarence:

She’s intelligent, kind, extremely caring & considerate, and polite. They learned about her spending most of her free time working on building my company (now our company, obviously), as well as her financially supporting me at times. I had purposely kept it silent as it was embarrassing— but they eventually found out that it was their son who lucked out. After enough invites and conversations, they realized that this is for real and they started opening up to her.

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After 3 years of hard work, Clarence and Edna were finally able to tie the knot.

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His family, too, had a change of heart, and his dad was the couple’s biggest supporter.

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It was difficult but 100% worth— since she’s the one.

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Clarence understood the importance of filial piety, and wanted to ensure both Edna and his family could live harmoniously in the long-run.

Having also shared this on the Subtle Asian Traits group, Clarence hopes to spread a message of never giving up and letting their love inspire.

Clarence and Edna’s tenacity and determination allowed them to start their marriage on a right foot, and we hope nothing but the best for the couple.