Monday, December 05, 2016

Starbucks Card Philippines - Damaged Christmas Polar Bear and Squirrel Cards

This should be a happy post. Today is the release of Starbucks's limited edition metal wrapped, polar bear and squirrel cards. I've managed to buy a pair for a friend's and my collection.

As a collector, I want my cards in pristine condition, scratch-free if possible. Imagine my dismay when I took the polar bear and squirrel cards out of their package and saw a damage.

I'm pretty sure it's all because of the packaging. Instead of being flat against the cardboard back, the packaging have slits on them where the card is inserted. The result is that the card is stained by the black packaging and cards were distorted around the corners where they are initially inserted on the packaging.

I'm making this post only to record that I have called Starbucks regarding the matter and have given photos as proof. I have been given a reference number and a promise to get back to me within seven days. If you also happen to be one who has the same problem, please call their customer support:

Metro Manila

(02) 462-6262  or 1-800-10-462-6262
Mondays to Fridays , 8am to 10pm
Saturdays to Sundays , 10am to 10pm

I'm really looking forward to a favorable resolution.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

#kolokoytravels - South Korea - Day 1 of 6 - Arrival

As promised, this is an effort to create a chronicle of my day by day experiences in Seoul last September 13 -18, 2016. If one could remember my post, my day 1 is scheduled as below:

7:00 AM - Departure MNL
12:00 PM - Arrival ICN
Allot at least an hour or two to go through immigration, change currency, buy T-Money, pick up a WIFI device, and purchase a train ticket to Seoul
1:00 PM - Travel to Hotel
AREX EXPRESS/NON-STOP TRAIN take about 43 mins travel time
2:00 PM - Hotel
3:00 PM - Seoul Animation Center
4:00 PM - Namsam Cable Car / N Seoul Tower
8:00 PM - Myeongdong Dinner
11:00 PM - Back to Hotel

Both of my flights to Seoul back in November 2015 and September 2016 were via Air Asia, and I could not complain much. Travel time is four hours. I know airport food is bad, (at least for economy flights) but tried it anyway. Hate to admit it, but I did enjoyed Air Asia's Nasi Lemak, a Malay fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. I've read that a traditional one consists of sambal, anchovies, peanuts and boiled egg. It is Malaysia's national food and would love to try the authentic version sometime in the future.

Expectation VS Reality. Haha!


Both flights were on time and I didn't experience any hassle during immigration. One should know by now that:

1. Although it is common practice to book an early arrival flight to your destination and a late departure going back, consider that most hotels, hostels and guesthouses have a standard check-in time of 2:00 PM and checkout time of 12:00 PM. It is best to check with your accommodation's terms on check-in and check-out times.
2. Be at the airport at least 4 hours before an international flight, especially if your flight is in the afternoon or during the rush hour. Everyone know what it's like in EDSA. You don't want to miss your flight, do you?
3, Check in online. In my experience, there are always a separate line for those who have already undergone the process of web check-in,
4. Have your travel documents ready. Make sure that your passport is more than 6 months before its expiration date, and have at least 2-4 blank pages.
5. DO NOT get over-baggage. It hurts. It will really hurt your pocket. I had my own little story but would blog about it sometime in the future. :)
6. Always pray for a safe flight. Enough said.




Arrival

Once you are in Incheon International Airport, allot at least an hour or two to go through immigration, change currency, buy T-Money, pick up a WIFI device, and purchase a train ticket to Seoul. In  that order.  Why? My friend and I happened to claim our AREX ticket to Seoul first and got caught up doing selfies on the train since we were one of the first ones there. 10 minutes before it departs, I suddenly remember that we still have not gotten our pre-booked WIFI devices. LOL. It slipped from our minds since we are enjoying the free WIFI of the airport and the train itself. It was really lucky for us to be allowed and were able to get off, exit the station and claim our WIFI devices and being allowed in again for the next train free of charge. Although we lost an hour of travel time, it is better than arriving in Seoul Station and then go back to ICN all over again.


Tips:

1. If you own a credit card, check with your issuer if there's an ongoing promotion. We scored a free AREX ticket to Seoul by just presenting our JCB Lucky Cat card. A discounted fare for adults is 8,000 won.  Lucky indeed. We would have gotten a free ticket back to Incheon if only we remembered using JCB on our expenses.
2. Buy Korean won while still in the Philippines. Never exchange all of your money at airports since they have the worst exchange rates and are always lower than local money changers in that country. Make sure to exchange just a small amount of your cash and then exchange the rest of your money once you find a local money changer. Czarina's and Sanry's are two of the most popular money exchange in Manila. I believe some banks also offer one but you need to have it reserved weeks before your intended flight.
3. Pre-book your WIFI devices. Even though many are available upon arrival, it would be less of a hassle filling in forms and conversing in English when you can just present a voucher and claim your device in minutes. I booked mine with WiFi Korea the first time I was in Seoul while my second one and almost all of my international activities with Klook.

To be continued.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

#kolokoytravels - South Korea - My 6 Days 5 Nights Itinerary



For most people, including myself, drafting an itinerary is one, if not the best part of travelling. It comes along with the excitement of scoring a ticket from a seat sale and the anxiety brought about by applying for a Korean Visa.

First off, I really would like to write a guide about Seoul but do not have the time or enough expertise to create one. This is just based from my personal experience which I would like to put into writing.

This is how I drafted my Seoul itinerary for my September 13-18, 2016 trip. Although this is my second time being in Seoul, this is the first time that I'm travelling with a companion. I therefore considered including the basics even though I have already been there before. There's so much to see and to experience that six days are not really enough - one reason to get a multiple entry visa. Haha!

I will try my best to do a day by day report with tips and take aways but for now,  I will begin with a summary. My excuse to get this post updated sometime in the future.

Day 1 


7:00 AM - Departure MNL
12:00 PM - Arrival ICN
Allot at least an hour or two to go through immigration, change currency, buy T-Money, pick up a WIFI device, and purchase a train ticket to Seoul
1:00 PM - Travel to Hotel
AREX EXPRESS/NON-STOP TRAIN take about 43 mins travel time
2:00 PM - Hotel
3:00 PM - Seoul Animation Center
4:00 PM - Namsam Cable Car /
N Seoul Tower
8:00 PM - Myeongdong Dinner
11:00 PM - Back to Hotel


Day 2


7:00 AM - Train to Everland
10:00 AM - Everland
4:00 PM - Travel to Hongdae
6:00 PM - Explore Hongdae
10:00 PM - Back to Hotel

Day 3


8:00 AM - Gwanghwamun Square
9:00 AM - Gyeongbokgung Palace
11:00 AM - Lunch at Tosokchon Samgyetang
12:00 PM - Changdeokgung / Huwon Garden
2:00 PM - Changgyeonggung
4:00 PM - Bukchon Hanok  Village

Day 4


Korean Folk Village
Dongdaemun Design Plaza
Cheonggyecheon Stream and Cheonggye Plaza
Namdaemun Market
Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain

Day 5


7:00 AM - Travel to Gapyeong
9:00 AM - Gapyeong Rail Park
12:00 PM - Petit France
2:00 PM - Nami Island
6:00 PM - Travel to Seoul
8:00 PM - Explore Myeongdong

Day 6

Depature ICN
Arrival MNL

Resources:

Visit Korea
Pinoy Exchange Seoul City Thread
Korea Subway Map

Sunday, November 27, 2016

#kolokoytravels - South Korea - Filling Up Your Visa Application Form

I've undergone the process of applying for a Korean Visa twice already. The first one was last November 2015 and I was given a single entry visa. The second one was last August 2016 and was given multiple entry for 3 years.

The funny thing here is that I was actually more nervous about my second visa application than my first one. Maybe its the adrenaline rush of last minute application as my intended flight was November 28, 2015 while I only applied November 17, 2015. Ten days. Haha! I would not forget it as it was the day before the APEC summit 2015 and therefore a long holiday. What I did at that time is to secure myself a visa first before purchasing a flight to Seoul. Since my bank account was quite impressive at that time, I didn't worry much of getting approved or declined since I do not have my flight tickets yet. I was approved November 25, 2015.

My second time is a different story. I was very nervous about this because the plane tickets for our "Seoul in September" had already been paid in full, and my bank account was not that impressive as it used to be. I was really worried about the possibility of my application getting rejected. Good thing I came across BPI's Imagine Your Korea promo, and secured myself one. See my story here.

Both application processes for these South Korea tourist visas are one of the smoothest and least painful that one would ever had to endure. My actual travel time of two hours is way longer than the visa application process itself which only took 20 minutes at most. I actually timed my second visa application. Haha! It was so organized that I must have spent no more than 45 minutes at the embassy on both times. It really had me wishing that someday this darned country learn or at least can implement such efficient way of acquiring national documents.

Here's my take on the steps to apply for a South Korea tourist visa. Please note that this is for "FOR EMPLOYEES" type.

Step 1: COMPLETE BASIC REQUIREMENTS

Here are the documents that all applicants need to file.

1. A completed visa application form.
-You can download it here.
- It can be handwritten or typed. My first one was handwritten while I had it typewritten on my second application.
- It must be in A4 size paper.
- Do not leave anything blank. Put N/A if not applicable.
- National Identity No - put N/A as we Filipinos do not have one.
- DETAILS OF VISA ISSUANCE CONFIRMATION - This is only for those who possess confirmation of visa issuance issued by the Immigration Office of the Republic of Korea. Put N/A.
- Passport Type - Tick Regular unless you have otherwise.
Don’t leave anything blank. Just put N/A if not applicable.
- DETAILS OF SPONSOR - Unless you have someone over there to sponsor you, just put N/A. I personally believe applying without a sponsor is easier as it involves less documents and less interrogation from customs officials.
- Intended Period of Stay - For those whose bank account with Php50,000 or lower, setting 3-4 days on this section is a common practice since it means less expenses and therefore less explanation on your financial capabilities. You are guaranteed 15 days of entry once approved anyway.
- Intended Date of Entry - Single-entry tourists visa are good for 3 months from their date of issue, so I suggest applying 1-2 months before your trip.
- Address and Contact Numbers in Korea(including hotels) - You can do mock booking on sites like Agoda, Booking and Expedia, all of which offers free cancellation for worst case scenarios.
- Estimated travel costs(in US dollars) - I entered $1000 for a 6 day trip.
2. 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm colored passport photo with plain white background.
- Smile without teeth is ok. Haha!
3. Philippine passport.
- As with most countries, it should have at least 6 months remaining validity. Submit without jacket or cover.
4. Photocopy of passport bio page (page 2).
- I provided a colored photocopy.

Step 2: PROVIDE ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS

1. Original certificate of employment to be printed on your company’s official letterhead. It must contain your position at the company, date hired, salary, office address, HR landline number (cell-phone number is not allowed), and HR e-mail address.
2. Photocopy of income tax return (ITR Form 2316).
- Frequent travelers who have traveled as tourists to OECD member countries within the last 5 years are exempt from submitting an ITR.
3. Original personal bank certificate. It must include account type, current balance, account opening date, and 6 months average balance (ADB).
- Whenever I explain to someone what 6 months ADB is, I always tell them that if you wish to travel to South Korea in July, you have to make sure you have at least Php50,000 on your bank way back from January.
4. Original or certified true copy of bank statements / passbook for the last three (3) months.
- #s 2,3, and 4 is not required when you have a BDO or BPI Gold or higher credit cards but I still brought one just in case.
5. Original and photocopy of valid visa(s) and arrival stamps to OECD member countries within the last 5 years.
-Valid visas to OECD member countries will greatly increase your chances of getting approved so be sure to submit these if you have them. The easiest one to acquire is Japan.
6. If invited by a Korean national, you must also provide an invitation letter and photocopy of your invitor’s passport or ID card.
7. If invited by a company in Korea, you must also provide an invitation letter and photocopy of the Korean company’s business permit.
8. Copy of PRC or IBP card (if applicable).

Step 3: SUMBIT YOUR APPLICATION AT THE REPUBLIC OF KOREA EMBASSY

Once you’ve compiled all the requirements, you can proceed to the embassy (address at the bottom of this post). Scheduling an appointment is not necessary. According to their website, applicants may file their applications at the Consular Office from 8:30-11 am only. Please arrive before 10:30 am to allow time for processing. Mondays to Fridays. If you plan on staying in Korea for 59 days or less, then the application is FREE of charge (GRATIS). For stays of 60-90 days, the fee is PHP 1,800.

Frequent travelers and holders of valid OECD-member visas and those who have BDO or BPI Gold or higher credit cards will be directed to window 3 (even for first timers), while first-time travelers will be asked to proceed to windows 1 or 2. After they’ve called your number and reviewed your documents, they’ll give you a claim slip with a tentative release date for your passport.

As mentioned  above, the entire process — from the moment I logged at the entrance to receiving the claim stub — took no more than 20 minutes. Very efficient system they have here. Really. Just wow.

Step 4: DO THE RAIN DANCE OR PRAY THAT YOUR VISA GETS APPROVED

Once you’ve submitted your application, there’s little else to do but wait and pray for the best. The processing time for applicants with valid OECD-member visas and those with BPI and BDO Gold or higher credit cards is 3 business days, and 5 business days for those without. Releasing time is from 1:30-4 pm only.

When claiming your passport, be sure to write your name and contact number at the back of your claim slip. Depending on the strength of your application, you may be asked to provide additional documents and/or be subjected to an interview. Thankfully, I had none of that on both of my applications.



Or I would not be writing this post. Haha!

Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Republic of the Philippines
Address : 122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig city 1634, Philippines
Tel : (63-2) 856-9210, Fax : (63-2) 856-9008
Hours of Operation : 08:30~17:00 (Mon-Fri)

HOW TO GET THERE:
Going southbound on C5, turn right soon as you pass SM Aura. You’ll see a Petron / Jollibee / Shakeys shortly after. The exit to Upper McKinley Road will come immediately after this, with the embassy almost at the start of the exit. I used Grab on both occasions so I'm not really sure about parking. I've read though that the nearest parking is around the Tuscany complex.

DISCLAIMER:
I’m not an expert on South Korea tourist visas. Like most every one else, I'm just a lowly traveler and this is my way of giving back to the community. I’ll try to help as much as I can but please understand that my knowledge is  limited to my personal  experience only. Please be sure to check the embassy’s website for updates.

Good luck and God bless on your applications!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

#kolokoytravels - South Korea - How To Get Multiple Entry Visa via BPI and BDO Credit Cards

Back in November 2015, I was able to get the chance to travel to Seoul, South Korea with a single entry visa. It was for 6 day trip at during the early winter season.

I don't know if it was the weather but I told myself that I would returning to this country and experience its multiple seasons. A way to do that, is to secure myself a multiple entry visa. I'm not really an expert in visa processing but various reads from online forums, one can conclude that having multiple entry visa factors in your financial capacity and travel experience the most. So if you have an impressive bank account and have traveled a lot of places prior to your application, chances of snatching one is quite easy. But what about us poor budgeted folks and first timers?

Thank God for BPI and BDO credit cards!

My Story:

I just learned early 2016, a few months after my first South Korea trip that BPI has an ongoing promotion for their card holders, and this, I believe was the real reason why I got pulled into the credit card world. I originally intended to only have a classic Blue Mastercard from BPI for my online purchases. While browsing BPI's current promos, I stumbled upon this banner:



Cardholders will be provided with multiple VISA with respective validity:

BPI Gold MasterCard - 3 Years
BPI Platinum  Credit Card - 3-5 years
Gold BPI Express Teller Debit Card - 3-5 years

And the rest is history. My BPI Blue credit card is only a secured credit card. What I did was to increase my hold out amount for it to be converted to Gold. At that time, you need to have a credit limit of Php 75,000 for your card to be converted.  It took one phone call and two weeks of processing including delivery, and I had my ticket to obtaining a multiple entry.



A friend's story:



What he had was a BDO Shopmore credit card. For a BDO card to be converted to Gold, we were told that a credit limit of Php 50,000 should be reached. Luckily, this was already his limit and all he had to do is to call BDO for his Shopmore be changed into a Gold one. In two weeks, he received his card. This was his first time in applying for a Korean visa and have only gone to HongKong once. He also received a multiple entry visa for three years. 

I know the promotion will end by December of this year, but guess what? It's extended until 2017!



I knew a lot of KPop and KDrama fanatics, and although I do not share their passion for such things, I really would love for them to experience it on South Korea itself. So for those who are wanting to finally go for that dream trip to South Korea and plans to visits multiple times in a year for three to five years, this is an excellent opportunity to increase the chances of getting a multiple Korean tourist visa by applying with BDO or BPI credit cards. Please note though that BDO and BPI does not guarantee a visa issuance, I've not heard of anyone getting denied yet. All of those I knew who tried were given multiple entry even for first timers.  

Saturday, April 02, 2016

2016 Starbucks Signature Store Tumblers Batch 2!

After barely a month from releasing the original batch, Starbucks Philippines released another set of Signature Store Tumblers. This time, they've got new three designs and 10 new tumblers. It seems that the 8 Drive Thru Stores share the same design with each other. Davao and Boracay finally represent while Cebu got another design via The Drive Thru tumbler. each costs Php645 except for the Boracay variant which costs Php695.


2016 Starbucks Signature Tumblers Batch 2
Image from Starbucks Philippines FB post

Image from Starbucks Philippines FB post
Starbucks Mito’s Place Boracay 
The first beachfront Starbucks store in the Philippines. The tumbler design is inspired by the “Legend of Amihan”. Amihan was one of the first deities that lived in the universe. She turned herself into a bird to stop the conflict between Bathala (ruler of the sky) and Aman Sinaya (ruler of the sea).

Image from Starbucks Philippines FB post
Starbucks Abreeza Mall, Davao City
The first Starbucks Store in Davao City, Philippines. The tumbler design is inspired by Sarimanok, the colorful legendary bird of Maranao people from Mindanao.

Image from Starbucks Philippines FB post
Starbucks Drive Thru Stores 
This tumbler design is inspired by the scenery of busy streets where our drive thru stores are located.
The design elements were derived from car headlights and coffee mug stains.

Starbucks Drive Thru Stores
• Petron NLEX Marilao
• Metropoli, Libis, Quezon City
• Capitol Commons
• St. Charbel, Mindanao Ave.
• EVIA Daanghari
• South Hub Caltex SLEX
• Marcos Highway
• Axis Entertainment, Escario St., Cebu


So far I dig the Boracay design the most, which add to my personal favorites, Baguio and Cebu. I still can control myself from getting these tumblers though. I have a lot of the Global Icon Series that still need space to be displayed at.

Someday. Haha!

Friday, April 01, 2016

Opening a PNB Deposit Account




Now that I have a Philippine National Bank (PNB) Essentials Mastercard, it's inevitable that I would have to pay for the things that  I swiped. I just received my first statement and the hours it took for me to withdraw my funds from my BDO account to paying via PNB bank deposit had me decided to open one so I could enroll it on their online banking system so I could pay my bills online. With it, instead of my funds coming from BDO, I would directly deposit my payments to PNB.

Like any other banks, one cannot open  a PNB bank account without bringing the necessary requirements. With that, one must secure them first before going to any PNB branch, so that your bank account application will be approved. It is also important to select first what PNB branch will you going to open an account. For me it is important that a branch is near my residence or place of work. Luckily, there are two PNB branches near where I lived and I chose to open one that is near a shopping mall.

Requirements in Opening a PNB deposit account


1.) At least two (2) valid id's.

A combination of 1 photo-bearing ID and 1 non photo-bearing ID or a combination of 2 photo-bearing ID's. Bringing both 2 non photo-bearing ID's might not be accepted.

2.) Initial deposit.

It ranges from Php3,000 to Php10,000 depending on the type of account you want to open. However,  I opted  for the TAP Mastercard which requires no initial deposit or maintaining balance but still offers an interest rate. You just have to pay a minimal amount of Php15 every month as an account fee. This is okay for me as I would only use the account for paying my PNB Essentials Mastercard bills.

3.)  2 pcs 1" x 1" or 2" x 2" personal picture. Luckily I had a recent one tucked under the innards of my bag at that time.

4.) Billing statement. I didn't know about this one until I was asked by the bank representative. I told them that all of my utility bills are enrolled under electronic statements of account and have managed to provide a screenshot of some. This is a bit weird for me because as most are encouraged to apply for an online SOA, PNB are still asking for a hard copy. Good thing the bank representative accepted my situation and allowed my application to push through.

I was then asked to complete and sign several forms, which I submit along with photocopy of my IDs and billing statement. The process took 45 minutes to an hour (including the waiting time) and I was told to be back after 10 business days to pick up my card.

It's waiting game again :)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Secured Credit Card - Getting My RCBC Instacard



Update: Funds are now released! Yey!


Finally! I got my RCBC Instacard! After deciding to apply for one last February 22, and having my qualms about it not being able to be converted into a regular credit card, my Instacard arrived at my office address yesterday, March 30. That gives about a month or so from application to approval to delivery. Not bad.

What is Instacard?


Instacard is a Secured Credit Card (SCC) from RCBC. SCC means you have to place a time deposit for a year and you’ll be automatically given a RCBC credit card of your choice, subject to time deposit amount range.

In my case, I opted to place a Php10,000 hold out amount. This means that the card I would be getting will have a credit limit of Php10,000 as RCBC offer 100% credit limit unlike BPI's version of it (Express Start) which only offers 80% - 90% of your hold amount. The good thing with BPI though, is that you can have it converted to a regular credit card after a year of usage (subject for approval of course). This information actually the reason why I also opted to open one with BPI.

Anyway, of all the cards that I applied for last February (I applied for eight, 2 were SCCs, got declined by 3, got approved by 1, while the remaining two have yet to do their credit investigation), this was the one that got delivered the latest. I've already got my PNB Essentials Mastercard, and my BPI Gold Mastercard (secured) so receiving this card is some sort of anticlimax for me. I have yet to decide whether to use this regularly or just keep it for emergency use. Since this is by far, the one which has the lowest credit limit, this I suppose would be the least used card.

'Til next update.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Summer 2016 - Camaya Coast, Mariveles, Bataan


The entrance which is still far, far away from the main area.


I initially opted out of this trip. I had a large wound on my leg which personally prevents me from wearing shorts and had me conscious from wearing one. Luckily, I changed my mind and thought that this is the first opportunity to jumpstart my summer this year. I don't want to get jinxed the whole year. Hehe.

I've been hearing about this resort in Mariveles, Bataan, which is currently being dubbed as
'Little Boracay of Bataan" way back 2013. During that time, one wouldn't see any details about this resort except for an offering to invest in the area. With that, I perceived to be for members only resort. Then I became familiar with voucher sites like CashCashPinoy, Metrodeal, and Ensogo which offer day tours for as low as Php499. This I believe is what my superiors got for our team outing for this summer.

Via a private vehicle, it’s a three to four-hour drive from the metro. I've read that it is recommended to bring your own vehicle as Camaya Coast is not accessible by public transportation from the town proper of Mariveles, Bataan. One can also go there via ferry from Roxas Boulevard CCP Terminal, which only takes one and a half hours. I wish this was the route our group took but we opted for the land travel so those who came from a working shift have time to rest during the travel. 

Meetup was set to 4:30AM in Eastwood where I work. Of course, Filipino time had our group leaving at 5:30AM. I was asleep most of the travel time even though I came from a weekly off. Travel was smooth, did one or two stopovers and we finally arrived at Camaya Coast at around 11:00AM.

One thing I noticed from the entrance point is a vast land waiting to be occupied. It was a good 10 minutes drive to get to the beach area and you will pass by several units in the making, more empty lots which could house a small theme park or so. I'm really hoping that the owners and developers would turn this area into a mini tourist spot that would place Mariveles on one's vacation map. 

Prior to entering the resort, our van was quickly searched for food as bringing one was not allowed into the premises. Some of us managed to sneak in a few chips, haha! One really just have to know how to hide goods effectively. :) We were then given a plain white access card along with a meal stub to enter the area. You get to keep the card as a souvenir, which is good if only it was a designed one. Nevertheless, I kept mine for my collection of cards.

Would love to have a designed one.

On to the beach. The best I've been onto was still in Palawan and Camiguin, but Camaya Coast also has that  fine, off-white sand that is almost at par with the sands of the best beaches of the country. It is obvious that despite the still ongoing development of the area, its beach is well maintained. There' a lot of trash bins, you would be ashamed to litter.  Add to that the natural cleanliness of the waters, plus the fact that there are no sea urchins, no seaweeds. There are also lot of tables and lounges around the area were you can leave your things. They also have locker rooms to secure your belongings which I think is a bit expensive at Php49 per hour.

If there's one thing that I didn't like about this place, its that the food and drinks are expensive. I understand that this is a resort, but for its price, I would expect it to be presented in a bit different way. Other than that, the whole experience is a memorable one.     






An officemate looking fierce against a fine background.




The obligatory jumpshot. 
The whole team.




A nice goodbye photo from my manager.

More later. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Secured Credit Cards - My Journey to BPI Express Start



Aside from applying for RCBC's Instacard, I also applied for BPI's version of a secured credit card - BPI's Express Start.

Unlike RCBC's Instacard, BPI's Express Start can actually convert your secured credit card into a regular credit card after establishing yourself with good credit standing for a year or so.
Although your credit limit is only 80%-90% of your holdout amount versus RCBC's 100%, the prospect of having it converted into a regular credit card seals the deal for me.

So last February 25, I applied for a Blue Mastercard secured credit card. Initially I opted to place Php25,000 as my hold out amount. This amount would have my credit limit to Php20,000 or above. However, after reading something on the internet (which I would tell in the near future) made me change my mind and instead, I opted to place Php100,000 and request for a Gold Mastercard secured credit card.

Come March 10, 2016 (3 days after I received my first regular credit card from PNB), I received a text from BPI that my BPI Express Credit Card application was approved and the card should be delivered in 3-5 days time. I was not overly excited since I already have one regular credit card from PNB but nevertheless was happy as I will have a gold secured credit card with a higher credit limit.

March 11, 2016 - I got another text from BPI that my new card is on its way and I should expect 10 working days to arrive. Well, it arrived the same day but I was not at the office to receive it. Luckily the messenger left it to the guard to whom I left an autorization letter. Good job, BPI! For now.

The thing is, I was really hoping for a gold one as it would serve a bigger purpose in the near future but when I checked my Express Online account, I was dismayed that BPI have only given a Blue Mastercard. I immediately went to the bank and asked why this was the case. Is this because I originally applied for a Blue Mastercard and when I decided to apply for a Gold, the representative who assisted me just whitemarked the check on the Blue tickbox and then check the Gold tickbox?  Not even the manager know why I was given a Blue Mastercard considering the hold out amount I placed. She guessed that in order for me to have the Gold Mastercard, I may have to increase my hold out amount to Php150,000. I told her that I initially read somewhere that Php50,000 was enough as a holdout amount for a gold card. She then escalated my case to her superiors and inform me that she would call me for an update.

March 12, 2016 - I decided to call 89-100 just to confirm what the minimum hold out for a Gold Mastercard should be. The representative I talked to informed me that a Php75,000 credit limit is enough for a gold Mastercard. Since I have a Php90,000 limit, he advised me to visit my branch of account and request for a conversion.

March 15, 2016 - Coming from a graveyard shift, I visited my branch of account and asked for a credit card conversion form, filled it up and was told to wait 3-5 business days to be processed.

Dang.

It's a waiting game again for now.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Credit Cards - My First From PNB


Image from punepropertyblog.com


Good things do come when you least expect it.

After being declined by BDO and BPI, and resorting to secured credit cards offered by RCBC and BPI, I got my first credit card from PNB last March 7, 2016. It was a Blue Essentials Mastercard with a credit limit of Php20,000. Small, I know, but at least it's a regular credit card, not that secured ones are less desirable.

I was really surpised. I didn't receive any call or text saying that I was approved. I applied around the same time I applied for RCBC Instacard last Feruary 19. I believe I got the mandatory credit investigation call a week after and haven't heard from them since. I was not really hoping to be approved since I was declined by two banks already but Come March 7, I got a text from a friend that a package containing a credit card arrived at the office. I was expecting that it was my RCBC Instacard so I told him to open and place it in my locker. I asked if it was from RCBC and got suprised that it was from PNB!

I couldn't contain my joy and I'm very thankful to PNB for giving me the chance to avail of their credit card services. Thank you PNB! I promise not to miss any payment. LOL.

But wait, there's more! I called their hotline at 8189818 to activate it and happened to ask for my annual fee, I was told that it is FREE FOR LIFE! How great is that? My first credit card and no annual fee for life. I'm loving PNB every seconds. :)


Image from pnbcards.com.ph



Sunday, March 06, 2016

unit16sweets - Message In A (Chocolate) Bar


Personalized <3

I happened to pass by a food bazaar in Gateway this afternoon and look what I chanced upon. Personalized chocolate bars! The stall was of unit16sweets and they are selling chocolate bars with personalized wrappers! Much like everything else, I believe a gift is more appreciated when its personalized. The effort of thinking what to place in each bar and the thought of thinking of someone when you see a particular message feels good.  And of course, it's instagrammable. LOL.

 Each 45g  medium sized semi dark bar sells Php 35 a piece but you can get 3 for Php100. Not bad! I initially bought 3 as a birthday token for a friend but couldn't resist buying some of the designs as well.  I ended up buying 6 pieces more! Hehe.



Here's my favorite.

Cheesy.

Pa-cute.

This one's has a back message.

Gender sensitive. LOL.


For girl friends.

For guy friends.

It's a cute alternative from the usual giveaways (think, figurines), and comes in 3 sizes: small (25g), medium (45g) and large (8 oz). Personalized as it is, it can be given during birthdays, weddings, corporate or school events or even as a one time "I thought of you" token. I got one of their flyers in the event I need to order in bulk. Here's their price chart:


There's a minimum of 100 pieces per order and you have the option of having the chocolate bar be a local or imported variant, and the wrapper be of a glossy one. Flavors include Peppermint, Chili, Cappuccino, and Sea Salt. Boy, 

I would love to try the Chili and Sea Salt!

Contact Number: 091756956854 / 09178516454
Email: ask@unit16sweets.com
Faceook: /unit16sweets
Instagram: /unit16sweets


I have yet to taste one though. Maybe after this post. Hehe. I bought the semi dark chocolate variant and would expect a bittersweet (of course) flavor. Will update. :)

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

FOR SALE - Starbucks Philippines Easter Egg Mini Card Pink





Since I have an extra set of the Starbucks Philippines Easter Egg Mini Cards, I decided to sell one. Just click on the OLX widget at the right side to view my other stuff. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

52 Week Money Challenge - Game On!




I've known this challenge since two years ago but it is just now that I'm really going for it. I know  it has been 10 weeks from January but better late than never, right?

For those who have been living under a rock and who is not familiar of it, the premise of the 52 Weeks Money Challenge is simple: start the first week saving Php 50, and then  add the same amount every week for 52 weeks. By week 52, you will have Php 68,900. Tempting isn't?

Fifty pesos seems easy enough to keep weekly, but there will come a week (generally by Week 40 onwards), that you would have to save at least Php 2,000 a week. This may seem a burden to some so instead of having Php50 as a base amount, you can try saving Php 20, which will yield a decent Php 27,560 at the end of the year. If you want, a thirty peso-base will yield Php 41,340, while a Php 40 base will give you Php 55,120.

I'm personally aiming for the Php50 base. I even bought myself a cute coin bank (I couldn't find a large jar) from Clipper. I'm still thinking of what to do with the amount I will save, maybe a trip or two, who knows?  Wish me luck!


I'm gonna be happy indeed at the end of the year. LOL.


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Secured Credit Cards - Applying for BPI's Express Start


Image from www.bpicards.com/

After I applied for an Instacard and having reservations about their program, I decided to apply yet again on another secured credit card program this time with BPI's Express Start. The thing is, after learning that RCBC's Instacard do not up upgrade your secured credit card into a regular credit even after several months of being a good payer, I've decided to go to a similar program that rewards its clients for being a responsible card user.

Having an ATM Savings account in BPI Family Savings Bank, I decided to give it a try yesterday. Before doing so, I've read several blogs and noted that it is generally better than RCBC's Instacard program. Armed with my ID's and an additional deposit amount, I went BPI Family Savings Bank P. Tuazon branch (the one in front of Ali Mall). I initially went to one of their cash deposit ATMs and placed Php 13,000 so my hold out amount would be Php25,000. I then went to one of their representatives  and asked about the BPI Express Start program. The representative, in fairness, knew about the program but the way she handled or assisted me lacks the "eagerness to assist" attitude. I don't know if it because it nearly lunch time when I got there and there's so many forms to fill up which could delay her break, or the fact that I am just applying for a secured credit card with a low hold out amount meaning I'm not one of the elite customers who should be prioritized.

Being a customer support representative the past 3 years and 8 months, I understand the effect of having a great customer service which I didn't feel when I entered the place. Don't get me wrong, I am not expecting a grand welcome with red carpet and marquee and the like. Hehe. A simple smile, or a simple gesture like appreciating my interest in applying, and then asking me to wait while they finish the one ahead of me, would do. Sadly, nothing.

So when the representative asked me to photocopy my ID's (indeed I read in a blog that some BPI branches do not have photocopying machines or they just don't let you use them), I didn't return and instead went to look for another branch. Good thing I found one in Annapolis, across the Gateway Mall, Aurora Boulevard exit. I believe the branch was recently opened or renovated because everything just looks brand new.

I entered and I was instantly greeted with a warm welcome by a representative and was asked what I would like to do. Nice. I informed her of my intention to apply for a secured credit card was quickly assisted. She first informed me of how it works and handed me several forms to fill up. Since I already have an ATM Savings account with one of their branches, I was told that I no longer need to open one with them.

Just like applying for an Instacard, the process was smooth and quick, I chose to have Php 25,000 hold on my account and applied for a Blue Mastercard.

Here are the requirements:


1. Must be at least 18 years old
2. Must have a business or residence contact number
3. Completely filled out and signed Express Start Application Form (Available at the branch)
4. Completely filled out and signed Deed of Assignment (Available at  the branch)

It is important to note though that unlike Instacard whose credit limit is 100% of your hold out,  Applicants for BPI's Express Start may only  get a credit limit of up to 90% of his hold-out deposit amount. I also read that it is also rounded to the nearest five so a Php 10,000 hold out may have PHP 9,000 limit if you are lucky and at the worst, Php5,000. To increase it, you just increase your hold out amount.

After filling up the necessary forms, I was told to wait for 5-10 banking days for the application to be processed.

Again, I will wait.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Secured Credit Cards - Testing My Faith in RCBC's Instacard


Image from dreamstime.com


Just last February 22 (Monday) I applied for RCBC's Instacard. Basically, it was a smooth experience. I went to the bank, deposited Php10,000, filled up some forms, and was asked to wait for two weeks. That's what I'm doing at the moment. While waiting, I Googled more about RCBC Instacard program and that's when I knew about long processing time, late delivery of the card, being unable to withdraw the hold amount, and similar horror stories.

I personally do not care about those. For me, as long as you are are using the card and paying for it responsibly, there should not be  a problem getting your hold amount back. What made me think twice about my application was when I learned that one cannot convert an Instacard secured credit card into a regular credit card, Sad, no? Even after several months of being a good payer will not grant you a regular one. For me, this is deal breaker since of course, every one needs some sort of upgrade at a certain point, right?

Still thinking on what to do now. :(