Friday Night-out: Donating Blood in Singapore

About 4 years ago, many good souls touched my heart when our family’s heart was broken. Dad was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis and we were told that his case was terminal with only less than 6 months to live.

The agony was unbearable knowing that you only have 6 short months or less to show how grateful you are to one of the two people who sacrificed so much for you.  I wish I could bring him to all the places he’d like to see before everything’s over. I wish I could give a part of me so he would live longer. We’d see Dad happy and active one moment, and the next moment, he’d throw up blood. His haemoglobin would drop to an average of 4g/decilitre (normal haemoglobin level for a male is 13.5 to 17.5 grams per decilitre) and we will all be out looking for 2-4 bags of blood for his blood transfusion. It was a tough routine.

I wished, I could give a part of me so he would live longer, but I couldn’t.

I was heartbroken but healthy and with a weight less than 100lbs. I was rejected as a blood donour for Daddy. The struggle to find blood in the Philippines was real and we needed 2-4 bags every month. From then on, donating blood became part of my long bucket list.

Note to self: I will take care of my body and be healthy so that a part of me can help save lives and heal families’ broken hearts.

The inspiration: Two good souls (Enzo & Carina) will always be a part of me because they gave their blood to Dad, a total stranger to them whom they knew the situation via twitter, without asking for anything in return. Together with one of my best bosses and friend, Kaoru, who courageously donated her blood though she knows that Philippines is not as advanced as Japan; our family friends and lastly, to the couple with a big heart, Ellese & Jhong, for almost sharing with us a platoon of army donours when we needed them the most. 🙂

The push-factors: Great neighbours with big hearts turned into friends here in Singapore, Anna & Belinda, who’s happily donating blood regularly to help save lives (Shh..they already receive medals for it. LOL). Plus, the fact that:

  • every blood donation burns approximately 650 calories based on studies
  • you may have a lesser risk of cancer as new blood cells are regenerated
  • free medical examination as they screen your blood and looks out for transmitted infections such as Malaria, Hepa-B and Hepa-C, HIV and Syphilis
  • Blood donours are given priority when there’s an urgent need for blood (this is true especially in the Philippines. But hey, if there’s no enough supply for emergency use, how will all these matters?)

The process: We went to one of the blood banks at Dhoby Ghaut as walk-in donours on Friday night. The process is thorough but as easy as 1,2,3…

I’ve never had a chance to donate in the Philippines but my husband and sister say that they give”zesto” and water (sometimes instant noodle!) for refreshments but in Singapore, they pamper a donour like crazy making sure that you’ll feel like the hero that you are (they even put a bandage on your arm!).  For first-timers, aside from treating you extra careful, you’ll feel like you just passed a frat’s hazing when they give you your “welcome kit.”

There are 5 blood banks in Singapore at the moment and HSA’s website has a very comprehensive information if you’re ready to save lives.

For more information about donating blood in the Philippines, please visit here or talk to my sister who’s a regular blood donour. 🙂

Turning "bano" as I move to SG

Almost 2 years ago, I visited and fell in love with the “convenient” country instantly and wished that I’ll have a chance to work and live there.
This year, after keeping my crazy faith in my dream job, I was given a very good opportunity to explore and establish my career and a bonus to move to Singapore. Coming from Manila, moving here is such a treat because of its convenience.
Who wouldn’t love Singapore’s Public Transport System? You can just go around the whole country with its MRT & LRT or if you prefer to do more sightseeing on the way, just hop in one of the many buses to choose from. 
Compared to Manila’s MRT, Singapore’s MRT has a very comprehensive comprehensive map (photo above), a panel that shows the schedule of train arrivals or the number of minutes left to wait, strict implementation of ‘no eating and drinking’ rules, and some trains have route info panels that show where you actually at! 
EZ-link makes my life so much easier! With its multiple use especially in transportation, I normally just need it and I’m all set.
They say that low crime doesn’t mean no crime at all but as a Filipino who had lived in Manila for almost a decade and has developed a good ill-never-be-a-victim-of-crime skill, Singapore is such a place where I could fully breathe (and never worry about my bag being stolen or left open when walking.)
I also do not sweat in small things because:
1. People in this country automatically take the side of escalators so that those who are rushing can pass by.
2. When crossing the small streets without stop lights, pedestrians can just cross the pedestrian lane anytime (but of course still with caution) because cars give priority to pedestrians and automatically stop compared to what I’m used to that I have to wait for the upcoming car to pass by before crossing.
3. And of course, stop lights are perfectly working and generally (some are not), people know how to use them. 🙂
The only difficult thing for me might be to fully understand Singlish. Here, words like alight, take away and 1 for 1 are used instead of get off, take out and buy 1 take 1. Definitely, I’ll learn more words as time goes by and I’ll definitely learn how to appropriately use “lah.”
(Image from: Google Images)
Some of my friends like this country so much even if they’ve visited or  lived in other progressive cities already. But some feel a bit suffocated of its strict rules and fast-paced environment. As for me, I’m still getting to know Singapore but the chaos of Manila will always be missed.

See you around!

Moving to Singapore was quite a quick decision for me since it was in my diary to explore more possibilities and establish a better foundation in my career but it was very surprising to all my friends and family that I’ll be  enduring not to miss.

But the last minute catch ups before I go was one of the most satisfying I’ve ever experienced- favorite girlfriends and batchmates in ABSCBN, choir mates (Himig Kalinangan), High school friends (since it was also Gale’s homecoming!), college friends (and Allan’s homecoming! haha), CouchSurfing friends and my best friend Ellese when she told me that I’ll be her maid of honor in October! Yey!

Couchsurfing friends, humble and fun as usual.

Taku left for Japan a few days ago and I think I couldn’t be away from him too long so I tried sneaking in to his luggage! 🙂

Just like what Cookie said in her talk in Blogfest Asia 2012, happiness is staying in touch with your friends and family. I’m not sure where this decision will take me but I’m sure they’ll hold my hand if I needed to stand up.

Hong Kong & Filipina OFWs

I’ve been asked a lot of times about how I was held in the Philippine immigration for an hour before my flight to Hong Kong last April. When I saw the photos of the trip, I thought of reminiscing about it, hopefully for the last time. Haha.

My flight was around 5am on a Saturday. Since it was so early and I was traveling alone from Manila, I decided not to sleep and just proceed to the airport after a late off from work. I wore jeans, flat shoes and black jacket. I didn’t put on makeup and having no sleep, I looked so tired.

It was my first time going to Hong Kong and when I was asked what was my purpose of going there, the immigration officer scrutinized how I look, looked at me from head to toe then said, “Hay naku ne, andami daming mga Filipina na napapahamak sa Hong Kong ngayon, hindi mo ba nakita sa TV?” (*sigh* young lady, there are so many Filipina that have been in danger in Hong Kong, haven’t you seen them on TV?). Then, I answered, “oo nga po.” I know I look young but I answered as smart as I could so that she could determine that I know what I was doing. Then she asked me to wait and fill in some immigration form. At first, I was patiently waiting for the late immigration officer that was scheduled to question me and the rest of the 15 Filipinos who were going to HK and Singapore but when they started to curse each other saying “son of a b*tch, blah blah” at front of us, I felt bad of how our officers behave. Well, at first I thought, that it’s something that I have to accept but the way they talk to fellow Filipinos who go out of the country may it be for travel or work, I think is unacceptable.

Given that fact that there are really a lot of Filipinos going outside the country illegally to find their luck, which we couldn’t avoid (I even have good friends and cousins who did that and looking at their motives, I think that that determination to get what you want is really good), I started thinking that maybe that’s why they are so rude to the fellow Filipinos but looking at the bigger picture, their attitude is really unacceptable. They’ll say “oist, punta ka don!” “bakit ka pupunta don?” with the rudest intonation I’ve ever heard in the whole Philippines.

I waited for an hour, some waited for 8 hours to be interviewed. Then, when it was my turn, the officer said “your ID is unacceptable.” I told her that it was my real ID and if he thinks there’ll be problem with it, I should tell my employer to change the appearance of the ID. He said that he could think that I just asked someone from Quiapo to replicate it (Quiapo is a place in Manila where you can replicate all important papers and IDs) and I replied, “if that’s the case, what’s the need of having this interview if you can just base your judgement in a person’s ID? Couldn’t you figure out if the person is lying or not?” Then he reasoned out then let me go.

When I went back to the cubicle to finally go (because I was the only passenger that my flight was waiting), the officer said, “If I were your sister, I won’t let you go to Hong Kong just to see your boyfriend. Can’t you be a true-blue Filipina? Be ashamed of yourself!” (I met Taku and HK before he goes to LA for a job assignment. He was from Japan, I came from Manila).

Well, everyone is entitled of his/ her opinion but it’s never right to judge and force someone to believe that your opinion is the right one.

As I arrived alone in HK, I felt so at home having seen a lot of Filipina. They’ve talked with me from the airport, to the bus, showed me around, and helped me explore the city while trying out the trum, MTR and even by walking. I loved the smile and eagerness of storytelling in their faces upon seeing a fellow Filipino. I felt the Filipino hospitality and love for kababayan. I think it was one of the things that made my trip memorable.
When they brought me to the World-Wide Plaza, everything was so familiar: from banks to grocery stores!
where you can find Filipinos in HK during the weekend…
trying not to miss home with these?
And upon seeing the balikbayan boxes and upon listening to their stories how they save and try not to spend their hard-earned money just for their salary to be enough for all the relatives that depend on them, I felt the hardships that each OFW has been going through for years. 

the place when you can send everything back home.
then Filipinos are hoping that what they’ll give is enough… 
Then I started asking myself, is the close family ties still an advantage or is it making Filipinos become dependent to their relatives who are brave enough to gamble?
I had a glimpse of the hardships our Filipina OFWs are facing from the moment they step out of the country up to the “living alone and missing home” feeling in Hong Kong plus the fact that in every corner that there’s a Filipino talking to a family over the phone, she’ll say “Isn’t it enough?” or “He is having a mistress?” then cry or get angry. hay…
what I saw in Hong Kong on a Sunday afternoon- Filipino picnic!
I wish our kababayans well and happy.

these were my beautiful tour guides!
I wish to see them again (I hope I remember their names.)