MANILA, Philippines – Singapore is among the top 10 destinations for Filipinos looking for jobs abroad.
The country is just a short flight from the Philippines and around 175,000 Filipinos currently call the city-state home. According to latest data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA), around 80,000 work as domestic helpers and around 12,000 are in the information technology sector.
With the thousands of Filipinos who have settled in Singapore, leaders have emerged within the community and work for the protection, unity, visibility and development of the Filipino community.
As Singapore celebrates 50 years of independence and progress, we take a look at some of the Filipino leaders and community members who have contributed to the success of the Filipino community and Singapore itself:
Timothy Go is a Philippine-born, Canadian journalist working at Singaporean news station Channel NewsAsia. Go grew up in Vancouver and Manila. He’s currently the morning presenter on Channel NewsAsia’s live morning show First Look Asia. He is also a presenter for Primetime Asia where he covered Typhoon Haiyan from Tacloban, Cebu and Manila.
Before becoming the Managing Director and Vice Chairman for multinational financial institution Credit Suisse Asia Pacific, Jose Isidro “Lito” Camacho was the energy and finance secretary during the administration of former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Camacho is a graduate of De La Salle University in Manila.
Luz Campos Mesenas
Luz Campos Mesenas, a Filipino journalist, founded “OFW Pinoy Star,” the leading Filipino community magazine in Singapore, in 2009. Mesenas lived and worked in Kuwait and Dubai before moving to Singapore, where she has been a community leader for the last 20 years. The publication, which aims to inform, educate and entertain overseas Filipinos in Singapore, was given the “Best Print Award (Magazine)” in 2014 by the Migration and Media Awards.
Read more about her story here.
A Filipino multi-award-winning broadcast journalist, Rico Hizon has been working with BBC World News in Singapore since 2002. He currently anchors Newsday and Asia Business Report, which is broadcast to more than 300 million households worldwide. Before moving to BBC World News, Hizon was a news anchor for CNBC Asia.
Miel Prudencio Ma
A cartoonist and illustrator, Miel Prudencio Ma is the senior executive artist at The Straits Times, Singapore’s top English-only daily newspaper. Before moving to Singapore in 1992, he was the former editorial cartoonist of the Philippine Daily Express and chief editorial cartoonist of The Philippine Star. He received the National Cartoonist Newspaper Illustration Award for 2001, with work published in newspapers such as The International Herald Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Newsweek.
A double-degree holder in Piano and Music Education, Babes Conde founded “Entablado Theatre Company,” a performing arts group that represents Filipinos in Singapore, in 2012. Conde is a prominent figure in the Singaporean music and theater scene, having worked on several musicals in Singapore such as Beauty World and Sing to the Dawn and appeared as a vocal coach on Singapore Idol for two seasons.
Cristy Vicentina is a board member of the Bayanihan Centre in Singapore and is a financial trader who has worked with the Philippine National Bank for more than 12 years, first as a financial trader in Manila and now as the manager of PNB-Singapore. Vicentina is also a business consultant and speaker for various local and international conferences covering topics such as financial market analysis and global economics. Before moving to Singapore, she was also a senior lecturer at the University of the Philippines for more than 10 years.
Before becoming Project Finance International’s Asia Pacific editor, Minerva Lau spent 5 years working for Thomson Reuter’s International Financing Review and IFR Asia. As a journalist, she started at Nihon Keizai Shimbun (Nikkei) and wrote about Japanese businesses, as well as major financial and economic developments in Southeast Asian countries. Lau has also covered the active syndicated loan market and debt restructuring activities in Southeast Asia, including during the 1997-98 crisis.
Obelia “Bobong” Cutiongco
Obelia “Bobong” Cutiongco is the founder and president of “Espesyal Pinoy,” a Filipino support group for families with special needs children in Singapore. A mother to a daughter with Down Syndrome, she started “Espesyal Pinoy” to help the underprivileged. Through social media and events, Cutiongco brings together special needs families and volunteers to form a support system for overseas Filipinos in similar situations.
A chaplain for Filipino migrants in Singapore, Angel Luciano is a Filipino priest known affectionately as “Father Angel.” Fr Luciano has been working in Singapore for more than 20 years, providing advice to members of the overseas Filipino community and guiding the newly immigrated. He works at the Church of St Michael and is also the Spiritual Director of ACMI (Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People).
Ernesto ‘Jun’ Flores
The founder of “Mang Kiko’s Lechon,” Ernesto “Jun” Flores opened the first-ever Pinoy inihaw food stall in Singapore. Despite having no background in business, Flores brought quality lechon to Singapore’s Filipino community and has been attracting Pinoys and even locals ever since it first opened 5 years ago.
Ronald Celestial created PinoySG.com, an online community for Filipinos in Singapore, in 2004 after noticing how difficult it was for expatriates like himself to meet new Filipinos in the country and find information about Singaporean life. With different subgroups in areas like sports and culture, the online network has since grown to about 90,000 members. It has become the go-to website for Filipinos looking to answer the hows and whys of living in Singapore. – Kimberly Go/Rappler.com