Facebook etiquette fail: Are Singaporeans getting fed up with Filipino guest workers?

So while the French are stuck with 5 million Muslims, Singaporeans are stuck with almost 200,000 Filipinos. France, of course, has bigger problems. The Muslim population there is proportionately bigger at 7.5 percent of the population. Filipinos “guests” in Singapore, on the other hand, make up less than 4 percent. Many French Muslims are citizens. But, in Singapore, guest workers hardly ever make Singaporean citizenship.

What both countries have in common though is that both likely ended up with this immigrant population because of the usual afflictions affluent societies suffer nowadays — ageing populations, and workforces raised with a sense of entitlement that makes them disinclined to take on “dirty” jobs. That’s the void workers from the Third World come in in droves to gleefully fill. Armed with a work ethic bolstered by the low standards of living in their home countries that make them more appreciative of even the smallest improvements in working conditions and, of course, the relatively “high” salaries offered by even minimum-wage work in the First World, Third World “guest” workers are a force to reckon with.

singapore_protest_vs_filipinosUnfortunately, relying on cheap labour from impoverished nations comes at a cost. And France and Singapore have started to grow weary of this cost. To be fair, of course, Filipino immigrants do not go out and massacre “journalists” who make it their daily mission to publish provocative cartoons of people’s gods and prophets. But, at the end of the day, an elephant being shot in the head and one being infected with a lethal germ both end up dead. The difference lies in how long each of the two types of foreign agents inhabiting its body takes to kill it.

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Of late, Filipinos have been making waves in Singapore — the wrong sorts of waves, that is. A certain Filipino nurse, Ello Ed Mundsel Bello, is currently in hot water over “offensive” messages he alledgedly published on the Net which resulted in his employer, Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) firing him…

TTSH said [on its Facebook page], “Mr Bello had joined us in October 2014 and had been under probation.

“In the course of our investigations, we were alerted to and reviewed three earlier online posts made by Mr Bello in 2014 that touched on race and religion:
i) An offensive Facebook comment on Singapore;
ii) Two offensive comments on religion on his Google Plus page

“Mr Bello has confirmed that he had made these three posts.

“These comments were highly irresponsible and offensive to Singapore and religion. They have distressed members of the public and our hospital staff. His conduct goes against our staff values of respect, professionalism and social responsibility. As a public healthcare institution, we take a very serious view and have zero tolerance on conduct that is offensive and detrimental to multi-cultural harmony in Singapore.”

Bello allegedly posted comments on his Facebook profile calling Singaporeans “loosers” (sic) and that he is “praying that disators (disasters) will strike Singapore”.

This follows many other incidents involving Filipinos working in Singapore that have annoyed Singaporeans prompting us to ask an earlier question in light of this: Why do Singaporeans hate Filipinos? This confronting question seems to be increasingly relevant at Singapore’s grassroots despite the Philippine and Singapore governments’ attempts to skirt the evident realities underlying it. An Inquirer report for example whose placement was seemingly “sponsored” by an association of Filipino architectural firms asserts that Filipinos architects are the most “sought after” in Singapore, in an apparent salute to the standard Philippine government tagline which maintains that Filipinos “remain an important part of the city-state economy”.

More and more Singaporeans are reportedly becoming less-inclined to be moved by these “positive” messages and are growing “uneasy” with the increasing presence of foreign workers amongst them including Filipino workers who remain “mostly domestic workers”…

The proportion of foreigners has nearly doubled to 29 percent in that same period. Some Singaporeans have complained about crowded public transport, high housing prices, and a lack of good jobs. The citizen unemployment rate remains low at 3 percent.

Widespread unhappiness led to the ruling People’s Action Party scoring its lowest-ever share of votes in the 2011 general election. Since then the government has made it more difficult to hire cheap foreign labour, and incentivised productivity and innovation – but progress has been slow.

The Philippine government for its part has been trying to mitigate the growing backlash against Filipinos’ perceived ill manners in Singapore by reportedly implementing mandatory training courses on ‘social media etiquette’ for departing overseas workers…

Malacañang is eyeing adding social media etiquette in pre-departure seminars for overseas Filipino workers, following a report that a Filipino nurse was sacked from a Singapore hospital over supposed anti-Singapore Facebook comments.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said they will make that suggestion to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

Trouble is, Filipinos’ challenges with learning proper manners goes beyond Facebook-centred solutions as social media behaviour often just mirrors the underlying character of its user base. Unlike Singapore, which, under the stewardship of its legendary leader Lee Kuan Yew, mounted a society-wide social engineering program to change traditional behaviours (like spitting in public) and instill the right attitudes and proper internationally-accepted basic manners and courtesies, the Philippines has had to rely on its family institution for the same training. Ironically, it is this very foundational institution — the Fiipino nuclear family — that is rapidly-deteriorating thanks to the misguided race for foreign employment that the Philippine government has encouraged its citizens to pursue for decades. And even for those who manage to stay and find employment in the Philippines’ rapidly-expanding outsourcing services industry, the unholy hours workers keep in these organisations thanks to clients situated in different timezones all over the world, have devastating effects on personal and family wellbeing just the same.

Simply-put, there really is only just one sustainable path for any country. And it involves building a self-sufficient economy where people consume mainly what is produced within their shores by industries built by capital created and sourced primarily through domestic and inherent capabilities.

That Filipinos are being treated “badly” in Singapore is not the root problem. The root problem here is the sad reality that Filipinos are trooping to Singapore to find work to begin with.

And, to the First World, perhaps your peoples should start going back to the basic business of producing enough babies at sufficient replacement rates. You know: one for daddy, one for mummy, and one for country. That way you need not rely on immigration and outsourcing to keep your economies humming.

23 Replies to “Facebook etiquette fail: Are Singaporeans getting fed up with Filipino guest workers?”

  1. Singapore’s solution to its labor problem is painfully obvious and yet such a solution will be difficult to implement because, culturally, the government was successful in stamping out such natural urges as procreation.

    By contrast Filipino labor problems seem more difficult to solve.

  2. What many filipinos fail to understand is, like the WWF campaign, when the buying stops, the killing stops, for OFWs, when the exports stops, the backlash will stop

    Singapore has hosted hundreds of Filipino maids and nurses, who have been there for a decade or more, who knew they are guests

    Unfortunately the new departures to Singapore believe minus them Singapore will be a wasteland

    I feel quite amused, with that kind of attitude

    And those who insist Singapore will be wasteland minus Filipinos are so delusional they believe that is the holy Truth

    Unfortunately, that’s not gonna change soon, and if there is a change of government, anybody other than PAP will make sure kicking out most foreigners is the top business of the day.

  3. France is fighting agains Islamic radicals. It started when France opened her doors to Muslim immigrants and refugees.
    while Singaporians is not fighting any of these, but was trying to reclaim what belongs to them.
    The bad comparison of Singapore and France is not so obvious. And the negativity being poured out against OFWs is tantalizing.

  4. Having gone to Singapore many times and having observed the conduct of Filipinos there, they are for the most part quiet and well behaved. But like any group, there are the bad apples who cause headaches for the rest of the bunch!
    Imagine my embarrassment when attending a movie in Singapore I chanced to be seated next to three of our country-ladies who were, apparently, domestic helpers. As the movie began, the theater played a pre-recorded announcement advising all guests to switch their mobile phones to silent mode as a courtesy to others. The three ladies (if you can call them that!) seated next to me proceeded to ignore the advice and as the show went on, persisted in sending text messages, allowing their phones to beep, ring, or whatever. Though tolerant, this managed to annoy even me. So I asked that they please turn off the alert tones. They ignored me. I asked again, politely. They still ignored me. Finally, the annoyance was too much and I got up and advised the management and they were subsequently asked to leave.
    My point: They were not the only Filipinos in the theater. And the others followed the request of the theater management to turn off their mobile phone alert sounds. Those 3 ignored it and in the end, created a bad image – one that unfortunately reflects on all others because very obviously they were Filipino domestics.
    Can we change this? – because this thing of not obeying rules or requests is a national issue. I don’t know. Discipline is hard to enforce without becoming dictatorial but there must be consequences other than “forgive and forget” for bad, rude, and discourteous behavior.

  5. I was in Hong Kong at the weekend, and the Filipinas are noisily evident there too, now that I can recognise the language to differentiate them from their quieter Southeast Asian cousins (the absence of headscarves is also a clue). I wonder why they don’t seem to famously piss off the locals as much in HK as in Singapore?

  6. Well said BenignO! The real problem is Filipino’s are pushed by our own government to work abroad due to the lack of local employment! I myself a OFW for the past 10 years can’t stop dreaming of having better opportunities in our own country! Like they said “libre lang mangarap”, but sometimes wish full thinking turns into sour graping due to our political problems back home!

  7. I see this kind of behavior not only from our kababayans, but I’ve noticed this from people of different cultures too. There are ‘bad apples’ in all nations, whatever the race or creed. And if I’m not mistaken there was an english man who was deported for the same reason some years back and according to this filipino nurse his Facebook page has hacked (now I’m not sure if this true). But whatever the case is, people should learn proper manners and etiquette that is internationally recognize as correct and of the local culture. And another thing, people post things in social media like Facebook, tweeter, etc.. Thinking that it’s there private diary. WTF people?! There’s a reason why it’s called social media! People can see what you post!!! If you want a diary to put down your thoughts please buy a journal. I that would be safer. Just a thought….

  8. I absolutely agree in the points you’re making at the end of the article. Outsourcing is not forever and the crazy work hours and cultural misfit are formidable barriers to its longevity.

    The plight of OFW’s should not be lauded by the government either. It has detrimental effects in the psychological development of children. I did a study for my undergraduate thesis that linked absence of father (usually the ones who go to another country to find a job during the 80’s) and math ability. The correlation was significant. The government should know, it’s not just economics that they need to keep an eye on. It should be the holistic development of the country and our countrymen. But that may be too much to ask of our politicians, after all, they are mostly celebrities or unqualified to run an office.

  9. “So while the French are stuck with 5 million Muslims”

    Most of whom are decent, hardworking, law-abiding, and totally not terrorists —

    “Singaporeans are stuck with almost 200,000 Filipinos”

    — most of whom are decent, hardworking, law-abiding, and totally not terrorists.

    It’s also amusing (if “amusing” is the word, but I do have a sense of humor) that you’re using pseudo-biological bullshit used by Nazis (among others — for some reason, everyone in Nazi time liked to see the world as a racial hierarchy, with the smartest Aryan being the cherry on top) in describing Jews and their “reasons” for hating them, attacking them, removing them from their homes, and exterminating them with extreme fucking prejudice. To wit:

    “But, at the end of the day, an elephant being shot in the head and one being infected with a lethal germ both end up dead. The difference lies in how long each of the two types of foreign agents inhabiting its body takes to kill it.”

    Objectively speaking, do insulting Facebook posts from a single person (whatever his nationality) pose a threat to any one Singaporean or to the Singaporean way of life? Enough for those in power to consider kicking those stupid enough to be born from the same place out of Singapore?

    The first answer might turn out true — there are a lot of jerks floating out there in cyberspace — but it takes a special kind of jerkass to ponder upon the second question as a talking point.

    1. That’s the same usual argument applied to Islamic terrorists. Do they represent Islam? Of course not. But if it happens often enough — even if perpetrated by a tiny minority, albeit flying an Islamic flag — people will form associations in their mind. That’s human nature. It’s not fair, but human emotion is not built on fairness. That is why there is such a thing as a PR industry.

      1. So what you wrote — what I quoted before you — you say that when you typed those words you weren’t thinking straight? That despite your better nature you chose to denigrate all Muslims and all Pinoys as uncouth if not violent barbarians?

        OK then.

      2. @Pallacertus, Nope. I was perfectly lucid when I wrote those words. Perfectly aware and conscious of human nature.

        Where exactly did I say that I “choose” to “to denigrate all Muslims and all Pinoys as uncouth if not violent barbarians”?

        1. (So trying to italicize that way didn’t work. Pout.)

          Then why the lack of qualifiers? Something like “resident Muslims sympathetic to the aims of the Islamic fringe” or “Pinoy maids unschooled in ethical conduct” would’ve been more accurate if a bit wordy.

          I get that you are voicing your opinion, and I’m no hotshot at writing articles, but really, your articles need a lot more grey.

        2. @Pallacertus: There, see? You’ve just proven that I didn’t need to use any. Our readers are certainly intelligent enough to work these unwritten qualifiers out on their own. 😉

          I find that people who ask the right questions already know the answers to them — because it all begins with knowing the right questions to ask.

          Btw, not to worry, I fixed your italics for you.

    2. Do you have any clue as to why Hitler did as he did? OR who actually financed his meteoric rise to power?Read ‘The International Jew’ by none-other-than Henry Ford, it is a not-too-funny-account of a different type than what you have probably been exposed to.

      1. Henry Ford.

        American industrialist, founder of Ford Motors… and the Dearborn Independent, overt anti-Semite and covert Nazi sympathizer?

        Henry. Fucking. Ford?

        You really seriously want me to take Henry fucking Ford’s views on Jews seriously? You really seriously want me to pigeonhole a whole religion as a race — and not just a race, but an especially well-coordinated duplicitous pernicious one, one that should shall must with all extreme urgency be eliminated?


        I’ve read Mein Kampf, I’ve read The Protocols, I’ve read snippets of other anti-Semite publications over the years — but that is because I enjoy reading and thus read everything that passes my eyes, no matter how objectionable, and because I wanted to understand what made people over year after decade after century hate Jews with such virulence that is so at odds with the reality of the ghetto and the crematorium, despite everything they’ve done to justify themselves to the rest of the world, despite being the precursors to Christianity and Islam.

        Yes, I will read it because a book is a book is a book, but make no mistake: I am not and will never be in thrall to hatred. Jew-hatred, Muslim-hatred, gay-hatred, whatever-hatred — I condemn all, I consign all to the depths of the Hell they so richly deserve.

        1. You sound mighty full of yourself. Please don’t tell me you don’t have prejudices of your own. That you’ve never regarded a single group in a negative light? Godwin’ Law is already at full force in this discussion.

        2. I do read and sound pretty full of myself — so let me deflate myself a bit by saying that I used to have prejudices: against my fellow Pinoys for GRP reasons well before GRP came to be; against the pious of all persuasions for for the usual atheist reasons; against the rich for being rich; against those I classified as “corporate” musicians for being “corporate”; and other things I cannot now remember. (I’ll leave open the possibility that recalling them is psychically a no-no, for I can’t remember the rest.)

          Point is, I’ve gotten rid of the whole lot of them, and now try my best (key word being “try”, as I am quick to lash out) not to let my first impressions get the best of me, or else generalize just for convenience’s sake — partly because I’m a really bad judge of character, partly because I have more to gain by leaving out the possibility of my being wrong, and partly because there are more things in heaven and earth… than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

          Well, I suppose one can boil this down to one or two sentences and lash me for those — so I’ll stop now.

  10. There was a time in the Roman Empire, where the Slave Population in Rome, were more than the citizens of Rome. The Slaves served the Romans as domestic servants.

    Now , we have the modern version. Filipino OFW slaves; are increasing rapidly in population, in the countries, where they work.

    Aquino, who cannot create enough job for all of us; is sending people abroad, to find jobs in other countries.

    Filipino OFW slaves also bring their bad habits to their host countries…

  11. Doesn’t Singapore have more guest workers from South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc)? They were the main instigators in the recent rioting.

  12. lol. I was just thinking about this. reading about your article about situation in paris and than this. the coments of people in facebook (those who glorified the french but screaming ‘you racist’ to singaporean) become so hypocritical it’s so sad/pathetic it’s hilarious.

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