I’m Sorry Will You Forgive Me? (updated)

Misibis Bay Review Part 1: The Resort and the room | Legazpi, Albay

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For our late anniversary celebration, my husband and I decided to go to my grandfather’s hometown in Legazpi Albay. We were so happy that Misibis Bay had a promo! We’ve wanted to visit Misibis Bay but we wanted to wait … Continue reading

3rd Anniversary at Minami Saki, Astoria | Review & Reflections

Lessons from a 3 Year Old

How to Apply for Schengen visa / Spanish visa with a Philippine passport (updated)

UPDATED as of March 2, 2017 *Thanks to the comment of a guest, the new Spanish visa can be applied thru Philippines BLS Spain: https://ph.blsspainvisa.com/ and NOT thru VFS anymore.

Submission Timings:

07:00- 11:00 am (Monday – Thursday)
07:00- 09:00 am (Friday)

Passport retrieval time:

14:00 – 16:00 (Monday – Friday)

Address:
First Maritime Place,
7458-60 Bagtikan St. San Antonio Village,
Makati City, Philippines

Phone: +632-841-55-60 / 61
Email: info.mnl@blshelpline.com

It was in 2011 that I first applied for a Spanish visa for the World Youth Day (WYD) held in Madrid.  During that time the process was a bit different since the church organizers applied for us delegates. It was also different since I was single and employed then. There wasn’t any appearance and we weren’t required to have our fingerprints scanned. It was pretty much smooth and easy. We just submitted documents and later on, voila! A Spanish visa.

Because of the WYD experience, it was my husband’s dream and mine to travel and visit Spain and reunite with my foster family. Last year December 2014, I have been receiving emails of discounted airfare, around 33% discount. We also received news early this year that my foster mom will be having a baby! It was so exciting!! :) Since the airfare was discounted, the value of euro is low compared to before, my papi Cefe and mami Juani are having a baby, though visiting Spain is a long term goal, we decided, maybe 2015 is the year.

We prayed about it but then between January and May 2015, the airfare went back to its original price which was too heavy for both of us. I was asking God and praying to Him for His will that if it is His will, the airfare will be more affordable and go back to its discounted price. We waited and God answered. Last June 2015, the airfare was discounted and back to the 33% discount! We instantly booked it by faith. By faith because the tickets cannot be refunded since it was a promo fare, and we didn’t have a visa yet! The visa must be applied 3 months before with no assurance that we will be approved.

They say that applying for Schengen visa is relatively easy compared to US visa but as I have been reading in blogs, some still get denied due to some unspecified reason. And this time I felt that there may be some difficulty since I wasn’t technically employed but I was working as a financial consultant and had my income. I am not technically considered a full time housewife either that my spouse can vouch for and support my trip. Later on and good thing that my husband and I have already adjusted our ITR based on our married status and our respective income.

We checked out the travel fair last July to see if a travel agency can assist us in applying for the visas. But as we asked around, we decided that we can do it on our own. We went to the VFS website which stipulated all the requirements we had to submit. I then booked an appointment in the website for September 3.

June – July 2015 – Pre-VFS Appointment

Travel Insurance. Prior to the appointment, we had to get a Blue Cross Travel Insurance (one of the accredited insurance by Schengen visa) which is a requirement in the visa application.

I called Blue Cross and they gave us an application form which I had to answer and fill out. I took a photo and sent it back to them. As they received our application form, they gave us a reference number which we will use to pay in their BDO/BPI/Metrobank account. We paid around 36 Euro each = Php 1,848.96 each that time for the Travel Insurance. We had a  bit of a challenge because they said we should receive it in 2-3 days. However it took 4 days! I called Blue Cross on the second and third day to follow up which I found out there were courier delivery problems and we received the Insurance finally on Day 4. It was a good thing that I called because I found out that they archived our insurance policy already due to their delivery problems.

Documents we prepared were the ff.

I prepared one for me and Jason plus one photocopy of each document:

  • Duly accomplished Schengen Application Form with 2 passport sized photos. (I didn’t leave any blank, for those that don’t apply I answered N/A). I submitted 1 Original and 2 Photocopies as required.
  • Cover Itinerary. It was recommended by our friend Vince. It was helpful to me personally since I can already plot our trip. He recommended the website, Rome2Rio. I used this format because I was OC. At the end of the page we also signed atop our printed names.

Screenshot 2015-10-19 15.23.45

  • Original & Valid Passport. I photocopied first and last page and all pages with stamps and visas.
  • Old Passports. I photocopied first and last page and all pages with stamps and visas. This included my Schengen Visa in 2011.
  • Original Bank Certificate. I got mine for Php 100 at BDO.
  • Other Investment Certificate. I submitted the original and a photocopy, they just got the photocopy. 
  • Investment Statement for the past 6 months. In support of my investment certificate that it was active.
  • Credit Card Photocopy. I photocopied the front and back of a visa / mastercard credit card.
  • Credit Card Statements for the past 6 months.
  • 2014 ITR Photocopy.
  • Travel Insurance. Travel Insurance with a coverage of 30,000 euros. Ours was named Royal Prestige plan in Blue Cross.
  • (Husband’s) Business permit, Business Registration photocopy. Since my husband was self-employed.
  • (Mine-Financial Consultant) Certificate of Creditable Tax Withheld at Source of 1 Year. I submitted this as proof that I was a financial consultant at Prulife UK. This is provided by the company quarterly.
  • Confirmed Airline Booking & Itinerary. Flight Reservation is acceptable but for us since we booked and paid a promo fare with Etihad, it was pretty much definite and final.
  • Confirmed Hotel Reservations. I booked with agoda.com and booking.com. I reserved and confirmed the booking using my credit card but it can be reversed. Make sure to book it in Peso! What I forgot to do was charged it in USD instead of PHP so the amount was still converted. When I had the amount reversed in my credit card, I lost a few pesos because of the currency conversion.
  • NSO Marriage Certificate. 

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September 3, Thursday – VFS Appointment 

VFS Address: Spain Visa Application Centre Manila, Mezzanine Flr, Ecoplaza Bldg., Don Chino Roces Ave. Extension Makati City.

Our schedule was at 7:45AM, we arrived at 6:30AM. There was already a line at that time for those who had an appointment and the walk-ins. The far left was for walk-ins, the 2nd line was for those applying for Spanish visa, the rest I can’t remember but the security guard was the one assigning and fixing the lines.

A few minutes past 7, we were ushered in. We left our phones in the car, but we forgot to bring a pen! Bring a pen, you’ll need it to answer the feedback survey and details of address where the visa will be sent.  At the reception, the officer checked our documents then returned it to us along with a number to bring into the other room.

When our number was cued, though they provided a seat while submitting the documents, I couldn’t sit down as the docs to be turned over were really a lot. I also organized and  them into Original-photocopy, original-photocopy, original-photocopy labeled by a post it.

Docs

.I should have organized them into 2 only – a compilation of the original and a compilation of the photocopies because that’s how the officer separated my docs.

After, I paid the following fees:

Visa Fee: Php 2910

Logistic Fee: Php 970

SMS Fee: Php 120

Courier Fee: Php 370

We could have saved in the SMS fee because we received an email anyway which is exactly what we received via SMS. The email even arrived earlier than SMS, and the status can be checked in the VFS website. But anyway…

After which, we had our fingerprints scanned. It took me several minutes, Jason thought there was an officer interviewing me! It turned out that the lines in my finger were too light it can’t be read by the scanner.

I asked the officer if I will be required to have an interview. She said that usually the consul requires interviews for first timers but it is still their discretion to require an interview for 2nd timers. But she also said that if I don’t receive my passport in 2-3 days and if I don’t receive any notice, I automatically need to be interviewed.

September 3, Thursday – VFS Appointment 

On that same day, I received an SMS and and email from VFS stating,

Visa application has been dispatched to the Spain Consulate – General, Makati City on September 3 for processing and assessment. 

Jason received a notice that he was required for interview and that he may go to the Spanish Embassy from Mon-Thurs 8AM

September 8, Tuesday

I received an SMS –

Processed visa application has been couriered to you via 2GO. You will receive your passport in 24-48 hours. 

September 9, Wednesday

I received my passport and stamped on it was the Schengen Visa! :)

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September 10, Thursday – Spanish Embassy for Interview

Spanish Embassy Address: 5th Floor ACT Tower
135 Sen. Gil Puyat Avenue
1227 Makati City
Metro Manila, Philippines

We arrived early maybe around 7AM and parked in Starbucks, we had to eat there of course. Jason fell in line at around 7:30AM and along with others they had to write their names on a sheet of paper which will determine their line number.

Jason had to wait until 9AM I think and he was asked the ff questions:

How long will he be staying? What was his business? etc.

He returned to Starbucks where I waited at around 10:30AM.

September 14, Monday –  Post Interview

Jason received an SMS –

Processed visa application has been couriered to you via 2GO. You will receive your passport in 24-48 hours. 

September 15, Tuesday

Jason received his passport and the Schengen visa looked back at us as if to say, Hola Espanya!

For us both, the process took around 2 weeks.

I can only thank God that He answered our prayer on discounted flights, visas approved plus everything in between and gave us the opportunity to visit my foster family again! The last time I flew to Spain on my birthday August 8, 2011, I had jitters and I had the stomach flu but I pushed thru. So now we’re praying that we stay healthy and we enjoy our honeymoon and reunion in Spain. Click here for our Spain trip.

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*Kindly note that I am not a representative of VFS or BLS and not an employee of the spanish embassy. Please refer to the official websites for the official documents needed. This blog is based on experience only.

Post VFS Application at ChopStop

Post VFS Application at ChopStop

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When we support our husband’s ideas

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5 Things I appreciate about YOU in Year 2

The Unintentional Disconnector

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How I Met My Husband

Last Thursday I delivered my Advanced Speech Project #2 of the Storytelling Manual in Toastmasters entitled, “How I Met My Husband”.

Just a side note, In Toastmasters International, once we accomplish the Basic Speech Projects (BSP) to get our Competent Communicator (CC) norm, we move on to the Advanced Speech Project (ASP) to get our norm of Advanced Communicator Bronze, Silver, and Gold (ACB, ACS, ACG) recognized in all Toastmasters worldwide.

For my husband’s sake and mine, I decided to write it down so when we get the lapses, we can look back and check what really happened. :p

Some details were omitted when I delivered them in Greenhills Prime Toastmasters (my home club), but anyway, more or less here went my speech.

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How I Met My Husband

If you’re a regular attendee of our club, you’ve heard the story of how Jason and I met probably a thousand times from Jason himself. But let me share with you my side of the story. The real story.

So this was what really happened.

8 Years Ago, I experienced my very first heartbreak. It was a rainy July Monday – the perfect day to get your heart broken.

As I rode the car on my way to school, I looked outside and a tear fell from my right eye. Have you ever experienced a heartbreak? You feel unloved, unappreciated and unwanted. You feel devastated and frustrated.  Especially when you think of the past – those happy moments, and the future – what could have been.

I was moping in my heartbreak and I felt my world crumbling down. Until my friend, let’s call him Jez (Because that’s his real name), told me he knew someone who gives love counsel because that person has also given him some advice.

I was curious who he was. Jez invited me to go a friend’s house where we could possibly meet the “Love guru”. As I was in that house, I heard Jez talking to someone over the phone in Chinese. It sounded something like this, (insert Hokkien here :p) but seriously it sounded as if that person was coming over.

After a few minutes, the door finally opened. I saw a man wearing a white shirt and sweatpants. I told Jez, “Is this the Chinese guy? But he looks Korean!” (intended for storytelling purposes, not what I actually said :p).

We were then introduced to each other, Gia this is Jason, Jason this is Gia. I was so eager to share my predicament with Jason. I wanted my problem to have a solution and be over. So over merienda, I grabbed the opportunity to be seated next to him.

Without any hesitation or reservations, I shared with him in detail what happened why we broke up. “Yesterday, we were just texting, and he suddenly broke up with me. What should I do? Is something wrong with me?”. He was listening intently and nodding his head like this. At that moment I felt understood.

Soon it was time for us to depart. We all rode in Jason’s car and he dropped us off one by one to our destination. Before I went down, He asked me, “Gia, I’ll get your number okay?” In Filipino, “Gia, kunin ko number mo ha?” .

When I got home, beep beep. A text message. It said, “You’re too pretty to frown”.

And suddenly, my heart beat beat so loud.

2 days after, we saw each other again. Jez invited him to watch his volleyball game in Ateneo but somehow Jason ended up jogging with me during my fencing training days (in his polo shirt, jeans and fancy sneakers). As we jogged, we continued to converse. Soon our friendship blossomed into romance, and as they would often say, the rest is history.

At present that guy who made me smile after a heartbreak, is now my husband of a year and a half and since we got married I’ve never stopped smiling, frowning and smiling again.

God has a purpose for everything and my heartbreak had a purpose. (Sometimes when Jason and I would try to figure out if we would ever meet if not for that moment, we realized that maybe we really won’t. We had very different sets of friends and our networks do not coincide with each other.)

As I look back, I learned that I wouldn’t know what pure joy is if I didn’t experience pain and sadness. I wouldn’t value relationships if I continue to think that they last forever and are permanent. I wouldn’t know what it means to be whole if I’ve never been broken.

Love is really a funny thing… especially if you love a funny guy. And I can relate with what Jason Mraz said, “it’s nice in this life we’ve got each other, (he) is right beside me, more than just a partner or a lover, he’s my (counselor and) friend.”

Heartbreaks truly aren’t the end, sometimes it’s just the beginning of something new, something better.

8 years ago I had my heart broken.

But 8 years ago, I also met the man whom I learned to love.

And that’s how I met my husband.

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Forget Me Not