Thursday, August 30, 2012

Passport Application Woes

I hate hate hate going to the Philippine Embassy here in Singapore. For one, I always end up taking a taxi because it's so far away (Nassim Road) and for another I always feel like I'm in limbo because it takes forever to process a simple application. There are so many steps and there's no other way around it. You just lose time. And that's when the process works, can you imagine what happens when they make a mistake? Well, let me tell you what happens then. What happens is you have to take 8 trips to the embassy just to renew a passport. Here's the long story:

I needed to renew my green passport and finally get the red machine-readable one. I could have done it in Manila because I was there second half of last year but chose to do it when I got back to Singapore thinking it would be more convenient and the process would be more advanced.Well, I was wrong. At least the DFA has Pilipinas Teleserv which helps process your applications online and sets your appointment for you. Here at the Philippine Embassy in Singapore, they tell you in the website that you can email them the e-application and they'll respond and give you an appointment. Well, I tried that route and lost two weeks waiting for a response. And good luck to those trying to call the hotline, not once have I been able to talk to an actual person on the phone. Anyway, so I had to do it the traditional way, and so my passport journey began.

Trip 1: Went to Embassy with filled-up application form, photocopies of IC and passport. Got queue number. Waited in line for about an hour. Showed documents and set an appointment.

Trip 2: Showed up in time for appointment but only one among a number of people in a given hourly slot so therefore have to wait my turn again. Go through biometric processing, photo capture process. Paid in cash. Got my ticket for next appointment to pick up passport (Meanwhile, DFA can courier your passport to you for a fee). It will take a month to process.

Prior to my scheduled passsport pick-up date, I get an SMS notification from the embassy saying there's been a delay and my passport pick-up will then be rescheduled to another date.

Trip 3: I arrive on the rescheduled passport pick-up date. Got queue number. Waited my turn. Then was told my passport still hasn't arrived. I ask when it was expected and was told maybe in a day or two, why don't you give us your number, we'll call you. Well I was a bit worried already since I might not get my new passport in time to go home for my father's wedding. So I asked if I could get a passport extension instead. I could but that would require some other forms. I decide to come back another day.

Trip 4: I arrive at embassy two days later . Got queue number. Waited my turn. Then checked whether passport arrived, which of course it hasn't. So I went on another queue to apply for passport extension. Got 1 year extension.

Went home for my father's wedding. This was in April.

When I got back to Singapore I actually just started a new job so I didn't have time to go back and forth to the embassy. I thought well, it states in the pick up form that you just need to claim it within 6 months so I have plenty of time.

Trip 5: My husband goes on leave. I ask him to go to the embassy to pick up my passport. This was around June or July. I write him an authorization letter. He goes off with my letter and the pick up form. Again they tell him it's still not there. At first I think he's joking. 'Did you really go to the embassy?' To me it's impossible they still don't have my passport. My sister asks if it's just my passport that still hasn't arrived. They can't possibly have months and months of passport backlog. Don't have the time to go there. Figure maybe it's just really really late.

Trip 6: My husband goes on leave again. Again I ask him to go to the embassy. I'm thinking, it's almost 6 months surely that's enough time to process a passport? Again, not there. But this time my husband goes ballistic and starts pestering people about it. He is sent home with a promise that someone will finally look into it and give him a definitive answer. A half hour later someone calls him back. Apparently all this time, my photo capture was incorrect and my passport was never processed. And no one bothered to check or ask me to come back for photo recapture. Anyway, the embassy person is apologetic and asks me to come to the embassy in the afternoon for photo recapture.  He says it's going to take 5 minutes, which of course still means maybe 30-45 minutes for the whole process.

Anyway, I go. There's no choice. Even with this re-application I won't get my passport until October 11.

Trip 7: Photo recapture. This time around the embassy person gets my number. I just hope nothing goes wrong with this application.

There's of course going to be one last trip to pick up the passport in October, so that makes 8 trips in all, just for a simple passport renewal.

Oh, and I'm still not sure my husband isn't blacklisted yet from the embassy, after kicking up a fuss, although  I feel at this point, it's warranted and it did finally get us the answers we wanted. So thank you hubby, you're the hero in this story.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Just Got Lucky

You know you're working in a big company when they give away a Samsung Galaxy S3 just for attending an HR talk.
Well guess who just won one?
Though being the iPhone girl that I am, I promptly turned this over to hubby.
But it sure is pretty...

Saturday, August 25, 2012

ELC End of Season Sale

Ben and Jerry's Chunkfest Singapore 2012

It was actually a very fortunate coincidence that my husband's company Family Day occurred at the same day and same location as this year's Ben and Jerry's Chunkfest Singapore 2012. I thought okay, we also haven't been to Chunkfest before so let's try to go.

Here are pictures from the event. Suffice it to say that we had a blast eating ice cream, playing games and trying to win prizes. I can't wait for next year's Chunkfest!

Free admission and you get 3 Faircoins each person if you're one of the first 500.
There were 6 of us including the kids so that's already 18 Faircoins, enough for 3 scoops of ice cream.
 Lexi and Dada with the Ben and Jerry's Cow

 One of the many booths

Hubby trying his hand at squirting water from an udder to knock out plastic cups

 The list of ice cream flavors for Chunkfest 2012. Most of the flavors are not regularly available 
in Singapore so lots of flavors I've never heard of.   

 Now I know for a fact, my husband can fit 10 marshmallows in his mouth.

Me giving the maple tree a hug, in honor of Ben and Jerry's new flavor. 

For 5 Faircoins you can try to guess 5 flavors and win a prize. 

Hubby concentrating on the flavors.

Hubby choosing Pina Colada, Spiced Chocolate, Late Night Snack, Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl, Froyo Chocolate Fudge Brownie

 Lexi waiting for Dada to solve the Moo-stery
Our loot: 3 iPhone covers, 4 notepads, 1 sticker and 1 tote bag 

Sea-sta Day 2012

My husband has been with his company for the longest time but has never gone to Family Day until now.
I told him we should go this year. I thought it would be a fun activity for the brood plus it would be at Siloso Beach in Sentosa and if we got bored we could always just go to the beach.

Well, we did spend some time at the beach, but went back to the main pavilion in time to see a very entertaining magic show from a British magician called John who ate fire, did a bit where he kept on throwing balls into his hat and it would come out the other side, the usual tricks with disappearing items, and a man in ball (or balloon) bit (haven't seen that one before).

After that there were some games that required participants to act out scenes from a reworked script of Transformers and to dance to Michael Jackson and Bollywood songs which turned out really funny thanks to some side comments from the emcee who I'm sure had a side job as a stand-up comedian.

The emcee was so funny that he was even able to make the lucky draw exciting. At one point while announcing the top prizes for the lucky draws, he was toying with the crowd a bit and mentioned a specific number and a guy started running to the podium thinking he had won and the emcee told him 'No, sorry, that's not the winning number, I was just asking who had that number - actually the winning number is....' It's a bit mean but also a bit funny.      

It was actually quite a great morning and I'm looking forward to Family Day next year.

 Andi at the beach

 Lexi sitting still long enough to get her face painted, while I wait for my turn.
We get matching butterflies on our cheeks.

Lexi and Dada watching the games 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Happy 47th Birthday Singapore!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ben and Jerry's Chunkfest 2012

It's time to hit the beach for this year's Ben and Jerry's Chunkfest 2012.
See you there!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Shoe Finds at Zara

It's that time of the year again. Sale season. And even though we're already in August there are still lots of bargains to be found. Just recently I stumbled upon some really good shoe finds at Zara. I think I'm pretty lucky as most of the last pairs I've seen are in my size. And they're 50-70% off. Thank goodness for large feet.

Peperoni Pizzeria

After Sunday mass, we usually have a couple of regular lunch places we go to already which saves us the trouble of racking our brains thinking of where to eat that's nearby, won't be horrendously crowded and would serve food quickly so the kids (and the adults) won't end up starving. 

There's Chili's at Tanglin Mall, Kenny Rogers at Great World City, Manhattan Fish Market at Plaza Singapura, this Japanese tonkatsu place at the basement food court of Ion and now we've also added Peperoni Pizzeria to the list. The one we go to is at Zion Road across Great World City.

Service is relatively quick, portions are good for sharing and the pizza and pasta are pretty good.

We've been there twice so far and never got to see the interior as the place 
is always full, luckily there's outdoor seating

Lexi playing with the cheese dispenser

Where's the pizza? 

Carbonara and deep fried beef balls