Hardships of a Filipino Passport Holder

20170814_142412I want to travel to Japan (again) but my visa has expired.  That is why I am so busy trying to collate all needed documents and requirements for me to re-visit the Land of the Rising Sun.

While trying to fill out the Japan visa application form, I realized that it is hard to be a citizen of a very weak passport.  Humongous preparations are needed to be undertaken for earthlings like us so as to venture into having to experience the joys of travelling.

For other citizens with very strong passports, their first step when they want to travel out of the country is to scout for a good-priced airfare.  For Filipino passport holders, scouting for a bargain airfare would be pretty much at the latter part of the multitude of complex steps that we need to hurdle, overcome and accomplish.

Photo of specific size and background, bank certifications, tax certification, employment certification, birth and baptismal certifications, approved vacation leave certifications and correctly filled up confusing application forms are some of the obstacles that we have to undertake.

Thank goodness, Japan embassy need not schedule me for a one-on-one interview with an embassy consul.  Other embassies would even add up more requirements like a face-to-face interview, a digital photo, a biometric fingerprint record, a medical vaccination/s certificate and a good coverage of travel insurances to name a few.

Aside from being so confusing and time consuming, being a Filipino passport holder is more expensive.  On top of all these time consuming collation of necessary and obligated documents, breathing Filipinos like me needs to pay for the expensive non-refundable visa fees!

The amount of visa fee application can already be a supposed additional budget to a sumptuous dinner in a posh restaurant or a night’s accommodation rate to a first class hotel or the total train and taxi fares of the Filipino traveler to the country of his destination.   And the only assurance for Filipino passport holders applying for a visa is that they are guaranteed to pay for a visa fee, may their visa application is approved or denied!

It’s hard to be a Filipino passport holder.  We are unlike other citizens of this planet, who would simply buy their plane ticket, pack their bags, bring their powerful passport and proceed to the airport so as to catch the flight to a country of their preferred destination.

Josmiyo!

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Three Meal Periods at the Number 2 Restaurant in Alaminos Pangasinan

This blog post officiates my being an avid fan of Celia’s Café, the number 2 restaurant according to TripAdvisor in Alaminos Pangasinan.  Number 1 restaurant of course is the old and tired Maxine By The Sea located at Lucap.  Though run-down and the food served were average, Maxine By The Sea is the leading restaurant in Alaminos.  Its TripAdvisor’s number 1 because it is located at a wharf near the dock where tourists would have to take a boat ride to reach the majestic Hundred Islands.  It’s one of those rare eateries whose reason for being number 1 is not their food nor their service but its location.  I still remember way back in the early 90’s was the first time I dined there.  It was also my first time in Hundred Islands!

me, my sister and a few of my monster pamangkins

The number 2 restaurant on the other hand seem to possess the thrilling potential of becoming the leader among restaurants in Alaminos.  Celia’s Café seem to capture the urbanized and the ruralized feel.  Their ambience and facilities are homey yet urbanite.  Because of the modern feel of the ambience, you will never miss the feeling of being in an urbanized city when you dine there.  But their warm service is naively bucolic.  Celia’s Café are manned by gentle and courteous lads, which reminds you that you are indeed in a countryside away from the jungles of Manila.

But what I particularly love about Celia’s Café is the food.  It’s surprisingly delicious!  During my recent revisit, I again ordered the Pasta Longganisa for lunch, the one I ordered the first time I dined there.  All I can say is that it is consistently luscious.  The only thing that changed was the bread.  It is because it is now tastier and more delicious.  The focaccia bread was so good, I ordered extra and even ordered take-out so as to bring it back to Manila!

focaccia inside a bag (my take away!)

yum!

And since there seem to be no agreeable restaurant establishment in Alaminos except for Celia’s Café, me and my family returned at dinner time.  We ordered the platter in which, one order is already good for four (4).  I was especially impressed by the flavors of the Chicken Platter.  It is because each dish in the platter tasted differently.  It was unlike the platter offerings by other restaurants in which each dish seem to taste the same with other dishes in the platter.  The Southern Style Fried Chicken was of a totally different flavor from the Chicken Salpicao and the Chicken Salpicao was of a totally different taste from the Pork Tonkatsu.  And what is best about the platter was the generous serving of rice!  To top it off, we were surprised to find out that our ordered platter comes with a whole serving of soft and chewy pancakes!

The following morning before heading back to the jungles of Manila, me and my family returned to Celia’s Café to have breakfast.  I had the big fulfilling English Breakfast, which I guess is the only English breakfast dish served in the whole of Alaminos province.

Enough said and I am impressed if you reached this point of this blog.  Hahaha!  I think I already said that I am a fan.

Tagahanga! Dats mi!

Self Indulgence at Market Cafe

Some go on travel, some sleep all day, others go on shopping spree.  Some would have a make-over, some would spend the whole day at a theme park, others would have a relaxing massage.  These are various ways on how people would threat and pamper themselves.

There was no celebration and there was nothing to commemorate, yet I and some of my colleagues decided to indulge in a sumptuous lunch buffet!  Aiko, the gentle bloke among all of us happen to own a BDO credit card that provides 50% discount promo at New World Hotel Manila’s Market Café.  And since we believe that we deserve for some little treat, we all agreed to avail of the promo!

pig out gang!

yum!

happy tummy! sulit!

All of us deviated from our respective regular breakfast so as to ready our respective bellies to the epicurean event!

We were all happy and pleased by this gastronomic indulgence.  The price of the buffet though half-priced is not cheap that is why we truly made sure that it was all worth every penny that we paid for.  In fact, we were actually the last group to leave the restaurant! It was so funny because almost all of us turned nauseous because of being so full.

On my way home, this episode made me realize that little pleasures like this get simple people like us get through the everyday grind.  Simple people like us, definitely deserve to lead a full and happy life!

Busog!

Sinagtala Farm & Resort: A Place to Visit

If you have been a tourist in the Philippines for a couple of times already and you believe that there is no longer a reason to be back in this tropical country, well, you must reconsider this country again.  Or if you think that you have limited time to spend here in the Philippines and think that getting to popular tourist destinations like Cebu, Palawan, Boracay and Bohol will entail too much of time and money, then you can simply consider going to Sinagtala Farm and Resort.

I and my colleague were just there a week ago.  Sinagtala is located in Orani, Bataan.  It is only two hours easy driving north of Manila.  Why am I recommending Sinagtala as a place to go?  It is because I simply had an awesome experience in this resort.

The food was unexpectedly delicious!  Don’t miss the native Pinakbet and the surprisingly delicious Taro Ice Cream for dessert.

pinakbet

The huge infinity swimming pool is cool!  I usually don’t dip in a public pool, but upon seeing how clean and inviting the pool was, I never had second though of splashing in it.

splash!

The green natural sights are just spectacular!  Fresh air, cool breeze, spectacular flora were something to behold.

nature!

The adventure rides were all so fun!  I love the zipline!!!

that’s jorge my sinagtala adventure ride buddy!

That’s me at the right and Jorge Buenaflor at the left side…

At only 750 pesos (US$15) you can try all their adventure rides and facilities – zipline, sky bike, hanging bridge and giant sky swing.  I am living in the Philippines, I have been to Sinagtala yet I consider coming back in this beautiful place.  I had so much fun in this place I was enthused to create a simple music video of me and colleagues enjoyment in Sinagtala.

Ang sarap! Ang saya!

 

2017 Mudra Day: I Joined PAL’s Moments With Mom Promo

I joined PAL’s Mabuhay Miles Mother’s Day Promo.  Mechanics says that participant needs to post a photo with his/her mom in any memorable Philippine Airlines destination.  Chosen entry will win 10,000 mile-points and an overnight stay for 2 at Las Casas Filipinas De Acuzar.

Though it looks like me and Nengkoy is not going to win because I saw the other entries and theirs were so stunning and beautiful, I enjoyed joining.  It’s a way I suppose of expressing how fun to be with her and that I am proud of Nengkoy!  This is my entry…

winning entry! hahaha!

happy mother’s day to all

I actually don’t need to win because having Nengkoy, my Mudra, in my life is the ultimate reward! Happy Mother’s Day Nengkoy!

At sa inyo din, hapi mudra day!

Lip-Smacking Prata Roti & the Conceited Kebab of Prata Avenue

Did you know that according to the readers’ poll by CNNGo in 2011, Prata Roti sold in Singapore is part of the top 50 delicious food around the world? Good thing, I do not need to go to India, Singapore or Malaysia to enjoy the deliciousness and palatability of this flat bread.  It is because Prata Roti can be found at Prata Avenue, a new Singaporean food stall located at The Mill in Pulilan, Bulacan.

the mill: pulilan food park

delicious (parang ako)

yummy prata roti

yeah! for main course… prata peanut butter, oreo and blueberry

Yeah, the most delicious Prata Roti in the Philippines is not found within Metro Manila.  A little effort of travelling to Bulacan is needed before you can enjoy this tasty Singaporean fluffy and flaky type of pancake.  I’m saying it’s so good because whatever you put or add into Prata Avenue’s version of prata roti, every bite evokes nothing but pure pleasure to the palate!  It was so good, when I came back to order another round of the Prata Combi 2 (ham & cheese), the lady attendant told me that this flavor (since it was so popular) was already sold out.

Another dish that put’s delight to my Prata Avenue experience was their kebabs! If CNNGo considers Roti Prata as top 50 most delicious food, according to BBC poll in 2004, kebab is one of the 50 food that a person must eat before he dies.

may angas ang kebab na ‘to!

Prata Avenue’s unique presentation of this skewered dish is so appealing!  The presentation is quite unique, buyers deemed it “instagramable” (is that a word?).  Personally, I would call it as curtain kebabs!  The presentation is so distinctive and prominent, it gives you a dash of baseless smugness and arrogance each time this curtain kebab gets served on your table.  I don’t know, but guests in the area who has curtain kebabs on their table looks richer and well-heeled.  While those without it and settled for other dishes looked lowly and deprived. And since I’m conceited, I ordered 2 curtain kebabs!

I enjoyed my munching and chomping at Prata Avenue.  By the way, did you know that “prata” means silver in Portuguese?  Yeah, Prata Avenue at The Mill is definitely one silvery path that will lead you to an awesome palatal experience.  Thanks Prata Avenue for featuring 2 lip-smacking CNNGo-and-BBC-recommended dishes that the Filipinos must try before they die.

Prata Avenue is located at The Mill: Pulilan Food Park,
Pulilan National Road, Poblacion, Pulilan Bulacan.  
It’s open from 4:00PM until 12 midnight.

Dalawang hinlalaki pataas!!

San Francisco 2017 in 2 Minutes and 17 Seconds

According to Saint Augustine, “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page”.  With this in mind, let me share a short summary of my recent San Francisco solo travel.  This short video is a proof that I indeed finished at least a chapter of what this saint was talking about.

For those who endured and finished watching the whole video… Thank you!!!  Watch out for the next chapter…

Neks peydg na ko…