Saturday, September 30, 2017

FAMILY BONDING THROUGH RUNNING


Congratulations to Mr Kor Hong Fatt, 85, for winning gold in the 10,000m (Men's 85 age group) at the just concluded 20th Asia Masters Athletics Championship (24-28 Sept 2017) in Rugao, China. He is an inspiring role model for the rest of us.

My son-in-law, Dr Ansgar Cheng, 51, was also in the same Masters Championship. He ran in heavy rain to bag a silver in the 5000m in the 50-54 category for men with a time of 17:52. On his first day back at work after returning from Rugao, his clinic staff welcomed him back with a framed photo of him wearing his silver medal. It must have been a lovely surprise for him. He received another round of congratulations later at the CCAB track from his coach Rameshon (below right) and fellow FlexiFitness running mates.


My elder daughter, Moon, 48, took up running initially to join husband Ansgar and their two daughters, Allie and Hana. But she soon developed her own passion for the sport as well. Now she trains three times a week with the family at the CCAB track. She recently ran her personal best (PB) of sub-1hr in the 10km in the POSB Run 2017. Moon was recently interviewed about her interest in running. Click here to read about how she went from couch potato to running mom. Her next run is the Great Eastern Run where she hopes to up her PB.


My younger daughter, Belle, 46, hates running, but is passionate about yoga, kick-boxing and zumba classes, preferring to sweat it out in air-conditioned comfort on a carpeted floor, rather than pounding the tracks (or road) under the hot sun. If results are measured by weight loss and muscle gain, both have certainly achieved their goal and more.


All my four older grandchildren had an early start in sports, especially in running. At the age of five, they had already entered competitions, starting with school sports, then graduating to bigger races and competitions. Max, 17, was a regional triathlete until recently when he decided to cut back on competitions. He has been interviewed on Nickelodeon. His sister, Reiya, 12, is following in his footsteps, and has turned out to be a budding triathlete with medals to show for it.


Allie, 14, and Hana, 13, have been improving steadily in their PB. They enjoy their training 3-4 times a week, and occasionally enter competitive races. Allie emerged second in the POSB Run 5km Open (for women), and Hana was fifth in the inter-school cross-country earlier this year. I have no doubt they will be adding to their haul of medals and trophies in races to come.

That leaves two more in the family to mention - the oldest (that's me) and the youngest (that's Ryder). I hung up my running shoes a long long time ago, preferring to do brisk walking and line dancing for fitness. I used to spend hours at the gym five times a week in the 1980s. I was a fitness fanatic then. I remember sometimes doing three hours on the treadmill on top of strength training and aerobics.

Now that I am staying with the Chengs while studying for a one-year full time course at NTU, who knows I may just get back into running, or at least slow jogging. Moon registered me for the Shape Run last month, and also for the upcoming Great Eastern Run next month. I am more likely to walk than run, as I have not been training at all. But it's a start at age 69.

Just after the Shape Run - my first road event in almost 30 years! I survived it.
Finally, there's my grandson, Ryder, 3+. This little superboy became a small YouTube sensation when his dad posted a video of him dribbling a football at 13 months. Watch how he fell, picked himself up, and continued. I am glad he still has this trait of trying and trying till he succeeds. He loves to show off his physical abilities, from planking to cycling, and now swimming. He has just started taking jiu jitsu classes. Ryder wants to emulate big bro Max and be a champ and a finisher in all he does. The sports world is his oyster.


As the saying goes, the family that runs together, stays together. It's great for intergenerational bonding, not just within your own family, but also with other families that run. An excellent example is the team from FlexiFitness. The group has grown, and resembles an extended family where the parents train together with their children, and everyone is so supportive of one another.


If you are in KL/PJ, and would like to pick up running, or join a runners group, check out KLCC Runners Group. If you live in Singapore, I recommend FlexiFitness. You won't find a better coach than Coach Rameshon. He holds the national record of 2hr 24min 22sec for the men's marathon - unbroken since 1995.

As more older adults take up running and other sports, the Masters Athletics Championship will likely get more competitive. I am sure Ansgar is keen to represent Singapore again in the Masters next year, and the next. After all, Mr Kor started running at 75. Now at 85, he is still running and winning. Salute!

Monday, August 14, 2017

ELVIS IS STILL IN THE BUILDING!

What an evening it was at the Elvis 40th Anniversary 'All Shook Up' tribute last Friday 11 August 2017. The ballroom at Serangoon Gardens Country Club shook, rattled and rolled to Jailhouse House Rock and Love Me Tender, and all the hits from an era beloved by the baby boomers all decked out for a rollicking good time. And that they certainly did, thanks to Jimmy Preslee Productions. They brought in four top Elvis Tribute Artistes (ETA) from Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines to entertain the audience, together with two ETAs from Singapore.

I first heard about the event from a good friend Dr Pok Tham Yien from Johor Baru. I have always been an Elvis fan. Of course I wouldn't want to miss the event but tickets were already sold out weeks in advance. Yes, Elvis still lives on in the hearts of his legions of devoted fans. I can't think of anyone in the music pantheon that has left behind such a global following, one that has remained undiminished long after their demise.

Preslee Productions' very first Elvis Tribute was a roaring
success, and paved the way for subsequent tribute concerts.
As luck would have it, Jimmy Lee, the organiser, turned out to be from my hometown Batu Pahat, and my cousin's ex-classmate at BP High School. He called me up with the good news that Judy, his lovely wife, had a ticket for me. One of her friends couldn't make it for the event. We met up at Sim Lim food court on 31 July.  It was over lunch that I discovered how Jimmy Preslee Productions (JPP) came into being.

It all started in 2009 with Jimmy's love of karaoke, especially singing Elvis songs. One thing soon led to another, and he was invited to perform alongside other Elvis performers in Hongkong, Manila and Penang. To cut a long fascinating story short, Jimmy saw the demand for such shows. So he became a show agent and in 2014 organised the inaugural tribute 'Elvis is Back in the Building' under Jimmy Preslee Productions (JPP). It drew such overwhelming response that it has become a JPP staple to feature two Elvis tribute events a year.

Here's a snapshot of the recent 'All Shook Up' Elvis 40th Anniversary Tribute:

A sold-out event. Can't go wrong with an Elvis tribute. Baby boomers love songs that bring back fond memories of the 1960s era.
(Left & right) NONIE ELVIS YAMBAO from Philippines and ELVICH PHATIHATAKORN from Thailand (centre). Below: TITUS CHEONG from Singapore


JIMMY PRESLEE from Singapore, JUDY CHONG LEE (yes, Jimmy's lovely wife emcees and sings too), and HANCHE PRESLEY from Indonesia 
Close-up of the three Elvis ETAs (Photo credit: Judy Chong Lee)
Judy and Jimmy Preslee
~ the driving force behind JPP
I asked Judy what is the difference between an Elvis impersonator and an Elvis artiste? Her quick reply: 'Elvis impersonators usually exaggerate and do some clowning around. ETAs don Elvis outfits and try to sing Elvis songs just like the King himself.' Ok. Got it. ETAs are serious professionals whose mission is to keep alive the legacy of Elvis Presley through songs and concerts. I have listened to many ETAs over the years, and I must say some of them are really incredible. They sound and look almost like the King himself.

Judging from the enthusiasm of the audience, especially the ladies, it was an evening to remember - a marathon singalong and dancethon. These baby boomers sure know how to have a fabulous time!

These ladies definitely have Happy Feet. They kept the energy and fun level high the entire evening. A tough act for the guys to follow!



(Jimmy's video above by Oei Seok Cheng. Thanks, Seok Cheng.) 

The ETAs were not the only ones on stage. The good-looking duo of ELVICH and KNIGHT PHATIHATAKORN from Thailand were a big hit with the ladies. They sang 'Let It Be Me' and 'Sound of Silence' and had the ladies literally swooning!


Special mention must be made of the band BABY BOOMERS, also called the Philippines Elvis Band. They provided excellent backup for all the singers and performed a couple of songs on their own too. On keyboard is band leader Lui Simbulan, with Gerry Yap on lead guitar, Bork De Leon on bass guitar and Tim Ponce on drums. Both Gerry and Bork sing in the band.


As I made my way around the ballroom, what caught my roving camera eyes were the many gorgeous ladies of Singapore. Here are pictures of some of them, all taken with their knowledge and permission. It is invariably the ladies who determine the success (or failure) of a dinner and dance event. If the ladies don't dance because the music is terrible, the event is heading for one big yawn.

Some of the lovely ladies I spotted in the ballroom. Too many photos to post all here.
One of the guys that caught my attention...for the tee he was wearing :-)

The first of two tributes this year. This one was
in March 2017.
This is the second Elvis tribute this year, so that means Elvis fans in Singapore will have to wait till 2018 for the next one. I am sure JPP is up to the challenge of giving loyal Elvis fans another unforgettable tribute as successful as, or perhaps even more successful than 'All Shook Up', if that is possible. If you are a die-hard fan and can't wait, make your way up to Kuala Lumpur. I hear there are Elvis tribute shows this weekend. Check out our SeniorsAloud FB page for more details.

Ladies (and guys), if you are reading this and would like to learn line-dancing or join a line dance group in Singapore, I can put you in touch with Judy. Contact me at 012-3068291 (only whatsapp messages, please). For Kuala Lumpur/PJ, I can recommend my club that teaches line dancing and ballroom dancing as well. As my cousin Lawrence puts it, "At our age, we should be rocking around the clock!" Agree absolutely, Life is for living, not for existing.

And to Jimmy and Judy: don't keep us waiting too long for the next Elvis tribute, or he will have left the building!