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.

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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

sham

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! 

    Why Brunei?

    “Why Brunei?”; that is the question.

    Prior to having my passport stamped by the Bruneian Immigration, I didn’t have a compelling answer except, “I have relatives working there”.  Brunei is dubbed as boring, slow-paced, and a country for rich or elderly tourists. There are a few articles written by travel bloggers advising to totally skip the ‘Abode of Peace’. Ironically, these not so good reviews stirred my curiosity all the more to see and experience Brunei. Four nights and 5 days might seem a VERY long time to spend in the country, but it was long enough for me to list 7 good reasons why you should consider visiting Brunei.

    Reason # 1 – It’s visa-free for Philippine Passport Holders up to 14 days

    passport.png

    The number of visa-free countries for PH passport (ranked 65th on the 2016 Global Passport Index) is scarce. One of the main considerations in travelling abroad for (most of us) Pinoys is the ability to enter a country without the hassle of visa application. Reason #1 alone can attract a number of Filipinos to book a two-way ticket to Brunei.

    Reason #2 – Free Admission on Main Attractions 

    The best things in life are free! I wouldn’t argue with the over-used adage.  The word ‘FREE’ excites the ‘cheapskate’ in me. Let me set your expectations though that the main attractions in Brunei are not your typical city attractions. Instead of gigantic theme parks, towering skyscrapers, and a bustling city life, you’ll be warmly greeted by museums, nature parks, majestic mosques and an ‘old town’ city vibe. It’s like travelling back to the 90’s.

    Here’s a list of the attractions I’ve visited.

    The Empire Hotel

    The 6-star luxurious Empire Hotel, is one of the major attractions and landmarks of Brunei. You don’t need to spend a single cent to enjoy its scenic view and grandiose architecture. For a 6-star hotel, the rates are pretty reasonable. Apart from its spacious and elegant rooms, it has several amenities which include a Jack Niklaus-designed championship golf course, restaurants, spa and cinemas. If you’re a cheapskate like me, a leisure walk around the hotel while enjoying the beautiful scenery is enough. You can also chill on the beach (for hours if you wish) while watching the fascinating sunset. Take lots of photos and pose like a rich brat for your Instagram followers. After all, it’s free!

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    Tip: Experience movies at the Times Cineplex Empire from Mondays to Wednesdays, before 6 PM, for only $4. That’s around 135 PHP at a 6-star hotel! That’s just insane! (You have to pay twice the price in PH for an average cinema)

    Trivia: 1 Bruneian Dollar (BND) is equal to 1 Singaporean Dollar (SGD). These 2 currencies can be used interchangeably in Brunei and Singapore.

    Royal Regalia Museum

    museum

    The Royal Regalia Museum houses impressive exhibits centering the life of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. Exhibits include photos of the Sultan from childhood to present, artifacts used for royal ceremonies, crowns embedded with jewels, and gifts to the Sultan from prominent world leaders.

    Tip: Cameras and cellphones are not allowed in the main gallery and need to be deposited in the locker. The lobby is the only area allowed for picture-taking.

    Borneo Manuscript Collections Gallery

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    In case you thirst for more history and culture, walk approximately 70 steps from the Royal Regalia Museum to reach the Borneo Manuscript Collections Gallery. Exhibitions include records of the Royal family tree, Brunei’s old photographs and history, records of Japanese occupation in Borneo, and Borneo manuscript collections. Take time to read, understand and appreciate the cultural immersion. After all, no one’s rushing on this side of the world.

    Istana Nurul Iman

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    Also known as The Palace or the official residence of His Majesty. The Palace is accessible to the public on the celebration of Hari Raya. Otherwise, you may enjoy the view from the outside like I did. The guards are polite and friendly. They allow you take photos of the main gate, and insert your hands in between the grills to take better shots of the Palace.

    Jerudong Park

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    Jerudong Park is the world’s 1st free amusement park (at least on the first few years of its operations in the 90’s). Entry is free to the general public but guests have to buy tickets to be able to use rides and attractions.

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    The amusement park is almost deserted, I can’t help but blurt out “Is this an amusement park or a memorial park?” (haha!).  You’ll never see an amusement park as lonely as Jerudong Park, which is actually again, what makes it worth seeing.

    Tip: Jerudong Park will start charging for entry at $2 per person from August 11, 2016 onwards.

    Reason #3 – Peaceful Atmosphere & Friendly Locals

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    True to its title as ‘The Abode Of Peace’, the country is peaceful and generally safe. How safe? Safe enough that police men do not carry firearms at all. You can walk around without fear of being pick-pocketed or mugged. As a visiting Filipino, it’s refreshing to see that traffic jams are non-existent and pedestrians ALWAYS have right of way. The motorists are polite and law-abiding.

    tasek lama

    The locals are warm, friendly and can speak surprisingly good Tagalog. While trekking at Bukit Sarang Helang, at least 6 locals proactively engaged in small talks with us. Bruneians can easily distinguish Pinoys from other South East Asians. A local hiker even impressed me with his Tagalog by saying “Pwede ba kita pakasalan? Ikaw lang, wala nang iba”. (Translation: Can I marry you? No one else but you) Nice try ‘kuya’, I’m already spoken for. 🙂

    Reason #4 – Mosque-Hopping

    You’ve heard of bar-hopping, mall-hopping and island-hopping. But have you ever heard of Mosque-hopping? Neither have I! It’s a different kind of adventure not many of your friends will ever experience in a lifetime. Tourists are welcome to visit the mosques but must strictly observe Mosque Etiquette.

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    Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

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    Jame’Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque

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    Airport  Mosque

     

    Reason #5 – Beautiful Sunsets

    Who does not love beautiful sunsets? I see plenty of majestic sunsets in my homeland but there’s something about Brunei sunsets that’s so beguiling. Must be the clearer skies as a consequence of low pollution. In fact, Brunei ranked as 4th on the Top 10 Countries With The Cleanest Air In The World in October 2014.

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    Kampung Ayer – Water Village

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    Kampung Sengkurong

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    Empire Hotel

    Reason #6 – Nature & Lush Greenery

    Make sure to bring your running or trekking gear along when visiting Brunei. Apart from its oil reserves, the kingdom is rich in tropical rainforests.  If you’re a hiking junkie, Brunei is your paradise.

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    Out of the 14 featured recreational parks on bruneitourism.travel we were able to explore Tasek Lama and Bukit Sarang Helang.

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    Reason # 7 – 13 Jollibee Branches      

    Jollibee Yayasan

    For a tiny nation with a population of over 430,000, having 13 Jollibee branches is pretty wicked! Jollibee is bigger in Brunei than Mc Donald’s (with only 2 branches). I couldn’t contain my excitement when I saw a Jollibee logo and delivery number on the sidewalk. Judging by the number of Jollibee branches in Brunei, you know that you have a lot of ‘kababayans’ residing in the country. 

    With beautiful Pinay OFWs and tourists At Muara Beach

    The Downside of Travelling In Brunei

    While there are a number of good reasons to travel to this kingdom, there are not so exciting things that you should be made aware of as well.

    Transportation  I was lucky to have relatives host me in Brunei, if not, I would’ve been figuratively dead. Why? One word – TRANSPORTATION. Almost everyone owns a car in Brunei. Buses are very rare. In my 5-day visit, I got the exceptional opportunity to see 2 buses. I was so thrilled, I took photos of the (pink) bus! Airport taxis are expensive at $3 flag down rate and $0.55 add-on per kilometer.

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    The elusive pink bus can be seen once every 60 minutes.

    How did I manage? My ever-helpful cousin led me on to a secret which I’ll share with you as well. She hooked me up with ‘Kuya Rands’ a.k.a. ‘Bae ng Brunei’. Driving (Pinoys in need of transportation) is not his primary source of income. He is an experienced salesman married to a Bruneian. His rates are very reasonable at $3 per destination, per passenger. Depending on the distance, it may increase up to $5. That’s way cheaper than the average cab fare. He’s genuinely helpful, entertaining, and has a readily available OPM (Original Pilipino Music) playlist.Should you need leads on contact details, feel free to send me a private message.

    rands.jpg

    Kuya Rands is in there, probably smiling from ear to ear.

    Zero Nightlife – There are no clubs, bars, KTV’s, nor establishments that sell alcohol in Brunei. Unless you’ve officially crossed over as a ‘Tita of Manila’, this wouldn’t be a problem.

    Pasar Gadong Night Market

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    This is pretty much one of the most happening places at night.

    The Verdict

    Overall, Brunei is a country worth experiencing. It is one of a kind. Comparing her to Singapore, Malaysia or Indonesia is like comparing Apples to Oranges. To appreciate Brunei, one must understand that what makes it ‘boring’ and dull is what actually makes the country charming, unique and intriguing. In a fast-paced and increasingly stressful world, Brunei is undeniably a much needed retreat and  a genuinely peaceful escape.

    • If this article inspired you to include Brunei in your bucket list, please feel free to share! Sharing is caring. 😊

     

    NAIA 3 Hacks

    A quick guide for Pinoys travelling abroad on how to complete the process from ‘check-in to  immigration interview’ in less than 20 minutes

    In the past 24 months I’ve boarded at least 20 international flights to several countries in Asia and I’ve done so with much ease and efficiency. By ‘efficiency’, I mean getting to the boarding gate in 20 minutes or less, from the time I get myself and my luggage out of an Uber car.

    If you’ve tried departing from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) terminal 3 onward to an overseas destination, you would know that this process may take at least an hour on a lucky day. On the other hand, when everything seems to go wrong, it may take a couple of hours (due to long lines and wait time) which can lead to missing your flight or killing the happy travel vibe. This is highly avoidable.  Let me share with you my very own ‘NAIA 3 Hacks’ so we can all enjoy a stress-free experience from web check-in to boarding.

    Before we get started, here are a few reminders on the scope of this travel hack:

    • It’s applicable at NAIA 3 (NAIA has 4 terminals), which services the following airlines: Cebu Pacific,AirAsia Zest, Tigerair Philippines, All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, KLM, Emirates, and Singapore Airlines.
    • It’s for Philippine passport holders boarding international flights for the purpose of vacation, leisure or holiday (assuming that the passenger has the travel documents and /or applicable visa handy).
    • It focuses mainly on airlines I frequently use to travel which are Cebu Pacific and Air Asia

    Now that we’re done setting expectations, let’s move on to the meat of the blog, shall we?

    Step 1 – Web Check-in

    Duration: Approximately 3 minutes

    webcheck

    The invention of the web check-in feature is one of the best things invented for travellers, yet it is still underutilized. By checking in online prior to your departure date, you can avoid the long queue at the airport counters and also send a confirmation to the airline that you’re coming. This prevents them from selling your seat to someone else at the last minute. After checking in, make sure to print (and bring!) your boarding pass.

    boarding pass

    If this is your first time doing this, I’ve compiled some Web Check-in FAQs from the websites of leading low-cost airlines at NAIA 3 for your reference:

    Cebu Pacific Web Check-in

    AirAsia Web Check-in

    Tiger Air Web Check-in

    Step 2 – Drop off at Gate Number 6

    Duration: Approximately 3 minutes to get in

               gate 6

    You got it right, that’s Gate 6 of the departure area. Why Gate 6 when you can get off at gates 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5? I have 3 reasons for that:

    1. The queue is longest at Gates 1 and 2, longer at gates 3 and 4, short at gate 5, and almost none at Gate 6. This will save you another 10-20 minutes.
    2. Gate 6 is the only gate that accepts non-passengers, so if your significant other, family, or friends are sending you off, then they can easily enter the same gate with you.
    3. Lastly, the Travel Tax counters are situated in between Gates 5 and 6, making it more convenient to proceed to Step 3.

    Step 3 – Pay Travel Tax First

    Duration: Approximately 5 minutes

     travel tax

    Most passengers skip this step and proceed directly to the check-in or baggage drop counter. Wrong move. I’m 100% sure that the airline attendant will advise you to PAY THE TRAVEL TAX FIRST. If you ‘web checked-in’, you may not feel the impact of this blunder. However, it may cause a great deal of inconvenience and stress if you’re checking in normally (and in a hurry) as you have to brave the long lines, only to be advised in the end to line up at the travel tax counter. This can be very much avoided when the 1st business you attend to upon entering the airport is paying the travel tax. In most cases, passengers of international flights pay the full rate for economy class which is 1,620 PHP. TIEZA accepts payment in cash or credit card.

    The complete travel tax matrix is as follows:

    matrix

     Step 4 – Proceed To Baggage Drop/Web Check-in Counter

    Duration: Approximately 5 minutes

    This is under the premise that you’ve performed web check-in. The baggage drop/web check-in counter is different from the normal check-in counters. The standard check-in counters generally have longer queues, while the baggage drop/web check-in counter will have about 2-3 people waiting in line at an average.

    Step 4 is applicable to all Cebu Pacific passengers, regardless if you’re done with web check-in, and Air Asia voyagers with check-in luggage. If you’re flying Air Asia with hand-carry luggage (7 kg or less) you may skip this step and immediately proceed to step 5.

    The attendant will look for the following: travel tax receipt, printed boarding pass, and return ticket. In exchange, the attendant will hand you the departure card, luggage claim tags and/or boarding pass. While walking to the immigration counter, you may start filling out your departure card (make sure you have a pen handy) to save more time.

    departure

    Step 5 – Move On To Immigration Interview

    Duration: Approximately 5 minutes

               immi

    Once you’re done filling out the departure card, head to the immigration counter with the shortest queue. Take the short line as a hint that the immigration officer (IO) is efficient or perhaps in a hurry. Whichever it is, it’s a good sign that he/she is not in the mood for too many questions. Hand over your passport and departure card for examination.

    For pleasure or vacation purposes (1st option on departure card), the IO normally asks the following questions:

    1. Where do you work?
    2. Do you have a work ID?
    3. How long will you stay in _________?
    4. Do you have a return ticket? May I see it?

    I have not selected any other option apart from ‘Pleasure/Vacation’, hence the questions asked were not difficult nor invasive. Immigration interviews tend to be easier when traveling within ASEAN or Asia. Questions vary but it will largely depend on the information you write on your departure card, the country you’re intending to visit, how you project yourself (yes profiling happens) and/or the mood of the IO. Additional documents may be required for validation such as proof of income, invitation letter, travel itinerary, etc. For more tips on managing immigration interview risks, you may read 7 Things To Remember To Avoid Being Offloaded from Rappler.

    Good to know: Around 40 passengers get offloaded daily from their flights.

    Update on Government Employees: Make sure to bring a travel endorsement, stating the country of destination, purpose and duration of leave, approved by the head of your division. Apparently, this is a must for Pinoys working or holding office in the PH government sector. We learned this the hard way when my father was almost off-loaded by immigration even after bringing pertinent documents such as proof of income (payslip and certificate of employment). Luckily he got his colleagues and boss to send a soft copy of the signed endorsement on the spot via FB messenger. That was a close call! He almost missed my wedding!

    After the immigration interview, head to the final x-ray scan prior to boarding. Keep your senses alert and eyes glued to your luggage before and after it passes the scanner. Take your belongings as fast as you can right after the scanning process. You don’t want to be the next Laglag Bala victim do you?

    Step 6 – Chill At Your Designated Boarding Area

    boarding gate

    Now is the best time to chill, grab a bite and a cold drink as a reward for efficiently going through the process. All you need to do is sit back, relax and wait for your boarding announcement. So how much time should it take to complete the entire process from the time you enter Gate 6? Approximately 18 minutes! If you still spend more than 20 minutes to complete this, then you have some work to do in time and risk management. Next time you fly international at NAIA 3, do yourself a favor and put this hack into practice.