Ben Alagnam - MeMovingToCanada

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Showing posts with label Work. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Work. Show all posts

Monday, January 7, 2019

Health Issues and Options for Overseas Foreign Workers in Singapore

From the streets of Jurong West 64 to the Pioneer Rd North, down to Boon Lay Way up to Jurong Point Mall, that was my route while walking to get out of sadness.

I did it almost everyday, for a year. My body weight dropped from 190lbs to ideal. My body structure was at the right statistics, but my mind was unhealthy.

That’s right, I felt lonely and sad for the two reasons, which I wanted to share in this post.

As an overseas foreign worker in Singapore, I know how it feels to be in this situation. Wherever we are in this planet, we feel the same way. Specially if we left our family behind in our country.

The scene of me hugging my 9 and 3 year-old son was dwelling on my mind while walking the kilometres. My wife, which I dearly missed, was always in my heart, longing for her physical care.

I miss them a lot!

Effects of Constant Stress 
Although I have those friends who invited me for DOTA, a computer game where players fight each other through medieval themed creatures, I still have issues sleeping after the game.

When going home after a good game, I prepare to sleep by looking at the ceiling for several hours until I shut my eyes at 3am. The daily routine and habit irritated my stomach, literally.

I started to feel a pain in my stomach regardless of when I'm hungry and full.

As soon as I swallow the food, I can feel it rubbing my esophagus and down to my stomach. Pain starts to trigger my nerves, giving me a head start to curl my body because of the unbearable pain. 

The Doctor said that my gallbladder releases significant amount of bile, which goes back to my stomach lining, thus irritating it. “Are you stressed?”, he calmly asked. He said that this kind of symptoms occur if so much production of bile is found in the stomach lining, is when you’re stressed.

Why Am I Stressed Out?
Then I realized that I was so stressed for years due to the constant anxiety regarding my permanent residence application to Canada and eagerness to be reunited with my family in the Philippines.

The constant communication through social media and Skype was not enough to pacify my sadness. I was given prescriptions from the doctor and even consulted with the Chinese herbal doctors in Jurong.

The medicines helped me for a while but my gastritis was getting worse. The constant checking of the flights to Philippines and looking at the reminders from the airline email notifications became my daily habit.

I was so eager to go back to Philippines. If only I could go back once a week, I will. I thought of starting a business there however it takes me, just to be physically present with my family. I was about to give up my perfect job in Singapore. My wife may have gone deaf by my constant rants and complaining about my lonely lifestyle.

The Great News!
This is who I am! I’m one of the persons who treat family as comfort regardless of location. I believe that most of us do. Without them, I will be weak and feeling worthless and sad.

I’ll be constantly anxious if my boss in Singapore plans a trip for me to visit our customers in Southeast Asia countries. For others, it’s a perfect assignment, for me, it’s another days of loneliness. 

One day, the pain that I’m going through was diminished by a one single email. I was at the airport, waiting to board my flight to Philippines, when I saw the email. It came from the office of the Canadian Embassy. It stated that our Canada Permanent Residence application were approved.

They requested to submit our passports for Visa stamping. It seemed that the whole world, for me, is rejoicing. After all the hardships, loneliness, anxiety, and etc.., will finally put to end. I can now hug my sons and wife everyday.

That was four years ago and seems like yesterday. Looking back at the memories make me grateful of what we have today. We know that working and living away from our loved ones is sad. Still, we do it for so many different reasons.

I get it! But, do we need to stay in that situation for a long time?

Other Options 
I was so glad that I applied for a permanent residency in Canada. If it’s not for this country, I will never be with my family and have the same lifestyle in a first world country.

While you are young and capable of doing other things than sacrificing the joy with your loved ones, start finding ways on how to be with them. There are other countries that offers residential stability.

Grab the opportunity! It’s time to change things to the better.

Did you experience the same or similar issue?

Ask questions on how to immigrate to Canada. There are many immigrants that can provide you information about their experiences.

Join forums and network with people like the community at

Monday, May 14, 2018

From OFW in Singapore to a Permanent Resident in Canada

Moving to Canada as a permanent resident is my long-time dream.  The thought of being in Canada with my family and become a citizen was always in my mind.

Working in the Philippines 
It was 15 years ago, when I was single and working in a manufacturing company in Laguna, Philippines.  Me and my colleague Mike, were busy printing the forms for Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program (MPNP) back then. We were eager to get out of the country to have a better place where there are greater options to grow.

I love my country, Philippines, but the opportunity for me to have a good life was not served on the table.  Lucky for those people who were given such luck that they don't need to move to another country just to find more financial freedom.

I started to fill up the application forms then I realized that MPNP is different from the Federal Skilled Worker (FSW) program.  The latter is more flexible because having that type of permanent resident visa has more options than MPNP.  In the FSW program, if provided by the type of visa, I can live anywhere in Canada except in the province of Quebec.  For the MPNP, I'm only allowed to stay in Manitoba for a certain period of years and not on other provinces.

I started exploring and gathering information about the FSW program and eventually found an agency to help me with the application.  While waiting for the agency to process my documents, I worked in a technical services company where we install and refurbish machines inside the factory.

The return was good but the stress level was so high that I consistently had headaches almost once a week and not feeling well throughout the day.

I began creating blogs, just to detach myself from the engineering type of work and ventured in the realm of blogging.  It is not difficult for me, learning the ins and outs of the new and different space.

Consistently thinking of my application to Canada, boredom hits me.  I decided to go and find a job in Abu Dhabi, where I was exposed in a different environment with a great story to tell.

Experiencing the Sand, Hot Weather, and a Different Culture
Convinced by my brother, I started applying the visa for Abu Dhabi. It was my first time to visit a place where the weather and culture are different from the Philippines.  Unlike Philippines, where Catholicism is the majority of population, Abu Dhabi is a Muslim country.

Growing up in the southern place in Mindanao, it was not difficult for me blending with people who practice Islam. I study and played with my Muslim friends and acquaintances too. I was more surprised on the way they dress in Abu Dhabi.  Most of the men wear Kandura and Abaya for women.  It's totally different in the place where I grew up because my Muslim friends wear a shirt and pair of pants as we used to.

The weather is hot and the air is dry, which is a total surprise for me wearing a long-sleeve shirt without even a drop of sweat in my armpits. I was, at that time, walking alone from a job interview on a long and wide road with sand covering the pavements.

That's me goofing around Corniche Bike Park, Abu Dhabi, UAE in spite of me having no job.
My motivation in finding a job was still high and I'm still hopeful to get one in due time. A call from an employer, one day, gave me hope that I will soon be working with them.  They requested  the necessary documents and informed me to wait for the approval.

Many days have passed, still bringing my hopes and faith, I was told to exit at the Kish Island to renew my tourist visa. I thought of not doing that and preferred to return to Philippines while waiting for the working visa.  So I did!

One day, while browsing my email, I received a message from the company's secretary and learned that my visa was not further processed.  That's one of the saddest day of my life.

The Venture in the Lion City
I stopped thinking about going out of my country for a year and just continued my life in Philippines until Singapore came.

While chatting with an old colleague of mine, who is now working in Singapore, he introduced me to the Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate (EPEC).  The certificate will allow me to find a job in Singapore for a period of one year.  That gave me an idea to travel, again, to Singapore and gambling my money and time to get a job that can boost my experience.

I started packing, gathering the documents, and continuously chatting online, building networks in Singapore.

Then it was time for me to get out of the Philippines, leaving my son and wife behind for the second time. That's when I posted a story of  my experience with the Philippine Immigration Officer.  So, off I go to the Lion City, Singapore, where everything I did built a big part of the puzzle. 

Realization Point
On the third year working in Singapore, I realized that having a work permit in the country is temporary. Every year, I worry about the renewal of my permit. Like any other Overseas Foreign workers, I'm not sure if my work permit will be renewed either by the government or the company.  It's a guessing game for all of us. 
Again, goofing around in Singapore. This time with a job.
I tried applying for a Singapore Permanent Resident status but I was denied with no reasons, which is a normal response to most applicants.  I have to stop this kind of annual feeling, that's what I said to my thirty--plus-year-old self.

Then, I started following up the Canadian permanent visa application, this time I did it myself.  I started researching after work and gathering information from forums.  There was no Me Moving To Canada blog back then, and that's I started my timeline.

The Achievable Dream
Working in Singapore as a work-pass holder came to an end when the great news came to me one day.  I received the much awaited visa to move to Canada as a permanent resident. That means, there's no need to worry about my work permit annually.  I can stay in Canada as long as my health can achieve and eventually apply for citizenship.

Happy and excited, I came back to Philippines to get my wife with my two sons, this time.  It was the ultimate way for us to be together in one roof. Being separate for almost 5 years, it finally came to an end.

We prepared all that we could, from documents to the things to bring. Then we packed everything and boarded the airliner bound to my dream country, Canada.

We landed at night in Toronto Pearson Airport, Ontario Canada and was met by the falling flurries, a small flakes of snow.  Looking back at my past experiences brought me a smile to my face.

Working in Philippines, finding a job in Abu Dhabi, and working in Singapore were parts of the pieces that built the huge puzzle, to be in CANADA with my love ones and give them the opportunity to have more options in life.

My Canada Story: Me Moving to Canada by Ben Alagnam

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Do You Need A Philippine Regulatory Commission (PRC) License To Work in Singapore?

During the interview for my first job in Singapore, several years ago, I was asked about my credentials and experiences in the Philippines.

The interview was not so tricky to the point that they asked me about "How do you see yourself 5 years from now?" or "What is your greatest strength?".

All were practical questions that were related to the previous jobs and my personality towards work.  It may be because I'm at the entry level or it's just how the company boss' interviews.

What Happened To My PRC License? 
After the interview, I handed them my credentials, passport and Philippine Regulations Commission (PRC) license.  They looked at it one by one and asked me about the first document, it's my degree in college.

As they were holding my passport, they informed me that it will only be photocopied and will be returned thereafter.

So, as they go along with the documents, they saw my PRC license and asked me about it.  I proudly told them that it is the certificate which shows the licence to practice my profession in the Philippines.

They handed it back to me and said they don't need such certificates.

This time, I was thinking that having a license in Philippines doesn't mean something if I work in Singapore.

What Do We Need To Be a Better Employee?
Basing it with the experience of my friends here, companies don't care about the PRC licenses.

Board passers and non-board passers worked together with equal treatment and compensations.

Even if you haven't pass the board exam in Philippines, you can still have the chance to work in Singapore and get a good salary.

The important factor that you need to show is your attitude towards the workplace and the will to improve your skills.

How To Be a Licensed Engineer in Singapore?
To be a licensed Mechanical, Civil, or Electrical Engineer in Singapore, you need to register at the Professional Engineers Board Singapore.  Please follow the link below for further details and requirements.

If you have questions and comments about this post, please feel free to leave a comment below.
You can be anonymous, for those who are shy.

You can also email me at if you need some help about Singapore.

Other Related Posts:
The Price of Corrupt People in Singapore
Surviving Singapore in 30 days
Probationary Period for New Employees in Singapore

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Remittance, Pagibig and SSS at Metrobank Lucky Plaza

Another month of tears and joy, and it's time to go to Lucky Plaza.  But why is Lucky Plaza or famously known as "LP" connected with the end of the month?  Is it for shopping?

Lucky Plaza is the second home of Filipinos when salary comes at the end of the month.  This is the time of remitting money to Philippines.

Visiting the place is like visiting a mall in the Philippines, you can see a lot of Kababayans queuing at remittance centers, eating and shopping.  You feel like at home.

My monthly destination in Lucky Plaza is the Metrobank Remittance center.  Although there are other remittance centers inside the mall, I have chosen this bank for a good reason:
  • I have a Metrobank account in the Philippines and sending money is a mouse click away.  My wife can withdraw the money at the atm machine at once.  No hassles of showing company IDs and all.
  • I can pay for my PagIbig and SSS as well, it's free when I send it together with my remittance.
  • The exchange rate is the same with the market rate.
  • It is Metrobank, I can't say more.
I have doing this for several years now and the service is consistently good, they even renovated the place to a better and wider area.

How to Go To Metrobank Lucky Plaza?
Go to the MRT RED line and alight at Orchard MRT Station, 
  • then exit at EXIT A 
  • walk through the tunnel leading you to the Tang Plaza
  • You can see the escalator at the right going up to the main Orchard Road.
  • Walk your way going to the direction of the traffic.  This will lead you to Lucky Plaza.
  • Go up to the 3rd floor and say Hello to our Kababayans there.
Map of Lucky Plaza

Have a nice month end and hope to see you at Lucky Plaza.

Related Posts:
Remittance: Sending Money to Philippines
BS Singapore Online Remittance from Singapore to Philippines

If you have questions and comments about this post, please feel free to leave a comment below. You can be anonymous, for those who are shy.

You can email me at if you need some help about Singapore, but not about money, OK? :D

Monday, June 30, 2014

SSS Benefits for Everyone Including Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in Singapore

Yes, another month had ended and our salary is here again. A great smile on faces of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are everywhere, especially at Lucky Plaza.

This is what OFWs, like me, do every end of the month, to remit part of our money to Philippines for our love ones.

What is Our Future as an OFW?
As a monthly routine, it keeps us alive and motivated because we know that our family in Philippines are fed and well blessed from our hard-earned money.

But, how about us? Do we have an assurance that we can still survive in Singapore for many years from now?  Can we still smile at Lucky Plaza for the next 10 years?

We certainly don't know the future and think about it, this Singapore opportunity had knocked to our doors once, you'll never know if it does the second time around.

I've known acquaintances who left Singapore for good because their Work Permit were not renewed.  This is depressing specially if you have a lot of mouths to feed and debt to pay.

Luckily, I found this video as an interesting tool for all of us OFWs or even those who are working in Philippines.  We need to be educated on how to plan our future.  Please have time to watch it...


Few months ago, I made a blog post about How to Continue the SSS in Singapore.  Please read the post for you information.

Enjoy your salary and leave some for your next budget.

Other Related Posts:
Remittance: Sending Money to Philippines
Get an OEC at the Philippine Embassy

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!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

How to Use Your OEC Wisely and How to Get One at NAIA?

Just came back from my Philippine vacation and I discovered something useful to share with you. 

I have 2 pieces of OEC that I can use anytime until next year, which is the green type.  For the past few months, I was going back and forth from Singapore to Philippines because of some personal reasons.  I don't want to use these OECs to avoid the hassle of going back to the Philippine Embassy Singapore and will waste half of my working day.

What I discovered is that I can get an OEC instantly at the NAIA entrance counter.

How to Get an OEC at the NAIA airport?
I just want to let you know that this is only applicable if you travel back to Philippines for 5 days or less.

At the NAIA Terminal 1, there is a counter before you go in to the terminal entrance, where the X-ray section is located, you can approach the OWWA counter there and tell them that you want to get an OEC.

When I got mine, they asked for my passport and the Singapore Employment Pass.  They handed me a form to fill-up.  After that, you have to go to the OWWA Section, a counter just beside the OEC Section,  for verification.

After the verification, you will hand it over to the OEC Section counter again and they will stamp it as verified or cleared.  Then, you're good to go!  It took me around 5 minutes time to finish the whole process.

The OEC that they will give you is the white type and the validity stamped/written on it is until the day of your departure.

How much is the OEC in NAIA cost?
In Singapore, the OEC cost SGD3.50 and that is around P122.00 pesos equivalent based on the 35SGD/1PHP currency exchange rate.  (Please see top right section of my blog for an updated exchange rate)

At the NAIA counter, the OEC costs P100.00 only.  This will save you around P22.00.  Not Bad!

Now you know some tips about the OEC, try it by yourself and Happy Trip!

Other Related Posts
Importance of OEC: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How to Get an OEC at the Philippine Embassy Singapore

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How I Paid my Tax as a Foreign Worker In Singapore

When I started to work in Singapore, I knew that I will be paying my taxes just like in Philippines. 

In my country, every year, I have to pay my income tax return (ITR) to the Bureau of Internal Revenues (BIR).  This is the same with Singapore but with different terminologies.

What is the Government Body that Handles Tax in Singapore?
They call the government body that handles taxes in Singapore as Inland Revenue Authority in Singapore (IRAS).

May you be a local or a foreign worker individual taxpayer , or a small or big time business entity in Singapore, IRAS is your friend when it comes to taxes.

Singapore IRAS is very efficient in collecting taxes from an individual or a business entity. It is because all transactions are handled through internet banking or if not, the taxpayer can pay at payment kiosks such as SAM , AXS, Cash/NETS.  Singapore Post, a postal company in Singapore also accepts payment for taxes.

Other Blog Posts

The other payment type is through GIRO, this will auto deduct the tax from your bank account.  To avail this GIRO, you need to fill up the form that comes from IRAS.

There is no way to find an excuse on not paying the taxes.

First Step on Income Tax Return
The expertise on taxes is not in my field, but as a foreign worker in Singapore, I need to be knowledgeable on how and when to pay it.

Every year, during the month of March, IRAS sends a letter to my company, it's a Tax Filing Package.  Since my company is a small business entity, they did not apply for a direct payment to IRAS in behalf on their employees.

That means I need to pay my tax through my online account to IRAS. I'll explain this topic later.

The letter is a request from IRAS to file my Income Tax Return for the given year.  The company will then provide me a copy of my Assessable Income for the whole year, 2012.

There is an internet portal in IRAS, they call it the myTax Portal, wherein every tax transaction that you need to do with IRAS is through this site.

When I filed my Income Tax Return, I logged in through IRAS using my SingPass account.  Inside the myTax Portal, I keyed in my income details and submitted it to them online.

After Filing the Income Tax, What's Next?
A month after, IRAS sent a letter direct to my home address.  Inside the letter is the Notice of Assessment wherein the details of all assessable income and personal reliefs are computed in details.

At the bottom of the computation is the amount of the Tax Payable by that year.  The tax should be paid within 30 days from the date of the notice.  There will be penalties if not paid on time.

I paid my income tax through myTax Portal via my DBS/POSB bank account.  Then I checked the status on my tax payments for the year 2012, it's already updated.

For this year 2013, I paid IRAS 1.25% based on my chargeable income for the year 2012. Yes, I can't believe what I saw on that percentage, this is Singapore.  The tax is lower than my home country.

Other Posts:
How to Find the Hawker Locations in Singapore
Discover the 2013 World's Best Airport
How to Save For Your Food and Drinks In-Flight to Singapore

Saturday, October 19, 2013

How to Continue the SSS Contribution for OFW in Singapore?

Back when I was working in the Philippines, a portion of my salary is deducted from my paycheck every month.   This portion is for my Social Security System (SSS) contribution as what it's known by every worker. 

This is the standard procedure for all employers aside from deducting us for the PhilHealth and Pagibig Funds.

What is the purpose of SSS in Philippines?
SSS is a social insurance program that was designed by the Philippine government on 1957 to provide a retirement and health benefits to the Filipino private sector employees who are enrolled in the system.  The membership is mandatory and the employer also pays part of the contribution.

A member of the program can avail a loan to SSS as a salary or calamity loan with low interest rates.

For more information, you can go to this link...Philippine SSS.

What about SSS for OFWs in Singapore?
My SSS contribution ceased when I started working here in Singapore.  I wasn't aware about it until my flatmate told me that I can still continue my contribution as an Overseas Foreign Worker (OFW).

Aside from the health and loan benefits, what I like most from SSS is its retirement benefit program.  This will be helpful for me if ever I go back to the Philippines and stay there for good.  As I reach the retirement age, SSS will provide me these benefits and soon be independent from my children at that time.

The pension is quite small but it can be of great help for an oldie like me.  This will provide me money to buy my basic needs and a bit help for my medicines.

As an OFW, still strong to do the tough jobs and gains salary in return, is a great opportunity to plan for the future.  We all know that we are now in the Active Income state and should be building our Passive Income as soon as possible before we are soon be incapable of doing these tough jobs.

OFW's SSS Payments can be continued as a Voluntary Member and can choose an affordable  monthly contribution.  Just remember that the more amount you pay your SSS now will have a great impact on your Retirement Pension amount. 

The maximum voluntary amount that an OFW can contribute is at P1,760 (more or less S$50.00).  See the table below:

Where and How to Continue the SSS Payments?
In Singapore,  SSS is located at the Philippine Embassy  and at the Lucky Plaza in Orchard Road. 

At the Philippine Embassy
You need to fill up your details in the SSS form OW-1 and submit it at (Window 2) for processing and verification.  You will be guided throughout the process.

At the Lucky Plaza
At the Lucky Plaza, it's in the same level and a few stores away from the Philippine National Bank (PNB).

You will be asked to complete the same form for OW-1 and will be guided throughout the process.  Prepare the necessary documents as listed below:

a. Photocopies of Identification Card (IC) and Passport
b. Original copies of your IC and Passport
c. Your SSS number or ID

You can download the form here...

The next payments can be done in Remittance centers that are also located at the Lucky Plaza.  For me, I'm paying at the Metrobank level 3 at Lucky Plaza.

Plan your future and be independent as you reach your retirement age.

SSS Singapore Contact Details:

Embassy of the Philippines20 Nassim Road, Singapore 258395Phone: (65) 6235-5604 (Lucky Plaza)Telefax: (65) 6732-1858Email: /sssatsingapore@yahoo.comRepresentative: Marites C. Marin

Other Related Posts:
Importance of OEC: Frequently Asked Questions
Lucky Plaza
SSS Benefits for Everyone Including Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) in Singapore

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Long Does the SPass Application Take?

Few days ago, I told you guys about the renewal of my EP, which was rejected by MOM.  So, my employer sent an appeal to the Ministry if they can reconsider my application.

We've waited for about 3 weeks and finally we received a letter from the Ministry of Manpower.  I regret to inform you guys that my Employment Pass (EP) appeal has been rejected.

What Did We Do After the Rejection? 
In addition, to make the situation worse, is that my EP is going to expire for the next 7 days! Well, life is really challenging and there's no other option but to go on with it.  This doesn't affect me big time since we can still apply for the SPass.  But what did we do next once we received the rejection letter?

My boss, called the Ministry of Manpower and requested a letter to extend my permit to work in Singapore.  The next day, a letter was received stating that I can still stay and work here in Singapore for the next 30 days and the letter together with my expired pass should be shown to any government body once they requested it.

What's the Step to Get the SPass?
Quite a relief, I can still work in Singapore for the next 30 days, but I still need to have a long term pass.  My boss sent all my requirements (Degree Certificate, TOR and also my wife's Diploma and TOR).  The third requirement is quite surprising, but we applied for the SPass anyway.

Two working days later, my boss sent me an SMS and informed me that my SPass application was approved.  A smile on my face is the obvious expression after reading the text.   Relieved and motivated, I hurried to the office and asked my boss for the next step.

Medical Exam Taken
Each renewal or new application of a pass requires a medical examination from a clinic or hospital in Singapore. This examination includes the Chest X-Ray (PTB test) and HIV Test.

The IPA (In-Principal Approval) from MOM includes a medical form, which the applicant should bring along  to the doctor and have it signed, this is the proof that the applicant is fit enough to work.

The medical examination includes the physical and a Chest X-ray, but HIV was not included at this time.  On the previous year, they required me for the HIV test and lucky that I have a negative result. Wew!!!

The Chest X-Ray and the physical examination is quite fast.  It took me 2 days to get the result at the clinic, personally.

Next Step After the Medical Examination?
I handed the result and the IPA to my boss and she sent it to MOM online.  A letter from MOM came in the next day and it was the letter of issuance for my SPass.  It stated that I have to get the SPass Identification Card at the Work Pass Services Center (WPSC).

Where is the WPSC?
The Work Pass Services Center (WPSC) is located at:

         Tanjong Pagar Complex, 7 Keppel Rd. #02-06, Singapore.

Click this link to go to the map of Tanjong Pagar Complex.

The nearest MRT is the Tanjong Pagar (EW15) but you have to walk around 10-15 mins to the WPSC.

What is the Total Timeline of the SPass Application?
Online Key-in               :  1 working day
SPass IPA result           :  2 working days
Medical Exam               :  3 working days
Pick Up (Spass IC)      :   4 working days
                  Total days :  10 working days

Please take note:  This is my timeline, it may vary depending on the applicant's status.

Hope that your Spass will be approved SOON! Please leave a comment below if you do...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Getting an OEC in Philippine Embassy Singapore Experience 2012

It's time for me to visit Philippines this December and one of the task for OFWs, like me, in Singapore is to get an OEC, Overseas Employment Certificate.  This is useful for us because we are privileged not to pay for the Terminal Fee and the Travel Tax.

My Experience in Getting an OEC
Starting December 3, 2012, the Philippine Embassy introduced the new system for OEC.  Check this link on How to Get an OEC in Singapore.
Why do I need an OEC - click for more info
So I arrived on my appointment date, the queue was quite a bit long at the gate of the Philippine Embassy.   I brought with me the following:

1. 3 copies of my e-appointment.  - It's in a pdf form given after my online appointment and printed it in 3 copies. (Free)

2. OWWA -  The Certificate of Membership Coverage, a document given to OFWs upon membership.  Valid for 12 months. ($42 per membership)

3. Pag-Ibig Fund Receipt - Receipt for the payment of Pag-Ibig Fund ($5.50)

4. Ballpen - used for signing the item #1

5. IC - Identification card which is known as Employment Pass

6. $3 cash - payment for OEC

So, I showed to the guard my e-appointment document (item 1) and he gave me a queuing number and instructed me to proceed to Window 2A.

I quickly queued up to the Window 2A because there were people flooding on that queue.  I thinks it's because we are getting ready for our Christmas vacation.

Then it was my turn, I showed my documents to the officer and he asked for my documents.

Note: If you haven't paid for the latest month of your Pag-Ibig Fund, you need to pay for it first.  Your  OEC application will be handed to the Pag-Ibig fund section where you need to pay $5.50 and after that, wait for your name to be called at Window 2.

He took 2 copies of my e-appointment letter with my passport and checked my OWWA, Pag-Ibig Fund Receipt, IC and the $3 payment.  He asked me to sit and wait for my name to be called.

After an hour, my name was called and asked me to proceed to window 2 and the lady handed me my OEC together with my passport.

Warning:  Please check your passport and the spelling of your name written on the OEC.  This might not be yours due to human error.

Other Posts:
How to Get an OEC at the Philippine Embassy, Singapore
Singapore View on Video
Eating a John Sandwich in Singapore

Monday, December 3, 2012

How to Get an OEC at the Philippine Embassy Singapore

How lucky I am not to visit Philippine Embassy earlier, which is yesterday...Sunday.  I'll tell you why...

We were just discussing with my friends about the difficulty in getting an Overseas Employment Certificate or what is famously known as "OEC".  This is a document issued by the Philippine Embassy for Overseas Foreign Workers so that they will not pay the Terminal Fee and the Travel Tax at the Philippine Airport upon departure.

Why do I need an OEC - Related Post

My friend asked me why the Philippine Embassy doesn't have any measures in reducing the queuing time just to get this OEC.  We have some ideas in mind, thinking about the best process that the embassy might implement.

The Philippine Embassy Answered!
We then found out that the Philippine Embassy is way ahead from our idea.  Starting today, December 3, 2012, all OFWs who want to get an OEC at the Embassy will now apply for an appointment online.

The process is simple, you just go online with this link:

Follow the procedure, click the Set an Appointment and fill up all the forms.  Bring all necessary documents in getting the OEC.

The process of claiming the OEC personally takes around 30 minutes.  This is way better than 1 to 1.5 hours of waiting.

How to Go to Philippine Embassy Singapore?
Alight at the Orchard MRT Station and walk to Orchard Road and follow the road to Nassim Road.  For detailed map, please click the link below.

Please read My Experience in Getting an OEC in Singapore.

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Other Related Posts:
My Experience in Getting an OEC in Singapore
So, This is Orchard Singapore
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Monday, February 20, 2012

MOM Singapore's New Qualifications for Employment Pass (EP) Holders

It's a bad news for the Foreign Workers (EP holders) who are renewing their passes this year and to those who are going to find a job here in Singapore .

MOM has heightened the qualifications for the Employment Pass (EP).  The minimum salary limit of an EP holder to be approved or renewed is $3,000.

Also, each foreign worker will be strictly screened for their academic qualifications.

Here is the statement from the MOM for your information:
"Enhanced Employment Pass Framework
From 1 January 2012, the qualifying salary for the Q1 Pass will be increased from $2,800 to at least $3,000 for young graduates, while older applicants would have to command a higher salary to qualify, commensurate with the work experience and quality they are expected to bring. The qualifying salary for the P2 Pass will be raised from $4,000 to $4,500. There will be no change in the qualifying salary for P1 Pass which remains at $8,000. Concurrently, educational qualifications requirements will be tightened. For more information, please refer to our press release. "
          Source: MOM Singapore

This will be advantageous for Singapore locals.  They are lucky that their Government is looking for ways to help them find a job that fits to their qualifications.

For us, OFWs, we are just visitors in their country.  There is nothing we can do with their policy.  What we can do is to work hard and save some money for the future to come.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Crying on a YouTube Video

I left my family in Philippines to find a good and well compensating job here in Singapore.  This started as a plan and end up with no choice.

Of course, when you are only paid less than P20,000 (SGD600.00) a month, you'll have to think of other options, right?  Where do I get a budget for my house, food and etc...

Working abroad is a common situation in our neighborhood. It's either the mother or father that will leave the country to find the milk and honey for the family.

Since young, I am familiar with the words "abroad", "seaman", "balikbayan", and the last and the surprising is the "package".  This is not the 90's, but that was the 1980's era.  Almost every neighbor has one family member that is working abroad.

So, I realized that nothing changed the Philippines for three decades until now.  When will this STOP?

I don't think it will, because around 11 million Filipinos are working abroad.  The Overseas Foreign Workers (OFW's) are contributing to the Philippine economy through money remittance.

The only way how to get away from loneliness here is to go online and have a Facebook and watch videos from YouTube.

I was browsing the internet few minutes ago when I saw this video, it made me CRY!!!

Being an OFW is difficult, it takes a lot of courage and mind-setting.  This is serious and should be thought twice or even thrice...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

EPEC Scheme Discontinued by MOM

It's a sad day for me, you know why?  My friends would no longer be able to apply for an EPEC.  It is applicable for all, regardless of having a degree or a graduate from the best Universities in their country.

Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) discontinued the EPEC scheme starting 01 December 2011.  They will not accept any application or appeal from this date.

In addition, when an EPEC holder applies for a Long Term Visit Pass (LTVP) that is within the certificate's validity period, Singapore will only give a 3-month non-renewable LTVP.   This is shorter than what was implemented few months back, which is a one-year LTVP.

This will totally change the way applicants seek for employment in Singapore.  The last hope is to take the risk of going to Singapore to find a job or to ask assistance with the job agencies in their country.

We hope that next year, MOM will review the scheme again and give foreign talented workers a chance to apply for an EPEC to work in Singapore.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

EPEC List of Institutions Changed

One of my follower prompted me that the list of institutions from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for the EPEC Philippine Applicants has changed.

Few months back, the list were composed of six institutions, namely:

1. Asian Institute of Management
2. Ateneo De Manila Unviversity
3. De La Salle University
4. University of the Philippines
5. Mapua Institute of Technology
6. University of Santo Tomas

On September 01, 2011, MOM updated their list and took out the last three Institutions from it, leaving the first 3 behind.

I think they are taking their move on reducing the foreign workers in Singapore.  A lot of foreigners are going in Singapore and looking for a job, maybe an effect from the Thailand flood incident. Of course, the locals are not happy with the competition.

As we all know that Thailand is also strong in attracting foreign workers.  But the flooding causes some to transfer to other countries like Singapore where the milk and honey is more abundant.

What we can do now is to make our experience stronger and maintain the job that suits our degree.  This will be our ultimate goal to have the career that we wanted.

Other Related Post:
How I got an Approved EPEC Application
Location of MOM 
What to Prepare Before Going to Singapore

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Coolest Job in Singapore

Playing with computer games takes away your stress and can divert your thoughts to a different dimension.  This is better than drugs, Kids!

I was addicted by commanding Peons, Humans, Zerglings, Undead, Orcs, etc.. and even building those Command Centers with vespine gas refinery and mining minerals.  You name it! Gameplayers out there, you know these, right? Those days were gone now, I'll leave it to my boys.

I wonder if I had a job and it involves playing games where I can go to work at 8:30am  and leave at 5:30pm like a regular employee.   Ideal job right?

What is the coolest department in NTU Singapore?
One day, I was at the NTU (Nanyang Techonological University) and was at the building N4.  When I was on my way up to the elevator, I checked the list on the board of departments to see where I should be going.

I saw a computer department and others...and the one that surprised me is the "Game Lab".  Wow!  I never thought that they have this kind of department here.  They are really serious in creating more than the Angry Birds, huh!

As what I have researched, this Game Laboratory was established in April 2004 to push Singapore to new areas of gaming technology.  Singapore wants to explore the creative use of new technologies for the advancement of the gaming media.

Imagine if my job involves testing or even developing a gaming platform.  This will be the coolest job ever!

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

What is SingPass in Singapore and its Purpose?

Few months ago, I renewed my driving license at the LTO (Land Transportation Office) in the Philippines.  It took me 3 hours for the whole process, waiting in a room without air-conditioning.

I didn't complain, because it's the way it is "ganun talaga!", I am not surprised then.

In Singapore, I had made few government transactions and it was totally a different experience.  

It took me just 3 minutes in renewing my Employment Pass card and 1 hour on applying for a conversion of my Driving license.  The government offices are so comfortable, where you can feel the cold air-conditioned rooms, the seats are almost empty with few people queuing-up and counter staffs are fast and friendly.

The reason why there are few people queuing up in Singapore Government offices is because of their online transactions.

How can we transact with the Singapore government Online?
What I like in Singapore is that I can transact to any government agencies by just having the internet connection and the SingPass.  You can visit this link to apply for the SingPass, but you have to read below if you're eligible.

What is SingPass and its uses?
SingPass is short for "Singapore Personal Access" where a person can transact to any Singapore government agencies through the use of the internet.

If you are included in one of these groups, you are eligible to apply for a SingPass.

Singapore Citizen and Permanent Resident
Employment Pass and Personalised Employment Pass holders
EntrePass holders
S-Pass holders
Dependant Pass holders (of EP, PEP, EntrePass and S-Pass holders)
Selected Work Permit Holders (check eligibility)

The SingPass has a username and password.  Just like having Facebook, Yahoo or any internet account.  But SingPass account is for all Singapore Government agencies online.  

Some of the uses of having the SingPass is that you can view your CPF, Statement of Account, Registering a company, car and renewing parking, etc...

There's no hassle for me, I can renew my HDB season parking anytime...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Probationary Period for the New Employee in Singapore

I am happy to tell you guys that my nephew had found a job in a construction firm here in Singapore.

It was quite a bumpy ride for him before he got there and I can relate what he feels about it based on what I had experienced.  

He's starting his new job now and was given the Employment card.  The card is important for foreign workers to bring along inside their wallets when going around Singapore.  There's no need to bring the passports once you have the identification card.  I have seen random checks along the streets with the Police officers.  So, if you don't have the identity card (IC) with you, only Police knows where you'll be going.

What is the Probationary Period in Singapore?
Employers wants to know how the employee performs for a given short period of time.  That is why they have these Probationary Period for the new employees.  This is where they'll  assess the employee's performance and attitude towards work.  

Some mistakenly thought that the assessor is only their direct head (Supervisor or Manager), but this will not usually be the case. The people that will check your performance is also the whole team.  These includes your colleagues and the administration staffs.   They will look at your way of getting along with them, which is attitude.  You will not know when your boss will ask them about you.

In Singapore, you will be given 3 months of probationary period, which was applied to my nephew's.  This is the time to show how good you are and how well you work with a team.

The management, as per contract, can assign you in any department and/or out of the country job.  They will give you an allowance.  As a probationary employee, you need to show them that you're sincere and accepts the job (legal) in any place and time.

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

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