This Philippine Independence Day (June 12) we ignore the parade controversy and ask our coolest Filipino friends about their jobs and life in Singapore. 

Nikki Muller

Host of Channel News Asia’s travel show The Bicycle Diaries, Nikki was also the lead in Michael Chang’s musical High Class and produced a documentary, Going Home.
 
How did you end up in Singapore?
I was working here in 2003 at Disney Channel. I moved to the US for college and for work at the United Nations Headquarters, but I missed television, and I missed Asia. Coming back to Singapore made sense: the whole region is bustling with activity and possibilities.
 
What’s challenging about your job?
It requires a lot of energy—you are always “on”. Oftentimes you aren’t given much lead time to get all the information you need, so it’s important to always do your research.
 
What’s your biggest vice?
Food, or I should state, fatty foods. I always live by, “Go big or go home!” I used to be much heavier than I am now, and I’ve been through the weight loss journey. Now I’m disciplined enough to know when to curb my over indulgences. 
 
What are your favorite Filipino dishes?
Nothing compares to home cooking, and I much prefer when my friends cook our favorites like liempo, adobo and pinakbet.
 

Prince Estanislao

A teacher at Chiltern House, Prince (Charming!) daydreamed about going to med school but moved to Singapore in 2008 to teach children with special needs.

What’s your work like?
Every day is a proud moment because I see my students progress and improve in their ability to speak, socialize, work on numbers, read and write. The attachment for each of them inevitably grows. But we know they have progressed, and it is just time [for them] to move on.

What do you do to unwind?
I put my soul into volleyball and I play in an all-Filipino club (though everyone’s welcome) every Sunday. I’m also a huge fan of Broadway musicals, and there’s always a show happening in town.

What do you love most about Singapore?
The Singapore currency is strong and earning in SGD equates to higher spending power, and it’s more affordable for me to travel around the world. Public transport here is also top-notch—no one needs a car to get around.

What do you miss most about home?
The beautiful beaches! I make sure I plan a trip back every year with friends.

 

Belle Baldoza

If there’s one person we go to for music recs, it’s Belle, Spotify’s Southeast Asia’s public relations manager, who obviously knows what’s sounding hot in the region.

Why did you move to Singapore?
I had been working in Thailand. My fiancé and I wanted a new career challenge, so we decided to come here with just our tourist visas, a couple of pieces of luggage and the will to make it. Now we can say that the move to Singapore is probably one of the best decisions we’ve made in recent years.

Your songs of the moment?
I just came back from The Philippines’ biggest indie festival, Wanderland. I’m dancing to “D-D-Dance” by The Royal Concept, “I Might Survive” by Architecture in Helsinki, “Zoom” by Last Dinosaurs and “Let’s Go Surfing” by The Drums.

Thoughts on the local music scene?
There’s a wealth of talent here like The Sam Willows, Monster Cat, Vandetta, These Brittle Bones, The Observatory. It’s great to see [Singapore] providing a platform for local artists through festivals like Baybeats and Mosaic.

What do you do when you miss home?
Luckily I have a bunch of friends here so I hardly feel homesick. But when I do, I just swing by Lucky Plaza for my Pinoy food fix!

Ria Silbernick

The graphic designer has been living in Singapore for over ten years, and worked for publications like Catalog before starting Lush Designs, specializing in home decoration.

What was it like moving to Singapore?
It was my first time traveling and being away from my family and friends. But eventually I adapted well to the new environment, thanks to my Singaporean friends. They made me feel [like] I am part of their family.

How is working here different?
It’s challenging because most people here are career-driven and determined. Filipinos, on the other hand, are easy-going and relaxed by nature. We take life as it is. But life cannot course through fate alone. We have to continuously push ourselves to go further.

Anything recent in Singapore that you as a Filipino thought was noteworthy?
I was back in Manila when Typhoon Haiyan happened. My Singaporean friends not only checked in to see if I was ok, but also helped raise funds and gather relief goods. Strangers offered to help us pack and local companies came forward. This made me see Singaporeans’ kindness towards my fellow Filipinos.

What do you love most about living here?
Cost of living is high, but nothing beats feeling safe to go anywhere at any time of the day, and not worrying if my house would be robbed when I travel. Because of Singapore’s multi-cultural landscape, Singaporeans accept me regardless of my background, heritage or financial status.


Here are five ways to celebrate the upcoming Philippine Independence Day on June 12.