Fairfield Methodist pupils will miss their Por Por, known for her kindness and potato rice
This report has been updated.
After the June holidays, the mixed vegetables stall at the Fairfield Methodist School (Primary) canteen reopened as usual, but this will be the last month for a familiar face there.
Towards the end of July, the woman who has run it for more than half a century will retire - at the age of 94.
Por Por (grandmother in Mandarin), as she is known, is a legend, and her fragrant dishes are fondly remembered by generations of pupils.
Alumna Hannah Peh, 19, who left the school in 2015, said she was surprised when she found out that Por Por was still selling food there.
She added that Por Por has been there since her mother’s time in the school, which was in the 1970s.
Ms Peh shared fond memories of Por Por’s kindness, and recalled instances when she was short of money to pay for her meals.
“She would tell me to just pay (for it) tomorrow instead,” she said, adding that Por Por would not keep track of the amount the pupils owed her.
Once, a classmate of hers racked up $7 in unpaid bills to Por Por's cai fan stall, but the vendor was still all smiles, said Ms Peh.
For 13-year-old Abigail Hoon, who graduated from Fairfield in 2021, the news of Por Por’s retirement was saddening.
“Por Por felt like a second grandmother to me,” said Abigail.
She added that she would eat at the stall every day when she was in Primary 3 and 4, and Por Por would know her order immediately on seeing her.
Por Por’s retirement is bittersweet for her, because Abigail is also glad that the elderly woman can rest instead of working every day.
A Tiktok video posted by alumnus Kelvin Koh revealed that Por Por has been serving at the school for more than 50 years, and that her daughter has been assisting her for over 30 years.
The photographer and father of five had returned to the school to photograph the canteen vendors.
“She’s a legend and an inspiration to all,” remarked Mr Koh in the TikTok clip, which has since been made private upon a request from the school.
She has for so long been known as just Por Por that he did not know her real name. Others TNP spoke to also did not know.
The school would say only that Por Por and her daughter declined to be interviewed.
Later attempts to reach the school on the phone failed, and it could not be confirmed if the daughter would continue to operate the stall and offer the same dishes.
Update: The school later said on Facebook that Por Por's last day at the home cooked food stall would be July 21.
Referring to her as Madam Ngi, it said she would still be around at the drinks stall occasionally.
Madam Ngi started selling mee rebus, lontong, tahu goreng and rojak at the Fairfield Methodist Girls' School in Neil Road in 1972 and moved on to selling economical rice at the Dover Road campus in 1983.