From Philippines to Singapore, Expat Interview with Haidee

Published: 9 Oct at 2 PM
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Filed: Interviews,Singapore
Haidee is presently a stay-at-home mom, a newbie blogger and a first time expat. She and her daughter moved to Singapore to permanently live with her husband who works as Studio & Design Manager. She quit her five-year-old job in Manila, transferred her daughter to a local school and started blogging her family's journey as expatriates in the Lion City. In her blog, The Expat Mom Diaries (see listing here) she also writes about her delicious recipes that she tried in her own kitchen, her short travels to Singapore\'s neighboring cities and her personal musings about life in general. While she often struggles with understanding Singlish, she finds amusement in black chicken soup, frog legs porridge and the many variations of Kopi (coffee) and Teh (tea) in hawker centers in Singapore.

Meet Haidee - Philippines Expat Living in Singapore
Meet Haidee - Philippines Expat Living in Singapore

Here's the interview with Haidee...

Where are you originally from?
Manila, Philippines

In which country and city are you living now?
Singapore, Singapore

How long have you lived in Singapore and how long are you planning to stay?
We moved here in November of 2012 and we intend to stay as long as my husband is happy with his career and we are enjoying our stay.

Why did you move to Singapore and what do you do?
My husband used to work in Dubai for three years then he moved in Singapore in 2010. It was hard for him and for us to be separated all the time as I have work in Manila, my daughter also attends school in Manila while his work schedule overseas would not permit him to regularly travel back home as often as he would like to. We studied our options and decided to permanently move with my husband in Singapore. I quit my job in Manila and found a temporary job. We also transferred my daughter in a local school. She is having a great time with her new teachers and classmates. The transition, so far, has been smooth as planned.

Singapore's famous Chili Crab at Lau Pa Sat.
Singapore's famous Chili Crab at Lau Pa Sat.
Did you bring family with you?
Yes. Me and my 10-year-old daughter.

How did you find the transition to living in a foreign country?
It was a bit easy because as a first world country, Singapore's system of government is very organized, efficient and accommodating to foreign workers especially to skilled workers. I would also say that Singaporeans are mostly the same with Filipinos in terms of being family oriented and innate food lovers.

Was it easy making friends and meeting people; do you mainly socialize with other expats? Language, particularly Singlish, was a bit hard for me to understand at first and it was a challenge in making friends with locals. Some Filipino and foreign friends advised to use food as a topic to break the ice and meet new friends. It worked for me.

What are the best things to do in the area; anything to recommend to future expats?
While living in a landed house or a condo is always nicer, I find staying in HDB flat is the most practical because of the convenience it provides. HDBs have nearby hawker places, convenience stores, mini park great for jogging and playground for kids. Proximity of HDBs to public transportation is also better unlike some condos or landed houses that would need you to have your own car, and that is quite expensive. There are also community clubs in every district where you could socialize with other members of the neighborhood. These community clubs regularly conduct family friendly activities and some even have interest-based groups like cycling club or art club. Also, most community clubs has gym facilities, clean public swimming pools and public libraries.

The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Art Science Museum.
The Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Art Science Museum.
What do you enjoy most about living here?
Aside from the great variety of food, the many places of interest and diverse culture of its people, I think that the orderliness and security are the most important things that my family enjoys in this city.

How does the cost of living in Singapore compare to the Philippines?
Singapore is an expensive city compared to my home country, especially owning or renting a house, same with owning a car. Then again, the orderliness, security and convenience are all worth it.

What negatives, if any, are there to living here?
For me, so far, it would be blending in with the locals in a business environment especially when you are the only Filipino in a company and the rest are Singaporeans. While most are friendly, I do not easily feel at ease for I do not speak their language and there are not much common interest to share. Although I noticed that I tend to get along well with the younger generation of Singaporeans especially those who studied, worked or stayed overseas.

If you could pick one piece of advice to anyone moving here, what would it be?
Learn the culture. Learn the language. I think it would be great if you would study the culture by reading online resources or asked around in forums. And maybe like what we did, learn at least the basic Chinese to put you on a good start. Me and my daughter attended basic Chinese classes in Manila before moving here. At least the basic Ni Hao! and Xie Xie Ni! makes a bit difference when immersing yourself with the locals.

Singapore is a Fine City. Singaporeans are serious in implementing their laws. Aside from huge fines and imprisonment, canning is legal here.
Singapore is a Fine City. Singaporeans are serious in implementing their laws. Aside from huge fines and imprisonment, canning is legal here.
What has been the hardest aspect to your expat experience so far?
I guess it would be finding a job that I really like because as a Dependant's Pass holder, I am limited with the choices of jobs in the market. Big companies would usually prioritize to hire citizens or permanent residents as required/encouraged by the Singapore's labor laws. I actually envy my husband for having a job here that he truly enjoys, he excels on his job and gets decently compensated.

When you finally return home, how do you think you'll cope with repatriation?
I think its is pretty early to tell what adjustments we would have to face when we return home because we are just starting our expat life here but our modest savings and strong family's support will prepare us for any future repatriation.

What are your top 5 expat tips for anyone following in your footsteps?
  1. Follow the rules.
  2. Respect local culture.
  3. Go out and make new friends.
  4. Enjoy your stay but remember to save for repatriation.
  5. Learn from what makes this city and its people successful.

Katipunan, a popular Filipino chain of stores in Singapore.
Katipunan, a popular Filipino chain of stores in Singapore.
Tell us a bit about your own expat blog.
I started blogging when my family came here in Singapore in November 2012. At first, I was filled with mixed emotions with our moving here and I just needed to have an outlet but it turned out to be a very happy and engaging hobby. It also made our transition moments more interesting. I just so loved sharing my thoughts in my blog and knowing that people could relate with my stories. And as I have said in my blog, the likes and messages from all over the world make me smile.

How can you be contacted for further advice to future expats coming to your area?
I can be reached via my blog, through Twitter (see links below) and Instagram: @expatmomdiaries

About the author

Expat Blog ListingHaidee is a Filipino expat living in Singapore. Blog description: From Manila to Singapore, the passion for smart parenting and love for practical cooking continues....
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