Know Your Diaspora: Singapore

Pinays having a night out on Orchard Road (Source:

Singapore is a small, stable, highly developed country with an elected parliamentary system of government. Criminal penalties are strict and law enforcement rigorous. English is widely spoken. According to data from the Philippine Embassy, there are 177,600 Filipinos in Singapore. A sizable number, or 106,600, are professionals and executives, many of them tech-savvy. Several websites and digital platforms for Filipinos appeared early. The remaining 71,000 are domestic helpers and service workers.

The top three reasons why Singapore is considered a good place for Filipinos to work: the pay is higher relative to Philippines; the availability of jobs; and the ease in obtaining permanent resident status.

Filipinos are the fourth largest immigrant nationality, after Malaysians, Chinese and Indians. Foreigners make up 36 percent of the 5.18 million people. Apart from serving as a source of cheap labor for Singapore’s economy, Filipinos also help to “dilute” the large numbers of mainland Chinese and Indians.

Filipino workers are relatively new arrivals here. Professionals soon become permanent residents and send for their families to live with them. They seek employment in hotels, casinos and restaurant sales as well as work as professionals, nurses, computer technicians and seamen. Their cheerful disposition and sense of humor often stand them in good stead in the hospitality field.

Even companies linked to the state are employing Filipinos as their front-line staff.

“They make good waiters and hotel staff,” said a human resource manager who planned to recruit a few of them. Other people who have worked with Filipinos say they have another advantage: Filipinos have a culture of working abroad, generally treating overseas work as a career.

Filipinos are in high demand due to their relatively lower wage costs compared with Singaporeans, as well as their proficiency in the English language. Though they were initially employed in industries that locals had shunned like nursing, a rising number of Filipinos are entering on “S-passes” to compete directly with Singaporeans for positions as account executives, administrative executives and mid-level managers. Even companies linked to the state, like POSB and Singpost, are employing Filipinos as their front-line staff. 

For Singaporean employers, however, the biggest advantage is the Filipinos’ lower wages compared with their local peers. This is why the presence of Filipino professionals and executives is viewed as threatening to Singaporean jobs and salaries. The Filipinos are now feeling the backlash against foreign professionals. 

Growing Backlash

Online newspaper Temasek Times said recent outpouring of anti-Pinoy comments in cyberspace has raised some concerns among Filipinos. One netizen started a thread in the popular forum, saying that he was feeling uncomfortable with the situation on the ground. Sometime ago, locals were only venting their frustrations at the mainland Chinese and Indians. “But now Pinoys are on their hit list as one of the races they think are pests and trash.”

On weekends, up to a thousand maids hold street parties along Orchard Road. Before Ion Orchard was built, Filipino maids gathered at this busy junction on Orchard Road and held picnics on the grass patch behind Orchard MRT station. Now, the Filipino maids are back with a group bigger and certainly merrier than ever, turning the walkway outside Ion Orchard into a whole new party scene. The diaspora has resulted in Tagalog being spoken in more and more parts of the island. Filipino restaurants are sprouting up, some of them owned by the new arrivals.

Filipinos lining up for Jollibee (Source: Filipinos in Singapore/

Strict Laws

Filipinos must cope with Singapore’s strict laws. Foreigners may be taken in for questioning if they don’t have their passport with them. Driving under the influence could mean immediate jail time. Persons can be arrested for jaywalking, littering, or spitting. Commercial disputes, normally handled as civil suits in the other countries, can escalate to criminal cases and may result in heavy fines and prison sentences. 

Singapore has a mandatory caning sentence for vandalism offenses. Authorities may also impose caning for immigration violations and other offenses. Singaporean authorities do impose these sentences on foreign nationals. Males over the age of 50 and women are not subject to caning.

There is a mandatory Death Penalty for many narcotics offenses. Singapore police have the authority to compel both residents and non-residents to submit to random drug analysis. They do not distinguish between drugs consumed before or after entering Singapore in applying local laws.


Redacted from the following sources:

Singapore (The Star/ANN)

Philippine Embassy in Singapore

20 Nassim Road, Singapore 258395


Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz

Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz

Ambassador Minda Calaguian-Cruz

  • Consular Section, staffed mainly by personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
  • Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), which issues labor-related documents such as OECs, and is staffed mainly by officials and personnel from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), along with OWWA and Pagibig; it is supervised by the Labor Attache from DOLE
  • Defense Section, headed by the Military Attache, from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
  • The Philippine Trade & Investment Centre (PTIC) 


Office Hours: Starting on 18 March 2013, the Embassy is open from Monday to Friday, as prescribed by DFA rules and regulations. The Embassy is closed on weekends (Saturday and Sunday), and on Philippine and Singapore-declared holidays. The Embassy is open to the public 9am to 5pm. Appointment systems have been instituted for passport renewal and OEC applications; other services require no appointment. Operating hours for Embassy services are found in the table below.

On weekends and public holidays, Filipinos in distress who need urgent assistance may call the duty officer at telephone no. +65.9072.2797.


Proper Attire and Decorum: Visitors are advised to come appropriately attired to the Embassy. We strongly discourage applicants from coming to the Embassy dressed in sandos (tanktops) or slippers. Shorts are discouraged, and short shorts are not allowed. Those in the following attire will be refused entry outright: exposed underwear; shirts/blouses that intentionally show the navel; pants/shorts with very low waistlines that reveal portions of private parts; and transparent shirts and pants that show undergarments.


Contact Information:

Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)
For labor-related queries, which includes OEC, OWWA, Pagibig, and other concerns related to domestic workers (such as their home leaves and the necessary paperwork) and employment in general, please get in touch with the embassy’s Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) through


Consular Section
For passport queries, read the FAQ page here. It contains the contact email address, including the procedure if your passport arrival is delayed, and other links.

For consular queries that are not passport-related, such as the following: visas, NSO-related matters (such as pouch/dispatch numbers of reports of marriage or reports of birth), invitation letters, NBI clearance, marriage, minors traveling to or from Singapore, please email

For infants born in Singapore, and queries about their report of birth, please read the webpage here for the contact information.


Philippine Trade & Investment Centre or PTIC)
For trade and investment queries:


Cultural Section
For cultural and community activities and invitations:


ATN Section
For assistance to nationals (ATN) and its coverage of assistance, please read first the webpage here.

Please check the information available on our website before sending a message, in order to fine-tune your query. We discourage the sending of a message to multiple email addresses listed above. If you believe that your query is not covered by the above sections, you can email a message using the main email address of the Embassy. However, if your query is on visas, or if your query is on pouch/dispatch numbers, please refer to the email account If your query is passport-related, please refer to the webpage on passport FAQs here. The main email address is Note, however, that if your query is about a household service worker going on home leave, or any other labor-related matter handled by the Labor Section of the Embassy, please use the correct email address


Trunkline +65.6737.3977
Important Notice: Incoming phone calls are queued up.

If the phone is not being picked up, it means that the telephone operator is engaged in answering the query of someone from the public, Filipino or otherwise. Before making a call, we encourage the public to first check the information available on our website, and then to email the query to the appropriate email address, as listed above. Hundreds of phone calls come in daily, in view of the number of Filipinos in Singapore, and Singaporeans and other nationals making various inquiries. Your understanding of this fact is deeply appreciated.

Fax: +65.6733.9544
Ambassador’s Office: Ext 124
Consul General’s Office: Ext 121
Economic & Political Section: Ext 122
Assistance to Nationals: Ext 102
ATN hotline: +65.6834.2938

Labor & OWWA: Ext 105 to 108
If your call is unable to get through, please use the email address to forward your labor-related queries to the POLO office.

Mobile number of OWWA for emergency calls during weekends: +65.9643.8160
Defense and Armed Forces Attaché Tel: +65.6235.2825
Trade Office Tel: +65.6887.3186
SSS Representative Tel: +65.6732.1858
If you have a query, we advise you to send a message to:
Pag-ibig Representative Tel: +65.6737.0307


Embassy Services Schedule (Monday to Friday)

Passport Application (by online appointment only)
Window 8, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm only

Regular Passport Collection
Window 12, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm only

Processing of other Consular Documents (Notarials, Authentication)
Windows 9 & 10, 9:00 am - 4:30 pm only

Processing of Visa
Windows 9&10, 9:00 am - 4:30 pm only

Release  of other Consular Documents (Notarials, Authentication, Visa)
Window 11, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm only

OEC (by online appointment only), OWWA Membership Application, Contract Verification & Authentication (Individuals and Agency)
9:00 am - 12:30 pm & 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm only