Settling Down in Malaysia Part 3 – How To Renew The Spouse Visa or LTSVP

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Aloha readers, foreign spouses of Malaysians and their Malaysian better halves. I’m back! Finally writing a long overdue segment of this series after a happily intense year of marriage, volunteering, and building my social media business. With the intensity of the past year, I have missed out writing a guide to applying for a spouse visa! Nonetheless, let me list a few good blogs towards the end to help you on this exciting journey.

Here’s a few good-to-knows to set your expectations & to make your planning more efficient before we move on to the meat of the process:

  • Spouse Visas can be renewed at least 30 days prior to expiration
  • The entire process can be completed in 2 to 3 visits. We completed in 3.
  • Prepare cash. Credit/Debit cards are not yet accepted in paying processing fees.
  • It pays to be really early.
  • Be prepared to wait at least 2 hours. Better get those power banks handy. 🙂

Step 1 – Visit immigration to get application forms

Disclamier: My husband’s IC originated in Selangor so we visited the Selangor Immigration Department in Kompleks PKNS, Tingkat 2,, 40550, Shah Alam, Selangor

Unlike our previous trips to the immigration to apply for a short term social pass, and the spouse visa, we did not prepare as much for this trip. I read a couple of blogs a day before our intended visit to collect the forms and try our luck. We didn’t intend to complete the process. Our objective was to collect the forms and plan out our next move based on the information we gather.

We drove to the immigration on a Friday afternoon, about 2 p.m. with the following documents:

  • Malaysian spouse IC
  • Foreign spouse passport
  • Marriage certificate
  • Copies of all 3 documents

When we reached, there was no queue at the information counter which is a good surprise! We approached the officer on duty and asked for the forms for spouse visa renewal. He sifted through our documents before he handed the forms which include:

  • Checklist of requirements
  • Application For Extension Of Visit Pass
  • Im. 38-Pin.
  • Surat Akuan

Step 2 – Visit a commissioner of oath to stamp the ‘Surat Akuan’

Luckily, there is a commissioner of oath on the same floor of the immigration office which is about 30 steps away. The commissioner of oath was very efficient. He gathered our documents, then stamped the Surat Akuan in 2 minutes! We paid RM 8 in total. Two steps done in less than 30 minutes!

Step 3 – Submission of completed forms

*Monday of the following week 

What to bring:

  • Malaysian IC – Original & photocopy
  • Foreign Spouse Passport – Original & photocopy of bio plus all pages with stamp and previous visas
  • Filled out Application For Extension Of Visit Pass
  • Filled out Im. 38-Pin.
  • Stamped Surat Akuan
  • Cash – at least RM 200
  • Bottled water, snacks + fan

This is the most interesting part. Please do note that visiting the immigration early is very important because the numbers served to clients are limited! If the immigration ran out of numbers, you will have to come back the next day. We started preparing at 5 a.m. to reach Shah Alam by 6:30. We live in Kajang area. When we arrived, I was partly shocked to see about 50 people already lined up at the gates of PKNS. Partly surprised because my husband’s colleague who is married to a foreigner, has set our expectations about possible stampede and running as soon as gates open at 7 a.m..

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Crowd is already thick at 6:30 a.m.

When the gates opened, all hell has broken lose. Uncles, aunties & kids were all running to get to the immigration doors fast. Luckily, my husband has memorized the maze to the immigration office, and is quite fit. He ran like the wind to secure the number 13 slot in the queue. From 50+ to 13, that’s impressive! The immigration office opens at 7:30 a.m. so be prepared to wait for another 30 minutes. It’s quite warm as the a/c’s aren’t turned on yet so it pays to have bottled water, snacks and a fan. After all that running, you will need sustenance to get you through more waiting.

After showing our documents to the officer at the information counter for initial checking, we finally got our number. We are the 13th to be assessed. An immigration officer normally takes 15 minutes to assess one couple, so we decided to take a quick breakfast. When we came back, the officer was already serving the 11th couple. Right on time! As our documents were complete, it took about 5 minutes to finish this step. We paid RM 130 for a one year extension, and was given a receipt. Keep this receipt in a safe place as this is the main requirement in collecting the passport with the extended spouse visa. The receipt shows that we can collect after 2 days, at 4:00 p.m..

From arrival to PKNS to completing this process, it took us less than 3 hours, of which 80% of the time was waiting. Patience is key! Have loads of it.

Step 4 – Collection of passport

*Wednesday of the same week

What to bring:

  • Receipt

Collection of passports normally start at 4:00 p.m.. We arrived at 4:00 p.m. and dropped our receipt at the information counter. Wrong move to arrive on the dot. There were a ton of receipts already piled when we submitted ours. Because of this, we waited for more than 2 hours for my name to be called. The office was already closing with just  a couple of officers left to service the remaining clients. I would urge you to arrive at least an hour earlier.

It was almost 7:00 p.m. when I received my passport. It was a long wait but it’s always worth it!

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Celebratory pose! Legal to stay for another year woot woot!

Recommended blogs – Spouse Visa (LTSVP) Application

As promised, here’s a list of blogs you may visit to enlighten you on spouse visa (LTSVP) application (as I have completely forgotten to write my experience over  a year ago):

  • Step by step guide to Long Term Social Visit Pass Malaysia (Spouse Visa)

http://spousevisamalaysia.blogspot.my/

  • How to apply Long Term Social Visit Pass (LTSVP) for Foreign Husband of Malaysian Wife

http://www.yoohyein.com/2015/06/how-to-apply-social-visit-pass-spouse.html

  • How to apply for Malaysian Spousal Visa (Long-Term Social Visit Pass)

http://crossbordermarriage.blogspot.my/2011/06/how-to-apply-for-malaysian-spousal-visa.html

Hope this blog has helped you in your journey! If you know anyone who may benefit from this, please feel free to share. The next installment of this series will be in October of next year! Till the next blog!

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The Birth Of Indaypreneur

So Long Philippines, Hello Malaysia!

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My bags are packed; my documents secured. My parents have traveled 12 hours from the province to the city so they can send their only daughter off to a foreign land. I was excited. I was scared. I was clueless. I was about to be an unemployed 31 year-old. It was the 2nd of July 2016 and I’ve patiently waited 18 months for this day to arrive. For the past year and a half I have saved 50% of my monthly salary so I can build my freedom fund. God knows what the future holds for a woman who used to have a promising career in her motherland, only to throw it away in the name of love. And so my job-free journey begins.

My state of being job-free was not by choice. I was forcibly unemployed due to immigration laws for foreign spouses of Malaysians. I knew about this and have prepared for it months before I tendered my resignation. A month and a half later, I changed my status from miss to missus. A couple of weeks later I came across an interesting opportunity to earn online using social media tools such as Facebook and Whatsapp. I wasn’t really after the earning part. What caught my fancy was the free online training. As a former organization development specialist, I’m a sucker for trainings! Plus, this will keep me from counting black ants in the kitchen when there is nothing left for me to do.

Diving Into The Unknown

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After a quick interview with some strangers I got connected with online, I signed up and found myself trying a whitening toothpaste I have never used nor heard of. “Could this be a scam?”;  “What have I gotten myself into?”; were some of the thoughts running through my mind. What’s the worst thing that can happen really? Me and my husband enjoying some posh whitening toothpaste. That’s actually it! I have risked far more greater things in life to be bothered by a very minimal investment. And so the journey continues.

Unlearning, Re-learning

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I registered for the free online training, and I got what I signed up for. I didn’t expect much. I thought it was some boring product information blast. But boy was I so wrong! It was so structured and fool-proof. The content was as an excellent mix of mindset, leadership, skills & product training, pieced together by 15 years worth of experience, mistakes, triumphs and lessons. What I got in return was worth about 100,000 times more than the whitening toothpaste I bought. It’s like getting a MBA and applying what I’ve learned 1st-hand. That alone was a BIG return of investment for me.

Being in a virtual training environment made me feel more comfortable in applying what I have learned, which is to be 400x more visible on Facebook than I usually was. It sounds harmless but not really. For someone who posts once a month on Facebook, the struggle is REAL! I have this image that I wanted to protect & maintain on social media as I get so consumed about what other people might say about me. Being on training mode was my defense mechanism to just go do it. Do it for the sake of learning. Do it for the sake of growth. And it worked! I moved boxes of this amazing whitening toothpaste in the Philippines, Malaysia, and other parts of the world in my first few weeks. Some of my friends started to take notice, and I have helped them get started with this opportunity too. I was making good retail income and it felt really good! Finally, after 60 days of bumming, I am earning again and I get to help my friends earn extra too! All with the use of a smartphone and a stable wifi connection.

My biggest key take-aways from the trainings were the following:

  • ‘No emo, no ego , just follow’ – 11 years of working in the corporate world has resulted to my ego being a bit bloated. Just a bit. I have dealt with so many corporate employees and mid to senior management with egos much bigger than hot air balloons. In a way, I have a good data point for comparison. Hence, it was not that difficult for me to unlearn and relearn. To drop my ego, take hard feedback professionally and just follow. I am here because of what I don’t know. If I knew everything, I should’ve already been a millionaire!
  • ‘The opinions of others will not put food on the table’ – This is nothing new to me and perhaps not to you too, but we get so worked up about the opinions of others every now and then. Because of this we get trapped and dare not stretch nor make bold unconventional decisions. As unconventional as I already am – a modern-day hippie and former HR Manager filled with tattoos, married to a man 6 years her junior, I was still so concerned about what people are gonna say when I start sharing toothpaste reviews. Either I do, or I don’t, people are always gonna talk. So I might as well do. Thank the heavens I did! If not, I wouldn’t have experienced so many priceless milestones & learned so many life-changing lessons in the span of one year.
  • ‘My WHY matters’ – I haven’t really thought about this in a very very long time. Many of us have been conditioned to just go through the motions of life and fit into the mold that has been conveniently laid out because it is safe. But safe is not equal to extraordinary. Safe will not give my parents comfortable retirement, nor the freedom and flexibility of travelling the world without filing vacations leaves nor worrying what to eat the next day. Safe will not send my future kids to top-notch universities without scrimping on other needs of the family. And so, I took the time to reflect and ponder my ‘WHY’. Why am I here? Why am I doing this? And now that I have finally discovered my ‘WHY’, I am sharing it with you. ‘I want to live an inspiring & extraordinary life filled with travel, adventure growth and love, and to share the same with my loved ones. I want to empower women to live meaningful lives through social media entrepreneurship’.

Rebirth

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Four weeks from the day I started my online training, I was reborn from a doubtful foreign housewife to an empowered social media entrepreneur. I wasn’t making tons of  money yet, but the person I have become in the process was far more valuable. The confidence, clarity and depth I have gained was projected not only on social media, but also to my family and friends, live in the flesh! The trainings were powerful I tell you. I have never been brainwashed so effectively and strongly in less than a month.

The Rise of Inday

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I decided to take my journey to the next level by submitting my letter of intent to become an executive. This meant the possibility of enjoying much more substantial income. This also meant that I have to exceed a certain number of product volumes in a set span of time. I have no idea how to achieve this. I just set my intentions and worked with massive action, not knowing if I’ll make it or not. And that is the beauty of this business, there are no guarantees, which means, I will never be in the position to take things & people for granted nor be complacent. I will always be put in a position where it is required to be in excellence. And why is this appealing to me? Because it is aligned with my vision and my WHY to live an extraordinary life. An extraordinary life, requires extraordinary effort.

In a span of 3 months, half the specified time-frame, I have exceeded the qualification requirements. How did this happen? I focused on 3 things, providing solutions, building my team, and giving back to the global community. Yes, the drive to feed malnourished children in South Africa and other parts of Asia contributed about 30% to this success. The best thing about progressing in the business, is knowing that to get to a certain level, I have made a difference to the lives of many individuals.

Fast forward to September 6, 2017, 365 days later – 15,000 meals raised, a few hundred thousand Pesos earned, 718 sign-ups, about 200 Facebook Lives, a few flights across Southeast Asia, and countless opportunities offered to change people’s lives… Yet the journey towards the realization of my dreams is just really getting started.  

Fortune Favours The Brave

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I am grateful that you have read this far. I am honoured to share a part of my life that has been drastically changed by a whitening toothpaste. Isn’t it funny; what one mundane product  can do to the life of an ordinary foreign housewife? There are so many opportunities out there. Hidden opportunities, unexpected opportunities, shocking opportunities. We often look past them and seek the ones that come in a silver platter. In reality, that’s not always going to happen. In fact, it may rarely even happen. According to Jack Ma “Opportunities lie in the place where complaints are.”.  And true enough, mine lay on an infamous industry called network marketing.

Thirty-one and jobless, I have explored the possibility of an unconventional opportunity. And just like that,  more doors have opened to a whole new world of possibilities. What about you? When will you explore your possibilities?

 

If you were inspired by this blog in one way or another, please feel free to share. Sharing is caring! 

Settling Down In Malaysia – Part 2

A quick guide on  social visit pass or extension of visit application for foreign spouses of Malaysians.

Hello avid readers, I’m back! It has been a over month since my husband and I registered our marriage in Malaysia. Since that memorable day, we wasted no time in moving on to the next step which is the application for social visit pass or extension of visit for foreign spouses. This is a pre-requisite in  the application of a long-term social visit pass (LTSVP) a.k.a. ‘spouse visa’.

As explained on my previous blog, Settling Down In Malaysia – Part 1, “Malaysia is known to have stricter polices and more challenging processes regarding visa and permanent residency (PR) applications for foreign spouses”. Foreign spouses are treated as ‘outsiders’ or ‘visitors’ for a longer period of time (5 years minimum), with restrictions in any form of employment. Although an Asian country, migration of a foreign spouse to Malaysia is definitely not a walk in the park. Hence,  it is important to conduct prior research and save a lot of money  before making the big move.

Read: Applications For Extension Of Visit For Foreign Spouses, Step By Step Guide To Long-term Social Visit Pass Malaysia

Our objective on August 29th was to finish the application on the LTSVP within one day. Unfortunately, even months of research did not prepare us on the answer of the immigration officer which was:

“You can only apply for the spouse visa 6 months after your registration date. In the mean time, you have to apply for an extension of visit which allows your spouse to stay in MY for another 3 months. After that, you have to re-apply for another extension of visit. Only then can your wife be qualified to apply for the spouse visa.”

This information is consistent among immigration officers in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor (we visited 2 offices instead of 1 due to negligence on research regarding the correct location). And so this blog took a slight detour from a LTSVP  application write-up to an ‘extension of visit’ article. Nonetheless, our trip to immigration was still considered a ‘win’ for us.

Note: Keep in mind that immigration policies change from time to time, and perhaps is dependent on the foreign spouse’s country of origin. Some couples were able to apply for LTSVP right after the registration of their marriage. Our experience may be applicable to some but not all.

Without much ado, here are the steps on how to apply for a social visit pass or extension of visit for foreign spouses of Malaysians:

Step 1 – Complete the checklist prior to visiting Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia

To ensure that the trip to the immigration is maximized, bring the following:

  1. Original and photocopy of foreign spouse’s passport – Bio and pages that contain stamps from MY immigration
  2. Original and photocopy of Malaysian spouse’s MyKad (IC) – front and back
  3. Original and photocopy of marriage registrationmc
  4. Passport-size photo for both
  5. Cash amounting to MYR 700.00 at least (for Filipinos)

Step 2 – Visit Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia 

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Make sure to visit the branch reflecting the state of your Malaysian spouse based on his/her MyKad (IC). In our case, we visited the Immigration Office near Publika / Solaris Dutamas first, which was apparently the wrong branch. The immigration officer (IO) advised us to visit the office at Kompleks PKNS Shah Alam, 02-02, Persiaran Tasik, 40000 Shah Alam instead, since my Malaysian spouse resides in the state of Selangor.

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Tip: Parking is available at RM 3.00 flat rate. 

Proceed to Counter 13 and fill out the forms Imm. 55, IM 12 and IM 34

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Counter 13 is on the left-most side (unfortunately not seen on this image). The counters were not busy at all when we visited.

Sample forms

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Form IMM. 55

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Form IM. 12

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Form IM. 34

Step 3- Proceed to counter 14, submit the filled-out forms and make a payment

Here’s the breakdown of payment amounting to RM 686.00 or PHP 7,923.30 using the conversion rate RM 1.00 = PHP 11.55.

Note: Fees are dependent on the country of origin of the foreign spouse. Amounts quoted below are for Filipinos.

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Once you’ve made a payment, the IO will hand you the document below. We were able to complete step 4 at around 12 noon and were advised to come back at 2:30 p.m. to collect my passport with the Single Entry Visa and Social Visit Pass.

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Kompleks PKNS houses a lot of shops, boutiques and restaurants apart from the immigration office. You may kill some time by visiting the shops within the building.

Tip: The Single Entry Visa (SEV) may be obtained at the Malaysian Embassy of the foreign spouse’s country of origin. If the foreign spouse is currently in his/her motherland, it’s best and more cheaper to apply for the SEV at the MY embassy. If you’re a Filipino, you may visit Embassy Guide PhilippinesPinoy Boleh, or Filipino Community In Malaysia – How To Apply For A Visa for more details

Here’s a useful excerpt on SOCIAL VISA APPLICATION from Embassy Guide Philippines:

  • Citizen of the Republic of the Philippines have to obtain a visa for purpose of social visits exceeding thirty (30) days.
  • If the entered duration of stay in Malaysia is 31-90 (ninety) days, social visa without reference should be secured. Below are the requirements for social visa without reference
    • Invitation letter from the sponsor in Malaysia
    • Confirmed roundtrip ticket
    • Passport with at least 6 months validity on date of first entry
    • Two (2) recent passport sized photos
    • Visa application form (typewritten) and Visa fee

Step 4 – Return to counter 14 to collect your passport

After a couple of hours, we returned to counter 14 and collected my passport which now contained my Single Entry Visa and Social Visit Pass as shown below:

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Single Entry Visa stamped with ‘Jouney Performed’ since I applied in Malaysia instead of the Philippines. This means I had to pay RM 500.00 extra too!

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Tadaaah! My social visit pass which allows me to stay legally in Malaysia for another 3 months, but prohibiting me to engage in any type of employment. See encircled fine print above.

Prior to the expiration of my social visit pass, my husband and I need to perform the same process to get another 3 months extension. Only then, can we apply for the Long-term Social Visit Pass, otherwise known as the spouse visa. Yes, that’s 6 more months of meaningful break from the hustle and bustle of ’employee life’ and a break from earning financially too. On the brighter side, I no longer need to exit the country every 3o days.

If you and your spouse are planning to settle in Malaysia, make sure you’ve done enough research and financial preparation. Six months under a single-income household in these times can be tough.  It took a year and half of planning and preparation for us before we decided to take the leap and go through the hurdles of migration. Patience is key, so is diligence and teamwork. Remember to celebrate every success along the way, big or small. Make the most out of the journey and strengthen your bond every step of the way!

Hope this blog helped you. If you think someone can benefit from this article, please feel free to share! Sharing is caring!

You might find my other blogs useful:

 

 

 

8 Personal Milestones I’ve Achieved While On A Career Break

When I told my parents over a year ago, “I’m moving to Malaysia to start a new life and perhaps a new career”, the response I got was “Okay anak, ingat!” (Okay my child, take care!). That’s it?!… No resistance, no contest?… To my surprise, none. Nothing but all-out support. I still have a few good laughs whenever I remember this true story. I didn’t know whether to be happy because of my parents’ extreme confidence in my decision-making, or be offended because it sounded like they didn’t care much about their only daughter.

I was almost 30, a prospective HR Manager, no dependents, and earning 5 to 6x the current minimum wage in the Philippines. I was well-loved by my colleagues and bosses. I had a good career ahead of me. Why suddenly stir to a different direction when you’re just reaching your prime?  It doesn’t make sense, does it? It didn’t to me either. But something tells me that I should create the urgency to start living the life that I truly want. I was almost 30; if not  now, when?

Fast forward to today. A year and a half have passed. I’m sitting comfortably on one of our dining chairs, writing this blog and eating chocolates in the middle of the night. I’m 1,447 miles away from my motherland, living in Malaysia, recently married, and enjoying my 71st day of unemployment. A lot of people told me I’ll be bored to the point of regretting my decision. I thought so too; but I surprised myself with several milestones I started achieving while on a career break. Here’s a few of my humble wins:

I finally got married (under 900 Ringgit!)

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If you’re an Asian woman over 25, you know how big of a win this is for your parents and the rest of your (super) extended family. They just can’t wait to give you away, do they? Getting married is not on the list of my priorities, not even as a 30-something year old woman. But if you found the right person who shares your dreams, supports your crazy ideas, and is equally-ambitious himself, by all means ‘push mo yan’ (go for it)!

I got hitched 3 weeks ago to an awesome individual, and managed to pull off a symbolic, intimate and ‘indie’ wedding under 900 Ringgit (10,014.00 PHP). Starting a married life unemployed does not seem ideal at all in this day and age. Therefore, save up! A career break comes with a high price; a price which I’ve patiently worked for more than 18 months.

Had I not quit my job, I would’ve remained single and married to my laptop. 🙂

Read: How To Get Married In Malaysia Under 900 RinggitSettling Down In Malaysia – Part 1

I launched my own blog

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Translation: Quit work; packed bags; became a blogger

I’ve always wanted to start my own blog. I like to inspire and empower people through various forms, and I discovered that writing a blog is one of the more effective mediums with wider reach. To jumpstart my blogging career, I applied as a content writer for a US-based company through OnlineJobs.PH, 2 weeks prior to quitting my job.  I submitted my application to a Pinay based in Davao named ‘Aira’.  She seemed really nice and helpful. I was tasked to create several sample blogs which were eventually short-listed.

The road to this application was not easy. From 3 sample blogs, I was tasked to create another, then another, then another, with the promise of $10 USD deposited to my Paypal account per sample output. I wrote a  total of 8 blogs with $0 deposited to my account. In short, I was conned by this seemingly nice woman; a mother at that.

Did I despise her? No. She did help launch my blogging career through the tasks and feedback she provided. I learned from the experience and this tale will go on to help others who would like to try the same route I took, with extra caution. At the end of the day I’m a victor because this very lesson in starting my own blog made me a better writer.

Read: Back To Square One At 31

I learned how to drive

Owning and driving a car in the National Capital Region of the Philippines is not a smart move for unmarried professionals. The daily, weekly and monthly expenses that come with it is like having your own kid. Hence, I didn’t bother to learn driving.

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Take note that this is a right-hand drive vehicle. My struggle was VERY real! Warning: Do not try this at home.

On the other hand, driving is a necessity in Malaysia. We live in the suburbs surrounded by hills, toll gates and express highways. Commuting to the nearest train station without a car is nearly impossible. My husband takes me for personal driving lessons around our housing area, whenever he comes home from work. I’m far from being a pro but I’ve learned the basics, and will continue to learn until I finally get a driver’s license.

I’ve morphed into a talented cook

My family and friends know that I couldn’t fry a chicken to save my life. I was a very busy person in my previous life in the Philippines. I spent 12 hours average at work, extending to an unpaid Saturday if the situation called for it. Learning how to cook would be on the bottom list of my priorities.

Moving to a new country, with a new husband, a new house, a new gas stove and a new title (housewife) were glaring signals to start learning how to use the frying pan and cooking oil. It started from learning simple recipes such as Ceasar salad, scrambled eggs and Tacos, to more complex ones such as Shrimp Aglio Olio, Tuna spaghetti in Olive Oil, Pork Adobo, Nasi Goreng Kampung and many others. I grew more confident in my cooking skills, I started experimenting on never-before-heard recipes such as Broccoli, Mushroom and Tuna sauteed in Olive Oil and 7 spices.

I started training for an on-line business

Staying at home 80% of the time nurtures your relationship with your hand phone and social media. The workaholic in me wanted to explore more opportunities and so I joined several groups on Facebook, from various parts of South East Asia. I came across an ad looking for individuals who use Facebook and smart phones on a daily basis, willing to undergo a free online 14-day sales & leadership boot camp, with high earning potential. And because I’m a curious cat who uses social media on a daily basis, I responded.

So far I’m on Day 6 of training. I learned a lot of new insights, as well as marketing, sales, leadership and life skills. I found awesome mentors and coaches as an added bonus. In the past few days, I genuinely looked forward to viewing the online presentations and posting my assignments.  Besides, who doesn’t want free training with earning potential (without leaving your bed) anyway?

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This is one of my homeworks; to complete a personal dream map. Cool isn’t it?

My global network tripled

This is a direct consequence of moving to Malaysia, visiting Malaysian government offices, joining multiple Facebook groups, and attending job interviews. Expanding your network globally is always a good thing. The opportunities for career, learning and support system continue to multiply.

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Some of the amazing mompreneurs I met through social media

I started learning a new language

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image from ismaweb.net

Guess what, I’m learning? You’re right! Bahasa Melayu – the national language of Malaysia! Apart from daily practice with my Malaysian family and friends, I also downloaded a phone application and I signed up for free online  subscription. My schedule for self-study is every Friday night. You’d be surprised at how similar Bahasa is to Tagalog and some dialects such as my mother tongue Ybanag, Ilocano and Ytawes. It’s not as difficult as it seemed. I can now count from 1 to 100 in Bahasa and can order independently at a Mamak shop. ‘Barang bagus macha!’ (Good stuff mate!) 🙂

I landed an internship stint at an international N.G.O.

This one did not come easy at all. My initial application for this post was back in April 2015. I did not pursue the application after being shortlisted because I wasn’t ready financially to leave my job and volunteer overseas. From April 2015 to June 2016, I saved 50% of my monthly salary and 100% of my performance incentives so I could afford to have a career break and go after what I really wanted to do. A month prior to my resignation from my previous job, I re-submitted my application. Three months and 2 face-to-face interviews later, I finally got an offer for an internship at this international N.G.O.. Exciting times indeed!

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Photo from SOLS 24/7 Malaysia

My decision to stir the wheel to a different direction has proven to be the right decision all along. I wouldn’t have grown so much in a short span of time nor experience opportunities I can only imagine. If you’re thinking of quitting your day job to find yourself or create opportunities for a personal breakthrough, make sure you’ve prepared for it mentally, financially and spiritually. Taking the road less travelled is scary. It’s bound to scrutiny and uncertainty. But it’s also humbling, inspiring, empowering and liberating.

Let me end this blog with a question from a guy named William Chen, “What would you do if, for a while, you don’t have to think about making money?”.

 

 

For The Love Of Freedom

A free-spirited freethinker’s thoughts about freedom.

Circa 2012

Freedom is a powerful concept and is probably on top of my list of favorite words.

But what is freedom really, apart from its pop definition of “doing what you want”? Is it really just doing what you want, whenever you want it? If it is, then it may not be as powerful of a concept as it essentially is.

Freedom is my favorite word because when you partner it with something  negative, for instance, a noun… it becomes an undeniably moving concept.

For example:

-Freedom from pain

-Freedom from hatred

-Freedom from prejudice

-Freedom from greed

-Freedom from an abusive relationship

-Freedom from double standards

-Freedom from unjust structures

-Freedom from material possessions

-Freedom from debt

-Freedom from oppressing societal norms

More so if it is paired with something positive.. For instance:

-Freedom to love

-Freedom to choose

-Freedom to speak

-Freedom to live

-Freedom to vote

-Freedom to give

-Freedom to travel

-Freedom to experience the best things in life (which are free! – freedom’s root word)

Freedom is the core of my character. It is something I consistently want to manifest. It may seem easy to achieve,that is, if we use its superficial connotation. But in reality, it’s tough.

Whenever we get influenced negatively by society, friends, colleagues and even family, we give up our freedom. Our freedom of rational thinking, freedom to act upon what is right; and even our freedom of speech.

Whenever we blame others, situations or external forces for our misfortunes, we give up our freedom of being self-reliant, accountable, and the freedom to take control of our lives.

Whenever we bully or take advantage of our fellow human beings, we give up our freedom of genuine self-fulfillment as well as making & keeping harmonious, peaceful relationships.

So… How do we strive to be free? Accept our faults and weaknesses to begin with, then work on it. Live simply & give with little to no expectations. Be genuine.  Choose to see the good in people and the silver lining in every dark cloud. Easier said than done; I couldn’t agree more. But possible.

To perfect the quest for freedom, one must match it with humility. Without the other, one may be impossible to achieve.

Personally, I anchor my existence around freedom because it’s an integral part of genuine love, trust, respect, wisdom, compassion and happiness. It’s the super glue that holds them together. When you’re free, you are able to do and achieve all of these.

With this being said, I’d rather be free, than rich, or famous, or powerful, or drop-dead gorgeous.

By striving to be free everyday, we experience happiness now, not later, not tomorrow- but now.

Settling Down In Malaysia – Part 1

A step-by-step guide for Non-Muslim Filipinos and their respective Malaysian partners on how to legally register their marriage in Malaysia 

The idea of getting married is all excitement and romance until you and your spouse-to-be start processing paperwork and dealing with government agencies. If this involves a great deal of stress for Filipinos marrying Filipinos in the Philippines, can you imagine how it is for Filipinos marrying foreign nationals abroad, let alone Malaysians? Malaysia is known to have stricter policies and more challenging processes regarding visa and PR applications for foreign spouses.

Read : Agony Of Foreign Spouses For PR – The Worst Cases,  Are You A Malaysian Planning To Marry A Foreigner 

Hence, I’m documenting my experience to help my fellow Pinoys and their respective Malaysian partners manage the preparation of legal documents from registration of marriage to (hopefully in 5 years) application of permanent residency (PR). This blog specifically tackles step 1 of 5 which is the registration of marriage for non-Muslims.

Trivia: Did you know that an average of 268 Filipinos marry Malaysians every year? Filipinos are more likely to marry Malaysians of Chinese or Indian descent.

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Prior to starting the process, my fiance and I conducted research on how to register our marriage in Malaysia. We created a time table and a checklist of documents required to effectively execute and manage risks. I was still working in Makati (my fiance in Kuala Lumpur) when we started securing the needed documents. This was ideal for us since there were documents that needed to be obtained and authenticated in the Philippines prior to submission to the PH Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Read: Registration Of Marriage For Non-Muslim, Legal Capacity To Contract Marriage

Phase 1 – Philippines

Step 1 – Secure NSO Birth Certificate & Certificate Of No Marriage (CENOMAR)

The easiest and most hassle-free way to secure these documents is by ordering online using the PSAHelpline.ph website.

NSO

The documents were delivered to me in 2 business days, no sweat. A copy of the birth certificate costs 350.00 PHP, while CENOMAR is 450.00 PHP. The CENOMAR is valid for 120 days from the date of issuance

Tip: Order at least 2 copies of your birth certificate and CENOMAR so you have a personal copy which always comes in handy. 

Step 2 – Visit any Department Of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Satellite Office for document authentication

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Your birth certificate and CENOMAR need to be authenticated by the DFA to ensure its authenticity. This process is otherwise known as ‘Red Ribbon’.  The process is pretty straight forward, as shown below:

  • Bring birth certificate and CENOMAR, along with a valid government-issued ID + cash
  • Advise the guard-on-duty that the purpose of your visit is ‘Red Ribbon’, and he/she will point you to the right door/window.
  • Fill out the application form.
  • Line up and wait for your turn. Depending on the queue, this may take up to an hour or more.
  • Submit your documents to the officer-on-duty.
  • Pay the fees. The cost per NSO document is 100.00 PHP for normal processing (2 business days), or 200.00 PHP for rush processing (next business day). Keep the receipt and take note of when to claim the documents.
  • Return to DFA to claim your authenticated birth certificate and CENOMAR.

Step 3 – Complete all other requirements such as:

  • Affidavit of contracting parties (click link to download) If a contracting party is between the age of 18 to 21 years old, he/she needs to submit an Affidavit of Parental Consent, to be notarized in the Philippines, or wherever the parents are. If a contracting party is between the age of 22 to 25 years old, he/she needs to submit an Affidavit of Parent Advice, to be notarized in the Philippines or wherever the parents are.
  • Duly accomplished LCCM form (click link to download)
  • Two copies of your PH Passport bio page and your partner’s MyKAD (IC)
  • Two passport-size photos (both parties)

Tip: While in the Philippines, the Filipino fiance may start applying for a Single Entry Visa (SEV) at the Malaysian Embassy in Makati. This allows the foreign spouse-to-be to stay in Malaysia for a period of 90 days in preparation for the registration of marriage. The process itself will exceed 30 days which means the foreign fiance needs to exit the country within 30 days, if the SEV wasn’t obtained prior to departure from Philippines. The SEV is also a pre-requisite in the application of a Long Term Social Visit Pass, also known as the ‘Spouse Visa’. The SEV may also be obtained while in Malaysia but at a higher cost to cover the expense of the ‘Journey Performed’ stamp.

In my case, I did not apply for the SEV at the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines because I was still employed in my country. It’s much easier for me to enter Malaysia as a tourist (visa-free entry for 30 days) then exit when needed to go back to my PH employer. The application for a SEV in Malaysia (not Malaysian Embassy in The Philippines) will be discussed in detail on my next blog.

Phase 2 – Malaysia

  Step 4 – Submit all documents to the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia

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Photo from Rappler

Address: 1, Changkat Kia Peng, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur – Operating Hours: 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

  • Register at the guard-on-duty and leave an ID.
  • Take a number at the counter and wait for your turn.
  • Proceed to the officer-on-duty and submit your documents for review. The officer will instruct you to pay RM 106.25 at the cashier for notarial services.
  • Pay the cashier. Make sure to bring cash in Malaysian currency. Credit nor debit cards are not yet accepted. Keep the receipt in a safe place.

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Side Note: Upon submission and payment of applicable fees at the Philippine Embassy in Malaysia, I returned to the Philippines. I finished my notice period to my former employer, then flew back to Malaysia in time to collect my Certificate of Legal Capacity To Contract Marriage. 

  • Return to the Philippine Embassy after 13 business days to claim your Certificate Of Legal Capacity To Contract Marriage (CLCCM) along with the other documents initially submitted.

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Tip: The PH Embassy opens at 9:00 am. Make sure to come at least an hour ahead to beat the queue. We were able to complete this process in 30 minutes. When you feel lost or overwhelmed, simply ask around. 97% of the people in the embassy are Filipinos.

Step 5 – Reside in the district of marriage with your spouse-to-be for at least 7 days

All foreign spouses are required to reside in the district of marriage for at least 7 days before the application of marriage. This can be verified through the immigration stamp on your passport. This is non-negotiable. Make sure to comply.

Tip: Review this checklist (click link) while waiting to complete the 7-day requirement. It will give you a clearer picture of what to expect and what needs to be accomplished prior to your next mission involving Malaysian Government agencies.

Step 6 – Proceed to Wisma Putra in Putrajaya to have your CLCCM stamped

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Address: 1, Jalan Wisma Putra, Presint 2, Putrajaya – Operating Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Register at the guard-on-duty and leave an ID.
  • Take a number at the counter and wait for your turn.
  • Proceed to the officer-on-duty and submit your documents for review. The officer will instruct you to pay RM 20 at the cashier.
  • Pay the cashier. Make sure to bring cash in Malaysian currency.
  • Return to your seat and wait for your number to be called to claim the stamped document

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Tip: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs opens at 8:30 am. Make sure to come at least an hour ahead to beat the queue. It took us 30 minutes to complete this process because we were early. It’s important that you start early so you have enough time to finish step # 7 on the same day.

Step 7 – Proceed to the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara (JPN) branch matching the district of your Malaysian partner as shown on his/her MyKAD

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JPN Kajang

Tip: It is IMPORTANT that you visit the JPN branch matching the district of your Malaysian partner to save time, money and energy. We learned this the hard way. We visited the JPN Headquarters in Putrajaya to submit our documents. After waiting for 3 hours, we were instructed to visit JPN Kajang instead because that’s what was reflected on my fiance’s IC. Yes, it took 3 hours to get that advice. How efficient! 🙂

Make  sure the following documents are ready for submission:

  • Malaysian partner’s IC + photocopy
  • Passport and photocopy of the bio page and latest arrival date in Malaysia
  • Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage stamped by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all other attachments (Notarized affidavit of contracting parties, duly-accomplished LCCM form, authenticated birth certificate and CENOMAR)
  • Passport-size photo of both parties
  • If applicable: divorce/annulment certificate or death certificate of previous spouse

Tip: Bring at least 2 photocopies of each document. 

  • Proceed to the Marriage & Divorce counter and hand the above-mentioned documents for review.
  • The officer will then hand you Form JPN.KC02 which you and your partner need to complete. Please note that Form JPN.KC02 is entirely in Malay language.

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If you do not understand Malay, you will require the services of a commissioner of oath to interpret and stamp the section of the form shown below. Your partner is not authorized to interpret this to you. Only then will the JPN officer accept your completed JPN.KC02 form. 

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  • Once completed, you will be asked to set a registration (otherwise known as civil wedding) date in between 21 + 1 days to 6 months from the day of JPN.KC02  form completion & submission. Registration fees amount to RM 30.00. You will be handed a sealed envelope containing documents which you should present to the solemnizing officer on the date of your registration.

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Trivia:  The registration of marriage, otherwise known as ‘civil wedding’ in the PH, is accomplished first, and separately from the cultural ceremony. Cultural wedding ceremonies (Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim etc.) may come after the registration (civil wedding). The registration is a ‘must’, while the ceremony is optional.

Tip: Prior to the registration date, review this checklist (click link) to ensure smooth execution on your big day. 

It will take you more than 30 days to complete the process, inclusive of the  wait time (13 working days) from the PH Embassy and  JPN (21 days). You may exit to a different country for a couple of days and return to Malaysia with a fresh tourist passIn my case, I treated this as an opportunity to travel so I took a 5-day vacation to Brunei (see my recent blog Why Brunei?).

Step 8 – Registration Of Marriage

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JPN Putrajaya

Registration of marriage is on a first-come, first-served basis. It’s best to come as early as 7:00 am (JPN opens at 7:30 a.m.). Tag along at least 2 reliable witnessess aged 21 and above. Witnesses must bring along their ORIGINAL MyKAD for Malaysians or passport for non-citizens. Everyone must be decently and neatly dressed. T-shirts, jeans, flip-flops and shorts are NOT ALLOWED.

Taken on our actual registration date. The solemnization took about 5 minutes inclusive of pictorial.

Congratulations, you have finished Part 1 of the series ‘Settling Down In Malaysia’! If you’ve come this far without feeling disheartened, you can most definitely conquer Parts 2 (Applying For A Short Term Social Visit Pass), 3 (Applying For Spouse Visa), 4 (Renewing Your Spouse Visa) and maybe 5 (Applying for PR)! Once I’m done going through parts 2, 3, 4 and 5 myself, I’ll publish my journey to help more foreign spouses and their respective Malaysian partners.

Read: How To Get Married In Malaysia Under 900 Ringgit

Marrying and settling down in Malaysia is not for couples who lack patience, perseverance and fighting spirit. However challenging the processes are, rising victorious through the ups and downs of the journey will absolutely strengthen your bond as a team, and you as an individual. 

  • If you found this article helpful, feel free to share (and perhaps buy me Limau Ais & Kampua Mee) 🙂 Sharing is caring!
  • All photos (except PH Embassy) are taken by yours truly 🙂

 

 

 

 

How To Get Married In Malaysia Under 900 Ringgit

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Our intimate, stress-free and symbolic civil union in Malaysia under 900.00 Malaysian Ringgit or 10,014.00 Philippine Pesos.

For some couples, planning and execution of a wedding is  a bundle of joy. While for others, it may be a bundle of STRESS! They say, the bigger the wedding, the bigger the chances of ending either stressed, disappointed or broke. 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with spending tons of hard-earned money on your big day specially if:

  1. You and your partner have the excess cash to burn; or
  2. Your parents amassed a fortune and are willing to help or subsidize the entire cost; or
  3. You’re able to find sponsors to shoulder some (or all) expenses; or
  4. You can get your money back (perhaps earn a little extra) through monetary and non-monetary gifts.

However, most of us who belong to the lower middle class of society still try so hard to live up to wedding standards we cannot afford. For what reasons? Social media ‘likes’, parental and/or peer pressure, social status, or perhaps unspoken competition with people who do not even care. Is it really worth waking up the next day wondering how to ‘live happily ever after’with a negative bank account welcoming your married life?

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Image from Pinterest

For Darven and me (my then-fiance now husband), it’s not worth it. We both share the same wedding vision which is awesome! We wanted an intimate, cheap, stress-free, & one-of-a-kind wedding. We wanted it to reflect ‘us’ as a couple – unconventional, freethinkers, interracial and frugal. Hence, to start making the vision a reality, we created a powerpoint presentation to convince his parents (of Indian descent) first by showing the big picture and rationale of our unconventional dream wedding. We know how Indians like their weddings; big, colorful and extravagant. How did our presentation go? Surprisingly easy. The only argument we had was regarding the color of my saree. 🙂

Moving forward, let’s break down the expenses on Part 1 of our dream wedding:

Note: Conversion rate used is MYR 1 = PHP 11.55 as of 21st August, 2016

1. Legal and registration fees – MYR 30.00 or PHP 346.50

One Uber ride can cost more than registering your marriage in Malaysia. As a practice, a civil wedding (otherwise called as ‘registration’) is done first prior to any cultural ceremony (Christian, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, etc). Registration of marriage is a  must, while cultural ceremonies are optional.

2. Saree – Free

Trivia: The saree is the traditional garment for women in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It is used on formal and special occasions such as weddings. The Saree symbolizes grace, sensuality and femininity in the Indian sub-continent.

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Not my actual saree – Photos from jabong.com

My saree was a gift from my parents-in-law. Wedding sarees can cost up to PHP 11,550 or RM 1,000 at the least. I’m so happy that mine didn’t come close to that amount at all. I specifically requested a simple, elegant and affordable saree, and that’s what I got. Amma (mother in Tamil) requested not to publish the price of my beautiful dress because of the huge discount we got from her friend. Thank you Appa & Amma!

3. Barong – Free

Trivia: Barong or Barong Tagalog is a traditional Filipino wear commonly worn in formal occasions such as weddings. Famous personalities who sported the Barong include U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Hollywood film-maker Quentin Tarantino.

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Not Darven’s actual Barong – Photo from juan.com.ph

Darven’s barong was my 2nd anniversary gift to him. I could’ve bought something else, then spend separately on his wedding attire, but a smart frugal woman knows better. 

We chose to wear our traditional clothing in reverse (Darven in Barong while yours truly in Saree) to symbolize marrying of cultures, pride, diversity and inclusivity.

4. Reception – MYR 440.00 or PHP 5,082.00 

We wanted to celebrate our registration (civil wedding) over a simple brunch at a Mamak-style restaurant, specifically where we 1st shared a Maggi soup and ice lemon tea (the night we first met). It’s called  NZ Curry House. However, we had to come up with a Plan B, 4 days prior to our registration due to some limitations of the mamak in terms of reservation.

Trivia: “Mamak stalls are quite famous in many parts of Malaysia, especially in Selangor and particularly in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. The mamak is extremely popular among young adults and teenagers who find it a safe place to hang out with friends during the night and also because it is quite affordable. The modern mamak stalls have a cafe aspect, which are furnished with decent seating arrangement and televisions which lets them catch the latest programs or live matches as they dine.” – asianinspirations.com.au

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Fortunately, Darven was able to find an alternative through the help of our good friend Vincent and Google. Plan B was even better. We booked an Arabic restaurant called Sham Kitchen, run by very down-to-earth and accommodating Syrians. They went out of their way to set us up an exclusive buffet table for 20 without extra cost nor GST. That’s right, we were not charged GST! The food was fantastic and our guests loved it. All for an unbeatable price of PHP 5,082.00 or RM 440.00.

5. Rings – Free

Staying true to our wedding vision and who we are, we decided to get bands that last longer than gold, silver or platinum, till death do we part. Is there such? Yes! Tattoo wedding bands! Our long-time tattoo artist and friend, Dandin Santos of The Inkside Tattoo, did our exquisite wedding rings (flying all the way from the Philippines!). We love you Dandin!

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Ring designs by Dandin Santos

6. Photography – Free

Let’s not underestimate the power of raw talent, friendship and a spare DSLR. We all have that one friend who has a knack in taking beautiful photos, but is overlooked because he or she doesn’t have a ‘name’ in the bridal industry. Guess what, tapping this often overlooked resource may just turn one person’s hobby into a lucrative career.

In our case, we reached out to our friend, Vincent, who instantly said ‘Yes’. We researched for peg shots online and sent it his way for review. The peg photos were actually not followed but I think our spontaneous shots were much better. Plus they’re original! I told  Vincent, “I don’t need 1000 photos. I just need 10-15 ‘money’ shots and I’m happy”. 😊

Do we have awesome friends and family or what?

7. Invitations – MYR/PHP 0.00

We decided to create customized electronic invitations for each of our guests. Each guest has his/her own unique wedding invite showing his/her name with a distinctive photo from countries Darven and I travelled to. Customized e-invites save money and trees, and can never be lost unless purposely deleted. Did I mention they’re also uploadable?

8. Hair & Makeup – MYR/PHP 0.00 

I’m an amateur when it comes to hair and makeup; nonetheless, that didn’t stop me from doing my own for 2 main reasons:

  1. Bragging rights for DIY-ing my hair and makeup on my wedding day.
  2. Rates on these services cost twice in Malaysia versus Philippines.

Makeup still looks good after 3 hours of direct sun exposure and sweating

    Amma put the icing on the cake by tying Jasmine and Roses on my hair in true Indian fashion.

    9. Wedding accessories/shoes (Something Old, & Borrowed) – MYR/PHP 0.00

    My wedding accessories were ‘something borrowed’. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law were kind and trusting enough to lend me their precious gold: bangles, earrings and necklaces. I’m a woman who isn’t fond of accessorizing. Buying jewelry I won’t be using a lot in the long run doesn’t make sense to me. It does pay to have ever-supportive in-laws who have a ton of jewelry. Thank you Amma and Raji! You’re the best!

    On the other hand, the shoes I wore were ‘something old’. It’s a pair I’ve had for more than 5 years. Darven did the same and gladly re-used his newer work shoes.

    10. Wedding Mehndi – Free 

    The Mehndi is not a ‘must’ but a much-welcome bonus. In Indian tradition, Mehndi or Henna is applied during Hindu weddings and festivals. It is said to be a symbolic representation of the outer and inner sun, centering on the idea of “awakening the light”. It is free because my sister-in-law happens to have a talent in Mehndi application. How cool! I didn’t know about this tradition until she presented to do the henna for me. This gesture is more than conforming blindly to tradition. It symbolizes diversity, acceptance and genuine sisterly love.

    11. Other expenses – MYR 437.00 or PHP 5,048.00 

    • My parents’ 2-way airfare – MYR 251.00 or PHP 2,900 

    The airfare was so cheap because I got lucky enough to score at a Cebu Pacific ‘Piso Fare’ promo. This was booked 5 months in advance.

    Tip: To increase your chances of getting lucky on Piso fares, check out Cebu Pacific or Air Asia’s website on major Philippine holidays.

    • Petrol expenses on paperwork processing – Approximately  MYR 100.00 or PHP 1,155.00

    This was not an expense on the registration day itself but we included it on the overall budget since it was money spent in preparation for the civil union.

    • Manicure & Pedicure MYR 86.00 or PHP 993.00

    This must be the priciest mani and pedi I’ve ever paid in my entire life. It did come with hand and foot spa, but still unreasonable for my frugal standards. I’m so used to paying MYR 17.00 or PHP 200.00 for both services inclusive of tip in my motherland. What to do? My ugly toes needed an overhaul. 🙂

    In total, we spent about MYR 867.00 or PHP 10,014.00 for our intimate, symbolic and stress-free civil union with the people who truly matter the most. Excluding item # 11, which may be considered as pre-wedding expenses, registration cost would’ve only amounted to MYR 430.00 or PHP 4,967.00. Out of the 11 items, we only spent money on 3, while 8 were free. We are firm believers of the age-old wisdom, “The best things in life are free”; or in contemporary language, “Love don’t cost a thing”. We are so happy and proud of ourselves for sticking to our vision and staying true to who are.

    There is more to weddings than extravagant dresses, lavish receptions, and unreasonably-priced videography & photography. Stripping away the unnecessary, it’s all about celebrating love, pride, unity and diversity. It doesn’t matter if you choose to spend a fortune or decide to spend wisely. At the end of the day, it’s your wedding and your money. Do whatever your heart desires, considering what your wallet can afford. 😊

    • If this article inspired you to do things differently, feel free to share! Sharing is caring!