Enthralled by El Nido

I found my paradise in the Philippines.

Spellbounding Siquijor

A brave girl's first ever solo trip was to this mystical island.

The Quiet Charm of Cagbalete Island

Outdoor serenity at its best.

The Rugged Beauty of Islas de Gigantes

The off-the-beaten rockin beauty of Northern Iloilo.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Japan Tourist Visa Application for Filipinos

Years ago, I always say I'll just visit Japan later because it is just nearby. But after years of traveling elsewhere and seeing a lot of my friends having a great time there, how can I still ignore it? So when that very rare chance of  a piso fare came last  March, I booked it without thinking twice. We snatched a round trip ticket to Japan for only Php 1914.00 per person! The catch though was, it is bound for Nagoya. Well, I don't care as long as it's going to Japan. I couldn't prolong it anymore!

Asakusa, one of my fave places in Tokyo :)


One obstacle you have to go through before planning your dream trip to Japan is getting a visa. They have a quite different processs in getting one. You have to go to one of their accredited travel agencies instead of lodging your own application directly to the Embassy. After some deliberation, we decided to use the services of Friendship Tours. They are more pricey than the others pero wala pa kase kaming nabalitaan na nadeny sa kanila haha! Once it has been decided, time to gather all the requirements!


the preps



Tourist Visa Requirements:

  1. Passport. Signed and should be valid within 6 months. It must have at least 2 blank pages.
  2. Visa Application Form. Just click the link or download it from the Japan Embassy website. No erasures and put N/A on those fields that are not applicable.
  3. Photo. Dimensions: 4.5 cm x 4.5 cm with white background. Paste it in the application form.
  4. Birth Certificate. NSO/PSA issued within 1 year.
  5. Marriage Certificate - if you are married. Same with Birth Cert it should be NSO/PSA issued within 1 year.
  6. Daily Schedule in Japan. In other words, your day to day itinerary. You can download a template under the Sample Forms from this link. Please note that what you put in here should match your details in the application form and your supporting documents.
  7. Bank Certificate. Unlike other Embassies, they don't require specific details. Just a regular bank cert will do. Banks normally charge Php 100 for this.
  8. Photocopy of ITR (Income Tax Return) or Form 2316. Companies usually release this final week of January through first week of February annually. Bring the original copy just in case they want to see it.
  9. Guarantee Letter. If somebody else will be financing or sponsoring your trip. Please check the Japan Embassy website or your chosen agency's website regarding this requirement. I don't have a sponsor so I can't explain it in detail.

Note: I did not submit #5 and #9 because I am single and I funded my own trip. :)


When we finally completed all the requirements, I went to Friendship Tours to submit it.


submitted documents checklist

Unlike other embassies, wherein they only accept the "required" documents - here you can include as much supporting documents as you want. In my case, I also submitted the following documents:

  • Certificate of Employment
  • Round trip flight confirmed booking
  • Hotel reservation bookings
You can go all out if you really want to make sure you'll get approved. You can add more if you're not yet confident with those hehe.


It's very easy. They just checked if all the documents are valid and good to go. We paid Php 1200.00 per person for their services. I was done in less than 15 minutes.


the receipt and claim stub

I was advised processing time is 7 business days but to my surprise, I received their call on the 3rd business day saying we were approved and that we can already pick up our passports. That was fast!


got it!!! ;)

Since we had a hassle-free experience and a very quick turn around with Friendship Tours, I guess it's alright to recommend their services:

Friendship Tours
3F Dusit Thani Manila, Ayala Center, Makati
Tel. Japanese (2) 840-1060 Tel. Filipino 893-8180/893-8183
E-mail: Japanese info@friendshipmanila.com
Website: http://visa.friendshipmanila.com/info.html

Other Notes:

  • Validity starts on the date your visa is released and it's valid for 3 months.
  • You can do the application and the claiming of passports for someone else. Friendship Tours did not require an authorization letter from my brother. I was the one who submitted and claimed for both of us.
  • Make sure your Birth Certificate was issued by NSO/PSA within 1 year. They are very strict about this. My brother had to get a new one because the first one he submitted was issued more than a year ago. Believe me, they have a way of knowing.
  • I honestly find their visa requirements and application process easier than the other countries.
  • But I was actually more anxious about getting my Japan Visa than my Schengen - mainly because I heard about friends of friends getting denied even if they already have a 10 year multiple entry US visa!
  • Don't get discouraged though even if you heard a lot of denial stories. You are never gonna get it if you won't try!
  • Ganbatte! ;)

You can also find more helpful information regarding visa application from the Japan Embassy website, especially on this page:

http://www.ph.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_en/00_000035.html


Goodluck on your application! :)

***

If you've been watching Japanese dramas and manga live action series and movies, then you probably know him!

#japangoals

It was a success because I "saw" him in JR Shinagawa Station haha! ;) ♥♥♥

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015: When I Turned Dreams Into Reality

Like last year, I am once again late in writing my year in review. I've been wanting to write this before the year ends but something happened that I can't get myself to write. When I woke up this morning - first day of the year, I told that feeling inside me to fuck off and went to the computer to bleed.

Without further ado, here's how my 2015 went:

Spring in Korea: The Land of Vanity and My Oppas

I am no exception to those who have been hooked to Korean dramas (Koreanovelas). I actually don't know how many I've watched already. You know those fairytale-like stories and dreamy oppas, we ladies secretly wished they'll happen to us haha! Maybe that's why it is addictive.

Gwanghwamun Gate of the Gyeongbokgung Palace
Last spring, I finally had the chance to visit Korea! Surprisingly, I loved spring so much! The chilly wind with some rays of sunshine, the blooming flowers and the excuse to always drink soju because it is cold haha! I loved everything about it.

spring is my new favorite season :)
Those things that we saw in the Korean dramas, they are true! It ain't a bore to hang out at night and drink with your buddies because hot Korean guys are around hahaha! Needless to say, I loved Korea.


Summer in Palawan: Spend Time with People that Matter the Most

For my Dad's 60th Birthday, we decided to celebrate in Puerto Princesa. It has been my siblings and I's tradition to treat our parents annually on a summer trip.

Well hello again, Underground River! 
I love taking them to places. It is now their time to relax after working hard for so many years just to provide for us and give us good education. I'm always glad seeing them happy like this. :)

Honda Bay island hopping
While doing your own thing and working towards your dreams, don't forget your parents and your family. Everyone can leave you but they won't. No matter what happens.


Autumn in Europe: Because Dreams Do Come True

On my last year's post, I mentioned about why I lessened my travels. It is because I wanted to save for something bigger and to focus on that goal. And this was it! All my sacrifices and perseverance paid off. I can't tell you how ecstatic I am the moment it started to come true! :)

Fallin' in Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic
I met all the goals I set for this trip. It was amazing how everything fall into place one by one. It's like all the stars have aligned for me. It sounds cheesy I know, but that was how it really happened.

the Eiffel moment is real!
My first and last European country is France. I was able to get a good deal for a round trip ticket to Paris. I loved this city. The romance, the joie de vivre - I felt it! Oh and the joy I felt when I saw the Eiffel Tower up close, it was inexplicable. :)

I was able to try those decadent Belgian chocolates while on a 7-hour layover in Brussels en route to Prague. To-die-for!

Belgian chocolates! when in Brussels :)
I got my Schengen Visa from the Czech Embassy because that was where I stayed the longest. I spent 7 days in their country. I've always dreamt about going to Prague and the whimsical town Cesky Krumlov. I was never disappointed. They are as splendid as I imagined them to be.

The Astronomical Clock in Old Town Square, Prague
Wroclaw is not as famous as other Polish cities like Warsaw and Krakow but I found it fascinating so I added it to my itinerary. Plus, it is not that far from Prague. I enjoyed my time there so much!

the charming city of Wroclaw, Poland
Another favorite city of mine during my Euro trip is Rome. It's not as orderly and glamorous as the other European cities but I loved it! The history, the art, the food - all of it! I originally planned to stay for just 3 days then it became 5 days. :)

standing in front of the Colosseo in Rome
Having the chance to see His Holiness and being blessed by Him was one of my most memorable experience throughout the trip. I was teary-eyed. Seriously.

blessed to see and hear the Pope's blessing in St. Peter's Square, Vatican City
Just like Wroclaw, I chose a less popular city in Spain over Madrid and Barcelona. I went to Sevilla. I liked it because it is laid back, not very touristy and it gave me a glimpse on how we are similar to them. This short visit made me want to come back and explore more of Spain!

rainy stroll at Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain
To be honest, I didn't like Lisbon that much. But when I went out of the capital, I found interesting things and places which made me fond of it. This country of discoverers and navigators has a lot to offer. Just get out of Lisbon!

appreciating the old and new in Lisbon, Portugal
Contrary to Lisbon, I loved Porto so so much! It is stunning. It is not only beautiful in the eyes but it has something in it that made it feel magical. JK Rowling got inspired to write the first chapters of Harry Potter in this city because it really has that entrancing charm.

I left my heart in Porto...
My month-long trip to Europe were the best days of my life. Going there alone and experiencing everything for the first time on your own was liberating. I wouldn't trade anything for that.


Winter in Hong Kong and Macau: Where I Started and Where Things Ended

I still have some leave credits left at the office, so why not use all of them? Before the year ended, I embarked on a week-long trip to HK and Macau.

in Harbourfront, Kowloon, Hong Kong
My first international trip was in HK 5 years ago. So I thought, why not? 5 years is already a long time. Though Nepal really was where I wanted to go. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed it for the food trip and shopping!

night stroll in Macau
If I hesitated going back to HK, all the more going back to Macau. I didn't like anything about it. But my companion wants to see it, so okay fine. It's still the same. I still didn't find anything I liked. It's just that place where rich Chinese people flock to, to spend their overflowing money at the casinos.

***

Definitely, the highlight of my 2015 was my Euro trip. I wished for it in the lantern in Chiang Mai and when I saw shooting stars in the desert of India, I whispered it to the sacred mountain of Tawi-Tawi (Bud Bongao), I earnestly prayed for it every chance I get. The universe heard my wish and the Lord answered my prayer. I'm so thankful to you, 2015!

For an ordinary girl like me, it wasn't easy to achieve so I am very grateful that it finally happened. Paulo Coelho was right. When you really want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. Thank you, Universe! :)


Lessons from 2015:

  • Just go for it. No matter how unattainable you think your goal is. Take chances. A lot of it. You will never know, if you won't try.
  • Do it now. You will thank yourself for doing the things you really wanted now. Don't delay your dreams. The future is promised to no one.
  • Don't be scared to be alone. Me-time. It is one of the best things you can give to yourself. A time for just you and only you. It may sound selfish but it will actually make you wiser, stronger and more independent. You will realize that you can be happy without attachment to anyone or anything. After all, happiness should come from within yourself. And I think loving yourself once in a while isn't selfish.
  • Give time to the people you love. 2015 also gave me the opportunity to travel with my family, friends and significant other all on different occasions. Solo travel is life enriching but sharing unique experiences with your loved-ones is also priceless.
  •  Always do a Reality Check. When everything is rosy and all your dreams are coming true, don't forget to look at everything and everyone around you. Do you still have time for them? Sometimes, we were too happy and excited we become blinded we didn't see anything else.

2015 had been amazing for me. I can't thank God enough for the blessings He showered me throughout the year. But of course it's not always rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes a part of your life will be roses, other parts will be thorns. But I am standing still. I chose to be and will always be a wildflower. ;)


Like wildflowers; you must allow yourself to grow in all places people thought you never would.