(Repost from a previous site June 2008)
Paalam Pinas, Hello Singapura
I left the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on March 4 with Cebu Pacific airlines bound for Singapore. After a very bad encounter with our IO, I and Oliver have to fall back and get in line with the lady officer who flawlessly stamped our passport. The flight was delayed because of that encounter. Nevertheless, I was able to leave the country. Less than 4 hours airborne, we finally landed at the Singapore Budget Terminal and queued at the immigration officer for passport stamping. No hassle, nor fuss in SG IO unlike in PH. For tourist flyers, the immigration checkpoint is heart-pounding especially in the PH so better have your documents ready and pray. Nobody’s going to fetch us but because of the good cab service, just give the address and the driver will drive you through. Take note, fare rates after 12MN is double the meter rate. Make sure to have atleast SGD50 on hand or just withdraw at the ATM once you land in Singapore.
After almost 6 months, I’m back again in Singapore and start a new leaf, filed my resignation a month before and on terminal leave until I reached the due date. It was March 5 that my journey started. I’m sure you will be pounding your mobile phones for conversion rates from SGD to PHP until such time that it sinks in your system.
Upon arrival at Punggol Field where we are going to stay, I am famished. It was 2 AM and need to eat something and few steps away from the apartment there is a Kopetiam or Hawker, equivalent to karinderia in PH. All kinds of food are available in SG. Not just available, they are everywhere and you’ll never go hungry. At SGD3.50, you can have a decent meal already. In the malls are McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Starbucks, Pizza Hut and restos found in PH. Big Mac extra value meal costs around SGD6.60. Don’t look for Chowking, Greenwich or Jollibee for there is none (Jollibean only…). To have a taste of Filipino food either cook or look out for few Pinoy eatery. Go to the grocery stores and buy something to keep in the fridge and cook. Some commodities here are of same price in PH and some are twice or even more. If you barely eat shrimp back home due to high cost, now it will be your chance to indulge with the duck of the sea. Grocery stores are normally situated strategically close to HDBs. Some stores accept international credit cards while others accept only local.
Mobile Prepaid Phones and Internet
Two mobile phones for Globe roaming SIM and Kababayan prepaid SIM are needed. I brought my Globe Prepaid SIM and registered for roaming. For the roaming SIM, sending SMS costs P25/txt and receiving or initiating a call costs P60/min. The good thing about this is anyone back home can send SMS or call at normal rate. Reloading can be as easy as back home. I reload mine thru BPI Express Online, you just have to register you mobile phone with your online account.
To do away with the cost above, buy a Kababayan SIM at S$20 equivalent to its topup. Sending SMS to Globe or TM costs S$0.05/txt(~P1.5) and S$0.30/min(~P9) for calls. This serves as your main contact for the job applications. Prepaid subscription here charges at minimal cost every time someone calls you. Always check for any changes or promos the service provides offer.
I normally spend around S$20/month topup. Yes, I do because I have an internet connection in my apartment and also back home. Internet subscription here with Star Hub costs S$44/month. Since Jerry and I are overseas, internet is the most efficient way to keep in touch back home using YM, Skype and IM. This will be the major means to apply for job in Singapore. Also another means to alleviate your home sickness and chat with your love ones everyday all day long.
Buses, MRT, LRT and Taxi
Singapore has one of the most effective and extensive transport systems I’ve seen so far that a need for a private car is unnecessary. SBS is the single bus transport here and you can find your bus number, route, direction and price online at http://www.sbstransit.com.sg/. Two options to pay your fare: coins or EZ-Link card. The latter is used by all and resort only to coins if they run out of top-up. It is a prepaid card at $15 on initial purchase and can be reloaded up to 5 years. If running out of balance, just top-up (term for reloading here) at a minimum of $10. It can even be used at McDonalds to purchase food. EZ-Link card is also use in the MRT and LRT. Buses and the trains operate around 5:30AM till 12MN though there are special buses that travel after midnight from the city to specific areas around the island. After midnight, taxis are the only public transport left but cost twice as much as the rate during regular travel time. Watch out for a Mercedez Benz limo cab for it costs a bit higher than regular taxi brands. Transportation expense is quite high but it’s not an issue because of the excellent services they offer.
You may also check on http://www.streetdirectory.com/, http://maps.live.com/, http://www.map.gov.sg/StreetMap/ or download Google earth for actual map of Singapore plus the street names to navigate the island. I normally use this site when getting around the country.
Support Group in Singapore
Once you arrive in Singapore, you should have had established connections with your friends already. Inform your contacts that you have arrived safely and alive. Faby, a good friend back in college days in Saint Louis University phoned us for dinner at Tampines the day we arrive. Dining with us is Oliver and Danelyn, had a great night of chit chatting trying to catch up with ones lives.
Mentioned in my previous article, it is important to look for a church. Ask your pastors or friends to introduce you to their contacts in churches in Singapore. Remember, it’s not all about job searching that you are in Singapore. Whatever ministry you are involve with in the Philippines, bring it to where you are going. Or if you haven’t had any before, you will find your niche in the ministry here.