100 Children Recreate Penang's Past Through Music, Dance & Art
DiGi launches project with Madame 'Heritage Heboh' of Penang!
Penang, March 15, 2006 -For three days (on March 11-13), the streets of inner city Penang seemed even more crowded than usual, as 100 school children made their way through the throngs, speaking to traditional tradesmen and craftspeople, while making note of the sounds, smells and sights that assaulted their senses.
The children - from Primary 5 to Form 5 - were on a mission: to capture the essence of traditional cultures and lifestyles that can still be found in the heart of the island, and translate these into music, dance and art. The children are all participants of a DiGi's Amazing Malaysians project, called Madame "Heritage Heboh" of Penang.
Leading them in this exciting journey is Amazing Malaysian, arts educator-cum-theatre personality Janet Pillai. Until July, Pillai will be guiding the children as they work towards putting on a musical performance that will bring to theatre life the pockets of traditional livelihood that are under threat of extinction in quickly modernising Penang.
"This way, the children will understand how Penang has evolved to become the metropolis it is today," said DiGi's Chief Marketing Officer Chee Pok Jin at the official launch of Madame "Heritage Heboh" of Penang, at the English Garden in SMK Convent Light Street this evening.
"By understanding their own past, the children's sense of identity will be strengthened. And they will be able to steer Penang towards a future that builds on and reinforces its very foundations, rather than destroy these organic roots," he added.
Penang's inner city is home to a number of traditional crafts and tradesmen, such as local coffeemakers who roast the beans over wood fires in their homes; joss stick makers; goldsmiths; songkok makers; signboard and tombstone engravers; and rattan weavers.
Janet Pillai has worked with groups of children in the past to raise their awareness of the meaning and significance of Penang's rich heritage. She has been coordinating and facilitating the Anak-anak Kota (Children of the City) project - which exposes children to Penang's architecture, trades, crafts, customs and food - since its implementation in year 2000. She was chosen by DiGi as one of its five Amazing Malaysians for 2006.
"Children respond very well to new knowledge when it is packaged in a creative way. That is why the use of performing arts works wonderfully for projects such as this. By speaking to tradesmen and just observing the movements in the inner city, the students may not realise it, but they'll be picking up new knowledge. As far as they're concerned, they're information gathering for a performance. But the fact is, they are getting to understand their own cultural roots, and that of their friends of other ethnic backgrounds, in the process. And this is one of the best ways to foster closer relationships between them," said Pillai.
In this project, the children are divided into three groups: dance (gerak-gerak borak-borak), music (journey of sound) and art (wayang bayang-bayang). During their "street surveys", the dancers studied the various movements of traditional tradespeople such as roti canai makers. The music group paid attention to the sounds (including conversations) they heard while on Market Street. The artists, meanwhile, have spent the last few days learning how to carve and make puppets.
During the Implementation of Madame "Heritage Heboh" of Penang, the children with put together everything they have learnt into a dance and music production for which the backdrops will be provided by the art group. This is expected to be held some time in July 2006. For the children, however, their journey with Janet Pillai does not end with the project. As with Pillai's previous students, many are expected to continue to participate or facilitate in her future projects.
About DiGi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd
DiGi is a leading mobile communications company providing a comprehensive range of affordable, convenient and easy-to-use wireless services to simplify and enrich the lives of its customers. The company creates value by selecting the most appropriate cutting-edge technology so that customers benefit from products and services that give them choice, convenience and control.
About DiGi's Amazing Malaysians
DiGi's Amazing Malaysians is a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme which identifies passionate individuals who, quietly but with dedication, work towards preserving Malaysia's natural, social, art, cultural or built heritage. DiGi provides resources for these ordinary people doing extraordinary things to share their knowledge and skills with groups of 50-100 children or youth. Most of the projects are centred in rural locations, and the children involved come from the surrounding areas. This way, DiGi is able both to support commendable heritage work, and to introduce children to the rich tapestry of culture and tradition that makes up Malaysia's unique heritage.
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