Alan Siung is back with the band called Touchdown. -  Mark Lyndersay
Alan Siung is back with the band called Touchdown. - Mark Lyndersay


My name is Alan Siung and I am a respiratory physiotherapist.

We moved a lot – from Arima to San Fernando to Maraval to Diego Martin, to America – but I’d say I’m from Victoria Gardens in the West.

I’m married to Catherine Adam, a family physician.

Our eight-year-old son is Callum. My mother-in-law is Scottish.

I really came up Anglican, but my grandmother switched over to Christian Science. So I knew a bit about that, too.

I went to Trinity Junior School and Trinity College in Moka. I repeated O-Levels at St Anthony’s, right behind Victoria Gardens. I used to cross the Diego Martin dry river on my bike and go over to school.

I do believe – and really hope – there is an afterlife. I don’t want to believe that when I’m gone, I’m just nothing, forever!

And life just goes on. I always thought life was like a movie that’s gonna end – but then you start again.

Nobody knows. Nobody ever went and came back. Except Jesus. If you are to believe in him.

I’m back in Maraval again.

Our whole family – mom, dad, sisters, grandmother – moved to the States. I was there 17 years before I came back. I was just turning 21 when we moved to Florida.

My Trini girlfriend couldn’t stay in the US when she was done school, so I came back to Trinidad with her. That’s when I joined this Trinidad rock band, Touchdown.

We got married. I moved back to Trinidad alone in 1998 after we got divorced.

I was 55 when my son was born. Me and my son do
together. And there’s a good reason for that: because I didn’t have the same relationship with my father. Men back then had a fixed image of what a man was supposed to be. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be – but I do know what I am!

My father was 87 when he died, and up until maybe two years before he died, we had (a strained relationship).

My father didn’t think I would ever amount to much. That was a part of the tension between us.

Living in the States and just having O-Levels, it was difficult to have a good-paying job. So when I told him I was going to go back to school when I was 32, his attitude was, “Six months and then you’ll probably drop out!”

I worked in the day and went to school at night.

And the funniest thing was, I went to visit him at Christmas 2019 – and I never visited them at Christmas, but the year before covid, I thought, “My parents are getting older, I’m going to go.” The year before he died.

I went to his house and found he was short of breath and looking like he was labouring to breathe. I did a quick assessment of him and found he was actually in cardiac distress. He was in heart failure. I sent him to hospital right away.

My father spent a week in hospital and I spent every night with him, slept in the room with him, and he was able to get back home two days before I left. From that moment, everything changed between us. He said, “You saved my life, boy!”

The job he had ridiculed and the child least likely to succeed was the one who ended up saving his life.

He eventually died of prostate cancer.

I grew up going to all Colonel & Company’s shows. Another huge influence was Ivory, when they came to Trinidad as The Merriboys (sons of Barbados’ well-known Merrymen). They came to play at Country Club. I was 13, 14 and thinking, “I have to get into this kind of world somehow!” I picked up a guitar.

It wasn’t like YouTube today, where you get all these lessons for free. We had to figure things out for ourselves.

Touchdown was a big part of my life, I think the most enjoyable part of my life. When I left the band and went back to the States to live, I think it was the biggest mistake I ever made. But you learn from your mistakes and something else comes out of it.

I’m back with Touchdown. We have a studio and record all the time. I hope to play live with them one day again. Colonel & Company are having their second reunion gig and we haven’t even done one yet!

My most memorable Touchdown show was at Lions’ Civic Centre with only soca artistes. After seeing the crowd, one of the promoters said to us, “You all sure you want to play? Cause it’s a different crowd. And you all play rock and roll.”

Alan Siung photographed at his office in St James. - Mark Lyndersay

After the first song, there was silence. But, as the night went on, we got that crowd on our side. It ended up being such a good show, everybody started to rave.

Music can go places you don’t think it can. It can take people beyond what they see and how they feel about people.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I decided to go back to school. I didn’t want to get a business degree I wouldn’t use.

I applied to nursing, physiotherapy and respiratory therapy, and respiratory therapy accepted me first.

I came back to Trinidad on vacation and met Dr Tim Gopeesingh, the Health Minister, at the Verandah restaurant, and Phyllis Vieira introduced us. He told me we needed people like me and I should come back.

I worked another year in the US and decided to come back.

My plan was always to come back to Trinidad after I got divorced. Respiratory physiotherapy was the way for me to do that.

The best part of my job is that 90 per cent of patients go home well. I do all the physiotherapy for people who’ve had bypass surgery. I see them when they come in and 75-80 per cent are really scared. It’s major surgery, very invasive.

I do a pre-surgical assessment and explain exactly how the physio is going to help them. I try to reassure them it’s going to be okay.

I have two visits with patients every day and I see the progress as they start feeling better about having the surgery. And then they get to go home.

And then they come back for a follow-up – and they’re well! And really happy to have done the surgery.

And I’m really happy to be part of the team that can help somebody, not just with the surgery and their recovery, but with their mental outlook.

The bad part of my job is the patients who don’t make it.

With premature babies, instead of the big, forearm-long massager we use with adults, to loosen mucus in the lungs, we have to use an electric toothbrush. And a baby bottle nipple. To give the premature babies a back massage. Because they’re so small!

It’s very heart-wrenching sometimes.

To me, a Trini is all the things people say we are – we like to party, we like the beach, we like doubles. But I think Trinidad is very much the opposite of America.

There are a lot of different cultures in America. But all those cultures are always kept separate. We bring everybody into one. We don’t have a section for the Chinese and a section for the Indians. That melting pot is what a Trini is: a part of a very big picture.

You always know where you’re comfortable and where your place is. This is my place. Trinidad and Tobago is my home.

Read the full version of this feature on Friday evening at

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