How I Applied for a Japan Visa (Philippine Passport Holder)

A handful of my friends have asked me about how to apply for a Japan visa (in time for spring!), so I’m writing this post for their benefit. :)

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Cherry blossoms.

I am a budget traveler and I almost always resort to arranging things on my own as opposed to going through a travel agency. First thing I did was look things up on the Japanese embassy website. It was a tourist visa I was applying for and this is where you can get the list of requirements.

One thing you need to know is that the Japanese embassy only processes visas through accredited travel agencies, and there’s none in Bacolod. However, there are travel agencies here that facilitate the processing on your behalf, and from what I’ve heard, it’s around Php 2,400 per person.

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Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto.

At the time of my application, I opted for Discovery Tour in Manila because they had the cheapest rate of Php 800 per person + Php 400 courier fee (that’s Php 1,000 savings). But it looks like they don’t process applications via mail in their Manila office now. However, it looks like they do in Cebu at Php 1,000 per person + Php 300 courier fee), which is still cheaper than coursing it through Bacolod travel agencies.

Although I was visiting friends, I didn’t put that on my application so that I didn’t have to provide supporting documents. Under purpose, as far as I can remember, I only put “to experience cherry blossom season.”

Here are the requirements:

  1. PHILIPPINE PASSPORT
  2. VISA APPLICATION FORM
  3. PHOTO (4.5cm x 4.5cm) w/ white background – IIRC, one was pasted on the application, the other was for the visa.
  4. NSO BIRTH CERTIFICATE OF APPLICANT (+ NSO MARRIAGE CONTRACT if you’re married) – you can get this online – This has to be valid (within a year); I don’t understand this, really, because our birth dates don’t expire nor change. :P I submitted the original birth certificate, BTW.
  5. TOUR ITINERARY – This doesn’t have to be your exact itinerary.
  6. BANK BALANCE CERTIFICATE (original)
  7. PHILIPPINES INCOME TAX RETURN (BIR 2316)

In addition, I also provided a certificate of employment, my confirmed flight details, and photocopies of pages from my old passport with stamps and visas from other countries I’ve visited. These are not required, but we’re encouraged to submit these.

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Tunnel of Lights, Nabano No Sato in Mie Prefecture.

Before you mail your documents, call Discovery Tour to inform them that you will be sending in documents and they will provide you an account number to deposit your payment to. Your deposit slip will form part of your requirements, so you have to include this. If the process remains the same, they will also give you their corporate account number for the courier (DHL, if I’m not mistaken), and you will have to call DHL to pick the documents up (or go to their office) and you won’t have to pay them anything (that was what the Php 400 courier fee was for, which already includes return shipping). Make sure you put your return address. Take note of your waybill number.

Now, I was overly excited and I called Discovery Tour to give them a headsup, as well as my waybill number, and checked the DHL tracking system every day. They wouldn’t tell me over the phone if I got my visa because apparently, it’s sealed when the embassy returns it to them. All I could do was wait with bated breath. It just took them a little over a week to return my passport (with visa – yaaay!); however, on their website, it says it takes 14 to 21 working days via Cebu.

Now, if you’re not comfortable doing this on your own, you could always course it through a travel agency.

This is just a guide to get you started. Processes may have changed from when I applied for my visa last year (2015) so it’s always best if you check with the Japanese embassy and/or their accredited travel agencies.

Hope this helps. :)

* Images are all mine, unless otherwise specified. Please do not use without permission.

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Netflix Philippines

In case you missed it, Netflix launched in the Philippines a few days ago and I signed up for a free month trial (basic plan at Php 370 per month after the first month). You can upgrade (or downgrade) your plan anytime depending on what you need. If you want to share a plan with three friends, you can get the one that allows you to watch on four screens, then you can split the monthly fee. ;)

Netflix Plans

Netflix Philippines Plans

I binge-watched on How to Get Away with Murder and Forensic Files, and watched random movies that I haven’t seen yet.

So far so good.

However, due to the sorry state of my supposedly 1.5 mbps Internet connection speed, I get blurry/pixelated videos because (I think) Netflix adjusts the quality of the video depending on the speed. It would be great if it had the same option as YouTube does, where we an manually select the quality.

There is also a limited selection of titles; however, based on a chat conversation I had with Netflix customer service, they will expand the selection based on what people are watching, and what people suggest. The person I chatted with was very accommodating.

I am liking Netflix so far, but my decision to continue my subscription will depend on the selection over the next few weeks.

Since it’s free for the first month (I’m not sure when this offer will expire), I suggest you give it a try. It will ask you for your payment information; however, if you cancel it before your first month is up, you will not be charged anything.

 

DIY: Paper Medallions

I know I haven’t been able to post for a couple of months. I can’t say I’ve been busy. I guess I just haven’t been inspired.

In the coming -ber months, my baking partner and I will be getting our cupcakes out there (along with other goodies and sweets), and are in the works of joining a monthly outdoor market, so I got inspired to make decorations for our booth.

This is not an original creation, but I found a way to make it easier and not messy, with just three materials. Other tutorials involve glue or glue gun, which I don’t have the patience for. :D

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Materials: Three (3) pieces of same-sized paper, a roll of double-sided tape, and a pair of scissors.
For this project, I just used cute wrapping paper which I cut into quarters. I set aside one (1) sheet shown here in the photo because I was already done with the medallion before I could take a photo of the materials. LOL. :P

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Make 1-inch accordion folds…

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… all the way to the end. Make sure the first and last folds have the printed side out.

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Fold into half so you can mark where the center is.

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Cut a strip of double sided tape, the length of which is as long as the folded paper accordion (edge to center only).

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Stick the tape onto the paper.

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Remove the white strip from the tape (whatever you call it) and fold the paper accordion over…

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… making sure the edges and the tips meet.

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Make three of these paper fans.

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Now put strips of double-sided tape on one side of the paper fan (if you put the tape on the right side, make sure all fans have tape on the right side)…

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… just like this.

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Remove the white strip on one fan and carefully tape the second fan, making sure the edges and tips meet.

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Press firmly on the edges and tips to make sure it doesn’t fall apart.

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Remove the white strip on the second fan and attach the third fan the same way.

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Remove the last white strip and make the “loose ends” meet, again, making sure the edges and tips meet. Press firmly together.

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And there’s your pretty medallion! Easy as pie!

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Any sized paper will work. Here are the little ones I made with my printed papers. Aren’t they cute?

Happy paper folding! :)

Instagram: Video

“Everything we know and love about Instagram, but it moves.”

Last night, I saw a notification on Instagram’s News tab to watch a live stream, and so I did.

Instagram released an update where we can now take 15-second video clips.  Just like Facebook, Instagram picks up ideas from other social networks and combines that to make something big even bigger, killing startups like Vine and Jumpcam. Well, what did we expect? Facebook owns Instagram now.

Instagram Video

Instagram has 13 filters exclusively for video and lets you select a cover photo for your clip.

I would have preferred that Instagram fixed its spam and ghost account issues before releasing this update. I have repeatedly posted on my personal Instagram how I loved how it was before–a close-knit community. I am not quite happy nor disappointed with the addition of video, but I do love the fact that this will encourage people to get more creative.  I just hope it doesn’t encourage more spam and ghost accounts

And one more thing, I hope that Instagram would NEVER have ads.

What do you think of this update? :P

I joined the KLM on Assignment on Facebook. I couldn’t resist it–the prize is a round trip flight and accommodation to Italy. I know it’s improbable that I will win, but I’m joining anyway and I need your help.

Here are my photo entries for the Food and People categories. Both of these were taken on my solo travel to South Korea: egg bread at Hongdae and a lady at Gyeongbukgong Palace.

Please click on the link below each photograph and like each photo on their Facebook page. It would mean so much to me if you liked my photos. Thank you!

Wallpaper: Summer Love

I love the summer.

I love the beach.

So I created a wallpaper to always remind me of both, now that May showers have begun. This photograph was taken by me at Carbin Reef.

Wallpaper: Summer Love

Download here: 1600×1200 and 1024×600.

This is the song (that I discovered through an Instagram friend) that inspired me to make the wallpaper:

PLEASE STAY
Summer Heart

She found me, Summer, cause she needed me to be the one
She’s longing for some sun and late nights in some arms with love
Who doesn’t like that, and what right to say about her choice?
A summer skin with freckles, beautiful, I love it all

My summer love, your heart is warm
And I believe that we have found
The perfect match of summer hearts
Is there a way to make it stay?

She found me, Summer, cause she needed me to be the one
She’s longing for some sun and late nights in some arms with love
Who doesn’t like that, and what right to say about her choice?
A summer skin with freckles, beautiful, I love it all

My summer love, your heart is warm
And I believe that we have found
The perfect match of summer hearts
Is there a way to make it stay?

Let me know what you think about the wallpaper and the song in the comments. (:

Time Flies

The months just seem to come and go, and while it seems like I have done a lot of things last April, it also seems like it wasn’t enough, even when I now have all the time in the world. Quite sad as to how I have only posted once a month for the past couple of months. I still have yet to blog about my recent trip to Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Phuket and Bangkok.

As mentioned a couple of posts back, I took a break from the corporate world, and I’m now focusing on doing the things I love (traveling, baking, arts and crafts). Last May 6th, my friends and I had the opportunity to set up for our friend’s son’s 4th surf-themed birthday party and here’s a collage of mobile photos that documented what we created from scratch, cupcakes and all–inspired by the different surf-themed parties that we found on Google.

Surf-themed birthday party.

Surf-themed birthday party.

In addition to that, I’m also doing some event poster design and on my way to getting a home-based job, so wish me luck! (:

I will work on getting the Kuala Lumpur post up soon. My hands are full this weekend with some cupcake orders on Saturday and Mother’s Day on Sunday.

Be back soon!