Survival in Singapore – Part 1

(Repost from a previous site June 2008)


Diaspora of Filipinos worldwide is but normal and to search for a greener pasture is an over the top statement. Now, let me have my personal take and experience on this specifically in Singapore (SG). This will be first hand info and guide on anyone who wants to take risk.


Been working in the Philippines for almost 6 years in two multinational companies , I’m way pass my target to work for 5 years in PH and move to another country. The thought of migrating to Canada, Australia or New Zealand came in but requires great sum of money and years if not months of waiting. I’ve visited Singapore on September 2007 and I really appreciate how this small country is able to manage to come up with a very good urban planning. Having said that, I left the Philippines and made a calculated risk taking to go to Singapore. Below are the things I managed to do.

  • Apply for EPEC (Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate)
  • Search for cheap roundtrip ticket
  • Determine length of stay
  • Connect with contacts in SG for accommodation and church
  • Prepare means of funding
  • Things to bring


Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate (EPEC)


Going back to my apartment in Cavite after a year-end vacation in Aringay, La Union, the idea about EPEC (Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate) flashed back that I went on browsing the site and fill out the online form. Make sure to have you passport, photo and diploma scanned for the free easy online transaction. In less than 5 days, my EPEC application has been approved. It took more than a month for the hardcopy of the approval letter to arrive in my home province.



Cheap Round Trip Ticket from PH to SG and Vice Versa


Five days after I received the online EPEC approval, I booked my flight and it was a promo. Of all the airlines, Cebu Pacific offers the most affordable airfare to Singapore ( Online purchase is way easier and faster, just have your credit card ready. It costs me PHP6140 for round trip ticket. To make the best out of your budget, plan 2 months ahead or even more. The SG-PH flight will eventually be cancelled or rebooked. To be Philippine Immigration friendly, make your return ticket within 2 weeks from departure else prepare to encounter some questioning by our io (immigration officer) asking for other documents.  Some of them is not contented of you having a return ticket. For whatever reasons they have, I hope a good and clear guidelines be created by whoever is in charge that we Filipinos will not be wondering what to cling on to. Had mine in one month duration and almost denied departure, thank God he made a way. Actually I missed my first flight making me pay higher for another flight 3 days after… my bad.


Length of Stay and Connections

With EPEC, I can process a visa to stay in Singapore for one year under Long Term Social Visit Pass (LTSVP). So it’s all up to you on how long your threshold period is. Though there are other options for you to extend your stay in Singapore for a month or so.


After booking my flight, I contacted some friends in Singapore to look for a place to stay. Practically everyone is renting and having to stay long, it’s just proper to get a room to rent. A room for 2 was given to me at SGD540 (~PHP16,200) where I shared expenses with a classmate from college. It’s an SGD1800/month(~PHP54,000) 3-bedroom HDB Apartment and we share with fellow Pinoys.

Look for a church for this will be your spiritual home and family. This will help you keep sane and focused. I was introduced to Ps. Daniel Chua of Cornerstone Community Church (CSCC) by Ps. Vic thru email and we get in touch till I visited him at CSCC. In turn Ps. Daniel endorsed me to Ps. Hazeil in the Filipino congregation.


Financial Matters


On a 3-month basis, I’ve been spending around PHP25,000/month inclusive of everything needed to survive: rental, food, bills, fares, internet, phone topup/load and others. I sold my Intel stocks and add it to my savings but still not enough. It’s good thing that my brother is ready to support my plan. In terms of taking money overseas, opt to have an international ATM account. I use BPI International ATM card for it is very convenient to withdraw from any Cirrus or Maestro ATM. Compared to buying SGD bills, it’s is more practical to withdraw from your ATM savings account for it cost more in over-the-counter forex. For some who are not fans of credit card, think again. You can save using credit card transaction compared to withdrawing or buying SGD bills, just learn how to manage your transactions. Also credit cards are used in transacting online application such as E-XTEND and LTSVP for these are the means on how you can lengthen your stay in SG.



Important Things to Bring


Globe or Smart SIM, activate your roaming service before leaving the Philippines. Two phones are needed, one for Philippine sim card and another for Singapore. The advantage of your roaming sim is that anyone from Ph can send you sms and call at normal cost. The disadvantage is you spend more sending sms and initiating/receiving a call. Remember every time you receive a call in your Philippine roaming number, you are also being charged horrendously. Check out the rates with Globe or Smart. To lessen the expenses, buy a prepaid Kababayan sim at Singtel and use it to send sms and call any Philippine number at lower costs. These sites will be helpful. 

Before you even think of coming over, invest on a laptop since practically everything done in job hunting is thru the internet. Job posting are normally seen online or The Straits Times paper.  Sending application is thru email or snail mail. There are walk-in applications also. If you can’t afford, borrow from friends in SG. Lots of free internet connections are available either thru unprotected router or wireless@sg.


Power adapter is different. Bring along a 3-prong adapter for you to plug your gadgets. Get all your documents scanned and have some ID photos on hand. Remember to apply all cost saving measures you possibly can.


Watch out for the next part, a testimony on how God’s faithfulness and grace works.