"Soap is still considered a luxury in my Kampong"

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Nina Rotelo, affectionately known as “Cute” (in white), is a Filipino domestic worker who’s been working in Singapore for over 20 years. She tells us why she continues to send soap back to her hometown in Negros Occidental, Western Visayas in the Philippines.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has cast soap into the spotlight. But in a developed country like Singapore, does anyone really pay attention to soap and how it helps in our daily lives? Soap is taken for granted by most people.

We are also spoilt for choice, as soap comes in so many different shapes, colours and scents. Some prefer to use bar soap. Many prefer liquid soap.

But I remember while growing up in my ‘kampong’ in The Philippines, my siblings and I would use laundry bar soap to clean our body and wash our hair. Proper bar soap and shampoo never existed in our household.

Soap is expensive for those who earn daily wages. Most of the people from where I come from work in sugarcane plantations. Many continue to work in the fields today.

That is why I am glad that an organisation like Soap Cycling exists.

Through their Singapore chapter here, I am able to regularly send enough soap for 60 families in my hometown.

The children get to learn about hygiene and sanitation and wash their hands with soap. And their parents, who are daily wage workers, can save some money.

I always remind the children and their families that proper washing of our hands with soap and water is better and more important than using alcohol sanitisers.” ~ Nina Rotelo