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Sunday, September 18, 2016

How I Got A Multiple Entry Korean Visa

I received a call from a BPI sales rep back in May saying that I am pre-qualified for a BPI Gold card. I immediately declined the offer because credit card = debt. She gave me an email address where I can reach them in case I change my mind, but I wasn't paying attention and did not bother writing it down. 

For some strange reason, I had an urge to check out the card's features as soon as we ended the call, and I saw their Imagine Your Korea promo. It says that BPI Gold cardholders will be entitled to a 3-year multiple entry Korean visa while BPI Platinum and Gold Express Teller Debit cardholders may be issued 3- or 5-year multiple entry visas. Additionally, said cardholders will be exempted from submitting financial documents (ITR and bank certificate). 

So I did what any travel junkie would and frantically searched online for BPI sales' email address. LOL Thanks to their responsive Twitter account handler, I got hold of the email address and was able to request a call back. I think my card arrived within a week from our correspondence.

Now, I could have applied a month after receiving my first statement of account, but I was so swamped with work. 

When my schedule finally cleared up earlier this month, I decided to lodge our application. I made a last-minute decision to include my mom in the application because why not? It's free anyway, and you're not even required to book tickets and accommodation. Totally risk-free!

Just to give you a brief background of our profile:

Me: 31 years old, single, self-employed, no OECD visa but traveled to 12 countries in the last 5 years

My mom: 61 years old, widow, unemployed, no OECD visa but traveled to 4 countries in the last 5 years

Please take note that the requirements I'm going to list here only apply to self-employed individuals and, specifically, to BPI Gold cardholders.

Here are the requirements I submitted:

  • Duly accomplished application form with recent passport size photo 
  • Original passport and photocopy of bio page (Page 2)
  • Photocopy of my BPI Gold card (front only)
  • Photocopies of latest 3 months BPI Statement of Account
  • Photocopy of my DTI Certificate
  • Photocopy of my BIR Certificate of Registration (Form 2303)
  • Photocopy of my birth certificate from NSO (proof of relationship for family applications)

Click here for the list of requirements for employees.

The only requirements I submitted for my mom were:
  • Duly accomplished application form with recent passport size photo
  • Original passport and photocopy of bio page (Page 2)
  • Photocopy of her birth certificate from NSO

On her application form under Section 10.2a (Funding Details): Who will pay for your travel-related expenses? I just wrote my name and contact details. 


I went to the embassy last September 7, 2016 and arrived at around 10:30 am.

I signed in the logbook, had my bag checked, and went inside the consular office.

As expected, there were lots of people. Not sure if that's always the case or because of the BDO and BPI promo. :p

I lined up to get a number, and prepared our documents while waiting in line. I informed the officer that I am a BPI cardholder. He checked our documents, and gave me a number for Window 3. 

The current application being processed at Window 3 was 455. I'm 457, so I had my NSO birth certificate photocopied first. Then I saw my number flashing on the screen. I didn't have time to double-check our documents and ran to the window.

I handed the consul our documents, and she went through it swiftly. The only questions she asked me were if I am traveling with my mother and if I am a BPI Gold cardholder. 

After a few seconds, she gave me a claim stub with a tentative release date of September 13, 2016 (September 12, 2016 was a holiday). Imagine, it took me 3 hours to get to the embassy and less than 5 minutes to lodge the application. Unbelievable!

Then I realized I forgot to submit a copy of my bank statement, and couldn't go back to the window because the consul was already entertaining another applicant. I was worried it might affect our application because I've heard stories of people who got denied even though they have complete requirements, stable job/business, and more than enough money in the bank. Bahala na si Batman!


September 13, 2016, moment of truth. 

I arrived at around 1:00 pm, and there was already a long queue even though releasing starts at 1:30 pm.  

Probably due to the number of people, they decided to start releasing earlier (around 1:15 pm), but they also announced that those with claim stubs with a tentative release date for that day will have to return the following day. I was about to lose it, but they quickly clarified that it only applies for applications lodged in Windows 1 & 2. Applications lodged in Window 3 can get their passports that day.

By the way, make sure to write down your name and contact number at the back of the claim stub. Only write one name even though you're claiming more than one passport.

I think I waited about 15 minutes before my number was called. Imagine my delight when the lady told me that my mom and I were both given 3-year multiple entry visas. Yey! 

I'm really happy because not only can I go to Korea anytime I want in the next 3 years, but I also now have a valid OECD visa. This means it'll be easier to enter other countries, too, like Taiwan because I'll just need a travel authority. Hopefully, it'll have a bearing on my other future visa applications too. :D


Korean Embassy Manila
122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City

How to get there:
  • The Korean Embassy is located at the corner of Upper McKinley Road and C5 Road right beside the British Embassy.
  • From Guadalupe MRT Station or Market! Market!, take the FTI-C5 jeepney. It will take 20 minutes from Guadalupe MRT Station and 7 minutes from Market! Market!
  • From Venice Piazza at McKinley Hill, there is a free shuttle bus that will take you to Upper McKinley Road. The ride will take about 10 minutes. The embassy is within walking distance from the last bus stop at McKinley Road.

Visa Application: 8:30 am to 11:00 am
Releasing of Passports: 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm

Visa processing takes 5 working days for first time travelers and 3 working days for frequent travelers to Korea (or with OECD visas/BDO/BPI, basically, all applications processed at Window 3).

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Taste of Java in Yogyakarta

Nothing excites me more than exploring another country for the first time, so I made sure to include Indonesia in my month-long solo backpacking trip around Southeast Asia

My first stop was Yogyakarta (often called Jogjakarta or Jogja), a special administrative region in the island of Java. 

I arrived on a late afternoon flight from Kuala Lumpur via AirAsia, and took the Trans Jogja bus to EDU Hostel where I stayed for 2 nights. Sure, it wasn't the best accommodation, but for about $7.00 a night with breakfast, it's definitely value for money. 

The hostel also offers several day tours including, of course, tours to UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Borobudur and Prambanan.

Borobudur looking 'golden' shortly after sunrise

Together with 3 Brit girls, we booked the 'Beautiful Morning at Borobudur' tour thinking it includes sunrise viewing. We only realized the following day that we got a different tour because it was already past 5:00 am when we were picked up from the hostel lobby by the tour operator. It wasn't a big deal for me anyway. 

Even though the sun had already risen by the time we arrived, we could still feel a cool breeze as we walked along the park leading to the massive temple. 

I am always in awe whenever I visit an ancient temple. It's fascinating how people in the early days managed to build such majestic structures without modern technology and equipment.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Destination: Dubai

Never did I imagine that I would go to Dubai for vacation. But because my friend and I scored ridiculously cheap roundtrip tickets - like, $30.00 cheap - last January 2015, we just had to go. :D


First things first. Filipinos need a visa to go to Dubai. Based from experience, we learned there are several ways to obtain a visa:

  • The easiest way is to have someone living and/or working in Dubai lodge your tourist visa application at a Dubai-based travel agency. We just sent scanned copies of our passports, passport-sized photo, and flight details. 
  • Some hotels can also 'sponsor' your stay and process the visa for you, but most of them require a security deposit of AED5,000 (around Php65,000!). To get the refund, you must send them a copy of your exit stamp upon your return to the Philippines.
  • Some Dubai-based travel agency can sponsor your visa if you don't have any family or friends in Dubai, but most of the time, you also have to avail of their hotel and/or tour package.
  • Lodge your visa application through a local (PH-based) travel agency. However, we found this very expensive. The visa fee can range from Php9,000.00 (e-visa) to Php12,000.00 (hard copy).
To avoid being offloaded, make sure you have the proper visa, lodging reservation/s, tour bookings etc. to prove that you really are just going there for leisure. 


As one would expect from flying long haul with a low cost carrier, we were confined in a very small plane with little or no legroom for 9 freaking hours. I probably suffered from gluteal amnesia, I wanted to find a chiropractor as soon as we landed.

Thankfully, the hotel we booked was less than 10 minutes away from the airport. I swear I could hear my spine thanking me as soon as I laid on the bed.

photos from Ibis Deira City Centre's Facebook page

This was our home for 7 nights and we didn't have a single problem. Location's unbeatable, too, in my opinion. It's just across Deira City Centre and Carrefour, and only a 3-minute walk to the Dubai metro. It's pretty safe even at night. One time we got back from Abu Dhabi at almost midnight and we still felt secure walking to our hotel.

The buffet breakfast's pretty modest, but decent. I think I actually miss it especially the pain au chocolat lol


Gold Souk, Textile Souk, and Spice Souk
Abra on Dubai Creek