I am a Red Dot Juanderer. And this is my Singapore story.
Anthony John Abril Garcia, whose family hails from San Pablo, Laguna, was part of the early wave of Filipino migrants in Singapore back in the ’90s. He was only seven then when they moved. Now at 26 and a Singaporean citizen, Anthony works as an IT executive and his income helps fund the schooling of her 20-year-old sister. Winning the 2016 Dream Top Model competition has opened his way to the Filipino-Singapore modeling world — and he doesn’t mind the packed schedules, fun, and attention at all.
My Singapore Story:
I grew up in Singapore and studied here from primary to university. I took up Computer Science and has eventually landed a job at NCS (an info tech and communications engineering company). My childhood here involves a lot of studying: everything is academic-based. You have to get good results for PSLE, for O Level, and for A Level. I’m always studying for exams. During the holidays, I would play computer games, Beyblade, or Tamiya Cars with my friends. As a Filipino kid, I didn’t really encounter any issues mixing with local Singaporeans growing up. Maybe they will joke around like, ‘go back to the Philippines’ — that kind of thing. But there were meant to be childish jokes. I didn’t encounter any racial discriminations at all. I know they were just teasing, and I don’t have to take them seriously.
What’s unique with the Filipino youth:
They are more filial to their families and they always go to church. As a Catholic, I go to the church often and it’s very common to see Filipino teens with their families attending masses. The greatest values my parents instilled in me are to care for the family and to be respectful.
My fashion style:
Being an IT professional, I don’t have a very good fashion sense, but I try to learn as I go along. I go with what’s more comfortable because Singapore is a very humid country. You will often see me in t-shirts, jeans, rubber shoes, and probably a jacket.
What am I most scared of:
A loss of a love one especially if it’s unexpected. It will hurt a lot.
What inspires me the most:
My parents — most especially my mom. Because she works so hard to bring the family together even when the times are tough. She keeps us closer together even when there are arguments between my dad, my sister, and myself.
Lessons I’ve learned last year:
That not everything goes our way. Having a girlfriend last year, I realized that even though things might go wrong in our relationship, there’s always a bright light at the end of the tunnel especially if we just keep pushing through. In my relationship, there have been ups and downs, but I just have to believe in myself and my partner.
What am I looking forward to this year:
The Season 3 of the Dream Top Model — because I have friends who are also competing and I can’t wait to see them on stage and also what my juniors will do after our reign. It’s probably the biggest event for me this year. I’ve seen that there are many Filipinos here and a lot of them have big passions and undermined talents; there are a lot of potential models in Singapore. It’s just that they can’t pursue their passions because they are probably bounded by their work.
What if I win the lottery today — what will I do?
Donate to a charity or the church. Bring my family and girlfriend for lunch somewhere, like Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen. I also want to figure out how to invest some of my money to keep it going. I would like to start an initiative here in Singapore to help the OFW community. And lastly, treat my friends to a bbq party.
About the Red Dot Juanderer:
We are constantly on the lookout for inspiring, aspirational, and relatable stories from our fellow Juans living and working in the Little Red Dot. If you know any Filipino in Singapore that should be our next Red Dot Juanderer, email us at [email protected] // Interviews and photos by Paolo Avis; Assisted by Jaypee Quitco.