Friday, May 22, 2015

Kabayan nakapag-avail ka na ba ng financial assistance from OWWA?

Nagbakasyon ako noong ika-18 ng Marso. Pagkatapos ng halos isang linggo ay nagsimula na ang bombahan sa Yemen.

Araw-araw ang ginawang pambobomba ng Saudi sa Yemen kaya nag desisyon ang aming kumpanya na pauwiin na lahat ng "expats" sa aming planta para na rin sa kanilang kaligtasan.

Sa madaling salita ay nakauwi rin ang mga naiwan kong mga kasamang pinoy pagkatapos ng 36 na oras na byahe mula sa Sana'a City, Yemen hanggang sa Jizan, Saudi Arabia. Ang evacuation ay inayos ng mga opisyales ng ating embahada sa Riyadh.

Ngayong nasa pinas na lahat kami ay aming nabalitaan na nagbibigay ang OWWA ng sampung libong piso na "financial assistance" para sa lahat ng pinoy workers na napauwi mula sa Yemen at Libya.

Tatlo kaming magkakasama na taga San Mateo, Rizal at kami ay inabisuhan na ayusin ang "financial assistance" namin sa opisina ng OWWA Region 4-A sa Calamba, Laguna. Napakalayo ng lugar na ito mula San Mateo pero doon lamang daw kami puede pumunta sabi ng na kausap kong opisyales ng OWWA sa Maynila dahil parte daw kami ng Calabarzon.

Nakarating din kami roon sa OWWA Calamba matapos ang mahabang byahe sa SLEX. Inabot lamang ng halos isang oras ang proseso bago namin nakuha ang sampung libong piso.

Sa tinagal tagal naming pagiging myembro ng OWWA ay ngayon lang kami nakakuha ng benepisyo. Maliit man ang halaga ay makakatulong din ang perang ito sa aming pamilya lalo na at wala na kaming sahod mula sa aming kumpanya habang hindi pa bumabalik sa normal ang sitwasyon sa Yemen. 

Simple lang ang proseso sa pag-avail ng "financial assistance for repatriated workers." Dapat ay may katibayan ka na umuwi ka habang may mandatory evacuation ang DFA. Makikita ito sa "arrival stamp" sa inyong pasaporte. Isa pa, dapat ay may ebidensya rin na ikaw ay nagtratrabaho sa Yemen sa pamamagitan ng kopya ng "work o residence visa." Pero kung may rekord ka na sa POEA o OWWA ay mas madali na ang proseso. Magbigay ka na lamang ng litrato o ID picture at katibayan ng iyong tirahan tulad ng driver's license o barangay certificate. Mabuti na lamang at mababait at magagalang ang mga taga OWWA sa Calamba mula sa gwardiya, information desk at lalo na kay Ken na syang nag ayos ng aming mga dokumento.

Noon, hindi namin pansin ang ganitong benepisyo mula sa OWWA pero ngayon ay nagpapasalamat kami sa munting halaga na aming natanggap. Bukod pa rito sa libreng pagpapauwi, kasama na gastos sa byahe at pa-hotel, sa aking mga kasamahan ng sila ay abutan ng gulo sa Yemen.

Kaya kabayan, kung ikaw ay isa sa mga napilitang lumikas dahil sa gulo sa Yemen o Libya, eto na ang pagkakataon mo na maka-avail ng sampung libong piso na tulong pinansyal mula sa OWWA. Makipagugnayan ka lamang sa nakakasakop sa inyo na regional office ng OWWA.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dad's Review - Beware of Colette's Buko Pie

The wife and I traveled this morning to Calamba, Laguna to process my financial assistance claim from OWWA Region IV-A office. On our way back to Manila we parked at Colette's - the one before Jollibee - along Real Street to buy our favorite Buko Pie and Ping Lambanog. The wife paid 185 pesos for the Buko pie. From here we drove for around 500 meters and stopped at Jollibee to have our lunch; it was almost 12 noon.

Upon reaching home at around 2 pm we were frustrated to see our Buko Pie on this state.



Aside from having a brownie color the coconut meat was hard. Regrettably, we never thought that our favorite Colette's would sell stale and rancid Buko Pie to its clients.

We used to buy from Colette's Tagaytay and Rosario La Union, unfortunately their Rosario branch has been closed, our favorite Buko Pie and Espasol. But now, we wouldn't even think of approaching any of its branches.

It was fortunate that in our recent trip to Tagaytay City, we got a taste of Loumars Buko Pie. It was not superb but way better than the above Buko Pie of Colette.

For all Dads out there, you have been forewarned. However, if you are really a Colette's fanboy like I used to be then a word of advice, try to have a slice of your Buko Pie to make sure your hard-earned money will not go to waste.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Dad's Review - Beware car owners, nothing is readily available at LTO!

On 19th of April I renewed my driver's license at one of LTO's satellite offices. After a couple of hours, I got my official receipt which also served as my temporary license until 30th of May due to unavailability of plastic ID according to the LTO staff. Hence, I don't have a driver's license ID for around 42 days. Okay, no problem, I would be having my driver's license ID anyway after a few weeks, hopefully.

Two days back, I renewed my car registration at LTO main office in Quezon City. As expected there were no available car stickers. No qualms about that since it happened also last year; I got my stickers after a week.

However, this time around, I was surprised when the LTO releasing staff told me to follow-up by phone or come back after 45 days for my stickers and new plates. What? 45 days for both stickers and plates?

What is happening to LTO? We don't deserve this kind of services. We are diligently paying all our dues but as time goes on the services you are providing to us are downright insulting considering that you were bragging several weeks back that car plates were readily available. You even blamed the car dealers about their late registrations of new cars causing their owners to use their newly bought cars without plates. Furthermore, everybody knows that plastic IDs and printers are readily available in the market, not to mention replacing your old plates with new and expensive plates bearing the same numbers. What kind of nincompoops or inutile Bosses are running this government agency?

my temporary driver's license

my car registration receipt

It seems that the only way to improve its services is to privatize the whole LTO agency. In so doing, only the best and most qualified personnel get hired or in other words those who know how to use their brain. Just my two cents.



Update: 1 June 2015

As expected my temporary license has been extended for another five months.




Let's give a big hand to all nincompoops running the LTO!!!

Update: 9 July 2015

Wohoo! As expected, my new plates are not yet available after more than 60 days! They gave me a cellphone number where I can follow-up my new plates by sending sms. My arse! I am sure like the number they provided on the registration receipt, this number is another 24/7 busy line.

Update: 24 Sept 2015

Sent an sms this morning to the number given by LTO. As expected:






Saturday, May 9, 2015

White Christmas at Christmas Village, Baguio City

My family who have never seen or touch snow beckoned me to visit Baguio City's newest craze, the Christmas Village, during our recent Christmas holiday at the City of Pines. It wasn't because they were expecting to see snow but rather they were curious on how it feels to have a White Christmas. I myself long to experience White Christmas though I have enjoyed snow at La Meije glacier in France many years back.

We tried to visit the place on first couple of nights of our stay in Baguio but we were discouraged by horrendous traffic inside Camp John Hay. I told the family that either we visit the place in daytime or forego our plan of visiting it at all. We agreed to drop by the following day before lunch time. Thus, at 10 am, we were the only visitors inside Christmas Village; artificial snow would start at 10:30 am according to the staff.

Christmas Village in front of Baguio Country Club



We paid 80 pesos each and got stamped on our hands. The staff told us that we can come back at night for free to watch the nightly presentation as long as our hand stamps remain visible. The place closes at 10 pm.

For private motorists, there is no exclusive parking area for Christmas Village visitors. However, you can park your vehicles at nearby side streets. More so, you are not allowed to wear rubber slippers inside; don't bother to bring your pet as well.


artificial snow maker hidden inside the miniscule houses

Though the entire place is cramped you can still feel the White Christmas vibe especially upon seeing several Olafs inside; their Christmas theme was based on the movie "Frozen." It was fortunate that we decided to come here during daytime since we have the whole place for us. We enjoyed the artificial snow to the fullest while having unlimited photo shoots-minus the crowds, LOL.

The foamy snow lasted for a few minutes. The next snow time would be at 12:30 pm. We left the place elated since we got a glimpse of White Christmas atmosphere hoping that in near future we would be celebrating a real White Christmas.




See: Road trip to Baguio


Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dad's Review - Never again Hi Rice Grill, Marcos Highway!

A few weeks back, my wife and I reserved two seats at Hi Rice Grill along Marcos Highway for their upcoming Manny Pacquiao's fight with Mayweather. The venue was at the auditorium at the second floor of their eat-all-you-can restaurant. We inspected the place and it seemed spacious and what mattered most was the massive projector screen where the fight would be shown. The place will open at 10 am while buffet table will be ready by 11 am until 2:30 pm according to the staff. We were assured that parking would be available as well.

screen grab from Hi Rice FB account

On the day of the fight, we arrived at Hi Rice Grill at around 9:30 am. We were not allowed to enter the gated parking area at the back so we parked our car right outside the gate of the said parking area. We registered at the ground floor; their staff collected our receipt and stamped our hand which was our pass to the event.

We were paired with another couple to occupy a 4-seater table. Sadly, the other couple arrived earlier thus my wife and I ended with our back fronting the screen. Obviously, our seating arrangement would be very uncomfortable while watching the fight. By the way, their staff didn't explain to us this setup during our reservation. Otherwise we wouldn't pay the reservation since there were plenty of restaurants in the metro offering cheaper price for this event like Nuezca Cafe in Quezon City.

In short, we tried to make the best out of it; we rotated our chair to watch the fight. At around 10:45 am they opened the two opposite buffet tables outside the auditorium. As expected, both of them had long queues of diners. It was understandable since all of the guests wanted to take their food before the actual fight. Hence, we were in line for around 30 minutes; not a big deal I told the wife.

long queues at both buffet tables

after 30 minutes in line

When it was our turn we noticed that there were no plates and utensils available anymore; even the paper plates were gone. Imagine an eat-all-you-can with reservation giving paper plates to their clients? Epic fail!

rice, mixed vegetables and fish fillet were replenished and about to disappear but still no plates and utensils

Further, plain rice, mixed vegetables, fish fillet and fried chicken trays were already empty while the other remaining trays were about to be cleared as well; it was really very frustrating. Soon afterwards, rice, fish fillet and vegetables were replenished but still no plates and utensils thus the other guests from the other buffet table transferred to our line and started taking foods since their buffet table has been emptied too.

By the time the wet and dripping plates arrived, the rice and mixed vegetables were gone. We ended taking the newly replenished fish fillet and the watery kare-kare (without veggies). If I am not mistaken, the tiny cut Chicken Curry was also brimming with sauce. What surprised us was the need to coerce the food server to put additional serving on our plate. When we were at the end of the buffet table, fried chicken arrived so we had no choice but to backtrack causing inconvenience to other diners in queue . Looking for dessert? Forget it! What was enough for everyone was the iced-but not cold-tea. We were looking for orange juice as stated on their buffet package but it wasn't existing; the soup has been emptied as well. We were forced to "steal" the minuscule plastic serving spoon at the dessert area so we can eat.

To sum it all, we had a very frustrating and annoying lunch at Hi Rice Grill. That was the first time we encountered an eat-all-you-can restaurant where foods were being distributed by servers. It was like a canteen or catering where you need to coerce the servers if you need more. Considering the event was by reservation then it was quite unbelievable that Hi Rice Grill was ill-prepared to handle this kind of event, to say the least.

Additionaly, be prepared to indulge on catering-type dishes. Nothing especial can be eaten here or perhaps their specialties run out before my wife and I reached the buffet table.

Regarding parking, arriving early means you get a secured parking slot while coming late you may park you car at your own risk along Marcos Highway. On the other hand, though you have arrived early and secured a parking slot, you would end up waiting for other guests to leave before you can wiggle out from your parking space. There were at least 3 rows of cars parked outside Hi Rice Grill. I believe they advertise that basement and parking at the back are accessible by their clients.

this was the only plus, a massive and clear projector screen

In fairness, aside from their courteous staff the massive projector screen and good audio was definitely ideal for this event. The air-conditioned auditorium was blissful too after sweating it out at the buffet queues.

As a Dad, I forego my plan in bringing our kids here. Not ever!