Street but Sweet


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Singapore lah! Part 4: Once upon a time in Chinatown

(Alternatively entitled "Tama na ang ningas cogon." Hahaha.)

Gadzooks! Has it been over four months since I got back? Time flies when you're totally stressed. Haha. I actually looked at the pics of my last post and already I feel like I've aged since then. Or perhaps the pics just show me with longer, browner, shinier hair, and thinner, tanner arms (yes, payback for all my holiday binging, and yes, I am back to my ghostly white self--it's been ages since my last beach trip).

I finally got around to writing about the rest of the trip because I was afraid that (horrors!) I was starting to forget. I mean, the entire experience is something I'll never forget, but the details started to escape me. And I don't want that to happen. I'm a stickler for details.

So there we were, having lunch after the auditions, and this was when Juliana (Malaysia) told me that I looked like Kristine Hermosa. Bwahaha. So yes, Pangako Sa 'Yo is a big thing in their country! So is Christian Bautista! Other people I looked like, or so I was told, was someone from Taiwan, and roomie Wendy's Latin American friend. (Side kwento: I remember being spoken to in Spanish while I was in the US. And when I didn't reply, the dude was like, "What happened to your Spanish?" And I was like, "Dude, I never had it." Haha.) Singapore's Simone, meanwhile, asked me, "So, you're mestiza?" Again, yihee me. Haha. They couldn't quite place where I was from. (Sigh. Me and my generic face!)

After lunch, the judges came in to announce the finalists. There were 12 in all, and I can't remember who they all were! I just remember the five winners of course, plus Jade (syempre, Pinay yata 'yan!). Five of us non-finalists decided to spend the rest of the afternoon together. The two lovely locals, Carol and Z, decided to take us to Chinatown. But first, we were stuck in Vivi (Indonesia) and Mel's hotel room as the rain poured outside. So we had a little judging session of our own while the finalists had to go through the last round of auditions. We came up with our own list of 5 Takes hosts out of the 12 finalists. We noticed that they came in pairs--meaning, we could pit one person "against" another because they seemed to have similar personalities (e.g., party girl, cutie, etc.). We came up with our own lists and had a debate going before we had our final list. Haha. Later that day, we found out that we got 3 out of 5 right.

(Top) With eight of the finalists and the four other "judges" (haha). (Bottom) With (from left) Z, Carol, Vivi, and Mel.

A taste of Chinatown

So the rain stopped and off we went. And it turns out, we could actually walk to Chinatown! According to my (well, my bro's) trust little Lonely Planet: Best of Singapore, Chinatown is Singapore's cultural heart, providing a "glimpse of the old ways, and how the Chinese immigrants who shaped and built Singapore used to live."

We kept stopping at little food booths, and Carol and Z kept buying us stuff to try--peanut pancakes, peanut candies, even peanut soup (notice a pattern?). We also learned about Carol's past--she was actually an actress before, so a couple of people recognized her while we were out. She, unfortunately, was stuck in a "damned if you don't, damned if you do" situation; she explained that, if she had been chosen, people would say it's unfair because she had experience to back her up, but if she didn't make it, they'd say, "See, she didn't make it before, so what made her think she'd make it now?" People can be nasty.

Food trippin' in Chinatown: (clockwise from top left) Peanut-pancakes-in-the-making; candy, candy, candy; peanut soup (we got other flavors like almond and they had these soft, puto-like things with filling); more candy (these stuck to our teeth).

I learned that Z knows more about India than she does about her own country. Haha. She absolutely loves India and has traveled through a good bit of it. It was a blast hanging out with Mel (the first Channel V VJ! Haha), and I especially liked that I could switch to Filipino and still be understood! And I super loved Vivi. I think among all the people I met, she was the one I could relate with the most because she was rather quiet, like me. (Really, I was quiet!) But it amazed me how she could switch to this mode where she could easily converse with other people. (I am so not like that.) She's a newscaster after all--even regaling us with a sample newscast in Bahasa! Galing!

(Top) Curiously, the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore is found in Chinatown! It's called the Sri Mariamman Temple, and is dedicated to the healing goddess known for her rain-bringing powers and reputation for curing disease and sickness. (Second photo) Mel does Chinatown. (Third) The rejects looking for work! (Bottom) The peanut soup stall, part of a row of food stalls in Chinatown.

By late afternoon, the Singaporeans had to get going. They were supposed to meet up with us that night, but were unable to--and it sucks that we weren't able to get their contact info! So anyway, Mel, Vivi, and I explored Chinatown a bit more, buying pasalubongs and stuff before flagging down a cab (the rain was pouring again) and heading back to the hotel. There, we found out that 5 Takes had found its TJs: Lena from Indonesia (one of my favorites!), Tim from Australia, Jaime from Singapore, Bevis from Taiwan, and Zach from the Philippines!


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