Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fung Bo Bo returns to Ngau Che Shui (Chinatown) 冯宝宝回到牛车水

If there is one little girl who captured the hearts of the residents of Ngau Che Shui (Chinatown), it must be Fung Bo Bo. And we are talking about some 50+ years ago, when Fung Bo Bo, at the age of 3 made her appearance in Singapore with her movies. It is said that between the age of 6 and 9, she starred in some 120 movies!

On the 20 Jun 15 night, when I attended the last day of the the 2-day musical featuring Fung Bo Bo - Memories and Chinatown (probably sounds better in Cantonese, Fung Bo Bo Hui Da Niu Che Shui 冯宝宝回到牛车水) - I could see the sparkles in the eyes of the old folks as they queued to get into the theatre. Thanks to this Fei Zhai (肥仔) who initiated a "Join Fung Bo Bo Fansi Club" with a poster outside the theatre, many stopped by to take photos with the young pictures of Fung Bo Bo as well as writing down their names and email address or handphone number to join the club. The Chinatown Fung Bo Bo Fans Club seems ready to take off.

Many were trying to find someone to talk about their admiration for Fung Bo Bo. What better way than sharing with the lady (my wife) who manned the Fan Club stall on this evening. There was this lady who said that when she was young at 6, her picture looked like that of young Fung Bo Bo. And now, probably some 50+ years later, she stood by Fung Bo Bo's picture to take a photo.

Many brought along their ageing mothers to attend. One was seen on wheelchair (going to this rather ageing Kreta Ayer Theatre was a feat) and a few bent ladies being guided by their daughters. A few old couples came on their own, one holding the other, each actually requiring support. A few asked to sit down on the spare chair, panting from the walk up the slope.

A number were heard chatting in Hokkien or Teochew, but that did not prevent them from being fans of Fung Bo Bo. It was a time when Singaporean Chinese (and even non Chinese included) were multilingual, and appreciated the arts of the different groups. Cantonese movies, perhaps, thanks to Fung Bo Bo, were in abundance, compared to Hokkien and Teochew movies.

While Fung Bo Bo sang in English (she spent 6 years in school in UK), Mandarin and Cantonese, her conversation with the audience was in Cantonese. From the warm response, all must have understood Cantonese. In typical Chinese theatre scenes where the audience talked as much as the movie, this one was a silent audience, drinking in every word of Fung Bo Bo. She brought them through her almost 60 years of journey of her life, leading them through her highs and lows, and indeed, she must have gotten the audience reflecting on their times as they followed her along. There weas deep silence as Fung Bo Bo sounded teary and laughters with applause when she brightened up on great memories.

In between, Bo Bo shared her outlook in life and urged her audience to think likewise. "Talk and share your thoughts with your loved ones before they are gone," she urged. She was talking about her godmother, the late Lin Dai, probably better known to the older folks, with whom she lost the opportunity to express her love. Lin Dai had influenced and guided Bo Bo very much.

The return of Fung Bo Bo in this musical show as well as her just released movie on the Wonder Mama (Ma Mi Hak 妈咪侠) has brought back warm memories to the residents of Chinatown, and indeed, the diaspora of Ngau Che Shui. To the many in their autumn years, this must have been something that they did not expect, to see Bo Bo in person again. Some waited to meet her in person and to get her autograph. One man who missed the chance the night before was waiting patiently since before the show to try to meet her. I hope he made it on this evening.

For many of the senior citizens living in Chinatown, and elsewhere, thanks to Fei Zhai with the support of the Singapore Film Society, got to watch Wonder Mama at a special showing in Cantonese at FilmGarde at Bugis+. Thanks to the many friends who paid for the tickets for these senior citizens and their transport to the show.

For these people this must have been, in a way, a very memorable SG50 year for them! Thanks Fei Zhai and his kakis, who also included members of the Cantonese Clan Associations in Chinatown.

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