Coming from the Philippines, I was very much amazed and amused of Singapore. It was literally a different world for me. Different, refreshing and liberating. It was something new and unfamiliar, but not scary. Of course, I missed home. Philippines will always be my home. But Singapore didn’t let me go crying on my teddy bear and calling for home.
I was amazed by how Singapore, a small country, seemed very composed and disciplined. It is a calm country, whereas Philippines is a very dynamic and fun-loving nation which sometimes exceeds its tolerable level.
I dread the Manila trains during rush hour. The queue can extend beyond the stairs down to the sidewalk. You have to fall in line for the pointless security check, for the ticket and then for the actual ride on the train. I’d never dare squeeze through a crowd of fellow commuters on a rush hour.
In Singapore, the trains are quite efficient. They’re well-ventilated, clean and speedy. I actually don’t mind standing for a whole commute. It’s spacious and comfortable, though it can also get quite packed on a rush hour. I guess the only downside during this time is that the air gets a bit pungent (with the smell of people’s dinner steaming off their bodies) when there are too many commuters on the train.
Buses in the Philippines are chaotic. Always competing against each other. Speeding and racing around to get passengers. Stopping just about anywhere. Sometimes, they’d hang on the same spot for several minutes to fill with passengers and it can be really annoying especially when you’re in a hurry. Sometimes, they’d let people squeeze in even when it’s already too crowded with other passengers on a “standing ovation” as we call it. They run around as if the king of the roads. Some buses are not even air-conditioned and you get a disastrous hairstyle, unpleasant smell lingering on your clothes, and pimples!!! when you ride them.
In Singapore, I love commuting on buses. They only stop at bus stops—as where buses should stop, apparently! All of them are air-conditioned and spacious. And I love riding on buses that have upper decks! It’s so fun and exciting! (I’m being childish now, oops.) When the destination is quite far, it’s so nice to sit up there and at the front row seats where I could get a good view of the road and everything. A perfect tour.
Singapore is made up mostly of tall buildings. Well, since it’s a small country, it’s sensible they utilize the land by building tall structures for multiple residences instead of individual two or three-story houses. I’ve been told that only the really rich people get the actual houses; that they really intend to make the selling prices high so that not everybody can live in houses, thus saving space. I don’t know if that’s true, but it makes sense.
Apartments are nice anyway. The apartment I stayed in was fairly big—four rooms plus one little storage room; two toilets, one of which is in the masters’ bedroom; a good kitchen and dining area; and a wide living room. And let me mention the building’s elevator which I thought was silly: it only stopped at the first, 6th and 11th floor (the last floor) and skipped the others. I thought building elevators only skip the 13th.
I was very impressed that there’s a lot of green in Singapore. Considering that it’s very urban, they are able to save trees and maintain the grass. You see trees along the pavements. The grass is kept short. And then, the parks—they have lovely clean parks. Bishan Park was close to where I stayed at and I would take lazy walks there. Peaceful in the evening. Litter-free. Benches with no vandalism. Clean ponds with some teeny-weeny frogs. No pestering insects. Playgrounds. Mini gym equipment for the jogger’s extra workout. I won’t take much effort in typing a second paragraph anymore. Many Philippine parks are the opposite.
Singapore is a lovely place, even to just walk at the park. And I wonder why the local people don’t seem to enjoy that. It’s sort of ironic. People seemed boring to me—at least, in the neighborhood I stayed in. They have such adorable parks but I only saw a few people who actually spent time there. Yes, theme parks, that’s probably where a lot of people are. People pay to go there when they can go to a nearby park, bring a basket of good food, and appreciate the surroundings—for free. I don’t know but maybe it’s just me. Maybe, where I come from, I’m just used to noisy parks, jammed sidewalks and animated people even during the night. While people in Singapore seemed very conventional, just coming and going on their daily routine, conforming. I guess that’s a good thing. Look what they got—a beautiful harmonious country. I guess you just have to find yourself your own ways to enjoy the living.
Maybe the Philippines should figure out how to groom itself into a more disciplined and organized nation. I have to say it starts with a wise and persistent government and, of course, responsible citizens. I’m not very keen on politics but I do have a point, don’t I?