Cute Panda with a Short Temper

It is a typical day at the office and I am a little bored. I lack energy as I haven’t had much sleep the night before because I have been watching marathon episodes of Pretty Little Liars. So when an officemate shared me a link of a video, I am not so keen to click it. But thank God I did because it made me laugh so hard, it snap the blues out of my system.

I find the video amusing and really very funny because of the cute panda throwing fits. It is a cute scene but I would never let my daughter watch it. I think the commercial is too violent for young minds and may convey a wrong message.

But just for laughs, I want to share the video here. Watch it and share your thoughts about it:

The Flight Going to the US

Conclusion of blog post: Journey to US Immigrant Visa

So my mother’s US visa was delivered on Nov 11 (yes it was the 11-11-11 day) last year and my sister was able to schedule a US flight for my mother on Nov. 29. Though we are all expecting that my mother would be traveling to the US before year 2011 ends, you can just imagine how busy we all were in November. First my mother had to figure out where to book a flight for my mom. She first asked me to inquire the schedule and rates of Philippine Airlines. When I called PAL, the schedule they gave me was this: my mom would need to have two stop-overs and in both stops, my mom had to wait for six to twelve hours. My mother is traveling alone so we don’t want her waiting that long.

Then my other sister who is working in Abu Dhabi had to go home (only for a one week visit) because she wants to see my mom before her flight to US. She also wants to personally help my mother pack her things because as an OFW for almost 15 years, she is a pro when it comes to traveling abroad. Then we arranged two small despedidas for my mother. I also had to buy some stuff for my sister in the US.

Back to my mom’s flight, my sister just contacted a travel agency from the Philippines and booked a flight for my mother and then gave me the contact details of the agency. My mom and I went to that travel agency to pay in US dollars and claim the ticket and itinerary.

In this flight, my mom had to travel on a Tuesday morning, around 8 am then by 1:00 she would have a stop over in Narita, Japan where she would only stay for two hours. My sister chose Delta Airlines (formerly Northwest Airlines).

Then the next flight would be from Japan to Detroit, USA which is my mom’s US port of entry. She would only stay there for three hours then she would board a flight going to Baltimore. She was set to arrive in US time at 3pm. But in the PH time, that would be around 4 am.

As my mother is not used to traveling overseas, my sister requested wheelchair assistance for her. Though my sister already specified it in to the travel agency, I still called the airlines a day before the flight to confirm the wheelchair assistance and I also informed them that my mother would need help in filling out immigration forms.

I also did little research and found this short but helpful video for those traveling to US for the first time. I let my mother watched his video several times so she would have an idea what woud happen in the course of her flight.

On the day of the flight, we are all up early and arrived in NAIA three hours before the sched. It surely pays to be early, because as my mom is traveling to US for the first time, she still needs to undergo a PDOS seminar. That got me worried for a while but the airport officer told me that the PDOS formality would only take a few minutes. We had to pay PHp400 for this seminar and I filled out an immigration form for my mom. They also checked in and weighed our baggage. I am nervous about this part because my sister requested many items for her balikbayan box.

We are over the 10 kilo-limit but since the excess is only two kilos, they let it pass. I think an excess of up to 5 kilos is allowed. Then we had to take pictures before saying goodbye and bon voyage to my mom. My brother and pamangkins, husband and daughter were all there.

All throughout the flight, I am praying for my mom’s safety. I love Delta Airlines because they have this flight tracker tool in their website-

I was so relieved when I saw my sister’s facebook status about my mom arriving safely in Baltimore. My mother has been in the US for four months now and though she sometimes complains about boredom as there is barely nothing to do around the house (meaning no chores), she is happy and intends to stay for a year before coming back here for a vacation.

US Visa Finally Arrived!

After mailing the documents, we patiently waited. According to what I researched, if the visa officer is still not satisfied with what we submitted, they might call us or we might receive an email with details on the additional requirements. My sister said that if two weeks passed after mailing the docs and we still get no reply, I think I can already call the Embassy for a follow-up.

So I think about two weeks passed and we still get no reply from the Embassy. I am getting worried and was about to call them to make a follow up when finally the much awaited visa arrived!!! It felt like I run for miles and miles and finally I hit the finish line.

I was at work then and my mother called to inform me that a messenger just delivered a big brown envelope from the embassy. I was so excited and happy because I know that it is already the US Visa. I asked my mom to open the package and thank God my mother did not obey me. According to her, there was a big written note that the sealed brown envelope should not be opened.

True enough; the package should only be opened by the visa officer at the US port of entry. We can only get the passport which is outside the sealed envelope.
When we opened the passport, we were all so happy to see the US Visa stamped. I immediately informed my sister that my mom’s passport now has a US visa stamp. We felt so triumphant and thankful. So now it’s time to book a flight for my mother.

US Embassy Interview for Immigrant Visa

We were early at the US Embassy on the day of the scheduled visa interview. I am very nervous because for the first time since the start of this visa application, my mother had to face this alone since only the applicant can go inside the US embassy.

Before the interview, I prepared all the documents my mother would need. I arranged the docs in a folder with several pockets. The documents she will need are categorized in three, the docs she needs to show the guards, to the first window,and to the consul officer. I also gave my mom ideas on the questions that may be asked. I told her to be calm and honest in all her answers as she just needs to prove her relationship with my sister. I also instructed her that if she wants an interpreter, she should specify her request at the first window she will go to.

Many are saying that this interview is going to be easy, sort of like a formality, but we are still nervous. We prepared all the docs specified in the instructions and we also brought some docs that were not specified but may be asked such as remittance slips from my sister, my mother’s passbook etc. Unfortunately, we failed to bring any pictures showing my mom and sister together. It is because all of our old photo albums are in the house where my brother lives. He promised to bring it to us but failed to do so because of his busy schedule. So we just went to US embassy without it, hoping the US embassy people would not ask for it.

But alas, according to my mom, at least three visa officers requested for a picture. I think it pays to bring old photographs. Thank god they let it pass as my mother just presented copies of remittance slips to prove constant communication with my sister. Most of the questions of the visa officer were about my sister, her job, her family and how long they had been in the US. After several questions, the consul thanked and congratulated my mom and asked her to go to the last window.

I think I waited for more or less three hours outside the US embassy. When I saw my mother, I immediately asked her for the outcome and she said it was positive. I was so happy, but then my mother is holding a blue form and when I read it, my heart sank.

It was a 221(g) form and according to it, we need to present an NBI clearance with also known as (aka) specifications. My mother’s name start with Maria and even though she spells it with only Ma., some of her docs spells it with the full Maria. So she needs a new NBI clearance with a tagged also known as (aka as) Maria --.

After that, we need to submit the docs and the form to the nearest 2Go branch. We don’t have to pay anything as the 2Go officer already knows what to do with the docs. The visa officer repeatedly said to my mom that she doesn’t need to go back to the US embassy for another interview; they just need to receive the document so I guess that means my mom really passed the interview.

Although I am a bit disappointed, I know we do not have much time so that same day, we went to the NBI satellite office in Mandaluyong to get an NBI clearance. By this time, I am already getting frustrated with this US visa. It was fortunate that as my mom is a senior citizen, we don’t have to wait in line and she was accommodated right away. I love the senior citizens law!

However, the NBI officer said that we need to wait for I think 3 weeks before they can issue the clearance because my mother shares a similar name with someone with an estafa case.  I panicked because the medical and the US visa will expire in less than 2 months.

I explained and pleaded that we can’t afford to wait that long because my mother already has a flight schedule to US. I had to lie because I am desperate. I think it worked because they said that the fastest time they can deliver is after 7 working days.  I still think that’s a long time but as the NBI officer offered no further help, we decided to take a drastic measure. We had to seek the help of a police officer we know at the City Hall. He is our neighbor and a friend of my brother. He holds one of the top ranks there so even though I don’t really know him, I know that is not the time to be shy.

Guess what, my mom has an NBI clearance after two days! I immediately went to the 2Go branch in Megamall to mail the docs.  What happened after mailing the 2GO form– to be continued.

Medical Exam for a US Visa: Sputum Test Procedure

For three consecutive days, my mother had to undergo a sputum test. She needs to expel phlegm which they would examine to see if she has an active tuberculosis.

For three days, we were at St. Lukes as early as 5:30 am. Before the test, my mom can’t eat or drink anything. She was also not allowed to wear lipstick. The sputum test was a quick process and for three days, my mother got a negative result.

But then the sputum would now be cultured so we have to wait for sixty (60 days). In case we got a call from them before the 60th day, it means the culture had developed into something and my mother needs to start treatment right away.

I am so scared to receive a call from them because I read somewhere that in case my mother’s sputum proved to be positive, she would need to go to St Lukes everyday for 6 months just to get her medicine. That is every single day for 6 months! I first thought it was a joke but they were serious. 

In cases like this, it is best to prepare for the worst scenario. So my sister said that in case my mom’s sputum culture is positive, we will rent a place near St Lukes where my mother would live alone for 6 months. That would really make me sad!

Thankfully, two months passed and we got no call from St Lukes. Actually, I am the one who called them to ask about the sputum result and they said it was negative. To hear them say that my mother can come to St Lukes for the vaccines and the medical certificate made us all so happy.

My mother got the shots for the required vaccines and got the medical certificate. I had to call the US embassy call center to schedule another appointment for a visa interview. They also said that our medical exam and the visa will expire in less than 2 months so we need to act fast.

Fortunately, I was able to get a visa interview quickly. What happened at the US Visa Interview – to be continued.

My Pesang Isda Recipe

For almost a month now, I am on leave from work (the reason I would tackle in another blog post). Ideally, the leave is intended for me to rest but as I am already a mother, I can’t afford to just lie in bed all day. I took advantage of this vacation to bond with my daughter and do some of the things I always wanted to do but can’t find the time for it. One of them is to do a lot of cooking. I have tried dishes that I have never cooked before like ginataang alimasag with sitaw and kalabasa, pininyahang manok, adobong galunggong, sinigang na buto-buto, etc. I know they are simple dishes but for someone who doesn’t really cook, I consider cooking those dishes an achievement (lol).

One of the dishes I tried to cook is pesang isda. The pesang isda I know is only a clear soup wih pechay, potatoes and tilapya with onions and pepper. But when I looked it up in the recipe book, there was a tomato sauce needed. The problem is, I don’ have a tomato sauce then. What I saw in my kitchen was a bottle of ketchup and so that’s what I used. My aunt said it tastes great (or maybe she is just hungry) Here is my pesang isda recipe:

  • ½ kilo tilapia
  • 2 tbsps cooking oil
  • Garlic and onion
  • 1 small tomato
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch of pechay
  • 1 potato
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  1. I fried the fish then set it aside.
  2. I put cooking oil in a new pan then sautéed garlic and onion.
  3. I added the tomato.
  4. I then added the water and the ketchup. I let it simmer for five minutes.
  5. I added salt and pepper and the sugar.
  6. After 5 minutes, I put the potatoes and let it cook for 5 minutes.
  7. When the potato is cooked. I added the pechay and the fish then let it cook again for 3 minutes.
Here is a picture. Sorry this is is actually what is left of the dish after we have eaten. I always forget to take a picture of a dish before we eat.

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