09 August 2013

guest post: coming back to singapore

happy national day! to celebrate this special day, i think it's just fitting that our guest writer is someone who has left and come back to singapore--twice! you would have seen his pictures around this blog several times, and i even wrote a special note for him years ago. i think he has been one of the people with whom i travelled a lot with, and really just someone who's always interesting to be around. 

mini temple
dressed like locals in india

apo used to write a blog, that even my older sister enjoyed reading. somewhere along the way, he stopped writing, for reasons unknown (busy schedule, travel?). in any case, i'm glad i was able to persuade him to write for me this time.

without further ado, let's read about his singapore experience!

About Me

The first time I came here in Singapore was in 2006. I was a technical consultant for a multinational bank. I left that job in 2009 and went back home to the Philippines to work for a consulting firm with my previous employer in Manila.

After a year in Manila, I came back to Singapore and rejoined the company that I left. A year and a half after that, I took the opportunity to move from technical work and into HR Operations, which entailed moving to the Philippines, this time in Cebu.

After two years in Cebu, I am now back in Singapore as an HR Operations Consultant for a big German IT firm. I’m only on my first month with the company, but I’m hoping to stay longer this time.

Living in Singapore

I can enumerate a lot of good things about Singapore but what I like most is the predictability of life here. Everything seems to be working fine from the bus and train schedule to my GIRO deduction of my taxes from my personal bank account, just to name a few.

The least I like about Singapore is the fact that this is not the Philippines. I miss home sometimes. That is why I “collect” good friends here. They serve as my family here. One must have a family to be at home in one place.

good times with good friends

It’s a multicultural city. One has to embrace diversity here or else you won’t enjoy Singapore life. I have eaten the best beef rendang cooked by the mother of my Indonesian friend. I talked about cricket with my Indian friends from the office but secretly having crush on one of them. I know where the best chicken rice because of my local Chinese colleagues. I shared travel tips with my Japanese officemate. Right now, I am seated next to a Korean and will transfer to a new desk next to a Burmese lady. Last night, we sent off an officemate from Prague who I shared similar intensity of disgust towards durian.  All this is diversity. Learning other culture is a great experience but one has to be proud of his own heritage

Also, most food here in Singapore is really spicy. One has to learn to love spicy food. This is hard of most Filipinos but gradually we learned to love laksa, yong tau fu, bee hoon with lots and lots of sambal. And yes, the famed chili crabs.

One good place to eat chili crabs is at Chai Chee Seafood Restaurant in Geylang Avenue corner Lorong Marzuki. The place is relatively near Kembangan MRT station. It is my favorite place for chili crabs.

One more thing, learn Singlish lah.

Battling Boredom in Singapore

It’s only my first month back here. I’m still busy catching up with everyone. But I know boredom will catch up with me soon.

Like what I did before, I’ll stick with the things I like doing, such as joining a dragonboat team, planning my next travels, creating my photobook or dropping by Asian Civilisation Museum, my favorite museum here in Singapore.  Oh, there’s a place in Tanjong Pagar where I can hangout, the place is Platitos. It is owned by 5 Filipino young professionals who happened to be my friends. That place would be my Wednesday tambayan.

visiting singapore museums

I guess as one gets older, it is easier to have those alone moments, to just stay and read books or listen to music during extended stay on my bed. Or cook again. I miss doing that.

Leaving and Coming Back

As long as I am still happy here, I am staying but I think my maximum is 5 years. However before this stay is over, I would love to see the pandas in Singapore Zoo, visit Gardens by the Bay and go to JB for Legoland.

I hope my nieces and nephews can visit me here so I can bring them to Sentosa and Universal Studios. They will surely love that.

I’ve left and came back to Singapore twice, but my reasons for coming back are different. The first time, I really didn’t like my job in Manila and I wanted to travel again. Despite offered with lower salary, I still took back the job with the bank that never sleeps. Travel is much easier when I am in Singapore than in Manila.

sg is a jumping point to hk, myanmar, melacca, thailand

This time around, fate stepped in. I lost my job in Cebu and was unemployed for almost 5 months. I would say that those 5 months were the best months of my life. I even called it – the summer of my life. During that time, I was not even applying for a job. My ex-boss contacted me thru Facebook and asked if I want to join her new team. I was already then toying with the idea of doing volunteer job in Africa just like what my sister is doing in Freetown or perhaps find a job in Middle East and join my brother in Doha. I was even thinking of withdrawing my CPF that time. However, fate has its own wisdom. Singapore wants me back somehow. Maybe there are things that I need to fulfill here, like falling in love. J

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