APPRECIATION. President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. waves to the about 1,5000 Filipinos at the Ho Bee Auditorium of the National University of Singapore to kick off his visit on Tuesday (Sept. 6, 2022). Marcos thanked the Filipino workers for their overwhelming support during the last May 9 national elections. (Screengrab from RTVM)

MANILA – President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Tuesday thanked Filipinos in Singapore for their overwhelming support during the last May 9 national elections.

Marcos won the vote of Filipino workers in Singapore with over 36,000 votes or three times more than his closest rival, former Vice President Leni Robredo.

Speaking to about 1,500 Filipinos at the Ho Bee Auditorium of the National University of Singapore, Marcos said Filipinos in Singapore make the second highest voter turnout for overseas automated voting in the Asia Pacific and the third highest in the world.

“Yung performance ng eleksyon ang pinakamataas na nakita ng embassy na recorded (Your performance during elections is the highest recorded by the embassy) since overseas voting began in 2004. Muli, maraming salamat po (Again, thank you very much),” he said in his speech.

He also joked about “campaigning” before Filipinos in Singapore now since he did not have the chance to do so during the campaign period.

“Kahit na gusto namin kayong puntahan ay hindi pa kami pinapayagan. Pero ngayon, ito na ang ating pagkakataon. Kaya nga sabi ko dito sa halalan na ito, nabaliktad ang proseso. Nauna ang boto sa kampanya, nahuli yung kampanya. Pero since kampanya ito wag nyong kalimutan iboto ninyo Bongbong at Sara, ha (Even if we wanted to visit you, we were not allowed. But now is our chance. That’s why I said that this election process was inverted. Votes came first before the campaign, the campaign came after. But since this is my chance to campaign, don’t forget to vote for Bongbong and Sara),” he said.

Ambassadors of the Philippines

Meanwhile, Marcos praised Filipinos for making a good impression on Singaporeans due to their skills and hard work.

“Kayo lahat ay ambassador ng Pilipinas at talaga sa pagka ambassador ninyo ng Pilipinas ay ginagawa ninyo at binibigyan ninyo ng dangal ang Pilipinas (You are all ambassadors of the Philippines and by being ambassadors of the Philippines you give the country honor),” he said.

He promised to prioritize the welfare and protection of Filipinos in Singapore and their families through the grant of assistance, scholarships, and healthcare by its embassy there and concerned government agencies such as the Department of Migrant Workers.

Marcos recognized how difficult it must have been for Filipinos to be away from their families, lauding them for keeping a positive attitude despite hardships.

“Being in another country far away from your loved ones is not easy pero matibay ang Pilipino (but Filipinos are strong). You can withstand hardships by wearing the most beautiful of smiles,” he said.

As part of his promise to give Filipinos a better life, he also vowed to provide more opportunities in their home country.

“Hanggang dumating ang araw na kumpleto na ang trabaho sa Pilipinas ay meron pa tayong pagkakataon na ipakita ang galing, husay, sipag at bait ng ating mga overseas workers (Until the time comes that we have enough jobs in the Philippines, we still have a chance to show the talent, skill, hard work and kindness of our overseas workers),” he added.

There are an estimated 200,000 Filipinos living and working in Singapore.

Of this figure, 58 percent of whom are registered as professionals and skilled workers, while 42 percent are employed as household service workers.

In 2021, Singapore was the second largest source of overseas Filipino remittances worldwide amounting to USD2.20 billion. (PNA)