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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tips for 9G Visa Processing in Bureau of Immigration Intramuros Office

Since November last year, it has been part of my tasks as an HR staff to process the 9g visa of our Korean Managers and I tell you this without sugar coating it: IT IS HELL. Two things I hate about this job is the travel time to and from the office and visa processing and I tell you, there are days when I question which I loathe more than the other. Knowing that many Foreign nationals process their visa on their own, here are some tips (based on one year of going to the Immigration office back and forth) with regard to processing.

This is how I feel like after a day in the Bureau of Immigration

I say between 8am to 9am. Technically, the Bureau opens at 7am but I noticed that most of them arrive at 8am anyway, so why waste your energy getting up so early? However, the area transforms into a whole new level by 10am, since many people arrive after 9am, so to experience shorter lines and less irate immigration employees, be there from 8am to 9am.

-When you check their website and other sites, there is a list of things that they will ask from you but believe me, that list is incomplete. First and foremost, it does not tell you that you have to put all your documents in a folder with a fastener and each fastener costs 5 pesos if you buy it from the folks who do photocopy near the cafeteria. Second, you should fill out an extra copy of the application form + a photocopy of your passport bio page, last day of arrival and visa stamp + i-card photocopy and fasten it to the left side of the folder for the processing of your i-card. They also ask for extra documents, especially those pertaining to tax, so bring all documents which you think are applicable.

The actual processing time can actually be much shorter or much longer than what they say. 

*On one occasion, I passed a passport for visa implementation (or stamping) at 2:00pm and they asked me to come back at 5:00 the next day. So that would be a total of 11hours for stamping, which can be finished in an hour or two. The following day, I came back at 10am and passport was not yet ready. Luckily, when I came again at 11am, the passport was ready..which took them a total of 6 hours ONLY. YEY!!!!(NOTE A TON OF SARCASM)  

*On another occasion, I was waiting for a document to be transmitted to another department in the 3rd floor. It was 12:15 noon and the guy told me to expect the document to be there after 15 minutes and though they say they "dont" have lunch break, I "felt" he would go on a break anyway so I decided to take a lunch break as well and voila, when I took the elevator at 1:15, that guy in charge was in the elevator with me. A WOMAN'S INTUITION IS ALWAYS RIGHT(*wink)

*At some point, you are bound to go to window 14 where you will pass your documents for evaluation. They say they will that they will call you. They will- IF YOU ARE FOR COMPLIANCE-meaning there is is something lacking or missing in your application. If not, THEY WILL NOT CALL YOU. If you do not see your number in the small whiteboard, after a few hours, check the folders laid out near the window. You have to point to your folder and tell them which one is yours, and that's the time you can get your OPS.

Your AEP or Alien Employment Permit should be valid at the time of the Visa application so before you process your 9g conversion or extension, process your AEP first. If it is a new AEP application, it will take about a month since you have to complete the requirements and wait for the publication in a newspaper but for renewal, it can be done in less than 10 working days.

5. Be Familiar with the Dollar Exchange Rate*(Updated as of December 30 2013)
I processed our operations managers' visa last September and two others just last week and surprise, surprise, the amount were different. Only then did I notice that the amount actually depends on the current exchange rate and probably due to the recent Haiyan catastrophe and many other things, the peso value is lower and thus, fees are higher.

Probably the only things exact in this agency are the things pertaining to money:
For sure, what you see in the list is the actual amount you should pay and second, the cashier does close at 5pm. Other than that, you cannot trust them to be accurate and precise and similar to customer service, the last person you talk to can say something completely different from the next person who does. So just to be sure, ask twice.

~I will update this list as I continue to process visas but for now, these are the tips I can share...Ciao!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Food Review: Angel's Pizza

As with previous instances, I hardly find time to write but when I do, I am usually on a roll and after my post on bridesmaid dresses, I decided to make this one as well.

I had the chance to buy their pizzas because for our son's monthly birthdays, we usually have mini-celebrations. I was so set on getting Yellow Cab Pizza but after finding out that Pepperoni Friday Promo was a one time thing only, I thought of Angel's Pizza as a cheaper alternative.

They actually have a wide menu but since I only bought pizzas, I'd rather focus on it for now. What I probably like most about them was that there were so many flavors to choose from! Most were just variations of one another but nonetheless, it was a good thing to know the taste would vary with slight differences.

I availed of the buy 1 take 1 family pizza for 550- making each 12" pizza 275 pesos, which wasnt bad at all. I got Angel's Medley and Chicken Parmigiana.

General Points:

* The place wasn't exactly enticing for dine-in and I think 90% of their customers actually order take out or pizza for delivery. Still, I appreciated the efforts to make waiting time bearable- the chairs were huge and magazines were available.

*Service was fast as promised! I almost raised an eyebrow when the crew told me that pizza would be ready in 12-15 minutes because there were at least 3 other groups of customers waiting aside from me, but as promised, the pizzas were ready even before I got back from buying cola from a nearby store.

*Some might say that the dough was too chewy but we liked it because it meant that the pizza was more filling- I could hardly eat my 3rd slice(I usually eat 4 or more for thick crust)

*The flavor of the pizza wasnt too overpowering. I think it's best for people who much on pizza non-stop especially while in front of the tv, because you can take a bite between scenes

Angel's Medley

Angel's Medley has beef, pepperoni, mushroon and mozzarella cheese. I liked it because the beef was well cooked unlike in particular variants I've tried in other stores before but the sauce was a bit too sour for me, tasted like tomato paste straight from the can.
from their website

Chicken Parmigiana

This one is actually not on their website yet, probably because it's new compared to the other pizzas. My family actually liked Angel's Medley more but being the weirdo that I am, I liked this one more. It has white sauce, barbecue chicken bell pepper and tomatoes. I liked that the white sauce was very subtle and yet you can still distinguish it from the usual marinara. I also liked that the chiken wasn't too sweet(which is why I don't like Yellow Cab's Barbecue Chicken Pizza).

credits to chinesenamatakaw- forgetfulness strikes again and I forgot where I saved my own shot

Final Points:

All in all, we'd definitely order again and probably try two of these- Angel's Aloha, Fancy Aloha, All Meat, Angel's Supreme or Cheesyburger

Website: http://www.angelspizza.com.ph

Till next time!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Printed Bridesmaids Dresses

I looked at my entries in the past six months and so far, I have- a number of posts related to motherhood, one or two about travelling and mountaineering and one completely off-the-route about Wally Bayola's sex scandal(where the heck did that come from???)
Such a mess! I know, I know, I know...But in true writer-wanna-be fashion, I wanna keep it that way because I want to write whatever comes to mind, whenever the though bubble comes along..So I now present to you, another 360 turn in topic as I go back to a wedding related topic: PRINTED BRIDESMAID DRESSES

I was inspired to write about this because I watched a same-day-edit video last sunday and it was the first time that I actually liked printed bridesmaid dresses.On our own wedding day, our bridesmaids had plain brown and blue dresses and the least we did to give the clothes a youthful vibe was to choose dresses that were short.

As I watched their video however, it was such a fresh sight to see prints instead of the usual flowy, family of chiffon and lace and satin and silk bridesmaid dresses.I realized it wouldn't always work but here are some snapshots that actually do(in my opinion)

The cut was really flattering to the women's bodies. Notice how the fabric hugs their bodies and therefore accentuating their curves
members of the entourage in the sde I was watching

The dresses must be in a color that you reeeeeeeeally like so that no matter what, it'll still be pleasing to your eyes. I think it works specifically well for darker colors because somehow the clothes look more formal
I'm a sucker for anything that's blue so this works for me :D
It can also be in a light color, especially if it's a neutral color, which complements the bride's white gown and makes them look so much closer to typical dresses

Or just go all out and break the rules- go for vibrant, buoyant prints that really stand out-which, I think, would work best for spring and summer weddings

At the end of the day, it all depends on the vibe that you want your wedding to have and whose to say if it's okay or not? It's your wedding, after all!

Until the next thought bubble!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Davao Diaries: Tips for a Samal Island Daytrip

I just received a very appreciative comment which made me feel very warm and nice about being a writer-wanna-be so I decided to break my writing hiatus. hehehehe

*This is one of many posts I'll write about our Davao trip. Mostly it'll just be side stories of what the place is all about and important stuff I wish somebody told me about Davao in general.

Samal Island is actually called IGACOS or the Island Garden City of Samal. However, given that the main entry point to this island is Davao and that most tourists who go to Davao go here anyway, it's a given that it's included in my blog entries. So here goes my tips from me to you, ala-countdown, of how you can maximize your time if you're just staying in SAMAL for less than a day.

Tip # 1: Be familiar with the modes of transportation available
In reaching and going around samal, you have three options: 
Option 1- ride a banca or roro and ride habal-habal in going around the island(recommended)
*I recommend this because both "lantsas" and "roros" leave the babak port every fifteen minutes therefore its not a big deal if you miss the previous trip. Second, going to SAMAL on just one day is for those who wish to see the tourist spots and not lounge on the beach all day and given that motorcycles are the primary mode of transportation in the island, it's your best bet
Our view inside the lantsa otw to Samal

Option 2-ride a banca directly to your resort( good option for those who wish to stay in the resort and just relax)
*The primary advantage of this is that you feel a more "personalized" service but then again, it can come with a hefty price tag
Option 3- rent a van from davao city( such a buzz kill in my opinion and much more expensive)
*The rental fee ranges from 2500-3000 depending on your contact but I found it weird because when we were aboard the Roro, those who had four wheel transportation did not get off the vehicles anymore. Yes, You read it correctly. If you rented a van, you will be inside the van(engine turned on of course), but imagine how weird that feels that you are INSIDE A VAN WHILE RIDING A SHIP. FREAKIN' WEIRDEST 15 MINS OF YOUR LIFE.

Tip # 2: Leave as early as possible to accommodate delays
Given that Davao is the largest city in the country, travel time within the city may take longer than you think. From our hotel, we paid 15 pesos each for our jeepney fare and by Manila standards, we thought it would take less than 30 minutes but it took us close to an hour to reach the Sasa wharf.

Tip #3 Be familiar with the ports
Samal can be reached in two points-via Sasa wharf and Sta Ana Wharf. However, "Sasa" in Davao city actually refers to a long stretch- a kilometer or so- that faces the sea and so if you tell the jeepney driver/conductor ( like we did) to drop us in Sasa, he gave us a confused look and asked a ton of question on where we would alight specifically. As for Babak and Sta. Ana Wharf, Babak Wharf Sta. Babak Wharf caters to those who wish to access the northern and mid parts whereas Sta Ana wharf caters to passengers who wish to go to places closer to the southern tip of the island.

Tip #4 Hire a habal in advance if you can
There are actually plenty of habals in the ports but it was quite annoying to be surrounded by 5-10 men or so offering their services. I would have given you the cellphone number of the habal we hired(which we got from pinoyadventurista) but he lost his cell while he was with us and when I checked after a few days, I couldnt contact him, meaning he wasnt able to get it back.

Tip #5- Allot a looooooooooot of time in Maxima Aqua Fun if you're a waterbaby.
I give this place 5 stars!!!!! Their name is very apt- it was really all about aqua fun! ^_^
The all-in rate for weekdays was 250, and with that, we were allowed to use the giant slide unlimited,kayak unlimited, the trampoline(it was under repair at that time) and the canopy walk. The giant slide wasnt as scary as I thought it would be but after the first time, I didnt do it again because one mouthful of salty seawater was enough. What we enjoyed a lot was snorkeling and the kayak! 
This wide area on the side of the giant slide serves as the snorkeling and kayak area

Tip #6-Skip the beach altogether (if it's okay with you)
I put this tip at the very last because I know I'd get a lot of raised eyebrows but lemme tell you why
*From the research I've done, it seems that Pearl Farm has the best shore line in Samal, and for its price and distance from the ports, it's not worth it for people on a daytrip to this island
*The sand in other areas of Samal ranges from gray to white and our habal drivers actually brought us to a resort with good sand but the water was very shallow, we decided to just go ahead to Maxima first and it was the best decision we did. If I may compare, the sand was actually close to the sand in other white sand beaches but if you've been to Boracay, Palawan, Calaguas, Hundred Islands and the likes, you're not missing much.

All in all, our day trip to Samal was very tiring but nonetheless awesome, so don't miss out if ever you're in Davao. Until the next thought bubble!
Beautiful Samal as we were aboard the Roro

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