11 Amusing Similarities Between Singaporeans and Filipinos

Same-Same but Different: 11 Amusing Similarities Between Singaporeans and Filipinos

Despite the geographical distance, the two communities are quite similar in more ways than one!

Southeast Asia is a beautiful cauldron of diverse cultures and communities. Each country in this region is immensely proud of its heritage and can get quite competitive when comparing certain markers of their identity, such as cuisine and art. Despite that, there’s no denying that the Southeast Asian community is a tightly-knit one with more similarities than differences. 

Take, for example, Singapore and the Philippines. Despite the geographical distance between the two countries, the two communities are quite similar in more ways than one!  Don’t believe us? Here are 11 things that Singaporeans and Filipinos have in common!  

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1. Both Singapore and the Philippines are immensely proud of their food

Singapore chicken rice

Singapore’s famous chicken rice. | Image credit: witchukorn via CanvaPro

Does it really come as a surprise that the first thing we’re talking about is how both Singaporeans and Filipinos are incredibly passionate about their local cuisine?

Both of these countries are known as popular food havens in the region, offering an incredible plethora of mouthwatering delicacies that tickle the taste buds of even the pickiest eaters. Foodies flock to these countries on a regular basis in search of their next best eats and it’s clear to see why.

Filipino street food: isaw

Grilled, skewered street food from the Philippines called ‘inihaw.’

But it’s not just the fact that the food tastes out of this world, though! Food in Singapore and the Philippines are both deeply ingrained in the local culture, telling stories from history and tradition too complex to put into words. 

In the Philippines, you have a bustling street food scene that offers delicious, affordable eats (such as ihaw or inihaw, meaning grilled) in markets spread throughout Metro Manila or in neighbourhood food houses called carinderia. In Singapore, you have busy hawker centres or coffee shops (kopitiam), where you can find a variety of flavourful local classics (like chicken rice)! Wherever your feet may lead you in either of the two food-centric countries, you’re bound to stumble across some delectable finds.

2. The two countries are cultural melting pots

Singapore street markets

Image credit: Galen Crout

It’s not just the food culture that is identical between Singapore and the Philippines. Both countries are similar in terms of cultural diversity. Despite not having the same racial makeup of communities, both Singapore and the Philippines are each cultural melting pots in their own right. 

In the Philippines, there are different provinces and islands (over 7,000!), each with its own unique culture, cuisine, and even local dialects and languages. In a similar way, Singapore is a multiracial, multicultural country. Add to that the influx of international communities, and what you have is a vibrant society that thrives on diversity.

jeepney in the Philippines

Image credit: Yannes Kiefer

Because of this, both Singapore and the Philippines are home to many forms of cultural and religious practices. Naturally then, both countries also celebrate a variety of colourful festivals and auspicious occasions, some of which are celebrated in both countries!  

Also read: From Tattoos to Textiles: Travel for These Cultural Activities in the Philippines

3. The histories of Singapore and the Philippines are similar

Kranji War Memorial in Singapore

Kranji War Memorial in Singapore. | Image credit: Jnzl’s Photos

The similarities between Singapore and the Philippines can also be traced back to colonial times. 

Even though the two countries had different colonial pasts (Singapore was a British colony, while the Philippines was once part of the Spanish empire and later became an American protectorate), both share a historical nuance that is relatable to the other. 

Intramuros in Manila

Intramuros in Manila, Philippines. | Image credit: David Stanley

That is most prominently reflected in the language and the way of life in both countries. In Singapore, English remains the main language of the locals, while there are plenty of Spanish influences in Filipino. 

In both countries, you’ll also see plenty of museums and memorials that honour the heroes in both countries that either defended the homeland against invaders, or who fought courageously for independence.

4. Both countries have their own unique versions of English

Image credit: Mimi Tian

Just like in Singapore, English is also one of the main languages in the Philippines. In fact, Singapore and the Philippines are easily the top two English-speaking countries in Asia. 

Naturally, this means that both Singaporeans and Filipinos have no problem understanding each other. But perhaps what is more unique is that both communities have their own unique versions of English! 

Called Singlish (Singapore) and Taglish (the Philippines), these versions of the language are basically English with a little local spice added to them. For example, it’s not strange to find Singaporeans ending their sentences with filler words like “lah” and “leh,” which are common features of Singlish. On the other hand, and quite similarly too, Filipinos often add expressions like “ah,” “eh,” or “oh,” depending on what they’re trying to convey. 

In both versions of localised English, you would often also hear words of other languages seamlessly intertwined in between English words and phrases. Trust me when I tell you both Singaporeans and Filipinos are experts at codeswitching in this regard! While Singlish and Taglish may sound different, it is another commonality between Singapore and the Philippines, one that continues to reflect the similar cultures of the countries. 

5. Many Singaporeans and Filipinos are bilingual (or multilingual!)

similarities singaporeans filipinos: multilingual

Image credit: BryanAJackson via CanvaPro

Thanks to their rich history, Singapore and the Philippines have extremely diverse communities, with each speaking their own mother tongue. Over time, these different languages slowly assimilated to the locals, so now, most Singaporeans and Filipinos are either bilingual or multilingual! 

For example, apart from English, many Singaporeans are also fluent in either Mandarin or Bahasa, while most Filipinos can speak English, Filipino, plus the local language of their hometown. 

And then, of course, there’s this language that many Singaporeans and Filipinos have learned through casual self-study: Korean. All thanks to the Hallyu wave, of course!

6. Both countries are huge Korean drama and K-Pop fans

Image credit: Joel Muniz

Oh yes, how can we leave this out? Despite Singapore and the Philippines having different cultural backgrounds, Korean pop culture is a shared passion for both countries. 

Whether you’re thronging the bustling streets of Orchard in Singapore or visiting a mall in Metro Manila, you’re almost bound to either see or hear (or both!) references to popular K-Pop songs and K-dramas! 

Just take the recent Netflix hit, Squid Game, for example. Such was the love in both countries for the Korean thriller, that references to the show started popping up in both Singapore and the Philippines not long after the premiere! 

K-Pop fandom is also huge in Singapore and the Philippines. Whenever an idol or group holds a concert in either country, tickets sell out in a flash! The same can be said about pre-orders whenever a new album is released! 

While not everyone speaks Korean fluently, the shared love for all things Korean is there for all to see and is something that easily brings together Singaporeans and Filipinos! 

7. Singaporeans and Filipinos LOVE to shop!

Image credit: K8

Another common hobby that both Singaporeans and Filipinos love is retail therapy. Whether it’s the glitzy shopping complexes of Metro Manila or the busy shopping streets of Singapore, there are plenty of malls and retail outlets in both countries. 

Image credit: Wander Fleur

But the shared love for shopping goes beyond just the number of malls. Singaporeans and Filipinos not only like to shop, they like shopping for the same things, too. Be it the latest gadgets or trending apparel, both communities love being the first to get their hands on fresh new merch! 

What’s more, Singaporeans love to shop frugally, something which I’m sure many Filipinos can also relate to! There’s nothing we love more than mega sales, discounts, and freebies. And this isn’t a matter of financial status — we just love good buys!    

8. Both communities also love to travel

similarities singaporeans filipinos

Just as equally as they love shopping, Filipinos and Singaporeans love to travel! 

While they may not necessarily love travelling to the same destinations (although let’s face it, we all adore Japan and Korea!), the way most of us travel is also similar. For one, most Singaporeans and Filipinos love the great outdoors. We love nothing more than visiting a pristine beach and feeling the soft ocean breeze on our faces. (But let’s not discount our shared fascination for winter, too!)

What’s more, many of us also love travelling with friends or with our families. As the cliche saying goes, the more the merrier! And just like our shopping habits, we both love to travel on a budget as well. 

Fun fact: Did you know there’s a beach in Sentosa called Palawan? The similarities just keep coming! 

9. Singaporeans and Filipinos are family-oriented

similarities singaporean filipino families

Image credit: NCI

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Singaporeans and Filipinos love family trips. After all, both communities are family-oriented communities that share similar cultural beliefs. 

Like most other Asian countries, Singapore and the Philippines place a high emphasis on familial bonds. That’s why we all love spending quality time with our loved ones. That’s also why so many of the local attractions in both countries are classified as family-friendly!

Also read: 10 Best Spots for Family Vacations in the Philippines

What’s more, both communities share a common core belief and value system focused on notions like filial piety and respecting one’s elders.  

10. We both share similar childhood experiences

similarities singaporeans filipinos

Image credit: Hisu Lee

Of course, our shared values also play a part in the way Singaporeans and Filipinos were brought up. I’m going to recount a personal childhood experience as a Singaporean growing up, and I’m sure our Filipino friends can relate to this, too. 

I was happily watching TV as a kid when I received a call from my mom who was out running errands. She asked me to take out the chicken in our freezer and thaw it so she can cook it later when she’s back. I forgot about it. When I heard my mother’s car out front, I remembered the still-frozen chicken and dreaded the incoming scolding. A strict Asian mother’s love (and fussing) knows no bounds, but we all know their tempers are something to behold.

Did that send a chill down your spine, too? Of course, apart from semi-traumatic experiences, Singaporeans and Filipinos also grew up watching the same cartoons and shows. Think Blue’s Clues or Pokemon and your fair share of anime. We also likely played the same games with our friends or a variation of them! 

11. Both Singaporeans and Filipinos are extremely social media-savvy

similarities singaporeans filipinos

Image credit: Austin Daniel

Finally, both Singaporeans and Filipinos are extremely well-versed in the social media sphere. It’s clear to see that we have both become experts in using social media — not just to connect with friends and family, but also to keep up with the latest happenings.

Plus, we can both be extremely vocal on social media about current affairs. Whenever there’s a topic or conversation that hits close to home, you can be sure you’ll find plenty of Singaporeans and Filipinos in the comments section. 

More importantly, social media users in both countries are always ready to duke it out whenever someone says something wrong about our culture, our favourite K-drama actor, or — God forbid — our food! 

Singaporeans & Filipinos — different but similar

There you have it: 11 similarities between Singaporeans and Filipinos you may not have realised till now! It’s nice to know that, despite our differences, we still share so much in common. I guess it’s true, Southeast Asia really is just one big family. 

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Did any of these catch you by surprise? Or were there similarities you were expecting to find but weren’t on the list? Let us know in the comments!

For more information, please visit please visit philippines.travel and TPBPhls’s official Facebook page.


Brought to you by Tourism Promotions Board – Philippines. 

About Author

Darren Yeoh
Darren Yeoh

Darren enjoys the finer things in life and loves exploring unfamiliar places on foot, guided with nothing but instinct and a good-old fashioned map. He enjoys cultural experiences and exciting adventures and is not a stranger to travelling alone. When he's not putting his travel experiences into words, he's probably sitting behind his laptop, planning his upcoming adventure.

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