Filipino actors of the $2 million musical about Singapore’s turbulent times during the 1950s are trying to be as Singaporean as possible. Aside from learning how to speak Singlish, the Filipino actors said they can relate the present state of the Philippines with Singapore during the 1950-1960 period.

Photo from Capitol Theatre and musical Singapura
Photo from Capitol Theatre and musical Singapura

Actor Joel Trinidad said:

“That’s what really struck me – that there were riots, hunger, and poverty, and corruption; all this stuff that my own country has been going through for many, many, many years,” he said. “But what is significant to me about this musical, having done all the research, is that if you guys could do it, why can’t we do it? So on a personal level it’s an inspiration to me – your story is an inspiration to me and my country.”

Ironically, the $2 million production, Singapura, is anything but Singaporean. The composer is a Filipino, the director is Filipino and the lead actors are all Filipinos. Out of the 48 casts in the musical, only 11 are Singaporeans.

However actor David Bianco believe the musical would still be a success:

“You look at Miss Saigon. I mean that particular play you had Filipinos playing Vietnamese. It played and was a rousing success internationally.”

The Filipino musical, Singapura, will run in Capitol Theatre until June 7, but unfortunately the very nature of this musical is untimely and too sensitive for Singaporeans today especially when the Singapore Government has openly expressed preferential treatment to foreigners in national policies. Many foreigners have used Singapore as a stepping stone and took full advantage of its permanent residency and generous scholarships, up to $200 million a year, the Singapore Government showered them with.

New citizens do not have to serve National Service, and S and E pass holder foreigners have a minimum wage of $2,200 and $3,300 respectively. Foreigners are also exempted from CPF, enjoy low income taxes and equal rights in the queue for car ownership COE certificates and employment opportunities.

The influx of foreigners in Singapore have evidently created an upward pressure in cost of living, a depression of local salaries, drop in overall standard of living and severe social conflicts which saw the result of an “illegal” strike and riot in Singapore for the first time in 50 years. When the Singapore Government announced their plan for a 6.9 million population, a record turnout of 5,000 Singaporeans took to Honglim Park to protest against the immigration policy.

Photo from undertheangsanatree
Photo from undertheangsanatree

Despite so, the Singapore Government remains undaunted by the opposition from its voters, and dismissing them as a “vocal minority”. Just recently, the PAP team of Tanjong Pagar GRC said that the residents have strong connections for the ruling PAP. The Media Development Authority has also clamped down on alternate news sites by forcing them to be gazetted, registered or even forcibly shut down. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has also stepped up his election effort by suing an internet blogger for defamation and the government-controlled media Singapore Press Holdings has also taken the opportunity to issue copyrights infringement lawsuits against internet bloggers.

The Singapore Government may be unpopular, but as they believe they can continue to be in power, they see fit to continue policies without consultation from the people.