#POTRETRAYA2019 | Returning to Segamat: Meet Cheryl Samad and her family
C : My name is Cheryl Samad. I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur and have never lived out of the city.
P : My name is Ng Ping Ho and I think we are similar in that sense where I was also born and raised here. In fact, it was right in the centre of the city. I never needed to go elsewhere for Raya, until I met Cheryl.
Where did your family came from? And how was it like growing up in your household?
C : My family is quite mixed as my father is Malay and my mother is Eurasian with Portuguese mixed in her blood. The family feels like a concoction of different races and religion because we celebrate everything you possibly could think of in Malaysia from Christmas, Chinese New Year to Hari Raya. For us, celebrating Deepavali is just another excuse for us to have more parties together. We are a very close-knitted family and is incredibly supportive of each other.
P : It has always been a Kuala Lumpur affair for my family. We have always been based in the city and I used to lived in my grandmother’s house. Her house used to be located at the Grand Millenium Hotel, in the middle of the the bustling city. An area now known by many as Bukit Bintang.
What were some of your earliest creative memories with your family?
C : My mother’s side used to sing a lot at home. I am the middle child with an older sister and a younger brother. We used to put up our own concerts and every kid in the house had to perform something. Not forgetting, flyer-making to even dressing up. The one song that was a hit amongst us had always been ‘The Sound Of Music’ then. There was always a need for someone to be the host and I, naturally became the host. It’s second-nature for me. So, when I started to work a professional emcee, it was all very organic.
P : Unfortunately, neither of my parents were creative individuals as one was an accountant and another, an electrical engineer. They were individuals who were not motivated to create things. The influence actually came from my family’s babysitter who was oh-so talented at drawing. Both of my siblings are older than me and I am the youngest in the family. One works as an architect and the second brother, graduated with a degree in Marketing but is basically pursuing what I am doing at the moment, trying out different things. It is interesting to see how our babysitter's creativity affected our creative pursuits.
How do you both handle a career while needing to prioritize family at the same time?
C : My work is quite flexible. It leaves me with plenty of time to look after our children. Ping and I came to an understanding that I will slow down my career to look after our kids until they become more grown up. Ping has a busy schedule but is quite hands-on when it comes to the kids.
P : I am no longer directing and screenwriting, and if I carried on with that you will probably not see us here. Making time for family is important.
Describe to us how your annual Raya celebration looks like.
C : To begin with, our pre-Raya celebration is pretty much like everyone else. I always make sure my kids are prepared before the rest. And by the time that's done, I'll realise that I have nothing to wear and that'll be at the very last minute. Stella and Kate are usually comfortably dressed in something they can easily run around in. Once our kids are all dressed, I will start getting ready. Ping, on the other hand, has been dressed in the same baju Raya every year.
P : The story to that is, a few years ago, I made a good set of baju melayu in dark navy colour. After my first time wearing it, I told Cheryl that I am set. I have been wearing it ever since. It is my favourite colour and made out of good quality linen material. This is just what I wear every year. The glittery sheen on materials does bother me.
What is the one thing you always feel nostalgic about when reminiscing about your past Raya celebrations?
C : My father was born in Segamat and I always reminisce about our large gatherings. I enjoy having the time to catch up with each family member and how we will always be welcoming a new baby into the family every year. For us, it is important to have our children be in touch with their roots and see their extended family in a kampung setting.
P : My Raya are her Raya’s. Whenever we go back to Segamat to her father’s side, I try to find my way to Nam Heong, a kopitiam known for their black coffee and homemade kaya. That is something I always think about whenever it comes to Raya.
Do you have a particular song, movie or film that brings back those Raya memories?
C : Menjelang Hari Raya by DJ Dave is an instant classic for me. It always makes me very happy when I hear it.
Cheryl wears the Lily in White.
Cheryl wears a top from ANAABU.
Check out their Instagram here.
Ping Ho and daughters, Stella and Kate wear Petit Moi.
Find more on their Instagram here.