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Romance Festival
iggy Posted: Fri Dec 12 00:14:43 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
Does love need to be taught?

Karl Ho

The Romancing Singapore campaign had noble intentions, but instead of making me romantic and lovesick, it has made me sick of love


LOVE is in the little things.

That was the premise behind the month-long Romancing Singapore campaign, which ended last Friday.

It maintained that tiny gestures reign supreme in the bumpy course of love.

Well, let me tell you this: It was also the little things about Romancing Singapore that annoyed the hell out of me.

Sure, given the ample warning, I was able to sidestep festival events like the Romancing Couple Karaoke Competition 2003.

But no matter where I turned, whiffs of the lovefest assaulted me like the cheap perfume of a stalker who refuses to go away.

In the office, I saw stacks of 'Love Is...The Little Things' CDs on a common table, up for grabs.

They were produced by record label BMG for the festival and copies were sent to the newsroom. There were few takers.

While driving, I saw buses lumbering by, plastered with the same love slogan.

When I was in the gym, I saw a TV documentary which featured a married couple recounting how they met through a dating agency. Their message: You're not a loser if you resort to matchmaking.

I saw a rose bloom and morph into the Channel 5 icon.

I fought the urge to throw a dumbbell at the screen.

There was no escaping the romance overkill, and I'm glad the festival is finally over.

Instead of making me lovesick, Romancing Singapore has made me sick of love.

I'm sure that the festival was organised with noble intentions. Some of its events, like the movie drive-ins, must have also perked up the day for many Singaporeans.

But the festival made quite a few of my peers see red too: We know what love means, thank you very much. There was no need to rub it in our faces.

As a teacher friend of mine exclaimed in frustration: 'Are we so sad and pathetic that we have to be taught by the Government how to love?'

Are we really indeed?

THE Romancing Singapore festival ran throughout the month of February.

It was the first time such an event was held, and it was organised by the Family Matters! Singapore Task Force, the Singapore Tourism Board and the five community development councils.

Its working budget was $400,000, and it featured more than 100 activities, from picnics to plays. Many businesses such as hotels and restaurants joined in the spirit of the event and offered promotions.

The festival comes on the heels of surveys showing that Singaporeans are marrying later and that the national birth rate has taken a nosedive.

Organisers say that the feedback for the festival has been positive.

The comments I've received, however, are as follows:

The festival reinforced Singapore's reputation as a nanny state. From teaching its citizens everything from how to flush the toilet to how to speak Mandarin and how to be courteous, it has now taken on the role of advocating how Singaporeans should love. Are we such losers to have to be taught that?

The festival was but a mere extension of the commercial monstrosity that is Valentine's Day. Mass-marketing love to the public trivialises it. Witness the hordes who rushed to the 'romance corner' at the Chingay Fiesta to snap up free roses. What's so romantic about that?

If the festival was aimed at correcting trends like Singapore's declining birth rate, why not ditch the soft-sell approach and opt for more practical measures? For instance, the Government should spearhead a movement to let working parents have more flexible working hours, or to work from home.

The festival failed to address the fact that people today are too stressed out to fall in love and settle down. There are also many who are having too good a time to want to tie the knot or cut the umbilical cord.

And how do you encourage couples to marry and have children when many young people today are worried sick about whether they'll be able to keep their jobs?

BUT reversing sociological trends was never the festival's intention, organisers say.

Dr Finian Tan, the venture capitalist and co-chairman of the Romancing Singapore task force, tells me that the festival did not set out with the aim of having a direct impact on birth and marriage rates.

The event was held to 'create an environment where couples can be romantic, where people can stop and think about love, life and relationships', he says.

Such a festival is even more vital given the current economic gloom, he maintains, as it reminds Singaporeans of the loved ones they can turn to for support.

'I was worried that a month-long festival wouldn't be enough,' he adds. 'You don't want people to think that they only need to fall in love for just one month.'

Maybe I'm cranky because I belong to a generation that finds love to be overrated.

All around me, I see instances of love gone sour: couples breaking up after almost a decade of courtship, illicit affairs in the workplace and university sweethearts steamrolling into marriages for the sake of an HDB flat without knowing what they are getting themselves into.

I see people deeply in love who break up because of 'irreconcilable differences'. They go on with their lives scarred, or eventually settling for less.

Love, you see, is a sword that cuts both ways.

It is like a drug that brings you unbridled pleasure, but reduces you to a living wreck when you have to go cold turkey.

But yet, you can't help but keep getting addicted to it.

Which is why I find a marketing campaign that sells a saccharin-sweet image of love a bitter pill to swallow.

This is because love is not just about the little things.

It is also about the big, sad and horrible things.

It is about mistakes that shouldn't be made, the heart pangs that don't go away, the loved ones that were taken for granted and are never coming back.

So, no more Romancing Festivals, please.

If you want people like me to get hitched and contribute to the birth rate, don't throw love at our faces.

Leave us to experience love ourselves.

And leave Hallmark sentimentality to cardmakers.

socialyD Posted: Fri Dec 12 14:13:44 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Wow, I consider myself quite the romantic but that would freaking kill me.

However, I think it would be a wonderful torture treatment for boyfriends who forgot aniversaries and major events (like i dunno your BIRTHDAY!!). Maybe a month of romantic atmostphere would jog their pathetic little memories.

antartica Posted: Fri Dec 12 17:03:22 2003 Post | Quote in Reply  
  oh man...
dingapore reali so suxx!!!


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