My Experience: Annual Report 2014 at the Bureau of Immigration in Manila

It’s that time of the year when foreigners residing in the Philippines have to troop over to the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to file their annual report. Holders of the super digital and incredibly innovative ACR I-Card (Alien Certificate of Registration) have to report to the BI within the first sixty (60) days of the year to settle a fee.

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After my traumatising experience during the renewal of my ACR I-Card in 2012, I hate visiting the BI in Intramuros. It is stressful and having a degree in broadcast journalism makes me hyper critical and highly observant (e.g. long time to return change, staring contest, red tape… so on). When I went to the bureau this morning I was already expecting to spend the whole day there just to process my annual report because the deadline is March 1. [ACR I-Card holders who are abroad during the first 60 days of the year are allowed to just fly back to the country to settle this within the first 30 days, if I am not mistaken… so take that with a grain of salt].

OK ranting about BI is so passe na. I’ll get to it. My experience this year at the BI in Intramuros.

  • Date: 24 February 2014 (Monday) — a few days before the “60 days” deadline ends.
  • Approximate time to finish everything: 1 hour only — despite lots of people, see notes below
  • Annual Report Fee this year: PHP 310.00
  • MUST BRING: Original Passport (not just a photocopy), ACR I-Card (duh), a 2×2 or passport-sized picture that will be pasted onto the form, extra ballpen and your own folder to keep things organized
  • WILL HELP: Bring all your past receipts of Annual Reports just in case some glitch forgot to record your previous payment into their system. Know your parents’ passport numbers and have them ready. Know everything about your status in the Philippines like what visa you have been issued with.

Steps for the 2014 Annual Report

MY STEP 1. Once inside the building, follow the blue line to the back area. It leads down a hallway where you exit the side of the building where tents are set up. Get the new 4-page form and fill it up. There are high tables and plenty of space to write stuff. [Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask around. Dahil, we are all in this together. Do note the people you are queued with so you can determine if you are going in the right direction.]

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MY STEP 2. After accomplishing the form which requires details about your parents passports, get in the queue for [PRE-EVALUATION]. This took only 10-15 minutes for me even if the tents were full of people. There were about four or five officers handling the crowd all at once which was himala (that’s Tagalog for “Miracle”, fantastic. Kudos sa naka-isip na ‘to. The nice evaluator I got skimmed through my accomplished form to individually verify each item I wrote vis-a-vie my passport.

There’s a Senior Citizen lane. +5 points, BI.

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MY STEP 3. After this, proceed to the [ISSUANCE OF QUEUE NUMBER] back inside the main hall. You basically get in queue to get a queue number. Took about 5 minutes and there was a cute officer pa nga. Uhm, hi. Taga-La Salle ka rin?

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MY STEP 4. Hold onto your number and walk a few steps to the center of the main hall where the [ANNUAL REPORT PROCESSING AREA] is located. Wait for your number to appear on the screen. This took about 15 to 20 minutes, with a room full of people. In fairness, it was FAST and a far cry from my 2012 mental breakdown during renewal which took three days.

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MY STEP 5. Once your number appears, head to the designated counter indicated sa screen (e.g. Counter 1) and then hand the nice officer your form. He/she will do an assessment and if clear *fingers crossed*, it gets handed back to you with a [PAYMENT ORDER] slip which indicates how much you have to pay. This time it was a standard PHP 310.00. Walang express lane fee… pag may express lane fee hindi naman ganitong kabilis. Slide to the next counter to settle your payment. Expect the spiel: “Sir, may ten pesos kayo?”

MY STEP 6. Done! I deserve Jollibee or authentic Savoury chicken.

My experience of the Annual Report 2014 went by smoothly.

However, the nice man in front of me during pre-evaluation apparently had an issue that his address had changed when it didn’t change at all. At some point during the pre-evaluation to assessment, he was told that he had to file a “change of address” document of some sort and to have it notarized… he patiently explained to the assessment officer in front of me that his address hadn’t changed at all. The officer elder initiated a staring contest with the man’s forms… if you get what I mean.

Eventually the earnest man’s patience and voice tone worked and the staring contest ended… the elder officer crossed out the “discrepancy” on the form and the nice man got to leave without having to repeat X-amount of processes. Kind of weird na na-hold siya sa ganon… “change of address” was indicated but the guy’s address was the same on the form with the one written on his ACR I-Card. Paano nangyari yun.

Tips:

  • Go early.
  • Be patient and try to smile. (I smiled at one of the Sisters there.)
  • When in doubt, ask people. Conditions or counters change and they will be updated with what’s happening or be just as clueless as you.
  • Bring your old Annual Report receipts to avoid having to double pay something.

To the BI, things have improved with this cycle. +1 point in the restoration of my faith with this bureau.

Share your stories at the BI this year or in previous years!

Let me end with the parting chat I had with my evaluator in Step 1. In a friendly conversation (not interview) she curiously asked me why I was in the Philippines (and not in the United States).

Dahil kahit ganito, mahal ko ang Pilipinas.

Into the Blue at the Singapore Airshow 2014

Because for me it’s mandatory to include Kylie’s latest single somewhere in the post title.

Okay so it’s the Singapore Airshow 2014! I won tickets! Such a cheapskate it’s only SGD 22.00 per adult. Lol. My wallet has been paper thin recently so winning tickets to the airshow was a delight! Thank you U.S. Embassy – Singapore.

The last time I visited an airshow was when I was a kid on Okinawa. I remember the U.S. air force planes on the tarmac. I remember it was like a carnival with lots of that “All American” vibe like hotdogs and burgers… and since it was in Japan… there were five or six sticks of steaming yakitori dipped in sauce inside these little Coca-cola paper cups.

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The Airshow happens every two years and this year they sold/gave out about 80,000 tickets. The the airshow spans about a week but the public display happens only during the weekend. Ticketholders are to proceed to Singapore EXPO (Expo MRT) where shuttles will take everyone to the venue near Changi Airport.

I noted that the airshow shuttles were quite efficient. Everything felt so systematic and well-organized. However, I read some people were not aware that tickets could not be purchased at the gate. Tickets needed to be purchased in advance because they probably have crowd control issues.

By the time we reached the venue, the airshow was already halfway through. Oh well! So I barely got any photos of the planes doing different manoeuvres.

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Ah hello… nag-ddate din tayo di ba… =p

 

 

When the planes were up in the air I lost track of my boyfriend. Lol. Nawala na lang bigla. Yun pala nag-i-Instagram siya sa isang sulok. Okay… was hoping we could steal a kiss as the planes zoomed high above us. He owes me a kiss!

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ROKOF Black Eagles spreading the Korean colours high above Singapore.

And within five minutes it had ended. The ROKOF (Republic of Korea Air Force) Black Eagles and USAF (United States Air Force) C-17 had performed for thirty minutes and we missed most of it. Ugh! But it’s okay… I came here to see the planes on display. Let’s see what else happened.

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Flashback Friday No. 8 – Yishun

Every Flashback Friday I’ll share photos that were taken at some point in the past two years during my blogging hiatus.

In my two years in Singapore I’ve already lived in five different areas on the little red dot! Eunos, Lavender, Yew Tee, Yishun and Bishan. Before we settled in Bishan (which is 15-20 mins from downtown), we lived in Yishun where we had our first taste of HDB life.

Things I enjoyed at Yishun:

  • The 24/7 FairPrice supermarket at Khatib Central
  • The Japanese-themed food court at the top level of Northpoint.
  • Wendy’s at GV Yishun… late night snacking!
  • GV Yishun, the super eco-friendly facility… and tiny tiny screen
  • Jogging around the community park near our block
  • Bus 860! When it was introduced… the scent of a newly-commissioned SMRT bus.
  • The Sembawang Shopping Centre (SSC) shuttle bus that used to pass by the bus stop near our flat
  • Visiting my friend and going swimming with her at Orchid Park condos.
  • Chasing after Bus 852 or 855 going to work. I don’t know why I miss this but it’s just funny.
  • McDonald’s Khatib Central… listening to a live CNN broadcast announcing that Barack Obama secured his second term as President… I was so happy and giddy I devoured my french fries so quickly.
  • Introduction to HDB life… we lived in a landed property in Eunos, a backpackers’ hostel in Lavender, and a condo in Yew Tee… before living in an HDB flat with iconic void decks, etc. 🙂

We lived in Yishun from October 2012 to July 2013.

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Throwback Thursday: With mom :)

I’m flying to Manila later so I can celebrate my parents’ joint birthday bash in Cavite. I thought of digging up an old photo with my mom taken about ten or eleven years ago.

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Photo taken at Chefoo restaurant in Cavite City

I actually got a little teary-eyed looking at it. Ambilis ng panahon! Before I was so thin and my mom obviously had less wrinkles. I know friends joke that she doesn’t look like her age… my mom looks so young they say. I hope I age with the same grace and beauty hehe!

Here’s a photo taken with my parents just a few weeks ago when they visited me in Singapore.

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Photo taken at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.

I’m excited to hop on board PAL again… kasama ang mga chatty FAs… grabe last time, they were a bubbly bunch. And when Neil rode PAL a few months ago, may nag-aapir pa daw sa galley haha.

SG Flashback Friday No. 7 – Valentine

Every Flashback Friday I’ll share photos that were taken at some point in the past two years during my blogging hiatus.

(Photos taken from Valentine’s Day in 2012.)

Valentine’s 2012 was a work day.

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Playing with the tapes at work.

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Unlike this year’s dry spell over Singapore… Valentine’s Day 2012 was WET. 😛

We headed to a Korean resto nearby. No wine and stuff. Just a good dinner.

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My boyfriend and I had Korean for Valentine’s dinner.

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At Auntie Kim’s Korean Resto

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We were seated outdoors.

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Auntie Kim’s Korean Resto is located at Upper Thomson.

After dinner at a Korean resto, we had a simple chocolate fondue back home in Yishun.

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We kept Valentine’s simple. I hate the commercialism. We know how to make it feel like Valentine’s Day everyday so okay na yun. Haha! Mashado madilim ang photos namin last Valentine’s (duh, it was night time)… so naghanap ako ng photo na last February din ang kuha…

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Happy Valentine’s Day, lovers!

Plans this year? We just got back from watching My Fair Lady (at the Mastercard Theatres of Marina Bay Sands) which were complimentary tickets I got from the office. Nagtitipid kami ngayon. For Valentine’s evening… siguro ilalabas ko uli ang fondue set. We will keep it simple again this year. 🙂

Throwback Thursday: Baguio with my classmates in 2004

To qualify for #ThrowbackThursday, photos or videos must be taken 10 or more years ago.

Before Baguio became a place my boyfriend and I frequented to escape work… it was a big destination for me. We didn’t travel much in college, so trips like these outside Cavite were fun-filled to say the least. It was a time that Baguio felt so large, much colder… the fog more mysterious… these days kasi, Baguio is like Manila (or so I hear).

We stayed at a resthouse at the outskirts of the city. This added to the adventure because the resthouse was a bit dated (which may add to its charm, if you’d look at it that way). We huddled together in the middle of the night when my classmate started to sense something unusual. The following morning Upper would cook hot dogs, we’d make rice… take turns in the frigid shower…

These days kung saan-saan na kami nakakarating… Upper just got back from her European trip. My friend Eric (the only other guy in the photos below) is visiting Singapore soon. Katz, one of the girls in the photos, migrated to Australia if I’m not mistaken. Apple, the other girl, has been working in Italy for several years. (Class Prophecy lang?)…

But in 2004 it was just a simple trip to Baguio which filled our little hearts with glee.

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CD player! Moonflower scent from Body Shop!

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The electric stove that was grounded.

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View of Baguio. Victory Liner bus stop.

MediaCorp Hong Bao Run 2014

I completed my fifth run in Singapore! I logged around 1:03:10 (an hour a 3 minutes+) for an 8 kilometer run. My 10km in December for Standard Chartered 2013 was about 1:40:00++. I think this is my personal best because I spent more time running than walking. My legs also didn’t go sore this time. I felt energised all throughout. Hopefully in the future I’ll be laughing at these puny statistics haha!

Mga takbo ko so far in my nearly 2 years in Singapore:

  • Jurong Lake Run 2012 (6km)… free slot courtesy my company
  • 2012 Standard Chartered Run Singapore (10km)… grabe ‘to, running downtown!
  • 2013 Sundown Marathon Singapore (10km)… mag-isa ako dito, no friends joined
  • 2013 Standard Chartered Run Singapore (10km)… no training at all, kaya naging 1:40:00++
  • MediaCorp Hong Bao Run 2014 (8km)… free slot again, kasama ang mga Pinoy sa company
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Look, I got 8600 as my number.

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Yours truly, with 10% shoulders. Arrrgh!

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My kababayan sa company. Creative producers din sila, different departments.

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The Wolf of Singapore (in compression tights!) + Little Red Riding Hood with oranges and ang paw in the basket. Cute! 🙂

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I’m usually not a “morning person”… so I rarely see views like this.

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The Finishers’ medal.

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People waiting for the announcement of the lucky draw winner. Prize money? SGD 88,888!!!!!

The run was relaxing. Not as crowded syempre as the Standard Chartered run which is the main marathon in Singapore which happens every December. Sasali uli ako this December but undecided pa ako kung kaya ko ang 21km. Hindi ko pipilitin ang 42km na full marathon… that’s for the serious runners! I’d like to try that after five years perhaps after I achieve personal goals with 10km and half marathon 21km.

And I ditched the Kylie Minogue playlist this time. The sounds of downtown Singapore on a slow Sunday morning was something new.

Eto pala yung route for this 8km run:

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The route is similar to the Standard Chartered 10km route, with konting adjustment lang. It is also similar to the Sundown Marathon 10km route.

Thanks MediaCorp for the slot. Nakatipid ako ng SGD 68.00. Isang pair of sneakers din yun. 🙂

#PHthankyou at ION Orchard, Singapore

The Philippines’ says thank you to the world for sending in aid and support after the devastation brought by Super Typhoon Haiyan (known as Bagyong Yolanda in the Philippines).

The advertisement of “thanks” #PHthankyou was released at major cities worldwide like New York, Paris, London, Tokyo and Singapore. I happened to pass by ION Orchard last weekend to take a peek.

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The #PHthankyou campaign message at ION Orchard, a popular mall in Singapore.

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The #PHthankyou campaign message can be seen at major cities worldwide.

The ad appears every few minutes along with MediaCorp OOH and ION Orchard commercials.

According to a report on Channel NewsAsia, the Singapore Red Cross raised more than S$10 million in donations for the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan (approximately PHP 350 million).

I hope that the worldwide donations reached the people that need them the most.

I witnessed the outpouring of love and charity after the onslaught. My Singaporean colleague’s sister organised a fundraiser for victims of the typhoon. A librarian at work showed empathy and concern if I had any relatives in the affected areas… then she e-mailed me a link to a donation drive that was happening in Singapore. My boss kindly asked everyone to donate to the victims if they could. The HR department at my company organised a bake sale where the proceeds would go to Typhoon victims.

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Bake sale by HR.

My Filipino friends in Singapore also came together to remit cash into donation accounts set up back home. There was a food packing and donation drive that took place at Labrador Park. After I made my own remittance at Lucky Plaza, the lady behind the counter said there were many people who had made remittances for the purpose of donating to the likes of Sagip Kapamilya or Red Cross Philippines.

If I were back in Manila I would’ve taken time off to help out at relief centers. My friends in Manila organised their own donation drives as well. Some even went to Manila airport to comfort the evacuees coming from Visayas.

So yes, #PHthankyou to others may seem like an advertising campaign. But from where I see it, the world did give back to the Philippines’ when the country needed it.

Singapore, thank you for helping the Philippines. 🙂

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Spotted this at a store in Changi Point.

(Now, to sustain that help and rebuild.)

SG Flashback Friday No. 6

Every Flashback Friday I’ll share photos that were taken at some point in the past two years during my blogging hiatus.

I haven’t shared any SG Flashback Friday yet involving my colleagues. So here’s one photo!

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Neil has since moved on to a new job. My colleague Sa and her husband have moved back to the states. Shreedhee, an intern at the time, is now a regular staff. And my lunch buddy Tammy (next to me in the photo) is still around. 🙂

Photo was taken in December 2012 at United Square, Novena.