Priscelia Chan wants to spread hope and love to those suffering in silence
Local charity Sian Chay Medical Institute, which has been helping the needy in Singapore for 118 years, will be hosting its very first live televised charity show to be broadcast on July 7 on Channel 8 and Toggle.
The show will feature a gamut of local and overseas artistes, with the lineup announced at a press conferenced held last Thursday (Jun 20). Overseas artistes like Judy Ongg, Anna Lin, Daniel Lo, Sam Tseng, Hsiao Huang-chi, and Fish Leong will be taking part in the programme.
They will be joined by over 30 local artistes, including Chen Hanwei, Desmond Tan, Joanna Dong, Nathan Hartono, Pornsak, Rahimah Rahim, Vincent Ng, Xiang Yun, Zheng Geping, Zoe Tay, and many more. Guest-of-Honour President Halimah Yacob will also be gracing the event.
The press conference served as a short introduction to some of the performances our local artistes will be putting up, from a joint performance with 40 students, to a Bollywood dance piece.
A number of local artistes, such as Priscelia Chan and Romeo Tan, also rolled up their sleeves to go behind the camera to direct a series of short videos introducing some of the beneficiaries who have benefited from Sian Chay’s medical services.
"I visited the homes of two sisters, who are Eurasian-Indian. I was very happy to hear and understand their story in person. I also related to their struggles as they were similar to what I went through two years ago,” Priscelia shared.
When Toggle last spoke to Priscelia in 2017, she shared that she had been feeling unwell since late 2016, and that she was still on the road to recovery. At that time, she declined to share more about her condition. Since then, she has revealed that she had been suffering from a skin condition called topical steroid withdrawal.
"When I met these two sisters and heard their story, although it’s not a life-threatening disease, there are so many people who are suffering in silence in Singapore [just like them]. Although it may not seem like there’s anything wrong with them on the outside, they’re in abject pain,” she said.
"One of the sisters mentioned that she had started experiencing pain after falling from the bed," Priscelia continued. "But, in the five months after her fall, she was unable to find a suitable doctor, and the injury started swelling. [During our meeting,] I asked her if she could describe the pain. From her expression, I could see the panic she felt [when she was unable to find a suitable doctor]. So, I’m really thankful to have the opportunity to help out and contribute to the fundraising efforts.”
(Continued on next slide: Priscelia shares more about her own journey to recovery, and how she’s spreading hope and support to those who are in the same boat as her)
Priscelia shares more about her own journey to recovery
Priscelia’s condition, which mostly affects the skin on her face, caused her to struggle with “burnt, swelling skin” on her entire face. At its peak, Priscelia described the skin on her face as essentially “raw skin”.
“It's not easy going through the mental torture of looking at yourself in the mirror and not recognising the person looking back at you. Sometimes, you have to just pray yourself to sleep,” she confessed.
Eventually, after a multitude of visits to different doctors and trying out different treatments and remedies, the actress found a combination of treatments that worked for her skin, restoring it to its former glory.
After going public with her story, Priscelia has received a deluge of direct messages on her social media platforms, particularly on her Instagram account. Many of them were seeking help and understanding from the actress, as they suffer from the very same thing.
“I shared with them what worked for me, which were looking at my diet, as well as looking out for the triggers [for my condition]. Most importantly, I told them to make sure that their emotional and mental health are good, because they’re all interlinked,” she said.
Priscelia also went on to share that she realised that a number of them were actually suffering in silence, as they had not shared their worries and pain with the people around them. Expressing her surprise, the actress revealed that she had relied a lot on the support of her loved ones throughout her journey, as they had given her the strength to press on whenever she faltered.
“So many people are suffering in silence, with some of them telling me that they couldn’t even fall asleep at night because of the pain. I told them that it’s definitely not easy, but you have to find your hope, that light at the end of the tunnel, and believe that you will get through it, even though every day is a struggle for you right now,” she said.
Another source of hope and support for Priscelia was the discovery of a documentary by Briana Banos, who had suffered from topical steroid withdrawal as well.
“Her whole body was affected, but when she was still recovering, she decided to do some research and filmed the documentary, flying to a number of countries [to do so]. She gave me hope, as well as the courage and strength to get out of bed,” Priscelia said.
That in part inspired Priscelia to offer help to those who are in the same boat as her, opening up her direct messages to them.
“This journey is lonely, and it’s very hard. I still go for TCM every week. But it can be quite a reflective journey, and rewarding as well, if you want to make it rewarding,” she said.
(Continued on next slide: Priscelia on her plans for 2019, and if she intends to dive back into acting)
Priscelia on her plans for 2019, and if she intends to dive back into acting
The actress has made leaps and bounds in her recovery, from being unable to put anything on her face, to being able to apply light makeup now.
“In comparison to what I went through [a few years back], this is really nothing much to complain about,” she smiled. “I'm free to put on any type of light makeup now, and I’m currently waiting for a suitable acting role”.
But nothing is set in stone for Priscelia just yet. "For the time being, after looking back at what I’ve gone through and done, I’ve learnt that you just have to go with the flow. I just want to make the best of what is given to me, what is presented to me, and if I think that I’m ready to do certain things, I will just do it,” she said.
Having just finished writing a script for an upcoming Toggle Originals production, the actress shared that she is open to any challenge that piques her interest. At the end of the day, however, what’s most important to her, is still her health.
“As for future plans, I just hope to continue to stay healthy, to work on myself, and practise self-care and self-love.”
(Continued on next slide: Vincent Ng reveals that he will be performing a form of martial arts that has not been shown on local television before for his performance)
Vincent Ng will be performing a form of martial arts that has not been shown on local television
Although martial arts star Vincent Ng has not taken on an acting role in recent years, the 43-year-old has been busy managing his martial arts school, Wufang Singapore, as well as spending time with his family of three (he welcomed a baby son with his non-celebrity wife just last year).
For his segment, Vincent will be leading a team of students from the Singapore Wushu Dragon & Lion Dance Federation, representatives from the Dance Ensemble Singapore, as well as national athletes He Lin Ying and Jowen Lim, in a performance piece that combines both dance and wushu.
As this is his first time collaborating with the current generation of national athletes [Ed’s note: Vincent was previously a national athlete as well], Vincent shared that it is a honour to be able to take part in the performance. He added that he hopes to be able to pass down some skills, as well as the joy of charity and giving back, to the younger generation.
“This is actually a challenging combination (combining dance and wushu), as the base tempo is different. Dance goes by a count of eight, while wushu is more free-flow, as it changes based on our own tempo. So, we’ll have to overcome this difference with loads of practice and rehearsals,” he shared.
Additionally, Vincent will be showcasing a different form of wushu for his performance, the Tongbeiquan.
“I've been learning traditional wushu recently. What you see in competitions are usually a more modern version of wushu,” he shared. “Just like how people nowadays are more drawn to vintage stuff, I've started to appreciate all these vintage stuff, including martial arts. It has its charms and beauty, and I’ve never really shown this style of martial arts on television before, so I want to make use of this opportunity to show it on broadcast. (Laughs)"
Adding that the athletes performing alongside him will be showcasing the modern form of wushu, he hopes that their performance will be able to demonstrate the contrast between the two forms of wushu.
With the youngest performer being only 10 years old, Vincent shared that it was a relief as the school holidays are happening right now.
“We train about twice a week, and the student athletes are mostly free now due to the holidays. However, there are a number of competitions coming up in the next few months. The two national athletes involved in this performance are actually training in China right now, so they will be flying back for four days to prepare for this, before performing [at the charity show],” he revealed.
As their senior, Vincent also hopes to lead by example, making sure that he attends all the rehearsals and trainings that do not clash with his existing schedules.
(Continued on next slide: What special performance will Zoe Tay be putting on for the charity show?)
What special performance will Zoe Tay be putting on for the charity show?
Ah Jie Zoe Tay has never shied away from participating in any charity shows that come knocking. She is a familiar face on every charity show set list as she strives to instil a sense of charity in her three sons.
This time round, she will be leading a group of students to sing a rearranged version of Sian Chay’s theme song to open the charity show. Zoe will be joined by local songwriters Lee Wei Song and Lee Si Song, who helped to rearrange the song, as well as Chen Hanwei, Desmond Tan, and Jay Lim in their performance.
Though rehearsals had yet to start when we met with the actress at the press conference, Zoe expressed her excitement for the performance.
“All communication has been through the phone so far, but I’m excited for the rehearsals, as the teachers (Lee Wei Song and Lee Si Song) are both well known in the industry,” Zoe smiled.
(Continued on next slide: Mei Xin, Denise Camilla Tan and Fang Rong will put on a Bollywood dance routine)
Mei Xin, Denise Camilla Tan and Fang Rong will put on a Bollywood dance routine
The three actresses, who will be putting on a Bollywood dance routine during the charity show, shared that they had already attended a few rehearsal sessions for their performance. However, they ran into a number of hiccups during their rehearsals, which left them all tired out.
Denise, who shared that she’s more used to hip-hop dances, confessed that she had “broken out in a cold sweat” after their first rehearsal.
“It's very different from the type of dances that I’m used to, it’s really a very expressive dance that we have to embody well,” she shared.
Echoing her thoughts, Fang Rong, who has been taking ballet classes since young, shared that the dance is very lively,
Finally, Mei Xin let on that while they have yet to see their costumes, she is “looking forward to it”, as they will be custom-made to fit the performers.