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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Chin

How to Sing Singapore better – Let in the Pinoys!

Updated: Jun 10, 2022

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WE DIDN’T INVITE THEM   I’ve heard them practicing in the park from my study.  I’ve passed them on my walks.  I’ve kept them at a safe arm’s length. What they do on their day off is their business. I let them be, them and their singing… But now they’re in my driveway.

“There some carolers asking if they can come in,” my daughter whispers nervously in my ear.

I peer out at the 8 people gathered in our driveway, smiling uncertainly from under fur-trimmed Santa Claus caps.

Where the ‘*’ have they come from?

In my experience, uninvited carolers are usually members of obscure evangelical churches and have a tendency to harass one’s non-Christian guests after the 3rd song.

“Tell them no thanks,” I say, playing the nasty with no room at my inn.

“But Christmas is precisely the time for welcoming strangers,” my 84 year old father reminds me.

They’re Filipino domestic workers and shop assistants from a church for migrant workers in the city.  And yes, just as I’ve seen them practicing in the park, they’ve seen me at my evening exercises. But until last night, we’ve not even exchanged hellos. Now, they’re in my living room.

My invited guests and my home helpers gather round the intruders

Soon we’re all singing along – born in colonial Singapore Singaporeans, educated at NUS  Singaporeans, returning from university abroad Singaporeans, a visiting Vietnamese Texan who remembers her years in Singapore as the happiest in her life, a Taiwanese American from Queensland Australia, and more – all of us singing, every last one.

I see my helper blink away tears and clutch her sister’s hand. The sisters exchange smiles. The woman from Texas gives her husband a hug.  I lean into another friend.

They ‘re lowly shepherds, my surprise carolers. But like the Magi, they are bearers of gifts. Not just the singing but the magic that opens our hearts and allows tears and happiness and love and memory to mingle in the moment.

We didn’t’ think we’d called for music. But our usually shut iron gates were open, the lights were welcoming and someone’s heart was ready…  “Christmas is the time for welcoming the strangers,” my father had said.


Christmas comes once a year. The strangers in our home land are always with us.

–        Whether it’s Christmas or not, are we ready to give a welcome?

–        Whether it’s Christmas or not, are we ready to receive?

What do you think? Is this easier said than done? Do share. Leave a comment.

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