Friday, November 30, 2012

How do you request for your NSO Birth Certificate?

MANILA, Philippines  Applying for travel visas or even a passport may require you to present an NSO-certified birth certificate.

Getting a copy from the Philippine National Statistics Office (NSO) has never been easier. Requesting takes less than 5 minutes. It's fast, convenient, and inexpensive!

Here's how:
  1. Go to the NSO website here
  2. Click on "Birth Certificate". Other certificates may also be requested: marriage, death, or Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR).
  3. Answer questions. I love how there's an "I don't know" choice for some questions.
  4. Chat with a Teleserv representative. He or she will verify your data. Ask questions, if any. Best to do this during office hours. 
  5. Pay via credit card. Php 350 only! Option to pay at the bank if you don't have a credit card.

After two days, my NSO-certified birth certificate was delivered! I received an SMS from Air21  informing me of the delivery date. At least I knew when to expect it. I also received an SMS confirming that it was delivered.

Positive experiences like this, including my passport experience, gives me hope in our government.

Snaps for efficiency!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Long Weekend in Baguio... again!

MANILA, Philippines  Long weekend's up ahead!

I don't usually visit a vacation spot twice in a span of one month but I'll make this an exception. Yup, I'm headed off to Baguio... again. This time, just with cousins.

My main agenda is to eat all the good food friends have been recommendingfood that we weren't able to eat the last time we were there... and, of course, to explore the Ben Cab Museum. This time, we'll make it a point to go insidenot just to take a pretentious photo outside. (Bitter.)

Because there were family members who didn't want to go in, we just took a group picture outside. Boo.
(Photo from William Wong)

Where are you off to this weekend?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Best Beach and Snorkeling Spot in Coron

PALAWAN, Philippines For me, the best beach and snorkeling spots in Coron are in Malcapuya and Banana Island, respectively.

It's a challenge getting there. The one-hour ride seems forever. And because boats travel on open seas, the the water (and even the weather) can get rough.

Malcapuya and Banana Island are across each other. These are must-go-to destinations in Coron.

Sun, Sea and Sand
For me, Malcapuya is the best beach in Coron while Banana Island has the best snorkeling spot.

1. Malcapuya Island (1 hour away from port)
Friends have been recommending this forever. It definitely didn't disappoint. The highlight of this island would be the stretch of white sand. It's perfect to just bum around. You can opt to snorkel but there isn't much to see. There's jellyfish, too! Better to save your energy for Banana Island.

Malcapuya is owned by the same company that operates Boracay Regency and Alona Beach. In a few years, they'll be developing a big resort here. (Source)

I was not informed of such nice view in Malcapuya!
(Photo from

2. Banana Island (5 mins away from Malcapuya Island)
There were swarms of fish everywhere. Different colors, sizes, and species. I could've sworn that I saw a baby shark! There were even fish that I recognized from playing FishVille! It was that awesome. You can opt to go to the little island directly beside it called Malaroyroy.

Unfortunately, my photos didn't do justice to the beauty that I saw.

We were stranded on the island for around half an hour due to bad weather. Skies were extremely dark, the wind was howling, and the rain was strong. It was too dangerous to travel back to town.

With my new friends that I "adopted" that day!
(Sorry for the poor photo!)

As if nothing happened.
On our way back to town, the weather was so nice. We watched the sunset from our boat. 

Tour Costs
  • Php 950 / pax with Calamianes Expeditions & Ecotours (as of Sept. 18, 2012).
  • Inclusive of licensed tour boat, life vest, lunch, fruits, water, entrance fees, tour assistant.
  • Minimum of 5 people to avail Php 950 cost otherwise, cost increases.

I was the only one that day who wanted to tour Malcapuya and Banana Island with Expeditions. Since I was by myself, a solo tour would cost Php 3,000. This was way beyond my budget.

To save on cost, I tried hitching with travelers who happened to be going there on their own. I offered to pay for my share of the boat and to bring my own food. Sadly, they didn't want me to join them. 

I ended up renting my own boat and paying Php 2,570:
  • Php 2,000 - boat rental, tour guide, life jacket
  • Php 90 - lunch from Coron Public Market
  • Php 80 - two bottles of water 
  • Php 200 - entrance fee for Malcapuya Island
  • Php 200 - entrance fee for Banana Island

My wallet was dying but as the day went on, I realized that it wasn't so unfortunate that the group refused to let me hitch. Click here to find out why!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Peek Inside Manila's Chinese Cemetery

MANILA, Philippines  To most Chinese-Filipinos in Manila, the Chinese cemetery is probably one of those must-go-to places just because departed relatives are there.

Ours included.

Since we visit the Chinese cemetery every year for our All Souls' Day gathering, it's a place that I don't pay much attention to anymore. But even if it seems like I know the place, it turns out that I don't know much about itkinda like an acquaintance.

The South Gate is the main entrance to the Chinese Cemetery.

Quick facts (after a bit of reading):
  1. It's Manila's second largest cemetery after La Loma.
  2. Established from discrimination. It's not because the Chinese wanted to be exclusive. They were denied burial in Catholic cemeteries during the Spanish colonial period. 
  3. Manila's oldest Chinese temple is here. 
  4. It's mentioned in Rizal's Noli Mi Tรกngere. Fr. Damaso instructed that Don Rafael's corpse be moved to the Chinese cemetery since heretics didn't deserve to be in a Catholic cemetery. 
  5. Notable people buried here: Ma Mon Luk (Chinese-Filipino chef), Vicente Lim (former general during WWII), Apolinario Mabini (Philippines' first prime minister) before his remains were transferred to Batangas, among others.
Who knew?! 

The main road. Long stretch of tombs on the left and mausoleums on the right.

Crematorium. I have sad memories here.
Oldest Chinese temple in Manila.
The Chong Hok temple was built in 1878.

The cemetery is generally clean and quiet. The place boasts of interesting mausoleums with varied architecture. Too bad I don't know where all of these are. It's also unimaginable that around 50 years ago, this was home to a thousand informal settlers.

To try and get to know more about the place, I wandered around our mausoleum's surroundings. Our area is where people who passed away during the 1930's were laid to rest. This is near the Abad Santos LRT station:

My paternal family's mausoleum is along a really narrow walkway.
We usually light candles and incense sticks as tradition. 

Take a peek inside! There's a big seating area!

For some reason, this is my favorite because it has beautiful tiles. Probably hand-painted.

Probably the oldest mausoleum in the Chinese cemetery.

Probably the most modern mausoleum in the Chinese cemetery.

Did you know that tours are offered here? I came across Jun Salvador near the crematory who offered to give me a one-hour walking tour for Php 600. For a group of ten, it's Php 200/pax.

Personally, you may want to tour with Ivan Man Dy instead.

Jun Salvador offers a one-hour walking tours around the Chinese cemetery. (+63918-3652748)

Where the Chinese cemetery is. 

Like acquaintances, there's still so much to learn and discover. Next year, perhaps I'll try exploring the other side of the cemetery.

Who wants to join me?

For more pictures, click here!