How We Became Bishan

  • 10 Aug 2015
    YEAR 1 TO 6
    Community and Citizenship

  • photographs by Raffles Photography and Art Club

    As part of a wider project undertaken with other schools in the S7 cluster, a group of Raffles Archives & Museum (RAM) students, alumni and teachers launched the ‘Becoming Bishan’ initiative, which unearths the heritage of the housing estate where our school is currently located. With the help of former residents and battlefield archaeologist Jon Cooper, the Becoming Bishan team vividly reconstructed a sense of life in Bishan in the last century through an informative booklet and an eye-opening exhibition in the Bishan Public Library.

    Present at the 11 July launch of the exhibition were the old residents of Kampong San Theng, which was situated in the area that Bishan now occupies, as well as current residents of the Bishan housing estate. The guest of honour was Mrs Josephine Teo, an MP of the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

    At the launch of the exhibition, Mrs Teo shared with the audience interesting facts she had learnt from the booklet: people living in the area did not have electricity until 1969, and Bishan MRT station was almost named 'San Teng station', after the large Chinese cemetery and village that was located in this area. She also revealed that the exhibition brought back fond memories of the old open-air cinemas, the tea houses where people would gather before paying their respects to their ancestors, and of family outings to visit the graves of her ancestors at Peck San Theng cemetery. She commended the students for pouring in a tremendous amount of time and effort into this project, which will benefit not just the old residents of Bishan but also future generations in the years to come.

    A former resident of Kampong San Theng shares stories of the past with young visitors

    Detail of a diorama of one of the small pavillions of the Peck San Theng cemetery

    The many visitors of the Becoming Bishan exhibition

    The students behind Becoming Bishan are Calvin Teo (08S06D), Leong Yee Ting (14A01C), Ying Yilun (14A01C), Ng Qi Siang (14A01C), Carol Yuen (14A01A), Wong Kwang Lin (14A01E), Edgar Yeo (14S03P), Lazarus Chok (14S03P) Andrea Ang (14S03P), Kuek Jiayao (14S03R) and Estee Faith Leong (15A01E).

    The exhibition will run at the Bishan Public Library till 23 August, at Ang Mo Kio Library from 24 August to 30 September, and at Toa Payoh Library till 31 October.