If you were anywhere near the Padang (or anywhere around the city centre) this past Saturday evening (Jul 22), you would have heard the music.
Plus, you would have seen the marches, watched helicopters and planes soar past and gazed up at the fireworks brightening our splendid Singapore skyline — National Day is just over two weeks away, and so 2023’s first National Day Parade (NDP) preview was on that night.
Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen was there, serving as Reviewing Officer as thousands filled the stands and others watched from the streets across and buildings overhead.
Source: Ng Eng Hen / Facebook
This year’s show is a refreshing departure from the past few editions, as it’s taking on a celebratory tone as we step out from the Covid years. The energy is upbeat and the joyous spirit is infectious — from the dancers and soldiers on the performance area, to the pilots and Red Lions overhead, to the ushers in the stands cajoling the crowd. From the sights to the sounds — and even the smell, it is a very different NDP.
It is all a lot of heartfelt work by Singaporeans from all walks of life.
In that spirit, here is a small sample of how everyone is putting in the work for #NDP2023:
Artists with disabilities: Tote bags for fun packs
Source: Enable SG / Facebook, Zaqy Mohamad / Facebook
NDP tote bags will have unique designs from artists with disabilities; this is the fourth year of the tradition.
The designs, themed around Diversity, Connectedness, a Blooming Singapore and the Fabric of Singapore, come from 21 of these talents, who range from 10 to 73 years old.
We particularly like Blooming Singapore (in the montage above). It is shaped like Singapore’s national flower, the orchid, and each petal uses Braille dots as inspiration, showcasing our shared national cultural richness and energy. Our uniquely local twists on food like ice kachang and landmarks like the Singapore Flyer and Changi Airport feature as well.
“Looking at how beautiful the artwork designs on the NDP Pack are, it reminds me of how true it is that everyone, regardless of age or background, adds to the complex and interwoven fabric of our society,” posted Senior Minister of State for Defence Zaqy Mohamad when he was at a National Education parade (a preview of the NDP previews, if you will) earlier this month (Jul 2).
NDP itself will showcase a virtual choir, where special education (SPED) students and other people with disabilities (PWDs) will serenade the nation with well-loved NDP songs from past and present.
There is more information on how these beautiful tote bags came together here.
Students: Performance rehearsals since February
This time round, Minister Chan showcases 11 schools, including Bowen Secondary, East Spring Secondary, Nanyang Girls High, and Victoria Junior College during their NDP preparations.
“Said hi 👋 to our student performers and Uniformed Groups before the NE show last Saturday. They’ve been practicing and rehearsing for the SG National Day Parade since February,” posted Minister Chan last week (Jul 17).
And what’s a rehearsal video without a good training montage?
“Lots of effort, commitment and hard work on their part to contribute to our nation’s birthday celebrations,” added Minister Chan.
The SAF and Home Team: Skydives and a Guard of Honour
“The pride of everyone coming together to celebrate Singapore’s birthday never fails to uplift the spirit,” posted Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman the same evening as SMS Zaqy.
Minister Maliki was Reviewing Officer for that National Education NDP preview. There, he inspected the Guard of Honour made up of the brave young men and women from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Home Team. Together with the crowd of Primary 5 children attending, he watched Singapore’s elite Red Lions parachute from up high and land with pinpoint precision on the Padang.
“Onward as One!” Minister Maliki further posted.
That is an apt call.
“Onward As One” is the NDP theme for this year. These are uncertain times globally. So, for Singaporeans all — from artists with disabilities to school students to Guards of Honour to Red Lions to everyone else in this inclusive nation we call home — NDP is a time to band together.
It is a time to build our shared future, and one of many points from which we can rally as we examine what matters to us while we move forward as a nation.
See you at the Padang!