Three Years Old!

Birthday celebration with Chris
March 11 marks three wonderful years since My Johor Stories was launched three years ago.  It seems like only yesterday that I was talking with Chris, my blog sifu, about putting together a blog.  I remember how we would sit in the Johor Golf and Country Club clubhouse after lunch, chatting away while his dad, Uncle Mike, sipped his favourite iced Milo drink. 

I’m glad it was not just talk because it was followed by much action.  With the help of Andrew, my techie nephew, we secured my blog address: and while Chris designed the blog layout and its banner, I compiled and uploaded my articles in the various categories.  This exercise was quite tedious [at least for me!] especially with a sifu who challenged me in the tradition of sifus, to do it with the very little I knew about blogging!

My blog is inexplicably linked to Uncle Mike because Chris returned from the US to be with him and we hatched the idea to create My Johor Stories when we hung out together in the golf club and at Rotary Club of Johor Baru events, which were a huge part of Uncle Mike’s life.  In fact, on the day that My Johor Stories went “live” I was at an event in Kulaijaya for the farewell of a retiring headmistress of the secondary school which Uncle Mike was the first principal.  Headmistress Chong was Uncle Mike’s former student and she honoured him as Bapa SSI in a simple ceremony.  Then as I was leaving the event, I heard the news that Japan was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in a double catastrophe. 

My Paul Harris Fellow certificate and pin
As a regular guest of Uncle Mike at Rotary dinners and events, I was introduced to the members and the club’s community work.  Over the years, I had the opportunity to highlight their humanitarian projects that ranged from various fund-raisers, medical camps, the Rotary Haemodialysis Centre, environment protection activities to the Walk to End Polio events that were aimed at benefiting the community. 
It was “all in a day’s work” for me and that’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I was told that the club wanted to honour me with a Paul Harris Fellowship [PHF] Recognition!

Named after Paul Harris, who founded the Rotary International movement in 1905, I learnt that the PHF is indeed a prestigious recognition and I’m deeply honoured to receive it.  Looking back to the many opportunities in working with the Rotary Club of Johor Baru, I must acknowledge that my friendship with this 62-year old club started with Uncle Mike.  I may seem a bit sentimental but I wish to share this recognition with Uncle Mike who first introduced me to the club.

Close-up of my PHF pin
When I received the award in the club meeting held in conjunction with Chinese New Year, Uncle Mike could not be with me in person but I knew he was there in spirit.  Club president Tan Chee Seng presented me with a certificate and a Paul Harris Fellow pin and as we posed for photos, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a strange feeling that I soon realised was how much I miss Uncle Mike.  

Incidentally, the event was held in an outdoor setting and it was uncanny that at the very moment when I received the recognition, there was a sudden deafening boom of thunder that made us jump.  As we recovered from the shock, some of the members joked that even God was sounding his approval!  I was told that I can now officially use the initials “PHF” next to my name but I’m already much encouraged to know that I was recognised for meeting Rotary International’s high professional and personal standards that were set forth by Paul Harris.

Tan Chee Seng, RCJB president, presenting the PHF
Recognition to me
My posts in My Johor Stories continue to interest readers and I’m still getting emails from readers whom I am connecting with their long-lost friends that were featured in my stories.  Recently I got an email from a reader in Cairns, Australia who spotted a friend in my blog whom she was trying to contact for years while another reader in Australia asked me where I had my spare tyre cover made.  I provided her with the contact info of the dealer in Perth and she just wrote me again saying that she now has one custom-made with her favourite underwater scene!

At the moment, Chris and I are working on taking My Johor Stories to the next level by expanding it with a few more interesting categories.  It is going to take a bit more effort in time management on my part especially as I’m also doing assignments with various segments of Life & Times and considering contributing to other publications, both local and abroad.  Meanwhile, we’ll have a quiet anniversary celebration for My Johor Stories and continue to work hard at presenting more exciting content to please loyal readers like you!

11 March 2014

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