Saturday, February 27, 2016

Secured Credit Cards - Applying for BPI's Express Start

Image from

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

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. :(

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mars Recalls Chocolate Products in 55 Countries!

I was on my way home, on a taxi when I heard this from Mike Enriquez of 24 Oras on his morning radio show.

Mars said on Tuesday that it was recalling chocolate bars and other products in 55 countries, mainly in Europe, following a complaint last January 8 from a consumer in Germany who found red plastic bits and pieces in a Snickers bar and have sent it back to the company. The plastic was then traced back to Veghel where it was determined that it came from a protective cover used in the plant’s manufacturing process which also makes Mars fun-size, Milky Way fun-size, variety bags of fun-size chocolates, and Celebrations. 

The recall only involves the products that are made in the Netherlands at the Mars factory in the southern town of Veghel, a representative said, adding that the products were mainly sold in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe. Chocolate lovers in the United States need not worry as the recall does not extend to the company's home base.


I love Mars! I love Milky Way! I love the sticky, melt in your mouth experience they give with ecah bite. Never mind the Snickers (as it contains nut; I do not love nuts on a chocolate), but still a resounding noooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!

I know it basically affects European countries but with global commerce and importation and all, it would surely get around Asia. I've made a quick research online and found that Singapore have already  made a move.

So better be careful guys. make sure that ones you are eating at the moment do not have the "Mars Netherlands" on its packaging. For now, I settle on a local chocolate favorite, Goya while finding that list.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hong Kong and Macau Series - Itinerary Draft

This is a continuation of my upcoming Hong Kong and Macau travel post. See first post here. It would be a 5D4N adventure for a 3 adult and 1 kid group. We will be staying at Noble Park Hotel from April 11 to April 14 then At Sun Ying Hotel  April 14 to April 15 (We extended 1 day! Haha!). My main references are still Pinoy Exhange's Hong Kong Guide 2014 as it is very informative, Hong Kong Official MTR website for fare calculations and Discover Hong Kong, (Hong Kong's official travel guide) for of course, official and updated information. This is actually a second draft after being advised to revise my first one by one of the top dogs of the forum.

Image from ING Group's Flicker page

April 11 (Day 0)

9 Arrival HKG
10-11 Travel to Hotel
12 Charlie Brown Café
1 Wong Tai Sin Temple
2 Nan Lian Garden
3 Back to TST Avenue of the Stars on the way to Star Ferry to Lower Terminus
4 Peak Tram
5 Wax Museum
6 Trams Museum
7 Victoria Peak
8 Return To TST / Symphony of Lights
9-11 Fa Yuen Street
11 Hotel

April 12 (Day 1)

7 Travel to Macau
8-3 Macau / City of Dreams / Venetian Hotel / St. Paul Ruins / Lunch
4-5 Macau Tower Sky Jump
6 Return To HK
7-11 Dinner / Night Market / Fa Yuen
12 Hotel

April 13 (Day 2)

8 Breakfast /Travel to HK Disneyland
10-9pm Hongkong Disneyland
10pm Back to hotel / dinner

April 14 (Day3)

8am Travel to Ocean Park
10-5pm Ocean Park
6pm Back to Hotel
7pm ?

April 15 (Day 4)
8am Breakfast
10am Central Mid Level Escalator
12pm Checkout from Hotel
1PM Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car / Tian Tan Buddha / Po Lin Monastery / Wisodom Path
6PM Travel to Airport
10pm Departure
12AM Manila

Will be back for more updates!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Starbucks Philippines Cards: New Special Edition Siren Card and Easter Egg Mini Cards

Another reason to celebrate Easter! Starbucks Philippines just released their new card designs: The Special Edition Siren Card and the Easter Egg Mini Cards. Drool.

For the record, I'm not a huge Starbucks fan, but I do love their collectible cards and iconic city tumblers. I started collecting since the Pilipinas Agila (Philippine Eagle) design and have been hooked ever since. I now have 28 in total, three of which I brought when I was in Korea and two from the US which I bought online.

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From their website, the Special Edition Siren Card is fronted by Starbucks’ iconic Siren and is hand-painted with water color while the Easter Egg Card is delightfully decorated to get Starbucks lovers “eggcited” for the season. The Easter Egg Mini Cards are available in 4 colors: Blue, Red, Green , and Purple. Each has their unique design representing both Easter and Starbucks. Both cards are available in all stores by February 23, 2016. That's today!!! It's Php300 for the Siren Card which is a relief considering that it is limited edition while the Easter Egg Mini Cards goes for Php500 each.

Image from

Image from

One thing I've noticed from their website just now is that there's already a limit of five (5) activated Special Edition Siren Cards per customer per day, and a limit of one (1) of each Easter Egg Card design per customer per day. I believe this is a good strategy to prevent hoarding of cards, which of course people tend to do when a limited edition design comes out.

I'm especially eyeing for the green one since its my favorite color but I will try my best to get hold of all designs, The nearest Starbucks from my place is at Ali Mall and I hope I will get there on time.

So what are you waiting for?

Update as of 11:00AM. A friend of mine bought the whole set for me a a birthday gift! I'm all smiles at the moment. Thank you!!!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Secured Credit Card - Applying for RCBC Instacard

After being rejected by BDO for a VISA credit card application (despite the years I've had my savings account from them and the Php100k plus money in my account), and the tiring application process I have to endure for credit card applications (think, requirements, payslips, ITR's, filling up application forms) for three other banks aside from BDO, and the time it will take for an approval, I finally decided to settle in applying for a secured credit card.

A secured credit card is similar to that of a regular credit card, the only difference from a regular one is that a secured credit card needs a hold-out deposit/money/collateral. You will be able to enjoy what regular credit card users get - installment schemes, discounts, reward points, etc.

In my case, I decided to apply for RCBC's Instacard program since their website recommend doing so when I was automatically declined from having their own regular credit card. I've had the same experience when applying online for HSBC and Citibank since I do not have an account with them much lest a principal holder of a regular credit card from other banks but only RCBC recommended applying for a secured credit card upon rejection for a regular card. Here's a screenshot:

This hurts. Haha!

You will then be redirected to this page when clicking  on the link to learn more:

Enticing. :)

100% Approval sounds really really enticing, doesn't it? I then went to the nearest branch I know which is near Farmer's Plaza to apply for one bringing with me a couple of valid IDs, ITR, payslips, and a certificate of employment so I was surprised when what they asked was a copy of a proof of billing which luckily I have one with (I intend to pay the bills but somehow ended up applying for a secured credit card.). They also asked for two valid ID's and a picture. I didn't have a picture of me but they said it was fine. For the official requirements, here a screenshot from their page:

I was then asked to fill up an application form,and sign a Deed of Assignment. I started a time deposit of Php10,000 which I intend to raise within the next few weeks to increase my credit limit. The process was surprisingly quick. I arrived at the bank at around 3:30 PM and was finished 30 minutes earlier. I was then told that the card should arrive within two weeks to my preferred mailing address.

For now, I wait.

Sunday, February 21, 2016'd: Macau Tower Skywalk X

I was in Macau last January 2014 but since it was part of a package tour, it was a forgettable experience. Yeah, I did see the Ruins of St. Paul, rode the gondola at the Venetian Hotel, and have gotten lost on one of their casinos. That's just about it. Our time was so limited I didn't get to see much of Macau. Now that I'm coming back to Macau this coming April 2016, I plan to do better.

Enter Macau Tower. Having a  height of 1,109 feet, this tower dominates Macau’s skyline and offers sweeping views of the peninsula. I didn't know about this the first time but we did get a view while strolling the streets of Macau. This time, I made sure that our itinerary would include conquering this giant.

Bungee jumping has always been one of my travel bucket list since we do not have one in the Philippines (I've read we did have one in Subic but it is no longer in operation). So when I heard that there is one in Macau, I really got excited. I Googled it up and got heartbroken upon knowing the cost.

A single jump which includes Certificate, Membership Card & Exclusive T-Shirt is currently at a whopping HKD 3288! Converted to my currency, that's 20,162.35 Philippine Pesos! For a single jump, really? I just couldn't afford it, but I have to do something while I'm in that tower!

Enter SkyWalk. At 788 HKD (4,832.10 Philippine Pesos), I've accepted the fact that this is what I can only afford. Here. visitors gets the chance to do  15- to 20-minute open-air walk on 1.8-metre-wide outer perimeter circling the tower. Not bad. :)
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Being a budget traveler, one should know how to experience something at a cheaper price. This is how I came to know about It's a one-stop shop for booking amazing travel experiences online or via mobile to top destinations in Asia. At the moment, the cater to the following destinations:

Hong Kong

All you have to do is to create an account, pick a travel destination, then choose your desired activity. I chose the Macau Tower Skywak X + Admission for only 792 HKD instead of HKD 923! Their price comparison is in sync with the actual price one would see on the destination's official website. Talk about big savings! Having to pay via PayPal is a plus for some who do not have a credit card. Once  payment is confirmed, you can then present either a printed or a mobile voucher for this activity at the tower itself. Based from their website, buses are frequent and the routes 9A, 18, 23, 26, 32, MT4 will take you to the Macau Tower.

Can't wait for April!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Hong Kong and Macau Series - Reminiscing + Tips on Pre-planning a DIY Guide

I've already been to Hong Kong and Macau last January 2014. But looking back, have I really done so? It was a packaged tour, wherein every part of our itinerary have been accounted for. I don't know at that time why I didn't opt for a DIY experience. Yes, I've been to Disneyland Hong Kong, Avenue of the Stars, St. Paul Ruins, Venetian Hotel. That's it. I didn't get to use the MTR as transfers are included on our tour. I didn't experience the trams nor visited the Big Buddha. Heck, the only thing I appreciate now is the stamp on my passport because as of March 19, 2013, Hong Kong no longer stamps passport. Tourist are being given landing slips instead.

Don't get me wrong, I did enjoyed my stay there as it is my first time to travel outside the Philippines and I was with a close group of friends. The weather way back then was freezing since it was January, and I personally was not prepared for it. Hehe.

Anyway, I'm coming back to Hong Kong this April 2016 for my birthday! And this time, I'm hoping to really experience it DIY. To start off, I was tasked to create our 5 days four nights itinerary. I've been reading Pinoy Exchange's Hong Kong Guide 2014 and would like to share the below tips:

1. Hong Kong is much  more than Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland. But hey, I am still including these two destination as we have a ten year old kid travelling with us (it's his birthday too!).

2. Hong Kong is synonymous to walking, prepare for long walks so bring comfortable shoes. This is what I never experienced the first time I was there so I gotta prepare my self. 

3. A 5 minute walk for Hongkongers means 10 minutes walk for Filipinos (since most of them are briskwalkers). This is not a problem for me as I'm one. I'm not sure about my companions though. 

4. Octopus Card vs Airport Express Travel Pass. The consensus for this is that the travel pass is not worth it. You won't be able to maximize the ride-all-you-can. For those staying for 3-4 days, 150-200HKD is enough (including 50HKD deposit). If you are taking the Airport Express to the city, purchase it separately (preferably as a group so you will have discounts). The Airport Express has free shuttles to selected hotels. 

The Travel Pass is only recommended for travellers who will keep traveling back and forth using the MTR multiple times in a day. This is the only time you can take advantage of the unlimited MTR rides. If you are doing the usual first-timers itinerary which includes theme parks, this will not be worth it.

This is noted. 

5. Golden Crown Guesthouse has the cheapest tickets for everything. So for those who have enough time to buy from them on your first day, just get it from them. I'm actually looking into this as I'm also eyeing for discounted tickets (more on this on my next post). 

6. Unless you plan to exhaust yourself, don't go to Disneyland, Ocean Park and Macau in a 4D3N trip. We're on a 5 days 4 nights trip so I guess it's ok. Haha. 

7. Get a WIFI device or a 3g/4g SIM. Every travel abroad requires one. Good for sharing your experiene in real time and helpful when you gt lost. :)

TOP 10 Things to Do in Hong Kong

1. The Peak (includes Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum - BEST SEEN AT SUNSET/DUSK)
2. Ocean Park
3. Disneyland
4. Star Ferry
5. Century Old Ding Ding Tram
6. Nan Lian Gardens and Chilin Nunnery *No Tripods Allowed*
7. Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront (Avenue of Stars)
8. Ngong Ping Village and Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car (Giant Buddha)
9. Causeway Bay and Mongkok Districts
10. Stanley and Aberdeen (Jumbo Floating Restaurant)

Aside from Pinoy Exchange Hong Kong guide, I also use an app called Tripomatic. It is available in iOS and Android. It helps you plan your trip strategically by plotting points of interest like hotels, attractions, and restaurants on a map. It shows you distances between points, enabling you to wisely plan which attractions to visit on which days, and in what order (more o it on a future post).

This is is for now.  

While strolling in Macau

Figuring out on what to order. :)

WiFi dependent. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

2016 Starbucks Signature Store Tumblers

Hear ye! Hear ye! Starbucks tumblers collectors! Starbucks just released a new collectors' series!

The 2016 Starbucks Signature Store Tumblers Collection! According to Starbucks Philippines Facebook page, each tumbler is specifically designed for each store and was inspired by Filipino myths, coffee elements or prominent design elements of the store. Each Signature Store Tumbler costs Php645 and is exclusively available at its featured store.

The good news is, 3 of the 5 tumblers are well available in Metro Manila: Roxas Blvd., Ayala Avenue, and BGC. The other two, sadly, would have you travelling North to Baguio and then all the way South in Cebu. But hey, if there's a will there's a way, right? :)

I happen to be a Starbucks City Tumbler Collection, the global icon series in particular. But it wouldn't be bad if I got my hands on one of these babies. :) On a quick glance, the one from Baguio an Cebu caught my fancy. Great, the ones outside the Metro. Would have to find someone going there and pick one for me. Hehe. 

Here's the collection. Pictures and description are from Starbucks  Philippines FB page.  Which ones do you like best?

2016 Starbucks Signature Store Tumblers
Image from Starbucks Philippines FB post

Pretty, no?

Image from Starbucks Philippines FB post

Starbucks J.P. Laurel Building, Roxas Blvd. 
The first heritage concept Starbucks store in the Philippines. The staircase in the design is a tribute to the original architectural design of the store and the local belief – “Oro, Plata, Mata”. The square background represents the most prominent design element in the store – the preserved window panes and wall decors from the original building.

Image from Starbucks Philippines FB post

Starbucks Ayala Center Cebu 
The first Starbucks Store in Cebu City. The inspiration of the design was derived from the Myth of how the Visayan region was created. It is said that the region was created from the seashell necklace of the Sky God’s daughter.

Image from Starbucks Philippines FB post

Starbucks 6750 Ayala Avenue 
The first Starbucks Store in the Philippines. The tumbler design is inspired by the “Legend of the first Firefly”. The circular elements in the design also represents the hanging lamps of Starbucks 6750.

Image from Starbucks Philippines FB post

Starbucks Camp John Hay
The first Starbucks Store in Baguio City. The tumbler design is inspired by the famous legend in Cordillera region, the “Legend of Lizard and Crow”.

Image from Starbucks Philippines FB post

Starbucks 32nd and 7th Avenue, BGC 
The first Drive Thru and LEED certified Starbucks store in the Philippines. The design is a homage to tree legends found in the Philippines. The tree also represents Starbucks’ initiatives to maintain a sustainable and clean environment for it’s community.

My Starbucks Global Icon Series City Tumblers Collection

Everyone must probably have their own collection.  I used to collect stamps way back when I was in grade school.  I even joined a philatelic society which was based in Pampanga and even travel all the way to Philippine Daily Inquirer's head office in Makati just to get a bunch of stamps I won from their Junior Inquirer weekly contest. I have three full albums of it which are still stacked away on my old dresser. I don't know really know when I stopped, but maybe it's when my sister no longer send me one from Abu Dhabi. 

Anyway, flashback September 2014, I started a new collection.  It started when I happened to be in Ayala Mall Cebu. I changed upon this cute green tumbler with a guitar on it and the word, Cebu. At that time, I was not really sure if I want to purchase one as I know that by doing so will trigger my obsessive compulsive attitude to collect them all. :)  After a good thirty minutes or so, I finally decided to give in. I thought,  somehow, they are usable, at the same time they can be good souvenirs. Thus start my Starbucks Global Icon City Tumbler Collection. I also opted to collect their tumblers instead of their mugs since tumblers are not fragile  to handle and they can be taken outside. So, everyone, meet my growing tumbler collection… 

Nice, eh?

I currently have forty four (44) tumblers in my collection, and it all started, of course in Cebu. I never thought my collection would grow from this in just a matter of a year and a half. My current favorite is still Cebu, as with every firsts in everything. You never forget the first time / one. Hehe.

I'm thinking of posting each and every one of my collection and some history behind. So bear with me. For now, I just want to show off the group. :)

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Getting Denied For a Korean Visa for Filipino Tourist in the Philippines

Image from

For some, being granted a visa to visit their dream location abroad is one of the best feelings in the world. However, not all applications get approved, and being denied for anything is also one of the worst feelings one would have to endure for a time. This post is merely specualations, or should I say, wild /smart guesses based on my own experience, and what I've read or heard. The only ones who definitely know are the consuls and they are not talking. :) I believe this is done so no attempt to override their process would be done. Much like credit card companies, they won't tell and would just ask you to retry after a certain number of months, which in this case, you can only reapply for a Korean visa after 6 months.

Sad life, I know.

Now, I personally was not denied one, but my nephew was, and we applied at the same time. As mentioned here, his wife was sent to Seoul for a business trip, and she invited us to tagged along. All we have to spend is the airfare and pocket money as the accommodation is shouldered by the company. And guess what, its The Westin Chosun. :)

So here's our profile:

32 y/o
Applied as a employed tourist
employed in a private company (BPO)
working for 3 and a half years in my current company as a Team Leader
Bank account: 4XX,XXX
Average daily balance: 2XX,XXX
Complete requirements

My nephew:
31 y/o
Applied as a student (He's studying as a caregiver)
Enrolled in a school for caregivers
Complete requirements
Bank account: 7X,)XXX (a chunk of it placed on his bank account 2-3 weeks before as mentioned by his wife)
Average Daily Balance: ?

At a glance, one would think that I have a high chance of being approved because of my high bank account. But was it that really the case?

Personally, what I think the mistake my nephew made is that he only placed a huge chunk of money 2-3 weeks before his application.  I believe ADB for 6 months is more important for Korean consuls to consider rather than the actual current balance of your account as anybody can have an amount be deposited on their account just what my nephew did.

Was it because he is an unemployed 31 y/o student? Though he submitted his school records and it was verified by the Korean embassy, is being an unemployed adult a no-no when applying for a visa?

Was is because he is a student caregiver? Maybe they mistook him as a caregiver accompanying his wife?  I've read somewhere that caregivers are frowned upon on Korea as they found it arrogant to have someone to attend to you  during your travel period?

Maybe somehow he left a blank space on his application form? It is important that all fields have entries and ones that do not apply to you should be marked as N/A (not applicable).

Or was it because of he placed conflicting information that the Korean embassy couldn't verify? On my part,  the Korean embassy did called our HR department and I was asked to return their call. I did and was just asked a few questions about my job, tenure and my position.

At the moment, these are the reasons I could think of that made him be declined from being granted a visa. We could only comfort him at that time.


I personally have not heard or read that one could appeal the denial. Heck, they couldn't or should I say wouldn't disclose the exact reason, much more review your appeal. But I guess one could try and just hope for the best. 

Anyway, I will be applying for my second Korean visa this August 2016 and I'm still very nervous about it. Will keep you updated. :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How to Apply for a Korean Visa for Filipino Tourists in the Philippines

Let me share a journal entry I did last December 2014.

Wishes indeed do come true. Although I’m not a member of KPop or Koreanovela hysteria that is still felt here in the Philippines since Winter Sonata days, South Korea has become a popular travel destination for Filipinos including myself. For me, it was the uniqueness of their culture. From kimchi to KPop to hanbok,  it all screams KOREA! It also helps that there are a lot more cheap flights available all year round with increasing number of budget airlines even though  South Korea have kind of tightened up their visa requirements recently.

 I visited Seoul in November-December, 2015. My nephew's wife was sent to Seoul on a business trip and she invited her husband and I  to tag along. It was November 4, 2015, but the tentative dates were by the end of November. In such short notice, I didn't even think twice. I thought, this is it, let's go! Imagine the scramble I took to apply for a Korean visa. With the APEC summit looming ahead, I immediately went to my bank to have my bank certificate and personal statement be processed. I also went to my company's HR to have me sent a copy of my ITR and a certificate of employment. We applied November 16 a day before the APEC summit and were asked to go back by November 25. The target date was November 28. Imagine that!! I know there are a lot of guides out there, but I just want to share my personal experience.  So here it is, your guide on How to apply Korean Tourist Visa in the Philippines. :)

Let me tell you that I was so nervous about this at first. I could not decide whether to purchase a ticket even before being granted a visa and take a gamble or to just wait until my visa gets approved. The plane tickets and accommodations  rates are getting more expensive each day into the target date. Yes, I decided not to risk it and just wait until I get approved before purchasing a ticket. I do not have the time to worry about the possibility of my application getting rejected. Making it worse, it’s my first time to apply for a visa directly at any embassy. All I have was a Hong Kong stamp on my passport back in 2013. Images of sweaty,  long, snaking lines and persistent travel agents flashed through my mind, making me the dread the whole thing even more. To my surprise and relief, the application process for a South Korea tourist visa turned out to be one of the quickest and least painful queue that I’ve ever had to endure. It was so organized that I must have spent no more than 60 minutes there total. I bet it took me much longer just to go to the embassy and back! Imagine if we can have the same to our government agencies (think: NBI)!  There’s nothing to worry about provided that all your documents are in order and complete. Single-entry tourists visa are good for 3 months from their date of issue, so I suggest applying 1-2 months before your trip. :)

To apply South Korean tourist visa in the Philippines is very easy and straight forward. That is, if you have the funds to show and complete requirements. I've even read that is even easier if you are have travelled to an OECD member countries for the last 5 years as you are no longer required to submit an ITR. For a list of OECD countries, you can check it out here.

Since it is my first time to apply for a visa, I'll only be tackling Tourist Visa Requirements for Filipino Employees. So if you are applying as otherwise, this post would not be helpful for you.

Tourist Visa Requirements for Filipino Employees

1. Application Form (You can download it from here.)
2. 1piece of Passport size colored picture (II don't think they have a rule on what color should the back ground is but I chose the ever classic white background. LOL)
3. Original Passport (Should be valid for more than 6 months. Attach your photo on the form with a glue. Never tape or staple your photo as the embassy won't accept this. Luckily, the embassy provides glue.)
4. Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (Page 2)
5. Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries for the past 5 years (If applicable, and Korean Visas will not be counted)
6. Original Certificate of Employment
   (must include applicant's position, date hired, compensation, office address, HR landline number(cell-phone number is not allowed), HR e-mail address. This is important I believe. Miss one and it's goodbye visa!)
7. Original Personal Bank Certificate
   (Must include account type, current balance, account opening date, average daily balance (ADB). I also believe that this is very important. They actually call your emplyer to verify)
8. Bank Statement
   (Original or certified true copy of bank statements/passbook for the last 3 months)
9. ITR(Income Tax Return) or Form 2316 Copy
10. Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)

Being the obssesive-compulsive that I am, I even made a hard copy of this list so I can literally check it off.

Where to Apply Korean Tourist Visa in the Philippines?

Address : 122 Upper McKinley Road
McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio
Taguig city 1634, Philippines

There's no need to schedule an appointment. Just walk in and hope for the best. :)
Monday-Friday 08:30-12:00nn only

I personally took a taxi from Eastwood City to get there. Just inform the driver to pass along C5. Its right after the SM Aura Mall.  Those who are coming via EDSA, I must warn you, don't. But if you must allot at least two hours of travel time and expect more because of the eternal traffic. For those who are driving themselves there, I highly recommend that you go early since parking is pretty limited.

As you get to the Korean Embassy, you will be asked to log on their visitor's monitoring form at the entrance and to leave an ID to get your gate pass. You then head inside and follow the path towards the visa office, and get a number from the front desk nearest to the door.

There are three windows for visa application, Windows 1 and 2 are for those who are first-time traveler (those without a visa from any of the OECD countries) and Window 3 is dedicated for all those with visas issued by any of the OECD. countries.

As mentioned, the wait was short, maybe because we got there early and I made sure to have all my documents needed ready. Heck, I double, even triple check my documents while waiting and this includes going through the form again making sure I didn't leave any blanks.

As soon as your number flashes on the screen above the window or when you hear your number being called, head over and hand all documents to the embassy staff. He/she will check if you got everything complete and you will be handed a white claim card that contains the date of your passport's release.

Whew, that was fast!

How long is it to Apply Korean Tourist Visa in the Philippines?

First Time Applicants: 5 working days
Frequent Travelers: 3-4 working days

How much is the visa fee of Korean Tourist Visa?

59 days (or less) stay in Korea — GRATIS (free)
60 to 90 days stay in Korea — PHP1,800.00

We were asked to go back November 25, 2016. Imagine the agony I have to endure thinking whether I will be granted one or not. When the day finally came, I just head over to the same window and was given back my passport.

WOOOOOOT! Imagine my joy! I was very very very over the top happy, I could have cartwheeled  my way out of the embassy. Korea it was! Will do a separate article of my Korea trip last December as I only had the time now.

Unfortunately, this post would not have a really happy ending. It turned out, my nephew got denied. I will do a separate article about that although there's little to say as the embassy does not disclose the specific reason why you got denied They just provide you a paper with a check on the vague reason you got rejected. More on that in a few. :)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Heaven Xend -t!

I'm an occasional online seller. I have an eBay account and an OLX account. I sell mostly random stuff ranging from pre-loved personal items to cellphone accessories to collectible cards or kung sa anuman ang maisipan kong ibenta na gamit ko. Most of the time I do meet ups especially within the Cubao area, but I also do shipping especially if my buyer is from Alabang, Cavite and the rest of the South area. I usually use LBC, since its the one nearest to my location but I find them expensive. No offense, LBC! :)

I'm an occasional online buyer too and amidst personal horror stories of shipping and online scams, I actually prefer having the item I've purchased sent to me via post. That's how I came to know about other shipping services that online sellers use. Two caught my interest: Xend and FastTrack. I'll be blogging about Xend since its the one I just used. :)
It's actually pretty easy. First, you need a Xend account. You can create one here. Just fill in the required fields and click on the "Complete Registration" button. Easy peasy.

Once you have an account with Xend, you can now book a pickup schedule online. Just click on the "Schedule Pickup icon", choose a date and time that is most convenient for you (although they do not guarantee that they would be able to do so), and then click on the "Schedule pickup" button.

And then you wait. I scheduled mine between 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and it was picked up around 11:30 AM. I was also left with a lots of Xend pouches and manual waybills for future use. Talk about fast forward thinking. :)

It was really quick and convenient. I do not have to go outside of the house and fall in line. The best thing about Xend is that they have a badge system which displays how many successful deliveries a seller has made, which in turn boosts their credibility as an online seller. Not bad eh? Here's mine, and yeah its currently at zero! Haha!

ship and send via xend

It would be at 1 in a couple of days. Hehe! It's just sad that I only came to know about Xend just recently. Could have had more than 50. :( Any way, everyone starts from zero right?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Miao Cat Cafe Experience

Although I once owned a Pomeranian, I am more of a cat person. I love cats. Although I'm kind of  allergic to fur (it makes me sneeze uncontrollably), when I heard that there's one in Quezon City, I immediately search for their Facebook page and booked myself a slot. Their staff promptly replied and confirmed my reservation, much to my relief. I booked on a weekday as weekends tend to be jam-packed and prone to be fully booked before you even try to. Before coming to the place, make sure that you set a reservation. I did mine through their Facebook page:

Miao Cat Cafe

For reservations, please send a message with the below format:

Date and Time:
Number of Guests:
Contact Number:

They are open everyday at 11am-1pm, 2pm-4pm, 5pm-7pm, and 8pm-10pm. If you are wondering about the hourly breaks, is it because of the time it takes to clean up the place for the next batch humans and for the cats to have a break from them. Guests are also limited so the place would not get crowded and there would be enough cats to roam around.

Door rate is Php 300,  inclusive of a food and a drink. Their menu is somewhat limited but who cares? We'll all there for the cats. Hehe! I had the potato salad and a chocolate shake which are really simple but good food. The experience itself is enough.

A+ for effort on personalizing my drink. :)

I went there via public transportation so if you are bringing a car, you should go there early as parking spaces are limited. To get there, from EDSA, ride the MRT going to the North Station. Proceed to Trinoma and head towards the exit facing the McDonalds Mindanao Avenue. Ride a jeepney bound for Congressional Avenue and keep an eye for a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) store and Banco De Oro (BDO) branch. Alight at KFC and cross the road going to BDO. Walk along Congressional and look for a Cakes2Go store. There are no signs outside of the place but you will see a small entrance with stairs to the left side of the Cakes2Go store. I've been travelling along this area for years as a college student ad it really surprised me that there such a place in a rather sleepy part of the city.

Once you are there, you will be asked to review the house rules written near the entrance. You will also asked to use the disinfectant available and change your footwear to the available rubber slippers. I got there early for the 2pm-4pm schedule but it was worth the wait. The place was kind of small with minimal tables, of which are of Japanese style, meaning you would have to sit on the floor to enjoy your meal. Being the first among the 2pm schedule, I immediately grabbed one of the Japanese tables which I think is the best considering that you would have to play with the cats. There's also an open air balcony, maybe for those who are allergic to fur and those who need a breather.

The entire place is decorated with everything cat related. There are scratch posts, cat paintings, instax photos of the felines, old books, figurines. Everything is instagramable, as you would say.

Finally, the cats! Hehe. Most of them are sleeping during the schedule I have picked but they eventually woke up to play with us humans. Also, three or four of the cats were not available as they would have to go to the vet.

Of course, a selfie!

Another selfie.

Definitely worth the experience!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Walkthrough On How To Keep Easy Streak for 4 star Arena on Marvel Contest of Champions

For those who just happened to stumble upon this 'lil blog of mine, Marvel Contest of Champions is a free-to-play mobile fighting game developed and published by Kabam way back from 2014. Its available on iOS and Android and is cross-platform, meaning you can play it across different devices regardless of the OS unlike The Simpson's Tapped Out (which is another game I'm playing for a loooong time).

One of this game's highlight is the Arena System wherein you grind your way to a new 3 star or 4 star champion for 3 days (6 days if you plan on doing the arena rerun). Grinding means playing nonstop for 3 days (less sleep, eat, and work), and spending units (game currency) just to be on the top ranks to get the coveted 3 or 4 star champion prize.

Anyway, I'm a former Marvel Contest of Champions addict. Well, soon to be former, as I rarely have the time to play due to work schedule, although I have yet to inform my alliance. Haha! My alliance is mostly composed of players from India and they are very competitive and dead serious about the Alliance Quest (more on that in the future). I just thought on sharing a walk through for easy streak in 4 star arena which really helped me in increasing my roster since the Abomination arena. This would generally help you building your champion roster which in turn will have you desirable to most alliances. My last arena was the one before Scarlet Witch I think, and I've only stopped playing for a month. The current arena is of Deadpool X-Force at the time of writing.

Streak 1-6 You can use your 3 star champ teams in increasing PI (power index) order
Streak 7-8 Use Rank 4 3 star champions or better
Streak 9-10 Use maxxed 3 star champions
Streak 11-15 Use only Rank 3/30 4* teams (for streak 11 you can use maxxed 3 star team as well if you are good)
Streak 16-20 Use 4 star champions only (4* 3/30) (You can mix 2 4 star champions with 1 maxxed 3 star in a team and it works)
Streak 21-25 Use only 4 star 3/30 or 3 star  maxxed teams
Streak 25 onwards Try to keep team PI 4K+

Remember,  don't use 4 star team below Streak 10 and don't use 3 star team from Streak 12-20

This has worked for me and  I hope it will help you.

This game is highly addictive. You've been warned. :)

Friday, February 12, 2016

Resurrection II

After 4 years. Itutuloy ko pa ba 'to? Or bored lang ako? I want to write, but I do not know what to write about. Or I do have a lot to write about pero takot lang ako na may makabasa nitong blog na 'to at asarin ako sa personal. Maybe I should start with something.  For now, eto na lang muna. See you tomorrow. I hope.