8 Things to Remember When Traveling Abroad

Traveling abroad sounds so much fun right? Nakaka-excite isipin all the places you’ll visit, the food and you look forward to the IG worthy photos you’re going to capture. And para naman sa katulad ko na isang working mom, naka-excite din isipin that finally you can enjoy a few weeks or days off from work. Pero while excited ka, you can’t stop thinking at the back of your mind about the horror stories of having denied entry to your destination country, being offloaded and worst case, yung nakikita mo sa TV na you’ll get arrested for bringing something illegal. So for this post, we’re going to give you some tips and reminders based on our experience and some stuff we read from various sources too.

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Sipalay – DIY Budget Roadtrip

Sipalay is one of the highly suggested places to visit when in Negros. It’s is not your typical city, kind of more rural and laid back than our home city, Dumaguete. This is a must go for easy going travelers in search of laid-back stops. The place is lavished with natural resources such as their unspoiled beaches, limestone islets, hidden caves and waterfalls which are very Instagrammable. Thus, to kickoff our travels for the year 2019, this was at the top of our list. Not my first to this city but Xavy’s first. So we’re sharing this guide if you’re planning to visit Sipalay anytime soon.

HOW TO GET TO SIPALAY FROM DUMAGUETE

1. You can fly in to Dumaguete or Bacolod airport and kickoff from any of the two. But Sipalay is slightly closer to Dumaguete than it is to Bacolod.
2. From Dumaguete airport, take a tricycle (locally known as pedicab) to Ceres Terminal. You can haggle for P100 fare for the entire ride.
3. At the terminal, you can take the Sipalay bus. There’s only one (1) trip daily. Last I checked, it’s scheduled to depart at 1PM. But feel free to call the Ceres operator prior to your trip (Vallacar Transit at 035 225-9030) to confirm the schedule. Otherwise, you need to take the Dumaguete – Bayawan bus (2.5 hours).
4. At Bayawan Ceres Terminal, take the Bayawan – Hinoba-an bus (1.5 hours).
5. At Hinoba-an Terminal, take the Bacolod bound bus and get off at Sipalay (around 45 minutes).

HOW TO GET AROUND THE CITY

Passengers are dropped off at the Sipalay Bus Station beside the market. Primary mode of transportation is tricycle and motorcycles (locally known as habal-habal). If you’re staying in Punta Ballo or Sugar Beach, you can take the tricycle at around P100-200 or P50-100 with the habal-habal per person.
By the way, the dialect is Hiligaynon (Ilonggo) but locals can understand and most can speak English.
You should bring enough cash because it’s the primary mode of payment. You can find ATMS around the city though. Some resorts accept credit cards but most of the restaurants don’t.
Cellular signal is not very good in some areas and most of the hotels do not have wifi signals in the room.

WHAT TO DO IN SIPALAY

Visit Tinagong Dagat and trek to their view deck then cross the wooden and hanging bridge to Latasan Resort.
Drop by Perth Paradise Resort and swim in their infinity pool overlooking the view of the bay with islets that look like Chocolate Hills of Bohol but in the ocean.
You can go beach hopping at Punta Ballo, Sugar Beach, Nauhang Beach, Campomanes and other hidden beaches and coves.
See the caves such as Matlag Cave, Mamara Cave, Pulo Cave and a whole lot more. Please note that you need permit to get inside some of the caves.
Go scuba diving, free diving or snorkeling. The city has more than 40 dive sites.

WHERE TO STAY IN SIPALAY

There are dozens of places to stay in Sipalay, of course depending on your budget and which area you want to go.
Sugar Beach is the most popular beach in the city and is the perfect choice if you’re on a budget. There’s several restaurants and resorts in the area. One of the recommended B&B at TripAdvisor is Takatuka Beach and Dive Resort.
You can also stay at the city center. Some of the places you can stay here includes Jamont Hotel and Sealey’s Inn.
If you prefer the southern coastline, you can stay at Perth Paradise Resort or Artistic Diving Resort if you’re on a budget.
Campomanes Bay area – this is secluded and where we stayed for the night, at Bugana Beach and Dive Resort. The signal is terrible which is ideal if you’re looking to get away from the rest of the world.

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Tips from Xavy and Mom from this trip

  • Withdraw enough cash for the trip. If you plan to stay at the southern coastline, there’s no ATM in the area so make sure you have enough cash as most of the establishments don’t accept credit cards.
  • Cellular reception is not very reliable throughout the city. It’s best to call the resort prior to booking your stay.
  • Don’t be afraid to mingle with the locals. Negrenses are quite friendly and nice so don’t be afraid to make friends or ask around if you get lost.

How to apply for Australian Visa for Filipino tourists or visitors

Xavy just recently got his passport and as much as we’d like to travel internationally, we don’t have that much money. My mom recently applied for an Australian vistor visa and she was granted multiple entry valid for one (1) year and maximum duration of six (6) months. And all that was approved in a week, no medical exam and all that other stuff, all she had to do was submit the requirements online. But that was my Mom, who’s a retired government employee and a senior citizen. I don’t know if we’d get the same treatment as her.

For both of us, this is our first visa application and I was not feeling so confident because: 1) we don’t have have a lot in the bank, and 2) Xavy is an illegitimate child travelling with only one parent. Check out our blog post on things to remember for Filipino minors travelling abroad. But we persisted with the application, submitted all the requirements that were available and prayed a lot.

Anyways, for Filipinos who want to visit as tourist, to see family and friends or for purposes other than business or medical treatment, the applicable visa type is Visitor visa (subclass 600). Learn more about this visa at the Australian Immigration website. So basically this blog post is for this type of visa only. I don’t know how the application of the other visa types work.

So here’s what I prepped for the required documents (all scanned copies):

  • Passport size photo – 45cm x 35cm, white background
  • Passport – the page with the personal information (if you have the new passport, include the signature page)
  • Evidence of previous travel – scanned all the passport pages with stamps and any visa documents that’s not in your passport should also be submitted
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And for the supporting documents, the more the merrier. 😀 I mean, all documents you can provide to basically prove that you’re not going TNT over there and you’ll be financially okay during your stay. Here’s what we submitted:

  • Evidence of current employment or self-employment
    • Certificate of Employment
    • Certificate of Leave of Absence – I requested our HR to create one for me saying that I will only be out for a month after which I’m expected to report to work
  • Evidence of planned tourism activities in Australia – yes, I really made one just because! You can check it out here.
  • Family register and composition form – birth certificate issued from NSO. Check out our blog post on How to get PSA (NSO) Birth Certificate online.
  • Invitation from family, friends or organisations – fortunately, my sister is an Australian citizen, so we had an invitation and support letter.
  • Evidence of the financial status and funding for visit
    • Bank Statement – I got a copy of my bank’s statement of account. Like I mentioned, we’re not rich, my ADB was only around 30k for the past three (3) months.
    • Mortgage Document – I submitted our chattel mortgage, you should submit if you any, I feel like this is a proof that you have responsibilities in the country so you’re definitely coming back
    • Tax Document – my sister sent me their tax return
    • Payslip – my sister and I submitted both our payslips for the past 3 months
    • Certificate of Earnings – this is from my online job at Upwork

So once you got everything all set, create an account at their Immigration website and submit your application. I only created one account for both of us, it wouldn’t make sense that a six (6) year old would have his own account. When I submitted Xavy’s application, he was missing one required document (evidence of previous travel). There was a pop-up asking me to explain why he’s missing that, I just had to explain that this is his first travel. So for this visitor visa, we paid P5,364.80 each (AUD140.00). I submitted it on a Sunday and we got approved on Wednesday of the same week.

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Although we got single entry visas, we could actually stay for as long as 3 months and valid for one year. Who knows maybe next time we’ll get multiple entries!

Things to remember for Filipino minors traveling abroad

Ito yung apprehension ko eh, traveling to another country with Xavy considering he is a minor and an illegitimate. I’ve heard stories about how a consent from both parents is required if only one of the parent is traveling with the minor. Basically Xavy is legally considered illegitimate since his Dad and I are not married. Although his last name is his Dad’s because he did sign the paternity section, he is still considered illegitimate. Now because of all the child abduction and trafficking that’s happening in the country, all minors traveling out of the country regardless if illegitimate or not, they need a travel clearance issued by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). But there are exemptions as well.

I’m going to skip right through the part where Xavy is affected. He falls under the Children of Special Circumstances – Illegitimate children. The Family Code of the Philippines vests the mother with the parental authority over an illegitimate child (Article 176).

  1. If travelling with the mother, a DSWD travel clearance is not required.
  2. If travelling with a person other than the mother, a DSWD travel clearance is required.
  3. If travelling with the biological father, a DSWD travel clearance is required. However, if a Court Order has granted parental authority to the father, a DSWD travel clearance is not required.
  4. If travelling with an adult other than the mother, a DSWD travel clearance is required.

I was so worried when I filled for our Australian visa because one of the supporting documents indicated that there should be a statutory declaration from both parents giving consent for the child to visit Australia on the visa requested. I had a solo parent ID but I honestly forgot to attach it. Check out our blog post on how to get a solo parent ID. Thankfully it got approved even without those documents. Check out our blog post on how to apply for an Australian visitor visa online.

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So for other minors, here’s what you need to remember.

MINORS EXEMPTED FROM SECURING A TRAVEL CLEARANCE

The only exemptions to the DSWD travel clearance are minor children who are:

  • traveling with either parent
  • traveling with the legal guardian
  • immigrants to another country and are holding a valid permanent residency card, dependents visa, or other pass issued by another country which proves residency with parents abroad. A minor who holds a permanent residency card of another country, or a valid pass such as dependents visa/pass/identification or permanent resident visa/pass/identification card is no longer required to secure travel clearance from DSWD
  • not a Filipino citizen and are holding a foreign passport

A minor who is a Filipino citizen and living abroad but does not hold either a permanent resident visa or equivalent pass issued by another country is required to secure a travel clearance.

DSWD REQUIREMENTS FOR A TRAVEL CLEARANCE

The application for travel clearance and its documentary requirements are filed at any DSWD Field Office. The application form is available at all DSWD Field Offices and downloadable from DSWD website. The documentary requirements vary depending on whether the child is traveling alone or traveling with an adult other than a parent or legal guardian

  • For minors travelling alone to a foreign country for the first time
  1. Duly accomplished DSWD Travel Clearance application form
  2. Photocopy of either Birth Certificate or passport of the minor
  3. Written consent of both parents or the solo parent or the legal guardian permitting the minor to travel alone to a foreign country
  4. Proof of the consenting parent’s relation to the child, in one of the following forms:
    • (married parents) a photocopy of the marriage certificate of the minor’s parents
    • (legal guardian) a photocopy of the certificate of legal guardianship of the minor,
    • (solo parent) a photocopy of the solo parent identification card from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office, a Local Social Welfare and Development Office, Tallaq or Faskh certification from the Shariah court or any Muslim Barangay or religious leader
    • (if child is illegitimate) a Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO)
    • (if parents are deceased) a photocopy of the death certificate
  5. Two colored passport size photos of the minor taken within the last six (6) months
  6. The DSWD social worker may require additional documentary requirements during the assessment of the Travel Clearance application to make sure that no child shall be trafficked and that the child’s best interest and welfare is ensured.
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  • For  minors travelling for the first time with a person other than the parents or legal guardian
  1. Duly accomplished DSWD Travel Clearance application form
  2. A photocopy of the birth certificate of minor
  3. A written consent of both parents or the solo parent or the legal guardian permitting the minor to travel to a foreign country with a specific person other than them
  4. As appropriate, a photocopy of the marriage certificate of the minor’s parents or a certificate of legal guardianship of the minor or in the case of solo parents, a solo parent identification card from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office or a certification from the Local Social Welfare and Development Office of being a solo parent or a court decree of separation, annulment or divorce, or Tallaq or Fasakh certification from the Shariah court or any muslim barangay or religious leader or in the case of an illegitimate minor, a certificate of no marriage (CENOMAR) *from the National Statistics Office or in the case of a deceased parent, a photocopy of the death certificate
  5. Two colored passport photos of the minor taken within the last 6 months.
  6. Photocopy of the passport of the travelling companion
  • For minor illegitimate children travelling abroad with the biological father

A minor illegitimate child who is traveling abroad accompanied by the biological father is required to secure a travel clearance certificate as parental authority is vested only to the mother of the child, per Article 176 of the Family Code of the Philippines.

VALIDITY OF A DSWD TRAVEL CLEARANCE

A DSWD travel clearance is valid for a period of one (1) year from the date of issuance and shall be valid for multiple travels within the validity period, provided the conditions under which the travel clearance was issued have not changed. If a change in condition occurs like a change in traveling companion, a new travel clearance must be obtained.

OTHER CHILDREN OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

  • Orphaned minors who have no appointed legal guardian

The grandparents (paternal or maternal) who exercise parental authority over an orphaned minor may issue the consent even without guardianship order from the Court. But in cases where both the grandparents are deceased, the relatives or acting guardians of the minor should work for their legal guardianship over the minor.

  • Minors whose parents have marital conflict and on hold order

A minor who is the subject of ongoing custody battle between parents will not be issued a travel clearance unless a Court Order is issued to allow the child to travel abroad with either parent or authorized guardian.

A child whose name is included in the Bureau of Immigration’s watchlist of minors travelling abroad will be prevented from leaving the country.

ELECTRONIC OR FAX TRANSMISSION OF PARENTAL CONSENT

A faxed copy is acceptable. Likewise, a computer generated photo of minors and emailed documents are acceptable.

Kindly contact any DSWD Field Office for inquiries.