Monday, August 31, 2009

are you ready for the 20th philippine travel mart?

i hope you haven't finished off all your moolah this long weekend, because the 20th philippine travel mart will be offering irresistible travel deals!

from what i hear, SEAir will be offering buy one, take one tickets to batanes, and round-trip airfare of P3,500 to boracay.

and that's just one airline! who knows what other offers you will find at this year's philippine travel mart?

i'm definitely going! i missed last year's philippine travel mart, but i'm not going to let this one pass me by.

photo from byahilo.

event information
20th philippine travel mart
dates: september 4-6, 2009, 10am-6pm
venue: sm megatrade halls 1-3, building b, sm megamall

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

three ways to renew your philippine passport

my passport will be expiring in may 2010, and while i know that i can renew my passport through passport direct, i still thought i'd check the DFA website in case they had updates on new passport renewal procedures.

and i found out that they actually do! aside from passport direct, which partners up with 2go for the courier service, now, we pinoys can also renew our passports by telephone and using the DFA appointment system.

let me go through the different ways one can renew passports in good ol' philippines:

#1: passport direct
passport direct accepts new applications and renewals. you first have to fill up their passport application form, where you fill in important personal information as well as the pick-up and delivery address of your passport. you can also input your desired pick-up schedule and personal appearance schedule at the DFA.

the passport direct website also has a list of requirements for passport renewals. for the benefit of those who, like me, are still holding their green passports, our renewal requirements are as follows:
  • Personal Appearance is required.
  • Present passport and photocopy of pages 1,2,3 (amendment) inside and back cover.
  • The pages showing latest Bureau of Immigration departure and arrival stamps.
  • For illegitimate minor, personal appearance of mother is required.
  • Three (3) colored photos of the applicant taken against a royal blue background & no shadow. Applicant should be in decent attire with collar & sleeves and in dark-colored shirt. Photo must be studio taken & of good quality, and must have been taken within the last six (6) months. Photo size: 4.5 cm x 3.5 cm. Facial image size: About 3cm-tip of head to chin. Ears should be visible. Wearing of accessories, colored contact lenses or eyeglasses, with name/name board are not allowed. DFA has the right to reject photos that do not comply with specifications and international standards.
renewing passports through passport direct costs Php 1,300.00, and takes about 3 weeks.

#2: telephone passport express
the website says "fast, efficient, and convenient way of processing passport while making use of quality time." because you don't need to go to the DFA, but you do need to personally appear at the DFA Telephone Passport Express Center on your scheduled date.

telephone passport express is a service provided by LBC. you just have to call up their hotline, (02) 567-1111 to get the list of requirements. afterwards, download the passport application form which has a logo of telephone passport express and lbc (these details are important!), print it on long bond paper, and fill it up.

when all that is done, you then have to go to the nearest LBC branch or telephone passport express center to submit your documents for screening and evaluation. this is also where you pay the fee of P1,300.00, which includes shipping of your passport to the address you provided. oh, and you have to wait for them to give you your schedule for fingerprinting and signing.

just go to any telephone passport express center on the day of your schedule, do the fingerprinting and signing. your passport will just be delivered to you via LBC.

#3: dfa online appointment system
starting august 26 of this year, the dfa will be implementing an online appointment procedure for passport renewals, for issuance of the new epassport (as opposed to the machine readable ones, or new passport version 1.0). but since the system is new, they can only accommodate 100 epassport applicants per day.

to renew your passport through this system, go to the dfa passport application appointment system, click on the epassport photo, fill up the form, then click submit. check your inbox for their email indicating your appointment date, and confirm your availability. make sure to note down the date, time, and reference number given in the email.

on the date of your appointment, proceed to the special area for online appointment applicants with your requirements. according to the dfa, these are the requirements:
  • old passport with one photocopy of old passport data page
  • a valid ID
  • duly accomplished passport application form
  • Php 950 passport fee
after reading about all those three ways to renew my passport, i think i'm going to try the last option. i've heard some not-so-good feedback about passport direct from friends who've renewed this year, and the telephone passport express actually sounds too tedious. the last option is pretty interesting--everything is done online, which is a great leap for a government office, and i want to see how they would do it. plus, the dfa online appointment system is much cheaper than the first two options, which is always a plus for me!

on another note, the new epassport, i've been told, actually emits RFID signals, which makes your information vulnerable to hacking or being stolen. i'm still trying to find the right RFID blocking passport cover, and i'm not happy with the ones i've seen online. it helps to safeguard your information, so make sure that once you renew your passport, you secure it right away.

hope this blog helps those who are confused about renewing our philippine passports. :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

where can you go with your philippine passport?

expensive visa application fees and visa denial nightmares have been part and parcel of the travel tales of those of us who hold a philippine passport.

but a little trawling online showed me a list of countries where we philippine passport-holders can travel visa-free (some places issue the visa upon arrival, though).

at the moment, your philippine passport can take you to:

  • burundi
  • cape verde
  • comoros
  • djibouti
  • egypt (south sinai only)
  • gambia
  • kenya
  • madagascar
  • morocco
  • mozambique
  • saint helena
  • seychelles
  • tanzania
  • togo
  • uganda
  • zambia
  • brunei darussalam
  • cambodia
  • indonesia
  • laos
  • malaysia
  • singapore
  • thailand
  • vietnam
  • armenia
  • azerbaijan
  • bangladesh
  • georgia
  • hong kong
  • iran
  • israel
  • south korea (jeju island only)
  • macau
  • maldives
  • mongolia
  • nepal
  • sri lanka
  • timor-leste
  • kosovo
  • cook islands
  • fiji
  • marshall islands
  • federated states of micronesia
  • niue
  • palau
  • samoa
  • tuvalu
  • vanuatu
north america
  • bermuda
  • costa rica
  • dominica
  • haiti
  • nicaragua
  • saint kitts and nevis
  • saint lucia
  • saint vincent and the grenadines
  • turks and caicos islands
south america
  • bolivia
  • brazil
  • colombia
  • ecuador
  • peru
  • suriname
quite a long list, isn't it? :) (let's just not compare it with the list of other countries) i was pleasantly surprised myself, especially after seeing fiji and brazil in there.

gotta get a move in renewing my passport then! :D

Sunday, August 16, 2009

remembering madrid

memories of my trip to spain have been buried in piles of work emails, appointments, and manila annoyances. this weekend, however, i was able to get some time on my hands, and i happened to check back on my europe files. i found this:

this was the moment when the reality of being in europe hit me--pigeons and tourists everywhere, i was sitting on cobblestones, and accordion music can be heard in the distance. i shot this in madrid's plaza mayor, and the view that i lingered on is the casa de la panaderia.

i wanna go back. *nostalgic smile*

Monday, August 10, 2009

a national museum tour in remembrance of cory aquino

less than a year ago, i got to go on a national museum tour conducted by its curator, john silva. now, he has another theme for the tour, and it's entitled "origins of her faith, courage, and love of country."

now, i'm not a big fan of cory as a president, but i do admire the kind of person that she is. and maybe, just maybe, knowing these origins might keep the flame of hope alive. it's so easy to extinguish it, but i do feel that people are starting to feel the need to change. and anything that can get people to keep wanting to do something about our problems is okay by me. :)

so if you have some spare time, do join the tour. the insights on the country's art and history are well worth it.

tour information:
tour of the national museum: origins of her faith, courage, and love of country
dates: aug. 8, 12, 15, 19, 22, 26, 29
sept. 2, 5, 9, 12, 16, 19, 23, 26, 30
time: 10am
venue: museum of the filipino people
fee: Php500 (18 years and below), Php 800 for adults
for reservations, please contact John Silva at 0926-7299029, 09174195928, or

ukay finds from ortigas and shaw

saturday's ukay shopping trip was a success! koryn and i met in robinson's galleria, and used the pink and blue walkway to cross to the POEA side of EDSA. the ukay store was on sale, and they had so many bags and tops that it took koryn and i about 3 hours before we finally went up to the cashier and declare the store thoroughly "ukayed."

i got really lucky with their selection of tops, and brought home 7 from this store alone, with sleeveless tops priced at P100, and sleeved ones at P115. i tried rummaging through their jackets and coats racks, but wasn't lucky enough to find myself a good rain or trench coat.

then koryn and i took the bus (we were too tired to walk, and the sun was fierce that day) to crossing, where we first had merienda, then went back out for ukay shopping session parte dos. we found a small ukay store along shaw boulevard, which had racks that sold items at 3 for 100, P45, P50, and P60. koryn was able to go home with a nice coat/cardigan from there for P50.

our last stop for the day was UK fashion house (o, di ba? fancyyy!), where i got myself a black cotton top for P90. i also found a shoulder bag for P450, but thought twice since some parts of it were already peeling off.

so i went home spending just P820 on my finds: 5 sleeveless tops at P100 each, 1 shirt for P115, the skull sweatshirt for P115 as well, and the P90 UK fashion house top. my budget for the day was P1,000, so i was really happy to get 8 items for less than that. next time, i'll shop for bottoms and upgrade that part of my wardrobe.

i also read online that there are ukay stores on guadalupe, and i'll make that my next ukay shopping target. will let you know how it goes! :)

Friday, August 7, 2009

ukay shopping in the city

since i'm due for an ukay trip tomorrow, i thought i'd share some of my and my friends' ukay haunts. ukay shopping is a great way to upgrade a wardrobe--it's cheap, and you're almost always certain of getting a funky find!

one of my favorite ukay areas is anonas. when you get off the LRT2 station, there is one ukay store that offers a LOT of clothes, bags, and shoes. that's actually where i scored my lovely shoes (pictured above) for just P280.

but when you go all the way down from the station, just turn right and look out for a mall-like opening right past the beverage and food stands. that's the entrance to anonas's supersonic ukay mall--a five-level giant filled with ukay stores left and right. i've found a myriad of items in this single ukay "mall" alone--cargo pants for P170, girly tops for P50, pants for P120, and some toys and collectibles, too. i also got a pleather bag here for P450. it was expensive, but the bag is still making me happy, and it has no visible wear and tear.

cubao is also teeming with ukay stores, among them the one beside national bookstore. this store seems to be a hit with ukay veterans, and the last time i was there, i got myself a bag, and a few tops for less than P500.

when i feel like "ukay splurging," i take the LRT1 to bambang and check out their high-end ukay stuff. the first time i went there, i was amazed at the designer labels they carried--these people really know how to pick out their haul! the stores were teeming with LV, gucci, coach, lancel, fendi, and other labels. this was where i got my leather calvin klein drawstring bag for P550. i love that bag so much, because it goes with everything, and it's very, very durable. i brought it to hong kong and spain, and i use it almost everyday, but it hasn't shown signs of wear and tear, even after all the rainy days we've gone through.

when i don't have the energy to go all the way to these ukay haunts, i content myself with the nearby ukay at buendia, at the ground floor of the grepalife building. it's past pasong tamo street along buendia, and right beside BPI family savings bank. the haul i get from here is a mixed lot, and they're on the expensive side.

makati cinema square also has about three ukay stores, one of them is right in front, facing pasong tamo. i've found some nice bags here, but they're pretty overpriced. this store also has a lots of boots, so if you're looking for a nice pair, you just might get 'em here.

mitch, a friend of mine, who also got addicted to ukay( because of me), says she's pretty happy with the ukay store along edsa, near crossing, beside dunkin' donuts. she's also checked out the ukay in kamuning, and the one in ortigas. the latter, however, did not meet her expectations.

and that's where i'll be going with my friend koryn tomorrow--to check the ukays in shaw and ortigas. mitch and i are also thinking of raiding this ukay place called raberly, which is found across trinoma, and is accessible via the monumento stop of the MRT.

for those who don't have the patience to go through stacks of clothes, there are actually some people who do the ukay shopping for you. i've found some sites that sell vintage finds, but of course, at more expensive prices (but still cheaper than the stuff you find at malls). you can check out the following sites:

in the fish bowl
the only ukay queen
viva vintage

so it doesn't matter if you're willing to go out of your way or not, there's an ukay shopping strategy for every fashionista. :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

i gotta go! has a new look

i was never really that happy with the previous beige and red look--it was just a template that i left up while trying to figure out what to do with the template.

after some searching, i discovered this template, and thought that it was fitting for i gotta go!. it invokes a feeling of calm and tranquility, but at the same time, beckons me to go on an adventure. i'm hoping that having this look on my travel site would remind me again and again of what travel means to me.

i'm still trying to tinker with the template. i'll probably take out some of the sidebar widgets and put in new ones. time to update the ol' site, and hopefully, it will make me write more again. :)