10 Facts Singapore Bound OFWs Should Know

Filipinos have been working in the Lion City of Singapore for decades. Singapore is familiar with Filipinos and Filipinos have been incorporated into the community in a harmonious way. For OFWs looking to work abroad and find jobs in Singapore, here are 10 things to know about Singapore before heading there.

1. Singapore is a Haven for Filipino Food

For Filipinos who go to the Lion City to workabroad, Singapore cuisine is synonymous to hawker style food, satay, Hainanese chicken, and carrot cake. What most OFWs don't know is that there are staple Filipino favorites right next to your flat or workplace. OFWs can easily find fast food giant Jollibee and get their fill of Chicken Joy along Orchard Road. Popular restaurant chains like Gerry's Grill and Tapa King can easily be reached in the island of Singapore. The most popular Filipino restaurant is 7,107 Flavours, referencing the 7,107 islands that make up the archipelago, found in Marina Square. It serves dishes like Lechon, roasted on a fire spit, with all the fixins like in a traditional Pinoy Fiesta.

2. Singapore is a "Fine" City

Singapore is a Fine City, clean, relatively crime-free and this could be due to the tons of rules that non-locals need to be aware of to avoid fines. Everything from chewing gum, smoking to public vandalism can see one getting fined thousands of Singapore Dollars and possible arrest. Some of the more out there rules are looking suspicious in the metro (which can get you a $500 fine), cuddling in public (which can garner you almost a year stay in prison) and same sex relationships (which can leave you in prison for almost two years).

3. Singapore's first language is known as Singlish

The different official languages of Singapore are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil; however, for most Filipinos who workabroad in Singapore, they notice that the main language spoken is English, but a different kind of English. Singaporean English, more popularly known as Singlish, originates from British English, since Singapore was once a British colony. While most find it difficult to understand Singlish as it can be very fast, it's standard English with borrowed words from Chinese, malay and Indian languages. Most Singaporean speak 3 or 4 languages, the main reason why Singlish is the primary dialect spoken for casual and everyday conversation. For OFWs fresh in Singapore, it's best to listen carefully and not be afraid to ask a local to repeat a sentence. 

4. Singapore has a strong Filipino Community

Thousands of Filipinos have gone to work abroad in Singapore since 2004. By 2014, more than 170,000 Filipinos live and work in Singapore, some even working in professional positions in reputable companies. A major stronghold of the Filipino Community in Singapore is the Church community. Parishes like the Cornerstone Community Church hold regular mass in Tagalog and even have support groups for Filipinos looking to make new friends and meet fellow kababayans. Artists and bands from the Philippines also often go to Singapore to have concerts for the Filipinos working in Singapore, a regular past time for OFWs. The hangout where most Filipinos go to is Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road, dubbed the overcrowded Filipino mall, as items there are sold cheap, in bulk and reminiscent of markets found in the Philippines.

5. Affordable Places to Live in Singapore

Singapore is known for beautiful structures, fabulous food and great shopping in the major districts of the city; however, for OFWs who will reside in Singapore, rent is expensive in those areas. One of the more affordable locations to live in is the East Coast area where rent starts at around SGD 3500 for an older condo unit and SGD 5000 for a new one. The area is a favorite among expatriates for the lush parks and for being close to the beach. Another affordable location is on the other side of the island, West Coast where rent starts at SGD 3000. This is the perfect location for OFWs working near Jurong Industrial Town. Lastly, north of the island at Ang Mo Kio, Tao Payoh, Woodland and Yishun, rent starts at around SGD 2500 at these residential towns. While it may be quite far, these towns are just a train away via the Orchard Road Station and near the Malaysian Border to buy everyday goods for cheap.

6. Singapore holidays

What most Filipinos look forward to are holidays. The Philippines have numerous holidays that encompass different events such as Chinese New Year, Independence Day and even religious holidays. Singapore is different as it's a multi-religious country with numerous nationalities. Holidays in Singapore are like Vesak Day in May, Hari Raya in July and September, as well as, Deepavali during November. 

7. The Great Singapore Sale

One of the major highlights of the year for most is the Great Singapore Sale (GSS). The Great Singapore Sale spans the end of May to July and is when tourists flock from all over the world to take advantage of the awesome discounts and low-priced designer goods. The GSS has tons of deals such as partnerships with Mastercard and different online payment partners. OFWs can make the most out of GSS with great discounts coming from brick-and-mortar shops, giant shopping plazas and Orchard Road becomes a parade of people. This is the time to buy "pasalubong" for your friends and family back in the Philippines.

8. Singapore Weather is a lot hotter than the Philippines

OFWs are used to Philippine weather; hot, humid with abundant rainfall in certain times of the year. The Philippines faces two seasons, sunny and the rainy season. For OFWs working in Singapore, the weather is no different except that there is no distinction between the rainy and dry season. Singapore is affected by the Northeast Monsoon from December to May, which leads to frequent rain showers. The Southwest Monsoon, on the other hand, from May to September leads to a dryer climate and has early-morning rain showers. Even if Singapore is hot, an umbrella and a light jacket is needed

9. Singaporeans can be very Straight-to-the-point

One big difference with personality between Filipinos and Singaporeans is how they view work. Filipinos, in general, promote harmony and avoid confrontation, in lieu of productivity. Singaporeans, on the other hand, are straight-to-the-point and sacrifice harmony in favor of results. 

10. Singaporeans have been labeled the World's Least Emotional People

A Poll by Gallup, an American-based research and management consulting company, displayed information showing that 36% of Singaporeans express emotions, whether happy or sad, naming them the least emotional people. 60% of Filipinos, on the other hand, express emotions, marking them as the most emotional people in the world. With the vast difference in personalities, OFWs should be prepared for the different way of interactions with Singaporeans.