2015 - Pinay Daily Ramblings

Friday, November 27, 2015

Why your Locked Luggage is not Safe Against Thieves or Laglag Bala Scam
Friday, November 27, 20150 Comments

Nowadays, getting a lock for your luggage is not enough to deter thieves or laglag bala scammers from tampering with your stuff. This guy demonstrates how easy it is to open your luggage's zipper. Using this technique, it's ridiculously easy to steal your belongings or worse, place a bullet or drugs inside.

Scary huh? All they need is a pen to open your luggage.
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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Scams in the Philippines
Saturday, November 14, 20151 Comments

This is kinda related to my "laglag bala" scam post earlier. Though there are lots of scams around the world, since I am from the Philippines and I am sick and tired of what's going on with this country, let me enumerate the scams here that I've experienced or that I have heard of. I'm not doing this to make my country look bad but something for us Filipinos to reflect on.

1. Laglag Bala Scam

Airport personnel planting bullets on people's luggage. How do we justify this act? Whenever pinoys hear of other kababayans doing some scamming, they automatically blame it on poverty. In this case, is poverty to blame? These airport personnels are earning decent wages (maybe not enough for a super comfy living but decent enough to be able to live).
Let's take an example with airport porters..they earn basic salary plus tips from travelers. I myself give them like 100-200 pesos tip whenever they help me with my luggage. Let's say they helped 20 travelers a day and earns 100 pesos tip per traveler..that's 2,000 pesos worth of tip a day already. Even with just an average of 50 pesos per traveler can earn them 1,000 pesos a day! Why do they need to plant bullets for? Simple. Most are greedy bastards who probably have gambling or womanizing problem or in case of women, they probably like to show off and look sosyal in front of their friends or whatever.

I'm not singling out airport porters. It could be airport security too, or those at the scanner section. They are all earning decent wages and if budgeted properly, they can still survive. They resort to scamming because they are plain greedy and it's easy money for them.

2. Pyramid Scams

Pyramid scam is one of the most common scams in the Philippines. It differs from network marketing. While network marketing is a legitimate form of business wherein members earn from products sold , pyramiding recruits people and charge them a registration fee and then the members are ordered to recruit someone and recoup their investment through the registration fees of their recruits. What if you don't know anyone who is willing to pay that "fee"? Then say goodbye to your investment.
Stay away from these get rich quick schemes and do a lot of research before you invest into something. I know it's common sense. But how come lots of people still get victimized even after much publicized pyramiding scandals all over Philippines? Greed.

3. Online Romance Scam

This mostly targets foreign men and occasional Filipino men living and working abroad. This isn't exclusive to Philippines only. It happens around the world but since this is about Philippines, let me tell you how it works here. 
You've probably been to an internet cafe (they are all over) and have seen Pinays chatting online with foreigners. You'll see some of them with multiple chat windows and all calling them "honey", "babe" etc. These women chat with multiple men, tells them sob stories and get them to send her money. Pretty common scam. And yes, its not just women scamming these poor guys. You will also see transgenders doing it. And heck yeah, some can look pretty convincing (maybe even better looking than some real girls). 
Most of these scammers think that foreign men are rich and scamming them won't really hurt them financially. Just so you know, not all foreigners are rich. Some may even have bigger debts than us. They may earn more than average Filipinos but their cost of living is way more than ours. 
But also, not all Filipinas are into that scam. Only a small percentage does that. Most of us are proud women who likes to be successful career wise and frown on those who does the unthinkable. And no, not everyone are looking for foreign men. 

4. Real Estate Scam

Again, it also happens around the world. (Source: http://www.lamudi.com.ph/)

The Out of the Country Scam

In this common scam, the prospective landlord or current owner says they are out of the country and unable to show you the property before you sign the lease or contract. They usually promise to send you the keys in the mail once the deposit has been paid in advance.

Title Fraud

This type of property fraud can be extremely devastating. Essentially it is a form of identity theft in which the scammer poses as the homeowner and uses fake documents to transfer the property into his or her name. They then get a new mortgage against the property, take the cash for themselves and leave the homeowner liable for the repayments.

Information Brokerage

This is a scam involving two real estate agents colluding to increase their respective commission fee once the property has been bought. An example of this is one agent representing the buyer and another representing the seller. In this setup, the owner and the buyer do not know that they are dealing with two different brokers since they are not introduced. This will create a scenario where there are two agents in-between the transaction and this would result in distorting the value of the property since the commission will be shared by the agents.

This practice is a clear violation of the Code of Ethics and Responsibilities for Real Estate Service Practitioners. Buyer and sellers must be able to tap trustworthy brokers who will protect their interests and would not deceive them.

5. Spiked Drinks Scam

Some criminals add knockout or ‘date rape’ drugs (known locally as Ativan) to drinks or food to subdue and rob their victims. It is best not to accept food, drink or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they appear legitimate. 

6. Phone scams

This scam mostly targets the local Pinoys with house helpers. 

The perpetrator makes a telephone call usually to a the victim’s home and tells the person answering (usually a member of the domestic staff) that the resident or resident’s guest has been involved in an accident. The caller says the resident or guest is in distress and that money is immediately needed for the urgent medical treatment. (Sometimes the reasons for the immediate need of money vary, e.g. to pay off somebody so the media doesn’t get involved.)

The caller advises the staff member to leave the telephone off the hook, search the house for money or valuables such as jewelry, and take it to a rendezvous point.

Domestic staff should be warned about this type of scam. They should be trained not to comply with such demands and given advice about what to do if called.

As a Filipino, how do we help put a stop to these scams?
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Is Laglag Bala Distracting Pinoys from Bigger Issues?
Saturday, November 14, 20150 Comments
Photo by: Interact Images

You've all probably heard about the "laglag bala" incidents in NAIA. I have been traveling a lot these past few years in and out of the country with my family and never had a problem with "laglag bala" scam. Have we just been lucky? How long has this scam been going on? It seems like each week, there are new victims.

Airport workers are allegedly been planting bullets in unsuspecting traveler's luggage and extorting ridiculous amount of money from them in order to avoid jail time. Most victims just give in and pay them bribe money to avoid serious hassle. If I were them, I would secretly record my conversation with the airport personnel, never touch the bullet, and demand for it to be fingerprinted. And yes, call my lawyer, get the names of those people asking for money, maybe even take a photo of them, and call a journalist friend to feature them in the newspaper. These crooks should be publicly shamed! Don't pay them the bribe money and don't let them intimidate you coz if you do, you are just enabling them to victimize more people.

But considering the amount of bail for illegal possession of ammunition (Php 150,000), I guess most victims would rather just pay them the bribe money they are demanding which is $500-$1,000 (depends on your haggling skills) instead of dealing with all the hassle like missed flights, non-refundable hotel charges and tour packages, lawyer's fee, bail money, and etc.

Some have been saying that this "laglag bala" scam is just being used to distract Pinoys from more important issues like the massacre of the Lumads in Mindanao, PDAF, INC scandal, and etc. But what about the "luggage wrapping" companies at the airport? Lol. They are the ones who benefit from this issue the most. Heck, maybe I should franchise one too!

But it does make me think, with all the media coverage that the airport is getting right now, why haven't they stopped? It seems like the more media coverage they get, the more people become victims of this scam. I feel for the Lumads who were not getting the media attention they deserve considering the seriousness of their problem right now.

So what's the solution? I don't know...maybe fly through Clark airport instead? If only they have more international flights like NAIA! I think the best thing to do right now is avoid bringing luggage with outside pockets or if you do, make sure to wrap it up good before going to the airport and never let it out of your sight.

Are you a victim of laglag bala scam at NAIA? Share your experience in the comments section!

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Most Dangerous Places in the Philippines for Foreigners
Monday, October 12, 2015 43 Comments

It's more fun in the Philippines--NOT ALL THE TIME! You are probably thinking of retiring here and wondering where to live. You've probably been here dozens of times and stayed for a month or two each time. Do you feel safe? Visiting is different from actually living here. As a tourist, your activities are limited and your knowledge of the area only revolves around what you actually experienced during your stay.

Crime against foreigners are increasing. Recently, news about kidnappings in Mindanao has alerted expats living in the Philippines. Just to get some ideas, here are the most dangerous places in the Philippines:

1. Zamboanga

Zamboanga city hall. Photo source: www.zamboanga.com

Zamboanga city is the 9th most dangerous city in the world according to the website www.destinationtips.com. After a series of abductions by terrorist groups, Zamboanga is regarded as the most dangerous place in the Philippines for locals and foreigners alike. Victim of kidnappings varies from foreign tourists, town Mayor, public school teachers, and etc. 

2. Cotabato

Cotabato city. Photo source: www.cotabatocity.net.ph

Just like Zamboanga, Cotabato is also considered extremely dangerous. From bombings to kidnappings, you wouldn't want to visit there. In 2013, a car bombing occurred in Cotabato city, killing 8 people and wounding 40 others.

3. Basilan

Lampinigan beach, Basilan. Photo source: www.rappler.com

If you want to keep your head up (literally), don't go to Basilan. Aside from kidnappings and bombings, Basilan is also known for the 2007 beheading of 11 members of the Philippine Marines.

4. Jolo

Jolo, Sulu. Photo source: www.waltokon.org

Just last May, there was a twin explosion near a Mosque that injured at least 18 people.

5. Davao del Norte

Samal Island. Photo source: www.samal-island.com

Davao city may be one of the safest places in the Philippines but its neighboring towns aren't as safe as you'd think. On May 2001, Abu Sayaff members attacked Pearl Farm and killed two employees. Just last September 21, two Canadian nationals, a Norwegian, and a Filipina were kidnapped from a fancy beach resort in Samal Island. 

6. Manila 

Manila. Photo source: www.boring.ph

We all know Manila is dangerous but compared to those places in Mindanao, it's actually safer. Opportunistic crimes here are common but easily avoidable if you take proper precautions. 

7. Angeles City

Fields Avenue. Photo source: www.theville.com

Known for its nightlife, male tourists flock here to have a good time. There has been a series of crimes against foreigners in this city ranging from robbery, carnapping, assault, and murder. Personally, I don't think this place is an ideal place to retire if you are a foreigner (particularly white) since the crime rate is increasing each year.

Crime against foreigners in the Philippines

Like other countries, there are hundreds of crimes committed each year against foreigners in the Philippines. From petty crimes to violent ones, there is really no surefire way to avoid them as each situation is unique. But if you plan on living here, here are some tips:
  • Do not live in a secluded area. If you are white, you will be a target no matter where you live. Living in a secluded area makes it easier for criminals to rob your home as there will be no neighbors to help you. Live in a secured guarded village or condominium. For me, condominiums are much safer.
  • Do not hire maids (if you can). Most crimes committed in a household here are by maids or their boyfriends as a way to "get rich quick". Even locals here are wary of hiring maids because of the increasing crime committed by them.
  • Do not tell anyone about your finances (even your girlfriend). 
  • Do not post too much information about yourself in the Social Media (for obvious reasons).
  • Keep your doors locked at all times and do not open your door when somebody you don't know knocks especially at night. A foreign retiree was stabbed in the stomach when he opened the door to check who was outside.
  • Do not join a drinking party with locals (unless they were your trusted friends).
  • Secure your bedroom door with a good deadbolt lock and keep it locked at night.
  • Do not walk in dark alleys. Avoid going out late at night. 
  • Only withdraw money from ATMs inside malls.
  • Do not be too friendly with locals. You are always seen as the "rich one" and some will attempt to borrow money from you. If you decide not to lend them money, they will hate you for it and you can be a target for crime.
  • Avoid dating younger women as you can be a victim of extortion. There are syndicates who use underage girls as baits. These girls will pretend to be of legal age and lure unsuspecting foreign men.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Why I love Cats
Tuesday, September 29, 20150 Comments
My furry baby boy

What I love about cats

1. Cats are liquid. They conform to the shape of a container. Yep. Just like this:

Source: www.learnsomething.tips/

2. They don't need much to be entertained. Boxes will do. 
Source: www.breathefreelitterboxmate.com/

3. They are cute and cuddly. Yep. Even the big kitties are cute. 

Source: 2.bp.blogspot.com/

4. You don't need to buy them a bed. They will sleep anywhere. 

Source: www.webodysseum.com/

5. They can train your dog better than you. 

Source: www.londonbeep.com/

Cats are often misunderstood. They are mysterious and adorable at the same time. Most people I know who tells me they don't like cats are instantly converted as soon as they see my cat! Well who wouldn't like a kitty like him? He's a ball of fur! :)

My cat
Do you like cats? Tell us why in the comments section! 
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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Other Things to do in Puerto Princesa, Palawan
Sunday, September 27, 20150 Comments
On the way to El Nido, we stopped at Puerto Princesa for 3 days. We decided to stay at this nice and cozy hotel called "Deep Forest Garden Inn" which is only less than 10 mins away from the airport. They have this lovely garden setting and a nice pool. For only Php 2,400/ night on their Deluxe room, it was a good deal.

When you talk about Puerto Princesa, places like Underground river, Honda Bay, Mitra Farm, and etc. comes to mind. But if you've been to Puerto Princesa before and have toured these places already, what is left for you to see?

Deep Forest Garden Inn at night. Photo from: Agoda.com

BM Beach

Just a few minutes drive from the hotel is BM Beach. I came in pretty early around 7am and there were no people around besides the caretaker. Entrance fee is Php 25.

BM Beach Puerto Princesa

The water is very shallow and you will have to walk further for the water to reach your waist. 

Nice clear water on a foggy day
To get there: If you have a car with you, drive along Puerto Princesa North Road from the City Center and just before you reach Robinson's near Kia/Nissan dealer, turn right to BM road. Drive all the way down and you will see the sign BM Beach Resort.
By tricycle: Just tell the driver BM Beach. Tell them its along BM road near Robinson's

Click to enlarge map

Pristine Beach 

Pristine beach is another lovely beach in Puerto Princesa. It is just a few minutes walk away from Deep Forest Garden Inn. Entrance fee is only Php 20.

Pristine Beach Puerto Princesa
You can just walk to get there. You can also ask the hotel shuttle to take you there. Tricycle is another option. But be prepared to walk quite a ways from the gate of the resort since tricycles aren't allowed to go in.

Sunset at Pristine Beach

Crocodile Farm

Wanna see Lolong's relatives? Go to Palawan Wildlife Conservation Center (Crocodile Farm). It serves as sanctuary for Philippine Crocodiles. 

Crocodile skin
Wanna eat some crocodile meat? There's a food shop inside where they only serve crocodile meat.
Entrance fee is Php 40. It is located in Puerto Princesa South Road and from the city center, you can just take a tricycle for Php 500 roundtrip. 

You can even stop by Ihawig Prison or Baker's Hill since its both along the way. 

Do you know more places to tour in Puerto Princesa? Pls share in the comments section! :)
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Friday, September 25, 2015

How to Register Online and Get Philhealth ID Easily
Friday, September 25, 2015 58 Comments

Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) is the most affordable health insurance in the Philippines. It is a social insurance program that provides a means for the healthy to pay for the care of the sick and for those who can afford medical care to subsidize those who cannot.

Every Juan should be a Philhealth member. It doesn't take much to apply.

1. Go to https://eregister.philhealth.gov.ph/

2. Fill up the registration form and attach a scanned copy of your birth certificate

3. Wait for the confirmation e-mail

4. You will then receive your Philhealth number after a few days.

5. After receiving your Philhealth number, just go to Philhealth office near you and get your ID.

Get your Philhealth ID

Go to the nearest Philhealth office near you and ask for the Philhealth Member Registration Form or PMRF. Fill up the form and submit it. They will print out your ID in just a few minutes.

In my case, I went to Robinson's Otis and got my Philhealth ID. Go there on a Thursday or Friday to avoid long lines. I got mine in less than 10 minutes! 
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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

ArmyNavy--It's a Burritoful World Indeed!
Wednesday, September 23, 20150 Comments

I always pass by ArmyNavy Burger + Burritos in Harbour Square but I never get a chance to try it out since I have a habit of going to Starbucks or Icebergs instead. I couldn't stop thinking of Burritos and somehow I gotta have them asap!

I looked up their website and found out that they deliver! Yay! To satisfy my Burrito cravings, I called their delivery hotline 333-3131 and ordered. In less than 30 minutes, my food delivery came and I get to finally taste their Burrito!

My food
I ordered their Chicken Burrito (flour tortilla with chicken, spanish rice, frijoles, onions, lettuce, and cilantro) served with salsa and a slice of lime.

Chicken Burrito
Since their French fries seem inviting, I ordered it too!

Freedom Fries
And their Nachos. Crunchy tortilla chips with cheese jalapeno sauce, salsa, beef toppings, and minced jalapeno.

Here's the Armynavy pricelist and menu:

armynavy menu

ArmyNavy has two branches in Makati:

New Glorietta
Space 2-017 2/F, Glorietta,
Ayala Center, Makati City
Tel: 808-9095

Waltermart Makati
Ground Floor

Well all I can say is, it's pretty good. Now excuse me while I order some dessert! :)

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Getting an NBI Clearance Online
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 212 Comments
The last time I got an NBI clearance was 2011. I only had to renew it by showing them an old NBI clearance copy and then I can get a new one in a matter of minutes. Easy peasy. Since I need it again this time, I went to Robinson's Otis, Paco, Manila (It has fewer people) to renew it again. But I was told that I have to sign up online first at http://clearance.nbi.gov.ph and fill up the form, come back to their cashier and pay Php 115 and also provide the confirmation number provided after filling up the form. Online NBI application is easy..you can even do it on your mobile phone. It only takes a couple minutes to sign up.

screenshot of the NBI form

Steps to get an NBI Clearance

1. Go to http://clearance.nbi.gov.ph

2. Fill up the form

3. Choose your schedule and NBI kiosk to go to

4. Pay via bayad center or pay up at the NBI kiosk's cashier 
5. Photo and fingerprint capture

6. Wait for clearance printing  (If you don't have a hit)

Since I was used to not having problems getting an NBI clearance, I sat there waiting for them to call my name after the photo and fingerprint capture. 30 minutes have passed and they still haven't called me. I walked up to the releasing booth and showed them my receipt. The guy looked at the back portion and told me to come back after 10 days. 10 days?? What the heck? Others who have applied the same time as me have gotten theirs in just a few minutes. 

I went home worrying the whole time. I couldn't wait till its 10 days already. I wanted to know why its taking so long. Why did I get a "hit"? Did someone used my name to commit a crime? I was really getting paranoid. 

Finally, 10 days have passed and I went back there to retrieve my NBI clearance! Voila! I got it! Yayyy! I was so relieved! I asked the guy why it took so long. He said I probably have a namesake with a pending criminal case and they just needed time to verify its not me. Well, I'm just glad it worked out good for me! I was afraid I'd have to go to their quality control center to prove that the person with a pending case is not me. Glad I didn't have to!

Reasons why people get a hit

1. Applying for NBI Clearance for travel abroad

For those applying for clearance for travel abroad, I read that it's on auto-hit. Since NBI has been updating their system, they just want to verify further that those people traveling abroad do not have a criminal record. 

2. Has a namesake

We now have over 104 million citizens and its not unusual to share your name with someone else.

3. Has a criminal record

You might have a pending criminal case that you do not know about. Even if you did not receive a subpoena, the case will still roll. 

What to do when you got a hit

If you know that you haven't committed any crime, then you have no reason to worry. Just wait for the release schedule of your NBI clearance and claim it. In case they need to further interview you, just go to their NBI clearance quality control center in Taft Avenue and answer all their questions truthfully. They just need to verify that you are not the same person with the criminal record.

In case you have a criminal record, expect to get a hit and all you can do is hire a lawyer to settle your case before you can even get an NBI clearance.

Robinson's Otis NBI Clearance Center Operating Hours

Monday - Friday  8am - 5pm
Saturday 10am - 7pm

2 valid IDs
 (Passport, SSS ID, School ID, PRC License, Voters ID, Postal ID, Company ID, Driver's license, NSO birth certificate, etc.)

That's it! Best of luck!
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Monday, September 21, 2015

Enough Hashtag #OOTD
Monday, September 21, 2015 4 Comments
Photo source: www.stylecracker.com
While browsing some sites and Instagram feed, I noticed that many people post their #OOTD. I think I've seen dozens of people posting their #OOTD every darn day. They even mention the brand they are wearing from head to toe. Naloka ako! If you are a celebrity, fashion model or an established fashion blogger, or fashion stylist/consultant, I understand the need to do it since your followers are getting inspiration or tips on fashion trends from you. 

But I see average citizens posting #OOTD every day and they were actually looking like a hot mess. Do you think people really love seeing your outfit of the day? You flood their feed with your selfies and they were all the same. Just taken from different angles, with or without pouting lips. 

Sorry to say this but I think #OOTD is just a sorry excuse for self-absorbed people to take selfies every day and pretend to be fashion icons. I know what some of you will say upon reading this blog. 

"Walang basagan ng trip"
"Kanya kanyang trip lang yan"

Eh di wow. :)

Internet Posts I like

1. Food
Some people post pics of food they ate at a restaurant they visited. That's cool. I like to see food pics and read about their experiences so that I can have an idea what to order if I ever decide to eat there.

2. Travel
I love travel pictures. Keep them coming. It's good to know first-hand experiences of travelers around the world. I find it inspiring.

3. Social Issues
It's always good to be aware of what's happening in your surroundings. Spread the news. Keep the posts coming.

4. Cat Pictures
I'm addicted to cats. So yeah, flood my feed with cat photos and videos and memes. Dog pics will be great too. :)
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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Do Not Send Important Documents Via Philpost Coz they Suck
Sunday, September 20, 2015 7 Comments
More like "You Send. We DON'T Deliver."

If you want to receive your letters, parcels, or packages, don't have it sent via Philpost! There are countless stories about people getting their stuff stolen by employees of Philpost or their letters never arriving in its destination.

It is so bad that USPS doesn't accept express mail going to Philippines anymore since Philpost doesn't comply with the express mail delivery schedule. I was expecting a series of post dated checks and it was "unfortunately" sent via regular mail because the sender didn't want to shell out $50 for FedEx. It has been over a month now and it still hasn't arrived. Funny thing is, whenever I get an ordinary letter from US (no check inside), it always arrive within 2 weeks. I have a feeling it was stolen already.

After doing some research, I found out that some people get their checks stolen by Philpost people and even cashed by third party money changers. How is it possible? If the check is not crossed, it can be transferred or ‘endorsed’ by the payee. In this case, the thief can fake the signature of the payee and sell the check to a money changer. The money changer then deposits it to their bank account.

This is a serious hassle for me coz I really need those post dated checks! I hate Philpost so much! Why can't they improve their service? To those of you who has important documents to send, don't send it via Philpost if you want a hassle free experience!

Someone I know ordered some stuff online and when the parcel arrived, the box was empty! Worst thing was, she even had to pay taxes that are almost double the parcel's value at customs!

So yeah, Philpost is badddd news. Real bad. Don't use it. Period.
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Friday, September 18, 2015

No Easy Way to Open a Checking Account in Philippines
Friday, September 18, 2015 48 Comments
Photo source: www,i.investopedia.com/

Unlike other countries, it's a pain to open a checking account in the Philippines. For average earners who do not own a savings account, it can take them months to get a checking account.

Even those with savings account can't easily get approved. Banks would base it on your account's cash flow before they even consider approving your application for a checking account. It's a real hassle for those who need post dated checks immediately.

Don't believe some blog articles telling readers it's easy to get a checking account in the Philippines. They recommended going to those "Savings Bank".  They require you to have at least 6 months savings account in their branch before they even consider giving you a checking account. I even called those small rural banks and they also require to have 6 months savings account first.

Misleading Bank Promos

There are several banks advertising for easy checking accounts with low maintenance balance etc. Sounds good right? Don't get excited. There's a catch: You can only apply for checking account if you have savings account in their bank. So if you need a check immediately and you don't have an existing savings account with them, there is no way you can get one instantly. Here are several banks my friend has visited in hopes of opening a checking account:

China Bank Savings
Checking account: Easi-Checking Account
Initial Deposit: 5,000
Minimum maintaining balance to earn interest: 10,000

RCBC Savings Bank
Checking account: Basic Checking Account
Initial Deposit: 10,000
Minimum maintaining balance to earn interest: 10,000

Citystate Savings Bank
Checking Account: Citymax Account
Initial Deposit: 1,500
Minimum maintaining balance to earn interest: 5,000

Asia United Bank
Checking Account: Preferred Peso Checking
Initial Deposit: 10,000
Minimum maintaining balance to earn interest: 100,000

I wish banks would be more clear about their rules in opening a checking account so that people would know right away. It's very frustrating to get false information and go out of your way to prepare the requirements, only to get there and be told that you need to have 6 months savings account with them first. 

The banks also need to train their staff to answer queries right. My friend was told several things like:

1. You can open a checking account with us instantly, just visit our branch and bring your documents.
2. You only need 2 government issued IDs.
3. You only need a barangay certificate if you don't have proof of billing under your name.

What I learned:

1. You can't open a checking account instantly.
2. Your 2 government IDs may not be accepted at all. I presented TIN ID, Philhealth ID, NBI Clearance, and Company ID. They did not accept it and told me to present another one like the new digitized Postal ID or SSS ID or passport. 
3. Most banks won't accept barangay certificate as proof of billing. 

Have you experienced opening a checking account in the Philippines? Share your experience in the comment section. :)
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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Enchanting El Nido, Palawan
Thursday, September 10, 2015 6 Comments
El Nido, Palawan

Palawan holiday is not complete without basking under the summer sun and snorkeling in turquoise waters of El Nido. So much for expecting “summer sun”—it almost never happened due to nasty typhoon last August. Nevertheless, I still had tons of fun during my 3 nights stay. Lucky for me, I got a good break from rain on the third day.
El Nido is a small fishing village north of Palawan, Philippines. To get to El Nido, you will need to take an hour plane ride from Manila or take a six hour van/bus ride from Puerto Princesa City. Since I was already in Puerto Princesa, my only option is to take a bus or a van. Six hour bus ride is a bit much especially if you are riding a bus through muddy rough roads. I decided to hire a van instead. It costs 8,000 pesos (USD 181) one way but after haggling with the driver, he agreed to 6,000 pesos (USD 140) but wait there’s a catch—I will have to hire him again on my way back to Puerto Princesa city for the same price and he asked for 50% advanced payment for the return trip. So it's 12,000php total back and forth.

I stayed at El Nido Beach Hotel for USD 55/night with free breakfast. It has a great view of the ocean and the massive limestone cliffs. I can’t imagine a much grander view than this.
View from my hotel room

On my third day, I got a good break from heavy rains and thunderstorm. I met Hawaiian boat tours owner Mr. Stafford Montgomery early morning and he helped me set my tour for the day. His boats are one of the best in El Nido. They are fairly new and safe. For only 4,000 pesos (USD 91) for 1-3 persons, I get to go island hopping with free lunch.  
Mr. Montgomery owner of Hawaiian Boat Tours

Friendly staff of Hawaiian Boat Tours

First stop is Big lagoon. It is where a scene in the movie 'Bourne Legacy" was filmed.

First thing I want to do when I saw this beauty is to jump off the boat and swim but the tour guide told me to stay on the boat and wait till we reach a shallow part. The water is amazingly vivid and inviting and oh so full of marine life!

Boat stuck on a reef in Big Lagoon
Next stop is Secret Lagoon:

It reminds me of the movie "The Beach". It is surrounded by massive limestone cliffs. 

We then proceeded to Shimizu Island to have lunch. So while I was having fun snorkeling, the whole staff were cooking lunch. 

Shimizu Island
After a sumptuous meal of steamed crabs, tropical fruits, steamed rice, chicken adobo, grilled unicorn fish, and Chopsuey, we boarded the boat again and headed to Small Lagoon. You will have to get off your boat and swim through the hole or you can bring a kayak with you.

I imagine mermaids living here

On the way to Small Lagoon
Hole in Small lagoon
Beware of territorial fishes on the way in as they can get real nasty. I was bitten twice and it hurt so much I let out a loud embarrassing scream thinking it was a baby shark lol.
You will be rewarded by this awesome view inside the lagoon. Have fun swimming in this crystal clear water of Small Lagoon!

Inside Small Lagoon
Our last stop is Seven Commando Beach. The final destination after a long day of island hopping. 
Seven Commando Beach
After 10 mins of swimming, it started raining again. The boat captain decided that we head out of there asap to avoid beating huge waves on the way back to the hotel. The other boats full of tourists packed their things and headed back to mainland as well. 
It was such a fun day and I wish I can do it all over again soon!
I want to thank Hawaiian Boat Tours for a day of fun! If you guys decide to go to El Nido, you can check them out. Their contact number is: (63)926 716-2792

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Friday, September 4, 2015

A Hearty Meal at Lantaw Floating Native Restaurant
Friday, September 04, 20150 Comments
While in Cebu, we took the opportunity to check out the famous Lantaw Floating Native Restaurant in Cordova. If you're a fan of Al Fresco dining, this restaurant is for you!

Lantaw Floating Native Restaurant

Situated on the outskirts of Cebu City, this restaurant is a sure hit to locals and tourists alike with its succulent Filipino dishes and lively restaurant settings. From Crown Regency Suites in Lapu Lapu where we were staying, it took us about 30 minutes to get there because of traffic. The taxi fare is around 200 pesos.

The restaurant's main open deck is magnificent at dusk! 

Open Deck

We ordered their pork sisig, lechon manok, garlic-buttered prawns, chopsuey, lumpia, and of course a big serving of rice. The food is good but it took over an hour to arrive. Their mango shake is a must try! We were so hungry, I totally forgot to take pictures of our food. Hence, I can only take a picture of the aftermath.

If you want to make sure you get a table when you come, you should call them and make a reservation first. They get really packed with customers especially in the afternoon. If you are coming with a big group, chances are you won't get a table if you did not make a reservation.

Check out their menu:

The best time to go there is at dusk when all the city lights are on. You'll get to enjoy the magnificent view from the restaurant's deck. 

Getting a cab on the way back to the hotel is quite easy. Just ask the restaurant staff to call a cab for you and they will happily oblige. You just have to pay 50 pesos on top of your metered fare.

Lantaw Floating Native Restaurant offers good value for your money and also a fun way to experience Al Fresco dining in Cebu.
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