19 Aug 2017
L-R: Ben Yeo,Quan Yi Fong,Vivian Lai,Zheng Ge Ping,Calvert Tay,Tay Ying,Joanna Theng,Chantalle Ng
Video: Genice Ooi
The Thong Chai Charity Night 2017 will return for the first time in seven years as part of the Singapore Thong Chai Medical Institution’s (STCMI) 150th anniversary. The show, which will see a star-studded local and overseas performers list, aims to raise S$5 million, which will go towards the organisation’s continued provision of free TCM consultations to those in need.
Hosting this year’s show are Taiwanese host Sam Tseng, along with local stars Quan Yi Fong and Mark Lee. The performers include our homegrown talents JJ Lin, Taiwan’s Jeannie Hsieh and Hong Kong’s Nancy Sit, among others.
Holding the first press conference for the show yesterday (August 18), local stars Ben Yeo, Vivian Lai, Yi Fong, Zheng Ge Ping, along with the younger generation of rising stars, Chantalle Ng, Calvert Tay, Tay Ying and Joanna Theng, shared with us more about what to expect during their performances along with their experiences visiting the beneficiaries of STCMI.
The only parent that will not be able to share this special moment with her daughter is Yi Fong, whose only daughter Eleanor Lee is currently based in China. That, however, didn’t stop the mother-daughter pair from spending quality time together, as Yi Fong told us.
For more on Yi Fong’s insane food haul for Eleanor, Vivian Lai’s hopes of her daughters achieving her “lifelong dream” and Ge Ping’s suggestion for a family performance that had his children a tad horrified, click on for more.
19 Aug 2017
Quan Yi Fong’s labour of love for Eleanor
It’s no secret that Yi Fong spent almost two weeks in China, and she told us that the opportunity to jet over to be with Eleanor was a chance that her manager told her she should grab ahold of.
“If you look at my work schedule from now till December, it’s completely full,” she admitted in an interview with Toggle. “It just so happened that I had about 10 days where I had nothing on and my manager told me, just go. The next thing I knew, I was on a plane over to Yinchuan, China to see my daughter.”
The doting mum didn’t go empty handed, however. “The place where Eleanor is filming is really remote - there’s nothing nearby except for a convenience store, so I brought everything that I could with me in order to cook for her everyday - spring onions, potatoes, carrots… You name it, I probably brought it over,” she chuckled.
While admitting that she’s not the best chef around, Yi Fong mused that it was important to her to bring a taste of home over to Eleanor, whom she cooked for on a daily basis. “As a parent, you won’t want your children to eat food that has been left overnight,” she explained.
“However, when I cooked dishes like curry and there were leftovers, she’d insist that we keep it for the next day and eat it again,” the 43-year-old continued. “The best way of repaying me was her finishing up every single thing that I prepared for her. There’s no better feeling.”
Photo (right): Eleanor Lee/Instagram
(Continued on next slide: Yi Fong on how she made herself almost invisible while on Eleanor’s set)
19 Aug 2017
Yi Fong on how she made herself almost invisible while on Eleanor’s set
Yi Fong had previously promised Eleanor that she wouldn’t visit her on set and give her unnecessary stress while she was at work. That being said, after travelling all the way to China to visit her baby girl, she went with her to work on a daily basis”
“I wouldn’t hang around the actual filming site while they were at work and there was once a man kept insisting that I was one of the extras, and he wouldn’t believe me when I told him my age!” she chuckled. “To be honest, I felt pretty good about it.”
There was once, however, when Yi Fong fell asleep on one of the chairs that was set out for the crew, and as a result, photos of her dozing with her mouth wide open were snapped by Eleanor, who couldn’t help but to laugh at her mother’s situation.
“There were more than 50 people gathered around and wondering what I was doing. I took a peek when I heard Eleanor giggling and saw them. My first thought was, ‘siao liao’ and I pretended to still be asleep while closing my mouth to ensure that I wouldn’t look so unglamorous.”
After work, however, Yi Fong made sure that she wouldn’t bring work home for Eleanor, and would instead spend quality time discussing other matters, such as the movies that they caught during their 10 days together. This was especially important to her, as there’s no date in sight when the mother and daughter can see each other again, especially after Eleanor starts school in September.
“She insisted on sending me to the airport even though she had to wake up at 3am for it. I was in a rush so I hugged her and told her to be good before I got out of the car, but just before I boarded my flight I received a call so I picked it up and she was crying over the phone, telling me that she missed me,” she shared.
Yi Fong continued, “I had to comfort her and tell her not to cry, but after the plane took off, I was the one who was quietly crying in my seat.”
Photos: Quan Yi Fong/Instagram, Eleanor Lee/Instagram
(Continued on next slide: Chantalle Ng and her habit of bringing strays home)
19 Aug 2017
Chantalle Ng and her habit of bringing strays home
“I remember the first time I brought a stray home - I was in primary school and I can vividly recall how it happened. I was carrying the dog in my arms and knocked on the door. My mum opened the door and the first thing I said to her was, “Mummy, I want to keep this dog,” Chantalle grinned.
Since then, she’s brought back a number of stray dogs and cats, chuckling that her mum, Lin Meijiao, “might have a phobia of me going out, because she will never know what I bring home next.”
Such is her love for strays that she has also fostered dogs from local charity Save Our Street Dogs (SOSD), and eventually adopted two of her fostered dogs from them. “There was this dog that took me almost two weeks before he allowed me to even touch him. After that, he became really affectionate with everyone at home,” she explained.
“However, when we brought him for adoption drives he’d be very wary and might even be aggressive towards potential adopters, which was why we fostered him for a year without managing to successfully find him a forever home,” Chantalle continued. Eventually, he found a place in their hearts and her mother signed the adoption papers about two months ago.
Photo (right): Chantalle Ng/Instagram
(Continued on next slide: Chantalle and Calvert’s friendly rivalry to be the worst at dancing)
19 Aug 2017
Chantalle and Calvert’s friendly rivalry to be the worst at dancing
This time around, Chantalle, along with the other young stars - Calvert Tay, Tay Ying, Chen Yixin and Joanna Theng, will be taking on a dance routine with others as their performance for the show.
“Calvert and I are the only ones without a dance background, so I’d say that we’re the most likely to make a mistake,” Chantalle admitted. She added with a grin, “I’m hoping that he’ll be the weakest link because there’s no way the others will be worse than we are (…) even if I fall down, I’ll make sure that I pull him down with me.”
When we asked Calvert for his response during our interview with him afterwards, his reaction was to holler Chantalle, who was still in the room, “I thought you were a nice person!” His older sister, Tay Ying, chimed in, “Actually, she doesn’t need to worry because she looks pretty regardless of what she does. That’s why even if she falls down, I’m sure that she’ll somehow manage to look as beautiful as always.”
The group, which has already started practising their routine, shared that their choreography leans more towards a cute concept, and that the dance moves are not too complicated as there will be older dancers who will also perform with them.
Photos: Chantalle Ng/Instagram
(Continued on next slide: Zheng Ge Ping’s questionable suggestion for a family routine)
19 Aug 2017
Zheng Ge Ping’s questionable suggestion for a family routine
There was just one Tay family member missing yesterday: Hong Hui Fang, who is currently filming in Malaysia, will not be able to participate in this charity show alongside her husband and children. We did, however, wonder out loud what the family would like to take on as a performance should they have the opportunity.
“Hmm… Pole dancing?” Ge Ping mused, much to the horror of his children. “No way, how can we do that?” they immediately protested. “Taekwondo, how about that?” they suggested instead.
It turns out, while Ge Ping is a qualified Taekwondo instructor, his two children are both black belts whereas Hui Fang is a green belt. “That’s not too bad for her what,” Calvert chuckled as Ge Ping nodded thoughtfully. “I think we could do a Taekwondo segment together in future. That’d be cool.”
This will also be the first time that the three of them collaborate at work. Calvert, who recently wrapped filming on Channel 8 drama While We Are Young, along with Tay Ying, who is filming a Channel 5’s Missing alongside Pierre Png and Rebecca Lim, have not confirmed their respective next acting projects.
“For now, we don’t have any collaborations (as siblings) in the pipeline,” Tay Ying mused, while her dad egged her on, “Ask them!”
A eureka moment dawned upon the siblings as Calvert grinned, “Toggle, got lobang?” We’ll have to keep that in mind for our upcoming Toggle Originals.
(Continued on next slide: Vivian Lai’s dream of becoming a singer?)
19 Aug 2017
Vivian Lai’s dream of becoming a singer?
“If there’s one thing that I’m glad I didn’t pass on to my kids, it’s how I always go off-pitch when I sing!” Vivian bemoaned. “Although I must say that I’m rather musically inclined - I learned to play the piano when I was younger, but for some reason, I can never sing properly!”
While Vera will be putting all other activities in the backseat as she revs up for her PSLE this year, Vivian shared that she brought her younger girl, Ariel, 7, along with her to visit the elderly prior to launching preparations for the charity show.
“I think it’s still too early for me to say anything, but because they’ve grown up in showbiz, I don’t think it’s the right question when you ask me if my daughters will enter showbiz in future,” she chuckled. “To them, everyone here is like a big family and I don’t think they can tell the different areas - singing, acting, variety and so on - apart.”
If, however, she could choose just one area that she hopes that her daughters will one day find a passion for and excel in, it would be the one thing that she can’t do well - sing.
She grinned, “I’ve always thought that singers are really amazing. You have fans coming from all over the world to watch you sing. If they could stand on a stage and experience that, I think they’d be living their mum’s dream for her.”
Photo (right): Vivian Lai/Instagram