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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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!

 

Fun Queer Kids & the Leader of Chechen Republic

The Pride Month is over yet rainbow flags will never be folded and kept inside treasure trunks of the LGBT community.  The waving of these colorful flags will continue to signify the unremitting fight for rights and equality.

This is of course except for the Chechen Republic which is the worst place to live for the members of the LGBT community.  In that part of the globe, rainbow flags are kept in the innermost trunks and queer thoughts will forever be suppressed in the deepest annals of their soul.

mr. razman kadyrov

Last weekend, I happen to bumped into an old YouTube video.  After watching this fun and funny video, I wonder what the leader of Chechen Republic would feel after viewing it.  Will he be beaming with smile and even laugh while watching such an innocent and harmless kids who happen to be gay? Or will he get so furious he will order his military troupes to fly nuclear missiles to the Philippines so as to eradicate these naïve and blameless kiddos?  And if these kids were living in Chechnya, would he order that these happy minors be abducted and held captive in a gay concentration camps?

Aside from wondering what the Chechen Republic leader would feel, I am curious how the “free” kids of Chechnya enjoy being kids. Are they as unregimented and as diverse like the kids here in my country?  Are they able to strut spontaneous moves the way kids here strut their stuff?

With all these incomprehensible questions, all I could think of is being glad that these kids are happy living in a free country like the Philippines! These cute kids may not be rich and powerful but they sashay away with happiness…

Ang kwela! San ka pa?!

Pride March in Canada Makes Me Drool

Canadians must be very pleased and delighted with their Prime Minister.  As seen in the news, Justin Trudeau with his family joined (for the 2nd year in a row) the march and walked the streets of Toronto to celebrate Pride Month causing the internet to swoon over such a cool world leader.

cool Canadian PM (photo from the news)

Canada has indeed gone so far ahead as compared to my country in terms of respecting sexual diversity, equal rights and self-affirmation.  It is sad to note that the present President of the Philippines (my president) – dubbed as the Punisher by Times Magazine and known around the globe as an iron-fisted ruler – joining a Pride march and the rainbow procession on the streets of Manila or Marikina seem very unlikely.

Watching the news about Canada makes me drool… Happy Pride!

Happy Pride!

‘Di ko ma-imadyin!

 

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!!

Señor Sisig at Powell & Ellis

I did not miss the Philippines when I was in San Francisco CA.  Aside from the copious presence of Filipinos everywhere in SF, there are bounteous existence of Filipino dishes around.  The mere fact that at the back of my mind there is a Filipino whom I can easily approach while in SF and there are Pinoy dishes around, I never have to suffer the looney craving for my home country.

During my early stay in San Francisco I had an unfaltering decision of not eating any Filipino dish during the whole length of my stay in the City by the Bay.  And at the same time will munch on a big and heavy burrito, a seem-to-be-staple for the locals.  This decision however was easily modified when I saw a food truck named Señor Sisig parked along the corner streets of Powell and Ellis at downtown San Francisco.

it must be the filipino in me that i just have to fall in line

pabili!

popular choices…

sisig burrito

gone in a couple of minutes

Since there is a queue of people on the said food truck, out of curiosity, I quietly fall in line and looked unto the menu board that the food truck offers.  To my surprise, Señor Sisig offers a variety of Filipino fusion dishes.  This therefore made me decide to violate what I have earlier promised yet will achieve what I intend to eat at the same time.

I ordered the surprisingly large and heavy “Señor Sisig Burrito” – a Filipino-cum-San Franciscan dish because it is a fusion of Sisig (a Kapampangan dish) presented in a San Francisco burrito way.  And what’s my verdict as to how this dish faired? Let me just say I gasped on my first bite and the large burrito was gone in a matter of minutes!

My experience of chomping on Senor Sisig Burrito can therefore be summarized as a promise that was broken yet a fantasy that came true wrapped into one.

Sarap!