Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cebuana Lhullier Rant: Rotten Tomato Award #2&3

I went to a Guadalupe branch this afternoon to claim my first ever pay for my new homebased job. Unfortunately, the sender forgot to include my *other first name so they told me that they can't release the money because of that. I showed them two IDs and explained that I already had the control number and that the sender was from Manila. They suggested that I should tell the sender to go back to the branch she wired the money from and add my other first name. Now, we are working individuals and we surely have more important things to attend to than going back and forth for a Cebuana transaction. Plus, she represents my employer so do I really have to take so much of her time just because my other name was not included as the receiver? A second name is still me! 

If this is because of BSP regulations, then won't Cebuana think of a better process not to inconvenience their customers? After all, you are supposedly great in customer service as what your TV commercials are roaring. Maybe you can set a limit to the amount that you will be very strict on identification. You have to understand our circumstances too, and there's no need to be high and mighty of the rules. How about you POST a GENERAL ANNOUNCEMENT detailing all your requirements before anybody can claim their hard earned money? This is to show that you are serious in helping the public and not project an image of oppressors to your customers, instead. Or better yet, create a TV commercial that includes this very important detail so that adverts will be very useful to us, for once.

And this is not the start of my frustration for Cebuana Lhullier's money transfer service. An Aunt sent money through Xoom last week and I was used to using only one ID to claim it. But lo and behold, another rule has taken effect: 2 IDs should be presented before you can get hold of your money. How do you think should we know in the first place that this is now the requirement? Is Xoom to blame for this? But you are supposedly partners in providing good service to your clients, I'd say Cebuana should also do its part in informing the public about this.

As it turned out, I have to go back and get another ID. Imagine the extra time and effort that this caused just because we were not informed beforehand! But I gave them due consideration at that time. But now, I will do everything in my power not to transact with Cebuana Lhullier ever again. And this post will hopefully convince my friends, family and colleagues to do the same.

*pics fr photobucket

PLDT Rant: 1st Rotten Tomato Award

A mixture of relief and excitement went through me as the modem and telephone were finally set up in our living room for the WiFi package (P990/month) of PLDT. We tested the WiFi connection and it went well on my netbook. The "installers" though did not ensure if it will run well on my desktop upstairs and to my lack of foresight, I did not make it a big deal because I thought I can make it work myself. When I tried to connect the PC that night, it did not work and I quickly regretted why I didn't let them test it beforehand. So the next day/s, I called 172 for their technical support and asked what could be wrong with my connection, given that it is still newly installed. The technical rep on the other end walked me through the PLDT system which can be accessed even without Internet. He was polite and knows what he is doing though but he should have asked first what level are my computer skills so that we would have an easier time with the process. 

So I suggest to the PLDT support team, you can maybe include this as your first spiel: "What level of computer and Internet skills would you rate yourself mam/sir?" From there, the CS rep can then proceed accordingly and will not make his life difficult and that of the customer's as well.

Back to the issue here. After checking my IP address and the WAN, we can't still go through Google and any other sites. The technical guy said it kept reverting to their PLDT IP address and that he will just forward this matter to the persons concerned. I asked him when can I expect a solution and he said he will be calling within the day if it's already fixed. I told him to still inform me even if it's not fixed yet so that I can use SmartBro for the meantime. 24 hours have passed and they still hadn't called me. I tried connecting again, and yes, it did went through. But then, the next time I logged in, there's no connection again. So it was getting clear to me that the PLDT Internet service is not reliable. Then I contemplated on having it disconnected because it is not just worth my hassle. For now, I'm waiting for the month to end so that I can make a final decision.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Venturing into 360 Product Photography

Although I do not really have any special photography skills except for the usual point and shoot, 360 degree photography has captured my fancy lately and I've tried taking some shots last week. The new Alcatel One Touch also added to my resolve to try out some 360 photo apps over at iTunes. But when I tried downloading YouSpin 360, there was an error message and I was not able to go through with it. Because it was my first time, I downloaded it again on my PC and it went well. But then, I encountered another technical glitch- my video cam refused to function! There was a problem on the device driver I guess, so the PC and video cam are conspiring to stop me from making spins. 

So I just settled for getting shots of my shoes to train my eye on what is a good capture or not. 

Too bright.
 Pardon if the angles are bad, I was just playing around while working out.

Still, these would have been awesome if I was able to use 360 degree product photography. I'll definitely get the app moving next time.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Leo Horoscope - May 4

Just want to remind myself with my goal setting plans through this Leo Zodiac sign horoscope last May: 

You have big plans, Leo, and your dreams may be keeping you from paying attention to your work. Don't get too stressed. You've never missed a deadline, so you know that one way or another you will get everything done. In the meantime, begin to make plans for your next getaway. Plaster your office with photos of exotic locations to satisfy your wanderlust for the time being.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dubai Visa Requirements for Work or Visit

I was chatting with a friend back home on how her two sisters are faring in Dubai. We discussed salaries, companies, Dubai jobs, and the overall working conditions there. We agreed that compared to HongKong and other OFW attracting countries, it is easier to find employment and easier to enter Dubai. As I am also training my sights there for better career opportunities, I might as well post the requirements on how to get a work or visit visa to Dubai for Filipinos.

@ First you need to have a sponsor. It would be better if he/she is a close family member or an immediate relative and he/she needs to be a visa holder that is earning more than AED 4000 monthly.A visa application and a visa fee will be required from your sponsor.

@ If you do not have a relative there, you can get a company to sponsor you. But this will be a tricky process as it will entail fees on the part of the company.

@ A travel agent can also facilitate your visit visa especially if you will be staying in Dubai for less than a month. 

@ Validity for a Dubai visit visa is for 55 days only from the time of entry and can be renewed for another month.

Additional info:
For those who need to file for a residence visa, it can be done through buying a property or with the assistance of an employer.

For addtional details on getting a Dubai visa, you can check out It is best that you use Google Chrome and enable transliteration since the website is in Arabic. 

Good luck to all aspiring job seekers out there!

Motivational Author Stephen R. Covey Dies Last Monday

from Laura Zauckerman at Reuters

This is sad news indeed especially that we are still getting over the great Dolphy's passing last weekend. Now another great man has gone and I can't help but feel a little melancholy about these events. The cause of Mr. Covey's death was reportedly due to a bike accident near his home in Provo, Utah last April, in which he suffered head injuries. What a waste. Just last May, my previous team talked about having an empowerment training that would center on his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He had been a highly respected motivational speaker and author who has touched so many. 

According to his son, Sean Covey from a Huntsman Alumni Magazine interview, "He always treated everybody the same, exactly. It didn't matter if you were the CEO of a Fortune 10 company or the local barber. You wouldn't have ever known the difference."

For Utah State President Stan Albrecht, "Dr. Covey touched the lives of people around the world in very personal ways. He was an inspirational leader who was always a powerful voice for individual integrity, strong character and extreme trustworthiness in every aspect of life."

As for me, Mr. Stephen Covey will remain an inspiration to continue striking a balance in my personal and professional life. Thank you, dear sir. May employees of the future will find comfort and guidance in your books and other works. Rest in peace. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

How to Get an SSS Death Benefit Claim (Funeral)

Death will not only rip us with grief emotionally, but it will also drain us financially especially if we were not able to get insurance beforehand. So when it comes knocking on our door, we not only need to come to terms with it, we have to make financial decisions too. And, at a very fast pace at that.

So when my grandfather died last August 2010 (RIP my dear Lolo), my grandma extremely needed to get his death benefit from the SSS as soon as can be. He had been a hardworking man all his life, being a farmer during his youth and then joined the seafaring profession at a time when the shipping industry of the Philippines was still beginning. He was one of those elder folks who get tired when there’s nothing to do so even when he retired, he still continued tilling his land. He would wake up at dawn, way before the roosters make their first crows, and head to his farm which is quite a distance from their house. This habit actually helped him defy age and only succumbed to death due to prostate cancer at the age of 76, if I remember right.

He dutifully contributed to the SSS the whole 30 or so years of his working life. He tasted the fruit of his labor with P1,500 monthly allowance when he retired. During Christmas, he would be very happy receiving twice the amount at P3000. This went on for 10 years and then the allowance was increased to P2500. And he and Lola were really glad. Another increase went up to 3,500 and although it is very difficult to meet their monthly needs, it was still better compared to no increase.

After a month from his burial, my Lola then filed a claim for his SSS Funeral Benefit. The requirements were:

  • Claim for Funeral Benefit (SSS Form BPN-103)
  • Death certificate duly certified by the local Civil Registrar
  • Receipt of payment issued by the funeral parlor
  • Affidavit of funeral expenses
  • Report of Death (if cause of death is work-connected)
  • Photo of filer and valid IDs
  • Original or certified true copies of the supporting documents should be presented during the filing of the claim.

Then, after another month, the check arrived to the relief of my Lola. Now she can  finally repay some remaining debts made during my Lolo’s wake. She also checked Lolo’s ATM and seeing as three months’ worth of his pension was reflected on the balance, she withdrew the money immediately. Un-beknown to my Lola, the process of transferring my Lolo’s pension to her name should have been filed as well, together with the funeral benefit claim. Now this is the concern, nobody from the SSS ever mentioned this fact. So when she came out of her mourning, and decided to move on with the practicalities of life, she then filed for the transfer of Lolo’s pension to her name. When alas, the process would take two years! And this was all because she was not able to file the necessary papers on time, as what SSS personnel explained to us.

So for other SSS members out there, do your research well and know your rights beforehand. Read the fine print on SSS documents, their announcements and on their official website.

For next post, I will be discussing the intricacies of how my Lola transferred her name as an SSS beneficiary to her late husband. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

7-Eleven is Now Open in Cebu!

Seeing the various buildings constructed in Cebu City these days can be confusing. With all the new names of condos, villages, offices and commercial spaces, I get the feeling that they are all converging to invade Cebu in a whole new level. Whether good or bad, I am curious as to the outcome. But one thing is for sure with these developments though, we Cebuanos, are all going to have new experiences and activities to undertake! 

So when I first glimpsed the construction of yet another commercial space along Escario, next to McDonald's, I thought it was another condotel. But lo and behold, when they started decorating the upper wall of the first edifice, I wasn't able to hide my excitement as it was forming into a 7-Eleven Store! I made a mental note to go there once it's all done. The good news is, they opened just today, July 11, 2012. 7-Eleven opened on 7-11! This just added to their awesomeness! Can't wait to taste their slurpee, get my brain freeze, and all the other goodies this store is well known for. 

Slurp, slurp and enjoy, everyone!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Getting a Travel Permit from the US Consulate Cebu

An Aunt who’s presently residing in the US, requested me to get her and her son’s travel permit on their behalf. My, another government agency to deal with. This is usually enough reason to give me palpitations because I know how thick red tape can be here in our dear country. So thick in fact that even Thor’s sword will barely penetrate a government office’s high, solid bureaucracy. But who knows? I’ll be dealing with a US Consulate after all, so maybe this time it will be different.

I first got their telephone number here and dialed to be answered by, as I expected, an answering machine. Amidst the slur este, slang of American words, I deduced that they don’t entertain calls past 12 noon. So I have to call back the next day and it better be early, only from 9am-12noon. My second call was again answered by a machine, which informed me that they are not currently entertaining calls at some certain dates (I already forgot). I then decided that I just have to go there personally even though my schedule is full smack with work. Thankfully, our company decided to exchange the May 1 holiday, to May 4. So, on I went to Waterfront via the Lahug route. Inside its massive lobby, I asked the front desk directions for the US Consulate office and they directed me to proceed to the rightmost side of the building, go down one floor (I useld the escalator), venture outside of the building, then walk left for about 5 metres and there, before an investing firm office (I forgot the name again), is the US Consulate, Cebu branch. Since it was not yet 9am, I waited for a while when I noticed a post right in the front door that they are close on that date, including other certain dates of May. They will be back with full office operations on June 8, 2012.
Fast track to July 4, when I finally had another extra time to go there. I was not expecting much from this visit but to my big relief, the office is open for normal operations! The guard asked for my ID, got my mobile phone for deposit and gave me a number tag so that I can claim it back later. He also gave me a priority number for my transaction and motioned for me to get inside the inner office. 

I heard an audible click as the automatic door instantly closed behind me. A talking voice-on-the-phone registered and I saw a mini-library on the left side while rows of waiting chairs aligned on the right. There were about 3 waiting parties already, and I was very glad as this would mean a quick transaction. So I sat in the comfort of one of their chairs and waited. From my seat, I scanned the books and magazines lined up in the library and considered reading one as two foreigners were already reading. But I decided to just stay in my seat. About 10 minutes passed without seeing any activity from behind the window in charge of our transaction. So I asked the lady sitting at my back, what is her priority number. Said she is number 12 and I was number 14 so I’m near in line then. But another 5 minutes passed so I told her, “dugay no?” to which she replied, “lagi, dugay kaayo, taod2 nato amoa papers naa na sa sulod but gipa-wait pa mi ron.” She also said that her experiences with other consulate services are faster especially the European ones. Hmmmm I concluded that the Phil. government virus of very slow service may already have infected the US Consulate so I have to maintain my composure and be patient. Or else, my temper will get the better of me and I won’t get the travel permits of my Aunt and cousin.

Finally, after about another 10 minutes, the person in charge called my number and asked what is my transaction for. After explaining to him the situation, he asked for my ID first and then the authorization letter from my Aunt and cuz. After which, he examined their approval notice and told me that he will check their names if their travel permits reached their office. When he got back (it was quick), he explained that most travel permits only reach Manila and rarely does it go through the Cebu office. I wondered how this is so since the approval notice specifically contain the Cebu Consular address there. But I didn’t ask him that because he was already giving me a number to contact in their Manila office. And what came out of my mouth was, “Is it okay to go there (in Manila office) directly?” He told me not go there yet, but instead to call the number first to be sure.

So this will be a very long process, indeed. Will update this post once those travel permits will finally be in my hands.

Meanwhile, Cebu Tours has the complete address: 

The American Consular Agency is located on the ground floor of the Waterfront Hotel at #1 Salinas Drive, Lahug, Cebu City. The local telephone number is (32) 231-1261. From the US, dial 011+63-32-231-1261; other countries dial 00+63-32-231-1261.

For additional information, do check out

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Exam for a Driver's Licence at Cebu LTO

So here's my overview when I took that exam last May:

1. Be sure to arrive there early (6.30 or 7.00 AM will do).
2. When you are done with the paperwork and fees, you will be called to go inside a room with a lecturer (who is a funny, interesting lady). So just chill and learn from her.
3. By about 10AM, the lecture will start and almost all of the road signs are written on the white board in front of you. This is an open-kudigo as it will not be erased there as you answer the questions. I believe, it has not been erased for a long time now as there are already some vague markings on that whiteboard. The first part would be identifying the road signs and traffic signals and the second or third part (I forgot) will tackle situations.
4. Just listen intently to what the lecturer is discussing because there are practical questions that will come out in the exam and your good judgment will be needed. Say for example, she will give you a situation where two vehicles are entering an intersection. Who should pass first? This does not have a fixed answer because the question may involve traffic signals. So of course, if the vehicle in front of you has the green signal has to go first and vice versa, if you are driver of the other vehicle.
5. Another question may also go like this: you see a certain sign beside the road (which means let the pedestrians pass- especially if the area has a school), what would you do? Then you will be given different situational choices. Of course, pick out the best answer.
6. While taking the exam, you also have the liberty to get a closer look of the signs on the whiteboard. Just don't block the view of other examinees. Or else, the lecturer/proctor will castrate you. *winks
7. FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS AT ALL TIMES. This is a computerised exam, so if you were not able to shade the choices properly, then of course, the machine will not tolerate it. BTW, take note that the exam is divided to Set A and Set B.
8. At the end of the exam, you go to the lecturer's table and have it scanned right away. You pray then that you will pass. If I remember correctly, the passing rate is 85 or 90/100, I think. So it would be ideal to aim for the perfect score so that when you get a mistake or two, you are still safe.
9. All the answers can be found on the whiteboard actually so, you just have to be confident and use common sense.

10. Do not be overwhelmed by the exam because taking it is a worthwhile experience that you should be proud of. So whether you pass or fail, its a worthy activity on its own. But, if I have done it, why can't you?

Good luck, then!

Most of these signs will come up on the exam:

Road Safety Signs


Disclaimer: This post does not guarantee that you will pass in the exam but is intended to guide you only. I hope this will help, somehow.