Love was in the air yesterday, the kind that lasts a generation.
At a restaurant in Geylang, 50 elderly couples who have been married for at least half a century renewed their vows in front of family and friends. For some of these couples, who were mostly in their 70s and 80s, it was their first time making such a public declaration.
Said 78-year-old retiree Chong Siew Chin, who wed 81-year-old retiree Eng Theng Sing more than five decades ago: "Back then, we just went to register our marriage. It was very simple. I'm so happy to be able to do this now."
The vows recited yesterday said, "I as your spouse, renew my marriage vow to you. I will continue to love you, honour you, provide for you and cherish you... and swear to love you for as long as we both shall live."
The romantic relationships of the 50 pioneer generation couples, along with pictures of traditional wedding celebrations, have also been compiled into a book, Golden Jubilee Love Stories. One story tells of how Mr Abdulla Tyebally, 79, and Madam Evelyne Tyebally, 80, started off as pen pals before they met while studying in London.
The book was launched by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at yesterday's event. In its foreward, ESM Goh hoped the couple's "heart-warming" stories would inspire younger generations in maintaining healthy marriages and family lives, at a time when divorce is getting more common.
Four browsing copies of the books will be available at the community clubs within Marine Parade GRC and Mountbatten SMC and a few will be in Marine Parade Public Library and Geylang East Public Library as well. They will not be for sale, but the couples featured in the book did receive copies.
Mr Tang Wing Kee, a 75-year-old retired teacher, is hoping to be able to get more books so that he will be able to give them to his five grandchildren. "Each of them should get a copy and then grandma and grandpa will autograph them. It is good for them to remember and to follow the good examples in the book," he said.
The Golden Jubilee Love 50 event was organised by Family Life Champions (FLCs) - a People's Association community initiative. During the event at Qian Xi (Paya Lebar) Restaurant, 47 younger couples also renewed their vows.
Organising chairman Raymond Wee, the FLC of Kembangan-Chai Chee Division, said it took about three months to track down the 50 couples, who hail from all over the island.
Mr Wee, a 55-year-old licensed solemniser who has overseen more than 500 marriages, has himself been married for 24 years. He said: "The most important thing is to respect and love each other, as today's couples have shown."