Processing complete.

Earlier today I popped by the Fragomen office at the spiffy South Beach Tower to pick up a documents package containing my In-Principal Approval, declaration form, and medical exam results for the issuance of my S Pass.

What’s an S-Pass?

The S Pass is a category of mid-skilled non-Singaporeans/PR who are working in Singapore. It’s been my pass category ever since I started in Singapore in 2012.

Similar to my previous employer, Fragomen was the go-to consultancy which worked on my S Pass application. I was really relieved my processing would be handled by them because my experience in 2014 (and renewal in 2016) was flawless. I was so appreciative that I even chatted up the receptionist.

After collecting my documents package, I booked a cab to get to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Cue: Thunder SFX. I just love the name… it sounds so powerful and dramatic like something out of a Harry Potter movie.

This brand new facility (at least to me, because the last time I went to the “MOM” was when it was still inside an old building near Keppel/Tanjong Pagar) has three great halls (sounds like Harry Potter, eh?). I was informed by Fragomen that I needed to proceed to my scheduled appointment at Hall C.

In true Singapore efficiency, my appointment was at 3:40 PM but I was admitted at 3:31 PM. The entrance area has beautiful padded seating for those waiting (no one was waiting). I barely rested my butt on the soft padding… a lady smiled at me and told me to go to booth “B12”.

Oh don’t get me started on entering this gorgeous government facility. Having survived the steaming sauna of Land Transportation Office or LTO in Kawit in September… as well as the 1930s-esque NOT-A-NEWSROOM Bureau of Immigration Manila (with some of the smug faces)… here I was entering an office area where the booths seemed to be designed like floral pods. Even the fluorescent lights emerged from… tropical-looking pink sculptures. If it weren’t for the computer screens all around… you’d think you were here to buy jewellery.

In my booth was your almost stereotypical office auntie (and i don’t mean that in a bad way… she carried herself like everyone’s favorite office auntie)… noticed the jade in a corner. Some feng shui thing maybe. A tiny cup of packed fruit mints. A blue ballpen with excess scotch tape sticking out of its sides. The neighboring booth person had to step out… heard her say something like “shopping!” — and she walked away. Her shift must be over.

To my right was a man of South Asian descent in a crisp white shirt. In another booth nearby was a Chinese fellow fixing his specs for the camera.

I sat there patiently. No, wait. Gleefully. YES. Gleeful in a government office. Gleeful at the MOM. Why? Because here I was… not only with an approved S Pass so I can continue enriching my career (and contributing to a robust Singapore)… but because I really appreciated how efficient everything was. Like… for once… someone, some country has it figured out. Because weeks ago I was frustrated at renewing my driver’s license in the Philippines. Frustrated when my mom had to fake chat with the immigration officer at the Bureau… the same immigration officer who many years ago had asked for my mom’s earrings while we were transacting at the window. The fact that the woman is still there made me sad.

The MOM officer (okay i’ll stop calling her office auntie) was very kind to me. Having had to repeat the biometric on my left thumb since my thumb was too dry. She patiently helped me rub a bit of lotion on the finger. No rush at all. She wasn’t rushing. I wasn’t rushing.

The whole process took no longer than ten minutes.

She passes me a paper which indicates that I am cleared to commence working. And that my physical S Pass card will be sent to my office. I smiled at her. Because I felt absolutely grateful that this felt like a system that works.

As of this writing I’ve signed my contract, cleared my medical exam, and filed for the physical card. I’ve invested more time into reading materials (Marketing magazine for a pulse of recent news + Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan for enhancing my vocabulary). I’ve attended some workshops in digital marketing, data analytics, and creative producing.

I’m ready.

George Sig

Bukit Merah.

I’m looking out the window and I see rows of HDBs populating the landscape. The apartment buildings come in different sizes and colors. The view from my window is on the 13th floor of a point block HDB tower. But the tower I live in sits on a hill. I estimate that it adds about five more storeys. It feels like I’m looking out the window that’s 18 floors up.

I love looking out this window. You can spot a Buddhist temple on the lower right. Then some cars or motorcycles driving on the quiet streets of my neighborhood. The main thoroughfares in the area are obscured from my view. But if you squint closely you can probably spot the top of a SBS double-decker bus passing by.

Unlike my previous neighborhood— a view of the world’s most boring parking lot with three HDBs of dull uniformity —the view here is wonderful. Because you can see specks of greenery in the distance which form the northern face of Mount Faber. The rooftop of a nearby parking building was converted to a sun garden. The height of the neighboring HDB, almost the same shape and size as my previous one in Aljunied (albeit, in warm shades of orange)— looking inferior. I love looking down at it.

The hawker centre nearby has really good Hokkien Mee noodles. The Thai place has a great ginger pork rice dish. My boyfriend loves the green curry. The pad thai could be better though (it has more sauce in it, perhaps some people prefer it that way). There isn’t a FairPrice or Giant on this side of the road.

Tiong Bahru MRT station is about a 7-minute walk from my house. But I prefer to take the bus near my block which saves you from breaking into a sweat. The mall above Tiong Bahru MRT isn’t as spectacular as, let’s say, the tropical oasis that is Westgate in Jurong East. But it boasts some of the basics you’d expect from a neighborhood mall. Including a tiny FairPrice Finest, always crowded.

For the last eight months, this neighborhood has been my home. It’s where I’ve rebuilt myself and some of my aspirations. I would leave a quarter of the length of the window revealed. The curtains pulled back. So at night, the many lights of probably a hundred other HDB homes would look like little stars. Because no other major structure obscures the view from my window, you can spot nearby industrial towers and those antenna structures capped with a red light. It’s absolutely quiet.

In eight months, I’ve finished entire TV shows on Netflix. My laundry day is Wednesday and I’ve abided. My clothes are hanging on the black IKEA drying rack instead of those bamboo poles. I keep them in the living room until Friday evening when they’re dry.

The four walls of this room have witnessed those earlier nights when I would cry. The same four walls are witnessing the recent times when I’m smiling again. I guess it’s THIS room which has seen me grow and improve.

The view outside is the best one yet. I’m happy with it, finally.

***

Dear George of 2017,

You’re in a crappy place right now. Get out of there and stop wasting your time. There are opportunities out there for you… if you seek it. There are genuine souls out there… if you seek that too. Do not chase after what’s vague. Do not linger in your comfort zone. These will only stop you from moving forward. You have to let go. You must let go.

And please, don’t stop working out. Because when you stop… you’ll gain pounds quickly and sayang.

George Sig

How’s your weekend, George?

For the past two months, there’s no difference really between a weekday and a weekend.

11:00 AM – Wake up.
11:30 AM – Get up.
12:45 PM – Get up from bed.
1:10 PM – What’s for lunch?
2:20 PM – Should I shower or just head over to the hawker centre downstairs?
2:45 PM – One Hokkien Mee, the $4 one…
3:30 PM – Shower
4:00 PM – Check emails… LOL

I’ve cut my budget and spending. But I won’t scrimp on food.

Biglang… $7.00 PAD THAI ANYONE?!

***

What have I accomplished? Here’s a very partial list.

  • Interviews with potential employers.
  • Volunteer work.
  • Balikbayan box – sent one home.
  • Cleaned my room of clutter.
  • Started cooking again.
  • Reading “Crazy Rich Asians”.

What have I not accomplished?

  • I froze my gym membership because I thought I could be active by running at park connectors and joining my dragon boat trainings. NOPE.
  • I thought I could get around to editing a backlog of video blogs. NOT HAPPENING.

The truth is… my resources are drying up.

It’s a reality I’m facing as I’m in my third month of unemployment. I can’t splurge on anything right now. I think three times before buying something. But like I said earlier, I won’t scrimp on food.

***

Here are some scenes lately:

Alison’s farewell. She’s moving to Hong Kong.

ALSO… we’re watching RPDR!

We both finished Season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix. Hooray!

He is on leave for two weeks. Sakto. We are spending time together. Legit quality time! 🙂

Here he is… starring in a GIF!

giphy

***

“Nakaupo ka nanaman?”

***

“Sinangag”

George Sig

Sunset at Chinese Gardens

PJ’s on a two-week leave from work. Wanting to maximize this rare opportunity where we’re both “on leave”, I asked if he wanted to visit Chinese Gardens today. I wanted to see the turtles at the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum (I heard it might be relocating soon). We took the train from Tiong Bahru to Chinese Gardens. Before heading out we picked up some drinks and chips at the convenience store.

This was the farthest west that PJ’s been in Singapore. He lives on the opposite side of the island in Tampines.

It was a fairly sunny and very hot Monday afternoon. The first of October too!

PJ brought his DSLR. The Chinese Garden was pretty peaceful.

Perfect sunny weather!

We only had time to visit the Chinese Garden. We might visit the Japanese Garden next time.

On the way to the turtle museum.

A statue of Confucius.

The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum in Singapore.

I don’t know how I quite feel about seeing the turtles here. They’re lovely to look at. And this has been their home for decades. It makes me wonder what’s going to happen next for them.

Little statues inside the museum.

Very rustic environment.

On a Monday. In October.

Turtles separated into different areas.

@ the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum.

@ the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum.

 

Some of these turtles were let go by their owners.

A man feeds turtles.

The Chinese Garden was built in 1975.

Facing the sunset.

One of the bridges at Jurong Lake.

A turtle as photographed by PJ.

The twin pagodas at Chinese Garden.

Watching the sun set over Singapore.

The 7-storey Chinese Garden Pagoda.

Bonus material:

The newest Jollibee outlet in Singapore: Jurong East MRT.

Exploring Westgate Mall in Jurong East.

This really tasty Pork Belly rice bowl we discovered at the Gourmet Paradise food court (outside Isetan) at B2 of Westgate. Made-to-order.

Our meat bowls.

PJ wanted me to try this Gong Cha signature milk tea with taro foam.

img_8522.jpg

It was a great day to be a tourist. I feel like we have to maximize the time we get to be in Singapore and not have to work. I’m waiting for my employment pass at this point.

Sunday

The Yoshinoya’s in Singapore look like they’ve been given an upgrade. The branches don’t look like cheap fast food anymore. They have interiors that are much more inviting with wood motifs. I ordered the signature beef bowl.

While waiting for PJ’s ferry to arrive from Indonesia, I wanted to hang out somewhere quiet at VivoCity. Quiet and VivoCity are two “words” that don’t go together. But surprisingly, Wine Connection is a welcome respite in the mid-afternoon.

I ordered a glass of rosé and took out my book.

I pick PJ up at the ferry arrivals and we decide to get boneless chicken wings at Wingstop. Our two choices were buffalo wings and garlic parmesan. 14 pieces! Sides were quinoa rice. PJ is a rice-eater.

Furry kisses tonight. 😛

September in the Philippines.

Visiting Evia Lifestyle Center with my family. It’s a gorgeous strip mall along Daang Hari.

About to step into an H&M with my mom. ❤

With Michelle and Toni at Century Mall in Makati.

With the family at Samgyupsalamat in Makati.

I can never say no to Korean. ❤

This is how I looked like in September 2018.

Today x Future – love the ambiance here!

I must say… I really felt 33 at this place.

TRUE. Make a move or lose it.

Yummy kebabs at Ziggurat in Makati.

Helping them film Wines & Titas season 4!

After a few glasses of wine.

Ate Florence, Kate, CJ and baby Kyle.

Kimchi noodles + my brother’s Nintendo Switch

Tom looking dapper as always.

Seeing Kux again after so many years!

The good guys.

Grabe the traffic in Manila this past trip. It just gets worse and worse!

Skype nights with my boyfriend.

Paul ordering at King Bee.

Family photo by King Bee.

My cousin’s house in Tanza… being repainted.

Renewing my driver’s license at the LTO in Kawit. Crazy 8-hours.

Tsokolate de batirol at Balay Dako in Tagaytay. Absolutely LOVE this place.

A view of Taal Volcano on a September day in 2018.

Spending the night with Upper in Tagaytay.

It’s a REAL fireplace!

We both brought our laptops to Taal Vista Hotel. We both did not use ’em.

Our family driver Kuya Boyet… relaxing on Upper’s porch.

Enjoying some bulalo and Filipino food with my family in Tagaytay.

Crispy Kangkong with chunks of pork meat on top.

My book fair haul.

With Candy and her beautiful family.

It’s Nikki and Niko… from the states!

A nice lunch at Locavore (S’Maison) with my college friends Candy and Joy.

Beers with Ms. Rose… my former boss… happy 20th year at ABS-CBN!

Lara, Deejay, Suzie and Ms. Rose — like a throwback to 2007!

My former workplace… now with a brand new floor and pantry. Nice!

Just another day for Jerome, Deejay, Lara and Ms. Rose.

Meeting with Badge at ABS-CBN (The Loop)!

Mister Kebab at West Avenue with my parents.

Spotted an ABS-CBN “tent” at Vertis North.

A nice, peaceful alternative to the aging Trinoma. Here’s Vertis North!

The parents with… the Predator.

This place… again.

ID photo for my paperwork at the BI in Intramuros.

Ay, yes PJ? 🙂

The sisig at Calle Real = ❤

Mario Odyssey nights.

Wine and Skyflakes + cheese.

Yummy hotdogs from this NY staple. Now open in Manila.

With my mom… who took care of my two-week trip to the Philippines. I love you. ❤

 

Team manager.

Team manager for a day. Together with Bea. Here’s our 10km Crew for 2018.

So proud of my teammates! This is one tough race.

Edited by QJ. Imagine paddling for 55 minutes non-stop!

Our 10km Crew for 2018. Loving the blue color of our team uniform.

Race Results for the 2018 Austcham 10km Challenge. Congrats to the winners!