Monday, April 27, 2015

How to Schedule a DFA Passport Appointment Online

To avoid long lines and unnecessary trip to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the government agency encourages passport applicants to first schedule an appointment before heading to their office.

Not all passport applicants though can avail of the DFA Passport Appointment System. It is only available to new passport applicants and those who are applying for renewal. Those who have lost their passports and want to apply for a new one, they have to personally go at the Gate 2 of the DFA, Pasay City to schedule an appointment. 

There are also individuals that are exempted from the passport appointment system. It means that they can go directly to the DFA office located at ASEANA Business Park, Bradco Avenue corner Macapagal Boulevard, Paranaque City even without an appointment. Applicants who want to avail of this privilege enter through the Gate 3 of the DFA building and the courtesy lane is at the second floor. It is open from Monday to Friday only. It is not available on a Saturday. The DFA courtesy lane is available to: 
  • Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with valid employment contract
  • Government employees (regular status)
  • Senior citizens (applicants who are more than 60 years old)
·         Spouse of government employee
·         Unmarried children of government employee
·         Parents of government employee
·         Incumbent elected officials

·         Barangay Elected Officials
·         Retired government employee of not more than 1 year

For those who cannot be accommodated at the DFA courtesy lane, here are the steps one should do to be able to schedule an appointment on the web. 

  1. Fill out the required information at this link: submit.Make sure that the information you provide is accurate.
  1. You also need to check that you have the documentary requirements for passport application and renewal before setting an appointment. 
  1. Choose an appointment date and time.
  1. After successfully setting an appointment online, you should check your email address for the reference number and a link to print your application form.
  1. There is a verification link that you need to click to confirm the schedule. Failure to confirm the appointment within 24 hours will cancel the appointment. 
  1. You will need to bring the printed application form to the DFA on your appointment.
  1. Now that you have verified your appointment, make sure that you arrive at the DFA building 30 minutes before your schedule. Latecomers will not be accommodated and would need to set another appointment for another day.
On the other hand, those who come too early would need to wait for their appointment time before they would be entertained. 
  1. The DFA site also reminds applicants that appointments from 5:00PM onwards will be considered rush processing.
  1. For applicants who can't make it on their appointment schedule date, may use the cancel appointment feature to avoid problems in your future applications.
For more inquiries, one may contact (02) 737-1000 from 8:00am - 5:00pm, Monday to Saturday.



How to Amend SSS Members Data

Every Filipino employee and OFW is entitled to be member of the Social Security System or SSS.  They have to fill out an SSS membership form and pay the monthly contribution.  However, question arises on how one would change the information on their data when one is married, when there is correction of name or date of birth and if there is change or additional beneficiaries.

Changes in a member’s record should be reported immediately to the nearest SSS office.  This should be done by accomplishing SSS Form E-4 or the Member’s Data Change Request Form.

Together with this duly accomplished form, submit the original or certified true copy of the following requirements depending on which amendment you’ll make:

1.    For correction of name and/or date of birth – Birth certificate.  If the birth certificate can’t be presented, any of the following must be submitted.
  • Certificate of non-availability of Birth Records from the City/Municipal Registrar/National Statistics Office (NSO)/National archives for the previously recorded and alleged correct name/date of birth.
  • Any two of these secondary documents showing the correct name/DOB – baptismal certificate, driver’s license, GSIS Member Record, Life Insurance Policy, Marriage Contract, NBI Clearance, Pag-Ibig Fund Member Data Record, Unexpired Passport, Record of Employment, School Records, TIN ID, or Voter’s ID. 
  • If for the correction to totally different name/middle name, joint Affidavit of two persons who have personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances in the use of the different names/middle names.

 2.    For change of civil status.
  • If from single to married – marriage contract.
  • If widowed – death certificate of spouse.

3.    For new/additional beneficiary/dependent.
  • Marriage certificate if spouse.
  • Birth certificate if children. 
4.    For deletion of beneficiary.
  • If from parents/other person to spouse- marriage certificate.
  • If from parents/person other than the spouse to children – birth certificate.
  • If from spouse to another spouse, whichever is applicable – death certificate, certificate of finality of annulment, certificate of finality of nullity, certificate of finality of declaration of presumptive death, decree of divorce and certificate of naturalization or its equivalent and certificate of divorce if Muslim member. 

SSS Form E-4 should be filled out in two (2) copies with no erasures or alterations.  This should be submitted to the nearest SSS office personally with valid identification documents. If the amendment is to be filed by an authorized representative or company representative, a letter of authority and Authorized Company Representative Card (ACR) or LOA and their two valid ID’s should be presented together with the member’s SS card and two valid ID’s also.

The Pros and Cons of Working in Taiwan

Taiwan's accelerating export-driven technological industry opened the gates for Filipino Overseas Workers (OFWs). In fact, about one fifth of foreign workers in Taiwan are Filipinos mostly in manufacturing industries. For those who are considering to join flocks of OFWs in Taiwan, knowing a fact or two about this matter will help you decide.

The Advantages of Working in Taiwan

1. Proximity - Taiwan is located just up north and is only 45-minute air ride away from Manila. Taiwan and Philippines share the same timezone thus body clock adjustment is not an issue.

2. Reasonable Cost of Living – Most factories provide free accommodation to workers that are oftentimes adjacent to the workplace which keeps them from transportation expenses. Canteens sell cheaper foods for the workers. Transportation is efficient and affordable, though.

3. Large Filipino Community – approximately 70% of more or less 80,000 Filipinos in Taiwan are working in factories. Filipino stores offering Pinoy foods and goods are visible almost everywhere. Events for and by the Filipino community are very much active and vibrant. Karaoke and convenience stores are also popular. Religion can be practiced freely. Different churches can be found.

4. Modern Technology and Facilities – Because Taiwan is in export of cell phones, LCD panels, computer other electronic goods, facilities, infrastructure and services in Taiwan are relatively good. Streets are safe and clean.

5. Frequent Paid Over Time Works – During Taiwan's electronic export demand is at its peak, factory workers are asked to do paid overtime works. OT rate in Taiwan is higher thus workers earn higher than the basic salary.

The Disadvantages of Working in Taiwan

1. High Placement Fee – Placement fee of staggering P90,000 to P150,000 or higher. Foreign brokers also collect additional amount for “service charge” from workers every month. Reforms to lower this to amount equivalent to worker's month salary is now under negotiation with the government.

2. Weather – Taiwan has summer, winter, spring and fall seasons. However, there is no snow during winter days, only chilly wind. Typhoons that visit Taiwan three to four times every year oftentimes result to floods and falling of trees. Taiwan is also prone to strong earthquakes.

3. Racism – Due to the shooting incident that killed a Taiwanese fisherman, OFWs in Taiwan suffered racism which led to verbal and physical attacks. Eventually however, the intense anger of the locals subside.

4. Language Barrier - Most Taiwanese cannot understand or speak English and uses only their native language which is Standard Chinese Mandarin.

Like in any other countries where other Filipinos chose to work, Taiwan has its advantages and disadvantages too. After all, Filipinos are known for being resilient. What matters is being able to send money home to one's family. You decide whether Taiwan is your kind of spot.




Singapore offers wonderful compensation packages to foreign workers making it as one of the top destinations of OFWs. Hence, OFWGuide provides you updated information on the costs of commodities and other expenses in Singapore. Come and take a peek to know how far can your Singapore dollar take you and how much can you send for your family back in the Philippines.

Housing in Singapore
There is a full range of accommodation available in Singapore to suit most budgets. As a matter of fact, the Singaporean government built the Housing Development Board Flats (HBD) available for renting that is relatively more affordable than privately owned apartments. A typical HBD four-bedroom flat may be rented at around SGD2,400 to SGD3,000 per month. 
Another factor that affects the cost of housing is the proximity of the units to the Central Area or Central Business District (CBD) and the availability of amenities. Generally, most of the accommodations are fully furnished condominiums with facilities such as swimming pool and gymnasium. 
  • One-bedroom apartment in CDB              SGD2,500 to SGD4,200
  • One-bedroom apartment outside CBD       SGD1,500 to SGD3,000
  • Three-bedroom apartment in CBD            SGD4,000 to SGD8,000
  • Three-bedroom apartment outside CBD     SGD2,600 to SGD5,000
Be careful with dealings though. Number of rooms stated in ads usually includes the living room and the kitchen. Make sure to ask the owner or agent just to be clear what “rooms” are included. Some OFWs also shared that there are packages that goes like this: 4 rooms + 1. Plus one may mean a small room or a study room.

Public transportation in Singapore is very convenient that owning a car is almost not necessary. Trains, buses and taxis are among the popular modes of transportation in this country.  
  • One-way Ticket (Local Transport)        SGD1.30 to SGD2.00
  • Monthly Pass (Regular Price)                SGD68 to SGD150
  • Taxi Flag-down rate                           SGD3.30 to SGD3.40
  • Taxi 1 km (normal tariff)                      SGD.55 to SGD1.00
  • Taxi 1hour Waiting (Normal Tariff)         SGD15.00 to SGD 24.00
  • Gasoline (1 liter)                                SGD2.00 to 2.30

Latest water cost in Singapore is SGD1.52 per cubic meter if the consumption is ranging from 1 to 40 cubic meters while water consumption above 40 cubic meters costs SGD2.03 per cubic meter.

Should a foreign worker wish to treat himself or his friends for a job well done or for a day's hard work, here are the average and approximate price range of foods in restaurants around the Lion City: 
  • Combo Meal at McDonalds or similar         SGD6.00 to SGD8.00
  • Meal, inexpensive restaurant                  SGD6.00 to SGD15.00
  • Meal for 2, mid-range restaurant             GD37.80 to SGD70.00

Oh, well, alcohol in Singapore is very expensive but supermarkets offer cheaper goods and foods.
  • White rice (1kg)                                   SGD2.00 to 5.00
  • Bread Loaf (500g)                                 SGD1.70 to SGD2.50
  • Eggs (1 dozen)                                     SGD2.00 to SGD3.00
  • Chicken breast (boneless, 1kg)                SGD7.00 to SGD12.00
  • Water (1.5 L)                                       SGD1.40 to SGD2.00
  • Domestic beer (.5 L)                              SGD4.00 to SGD8.00
  • Imported beer (.33 L)                             SGD4.00 to SGD7.00
  • Apples (1kg)                                         SGD3.00 to SGD5.00
  • Oranges (1 kg)                                      SGD2.65 to SGD5.00
  • Tomatoes (1 kg)                                    SGD2.00 to SGD5.00
  • Potatoes (1 kg)                                     SGD2.00 to SGD4.00
  • Milk (regular, 1 L)                                  SGD2.50 to SGD3.37

  • High Speed Internet SGD50.00 to SGD56.00
  • One minute of Prepaid Mobile Tariff SGD.15 to SGD.21

As with other countries, Singapore has variety of choices and prices. More than anybody else, it is you who knows how to manage your hard-earned financial resources. As an expatriate, it is your call whether to live a luxurious or inexpensive life in the Lion City. 


Skills for Employment Scholarship Offered by OWWA

To improve the skills and qualifications OFW dependents who plans to go abroad as an OFW, the Overseas Worker  Welfare Administration offers a training scholarship grant to those who want to learn a shourt course that may be useful to get a job abroad.

Through the Skills for Employment Scholarship Program (SESP), a dependent of an active-OWWA member OFW who wants to enhance his skills and qualifications to be able to land a job overseas may enroll in a Technical-vocational course and attend classes in accredited OWWA training centers.

Who are qualified to avail the scholarship?
1. Child not older than 21 years old or spouse of a married OFW
2. Brother/sister not older than 21 years old of an unmarried OFW

What are the documents needed to be able to avail the scholarship?
1. Accomplished application forms (2 sets)
2. 1″x1″ ID pictures (2 copies)
3. Form 137 / HS Report Card or Transcript of Records/ official copy of grades
4. Proof of OWWA Membership: official receipt of OWWA contribution / OFW E-Card
5. If a Member’s beneficiary: proof of relationship to OWWA member (e.g. copy of marriage contract and/or birth certificate of both OFW and applicant- dependent duly certified by the Local Civil Registrar)

Who will pay for the classes attended?
OWWA will shoulder the financial assistance of the scholar. An enrolled scholar will get Php 14,500 and will be directly paid to the institution where the short course will be attended at. If the tuition is more than the financial assistance, the scholar will shoulder the difference. However, if the tuition is less than the financial assistance provided, the amount difference will be handed to the scholar.

What are the courses offered under the Skills for Employment Scholarship Program (SESP)?
The scholars shall choose from the course offerings based on the critical skills priorities of the region as determined by TESDA, such as;
a.   Health and Social Community Services
  •       Medical Transcription Course
  •       Caregiver and other related course
b.   Machine/Lathe Operator
c.   All Technicians/Mechanical/Electrical/Electronics Course
d.   Information Technology (IT)
  •       Software/Computer Programmer
  •       Computer Operation
  •       Computer Technician
e.   Tourism and Hotel Management
  •       Housekeeping
  •       Food and Beverage Services
  •       Commercial Cooking
  •       Baking/Pastry Production
  •       Animal Production
  •       Aqua Culture
g.  Animation, Graphic Design and related courses
h.  Furniture and Carpentry
i.   Construction
j.   Welding
k.  Furniture and Carpentry
i.   Construction
k. Any applicable Aviation Course
l. Any applicable Maritime Course



Guide to Living and Working in Hong Kong

This guide sets out brief essential information for Filipinos residing and working in Hong Kong including general facts, employment, the life of OFWs in the city, and more. 

General Facts

Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China. It has its own flag, legal system, parliamentary system, and currency - the Hong Kong dollar. Its official languages are Chinese (Cantonese, not Mandarin) and English. Hong Kong citizens have their also their own passports, the HKSAR passport.

Geographically, Hong Kong is nestled on the south coast of China, a little up north of the Philippines. That's just about 1 hour and 30 minute time-travel from Manila via air.


Hong Kong has a sub-tropical climate with distinct seasons such as spring, summer, autumn and winter. Typhoon season begins in May and ends in November.

Spring begins in March to May. During this season, temperature and humidity are rising and evenings can be cool. Average temperature ranges from 17°C to 26°C.

On the other hand, summer comes in June to August. Hong Kong becomes hot, humid and sunny, with occasional showers and thunderstorms. The temperature can exceed 31°C but high humidity levels can make it feel even hotter. During summer, temperature averages from 26°C to 31°C.

From September to November, it's autumn in Hong Kong. There are pleasant breezes, plenty of sunshine and comfortable temperatures. Many people regard these as the city's best months of the year. Average temperature plays from 19°C to 28°C.

Winter arrives to Hong Kong from December to February, making the city cool, dry and cloudy, with occasional cold fronts. The temperature can drop below 10°C in urban areas. Average temperature is 12°C to 20°C.

Religion and Custom

Religious freedom is one of the fundamental rights enjoyed by Hong Kong residents. It is protected by the Basic Law and other relevant legislation. There is a large variety of religious groups in the Hong Kong SAR, including Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam,  Hinduism, Sikhism and Judaism. 

Employment and Wages

Despite Hong Kong's small size of an area of 1,104 square kilometres and a population of about 7.15 million in mid-2012, it became the 9th largest trading entity in the world in 2012.

The Statutory Minimum Wage has been increased from $28 to $30 an hour since 1 May 2013. A foreign domestic helper's salary must be no less than the Minimum Allowable Wage (MAW) announced by the Government and prevailing at the date of signing the employment contract for employing the foreign domestic helper. The MAW is currently set at HK$4,010 per month or Php23,151.09.

Under the Standard Employment Contract, an employer must provide the helper with suitable accommodation and with reasonable privacy, free food (or food allowance in lieu, which is HK$920 per month at present) and free passage from the helper’s home country to Hong Kong and return to the home country on termination or expiry of the contract. The above levels of the MAW and food allowance are applicable to all contracts signed on or after 1 October 2013.

Likewise, the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance obliges an employer to pay compensation to an employee who suffers personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment or to eligible family members of an employee who is killed in an accident at work. All employers are required to have valid employees’ compensation insurance policies to cover their liabilities both under the ordinance and at common law.

Hong Kong - Philippine Relationship

Hong Kong and the Philippines have close economic ties, with more than 150,000 Filipino domestic helpers working in the city.

After the death of eight Hong Kong tourists during the Manila hostage crises back in 2010, the government of China and the residents of Hong Kong has been a little unfriendly towards Filipinos. Despite past diplomatic exchanges, the Chinese government ended the visa-free visits by the Philippine officials. Ordinary Filipino travelers, including OFWs, aren't affected though.

Filipinos in Hong Kong

There are approximately 140, 000 Filipinos in Hong Kong, majority of whom are household workers. There are also a notable number of OFWs in the construction industry working as architects and engineers while some are information technology professionals and some are in professional services like accounting, law, and finance.

OFWs usually gather at various spots in Central including the ground floor of the HSBC Hong Kong headquarters building every Sunday to socialize, eat self-prepared food, sing, and even sell various items.


Overseas Exit Clearance

The overseas exit clearance is a documentary requirement issued to an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who are travelling back to the Philippines and intends to go back to the country of his employment, to the same employer.
The overseas exit clearance (OEC) certifies that an OFW is properly documented. It is presented to the counter of POEA Labor Assistance (LAC) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) at the airports upon departure. This document ensures exemption of the OFW from travel tax and airport terminal fees.
Note: OFWs in Singapore may apply for the OEC either in the Philippines or in Singapore.
Forms of Exit Clearance
  1. Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)
  2. E-receipt (electronic receipt)
  3. Multiple Travel Exit Clearance (MTEC)
Where to secure an Exit Clearance
It can be obtained at Philippine embassies or consulates abroad, at Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs), at POEA offices in the Philippines, or via Teleserv Express Clearance System.
Documents Needed to Get Exit Clearance
·         Accomplished OFW info sheet (available at the venue)
·         Valid passport stamped with working visa
·         Proof of OWWA membership such as ID or receipt
·         Authorization letter (if done in behalf of the applicant)
·         Re-entry visa, work permit, or any equivalent document
·         Proof that worker is returning to the same employer (company ID, employment certificate, pay slip, etc.)
Note: Household Service Workers returning to Singapore shall present a copy of latest employment contract duly verified by the POLO in Singapore.
How long does it take to obtain an Exit Clearance
Normally, exit clearance can be obtained within the same day of application, depending on queues or availability of attending staff.

As Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) take holiday breaks, some choose to go home in the Philippines and spend time with families and friends. Due to this, it is necessary to arrange and process some documents prior to or after the travel. One of these documents is the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) or more commonly known as travel exit clearance.

So just a heads up to our Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) kababayans, whether vacationing/returning to the Philippines or not, here are the basics that you must know about why, how and what OEC is all about:

Q: What is Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)/ POEA travel exit clearance?
A: It serves as a proof that you are a documented OFW (among many other documents, such as your employment contract and job order) who is allowed to exit the Philippines to fulfill job contracts overseas. It is also a clearance/certificate that proves that your exit or departure to the Philippines is valid since you are returning to an employer abroad.

Q: What are the use of an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)?
A: An OEC serves for the following purposes:
  • it serves as an exit pass for OFWs at the airport
  • it exempts you from paying travel tax and airport terminal fee once presented to the airline counter and airport terminal fee counter.
  • It assures that a worker is covered by government protection, benefits and assistance.

Q: How long does it take to process an OEC/travel exit clearance?
A: There are two ways of applying and processing the OEC:
  1. By walk-in application. Depending on the volume of walk-in applicants, this may take one whole working day.
  2. By appointment system. You may log-in to the BM online appointment system and set a schedule as to when and where you want to claim your OEC. If you completely bring all the required documents, it may just take less than an hour to encode your details, claim and pay for the OEC.

Q: Where Can Bm OECs Be Secured?
A: You may secure an OEC in any of the following processing centers:
  • Balik-Manggagawa Processing Division (BMPD) – POEA main office
  • POEA Regional Centers – Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao
  • POEA Regional Extension Units / Satellite Offices
  • Labor Assistance Centers (LAC) – at international airports in Manila, Cebu and
  • Mindanao. (OEC issuance at LACs is limited to those classified as regular balik-manggagawa, vacationing workers, rehires, POLO-registered workers – with confirmed airline bookings on the date of request of BM OEC issuance, and whose leave does not exceed FIVE (5) days. (BM) Name Hires cannot be issued BM OEC at the LACs.)
  • Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO)

Q: For how long is an OEC valid?

A: An Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) is valid for sixty (60) days upon the date of issuance.

Q: I frequently travel to and from the Philippines in connection with my job, do I need to apply for OEC every time I depart from the Philippines to go back to my employer?
A: An OFW whose job requires travel to and from the Philippines more than once can secure Multiple OECs, or multiple travel exit clearances (MTEC). MTEC is a set of two or more exit clearance documents that allows an OFW to travel to and from the Philippines multiple times within a 12-month period.

Q: I lost my OEC, should I get a new one?
A: No, as there will be no -reissuance of a lost OEC. An OFW/BM who lost his/her OEC must be issued/request a certification of the particulars of his/her previously applied/lost OEC from the POEA office, POLOs or BM Regional Processing Divisions upon submission of an Affidavit of Loss.

A lost OEC may cause an non-exemption to the travel tax and airport terminal fee, though.

Q: My OEC expired before I used it, what should I do?
A: Go to an OEC processing center, such as the POEA office, POLOs and BM Regional Processing Divisions. Present your previous OECs, together with your latest OWWA/Philhealth payment receipts. Make sure that the details (destination, employer, etc.) in your previous OECs are still the same, as it will be carried over to your new OEC.

These are just some of the most commonly asked questions by OFWs unfamiliar with the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). Any questions unaddressed should be directed to the Philippine Overseas Employment Adminsitration via their contact information:
Landline: 722.11.44 / 722.11.55
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