Sunday 28 February 2016

Flagged: Even if you're not Catholic, you should boycott Madonna for this reason

I am not going to the Madonna concert tonight.

And neither should you.

Even if you’re not Catholic.

Yes, the Catholic Church is condemning Madonna again.

In 1989, it was because of the Like A Prayer music video, which features burning crosses and the singer getting stigmata-like wounds on her hand.

In 2006, it was because of her Confessions tour, which featured the singer hanging on a cross with a crown of thorns on her head and singing Live To Tell.

I see a pattern here.

Her current Rebel Heart tour features the song Holy Water, which is performed with pole dancers on cross-shaped poles wearing nun costumes minus the bottom half.

But the Media Development Authority (MDA) is not allowing Madonna to perform the song at her M18-rated concert here because the segment contains “religiously-sensitive content which breach our guidelines”.

I’m guessing MDA is referring to the cross-shaped poles and pole dancers in nun costumes minus the bottom half.

But apparently, to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, MDA censorship no enough.

The Archdiocesan Communications Office released a statement:
“Many have expressed their concern and even outrage at the performer’s disrespectful use of Catholic and other Christian symbols during her performances.”
In the Philippines, where Madonna performed last week presumably without MDA interference, Catholic bishops called her concert the devil’s work and wanted a boycott.

After all these years and the various controversies, you would think by now, someone in the Catholic Church would have come to the realisation: “Hey, this Madonna could just be trolling us.”

All I am saying is Madonna is the Amos Yee of popular music.

Except she has better hair and is old enough to be his mother.

Or grandmother.

Madonna is 57 years old. If she were Singaporean, she could withdraw her CPF. Well, partially at least.

But despite her CPF eligibility, she can still provoke the church like she’s 31.

In the Archdiocese’s statement, Archbishop of Singapore William Goh “reminds all Catholics that it is our moral obligation not to support those who denigrate and insult religions”.

In other words, if you’re Catholic, abstain from the Madonna concert. Is it still Lent?

Hey, you could go to the Kool & The Gang concert at Marina Bay Sands instead.

Unless the Archdiocese has something against having a celebration to last throughout the years.

The band even had a hit song in the 80s called Cherish — just like Madonna.

Both acts also recorded songs titled Celebration.

So Kool & The Gang are practically the same as Madonna but without the crucifixion fixation.

And the tickets are cheaper too.

No, wait — the Kool & The Gang concert was last night. Aiyah, just missed it.

Did anyone go?

If only MDA had banned Kool & The Gang from playing their hit Ladies’ Night for promoting lesbian parties, they could’ve have had more publicity for their show.

Unlike Kool & The Gang, Madonna doesn’t need extra publicity.

More than 22,000 are expected at the National Stadium tonight. Who knows how many of them will be Catholic?

It has been suggested that in response to Archbishop Goh, Madonna’s opening song should be Papa Don’t Preach.

But this won’t work because the archbishop is only a year older than Madonna. So he’s a bit too young to be her papa.

Like the archbishop, I want people to skip the concert too — but for a different reason.

In every country on her tour, Madonna has ended the concert with a performance of her 1983 hit Holiday draped in the country’s flag.

This part of her show has caused a flap, so to speak, in Taiwan and most recently, the Philippines.

I expect Madonna will wear the Singapore flag tonight as well.

Our law says no person shall use the flag as part of a costume except during the National Day celebration period between July 1 and Sept 30.

It’s February now.

I remind all Singaporeans that it is our moral obligation not to support those foreigners who break our laws.

There is no neutrality in law. One is either for or against. Being present (at these events) in itself is a counter witness. Obeying the law must come before the arts.

As law-abiding citizens, we should subscribe to authentic arts that don’t break the law and not support the “pseudo arts” that promote law-breaking at the expense of respecting the flag.

So if you’re a Catholic Singaporean, you now have two good excuses, I mean, reasons for not seeing Madonna.

They’re better than “I can’t afford the tickets.”

- Published in The New Paper, 28 February 2016

UPDATE: She caved! In the end, Madonna didn't don the Singapore flag at the Singapore concert. She used a blue flag with a peace symbol design instead. Could it be because of this column? More likely it was because of what happened in the Philippines. Not such a Rebel Heart after all.

Madonna performing Holiday as an encore, bringing her #RebelHeartTour concert at the National Stadium to an end. ST VIDEO: ANJALI RAGURAMAN
Posted by The Straits Times on Sunday, February 28, 2016

Saturday 27 February 2016

The Green Race: Bring your own cup & the medal is made of wood

So I ran The Green Race this morning.

There were three categories: one round (9.3km), two rounds and unlimited rounds.

One round was enough for me.

The race started at the old Bukit Timah train station like the Compressport Rail Corridor Run, but it's a different route that circles back to end at the station.

It was a small event with maybe only a few hundred runners.

Weather was not too hot. There were a few muddy spots here and there, but not as bad as the Rail Corridor Run.

A challenging route with steep slopes and gnarly trails. Yes, one round was enough for me.

A slideshow of photos from start to finish:

UPDATE: Here are the official results.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Running at MacRitchie: A look back

With MacRitchie in the news because of the debate over the Cross Island MRT line, that seems like a good enough reason for me to put together some of the photos (and a couple of videos) I took with my iPhone while running at the reservoir.

14 May 2014

I started running regularly at MacRitchie after joining my son for his school run there two years ago.

24 July 2014

The first time I ran at MacRitchie on my own, I got a bit lost and somehow ended up at a bus stop opposite Bukit Timah Plaza.

31 July 2014

18 Aug 2014

What I enjoy most about running at MacRitchie is encountering the occasional wildlife.

5 Sept 2014

At MacRitchie, every year is the Year of the Monkey.

19 Sept 2014

25 Sept 2014

19 Nov 2014

8 Dec 2014

11 Dec 2014

14 Jan 2015

4 Feb 2015

Personally, I think the TreeTop Walk is overrated.

Hard wood. Heh heh.

Bird life.

17 Feb 2015

A view from Jelutong Tower.

24 March 2015

Bridal shoot.

19 May 2015

29 June 2015

This sign is outside the Singapore Island Country Club. One wonders if the snakes are inside the club.

16 July 2015

Illegal fishing?

12 Aug 2015

Watch out for the monitor lizard swimming in the water.

A video posted by SM Ong (@sm_ong) on

I don't obey this sign.

26 Aug 2015

An uprooted tree after a storm.

A video posted by SM Ong (@sm_ong) on

10 Oct 2015 The North Face 100

1 Dec 2015

The most exhilarating runs at MacRitchie are when it rains. I just worry about my iPhone getting wet.

16 Dec 2015

I used to take the bus to MacRitchie in the afternoon and run the 11km route around the reservoir and then take the bus to work. (I work the night shift.)

Later, instead of taking the bus to work, I would run from MacRitchie to my Braddell workplace, which is only about 2km away.

More recently, I started running all the way from my home in Yew Tee to work, passing through MacRitchie. The 18km route takes me about two and a half hours.

29 Dec 2015

It's an Ent from Lord Of The Rings defending the forest from the Cross Island MRT line!