Monday, January 26, 2015

OFWs: How to Renew Philippine Passport in Japan (Tokyo)

2014 was a very memorable year for me. It was a year of change and big decision-making. And now we've just entered 2015 and wow! I can't believe I've been in Japan long enough to have to renew my passport already!

That's right. Renewing my passport was number one on my to-do list for 2015.

Here, I will be writing about my experience during passport renewal and some tips to make your processing faster and easier. Please take note that the steps I will be listing here are for processing in the Tokyo area. The steps in other branches of the Philippine Embassy might be different.

According to the Philippine Embassy (Tokyo) website, the processing can take up to two months so I would recommend you start processing your passport renewal at least 6 months before the expiration, especially if you have plans to travel. Also, personal appearance of the applicant is required, so make sure to arrange your schedule beforehand to avoid conflicts.

What: Philippine Passport Renewal (E-Passport, with the brown cover)

What to Prepare: (as listed on the embassy's website)
1. Passport for renewal
2. Photocopy of the photo page AND the back page (emergency contact page)
3. Filled up renewal form, which can be downloaded/or filled up online
4. Letter-pack 500 envelope, addressed to yourself 
     *Your new passport will be mailed to you using this envelope so make sure to fill-up your address correctly.
5. 6,900yen for the processing fee

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Crossing Prefectures: Things to remember when moving to a new city

June was full of new experiences that were both exciting and tiring. As one may have guessed from my previous post about resigning from your job in Japan, I changed my job and had to move to another prefecture.

Moving to another house in the same prefecture does not require a lot of paperwork, but the same is not true if you're moving to a different prefecture.

In Japan, you have to "inform" the current city you're living in that you will be moving out - it's basically like "resigning" from that city - and then register your new address in your new city.

※By the way, the Japanese word for "moving in/out (house)" is "引越し(hikkoshi)".

When you first decide to move out of your current city, you have to get a "転出届" or a "notification of moving out" just before you leave. It is easy to get from the City Hall and does not cost anything. You just have to go to the nearest City Hall (市役所), fill up the form, stamp it with your personal seal, submit it to the processing counter, and wait for it to be printed and handed to you. It probably will not take 2 hours, unless there are a lot of people.

The things to prepare are the following:
1. personal seal (印鑑)
2. pen for writing
3. valid ID (passport, alien registration for foreigners, driver's license, etc.)
4. application form

As for the form that you have to fill up, there are usually examples of how to fill them up so just follow those and you will be fine.

It is more convenient to get a 転出届 before you leave, but in case you didn't know about it and have already finished moving (just like me), it is also possible to request for it through post mail. It will take around a week to be delivered to you and it will cost you money for the sending of the forms.

Notifying the City Hall about your move is important because it will determine where you pay your taxes. If you don't get a 転出届, you will still be considered a resident of your previous city even if you have already transferred, and you will still have to pay taxes to that city.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

How to Resign from Your Job in Japan


You slam your fist on your boss's desk, then storm out the room - like a boss - and you're a free man.

We all wish quitting is as easy as what we see in the movies, right? But reality is different. It is more difficult - even more so if you're working in a foreign country.

I know this is a rather "unpleasant" topic to write about (because it's about "quitting"), but I would really like to share my experience and help fellow foreigners working in Japan who are thinking of quitting from their companies.

There are many reasons that people quit their jobs and people quitting after only a few years is not a surprising phenomenon in countries other than Japan. Yes, Japan is somewhat an exception because people tend to stick to their first company throughout their whole career life - and that's like their whole lifetime! That's how dedicated the Japanese are. Of course there are many exceptions but those who stay for a lifetime probably outnumber them.

Quitting your job can be really intimidating and scary, much more if you are working in a foreign country. So of course you would want to leave smoothly, without burning bridges(unless of course, you had a really unpleasant experience that you just want to forget and start fresh). But this can be really tricky, especially if you work in a Japanese company. First, there's the language barrier. Are you able to clearly convey your intentions? Second, which is a very important factor, is the difference in culture/business practices. In the US, or other countries, you can probably just submit a resignation letter to your boss, take all your stuff, and leave without much of a fuss. In Japan, it's a rather lengthy and not exactly hassle-free process, but if you want to resign smoothly, you have no choice but to follow their customs.

So let me share my experience and some tips for foreigners in Japan. I would like to stress that this is how it went down for me and things may be different depending on the culture/practice of the company.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Musical (Last) Speech

I had wanted to try singing at the morning assembly in our company during my turn so I did not let this chance pass. This time I summoned all the courage I had and decided to sing during my last speech.

Even though I did want to sing before, there was also another reason why I chose to do so. And that was it wasn't supposed to be my turn yet.

It was a long Tuesday night - I was working overtime - and my turn to do the speech was supposed to be on Thursday. I had not thought of a topic then because I was putting it off 'til the following day, Wednesday, which is a no-overtime day in our company. Okay, so there I was slaving off in front of my computer when one of my officemates suddenly asked me out loud, "Hey, it's your turn tomorrow. Is that okay?" Turns out that the person who was supposed to do the speech the next day was going to be absent.

And to answer my officemate's question, there was no way that was okay! It was already 8 in the evening and you expect me to think of a topic, write my speech, have it checked for grammatical errors, and memorize?! A speech in Japanese is not something we non-Japanese can just cough up on the spot, you know. However, it was then that I decided to take that as a sign to finally put my plan of singing during 朝礼 into action.

That was how I ended up singing "ありあまる富" (Ariamaru Tomi) by 椎名りんご (Shiina Ringo).

There were two reasons why I chose this song. One, the message that you get from the lyrics is really nice, and two, it is easy to sing.

So for now, here's how my speech went.

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.