My mom and I were at the Esplanade last afternoon (20 May) to catch 'Air Da Tohor', an amazing performance by descendants of our Southern Islanders, Cikgu Asnida Daud of Pulau Sudong, and Firdaus Sani of Pulau Semakau (and founder of Orang Laut SG). It was also a good way for me to take a quick break in between my almost seemingly back-to-back schedule of exam papers these two weeks!
According to the show's synopisis,
Air Da Tohor (The tide is low) is a vernacular expression used by the orang laut / orang pulau to call for attention to low tides when fishing. Just as intertidal zones reflect where the ocean meets the land, in low tides more can be seen and revealed in life below water. In Air Da Tohor, they [Asnida and Firdaus] will attempt to navigate their complex identities, loss of cultural tradition and heritage through spoken word and movement.
Their performances spoke powerfully on the plights of the Orang Pulau/ Orang Laut community as they navigate through their sense of identity and reflect on the effects that displacement and resettlement has towards our shared culture and traditions. I was moved by their storytelling, and it reaffirms once more the responsibility and capabilities that descendants of Singapore's Orang Pulau/ Orang Laut communities have in reclaiming our narratives.
From us the Ubin Orang Pulau, we extend our heartiest congratulations and pride for the stellar effort of our Semakau and Sudong friends in keeping their stories alive. Thank you for your heart work!
I'd also like to thank and congratulate the crew and everyone else who was involved in the excellent production, and I thank them for amplifying our indigenous voices.