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Saturday, September 2, 2017

New Zealand Tourist Visa Online Application for Filipinos

9/02/2017 08:27:00 PM 14 Comments
New Zealand. My dream destination for a very very long time. Last year during my birthday (which was actually before the year ends), I thought about the things I wanted to do the most that I haven't done yet. This came to my mind first. It was then that I decided that I'm going to this stunning country this year, no matter what.

An expensive country to visit like NZ definitely requires a visa from Filipinos. The good thing is that, the visa fee is waived for us Pinoys if we are just visiting up to 59 days. You just have to pay for the processing fee. Sounds good to me!

Photo Credits to Tourism New Zealand

Just like Oz, I found out that we can apply online for the NZ visa. I actually prefer this method over paper application. No printing and photo copying, more eco-friendly and it is faster and easier to do so. Again, a scanner is a must for online visa applications.

You are eligible to apply online if:
  • You are applying as an individual
  • You have a credit card
Otherwise, you are required to submit a paper application through VFS.

Online Visa Application Requirements:
  1. Passport
    • Scan your passport photo page.
  2. Photo
    •  Your scanned photo should be passport-sized, neutral face and in light background.
  3. Evidence of Funds
    • Bank Statement - for the last 6 months. If you have an online banking account, you can save or print as pdf from there. For passbook accounts, scan it.
    • Bank Certificate - I requested my bank to reflect my account opening date and ADB. Not really required but I think this will give an edge to my application too.
  4. Proof of Employment
    • Certicate of Employment
    • Employer Leave Approval
  5. Proof of Pre-Purchased Travel
    •  Round Trip Flight Tickets - unlike other countries that discourage buying tickets before getting a visa, NZ actually requires purchase of onward travel tickets before you apply for their visa
  6. National Identity Document
    •  SSS ID - is what I have submitted. You may also opt to submit your Driver's License or PRC ID as long as it's a valid government-issued ID
  7.  Other Supporting Documents*
    • Birth Certificate - from NSO
    • Cover Letter - explaining your purpose of travel and your planned length of stay is a good way to express your honest intentions on why you're visiting their country
    • Day to Day Itinerary - this will convince them that the amount of money you have is enough to support your travels around their country 
    • Credit Card Statement - for the the last 6 months. Get it from your online account or scan your paper statements.
    • Income Tax Return 
    • Records of Previous Travel - your present and expired passports' visas and stamps
    • Confirmation of Hotel Bookings
  8. My Australian Visa*
    • Because I'm traveling to Oz before NZ
Those marked with asterisk (*) are optional requirements that I submitted which I believed could positively affect my visa application.

Additional Notes: 
  •  There is no need to notarize any of the documents. I just scanned all of my docs. Only translated documents requires notarization.
  •  NZ Immigration website has a file size limit. The size of each document must not exceed 10MB.
  • Each document type should be uploaded as a single file. For example: 6 months credit card statements, flight bookings, passport pages  with visas and stamps. Instead of uploading it one by one, you should merge them into one pdf file per category.
Helpful Websites for Optimizing your Files:

How to Apply Online:

Step 1: Create a RealMe account

Make sure to register your most frequently used email address because this is where you will receive updates regarding your application.

Step 2: Accomplish the Visitor Visa Application Form

Fill out all applicable fields and answer all questions honestly. Make sure to proof read before submitting to avoid delays in application process or incorrect information on your visa.

Step 3: Upload your documents

Finally, it's time to submit fruits of your labor - your optimized documents! Actually it was my first time to learn about converting, splitting and merging of pdf files. Whew! :)

when you reach this part, you're almost done!

After submitting your application, a Thank you message that needs to be printed will appear in your screen:

print this!

You must print it because you will need to bring that along with your passport to VFS. But don't go right away to VFS. Wait for an email from NZ Immigration acknowledging the receipt of your application on their end. That's the time that you can go and drop your passport.

Step 4: Submit your passport to VFS.

VFS is the third party agency that processes paper visa applications and accepts the online applicants passport submission for NZ. Their address is on the photo above or you can just click the link to check their office hours and phone number.

You just need to bring your passport and the thank you letter, that's it. As I mentioned earlier, no need to pay for the visa fee but there is a processing fee. I paid for the following fees:

Php   570.00 - Passport Handling (Online Application)
         380.00 - Courier
         110.00 - SMS updates
Php 1060.00 - Total Paid

Courier is optional but it'll work well if you live far from VFS or like in my case, I find it burdensome to go back and forth to VFS. Anyway, I spend almost the same amount of money for Grab/Uber going to their (not so accessible) location so might as well just have it couriered. It's actually quite steep for a one-way courier but whatever.

SMS fee is also optional but I also found it very helpful and it'll lessen your worries about the status of your application. As in they will give you updates from the time it has been forwarded to the Embassy until the time it was dispatched to the courier.

Processing Time

My visa processing took 3 business days. This is from the time I submitted my passport to VFS until the day I received my passport back at home. Pretty fast! If I'll include the time I submitted online plus the day I waited for the acknowledgement email, that's only 2 business days additional.

Thank you NZ for my multiple entry visa! :)

They granted me Multiple Entry valid for 1 year! Woohoo! I'm happy because I was not hoping for more than a single entry but they gave me one. And it's NZ - one of the most beautiful countries in the world! The only downside is that, they don't issue me an actual visa sticker that would be visible in my passport. Like Oz, they just issued me an E-Visa. No biggie for me as long as I can travel to their country! I'm really ecstatic! This is it! :)

Note: I deleted crucial information from the photo because this visa is valid until next year.

My Application Timeline:

Jan 29 - submitted online application
Jan 31 - received acknowledgement letter from NZ Immigration
Feb 02 - dropped my passport to VFS and paid processing fee
Feb 07 - got my visa and received my passport back

It looks longer than what I've stated above because there are 2 weekends in between and I didn't bring my passport to VFS right away. But all in all, it only took 5 business days.

If NZ is also your dream destination, I hope this post helps you with your trip planning. A year ago, I did not push through with my plans thinking that getting this visa is taxing or much more complicated than getting a Schengen. It was easier than I imagined!

So if you think you've saved enough and you can't stop dreaming about that splendid Middle Earth scenery,
I say GO FOR IT! ♥

The distance between your dreams and reality is called action.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Korea Day 1: Warming Up in Modern Seoul

3/26/2017 03:51:00 AM 0 Comments
Unlike other places, Korea is not high on my list. It took me a lot of Korean dramas and a cheap air fare to finally decide to visit the K-land. It started with that AirAsia seat sale. Php 3,870 for Manila-Incheon round trip is quite a steal! I booked it without thinking twice. Well, I actually booked for me and my brother. I don't exactly remember if I asked him first but all I know is that, regardless if I ask him or not - he will surely go with me because it's cheap haha.

the modern mega city of Seoul

I told my friends about it one time that we were having dinner and then one friend said he wants to go too. He booked his tickets right then and there, then the next thing I knew we were off to Seoul!

Annyeong Haseyo!

We arrived on a cold spring noon. We were a little surprised by the temperature to be honest. Coming from a hot summer in Manila, we were not prepared. We were wearing our usual Manila clothes haha. It was a first time for the three of us to experience spring!

the adventure begins

We opted to rent an apartment thru Airbnb. In an expensive city like Seoul, it is more practical than staying in a hostel for the same price. But the thing with Airbnb is, you are renting a real home. Meaning, it is located in a residential area and finding it for the first time can be challenging. Our host told us the best way to get to their home from the airport is by bus.

Everything was going smoothly, from purchasing our bus ticket to finding the right bus that will transport us to the city. Yes, there is a Bus Stop# on the ticket but we didn't have an idea on where it is or what it looks like because it is our first time in Korea. We were also distracted because of course when it's your first time in one place, you keep looking around and enjoy what you're seeing.
our bus ticket from the airport

Later on we realized that we didn't know how to disembark. We initially thought it would be similar here, where driver stops in every bus stop and will tell you what stop it is or you can just simply tell them when you want to alight. As we go farther we observed that they are not doing that and locals don't say a thing when they're about to get off. Gosh, it is so not South East Asia. We're in so much trouble haha.

I was looking out the window and thought I've seen the gas station landmark given by our host but since we didn't know what to do, we missed our stop! We finally figured that there's a button on the side that your should press if you want the driver to halt on the next bus stop. Geez! We reached Ewha University (2 or 3 stops away from our original stop) because of this booboo and just took a taxi from there to our apartment.

Mapo-gu: Our Home Base in Seoul

We finally reached Mr. Hong's place. It is located in Mapo-gu. It is in a somewhat uphill (like in Koreanovelas), very quiet neighborhood and just a few minutes walk to the bus stop/highway. There is also a convenience store near the bus stop where we buy snacks and top up our T-Money.

our neighborhood
Mr. Hong gave us the 3rd Floor Unit. We have 2 rooms and our own kitchen with a small dining area, living room and bathroom. I initially thought we'll be sharing the facilities with other renters so we were very pleased that we have the entire unit for ourselves!
yay! I have my own room!
He's very particular with the room sharing though. I stayed in my own room and my brother and friend on the other one because according to him, females and males should be in separate rooms. Not sure if it has something to do with Korean culture or their religion.

The bed is very comfortable and it has heater! It was really hard to get up in the cold morning that I never want to leave hehe.

Transportation and Seoul CityPass Plus (T-money)

Our host was very kind to accompany us to GS25 (Convenience Store) to purchase our T Money card and get us acquainted on how to use the city bus. For foreign tourists like us, it is best to get the Seoul CityPass Plus. This is pretty much similar to Hong Kong's Octopus card. You can use it in subways, buses, convenience stores and a lot of other stores as long as they have the T-money logo. It also comes with discount coupons for tourist attractions, restaurants and other shops. Super cool!

From our host's place we have to take a bus to Hongdae/Hongik University and from there we can go to just anywhere in the city either by bus or subway using our CityPass+.

you can purchase CityPass+ for KRW 3000
Since we haven't had our lunch yet, he brought us to a buffet restaurant in Hongdae. Unfortunately, nothing looks appealing to us - probably because it was way past lunch time and they looked like left overs already. We politely told Mr. Hong that we'll just go to Gwangjang Market to eat and said goodbye to him.

Gwangjang Market

Luckily, Gwangjang is just one subway ride from Hongdae. We arrived there at around 2:30 PM and the place is bustling with people wanting to eat. It is a foodie paradise!

i love this place!

I strongly believe that one way of getting to know a country's culture is by trying out their local food. If there is one place in Seoul or in South Korea that I'll recommend for sampling reasonable authentic Korean food, it is definitely Gwangjang!

most of them looks spicy!

We strolled around the market before deciding what to eat. Anyway the place was full that it was hard to find empty seats for us. We also got excited seeing all those foods that we saw in Korean dramas haha. Since we haven't eaten anything yet, we felt that we need to eat rice so - Bibimbap it is!

ahjumma preparing our bibimbap
We were choosing between two stalls when these two ahjussis (polite Korean term for marriage-aged man) immediately offered us seats in their table. How can we refuse such kindness? They do not speak English and we do not speak Korean (except a few words we learned from dramas) but we managed to have a small talk with them mostly based on sign language haha. Later on we were being offered soju shots which we politely declined because we haven't eaten anything yet since we departed Manila in the morning.

with friendly Koreans @ Gwangjang Market

They were also the ones who initiated taking photos with us. They asked ahjumma (polite Korean term for marriage-aged woman) to take photos using their phones so I went with the flow and also asked to have a photo taken from my phone hehe. It was actually crazy that they were even asking for our Kakao Talk contact info which I don't have by the way. They were probably amused with foreigners like us going to a very local place to eat.

Dongdaemun Market Area

Based on the map, Gwangjang seems just close to Dongdaemun so we just opted to walk. It's just one subway station away so it couldn't be that far. We also liked walking in Seoul because it will make you see a lot of things and discover more about the city.

I was really happy to see flowers blooming just about everywhere. And they're just not regular flowers but beautiful and colorful flowers!

Oh Spring! :)
Soon enough, we reached Dongdaemun Market. We were kind of expecting that there will be street markets in the area but did not find any haha. What we found are high-rise shopping mall buildings instead.

in front of Doota Fashion Mall in Dongdaemun

We were intimidated and thought that things might be expensive in there so we did not enter any of them. We just looked around and did not attempt to shop. It's not a good thing to shop on your first day, is it?

Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP)

On the other side of the road, we noticed this huge futuristic looking silver structure. Dongdaemun Design Plaza is among the largest buildings in Seoul and a showcase for Korean and international design. This is designed by the late Zaha Hadid, a world renowned architect.

it looks like something from another planet :)
It has several exhibition halls and multi-purpose convention halls. They also hold fashion shows, forums and conferences there. This walkable park is actually part of its rooves.

locals also enjoy hanging out here

DDP is also connected to the Dongdaemun History & Culture Park Station.

Cheonggyecheon (Cheonggye Stream)

An 8.4 kilometer long stream running through downtown Seoul, transformed into a public recreation space. That was a long one right? And at first sight, it was quite weird that it is in the middle of a highway.

Cheonggye Stream in the Dongdaemun area

Here's some background story for you. This was built as a drainage system during the Joseon era and it served that purpose for hundreds of years. But after the Korean War in the early '50s, a lot of people have flocked to the city and started settling along the stream which caused too much pollution in the area that the government decided to just cover it with concrete. During the industrialization period sometime in the 70's, they built an elevated highway on top of it.

After learning about its history, I don't find it odd anymore. :)

locals walking along the stream

Removing the elevated highway to restore the stream was a huge undertaking (not to mention expensive). This was a project of the former Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak. I found his urban redevelopment vision brilliant. The vehicles entering the city has decreased and people began using  the subway and buses more frequently. Temperature has also cooled down in the surrounding areas of the stream. Most importantly, animals like birds and fishes have found their way back to the city. No wonder he became South Korea's 10th President a year after his term as the city mayor has ended.

crossing the stream with my chingu :)
The water is so clean there are a lot of fishes! Walking along the stream is actually very relaxing and fun.

Dining in Hongdae

We started our first day a bit late so we didn't see that much of the city. We were still in that acclimatizing mode. We were lucky to be staying near Hongdae - a good place to hang out in at night. This neighborhood is near Hongik U so the ambience is very fun and youthful. There are also a lot of nice restaurants and cafes around.

getting ready to grill

Part of the traveling adventure is not knowing anything about a place and just randomly choosing where to eat haha! There are a lot of them in the area but being first timers, we settled with the one which seems to be a bit crowded (could mean it is good) and seeing the shiny silvery smoke vents means Bulgogi!

Bulgogi x Soju = Perfect Night

This was our first Korean proper meal since we landed. The hot soup, the side dishes - kimchi and pickled radish and of course, the meat oh Lord the meat was yummy! And since spring nights are cold, a bottle of soju is great with a meal.

so who's the tipsiest? haha!

We totally enjoyed our first dinner in Seoul. Food prices in this place are not expensive too. Aside from the yummy food, marami ring yummy boylet sa paligid. I'm not kidding, so many cute Korean guys here kaya nasusunog yung mga iniihaw namin hahaha! We obviously had so much fun.

So that was our first day in Korea. Stay tuned for Day 2. That one was more eventful since we already have a full day to explore the city.

This is Part 1 of my Seoul travel series.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Australian Tourist Visa Online Application for Filipinos

3/13/2017 02:01:00 PM 0 Comments
I guess most of us has dreamt about seeing the Sydney Opera House in our lifetime. It is just a matter of when. You never will if you won't do anything about that dream, right? The first step is to get that Australian visa! I got my mine after just 24 hours! Business hours. This by far, was the easiest and the quickest visa application I have ever experienced. I'm super impressed! This is also one of the most expensive though - it's a little more than Php 5000.00. But for the kind of service I received, it was worth it.

scroll down under ;)

First, you have to decide how you want to file your application. You can choose to apply through VFS (paper application) or online. I don't want to go through all the hassle of printing a lot of documents, securing a manager's cheque for the payment and scheduling an appointment just to lodge my application -sayang ang leave! It was no-brainer for me - online is the way to go!

Once you've decided, it's time to gather all the requirements.

For online application, a scanner will be your bestest friend! :)

Online Visa Application Requirements:
  1. Passport
    • Scan your passport photo page.
    • Scan all pages of your passport with amendments, visas and entry/exit stamps.
  2. Photo
    •  Passport-sized, in plain background. At the back of the photo, write this declaration:
    • some parts are deleted deliberately
      •  "This is a true photograph of your FIRST and LAST NAME " then your signature.
      •  Scan both sides of the photo (front and back)
  3. Evidence of Financial Capacity and Assets
    • Bank Statement - if you have an online banking account, you can save or print as pdf from there. For passbook accounts, scan it.
    • Bank Certificate* - I requested my bank to reflect my account opening date and ADB. Not really required but I think this will give an edge to my application too.
    • Credit Card Statement - from your online account or scan your paper statements for the last 3 months
    • Pay Slips - also for the last 3 months
  4. Evidence of Work Experience
    • Certicate of Employment
    • Employer Leave Approval
  5. Evidence of Birth or Age
    • NSO Birth Certificate
  6. Other Supporting Documents*
    • Cover Letter - explaining your purpose of travel and your planned length of stay is a good way to express your honest intentions on why you're visiting their country
    • Travel Itinerary - this will convince them that the amount of money you have is sufficient to support your travel plan
    • Expired Passport visas and stamps - proof of travel history, especially if you have a new passport
    •  Income Tax Return
  7.  Credit Card for the AUD 135 Visa Fee
    • This is what you'll need to pay the visa fee online, so this should come handy.
Those marked with asterisk (*) are not really required but I submitted them because I strongly believe they can help with my application.

Also note that, there is no need to notarize any of the documents. I just scanned everything.
When you're done preparing and scanning the above mentioned requirements - Congratulations!
You're now ready to apply online!

How to Apply Online:

Step 1: Create an ImmiAccount

Make sure that you register the email address you're using/checking the most. All updates regarding your application will be sent to that particular email address.

the Australian Immigration website

After creating your account, you will receive an email asking you to confirm your email address. Please note that you will also receive email notifications from them every time you login to your account.

Step 2: Fill out the Application Form

Accomplish the Visitor/Short Stay Visa (Tourist Subclass 600) Form. Answer all the fields correctly and honestly. Proof read all the fields and your answers before hitting submit just to make sure you did not miss anything and that you have filled out everything accurately.

Step 3: Pay your Visa Fee

Online visa applications, can only be paid using a credit card. It is AUD 135 plus a 1.32 surcharge. I was charged a total of AUD 136.32 which was converted to PHP 5,168.45 at that time.

Step 4: Upload your Supporting Documents

So you're done with your application form and payment, it's time to submit all the documents you've worked so hard for. You know the trip to the banks and the scanning galore :)

here's how it will look like

Just choose which Evidence Type each document matches with. You can check my photo above to give you an idea. It doesn't matter how many you'd like to submit. But in my case, I only submitted those that I listed above on the requirements part.

That's it! After you successfully submitted your application, you will receive an acknowledgement email with your transaction reference number and other details essential to your application. 

Processing Time:

Unlike other Embassies or Consulates, they don't have/give fixed processing times. Majority of the blogs I've read shared that they got their visas a month after their application. There's only one that said she got hers after a day. Keeping this in mind, I applied months before my travel date because I don't want that kind of stress a few days before my planned departure.

So when the grant notice came, I was REALLY surprised! They received my application on a Friday. Then the following Monday, when I came back from my lunch break at work, voila! There's my visa grant notice waiting to be read! I was like really??? And I stared at my computer smiling like a fool for a few minutes reading it again and again haha!

1 business day! Superb, right? I'd like to think that I've submitted satisfactory documents for them to decide approving my application that fast :)

3 words better than I Love You? Visa Grant Notice :)

I intentionally erased some information on the photo because this visa will still be valid several months from now. They've granted me Multiple Entry but only good for 9 months. I'm perfectly okay with it because I don't think I will return anytime soon after this trip.

If Australia is high on your travel bucket list, worry no more! Getting a tourist visa has never been this painless and speedy! I can't wait to see them kangaroos and koalas! :)

If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting for the rest our lives.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Alibijaban Island: A Sweet Faraway Escape

2/08/2017 09:11:00 PM 4 Comments
I felt deprived of a getaway for quite sometime. The last time I went on a vacation was back in May. OMG, that was 4 months! A quarter of just home-office-home, I can't believe I went through that haha! So I asked Beau why don't we go somewhere. The next question was where? We've been to almost all the nearby beaches. That's when I thought about Alibijaban.

A colleague of mine went there a year ago and I saw their stunning photos. I was sold. I knew it is far but we already ran out of island destinations near Manila. I asked Beau to take care of the research and logistics because I was so busy on my Japan visa application and trip preparations.

we had Alibijiban Island to ourselves for a day!

Day 0

We decided on a night departure so we can be in the island early morning and still have the whole day to spend there. From Buendia, we took the 9:00 PM JAC Liner bus bound for Lucena. The trip only took 3 hours so we were already in Lucena at around 12:00 midnight. Both of us didn't have dinner so we took our time and ate at the Grand Terminal. After filling our tummies, we looked for the San Andres van terminal. Unfortunately, the last one just departed so we would have to wait for the next one to get filled up again before we can go. We waited from 1:00 AM to 2:30 AM!

There is also an ordinary bus going that route but it'll take longer because it will stop from town to town. Another thing was, ordinary means no A/C and you'll inhale all the dust for 5 hours. Who wants that? Though waiting in the terminal almost drove me nuts, I don't think I wanna go through that.

Day 1

The van ride only took 4 hours. We were already in San Andres Port by 6:30 AM. The town was just beginning to wake up. We were relieved to see a burger stand at the port entrance. Breakfast! While we were waiting for our burgers, a Manong with his grandson arrived and approached us. He asked if we already have a ride to the island, which was none. Their timing was perfect because there are no signs of other tourists yet, wala pa kaming makaka-share to rent a private boat. We told Ate to just make our burgers to-go so we can already leave. Excited!

the island welcoming committee :)

He initially wanted to charge us 200 pesos each but we negotiated that 200 should be for round trip. It isn't very far. We actually read somewhere that they were only charged 30 per head. But then they were like 4 or 5 in a group so we think 100 per person is already fair enough since we were just a couple. He agreed and we decided to just pay for one-way trip for the mean time.

first order of the day: sleep!

The island is big! I never thought it was that huge. Manong who took us to the island also have some huts and accommodations available but since we brought our own tent, we looked for a much better location where we can pitch it. And this is the perfect place:

loved our camp site!

Original plan was to just set camp, rest a little then start exploring the island and swim. What really happened was, we just rest the whole day haha! After we pitched the tent we said we'll just nap for an hour or two. When we woke up the sun was already setting. Oh no.

sunset and low tide

We underestimated the distance and the journey going to the island. We realized that were so tired even the day before because I came straight from work and didn't have enough sleep during our commute.

nothing to do but stroll because low-tide

 We just had a late afternoon stroll at the beach with the dogs. So much for Day 1. :)

Day 2

To make it up for the lost time the day before, we started early on our second day. We prepared a heavy brunch as soon as we woke up. We planned to explore the island the whole day so we need to be full and energized.

our super yum brunch with fried rice!

And so we began our hike. Our first goal is to find the bridge with the picturesque view of the mangroves. We passed by the village first and asked the locals for directions.

their clean and quiet village

We actually have 2 other companions. The 2 friendly dogs that were guiding us since Day 1. We didn't asked them to go with us, they just instinctively followed even though we don't have food with us. Well, I love dogs so we just let them follow around. Maybe they also sense people who are nice to dogs. :)

hiking it up!

I initially thought it was just near but I was wrong. It took us 20 minutes to reach the first bridge and we're still not seeing the view we're expecting to see. It was so hot that day and we didn't even bring some water! Akala kase namin malapit lang!

the first bridge :)

We also stop from time to time because we were also kinda worried about the thin dog. It's a good thing that whenever they see a stream, they swim to refresh themselves!

very relaxing to see!

Finally, after another 10 minutes we found what we were looking for - the beautiful mangroves all lined up at the side of the crystal clear river. We stayed there for about 15 minutes just to soak in the view.

just happy with nature :)

We continued to hike some more to see where we'll end up. It seemed like an endless trail so we decided to turn left towards the beach.

maybe this way...?

After passing by some residential houses, we reached the beach. And then we found what seemed to be a floating hut. It is already high tide when we came out, so it is the perfect time to swim! We decided to stay in this place because it looks awesome. And you can swim nonstop without getting sun burnt because it has a roof!


After 40 minutes or so, a local resident who owned the place noticed that there were two strangers horsing around in her hut and asked us to pay for Php 20.00 for its usage. No biggie, we paid her 40.00.

natural swimming pool!

Anyway, we were really planning to stay there for a while. I also took it as, us helping them in our own little way. Life is hard in the island. When I actually saw the condition of the school there, I actually felt sad. Our Php 40.00 was so worth it.

When low tide came, it's time to walk back to our camp site but - we have to find that sand bar first! We asked a boat man about it and we were told that it wasn't that far from where we are so we can just walk.

yep, you have to pass through a lot of these!

We can just walk in the shores because it's low tide but we just have to go through  a lot of mangroves on the way. Beau no longer wanted to trek back on the same path we took that morning, so you know what happened next...

this amazing dog guided us all the way!

If you are not very adventurous and courageous, I wouldn't recommend what we did! Not only walking through the mangroves is difficult, there are also a lot of things to watch out for! We saw several sea snakes and other suspicious creatures while making our way to the sand bar! You really have to be very careful and be always on the watch on what you're stepping at.

hello from the sand bar!!! :)

I was actually also worried for the dogs! Thank goodness, all four (Beau, I and the 2 dogs) of us made it to the sand bar safely!

in the middle of nowhere :)

Other tourists were actually renting a boat from the camp site to the sand bar. Yes, you can do that! So if you're not a hard core explorer like we are, don't do the same thing haha!

a cloudy end of the day
We were very glad with what we've accomplished on our second (last) day. It was tiring but very exciting. That night, we rewarded the dogs who accompanied us with food. We cooked some extra rice for them and fed them the same thing we had for dinner. It was heartwarming that they never left us despite the difficult trails we took. They are even guarding our tent at night. Such sweet dogs.

How we made it to Alibijaban Island:

  1. JAC Liner Bus from Buendia/Taft bound to Lucena City.
  2. Alighted in Lucena Grand Central Terminal and looked for the van terminal for San Andres.
  3. Told the driver to drop us off near the port. They already guessed we're bound for Alibijaban :)
  4. At the port, there are actually no "passenger" boats going to the island. You just have to ask locals if, pwede kayo "tumawid" with them. That is their local term hehe. We were accommodated by an island local for Php 100 each. Haggle if you feel like they're asking for too much. Php 100 is fair enough. If you're a big group, you can hire an entire boat for yourselves. There are some boatmen offering that kind of service too. We did not avail that since we were just 2 pax and it'll be expensive for sure. 

our loyal companions :)

Transpo and Resort Expenses:
Php 420.00 - Bus, Pasay to Lucena (210 one-way)
       540.00 - Van, Lucena to San Andres (270 one-way)
       200.00 - Boat, San Andres Port to Alibijaban Island (100 one-way)
       200.00 - Camping/Tent Pitching Fee (100 per pax per night)
         20.00 - Cottage Rental Fee (20 per person)
         30.00 - Mineral Water (60 per container)
         50.00 - Bathing Water (10 per bucket - yes, it's not free!)

Food budget depends on your group. In our case, we brought our own rice and some cooked adobo that lasted for a day. We just bought our additional food at the island - namely dried fish (tuyo), sardines, misua and what not. Who needs fancy food in a far away island? Unfortunately, no fisherman's catch during our stay because it was full moon! Yaiiks!

no electricity: island life

We spent approximately Php 2000.00 per person for this 3D2N beach camping trip. The biggest chunk (more than half) of the budget went to transportation, well... because it is far. ;)

What I Liked About It:
  • The beach is so clean and beautiful!
  • The island is kinda huge so they do have a big community meaning - a lot of sari-sari stores. No need to bring everything there.
  • No bunch of noisy drunk campers haha. Because it is far from the Metro, it is not crowded. Not sure if it's the same during summer though.
  • And because it's not crowded, it's so peaceful! Perfect for relieving stress from the big city.
  • Budget-friendly. For me it still is. If not for the long commute, it won't be as expensive.
  • The bathrooms and toilets are clean. Hallelujah!  
  • The locals are very kind.

 What I Didn't Like About It:
  • You have to pay for the bathing water. It's not like they're getting it manually from a well but whatever. Not a big deal. Help na lang din sa community.
  • Though the island dogs are very friendly, don't leave your food or groceries unattended. I think they weren't being fed well that's why they steal food from the visitors. But please don't hurt them, they are just hungry.
  • It is far. I mean from Metro Manila. The long commute was tiring. Don't get me wrong, it is worth it!
*The last three things I mentioned were not deal breakers at all. I still recommend it! I would still love to go back to this island.

I'd also like to recommend where we stayed (where we pitched our tent). They have good facilities and they are attentive to the needs of their guests.

Pension Beach House 
Brgy. Alibijaban, San Andres, Quezon 
Owner: Violyfer Badua 
Contact #s: 0998-571-4614; 0998-569-8047; 0920-760-3204

You can reach out to them if you want a contact from the island or want to arrange a boat transfer and accommodation for your group.

Have fun in Alibijaban! :)

We travel not to escape life, but so life does not escape us.