After three weeks in Singapore, I finally flew back to Buenos Aires last weekend, touching down at the Ministro Pistarini airport on Sunday evening.
When the Emirates air stewardess announced over the intercom that we were able to use our handphones, I turned my phone off airplane mode.
The first piece of news I received was this – a Bloomberg article reporting the passing of Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew.
My heart sank, heavy with grief and sadness.
Lee Kuan Yew’s death, which I only got to know about through an article when still on the airplane, thousands of miles away from home, was hard to take it.
I guess, in that moment, I wished to be with fellow Singaporeans who understood that loss of a man whose impact and influence on both his nation and the world was irrefutable, and cannot be diminished even in death.
His passing is a loss that most Singaporeans, young or old, rich or poor, would personally feel as their own.
(For an updated coverage of Lee Kuan Yew’s passing and the outpouring of responses to it, read the Straits Times’ live blog).
In the past few weeks that I was back in Singapore, essentially Lee Kuan Yew’s lifelong project, I saw the city-nation through both tourist and citizen eyes.
Walking about my homeland, which turns 50 years old this coming August 9th, I found parts of which I identified with, and other parts which seemed strange, foreign and new.
There were days that I simply carried my camera around, waiting for moments of inspiration to spring.
I walked around Arab Street and Haji Lane in Bugis, one of my favorite streets in Singapore.
I took mostly everyday snippets, not the typical photos of tourist destinations.
On certain days, when I was lucky, I’d find a view that stopped me long enough to want to capture it in frame.
I passed by my alma mater, Singapore Management University (or SMU for short), and a flood of memories poured over me.
The last Friday before I flew off, my dear mum took half-day leave to spend time with me and just hang out.
We had lunch at Ngee Ann city, then walked around town and city hall, shopped abit, and later my mum patiently waited as I snapped pictures of this beautiful country in which I’d grown up in.
We wandered around Chijmes, the previous convent compound that is now a complex of shops, restaurants and bars, existing side-by-side with the cathedral.
Looking at the country – as developed and fast-paced as it is today – it’s hard to believe Singapore is barely 50 years old.
50 years may seem long (considering I am but 30 this year), but for a nation’s age, it is really a short span of time.
In these five decades just past, a tiny nation has grown to be among the most important countries in Asia, and an important global influence.
There are many other parts of Singapore that I would have loved to capture, although I regret that I didn’t have the necessary time to do so.
The next time I’m back, I promise I’ll cover more.