Little Nonya Theme Song: 如燕

Near the end of 2008, Singapore Channel 8 broadcasted The Little Nonya (小娘惹), a period drama about the Peranakans and its theme song 如燕.

The Peranakans are a mixed group between the Malays and Chinese. They are found mostly in Malacca, Penang, and Singapore. They have a distinct culture, vaguely familiar to the Chinese yet different.

Nonya is the term for the Peranakan lady. The Peranakan man is known as a Baba. They typically speak Malay and Hokkien, a Chinese dialect.

The drama was a big hit and many who do not normally follow local dramas tuned in. I think I saw the first episode, missed the entire middle section, and caught up with the last few episodes. Although I was missing a lot of details and side plots, I could still get the gist of the story.

The ending resulted in a controversy. A lot of people expected a good ending where the heroine gets her man. But she didn’t. It was a little sad but she was not the worst for it in the end. She still married well.

little nonya

Anyway, drama aside, the theme song 如燕 (loosely translated as Like a Swallow) was fantastic. I thought it captured the essence of the culture and era. It can immediately affect the mood of the listener. The lyrics are so poetic, like a graceful lady sashaying, just like a Nonya in her kebaya (traditional costume).

Some have suggested that the song could be used to teach mandarin. I agree. If I was a secondary school student, I would learn mandarin just to understand this song.

The songwriter is a local veteran songwriter who keeps a very low profile. I hope he makes lots of royalties from this song.

如燕的歌词

词曲:陈佳明
编曲:Terence Teo
制作人:陈佳明
演唱:Olivia Ong

愿意合上眼才能美梦无边
别让悔熏乌了从前

也许碎片才能让回忆展颜
何妨瓷花拼凑明天

谁带我寻获幸福的模
却自己谜中困锁

谁为我留下缱绻的天涯
信物是抹晚霞

Chorus:
思念如燕它飞舞舌尖
若是真爱配尝几分苦甜

意念婆娑时间里推磨
追随到何处才结果

燕如针线在青空缝编
几幅女红将以泪缀点

誓言斑驳情雾只是经过
风雨中且让我盈步婀娜

Happy listening, Phoebe

2019 Update: apparently a remake by China is underway. I doubt it will be as good as the 2008 version. There are already criticism about the costumes. 😛