“We got to decide what we do makes an impact. Anything else is a waste of time. Live with Purpose. Live Large”
Rovik Jeremiah Robert
Co-Founder, The Hidden Good
Woo Bao Xin
Creative Head, The Hidden Good
I first heard about The Hidden Good when I came across their video, Kopi with a Stranger. From then on, I was hooked on to their productions. Fast forward three months (and countless THG videos later), I speak to Rovik and Bao Xin about their passions and perseverance for The Hidden Good.
As they shared their stories, you could see why The Hidden Good became so successful. Rovik was a visionary, who had ideas and visions of how he wants his project to grow and how he envision it could help build the civic society. Baoxin, on the other hand, was an earnest do-er, ready to contribute her skills and time to create the next superviral youtube video to impact the Singaporean society.
The Hidden Good was founded by Rovik and Leon, in a time of extreme negativity as in Singapore. The idea started when they saw how no one was willing to sit on the empty “reserved” seat on a crowded train, due to a fear of getting documented for their act (or colloquially, STOMPed). They figured that Singaporeans were struggling to find why they would stay in Singapore and what their places in Society stood for. With the intention of creating spaces and methods of engagement to get Singaporeans involved in talking about what it means to be Singaporean, and to build the Singaporean society, Rovik and Leon founded The Hidden Good.
How did The Hidden Good come about?
Rovik: The Hidden Good started out last year, when there was this whole spate of negativity, it was then, Leon and myself came together, thinking, there are so many stories of Singaporeans doing good, so many stories of ordinary Singaporeans doing funky stuff. But instead of capturing their stories, people are capturing stories of people doing shameful, or seemingly awkward stuff.
It was also at this point we thought of that a hidden camera show would be interesting. It was something people would likely want to watch. We thought that through the show, we could suggest to people that there is good in society, and perhaps raising awareness of some of the issues. We wanted to fight negativity with positivity.
Leon and I started these hidden camera shows during our weekends, when we booked out; as we were still in the army then. After some time, we realized we were on to something, because we found out that a lot of Singaporeans wanted to be part of [The Hidden Good], especially youths of our age. They realize that they are going to inherit a society that is negative, which is something they did not want to. They want to shape the society; to inherit a society that is positive.
Why did you join The Hidden Good?
Bao Xin: I finished my A Levels, and was searching for something to work on. Also, I am a huge fan of SoulPancake. I daresay I am their super fan! I am really in awe of how SoulPancake managed to grow over the past few years and I see that The Hidden Good has potential to be the next SoulPancake. We are both very cause driven.
Tell us more about your various projects!
tR: We have The Hood Factory, a hidden camera series, with a team of people who brainstorms and pushes new content out every two weeks.
The MP3 Experiment evolved out of this need to bring everyone in The Hidden Good team down for an event. A lot of people wanted to be part of our experiment and we wanted to find an outlet for them.
We also run ON:, a talk show that looks at current affairs, to get people to think about arguments a bit more logically. We realized that people tend to talk about stuff online, without realizing what they are actually talking about. We figure that in order to build a better society we need people to be constructive in their comments. They need to be logical in what they are saying.
What is your creative process like?
R: Our main guideline is basically: concepts that can break down barriers between one another, or shape society to demystify something. We initially worked on very simple concepts.
Our main creative process was always to find ways to address a societal need. We think about what people should be watching and what they should be hearing. And how do we cater our content that would make them want to watch the videos. It is only when they buy into the idea, that we could feed them a message.
Were people around you skeptical of The Hidden Good?
R: Yes. However, Leon and I had a very strong visual image of how it was going to look like and were committed to that image. So when we first started out, we went to Novena and experimented with our concepts. We dropped a wallet and see if people were willing to help. Once we realized that not only will people help, but they help in various ways, it becomes interesting to observe.
How do you think you could impact youths?
R: For the youth activism, we want to become the go-to platform for youths to realize ideas that can build a better society. Right now, many youth led projects are short lived – when the people move on from the projects to their own jobs, the projects die down. The Hidden Good becomes a platform where ideas can be grown. People can come to us to seek for collaboration with various companies. When we have a platform to manage these projects, they become more sustainable and impactful.
The initiatives of The Hidden Goodare were all started by volunteers. What do you think is the main takeaway for volunteers?
BX: Ironically, the takeaway is the importance of giving back. To give back to the society, because all that we have now is given [by the society], so we need to use these opportunities, these platforms to serve and give back; on the individual level or community level.
R: Our volunteers are called Hoodies. Whenever someone joins us, we will try to find out what are they trying to achieve. And if The Hidden Good can match their skills, and the vision with doing good in society, then it is a win-win, because their lives are being value added, while achieving The Hidden Good’s goals.
Why do you think Singaporeans are passive? Is it because of the herd mentality?
R: I feel that it’s the way the society has been developed. The structure is that a lot of things have been given to us, and a lot of issues are trying to be solved at policy level. But, one of my firmest believe is that you need to let people go through the process of discovery; the process of solving problems for themselves. It is only then that more people are involved in building the civic society.
BX: And this is where The Hidden Good comes in, where we show that kindness is innate and natural in all of us.
Any shout outs for Singaporeans?
R: Don’t be afraid to dream. Because when The Hidden Good first started, it was really just a ground up initiative. But now, because of our vision, values and most importantly, identity, we are able to form a community around us. That is the power of an idea. People will congregate around you.
Once that happens, you grow with strength and numbers. One of the things I am dismayed at is people who have great ideas for the civic society, but they feel that either it is not their place, or they don’t have the resources to achieve it. We are actually living in the best time now when people are most willing to support such initiatives.
How can the masses help further The Hidden Good’s cause?
R: Join us as a Hoodie! Just drop me an email to say hi! Or else, you could follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Subscribe to our Youtube Channel too! This is one sure way of getting updates from us! Remember to share The Hidden Good with your friends and family!
– Profiled by Lim Zi Song