Wednesday, February 22, 2017

First Timer's Guide to Philippine Passport Application

Finally, you have decided to see the world... However, before booking for a flight or applying for a visa, keep in mind that you need to have that one document that would allow you to travel abroad.

Readers meet Philippine passport...

The Philippine (PH) Passport is an important travel document that certify one of his identity and nationality. It is issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs or DFA. There are three types of PH Passports which are often referred to by their colors, the red (official), blue (diplomatic), and the maroon (regular). 

The red (official) is issued to members of the Philippine government for use on official business. the blue (diplomatic) is issued to members of the Philippine diplomatic service, while the maroon (regular) is the one issued to any Filipino citizen applying for a PH passport. Now, here's a guide for first time applicants, so that they could get their own little maroon booklet.

First time applicants should follow these easy steps in order for them to get their own PH passport. Read on...

1. Prepare documents and compile these in an envelope or document file folder. 
Here are the main documents that you need:
  • At least 1 valid picture ID. Here's the link for the list of acceptable IDs
  • At least 2 of these supporting document issued one year prior to the application. Here's the link for the list of acceptable supporting documents
  • Original copy of your National Statistics Office (NSO) birth certificate. You can order here.
  • Confirmed appointment form (to be discussed later)
Here's a printable file for first-time applicant requirements. 

2. Google the DFA site nearest you. 
This will help you identify the potential problems like traffic, road conditionas, and parking space that might hinder you from arriving on time. This will also be the location that you will input in your online application. Here's the link to help you locate the DFA site nearest you.

3. Go to DFA online and schedule an appointment.
Be sure to fill the details of the application form correctly. Don't forget to double check before submitting the details. Keep in mind that there is is a limit on the slots per day so expect that you can't schedule an appointment within the week (sometimes within the month too). After submitting your online application, wait for an email containing your reference number and the printable copy of your application form. Print the said form and include it in your document file folder. 

4. Arrive early and bring cash.
On your appointment date, arrive at least 30 minutes earlier from your scheduled appointment. Be mindful of the dress code. Aside from that no chaperones are allowed for applicants 18 years old and above and also don't forget to bring cash for the photocopy fee and processing fee. 

Regular processing fee is P950. Your passport will be available in 14 working days. 
"Express" processing fee is P1200. Your passport will be available in 7 working days.

You also have the option to have your passport delivered to your home by paying at the Delivery Counter.

5. Follow the procedures.

  • Present your application form and all your prepared documents at the Application Counter.
  • Sit in line and wait for your turn to have your documents verified. They may require some documents to be photocopied.
  • Sit in line again and wait for your turn to pay the fees at the Passport Enrollment Section.
  • After paying the required fee, go to the Encoding Section. Make sure that you look good because this is where your photo will be taken. Aside from that your biometric information will also be taken here. 
Now, we are ready to travel abroad! Let's go!

Congratulations, you just finished the necessary procedures in applying for your very own PH passport!
  • Oh wait, before I forget... You may choose to have your passport delivered to your home  by paying an additional fee at the Delivery Counter, but this is optional and you may just choose to pick up your passport at the DFA office on the specified date given to you.
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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Food trip: Sagada Lemon Pie House

Lemons are uncommon in the Philippines. As a matter of fact only a handful of farms with lemon trees exists in the country today. Majority of the lemons sold in the market are imported. Well, it is not a big surprise... The demand for lemon fruits surged only recently after the Filipinos were "awakened" to healthy living.

That is why, it is quite surprising to find a food establishment in the country that is well known for selling lemon pies. What's more surprising is that they are doing this for a decade now... (not to mention, this business is located in the mountainous regions of the Philippines.
Ladies and gentlemen... meet the famed lemon pie

Our food trip today, takes us to the Sagada Lemon Pie House in Sagada, Mountain Province. 
Those wall deco gives the place an ethnic feel.
tsk... this place gets crowded fast...

Sagada Lemon Pie House
opened in 2008. Sadly, it wasn't much of a success back then. The persevering owners didn't give up though. They diligently brought their lemon pies to the public market of Sagada's poblacion until it got a cult following. From there, just like what they say... the rest is history.

I love the interior of this place.

Today, you don't need to scour the public market to taste these scrumptious lemon pies. You ca visit their store in Atey, Daoagan in the town of Sagada. Just so you know, they also serve fresh brewed coffees, egg pies, and even blueberry pies during early summers.
why don't you try a slice first...
I got to visit Sagada Lemon Pie House during my Sagada Tour with my wife. During our visit, the place was crowded with tourists wanting to taste the famous delicacy. What I like about Sagada Lemon Pie House is its very native yet homey ambiance. It's great for dates or barkada bondings.
have one or two to go!

Overall, I would highly suggest that you visit Sagada Lemon Pie House when you are in town.

Check out what they have to offer.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Kawa-Kawa Hill Mountaineering Adventure

Located in California Village, Brgy. Tuburan, Ligao City in the province of Albay, Kawa-Kawa Hill is a 236 meter land form (hence a hill) that got its name from its unique features.

The word "kawa" means cauldron in the local dialect. From afar the hil seems like any ordinary hill but when you reach the summit, you'd be amazed to find a six-hectare crater.
Station 1
Station 2
Station 3
Station 4
Station 5
Station 6
Station 7
Station 8
Station 9
Station 10

What I find intresting in Kawa-Kawa Hill is the Stations of the Cross. Each station has larger than life statues portraying the events leading to Christ's final moments. The Stations are lined up in the 500-meter path to the crater then extends up all the way around the 836-meter rim.

I also like the idea that the local government included recreational facilities in the hill. You'd find horses and ATVs for rent, not only that, you'd alaso see eagle aviaries, sunflower gardens and a nice view of Mayon Volcano and Mt. Masaraga. I won't be surprised if one day, they'd include a zipline, anicycle, or even a hanging bridge that goes across the crater.
My sister and cousin seems to enjoy this one a lot

Overall, I enjoyed my visit to this one of a kind tourist destination.

Looks like:
Taal Volcano or a cooking pot

The boiling hot liquid

Getting there:
From manila board a bus heading to Legazpi City. Inform the conductor to drop you off at Ligao City. From there ride a jeepney or a tricycle to bring you to Kawa-Kawa Hill.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Tarlac: Aquino Ancestral House

Located in the town of Concepcion in the province of Tarlac, Aquino Ancestral House is an old Pre-war mansion owned by the (highly political) Aquino clan. 

The Aquino clan, as most of us know, is a political clan known for producing generations of politicians. The most famous (and last occupant of the house) is Benigno Aquino Jr. also called Ninoy by most. He is the senator turned martyr during the Marcos regime. His wife would then become the 11th President of the Philippines after his assassination and the subsequent  EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled Marcos from his seat of power. Several decades later his son Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III would become the 15th President of the Philippines. 
surprisingly well maintained
NHI Marker

Probably Kris...
Check out the rooms in the house...

Going back to the Aquino Ancestral House, it was built sometime in the mid 1930s and was completed in 1938. The house was said to be designed by an architect from Laguna but the construction was heavily supervised by Benigno Aquino Sr. (dad of Ninoy) also called Apung Igno. He is also a politician and as a matter of fact served as Speaker of the National Assembly of the Second Philippine Republic. Sadly, he is also known for being a collaborator to the Japanese during the Second World War. 
That's the room of Ninoy's parents
Second floor altar and prayer area
The pink tub

Check out the sala
The architectural design of the house is somewhat European inspired and is similar to those Pre-war houses of the rich farmland barons of Iloilo and Sariaya, Quezon. The interior of the house is made from wood, Narra to be exact (the material itself shows the owner's wealth). The furniture too is made from fine wood, crafted by the the great wood carvers of Betis, Pampanga.
The office
My favorite part of the house is its "office". Probably used by Apung Ignu,  it has a "presidential office" feel to it and reminds me of the Presidential Office in Malacanang. 
Biography of Benigno Aquino Sr.
I never knew that Jollibee is a member of the clan
Upon going out of the house via the main entrance, one would see and pass by the grand porch and the neo-classical columns of the house. You would also find yourself looking at the lawn with a fountain that surely has seen better days. One can also imagine President Noynoy Aquino and his siblings running around and playing tag there.
My family at the family dining table

Overall, one should find time to visit the Aquino Ancestral House if he/she passes the town of Concepcion. It might not be as old as the houses in Vigan, Taal, and Pila but one would still see for himself the home of the two people in your your P500 bill. 

Getting there:
From Cubao, ride a bus going to Tarlac. Inform the conductor to drop you off at the town of Concepcion. Travel time is 2-3 hours. Once in Concepcion, the ancestral house is just a few blocks walk away from the church.


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