Remarkable Taipei

Taiwan also known as the Republic of China did an awesome job when it decided to allow visa-free entry to Philippine citizens also known as Filipinos.  They must be reaping the benefits out from this imperative decision.

Because of the influx of Filipino tourists, vendors started learning Filipino words that would entice and charm Filipino shopaholics!  Taiwainese sellers can be heard saying “masarap” (Filipino word for delicious), “mura” (Filipino word for inexpensive) and “maganda” (Filipino word for attractive)

And because of the visa-free decision, I just had my third visit in a short span of 2 years to the super urbanized capital city Taipei.  My visit was not about business or work but because of tourism.  Thus, their visa-free entry decision for Filipinos has definitely boosted their tourism. 

happy gang at the airport! 
i love this shot! 
first timers jb, mj and willie 
getting not so confused at confucius temple 
taipei mrt is eons away in terms of efficiency and comfort as compared to the manila mrt

For me Taipei is an inexpensive alternative for Filipinos who want to travel abroad.  Instead of going for a short vacation to Hongkong, Osaka or Singapore, Filipinos can actually do a fun-filled weekend adventure in Taipei.  And that is what I just did with MJ, Willie and JB!

I was not surprised at how surprised MJ, Willie and JB was regarding how progressive, modern, civilized, ultra-clean, courteous and efficient Taipei was.  They told me that they were expecting Taipei to be just like to old, shabby and stinky Chinatown of Manila.  There were actually moments when these three colleagues ponder on what happened to their beloved Metro Manila that was definitely left behind in all aspects concerning tourism and urban living.

It was my third time, yet Taipei has consistently impressed me.  This only shows that my first two visits were not merely flukes of remarkable circumstances.  Taipei can therefore be concluded as one exciting and impressive city! 

serene…

MMM – masarap, mura, maganda! 

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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!

No Need My Dear HK Legislators

a photo from discoverhongkong.com
a photo from discoverhongkong.com

Legislators in Hong Kong need not put into law their impeding plans of withdrawing the visa-free access of Filipinos in their territory.  It is because I no longer intend to go there anymore.  Yeah, I have been to Hong Kong a couple of times but there seem to be no reason anymore to visit again.

With all the news of HK government being so “asar” (pissed off) with the Manila City government, the Manila police and the Philippine government as a whole due to the unfortunate Luneta shooting incident that killed a number of HK citizens, no Filipino in his right set of mind would want to tour HK.  People would have to slip me in a straight jacket, place me in a box and send me through door to door courier if you would want me to go there.

Last year, I actually declined an offer to go there for free, as in an all expenses-paid travel.  From airline ticket, to land transfers, to food, to hotel accommodation.  I chose to stay in lively Manila, be busy with my job and do something more productive instead.

I do not have the eloquence of an angel when I speak so let me be blunt when I say that Hong Kong lawmakers can keep their Pinoy-visa-free access to themselves.  To prove this further, even my nieces who will be gifted by my elder sister next year with a trip abroad after they have finished their respective college degrees will instead go to Singapore.  They initially planned to go to HK, but upon learning those distressing news, they themselves decided that it would no longer be smart for a Pinoy to go there.  This is apart from the fact that my elder sister no longer wants to spend her hard earned money to any business in HK.  That’s three less tourists for you next year…

People reading this may suppose that I am insensitive to the more than 160,000 Filipino workers in HK.  I guess, they need not worry because if their respective employers truly need them because of their efficiency, diligence, politeness and reliability at work (the typical Overseas Filipino Workers’ traits), these HK employers themselves would of course process and shoulder the expense in the application for Filipino workers’ visa. Besides, initial news points out that the visa-free access withdrawal plans would only be applied to Filipino visitors, meaning tourists (like me), not overseas Filipino workers.  Because if they would include our laudable overseas workers, their houses would turn filthy, their kids would have difficulty learning English and Disney in HK won’t be as lively and fun as it is.

I just hope that lawmakers in the Philippines would not reciprocate by requiring Hong Kong citizens to secure their respective visas prior to enter the Philippines.  That would be such an undiplomatic and childish move.  HK legislators can sulk in hatred and abhorrence all they want but we should let HK citizens enter and be made to realize that Philippines is actually a safe haven for them.  They need to understand that the people of the Philippines have not done wrong to the people of Hong Kong.  What they need is a paradigm shift and that the Luneta incident is a mishap that even Filipinos themselves would not want to happen.

Finally, I’d rather process a visa application going to other more interesting state or country than spend the same precious time, effort and money applying for a visa going to irate and fuming Hong Kong.

Inyo na. As in.

Adoring Japan / Envying Thailand / Questioning Philippines

A lot of my friends as well as those who follow my blog know that I love Japan.  I adore their food, their weather and the strong and powerful yet charming-to-the ear language.  People know that I admire their culture, their technology, their fashion and their being so organized.  I have high regard to the people of Japan.  They are just so nice and gracious.

i even fancy japan's vendo machines. hahaha
i even fancy japan’s vendo machines. LOL!!!
fashion ba kamo? love my doc martens!!!
along dotonbori… fashion ba kamo? love my doc martens!!!

Too bad I can’t just go there and spend a nice vacation every time I feel like going there.  Being a Pinoy citizen, I am required to process and undergo those tiresome procedures of applying for a visit visa.  Being a Filipino citizen, I am not allowed to simply go there and enjoy the awesome weather.  The Philippines is not one of those rich auspicious countries with visa exemption arrangements with Japan.

Well I guess, some people are fortunate enough to be born into the right nationality while others have to find their own way.  Don’t get me wrong here. I love the Philippines because if I don’t I could have hopped on a plane, gone the hell out and never return.  Or if I can’t have that access, I could have packed my bags, join a secluded monastery and never go out.

I am articulating on this because the recent news made me so envious with the Thais.  According to news, the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that effective July 1, 2013 Japan will give Thai nationals with visa exemptions that would be good for up to 15 days.

amazing thailand... i can feel that i will soon be visiting this country again...
amazing thailand… i can feel that i will soon be visiting this country again…

With this news, Thailand obviously beat and thumped the Philippines big time!  While Thais can go and visit Japan with much ease, us Pinoys will have to settle with the wearisome and mind-numbing processing of visa applications.

I just hope and pray that Japan will grant the same to the Filipinos.  But I guess Japan has their reasons.  And such reasons are actually in the hands of the Pinoys themselves.  Is it the Pinoy culture, the Pinoy urbanity, or the Pinoy civility?  While I endlessly adore Japan and start being jealous of Thailand, I guess only us Pinoys can answer this question.

Pagka-sabmit ng rekwayrments diretcho novena para humiling na bigyan ng visa. Bakit Lord?! Bakit???

Visa-Free Quests for Ref Magnets

gmanetwork.com recently issued a news and clarification that Filipinos can visit 25 countries around the world without the need for a tourist visa.  This is in clarification to the starting-to-get viral Facebook post that Filipinos can go to 60 countries visa-free.  Press Link here for the clarification and list of visa-free countries which if you will actually count is 26.

I have been a believer of my country’s awesomeness but I love being a tourist and I fancy travelling out of the country.  Nengkoy (my mom) in her exasperated demeanor would often tell me that I don’t have kayamanan (investments, wealth and assets) because according to her my kayamanan are the experiences I gained out from my travels out of the country. So when I checked on the list, there have been six countries that I have already personally visited out of the 26 countries listed.

In each of the destinations I go to, may it be out of the country or within, I always make it a point to bring home with me a memento.  A “delicious” budget traveler like me cannot afford to buy exorbitant souvenirs like paintings, crystals or even silver spoons so I would settle for the cheapest.  That would be a ref magnet!  So, without further pomp and circumstance, here’s a look at the treasures of my adventures:

malaysia "truly asia"
morocco "land of the setting sun"
"amazing" thailand
vietnam "timeless charm"
"your" singapore
hongkong "best place, best taste"

Availability of ref magnets in tourist destinations bearing the name of the city or country as a simple memento is an indication that such place or destination is a tourist hub.

Anyway, referring back to the list, I still have a long way to go in covering all these countries.  I still have 20 more countries to go to visa-free.  However, I noticed that Macau is not included in the list.  It’s also visa-free…

macau "a world of difference"

I do not have investments and Nengkoy is correct. I may have zero assets, humongous liabilities and mediocre net worth but the experiences and wisdoms I gained out from these travels are priceless.

Sa Mars at Jupiter kaya may rep-magnet?