NJC student Braden Lim (left) and CHIJ Secondary student S M Bharathi appear in the closing segment of the show. | Photo: Sim Ding En
For the past two years, no thanks to the COVID-19 sitch, a significant part of the National Day Parade (NDP) has been noticeably missing – we’re talking about students and youth, and all the vitality and vibrancy they bring to the NDP every year.
Well, things are decidedly more fresh-faced for NDP 2022, themed “Stronger Together, Majulah!” and held at Marina Bay Floating Platform. Not only does this year’s show mark the large-scale return of this group (comprising 500 secondary school students and 800 students from tertiary institutions as performers, audience motivators and make-up artists), it also sees the reappearance of hordes of Primary 5 students making up the audience at the National Education (NE) Shows – essentially a preview of NDP, but just for kids.
We speak to two student performers – 15-year-old S M Bharathi from CHIJ Secondary and 16-year-old Braden Lim from National Junior College – who appear in Chapter 5 of the show, the closing segment that carries a message of new life, new energy and new hopes.
To cope with her studies and NDP commitments, Bharathi set up a timetable and followed it strictly; she is also grateful for the support of her family and friends. | Photo: Sim Ding En
You guys are part of the first batch of youth and student performers to return after a two-year hiatus. You must be elated!
Bharathi: I’m quite happy because it’s my first NDP and I get to perform in front of a "live" audience cheering for me. For the past two years, [the show] was just [broadcast "live"], so there was not much audience there. It’s really fun [this year] to have an actual audience watching me dancing - it’s quite exciting!
Braden: I feel very honoured to have the opportunity to perform in NDP “live” because you can really get to feel the atmosphere of the audience and the national pride. I feel very excited to perform for this year’s NDP!
How did you get involved in this year’s NDP?
Bharathi: I volunteered to be in NDP because it’s such a rare opportunity to perform in NDP. It was on a first come, first served basis, and I was one of the first few to be selected - I was really happy cuz when I was younger, I would come to the parade and think about what it would be like to be [part of the performance], so it’s a dream come true that I can perform in front of such a big “live” audience.
Braden: I also volunteered, and if you volunteer, they try their best to include you.
Bharathi and her fellow performers take turns to get their make-up done in the comfort of air-conditioned rooms at the F1 Pit Building before making their way to the Floating Platform. | Photo: Sim Ding En
Have you made a lot of new friends here?
Bharathi: (points at Braden) There! New one!
Braden: (points at Bharathi) New one!
What’s been the most challenging part of being part of NDP 2022?
Braden: Honestly, it would be the weather, the sun being so hot! If you don’t apply sunblock, you’re going to roast. It ain’t good for your skin!
Bharathi: Same. You cannot cope with it lah. You just put sunblock and drink water - you just have to survive this! It’s nature, you can’t do anything about it.
You’re going to be part of quite a few shows, including the actual one on 9 Aug. What motivates you?
Bharathi: Of course it would be my friends and meeting new people here. Its’ really fun to be together and bond, and share [the experience] together.
Braden: For me it’s focusing on the final goal of making Singapore proud and helping Singapore to celebrate its birthday and our achievements.
To Braden, this year's NDP theme ("Stronger Together, Majulah!") is "a reminder that we can only advance and continue developing as a country if we unite and encourage each other so that we can all move forward together". | Photo: Sim Ding En
Has being part of NDP live turned out to be all you expected it to be?
Braden: Honestly for me, it’s more than I expected it to be. Compared to sitting in the stands at the Floating Platform, actually standing on stage when the fireworks of off is deafening but very, very exciting - and you can really feel the hype, especially when you’re on stage and you hear the audience singing along to the NDP songs. It’s a very emotional atmosphere.
Bharathi: I was quite shocked cuz I didn’t expect that there would be this much hard work behind all these National Day Parades.
Are you looking forward to the last show or do you think you’ll be sad that it’s over?
Bharathi: Of course I’ll be sad, but it’ll still be memorable - that I experienced all of this and it was such a fun thing.
Braden: I’m looking forward to it because the fireworks are going to be huge and with everyone there - the audience, the President and the MPs - it’ll be very cool. Even though it’s going to be over, at least the memory is there - and that feeling of grandeur and glory!