Friday, January 10, 2014

NAIA Check-in Procedure for OFWs with OEC

For many OFWs, myself included, after the holidays comes a very busy time when we scour the land for souvenirs to bring back to our workplace, say our goodbyes, and after several despedida parties, go to NAIA terminal 2 to check-in and finally, board on the plane that will take us back to our respective job sites abroad.

It may seem as if buying the souvenirs is the most difficult part of the whole "process" (it is difficult, though) but that couldn't be any farther from the truth. I go through this process year after year ever since I started working in Japan 3 years ago, and I have to say that checking in at the airport is the most tiresome and frustrating part. And there doesn't seem to be any improvements at all.

Below I will run through the check-in procedure for OFWs with OEC.
*OEC is a form that you get from POEA that will allow you to leave the country without paying the travel tax, and it serves as proof that you are legally hired overseas. So make sure that you visit POEA before your departure date and get your OEC. You will be given four(4) copies of the OEC.
*For OFWs without OEC, the process might be different. However, I cannot provide information on the check-in process, as I always get an OEC from POEA.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Last Speech of 2013: My Name and "Pikachu"

It was really difficult to come up with a topic for my speech this time. I just didn't have the inspiration and motivation to write a more interesting piece, so I decided to rant about why I don't like my name. This was probably my most non-sense speech ever, but, whatever. Haha.

私は皆さんに「ケイト」と呼んでいただいていますが、私のファーストネームは「ケイトマリエル」です。英語で「Kate Mariel」と発音します。

日本では、子供に二つの名前を与える習慣はないと思いますが、フィリピンやアメリカでは普通です。ですから、私は「ケイト」か「マリエル」という名前で呼ぶ事ができます。しかし、私を「マリエル」と呼ぶ人は無視します。私は「マリエル」という名前が嫌いだからです。

「マリエル」が嫌いな理由は三つあります。一つ目は、長いからです。子供の頃、名前の書き方を習っている時、名前が長くてうまく書けませんでした。他のクラスメートは、ほとんど皆名前が一つだけだったので、すぐに自分の名前を書くのが上手になりました。名前を書くのが上手なクラスメートがうらやましかったです。

二つ目の理由は、家で悪い事をした時、母に「マリエル!」と呼ばれて、よく怒られたからです。そのせいで、私にとって「マリエル」という名前には恐ろしい響きがあります。

そして、最後に、笑われるかもしれませんが、小学校の時、映画の「ハリーポッター」の主人公である「Daniel Radcliffe」に憧れていて、この人と結婚したいなと思った事があります。ですが、もしも「Daniel Radcliffe」と本当に結婚したら、私は「Kate Mariel Radcliffe」になります。これはとっても不自然な名前です。「マリエル」さえなければ、私は「Kate Radcliffe」になり、運命的で素敵な名前だと思いました。でも結局、「マリエル」が付くと、相手の名字が何であれ、似合わないだろうと思いました。これが三つ目の理由です。

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Sunny Land of Okayama - Day 2

My second day in Okayama was all about getting back in touch with nature. I spent the day visiting two famous limestone caves: Ikura cave and Maki cave.
The waterfall beside the entrance of Ikura cave.
I love nature. In fact, when I was a child I dreamed of joining the National Geographic team so that I can travel around the world and have great adventures. As I grew up, I got busy with reality. I strayed from my dream and ended up with a job that requires me to be indoors most of the time. I forgot to appreciate nature. Heck, I don't even remember the last time I looked up to gaze at the sky until I made this trip.

The two caves were both in Niimi City, a relatively rural area in the northern part of the prefecture. From Okayama station, it took a 1.5-hour train ride to Ikura, the namesake of the first cave I visited.

Ikura is a very beautiful place surrounded by mountains, thus it is cooler than the city in the summer. A sparkling river runs parallel to the tracks although it crosses at several points, rice paddies separate the houses, and you can see local folks tending the fields.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Overnight at an Internet Cafe in Japan

Sleeping in an internet cafe was one of my "to-do" things while in Japan because, unlike cafes in the Philippines, internet cafes in Japan actually have promos and packages for overnight users. These are targeted at people who missed the last train, people who partied until late in the night, or people like me who are too lazy to book a hotel. As for my case, when I went to Okayama, I was only going to spend one night there so I thought it would be cheaper to stay at an Internet cafe than at a hotel.

The internet cafe I stayed at is called Ekimae Cafe, which means "cafe in front of the station". It was indeed very near Okayama Station, but it wasn't directly "in front". I read about it from a blog written by a foreigner so I assumed that it was a relatively "decent" place. Even the pictures of the cubicles posted on their website seemed...well, decent.

I found the cafe easily however, standing in front of the building, I began to think that maybe I made the wrong decision. Forget about hotels being more expensive. At least they all look safe, unlike the suspicious-looking building in front of me. I was a solo foreigner and a girl, at that! I have confidence in my communication skills but you know how everything just goes flying out the window when you find yourself in a pinch or panic.

Anyway, I had no other choice. I did not want to spend the night at McDonald's (which, thinking back now, would have probably been a better choice). I mustered my courage and stepped into the small, claustrophobic elevator that smelled of cigarettes.

A small wave of relief washed over me the moment I saw that the person manning the counter at the cafe was a girl. She was probably even younger than me. I was just so glad that I wasn't the only girl there. I availed of their 15-hour night package, which includes a free cup noodle, unlimited internet usage, unlimited drinks and soft ice cream, and free use of their shower room.

The Sunny Land of Okayama - Day 1

A statue of Momotarou outside Okayama Station.
Warning! Long post.

"Congested." This was my first impression when the bus finally got off the expressway and into the streets of Okayama.

It was before 9 in the morning on a Saturday when we arrived in Okayama, so I was not expecting a lot of traffic. It was still early, after all. But when our bus entered the main road, we got stuck there, barely moving for a little less than 30 minutes, and the rather incomprehensible traffic system did nothing to help. Normally I wouldn't mind this but I had a schedule and my schedule says I have to be at Okayama Station by 9 am. I got anxious.

Finally, the bus was able to escape from the jumble of vehicles and we were able to arrive in Okayama Station shortly after. And from there, my trip to the sunny land of Okayama began.

However, let me say this beforehand. Like most of my other trips, food was my main objective for going to Okayama. I wanted to eat a Peach Parfait at a particular cafe in Kurashiki and I just built my itinerary around that objective.