5 Easy Steps to Renew your Philippine Passport

The Next Five Years

The Next Five Years

The requirement for travelling overseas is to have a passport. Whether it’s for vacation, business, or overseas work, you have to have a passport to be able to leave the country.

I’ve renewed my passport in 2011 using DFA’s electronic process. I did my research, followed the instructions on the DFA website, and got my passport renewed. I repeated the same process earlier this year and had no trouble.

When I had it renewed last March 2015, I was surprised that a lot of people are still confused with the process. Some just go to DFA, expecting that they can renew their passport within the day like the old times. I wasn’t expecting this because the system’s already in place for a couple of years and people should be informed by now.

So, to help others understand this process better (and also to guide me in my next passport renewal in a few years.. haha), I’ve decided to write this post. May this serve as a guide for a fast and stress free passport renewal!

1) Set your appointment online!

Ahhh, yes. The first step is to set your DFA appointment online. This is the most important step. Do not go to DFA or any of their satellite offices without an appointment. Your day will just be wasted because they do not allow walk-ins. I REPEAT. THEY DO NOT ALLOW WALK-INS.

Reminder: Confirmed appointment is a requirement for applying and renewal of passport. The DFA will not entertain applicants without valid appointments EXCEPT senior citizens, infants and minors below 1 year old, person with disability and OFWs. For OFWs, sufficient proof must be submitted such as a valid employment contract or OEC. (Source: DFA Passport Appointment Website) 

To set an appointment, you have to go to the DFA Passport Appointment website (https://www.passport.gov.ph/), answer the  the online form, choose the DFA office and the convenient date and time for your appointment.

DFA will send you an email afterwards. You have to confirm your appointment by clicking the link within the email. They will also send you a pdf of your passport renewal for and appointment letter that you have to bring on the date of your appointment.

Tips:

  • Schedule your appointment in the early morning slots, around 7:30am – 8:30am because the line is tolerable during that time. Plus, it’s not so hot when you line up outside the building.
  • Before scheduling an appointment, check your documents and see which requirements you still need to acquire. Take note of the timelines in acquiring those documents before you choose a date. Make sure you can complete the requirements prior to your appointment date. 
  • Don’t cram. Schedule your passport renewal months before your travel date. The earliest schedules available on the site are most likely 3-6 weeks away. If you add the processing period, all in all, the whole process including release and delivery takes about 10-12 weeks. Therefore, you cannot cram.

When I had to print a document I forgot during my appointment date, I noticed some OFWs were being conned by a travel agency in the building in front of DFA Aseana. They were paying the agency to book them an appointment which costs them about Php 300-500 (I don’t remember the exact amount).

These people were rushing and thought that the agency has connections which will allow them to do walk-in processing asap. However, these were just regular appointments with no special treatment and have the same waiting time as others who have booked the appointment at home. You can do this at home for free, guys. Do not be fooled.

2) Prepare your documents.

Once you have an appointment, you have to prepare all the documents needed for the renewal.

If you have a Machine Readable Passport (MRP) like me, you need to bring the original e-passport and photocopy of first (data page) and last page of passport. In addition to this, you need to bring a printed appointment letter and form, at least one (1) government-issued ID, and at least three (3) supporting documents.

The requirements vary depending on the latest passport you hold (i.e. brown and green passport (1995), MRP passport (2007)) and your status/circumstances (there additional requirements needed for married women, minors, Muslim applicants, and DOST scholars). Next time I renew, I’ll have an e-passport already, and will only need a photocopy of the data page as an additional requirement.

More details on the requirements can be read here: https://www.passport.gov.ph/requirements/passport-renewal.

Note: No need submit a passport size photo. Your photo will be taken on-site.

3) Show-up on your appointment date.

You need to be on site at least 30 minutes before your appointment time. If you have an afternoon schedule, there would be a long line. Which is why I recommend to have your appointment in the morning.

4) Go through the renewal process.

Since I had my appointment in the morning, processing was a breeze. I underwent the document checking, payment, and picture-taking in about an hour and a half. I don’t know how long the process takes if you have a later schedule. Maybe 2-4 hours max.

5) Pick-up your passport or have it delivered at home.

The last step, of course, is getting your new passport. I recommend to have it delivered at home to save time and vacation leaves (if you’re working) just to pick-it up. Delivery is less than Php 150 the time I renewed, so it’s pretty affordable. Just indicate that you want it delivered in the form and pay the delivery fee before you exit the office. It will be the last step.

If you still wish to pick-up the passport yourself, that’s up to you. They’ll inform you when it’s ready as they don’t have an exact timeline for this process.

That’s it! Hope this post would help you. Don’t forget to book your appointment months before your travel and have it in the morning for a less stressful experience. 🙂

Ferrol, Romblon: White Sand and Clear Waters… without the Crowd

I’ve been dying to show you these pictures for a while now but I could’t find the time to write.

Last August, my cousin and I were given the opportunity to visit my relatives in Romblon. Originally, we thought we cannot squeeze in a bit of beach time because of our tight itinerary  (meaning we had tons of relatives to visit), but we were wrong. Thanks to our generous aunt and uncle, we were able to see the beautiful Ferrol!

Romblon 2014 04

Binucot Beach, Ferrol, Romblon

I was used to Tablas Island having big rocks, brown sand, or pebbles, as this was the case in Odiongan, San Agustin, and San Andres, our hometowns. I’ve always thought that you had to ride a motor boat to go to those white-sand Romblon Islands, like Carabao Island, or even Boracay, which was about 2 hours away. But since we’ve discovered this place, no need for that.

Romblon 2014 03

No one else is here! 😀

I remember that moment that I first set foot on this place. My cousin and I were so happy, that we were jumping up and down and screaming like kids who were given the best toys for Christmas. But there seems to be something missing… Right, have you noticed? There’s no crowd! We were the only ones there – which made it WAY AWESOME.

Romblon 2014 02

Binucot Beach, Ferrol, Romblon

However, as much as I want to keep this beach to ourselves, I would want it to share its beauty to others. 🙂

Romblon 2014 01

Visit Binucot Beach and tell me about it! 😀

This place is perfect for family reunions and group trips, especially if you want to just relax or have the beach to yourselves. 😛

I’ve posted the calling card of the resort so you can find it. I cost me less than Php 1800 from Manila and back. Note that we went there during the the off-peak season so the boat fares are lower. You can check the 2Go fares on their website. Here’s a guide for the costing:

Romblon Chart

Tell me about your trip if ever you decide to visit! 😀

It’s SEOUL Coming Back to Me Now

Annyeong!

Surprisingly, or not, I was able to come back to Seoul after a year. However, I was still not able to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom (as this is my ultimate Korea goal). 😦 But, I was able to visit more places this time! Horrah! 😀

So, if last year, I was able to visit Seoul during the Winter-Spring transition, this year, I came during the Spring-Summer transition. (When will I be able to arrive at the middle of a season? Sigh..) The weather was quite great. It wasn’t too cold or too hot, an average of 18 degrees Celsius.  AND it didn’t rain, like my last visit.

Now, without further ado, here are the places I went to on my second visit to Korea.

 

1) Petite France

The first area I went to is a village called Petite France. It wasn’t in my itinerary last year because I didn’t know about it. Haha.

It’s located near Cheongpyeong Dam and it’s usually included in bus tours as you will pass by here on the way to Nami Island. The last time I went to Korea, I took the subway and a local bus so wasn’t able to go here.

The village is inspired by The Little Prince and the French culture, and is popular as this had been shoot places of Korean Dramas such as “Beethoven Virus”, “Secret Garden” and “Man from the Stars” The kissing scene.. haha).

For more info, visit this: KTO – Petite France

Entrance of Petite France and the Eiffel Tower

Entrance of Petite France and the Eiffel Tower

More of Petite France

More of Petite France: (From top left) Main houses in Petite France with Man From the Stars photo stands; An antique shop; Little boy; The Ampitheatre, where puppet shows are held; And me with The Little Prince.

I’m really happy that this was in the itinerary since I’m dreamed of going to France since forever. This gives me a little taste of it. 🙂

 

2) Nami Island

Next, of course is the very popular Nami Island. This is also famous due to it’s exposure in the Korean Drama, Winter Sonata. Nami is a place for families, friends, and lovers (case in point, Winter Sonata), as it has facilities for camping, picnics, and water sports. For me, this place is best visited in Spring time where the weather is perfect and flower-bearing trees are in full bloom.

For more info, visit: KTO – Nami Island

Nami Island: (From top left)

Nami Island: (From top left) Ferry boat and Nami Port; Blueberry Ice Cream (must try); Entrance of Nami Island; Korean Barbecue for lunch; Me and the snowmen; Korean BBQ being cooked; Nami trees in summer; Selfie with Mervi, Sev, and Vix; Riverline Port (going to Nami)

 

3) Namsan Tower

Namsan Tower or Seoul Tower is radio transmission tower for several Korean networks. It was completed in 1971 but was only opened to the public in the 1980’s. It’ considered as a landmark of South Korea and you will often see it and dramas too many to mention. 😛

You can get here in two, ways. First, you ride a bus and they drop you off near the tower. Warning: you have to climb a long inclined plane which is okay if you’re althletic and young. Second, you take a cable car. You still have to climb but you can use steps can sit when you’re tired. My recommendation is to take the cable car because I’ve tried the first one this year, and I wasn’t happy about it.

Anyway, some of the sites here at Namsan Tower are Love and Locks and the observatory. I don’t have pictures of L&L this year as I had tons of it already from last time, but I finally got to go to the observatory and took some pictures.

Namsan Tower

Namsan Tower: (From left)

Unfortunately, the Teddy Bear Museum at Namsan tower has already closed. I visited it last year so it was fine, but f you’re a Goong  (Princess Hours) fan, it’s a must visit. Not to worry, there’s another one in Jeju Island.

Here’s a tip: If’ you’re not on a paid tour, visit Namsan Tower on a Monday as all the tours are off that day. Some friends of mine weren’t able to get in on other days because of the volume of people visiting the place. Last time I went, it was a Monday and there was no crowd.

 

4) Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)

The DMZ is the buffer zone or the border barrier between North Korea and South Korea. Tough this was included in the itinerary last year, we skipped this because there was a threat from NK during the time we went.

I got to visit the 3rd tunnel via monorail. It’s a tunnel dug by the NK to invade SK, but it was discovered. I also got a change to have a glimpse of NK through the telescopes at the viewing zones. It costs 500 Won.

DMZ

DMZ: (From top left) Me inside the monorail; Viewing zone; The 3rd Tunnel, FIFA Ball from the Korea-Japan World Cup; Viewing Zone entrance

 

5) Han River Cruise

This is one of the places I enjoyed the most because it’s the best way to see the colors of Seoul at night.  Aside from that, I got to ride the cruise I’ve been seeing in Kdramas for so long. Haha.

If you want to experience this too, I suggest you go here around 5:00pm to buy the tickets. The cruise starts around 5:30 or 6:00pm and will last about an hour.

Han River Cruise: (From top left) Bus mates group picture; Me at the Han River Cruise; Night view of the cruise; Yeouido business district

Han River Cruise: (From top left) Bus mates group picture; Me at the Han River Cruise; Night view of the cruise; Yeouido business district

For first time Seoul tourists, I suggest that you go to the Han River at night to see the colorful lights display. But if you’re a picnic kind of person, you might want to visit during the day.

 

6) Myeondong and Insadong

After the cruising and giving snowmen warm hugs at Yeouido, I went food tripping and shopping at Myeondong and Insadong.

So here’s the deal..

Myeondong is the shopping district. For those who enjoy splurging, this is the place to go. This is also a GREAT place to go food-tripping. The best street-foods are found here.

Insadong, is an arts and antique street. This is my favorite place in Seoul because the crafts you will find here are really interesting and unique. You can also shop here but there are more to choose from in Myeondong.

(From the left) Giving a warm hug; Pictures of with vendors; Shabu-shabu buffet place (forgot where)

Insadong Street

Teastory

Teastory: A tea museum we found on Insadong Street

 

7) Gyeongbokgung Palace

Gyeongbokgung Palace was the main palace of the Joseon dynasty. This is where the king’s throne was located and also the place where the royal family resided. You might have seen this if you watched Goong. I was a die-hard fan so I was really happy to be able to tour this place.

Last time I went, it was raining and it was so cold so I was only able to tour the throne and the garden. This time, some parts of the palace is being renovated. What’s good about this is that I was able to enter a different entrance and I was able to see more parts of the palace, especially the royal residences. I was also able to watch the guard-changing ceremony which usually happens in the morning.

Gyeongbokgung Palace grounds

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Open hallways; Guard-changing ceremony

 

8) The Bibap Musical

This is one of the funniest shows I’ve watched. I swear that this is worth it. Don’t worry, it’s a non-verbal performance so you would understand it. But better book a ticket on the English version so that the songs would be English.

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Bibap Musical

 

Below is a sample video of the show.

 

9) Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MoCA)

The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul is relatively new as it just opened in late 2013. There you could find interesting installments in different mediums featuring both traditional and contemporary art. Below are some pictures of my favorite installment, Home Within Home by Do Hu Suh.

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Home Within Home

If you plan to visit MoCA, I suggest that you allot around half a day to tour it. The place is really big and some installations are interactive so you might lose track of time, just like me. Haha. It’s easy to find as it is near Gyeongbokgung Palace. However, there is a minimal entrance fee as this is a private museum.

 

10) Trick-Eye Museum

This is one of the places Filipinos would definitely enjoy since we just love to take pictures, don’t we?

The Trickeye Museum is an art gallery with paintings created using ‘trompe l’oeil’ techniques that give each 2D art piece the illusion of being in 3D. So instead of merely viewing paintings (as in a typical art gallery), visitors can interact with the paintings, posing themselves just right so that they look as if they are part of the original work. Fun right?

However, since this is a small place, there’s usually so many tourists and you have to really really really be patient enough to be able take pictures in all the installments. Maybe it’s because I went here on a Sunday so just to be sure you would maximize your stay, better choose a weekday to visit this place to avoid the crowd.

 

Slide14

Trick-Eye Museum

 

11) Everland

I’ve been to a fair share of theme parks all over Asia, but not yet the ones in Japan and Disneyland HK (because it didn’t exist yet when I went there). And so far, this is my favorite. Below are some of my favorite features of the park.

They have a safari ride which lets you see the animals on their habitat. We got to ride a landrover bus (?). I don’t really know what it’s called. Haha. And it was so cool! (I sound like a child, but it was! Haha)

Slide19

Everland Safari

 

Everland also has a European Village where different foods from European countries are sold. Beside it is a BEAUTIFUL garden called, Four-Seasons Garden where you can take lots of pictures and pretend you’re in Europe. Hahaha

 

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Four-Seasons Garden

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Everland Park Grounds

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Fountain at Four-Seasons Garden

 

Another garden you will surely love is the Rose Garden. It’s another European-inspired garden where you’ll find different colored roses in full-bloom.

 

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Rose Garden: (from top left) Pathway to the garden; Heart-shaped rose installment; Red rose in full-bloom; Venus de Milo replica; Purple roses

Tip: Best time to go is Spring time. Weather is great and the gardens are so beautiful.

 

12) The War Museum of Korea

The War Memorial of Korea is found at the Yongsan Area in Seoul. It used to be the grounds of the Korean Infantry. On the grounds, you will be able to see the different vehicles used during the World War 2. And inside the museum, you will find different galleries on the war history of Korea.

There’s no entrance fee here so if you visit Seoul, consider going here. Caution, some exhibits are a bit sad so go here with a group if you’re emotional like me. 😦

Slide20

The War Memoria of Korea

 

So that’s it for my visit in South Korea. I might be coming back there again for the winter season as I plan on skiing with some of my cousins. I would love to hear your suggestions on other winter activities and places I haven’t covered on both my trips. 🙂

 

Book Review: I Wish They Taught Money In High School

I don’t usually write book reviews because I hate being a spoiler. Where’s the fun in discovering the treasure, or in this case, the knowledge yourself? But I since I owe so many things to these authors and this book, I wanted to write something special for them.

So now, I’m not gonna write you a boring review. I wanted it be a little bit personal since this book has helped me change to a better and more financially aware person. What I’m sharing with you today are the top 3 things l gained, yes, gained, not learned, from reading “I Wish They Taught Money in High School”.

The first one on my list is  “A NEW MINDSET” – I come from a middle class family and I am half the breadwinner. I say half, because my younger sister is helping me pay for the expenses of the family. And we are quite young, just 24 and 21. Nevermind the reasons why this has become our situation, but it is, until now. And because of this situation, I have been forced to compromise and compromise and compromise my dreams.

My situation is not new to the Filipino culture. The reality is, when things fall apart, as early as it is, the kids have pick-up the pieces. Some even become the retirement plan, which is not what’s supposed to happen. I don’t want that to happen to me. I don’t want to run out of money after an emergency. I don’t want to rely on a single income and when it’s gone, I have nothing left. And I am now doing something about it.

Since I read this book, I’ve started looking for other opportunities to invest on. Yes, I am investing and I am just 24. I started at 23. And I didn’t stop there. Because I opened my eyes, there were suddenly more opportunities for me, not just stocks or mutual funds. So many I didn’t notice were just in front of me. Why did I not see those before? So now, I am always on a lookout for new opportunities to study and invest on.

One of the authors once told me, “The key to becoming rich is that you have think rich.” So I began asking myself:  What do they do that sets them apart from normal people? What are their habits? What can I apply to myself? To my situation? And after reflecting, I tried to incorporate some of the learnings. And thus, I am now practicing “A NEW LIFESTYLE”, a better lifestyle.

I started with simple things. I pay myself first on paydays, which means I cut my savings first before spending it on needs and wants. I also spent a little less and re-allocated my money to investments. As time goes by, my everyday decision-making was also influenced. When I want something, I asses first if it’s an asset or a liability. And in a month, I was able to pay all my debts. A month after that, I was able to improve my cash flow.

Saving to invest has become a norm for me now. It’s hard at first because aside from my needs, there’s always something I want to buy, a movie I want to watch, something I want to eat, or an activity I have to spend on. Instant gratification is the weakness of yuppies like me, but I’ve learned to sacrifice little things to make way for bigger dreams and bigger opportunities.

Lastly, I gained “NEW GOALS”. When I started working, I felt so invincible because I now have my own salary. There are a lot of things on my wishlist and they all seemed do-able by the age of 30. Then, life happens and I had to take-on responsibilities bestowed upon me. I’m expected to grow-up a little early and share a lot more than people my age. And, my dreams, of course, have to be set aside.

Now, I have taken a U-Turn. I realized I can achieve them. I can achieve even more at the rate I’m going. Before, I never taught that I would like to have my own business. Now, I find myself planning the next five years, and planting the seeds to achieve these goals. So much has changed in the past 6 months that even though the times are hard, I’m still on track. I even added more destinations on my travel wishlist (harhar).

As Marilyn Monroe said, “A girl knows her limits but a wise girl knows she has none.” I’m so grateful to have come across this book as this became the foundation of my financial literacy. Cla and Sharon have become my mentors and inspiration. They have helped me realize that I can achieve financial freedom and I can do it at a young age, no matter what the situation is.

For more information about this book, visit: http://lifestyleupgrade101.com/

The Lighthouse

I’ve been traveling these past few days (for work, of course). But that doesn’t stop me from seeking out to capture a few photos. haha 😀

So here’s a photo of the hotel we stayed at in Subic. It’s called The Lighthouse Marina Resort. It’s known for having good service and GREAT FOOD. Will definitely stay here again when I go back. 🙂

The Lighthouse Marina Resort, Subic, Philippines