If you think that the crowd at Orchard Road on Christmas day is as crowded as it is gonna get, think again. The Marina Bay area on National Day 2014 was jam-packed with security officers and civilians sprawled around every inch of the Marina Bay, with hopes of catching a glimpse of the promised spectacular firework display- or to simply ride on the National Day hype.

What would typically take a 15-minute walk from City Hall MRT to Marina Bay Sands took me at least 45 minutes… Thankfully, this gave me enough time to observe and reflect on my surroundings on this very significant day for our country.

As a Singaporean who has spent the previous two August Nines at home parties watching the NDP telecast on TV, I was completely taken aback to realise that the Singapore had changed so much within the past few years.

I saw more ‘foreigners’ than Singaporeans hanging around the Marina Bay, almost at a ratio of 2:1. It is not uncommon to see non-Singaporeans around the CBD area, but on Singapore’s National Day it was an interesting sight to see foreigners appearing to be more enthusiastic about our country’s birthday than the Singaporean citizens. Seeing more foreigners than Singaporeans at the Marina Bay area got me thinking — have Singaporeans become so jaded about a parade that has become more for foreign visitors than for the appreciation of locals? Then again, it could be the case that most Singaporeans are claustrophobic, and preferred to spend their Nation’s Birthday from the comfort of their homes, or outside, feasting with their friends to celebrate the special day.

The barricades and signs set up around Marina Bay for the purposes of crowd control made me feel like a prisoner in my own country. I knew exactly where I wanted to go and how to get there. But these barricades stripped me of my will, and forced me to “go with the flow” together with a bunch of clueless tourists and foreign workers.

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The iconic helicopters ushering in the Singapore flag was undeniably a head-turner for every spectator loitering around Marina Bay. As a Singaporean, it gave me an immediate sense of pride to see my country’s flag displayed in such a majestic manner. I wonder how the foreigners feel about this, though – maybe just another Instagrammable moment?

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Me holding up a Singapore flag I bought on the streets for $2. I was attempting to capture the atmosphere of National Day, and of the vast amount of people decked in red and white.

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This struck me as an attempt to incorporate some sort of modern indie element in the NDP, which I personally found very cute. A pretty sight nonetheless!

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Tax money going up in ash”, otherwise known as the mandatory firework showcase every National Day. Captivating!

I cannot help but to imagine how our jubilee year’s National Day Parade 2015 will turn out to be. #SG50 has already been in the making, with various campaigns already being initiated. It almost seems as if this year is just a preview for the big fifty that’s coming up.

Personally, I doubt there will be much of a difference in how the parade is conducted or in its itinerary. What would be spectacular at #SG50 is to see Singaporeans coming together to be “One People, One Nation, One Singapore” as we always hoped to consider ourselves to be. Maybe then, Singaporeans will experience for ourselves what was once familiar to us – a true National Day Parade by Singaporeans, for Singaporeans.

 Photos: Sheryl Teo for Popspoken