Looking Back: A Historical Trip in Singapore

Written by Farhan Nurdiansyah

The 28th of February marks our first History class-centralized trip; A short-lived, one day journey that recognizes the importance of preserving History, and how we are able to apply its eye-opening lessons in our most conventional, run-off-the-mill lives. Joined by Grade 11’s IB History class, and complemented with their 11 CIE classmates, the mass of bright learners (us!) with our History Teacher, Ms. Joy Cabreza, experienced the wonderful city of Singapore, visiting attractions and quite happily frolicking around, before arriving in one of the main attractions: The Battle Box.

For point of reference, none of us had experienced a casual stroll down the depths of one of World War II’s most significant bunkers ever. It was safe to say we were very much fascinated by how much Historical significance Battle Box carried, and how life like and precise replicas looked; Each object and components, buried in the bunker’s interiors, whether they were telephones or even pipes, exuded a comforting kind of archaic, one that us History students heavily resonated with. The tour guide mainly provided preambles of the fort’s bunker; We had learned of the important figures like Lieutenant Generals Arthur Percival and Tomoyuki Yamashita, and how the littlest of their actions and decisions manage to shape the future of Singapore.

It was the location of where a decision for Britain to surrender to the Japanese was made, and was also a transitory medium to one of Singapore’s darkest periods of time. What piqued our interest was how interconnected every aspect of the trip felt. What we learned and took into consideration in Battle-Box was brought over to the next museum: the Ford Factory museum. Despite its car manufacturing connotation, the museum developed on implications of what had conspired in the Battle-Box, and it was a breath of fresh air to meet Singaporeans who were also enthusiastic in their own history.

The Ford Factory Museum had contained the smallest tidbits of preserved artifacts as well primary historical accounts and sources, and it had quite ostensibly, one of the coldest rooms we’ve ever been in. The Japanese obviously had a large influence on them during that time, and what had happened seemed as much important for the current generation of Singaporeans as it was for those who experienced their rule first hand. As History students, we relate well to their sentiments, and the tour guide was kind enough to confide to us how they collectively viewed the whole situation.

The last museum that we visited was the Asian Civilization museum where we saw the rich artistic heritage of Asia in the field of maritime trade, religion and culture through the different artefacts and documents. Here, we explored the historical connections between the cultures of Asia, and between Asia and the world.

We ended the trip with as much answers as there were questions. The museums we had visited taught us much, but we were left to ponder what it truly meant to honor the legacy of what came before us, a prevailing concept that we had encountered numerous times throughout the trip. If one thing is for sure however, it’s that our goals as History students remain unwavered; to strive to learn from it.

Photos courtesy of Ms. Joy

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