Sister Singapore: Their RH and racial issues

Filipinos and Singaporeans are quite like relatives, even nearer than how Malays, Indonesians, and Chinese are related to us. And of course I am talking beyond the looks.

Take for instance how they speak. Inside a transit also known as MRT (while their other line also is called LRT), you could almost tell no difference of the accent of Singaporean language and Tagalog. Singaporeans say pintu when they mean door.

Singaporeans are a talkative lot, though not as noisy as the Filipinos. They are highly social beings in a sense that dead-airs in a conversation make them feel uncomfortable. Inside the train, when a stranger talks a lot, Singaporeans would keep quiet as if sharing the same thought. And when a group of Singaporeans start to chat, others would follow.

Second, Filipinos are more acceptable in Singapore that in any Southeast Asian country in terms of employment. In Hong Kong, you would rarely see a Filipino in corporate attire because of most jobs Filipinos get there are dirty-collared ones. In Singapore, Filipinos are office workers accepting high pay, electrical engineers, or a manager at Burger King. I was able to meet a Filipino who have only worked for less than year but is employed in Singapore’s luxury hotel as an engineer. It is a breakthrough, and sooner or later, Filipinos’ greener pasture is in Singapore.

Third, we have the same remarks of other races. Filipino tourists would tag Indians as rough smelling and unpleasant-looking. That was the same problem their citizens had before.

***

I traveled to Singapore because of two reasons: one, to enjoy; second, to know if Singaporeans are nearly as promiscuous as the Filipinos that they badly need birth control. I was like a random guy asking people around on reproductive health measures in their city while mom and dad and siblings are out for shopping. Sorry but I’ve had my taste of it earlier that evening and it’s their turn.

A ‘ball’s throw’ away from Grand Central Hotel along Orchard Road where we stayed is a street with condom shops with neon lights glaring at night. One shop was named ‘House of Condoms’, the other was selling sex toys (of course the latter counters my next arguments). Anyway, it added the the spice of curiosity.

I asked myself, “Is Singapore loose in letting its people use condoms — that is why they’re productive? Or these shops are simply police hot spots?”

The population of Singapore is at 5 million. Fairly small and enough if compared to their land area. It has a per capita income of almost US$ 44,000 (http://www.singstat.gov.sg/stats/themes/economy/hist/gdp.html). It is described as a “a hi-tech, wealthy city-state in south-east Asia, also known for the conservatism of its leaders and its strict social controls.

Between 1969 and 1972, Singapore introduced intensive population control measures to reduce the increasing growth rate brought by the ‘baby boom’. Civil servants’ third, fourth, and subsequent children received no paid maternity leave, hospitals charged higher fees for their birth, priority in enrollment in their best schools were given to children whose parents were sterilized before the age of 40, and  there were public campaigns to ‘Stop at Two.’

The measures succeed and population growth reached its minimal level. But it’s too late to prevent the spill of the beans.

Said one article published on http://www.onlinecitizen.com, “Lee Kuan Yew’s attempt at population control in the 70s and 80s has resulted in a population unable and unwilling to replace itself.”

The old slogan was replaced with “Have Three or More, if You Can Afford It.” Children coming from large families were the ones given priority in schools.

I spoke to one Singaporean while we were on our way to the airport to catch the plane back to Manila if he was on favor of population control measures. He was not. He came from a brood of eight. He said controlling the population would sacrifice productivity, adding that more people means more production.

It gives us these thoughts:

1. Is the Philippines too late for population control that when executed would just entail more crisis, that other countries have already done it and now on the ‘reversal stage’ ? And that maybe we should learn from other countries?

2. Are we looking at the wrong solution to poverty? Perhaps anti-corruption measures and other solutions that would directly target poverty are better ones?

3. Being ‘relatives’, we might just have the same fate?

Yet, Singapore is a tiger economy and we are merely a cub. One law may not be effective in one country, but feasible in the other.

Thanks to GMA’s RH Bill debate shown hours before we boarded to our Manila-to-Singapore flight. You can see the transition of my tweets from #RHBill to #singapore.

http://www.twitter.com/lindley_agustin

Follow me!

***

Meanwhile, on other things, I realized it is always different when you travel alone, when you travel with your immediate family, and when you travel with relatives whom aren’t always in touch.

You don’t appreciate similarly the things you do in those things. Might as well try traveling alone.

***

Observations? Luckily I was still able to make one despite the fun moments with my younger cousin. I saw a lot of Indians in Singapore! There was an area there named ‘Little India’ and it well deserved the name! Honestly, for a tourist who isn’t aware of anti-discrimination laws, I would really be a racist.

Native Filipinos are almost Indians, I must admit – in language, in culture, and in color.

In a sea of people, you can guess correctly who among them is  Filipino without hearing them or talking to them. If only there Philippines is a multi-racial country, I bet natural-born Filipinos would nearly be a racist.

In my three-day stay in Singapore, I am even made proud of being a Filipino.

***

Please visit my Flickr: lindeyagustin

Photos from Singapore are there!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/country_profiles/1143240.stm

http://www.country-data.com/cgi-bin/query/r-11807.html

http://theonlinecitizen.com/2009/08/mm-lee-%E2%80%93-population-control-revisited-30-years-later/

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