Archive for the 'the wanderer' Category

Pressies of love

I’m making a list of items I like as pasalubong from the Philippines, just so I have a quick reference when someone asks. Please feel free to add, links welcome.

Pasalubong from the Philippines

Tablea

Mangosteen Jam by Kablon Farms

Carabao milk pastillas - we received a couple boxes of the DVF ones from my aunt and uncle and they were delicious, soft and creamy. The bad thing about it is that it only lasts for about a week, so you either be a pig and eat it all or freeze what’s left over so you can have them again.

Boy Bawang

Moby chocolate curls

Dulcegatas

Butterscotch

Taba ng Talangka

Spicy tuyo

Ensaimada

Burong hipon

the ubiquitous dried mango

preserved Santol

Sampaloc

What the heck, this is my pasalubong when I go to the Philippines.

Hanes t-shirts - my dad’s bilin and I get some for the male family members because they love how the US hanes shirts get very thin they go a bit see through.  This is terrific when its hot and humid its like walking around without a shirt but you get (1) some degree of decency and (2) something to wick sweat off your skin

I’ll organize this better later, and maybe add some links if I have them.

Girl’s Satur day out 2

I don’t go shopping downtown much, most of my things come from (1) online, (2) discount stores like Ross and Marshalls, or (3) little shops on sale :) — so when E and I headed to Union Sq thereabouts today we decided to take a peek at some shops we had not visited previously.

We were supposed to go to Forever21 just to have a look at the architecture, because the store was built inside an old bank building and a lot of the interior details have been preserved and some were used as inspiration for the new millwork  (like the cashier counter which had a transluscent stone, my take is it is onyx, that reflected the ceiling detail) Against my plans I bought a nice dress at Forever21 for $20. It’s most likely a knockoff of something, and not sewn pulido, but hey I am not complaining.

It’s a navy blue cottonylinen sleeveless dress with black swirls on it, and I think with either a black cardigan or a black shirt underneath, some tights and boots/heels/flats it will look nice and be warm enough for this weather.

This store surprised me, it isn’t as trendy as I thought, and I found some pretty good basics that I think I may come back for in future.

Now the shoes…were scary. They didn’t look comfy at all, and the wooden heels were “wooden” heels. Wrapped in woodprint sticker or some other linoleumy material.

I also finally got to visit Urban Outfitters. The clothes were sort of meh-ish to me, but the shop had a lot of nicely priced home decor - quilts, plates, lamps, and even mini Black Forest cuckoo clocks (not made in China ha!) on sale for $5. Cool. I bought a smokers candle, supposed to help get rid of odors, and now I’m debating whether to leave it in the kitchen or the toilet. Hah.

Then E said we should really drop by Neiman Marcus because we had never been there. Sure, what the heck, and off we went down Powell. We entered into the cosmetics department and walked past the Clarins counter, got asked to try the instant smooth cream by Paolo, the makeup artist (who had beautiful eyelashes, jealousy). Now this is what I like about these upscale shops — even if he knew we had no intention of buying anything he gave E and I some lipliner and skincare samples. It could also have been a ploy to get us to buy…it sort of worked, because E and I split a pack of the skin smoother. And get this, he threw in a free full sized bottle of the one-step cleanser. Not bad.

When we were walking out of what I thought was NM, E says hey this is Saks 5th Avenue pala, we entered the wrong shop. Hay what idiots we were. So we walk down to “the real” Neiman Marcus, and I guess J was right when he said we really shouldn’t bother because there was nothing there aside from cosmetics that I could afford, or would consider buying. It’s got all the luxury brands though, and they had a lovely tweedy Burberry coat on sale for $800, 50 off na yon hehe.

Last stop, a coffee shop in Maiden Lane for some water and a latte. I like the mocha at Mocca, but man, 8bucks for a double, nevermind, I’ll take the $3 one at the Bistro 69.

While we were sitting and sipping we heard a woman singing opera and it was really so refreshing and unexpected. Imagine that! These are the things I love about SF. Sometimes I get so disgusted with homeless people who get in your face and rude bikers, then something as great as this pops up.

Litz, the Opera Lady

Thank you opera lady.

Girl’s Satur day out 1

It was supposed to be really rainy this weekend but when I got the Fatted Calf weekly letter I couldn’t not order…So I asked E if she wanted to go Ferry Plaza and then head downtown to do some (window) shopping and visit places we usually couldn’t go to with the spouses, who at their most patient just can’t handle all the butingting and browsing we do.

E was at our apartment by 10, and we got on the 31 bus, and then I picked up my order from Fatted Calflisten to this droolicious list of what I got… Rabbit crepinettes with braised shallots, Boudin blanc with chestnuts, 2 packs of wild mushroom sausage, and a container of Sugo di carne. Eeeyumm — and a little container of dried hachiya persimmons from one of the stalls, which were not as good as the fresh IMO, maybe I should get the WeLoveJam version even if it is 3x the price…

Then we took the 31 bus again and got down 2nd St. / Montgomery. Walked down 2nd a bit, just past the Starbucks so we could get to Ming’s Coffee Shop. I told E that a Pinoy lady from the eyeglass shop J went to recommended this place and told us that she and 2 coworkers would go there for lunch almost every other day and ordered the Deep Fried Whole Fish. A whole deep fried flour coated flat fish, about 6 inches by 15 inches in size, fried so crisp the bones turn into chicharon — with a bowl of rice, for about 6 bucks. Notbad huh? Well, if ever youre in SF and go broke shopping downtown, or just want cheap fried fish but cant cook it at home bec. you lack the requisite excellent exhaust system, you know where to go…

Snow is so light pala…

It’s better than Ice Monster,

but without the toppings hehe.

I knew I didn’t have the stomach for downhill skiing so we tried to do cross-country at Royal Gorge. I think I fell more than 12 times my ass was frozen numb but hurt like crazy after it thawed. I like it though, a lot. Now if only I could learn to go downhill outside the tracks…

Truckee CA, December 2007

This year I hope we go and stay longer so I could take a beginner class of sorts and go farther than the couple miles we went (half skiing half sliding) last year (last year seems so long ago but really it has only been 2 weeks).

Little pleasures

I just spent a day and a half in Phoenix and I have to tell you that measuring a space that didn’t have the AC on in a building that doesn’t have operable windows at 3pm in the Arizona heat with only 2gulps of water in my flask is not too fun.

My hotel however, was a short walk away from the site, and was way better than the Holiday Armpit hotel of San Diego, and when I entered my room I took a quick shower, got a cold bottle of water and lay on the softsoftbed and watched those cop-detective-fbi tv shows I never get to see at home.

And the next day, the building engineer turned on the AC in the remaining units I needed to survey.  I finished 2 hours earlier than scheduled and didn’t miss my flight like I did 2 trips ago.  Good seat on the plane, quick shuttle ride from OAK to home.  Husband waiting, cat meowing.

Nice.

Big Sur Big Sur

 

It rained. Didn’t care.

POEA and this OFW

All Pinoys leaving the country to work overseas (Overseas Filipino Workers) have to go through the POEA to register as an OFW and get an Overseas Exit Clearance (OEC) Certificate. I’ve been dreading this since forever.

If you look at their website and read about the process they say they it takes 3 hours processing. They didnt account for the houuuuuuuuuuurrrs of waiting, the seminar and the medical exam. Give yourself 3 days. 2 if you like pain.

Caveat: I am working in the US, other countries may have other requirements.

GENERAL TIPS

  1. They accept 40 Name Hire OFWs for the 8am slot and 40 more for the 1pm slot. Go to POEA as early as you can. The morning slots can be filled up as early as 5am.
  2. Bring 2 copies of all your documents (bring everything you have) and make 2 copies of all the papers you receive (including receipts)
  3. In case you need to photocopy a document go to the stalls along EDSA. The queue at the POEA copier (lobby) is crazy.
  4. Have your TIN, SSS, and Philhealth numbers ready.
  5. Bring at least 4 2×2 photos.
  6. Bring a long folder.
  7. Make sure your contract states that your employer will pay for the repatriation of your remains in case you die while working overseas (or you’ll have to send a fax to him to get his signature on this item so save yourself the time)
  8. Bring water, a snack, and some tissue paper (the restrooms expectedly don’t have any)

THE PROCESS

Arrive at the POEA Building (EDSA cor Ortigas) early. Sign up for a pre-evaluation slot at the guard’s desk (lobby). The squat female guard is a bit bitchy and gave me a “Inglis ka ng inglis nasa Pilipinas ka naman” so don’t speak english if you don’t want to annoy her :P However, if you DO want to annoy her, then speak to her in english. She’s a bitchy self-important minion who will have no effect on your application anyway.

Pre-Evaluation

Be near the main entry doors at least 20 minutes before your assigned time.

Wait for the guard to call you by name and give you a number.

Use the stairs to get to the 2nd floor. You will be assigned to windows 6-8 based on your numbers.

Get your documents pre evaluated. Place the original and 1 copy of the following in a long folder (1) passport (2) visa (3) employment contract, and (4) for me who will be working in the US - a copy of the LCA related to your work permit.

They will tell you what documents you lack and will give you a medical exam referral form and a PDOS seminar referral form.

You may need to send a fax to your employer asking him to sign a conforme for POEA required conditions not shown in your contract. She will also give you a Name-Hire Declaration Form / Sworn Statement that you need to sign and have countersigned by a lady inside the 2F office.

The person at the counter will staple a small piece of paper showing the requirements for the OEC at the front of your folder.

Go to the OWWA desk (right side corridor if you are facing Windows 6-10) and sign in the logbook then enter the Welfare Office and wait until the person at the desk asks for your slips. Stay in the front seats because you need to rush to the desk. She will assign you a PDOS seminar schedule.

Medical Exam

Pick a POEA accredited clinic for your medical exam. The list is posted on boards across windows 6-8 on the 2nd Floor.

Go to a clinic for your Medical Exam. I went to Biomedix in Robinson’s Galleria. I suggest you bring a stool sample (max 1 hour old when you hand it over, according to them) and drink a lot of water so you can pee and submit a urine sample.

The tests will probably take about 5 hours or so (more if your dental exam shows you need work done — my story: I had had 2 prophylaxis in the week before my medical exam, and the dentist at the clinic across Biomedix I went to inspected my teeth. The dental “examiner” told me I needed my teeth cleaned and that 5 of my fillings were old and should be replaced, and then said they could do the work so things will go fast. I told them that I had been to 2 dentists the last one just a day before, and she consulted the main dentist and he told the dental “examiner” to “just mark 3 fillings to be replaced instead!!! duh!!! and then when I insisted I would have things done elsewhere gave me my slip. So I went to the Biomedix receptionist and ranted and raved about “what the hell moneygrubber dentist I just went to 2 dentists this week and HE tells me I need to replace my fillings????” So she sent me to another dentist who inspected my teeth, told me I would need work on one molar soon, and signed my clearance. I found out afterward that a man getting his POEA medical clearance was told by the moneygrubbing dentist that he needed to have his teeth cleaned to get clearance. And it cost 700 bucks. Mga sakim!!!)

Get your medical results and make 2 copies.

Seminar

Be on time. Latecomers are usually not allowed in and they may just decide that you will be the person who will have to attend a later seminar. Pay attention. It’s really interesting and helpful (and thankfully is in an airconditioned room). You get 1 pack of skyflakes and unlimited coffee for free. Bring a notepad and take note of the airport departure process. Get your certificate of attendance and make 2 copies.

Name Hire Affirmation Form

Sign and have the lady inside the office countersign. (Her name will be on a small sheet of paper stapled on the form. Make 2 copies.

Review of Documents / OFW Information Sheet

Go to window 9 and stab that small piece of paper with the OEC requirements stapled on your folder on the pointy stick in front of window 9. The lady at window 9 will call you and you need to present your folder as well as the medical certificate (and a copy) and the PDOS certificate of attendance (and a copy), and copies of whatever other documents you were required to submit.

She will give you your Workers Information Sheet (WIS). Fill it up and wait for her to call your name again.

When you are called she will take the WIS detach the duplicate sheets and give these to you and instruct you on payment.

Payment

Now this goes 2 ways:

If the servers are up and everything is dandy:

Get assessed at window 4 and pay at window 5. You need to pay $100 (POEA), $25 (OWWA) and PhP900 (Philhealth). Peso equivalents of the dollar fees are ok, the current rate is posted on window 5. Get your e-receipt.

Kung kinantot ka ng malas and the servers are down (which is what happened to me):

Go to window 5 and pay the $100 POEA fee. Get receipt.

Go to the ground floor Balik Manggagawa Area (behind elevators) and pay the $25 OWWA fee. The OWWA counter is just inside the door. There is a helpful man in a white polo barong who will tell you where to line up. Get a receipt.

Go to window 20 - Philhealth (also at the Balik Manggagawa area) and get a Philhealth form. Fill it up and submit at window 20 so they can check and encode the information and stamp the form. Pay PhP900 at the Philhealth Payment Counter which is diagonally across the room. Get a receipt.

Make copies of all 3 receipts.

Releasing.

Bring your receipts and copies to Window 10 at the 2nd Floor and show them to the lady. She will issue your OEC and return your original documents to you.

OFW ID

Go to the ID / e-Card Booth which is at the entrance lobby (beside the nescafe vendo machines and the photocopier). Fall in line, brush your hair and try to erase all signs of harassment, annoyance, rage, and exhaustion from your face. Give the guy inside the room a copy of your passport (he will also ask for the original) and the OFW ID Form (this was part of the OFW Information Sheet set). Fall in line, get picture taken, do the digital signature thingy. Wait for ID.

The ID can be used as an ATM / Debit card and you can sign up for an account at the Equitable PCI Bank booth just beside the ID Booth. If you’re as sick and tired of the process as I am, then skip it. You can sign up at any EPCI branch anyway.

Leave. Take a long bath. You’ll need it.

What the hell is a statue of Superman doing here?

– stupid remark of mine when I “touristed” at Coit Tower.

Manila Girl

I’ve been back in Manila for 2 days and it’s been great to see my family, friends and pets :) Thankfully the weather is pleasant — somewhere in the high 20s (C) which is way way better than the mid 30s in summer.

Mom’s having her MRI and CTScan and we’re all hoping for good results. At this stage, we hope that her cancer has halted its progression and that she can go about her daily activities better (I think after getting cancer, the patient and the family really never go back to how it was before finding out…really, it is a totally new perspective on things.)

The rest of the family are pretty good, and my sister and I are planning a day for some fixup works (manicure, haircut, etc) because I want to get as much of that done while I am here. I’ll be in SF the rest of the year gnawing my ragged cuticles so I better give them some Manila-priced TLC hehe.

Not all the cats seem so enthusiastic to see me hee, but they’re starting to get affectionate again (as much as I would expect cats to get). Ita’s a really big boy now. He can’t fit into his favorite bed anymore (AND he hasn’t had a seizure since he’s been placed on maintenance phenobarbital — isn’t that GREAT!!!)

And Mother is a pig.

I still pop into the office to do some work (I am really not too pleased with our soon-to-be-not-our-accountant). They’ve done excellently since I left, and even won 3 jobs yay. I think we need to hire another person soon, but we’ll take it slow. I have learned that hiring is desperate times is not a good idea.

________________________

I really have the husband to thank for this trip as he got me a ticket when I couldn’t afford to pay for it. Really sweet :) I miss him.

I’ll get back the day before our 1st wedding anniversary. Gah time’s flown.

I love being married to J. I love that is not ALL hard work, and ALL mushy stuff, and ALL stress, and ALL laughing with friends, and ALL just loafing or doing nothing together, or ALL spending solitary time - but a mix of all that. Naka BINGO ako hahaha.

________________________

I’m bursting to announce that we have a new apartment to move to. It is BEAUTIFUL and I am so glad we got to rent it. It’s still at the Richmond but a bit further west.

I handed J the craigslist printout for a 1 bedroom apartment while we were having coffee at SFO waiting for my flight home. He called the name on the ad and was told that it would be shown to someone at 2PM that day and that he was welcome to attend the viewing. J had a meeting at 2pm so he asked if he could see it a bit earlier — 1:30 or 1:40 — and the lady agreed. Good thing too, because J told me that he saw the apartment and wrote the deposit cheque immediately. The person who arrived at 2PM had a cheque with her as well so if J had attended the 2PM viewing that apartment would have been snatched by her na.

Woot. The place is gorgeous — wood floors, lots of light, high ceilings, a bathtub, garage parking, pretty bay windows. Even the initial peep-view from the front door made me happy.

More photos here, Ree.

AND the owner allows you to have a cat :D Now I have to try to see if J can live with a cat (potential allergies) and maybe in the next months or year we can have one with us.

A little further down south

Spent last Friday night in Carmel-by-the-Sea and headed off to Big Sur for the rest of the weekend.

Finally

More later.