By By Pablo A. Tariman
posted 6-Aug-2019  ·  
784 views  ·   0 comments  ·  
With Tanya and Tyra at the Merlion Park.

One has been to Singapore once before but the hectic schedule was such it was like a programmed, if, blitzkrieg visit to all the city state’s cultural landmarks.

There was no time for long walks and no time to stay in the park. I programmed myself then that by hook or by crook, I should be able to see the legendary cellist Yo Yo Ma whose Singapore concert was three months sold out. I finally met him by accident at the Esplanade mall, got his autograph and got to see his Silk Route concert, thanks to the big effort of the manager of the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.

Back in Manila, I had no personal memories of the place except that chance encounter with the cellist.

In May this year, my daughter Kalon said I need not wait a year or so to see my fifth grandchild, Katharina, now over six months old.

I couldn’t get a Frankfurt visa that fast and it would take another year or two to facilitate one.

So why not meet in Singapore where there is no visa requirement at least for us here in the Philippines?

We were booked for a three-day visit and indeed it was so leisurely and so intimate I got to appreciate the human side of Singapore.

My hidden agenda of course was just to see my fifth grandchild who I saw for the first time asleep in her stroller at the arrival area of the super clean Changi airport. I had to look at her a long time between the glass partition before our airport exit.

Oh, to be whisked out of her hotel room, asleep, just to be with us!

Along with her grandma, two cousins and an aunt, Katharina was indeed a sight to behold. Born in Austria during a family vacation, my fifth grandchild was literally like an angel and when she smiled at me for the first time, it was as though she had known me for a long time.

This is the Singapore I longed for: to be with my daughters and granddaughters sharing lunch and dinner and taking a dip on the rooftop pool and enjoying the sight.

I took this opportunity to cuddle my fifth grandchild as often as I could as this visit was good for only three days. When she’s asleep, I turn to my other granddaughters and do a quick visit to the Merlion Park (home to an 8.6 meter-tall and 40 ton-weight, water-spouting Merlion) and the façade of the Victoria Concert Hall where our own Cecile Licad performed in 2002 and where actor Bibeth Orteza made her Singapore debut last year.

On our last day, we had lunch on the 56th floor of the iconic Marina Bay Sands whose boat-like structure on the top floor was quite a sight to behold. The brochure says it is “an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay that offers a luxury 2,561-room hotel, an art convention and exhibition center, the Shoppes Mall, an Art & Science museum, two Sands Theatres, seven “celebrity chef” restaurants, two floating pavilions, a nightclub, lounges and a casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines.”

Since that was our last day in Singapore, I took time to hold my youngest granddaughter one more time. My daughter Kalon took a picture of us right there on the 56th floor with a view of the entire city-state at our disposal.

Still, the most memorable highlight is to see Katharina smile at me. She probably wondered why I couldn’t get enough of her every day of our stay.

Finally, time for some picture taking at the hotel lobby.

Soon, were off to Changi airport back to Manila.

In my mind, this was a more intimate Singapore with my daughters and granddaughters.

On the side, you wonder why in your own country, it is close to impossible to ask for basic cleanliness and a semblance of order and efficiency.

Meanwhile, my other two granddaughters have seen their second foreign country.

I like to freeze images of my other two granddaughters in Frankfurt and wonder when we will be together again.

Meanwhile, one loves this short Singapore visit for a brief respite from bad traffic and chaos in the streets.

You are in awe to discover Singapore taxi drivers don’t accept tips and gives you exact change with receipts and they play nothing but classical music.

Columnist with his fifth grandchild Katharina on the 56th floor of Marina Bay Sands.
At the face of the Victoria Concert Hall with Tyra.
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