I met Jackie Chan twice – the first time, at Orchard Cine-leisure and the second, at the National Library.

Both times, I found him to be simply charming.

The mega movie star was in Singapore last year for the premiere of the Police Story sequel. The cinema lobby, which was cordoned off…

…was jam-packed with important personages including local television stars.

Outside, a huge crowd was waiting patiently to catch a glimpse of him. When he arrived, the people jostled to get a better view of him; some lucky ones got to touch his hands.

I had to be the luckiest of them all.

Jackie approached me when he chanced to see me. With a smile that would make many young ladies swoon, he shook my hand, squatted and spoke with me like we were old friends.

Last Sunday, I met him again at a panel discussion on the future of Asian cinema organised by the National Library Board.

Despite the audience waiting for him, he spent some time talking to me and autographing a few of his DVDs which I brought along.

I was especially touched by his excitement when he saw me at the carpark after the event. He asked his driver to stop the vehicle just to shake my hand and bid me farewell.

I cannot believe that such a high-flying superstar can be so down-to-earth.

Instead of being aloof and snobbish, he has chosen to be humble, friendly and nice. Why? He understands that, without his fans, he is nothing. It is they who make him a superstar.

He pointed out during the forum that there are many stars in Korea, most of whom are not known outside the country. Therefore, it is the people who make them what they are.

Jackie’s friendly disposition is his way of showing his appreciation for the support he received. That may also be another reason why he remains among the top actors while many in his ranks have fizzled out.

There was another interesting point brought up by Jackie during the discussion. He felt that everyone must support his own culture so that it can thrive. He regretted that the young today know more about Batman than the Monkey King.

I share his thoughts as it is we who will decide if our culture lives or dies. If we continue to accept Western culture at the expense of ours, then we will lose our distinct heritage.

Our culture is important to us. It defines us. It is our unique identity. If we lose our culture, we lose our values and beliefs. It is in our interest to retain our respective cultures so that future generations can benefit too.

The current state of affairs does not seem to be encouraging as most youngsters do not appreciate the beauty of their cultures. They prefer to adopt whatever culture is trendy and cool.

As Singapore is a cosmopolitan city-state, it can be a challenge to keep our rich mixture of colourful cultures. But keep it, we must.

Going further, I think we should also be proud of everything local and support it. Watch local plays and shows. Buy locally-produced sculpture and paintings. Read books authored by Singaporeans.

Don’t be too concerned about quality and standards. They will improve with help, encouragement and time.

If we do not give full support to our own people and make them stars, who will? But when they become stars, I hope that they will not forget us.

(This journal entry was published on 15 September 2005 of TODAY)