memory's sacred domain

moments mundane and magical

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Remembered Random Thoughts on the Lion City

Singapore is a glorified Glorietta Mall, I say. My boss says it’s a huge UP Campus — with modern buildings and huge swaths of green to boot. Yet it’s hotter than Manila, being closer to the equator (which explains its many malls linked to one another by air-conditioned covered walks. Singapore’s taxis, though on the expensive side, are a joy to ride, because drivers don’t ask you to pay extra and won’t refuse passengers, the cars are mostly equipped with techno-gadgets that tell you up-to-date information on traffic, the weather, etc., and everything in the city’s only 30 minutes away. I remember reading somewhere that Singapore is so small sometimes its air force has to rent air space from the Philippines for defense training. (Oh, they do have what in Manila are called colorum taxis, as we found as soon as we stepped out of Changi international airport, perhaps one of the best air ports in the world). Yes, the food scene is something to crow about. Newton’s Park is where there’s so much of it.

It’s Supreme Court building is impressive, high technology contraptions and all, but justice and the rule of law is what government says they mean (more accurately, what Lee Kuan Yew says they mean). That is as far as politics is concerned. There is both no freedom of speech and no freedom to spit, which are relatively abundant in Manila. But Singapore can proudly point to a legal system that is business-friendly. That’s why it’s an international center for arbitration.

The National University of Singapore is on the list of top 20 universities in the world — even edging out the Australian National University, but I wonder if it has the academic freedom that UP has. Singapore should have plenty of bike lanes, like Amsterdam, because it has the latter’s infrastructure and financial capabilities, as well as iron-clad traffic discipline, to make it work. On second thought, who wants to bike in a hot and humid city?

It is a rich city alright, but in many ways it is also poor. For exciting art, for example, Singapore finds itself looking to its poorer neighbor, the Philippines. And what would life be for the rich Singaporeans without their Filipina maids? I hope we win our arbitration case against the snooty Spaniards. Our managing partner says that while cross-examining the Spaniards’ principal witness, he thought he was defending Jose Rizal. And so it becomes thus: the colony beats the colonizer at its own game. Sana nga!

But no doubt about it, our case’s sole arbitrator –a London-Paris trained Brit — is very impressive. Bless the Queen and the British Isles!

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Written by Romel

February 7, 2008 at 3:06 am

Posted in law, travels

2 Responses

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  1. here’s a country that flourishes under dictatorship…i wonder if the philippines would benefit from the auspices of a benevolent strongman…nice to see your new blog up and running 🙂

    Ann

    February 8, 2008 at 5:35 am

  2. Ann, that was on our thought while in Singapura — should we stop fighting for press freedom in Manila and say economics should trump politics? The week after, we hit the ground running in Manila and filed a suit against officials responsible for the warrantless arrest of journalists who covered the Manila Pen standoff :)Romel

    Romel

    February 8, 2008 at 6:35 am


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