Journey To a US Immigrant Visa

My sister who is working and living in America for eight years filed a US immigrant visa petition for my mother who is already 70 years old. Well, I have applied for a US tourist visa before so I kind of have an idea that the petition process may not be a walk in the park. But I am also hoping that this one will be fast and easy because of my mother’s age and my sister’s US citizenship. Anyway, I am the one living with my mother so it is my duty to take care of everything that my mother needs for the US petition. Of course, I constantly coordinated and followed the instructions from my sister in the US.

The first thing that my sister told me is to wait for the letter from the National Visa Center (NVC). From the time she said it, I think a month passed before the letter in a bulky brown envelope arrived. That first correspondence letter comes with instructions on the form that I need to fill out and the documents I need to submit.  

The form can be downloaded online and in the letter there was an instruction that I can submit the form and the documents online. I just need to inform them that I want to communicate with them thru email. I tried that option but the US Embassy replied that email communication with the NVC is not yet available in the Philippines. So I downloaded the forms and filled it out carefully. It was quite scary because I can’t afford to make a mistake. I also prepared the needed documents and then sent the form to my sister in the US thru Fedex. I think I paid more than Php2,000 so the forms will be delivered securely.

My sister will be the one to send the forms to the NVC in US as she also needs to fill out some details in the form. Anyway, after sending it to NVC, I think less than two weeks passed before we received a reply from them. We were disappointed because apparently, our forms have some inaccuracies. It was in the date where we need to indicate my mom’s addresses and dates of residences. The US Embassy wants us to list down all the places where my mom stayed for at least six months since she was sixteen. It was stressful on my part since my mom transferred to four locations so it’s difficult to list down the exact addresses and dates of residences.

I also found it difficult to fill out the area where I need to write the name of the parents of my grandmother and grandfather. My mom’s father passed away even before she was born- so I just had to specify that the data is unknown. To make up for our mistake, the NVC requested police clearances from all the cities where my mom resided. Each of the police clearances should indicate my mom’s address and date of residence. That was such a hassle then as I need to take a leave from work so I can accompany my mom to  four different locations and explain to government employees what we exactly need.

Anyway, after two weeks, we were able to complete all the police clearances they want. This time, we need to fill out a new form and my sister and I were extra careful now as we don’t want them to request new requirements.

So I prepared two forms. I filled out the first form and then prepared one blank form. The blank form only contains my mom’s signature as my sister will be the one to complete the blank form. She will only copy the details in the form I filled out. I went to Fedex again to send the forms.
After a week, we received an email from the NVC. We both felt triumphant because the NVC is satisfied with the requirements we submitted. This new correspondence letter instructs us to go to St. Lukes Center in Manila for my mom’s medical exam. What happened to the Medical Exam at St. Lukes for US Visa--to be continued.

Starting the Year of the Water Dragon Right

It’s Chinese New Year and my pc clock reads 3:35 am. Yes, I am wide awake at this hour, busy finishing some writing tasks. I woke up at 1:30 am but instead of sleeping again, I decided to complete some work. So I am feeling productive for the last two hours and I see it as a good sign that that year of the water dragon will really bring god luck to my whole family and to everyone. 

I am erasing all bad vibes and negative thoughts. I am also saying sorry for all my wrong doings in the past and I promised to stop complaining. I vow to always be thankful for every blessing and to see the best in everyone and in every situation.

Happy Chinese New Year! Kung Hei Fat Choi!

Keep Your Family Healthy for Less: Join Walgreens

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Walgreens for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

The saying that health is wealth is so true and should not be ignored. Making sure that the whole family is in good health is the greatest gift a parent can give to his or her children. To stay in tip-top condition, one must eat a balanced diet- filled with fruits and veggies, drink lots of water, daily exercise, enough rest and a simple lifestyle.


To prevent disease, regular medical checkup and taking supplements is a must. Of course, we all know that a visit to the doctor plus all the vaccine shots and prescribed medicine is not really cheap so the wise option is getting an annual membership to something that would give you more value to your money. The Walgreens Prescription Savings Club is highly recommended because they are currently offering a special discount on annual membership.

Imagine for only USD10, your whole family (spouse, children whose age is below 22 years old and even your pets) are covered by Walgreens membership. Individuals can also join for USD5 a year.

Benefits of Walgreens Membership:

Save on more than 8,000 brand-name and all generic medications
Get discounts on flu shots, pet prescriptions, nebulizers and diabetic supplies
Get a bonus when you buy Walgreens brand products and photofinishing services

To show my support to Walgreens, I just hit the Like and Follow button in their Facebook and Twitter pages. Be the first to know about their latest promos by liking Walgreens on Facebook and following Walgreens on Twitter too.

Visit Sponsor's Site

UPCAT Results 2012 Online

The result of the University of the Philippines College Admission Test (UPCAT) for 2012 is out! I just saw this news item today and got excited so I decided to make a blog post about it.
The news takes me back to the time when I was still a very naïve and clueless 17- year old. I applied for UPCAT just because a number of my high school friends gave me an application form. I remember filling out the application form with care and I remember going to UP Diliman with my high school classmates on the last day of submission for application.
Of course I remember the day of the exam and how my brother accompanied me there and how scared I was in going home alone. And I remember that I find the exam difficult and I am not expecting to pass at all. I just savored the moment and
 took the exam just so I can experience it.
And of course I would never forget the day when I receive the bulky letter from UP and was so shocked to read the note that I passed the UPCAT! I was very very happy then as I couldn't believe my luck.
So all in all it felt great to be an UPCAT passer! So to all who are part of UPCAT 2012 list of passers, allow me to say Congratulations!

Lazy Friday (the 13th)

It’s Friday the 13th and I am feeling lazy at work. Found this beautiful song in Youtube and for some reason, I felt the urge to blog it here. I just hope I can get more work done before this day ends.

Mad World by Gary Jules

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places
Worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere
Going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression
No expression
Hide my head, I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow
No tomorrow
And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles, it's a very, very...
Mad world...
Mad world...
Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy birthday
Happy birthday
When they feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen
Sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me
No one knew me
Hello teacher, tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me
Look right through me
And I find it kind of funny
I find it kind of sad
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles, it's a very, very...
Mad world...
Mad world...
Enlargen your world...

First Payment from Google Adsense

Earning money from your blog by using Google Adsense is not easy. In my experience, it requires lots of effort and patience. In fact I find Google Adsense very frustrating at first. When I started blogging, my Google Adsense earnings are actually zero. It was pathetic because I would be thrilled on days when my Adsense earnings would register a 0.1 to 0.10 amount until it dawned on me that it is only equivalent to more or less Php4 pesos.

I actually have given up on Adsense and just focus on blogging for the love of it. Besides, aside from Adsense, there are still many ways to earn from blogging.

Until I discovered niche blogging, SEO and social media and started to create new blogs for experiment. That is when my Adsense earnings started to rise. The amount are not huge but it is great improvement from my previous zero earnings.

And last November is a momentous event for my blogs because finally, I hit the USD100 required amount for payment in Google Adsense. My earnings hit USD100 in November and I was able to withdraw my earnings thru Western Union in December.

It was really nice to earn from doing something you love. I hope to receive my next Google Adsense payment soon.

Teambuilding at Rizal Recreation Center, Laguna

This is a really really late post. Last October, our company finally had a “real” teambuilding activity. I said “real” because after almost six years of working for this company, our teambuilding events are just so so. Usually, the whole team simply go out to do something fun as a group and that's it. However, this time, we have a team of facilitators to plan and supervise the activities.

When I first heard that we are going to have a teambuilding, I couldn’t believe it. My boss doesn’t like holding company events in far locations and of it is not in his nature to splurge. Well,  I guess things have changed and I’m glad it’s for the better. In fairness, our company has grown and improved so much and I am proud of that.

One month before the teambuilding, the poster in our bulletin board details the activities for that 2-day event. The event will be handled by the group that conducts Bible study at the office and I initially don’t want to join. Well until my boss made an offer I can’t refuse - all who will attend will have a 3-day offset.
One the day of the teambuilding, our boss rented a whole bus to take us to the venue which is at the Rizal Recreation Center in San Pablo, Laguna. We had to be at the office at around 6 am so it was nice that a hot breakfast is waiting for all of us.

The teambuilding started at the bus where we had fun games including a mini-videoke contest, charades, and Pinoy Henyo. We were literally laughing all the way to Laguna. When we arrived at the location, we first deposited our belongings to a hall which is part of the package because the rooms would still be available at 2pm. So from 11-12 am, we had a team bowling competition. 

My team won this game. Then we had buffet lunch at the venue’s canteen. The food is great- super love it. After lunch, we had a big volleyball game and an amazing race. The evening was reserved for a teambuilding reflection.  Then we had worship and sharing sessions on the second day.

About Rizal Recreation Center, Laguna

I think this place really caters to companies or groups who wants a retreat or a teambuilding activity. The place is comfy, relaxing, and huge.

The rooms where we stayed at is good for eight to ten people. It has 4 double-deck beds and a toilet and bath. It is not air-conditioned, no TV and well no free towel, shampoo or soap. Though the bowling area and some of the facilities are not new, I like the aura of calmness and homey ambience here.  They said the water in this place (including water from the toilet) is potable. Still I dare not drink water from the shower. 

The strength of this place is the food (ang sarap!) and their buffet serving is generous. I would love to return to this place just for the food. They say they only uses organic ingredients, bake their own breads, make their own sugar and grow their own vegetables.

So  that’s it- I joined the teambuilding activity at the office and I’m glad I did. I got the break that I need and I got to appreciate my job, my boss and my co-workers more.

It’s More Fun in the Philippines of DOT: Like or Dislike?

The hashtag #itsmorefuninthePhilippines is trending in Twitter today and I am so amused with all the twitter entries under it. 

My officemate informed me this morning that the new slogan the Department of Tourism (DOT) plan to use this year to promote our country is – "It's More Fun in the Philippines." We both found the new DOT slogan not so appealing. 

But it is trending both in Yahoo and Twitter today and I am having fun reading twitter posts about it. Some say that it is more fun in the Philippines because it is the only country where there is a gay lingo, the only country where glutathione's are everywhere, and where one can celebrate Christmas in a bikini.

I also read one tweet saying that word "more" in the slogan seems to imply superiority and comparison. For me the slogan seems so common, like I have read or heard it somewhere before. But I am hoping that it would be help in making the job of DOT easier - to make a beautiful image of the Philippines to the rest of the world. How about you? Like it or dislike it?

Hello 2012!

If it didn't Bring you Joy,
Just Leave it Behind.
Let's Ring in the New Year
With Good Things in Mind.
Let Every Bad Memory Go
That Brought Heartache and Pain.
And let's Turn a New Leaf
With the Smell of New Rain.
Let's Forget Past Mistakes
Making Amends for This Year.
Sending You These Greetings
To Bring you Hope and Cheer
Happy New Year!
Here's hoping for an even better 2012!

My 2011 in a Blog Post

For me year 2011 did not pass by in a flash. You know the feeling that it was a slow year. I mean I have been waiting for 2011 to be over since it started. But in that course of waiting- it's amazing how so many things happened. I feel like 2011 is equivalent to 10 years.

Maybe because 2011 had been a year of transitions in my work and in my personal life. I have done so many projects at work – others are successful, some are still in the process of completion, and in others I failed.
It was a year of travels and despedida as many family members went abroad. My sister had to go to Abu Dhabi because of a job offer; a cousin went to Japan after for a scholarship program. And my mother's US immigrant visa finally got approved. In 2011, I felt like I am always saying goodbye to people dear to me and every time, I would feel nostalgic and sad.
It was a year when I had to take care of so many things so I am practically stressed out all the time. But I think it made me more responsible, forced me to multi-task, and taught me how to manage my time well. A year I discovered I can cook, a year I got my first payment from Adsense (yey!) a year I danced in front of the whole office for a Christmas party presentation (really embarrassing!), a year I planned an out of town family outing and it was successful.   
In my family, my husband and I learned so many things this year. We learned so much about ourselves, learned how to be a better parent for our daughter Sophie, and how to be a better wife/husband for each other. This post would be a novel if I would go into details but I can say that we are a better person than before. My daughter is growing up so fast and she is my top priority.
It's ironic how during 2011, I kept saying that is not my year but looking back- it was actually a very exciting and fulfilling year. I praise God for all the blessings and guidance he has generously given me and my family.

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