Ben Alagnam - MeMovingToCanada

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Showing posts with label People. Show all posts
Showing posts with label People. Show all posts

Thursday, August 23, 2018

New in Singapore? Here's What You Need to Know!

When you're a newcomer in a country, such as Singapore, you must know more on the culture, environment, and especially the law.

Let's talk about the three areas that we need to be aware of before going to Singapore.

1.  Culture

Multiracial and multicultural is what Singapore is known for.  You can see different races of different origins roaming around the streets.  They are tourists, workers, residents, or locals. 

Majority of the races are Chinese people which consist of about 75% of Singapore's population.  The rest are the mix of other races like Malays, Indians, Bangladeshis, Filipinos, Ang Mo's (Singaporean racial descriptor of white people), and others.

During my first months in Singapore, I can't distinguish between a Mandarin and Cantonese speaker. For me, they speak the same language, which is Chinese language. 

As I work with them and getting to know their tone and the way they speak, even though I can't understand the language, I was able to hear words and was able to differentiate between the two.

Every year, I'm excited to list down the holidays, which each race and religion are celebrating.  There are lots of dates to list down and one of my favorite is the Chinese New Year. 

During the Chinese New Year celebration, Chinese people will greet you "Gong Xi Fa Cai" in Mandarin and "Gong Hei Fat Choy" in Cantonese. 

During this celebration, our company will give us money, as a gift "ang pao", in a small red envelope.  Sometimes, I receive a SGD 50 bill or SGD 20. It depends on the mood of my boss. :D

If you're a newly landed worker, go and have network of friends. Go with them and have a little bit of entertainment to get rid of the work-related stress. They are also your support in times of crisis. Help the group and enjoy their company.

Try different things that interests you, specially the food! The food that I like to eat, if I'm craving for a spicy meal, is the Indian and Malay food.   They put lots of chilis and other hot spices in it...Warning! It burns your mouth.

2. Environment

Weather in Singapore is not much to worry about. All you need is a piece of umbrella that fits to your bag or ladies' shoulder bag. It has only two seasons, Rainy and Sunny. 

Weather newscaster be like, "Today is sunny and sometimes rainy, again!". LOL.

I always have an umbrella in my bag, just in case.  Sometimes, it rains the whole day and sunny at the same time. 

Pollution in Singapore is minimal as compared to Philippines in most of the year. But, there are times when there is a haze coming from Indonesia forest fires and is sometimes caused by slash-and-burn "kaingin" by farmers or companies who clears the land for replanting.  As far as I remember, there were haze incidents on 2013, 2014 and 2015

Grass and trees are always green, all year round.  There are lots of park that you can visit to and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Humidity in around 60 to 75%, meaning there's a lot of moisture in the air.  If combined with the warm breeze of summer, it creates a sweat-sticky feeling.

Though it feels this way, visitors from temperate countries love this weather. It's a paradise!

3. Law

I can't talk more about the law for the reason that I'm not a lawyer.  But, I can show you why Singapore is called the Fine City because of the hefty fines and punishment if you break the rules.

1. If you smoke inside the MRT or elevators, you'll be fined SGD1,000.
2. Eating and drinking inside the MRT, the fine is SGD500.
3. Even though same sex marriage is legal in Canada and some other countries, Singapore is not.  There will be a jail term of 2 years.
4. An on-the-spot SGD20 fine if you cross the street 50 meters away from the crossing zone.
5. Don't throw your trash on the streets, you'll end up cashing out SGD1,000 fine.
6. Swallow your saliva and phlegm when you're in public places because you can be fined if you spit it out on the streets and public places with SGD1,000.
7. Penalties for selling gums can be as high as SGD100,000 or prison term of up to 2 years.  There is an exemption on medical gums.
8. ...and many more.

Before going to Singapore, know the rules, culture, environment. 

It's a beautiful country that's why it deserves to have the best treatment from foreigners.  Make it a habit of following the rules strictly, not just Singapore, but for other countries as well.

If you have questions regarding this post, send me a message to benalagnam @ yahoo . com

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Racial Harmony or Discrimination?

There is a photo that went viral few days ago and I can't help but sharing this to you.

The photo was taken from a textbook by a well known British activist Tom Grundy.  It's not just a simple textbook published in HongKong, but a very controversial description of a Filipino in it.

See the photo below.

This is from a textbook for children and its all about racial harmony by the way. It describes each race with their corresponding line of work/status like:

" I am British, I am an English Teacher"
" I am Japanese, I have sushi restaurant in HongKong"
" I am Chinese, Shanghai is my hometown."
" I am Indian, I study in an international school."
" I am Filipino, I am a domestic helper in Hongkong."

Yes, we know that some Filipinos are working as a domestic helper in HongKong, but they are only a part of the thousands of Filipino working there and a fraction of millions of Overseas Filipino Workers around the world.

This is what thousands of HongKong students will perceive that Filipinos are Domestic Helpers.

Is this Harmony or Discrimination?

When I'm in Malaysia
I was conducting a training to my clients in Malaysia including their high ranked managers.  The way I speak English is in American accent since this is what we're trained in Philippines. 

All their questions raised were answered and after the training, the manager said something to my colleague in Mandarin, which I didn't understand.

When the manager came out of the room, I asked my colleague on what they've discussed with the Malaysian Manager.  This is what he relayed to me:

"What is his race?" the manager asked.

" He is a Filipino from Philippines, but based in Singapore." replied my colleague.

"Oh, then he must be a highly educated Filipino!" said the manager.

On this conversation, in my opinion, the Manager might be thinking that when you're a Filipino, you are not highly educated, because he was surprised to see a Filipino training them. 

Am I the only  highly educated Filipino in Malaysia?  No, we are in millions!!!

Does this Happens in Singapore?
Discrimination are everywhere, it depends on the level of tolerance by the government and the masses.

In my experience here in Singapore, I can still see and hear few discriminations by other races but not in an obvious manner. 

Singapore is a place where you can see different races from India, Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, etc...but we are working together in Harmony.

If you want to read more about my life in Singapore, please Subscribe to Ben Alagnam by Email.

By the way, I'm planning to move to canada and applied for a Permanent Resident there. You can follow my blog about Me Moving to Canada.  Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sentence of Illegalities: Fake Degrees in Singapore

People are willing to do illegal things just for the sake of money.  This is the Reality!

I have heard and read few stories about these situations and it really make me feel dismayed.  These people are working not in their country and they know that this is Singapore, where law is the Law!

A Filipino Guy was Jailed

Monday, August 29, 2011

Brushing Teeth in Singapore

I remembered my first few days at work.  Had my lunch at the Hawker Station near our place and headed back to the office.

I opened up my drawer, pulled my toothbrush and a toothpaste.  Spread a 2-cm paste on to my brush and prepared to walk to the toilet  or "Comfort Room / CR" as what we call it in my country.

My boss saw me and said, "You're brushing your teeth after lunch?".   I replied, looking surprised as my boss, "Yah!, of course!"...There was a silent "Duhhh!" at the end of my sentence.

Why My Boss Was Totally Surprised?
"Brush 3 times a day!" is what Colgate advertisements are saying in the Philippines.  From the day I

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Taking A Bath in Singapore is Not a Problem

I went out to have my lunch at the Hawker Station.  As I'm on my way back home, three men came together with me at the pedestrian crossing.  Their skin are black, and having a different dialect during their conversation, which I can't dig in to my vocabularies.

As the wind passed by from their post to mine, a sudden rush of bad odor penetrated my nostrils.  It was an odor that was like having no bath for a week.  The smell of armpit that hasn't been washed for a couple of days. The stink continued to flow to my lungs.  I began to crumple my face, but I felt ashamed to be seen by them.

As the green light signaled us to walk, I delayed my phase so they could go ahead of me.

Singapore Water is Abundant
Singapore is the place where humidity can reach to 75% rH (relative humidity), that means moisture (water vapor) is everywhere.   The water vapor is so abundant and can cause rain when condensed.  That's why rain in Singapore is present almost 4 times a week.

Why did I lectured this science thing to you?  Because I wondered why these people are not taking their bath when water is everywhere.  Every homes in Singapore are equipped with showers where you can bath 3 times a day if you want to.  You can by 3 pieces of soap for SGD2.50 only.

We Don't Have an Available Shower?
Ok, this is not an excuse.  Public toilets, especially at the parks near the sea, have public showers and it's FREE?  You can bath anytime if you like to.  Any other excuses?

Why they smell bad?
I don't think that this is an issue of money.  This, I think, is the issue of self-hygienic behavior or maybe some kind of culture?  This is the problem not only for black people, but also for some pale colored men.  I also encountered it for few women.

Some say that it's because of the spices they eat and the perfume they wear.  But, these is easy to solve...

Take a bath at least once per day with soap, shampoo and deodorant.  It takes a matter of 15 minutes to do that you know!

Have you also encountered this problem?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Planking in Singapore

Some ignores the idea of Planking and others are annoyed with it and calls it stupidity.  This is now the viral photo idea that is now spreading across the globe and that includes Singapore.

Singapore is also a victim of planking and this can not be stopped.  Who cares and who will?

What is Planking Anyway?
Planking is a photo pose which involves a person or a group, with their body and face lying flat on the ground, on top of a furniture or even at extreme conditions, on top of toilet cubicles.  This is like a log drop as you call it.  Both hands are on the sides and feet pressed together.

To give you an idea, see the photo below where Planking was done on different places of Singapore like MRTs and Marina Bay Sands .

Planking at Marina Bay Sands

Planking at the Singapore MRT
(by: sphyrna.wordpress,com)
And even at the escalators...

Singapore Scalator
These are just few samples about Planking in Singapore. I'm sure that more of them are yet to be taken...

Who Created or Invented Planking?
The first man who was documented to perform the planking, so far, is Tom Green.  He is a Canadian multi-talented actor and best known for his stupid acts.

This video of Tom Green shows how he started the idea of Planking in 1994...Enjoy

Monday, May 9, 2011

Surviving Singapore for 30 Days

One Singbie (Singapore Newbie) asked me few questions that are worth sharing to you guys.

What is the Best Place to Rent in Singapore? 
The most essential part when staying in a strange country is the place to stay.

If you're a tourist looking for a job, or a Singbie here in Singapore, that means you need to survive for 30 days.  But how to survive is just a common question, which also you can answer.  I'll explain it further...

You need to be financially prepared.  All money going out of your pocket should be avoided.  If you will rent a room, which is commonly priced as S$600/room, or sharing a common room for 2 person costs S$300/person is quite normal.  This includes aircon (A/C), internet and some tenants includes PUBs (gas, water, electricity).  Sometimes you have to add S$50 for those facilities.

A Chance of a Lifetime
If ever you have a single chance of living with a relative or a friend, this is a huge BONUS for you. This is a chance of a lifetime.  All job seekers are longing to have one, but they end up in backpackers (budget hotels with double decks) just to survive for 30 days.

Please do not show your Filipino trait as "Mahiyain" (Shy) or "Ilang" (Uncomfortable).  This is Singapore...and you must not act this way. Survival is the key and take this all out from you.  If you can't avoid this because it roots down in you, then ask your friend or relative that you might as well share with them a grocery or a room rent.  They will surely say that...

     "Never mind, what are friends/relatives are for?".

If they say so, then say Thank You and just give them some few groceries at random or give them gifts that will make them happy to have you. If you are lucky to find a job, give them a gift of 42" LCD TV.  This will give them a really big smile and thank you with tears, haha!...But, it's totally up to you on how to thank people who helped you when you're down.

What's the Difference if I Rent a Room Without My Friends and Relatives?
There is a big difference if you'll rent a room or common room without them. Living with them or not, you still need to live with other roommates. But, these roommates are a total stranger to you.  You'll never know when your valuable things will disappear, because some of them are Magicians....So, will you rather pay S$300 to stay with them or stay with the guidance of your relatives/friends?

Choosing the Right Place
Do not be choosy in selecting the location.  You are still job hunting and you don't know the location of your future employer.  Singapore is just a small country, easy to travel during interviews and even from the start of your work.  In fact, I travel 50 minutes from my previous house, my friend's, to my work.  Then I relocated to a 30-minute travel.

Be patient, take a deep breathe whenever you hear some foul words coming out from your relative or a friend during your 30-day stay.  Just inhale on the first day and BIG exhale for the 30th day of FREEDOM...

Other Posts:
What to Prepare Before Going to Singapore
My First Flight to Singapore

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Election Day for Singapore (May 7, 2011)

A loud noise echoed through the corners of the HDBs.  A man and a woman's voice alternatively speaking through the speakers mounted on a truck. There were banners and flags waving while the truck passed by the streets.

I was busy surfing at the net when I heard these noises.  They were speaking in Chinese, so I thought it was just another celebration or a party.  Soon I found out that the Singaporean candidates have started there campaign period.

Today, May 7, 2011, will be the big day of Singaporeans.  They will choose the next Generation of leaders to lead their country.  Will it be good for the country?  That, we don't know.  It is in their votes that will carve the future of Singapore.

I have found the reason why loud noises were heard everywhere and learned how they do their campaigning.  They gather their people in stadiums to hear their agenda, and have few banners of the candidates at strategic locations. The street lamps have campaign posters tied on it.

I remembered the Philippine elections when all I can see are the banners all over the place and posters were glued every flat surface they can stick on.

But, this is Singapore, they don't do the way we do it...
Campaign posters tied on poles

400 x 600 approximate size of the posters

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Word Respect for Me in Singapore

Respect, is the word which I can describe the behavior of people in Singapore.  This is what I have observed since I arrived here.

Everywhere you see are people from different races.  Majority from India, China, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Philippines...this is as far as I can dictate.  These people have their own culture and tradition, which you and I cannot change.

Every time there are occasions from birthdays to death vigils, marriage and other cultural celebrations. Singapore is open with it.  Everyone can celebrate it below the HDB Multi Purpose Halls.

Just this evening, some race, which I'm not familiar of, have celebrated something special.  We can hear the singing and some drum beats.  This is normal here, but the best part is, the celebration will exactly stop at 10pm. This is what I call respect...

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