Behind The Scenes, He And His Men Are Support Pillars For NDP 2022 Performers
STORY: Sim Ding En
25 July 2022
To those of us who’ve been part of a wedding “task force” helping our relatives or good friends prepare for their big day, you’ll know what it’s like to make sure the bride and groom are ready for the occasion – logistically, physically, mentally and emotionally.
The relationship between the Show Support team and the National Day Parade (NDP) is no different, and that’s an analogy that LTC Emerson Ang – the Chairman of Show Support for NDP 2022 held at the Marina Bay Floating Platform – immediately makes when asked about the role of his team and how crucial it is to the show.
“If a couple were to hold their wedding and do everything all by themselves – take care of their makeup, the wedding gown, the attendance list, and try to run a banquet – it might be possible, but it would definitely not be very well taken care of,” says 36-year-old LTC Emerson, a father of three (a boy, aged 10, and two girls, aged 5 and 3).
“What we do is to take care of the couple and their guests, and make sure everything is well done. Do the back-end people always appear [upfront] on the wedding day? No. Nobody actually bothers about them. But the couple will know.”
This year’s parade is back in a big way – expect over 2,000 performers, including 1,300 student and youth participants (as performers, audience motivators and make-up artists) – and someone has to make sure they are in costume, fed, and herded from the F1 Pit Building holding area to the Floating Platform in time for their respective segments.
That’s where Show Support comes in. LTC Emerson – who is also the Commanding Officer, 40th Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment (40SAR) – tells us more about how they’ve been on this journey with the performers for months, and the importance of being there for everyone – whether they're nervous first-time student participants or seasoned auntie-uncle performers.
We’re pretty sure NDP prep is very siong. Tell us about your journey as Show Support.
The training started a few months back, and it took place not just at the F1 Pit Building and the Float, we also at our [military base], Keat Hong Camp [at Old Chua Chu Kang Road].
The team that supports the participants – that range from Sec 1 students to PA aunties and uncles who have taken part in National Day for at least two decades – are my battalion, which consists of over 500 people. Of course, not everybody takes part at the same time. There are many groups, so we rotate and ensure that we are able to conduct our own training as well as support [the performers] adequately.
We heard that you’re quite seasoned when it comes to NDP!
This is my fifth time doing NDP as part of the army. My first NDP experience was in 2007, the very first time we actually came to the Float. I was actually doing Show Support, but as a young platoon commander, taking care of Soka.
At the time, we didn’t have the F1 Pit Building. We were all located under the Benjamin Sheares Bridge in makeshift tentage, and the challenge was to keep people as comfortable as possible. There was no air-con!
Actually, when I compare the participants of 2007 with those today, the same spirit is there – the participants are always very enthusiastic, and that encourages us as people who support them to give our best to take care of them, to put on a very good show.
Respect and support goes both ways. How have the performers you support been inspired by what you and 40SAR have been doing for them?
I think they appreciate it, and if you go around [the venues], you can see some encouragement boards. It’s mutual. We write some notes of encouragement for them, and they also write some for us. We do see various social media posts of their own communities, and how they also thank us. And the fact is, when we see participants wanting to take wefies and selfies together with the soldiers, you know something has gone right.
How has supporting the show resonated with you?
Oftentimes you need the right person for the job. The participants are very good at dancing, performing. But my soldiers are very good at taking care of others, the more “hard” stuff, like the army stuff. When we see this, it is very meaningful, because we know we can’t dance! But when we contribute [so that] they can perform a good show, and they feel well supported, that gives us a lot of meaning, and we do appreciate that experience.
Any part of this year’s show we should look out for?
Chapter 5, the last part with the students, is always something that warms my heart. To see how they are willing to sacrifice their Saturdays to train, and then, perform on such a big stage for the first time – that kind of stress! But they manage to do it.
Some are really quite nervous – before they go in their faces are pale, but they are still able to do it. All we have to do is smile at them and say, “You can do a good job!” Maybe a little pat on the back, and they will smile, and are all ready to rush out to put on a good show.
That gives me hope that the next generation can continue the spirit that Singapore has to push on and put on a great show – stronger together!