Winter Trip in Switzerland

Hi everyone, in this blog, I will share with you a very memorable winter holiday experience I had in Switzerland.

I had a short weekend trip to Switzerland in March. In this trip I spent most of my time in a small village called Wildhaus. Wildhaus is a high lying municipality in St Gallen canton, which is in the eastern region of Switzerland. You can get to this village by train which only takes an hour from the Zurich airport.

You will never get bored on a train trip around Switzerland. Along the way, you can enjoy a winter wonderland view of the villages and farms all covered with snow.

I stayed in Stump’s Alpenrose hotel which offers a lot of amenities such as spa where you can relax and enjoy a hot sauna after your ski activities, and their restaurant serves a wide range of Swiss and international food options. The best thing about this hotel is that it is located at the top of the village. And because of this, you can get a very picturesque view not only of the village landscape but also of the surrounding mountain range.

Here is a snap of my first morning in the village. Everything is just covered with thick snow.

On this trip, I have tried and learned to ski for the very first time. It is an absolute fun activity. Beginner’s tip, walking like a duck will be a useful skill when skiing. Below is my photo with my very patient ski instructor.

After the ski training, I tried the local drink Schumliflumli drink which is very well known in the region.

I went to Gade Lodge restaurant for dinner where I tried the local fondue. This is something you should not miss when your in Switzerland. The fondue cheese is one of the best that I had.

In summary, I would highly recommend visiting this place if first, you are looking to relax or second, if you are looking to ski in an area which is not packed with visitors and lastly, if you are looking for a local Swiss experience. Here are the other pictures I took from the trip.

How to Apply for Schengen Visa in Philippines

Schengen Visa
Do you want a trip to several countries in Europe in just one visa? Apply for Schengen Visa. You can visit as many as 26 countries in Europe if you have Schengen Visa on hand. These countries are members of the Schengen agreement which put an end to passport and border control in between their common border. So basically, Schengen area serves as a single country for international travelers.

What are the 26 countries in the Schengen area?

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland

You might also want to know: Countries Philippine passport holders can visit without VISA.

Where can I apply for Schengen Visa in Philippines?

For a visit to one Schengen state, visa applications must be lodged at the Embassy/Consulate of that particular Member State. If the visit includes more than one destination, visa applications must be lodged at the Embassy/Consulate of the Member State whose territory constitutes the MAIN destination of the visit(s) in terms of purpose or the length of stay. If your length of stay is almost the same in every country, apply at the country of first entry.

Which country would you have a better chance of getting the visa?

A recent study published in The Economists shows that France is one of the easiest countries when it comes to Schengen visa application approval. So you might want to apply at the French Embassy when you’re planning a major European trip to have higher chances of bagging that seemingly elusive Schengen visa.

When can I apply for Schengen visa?

You can apply for Schengen visa in as early as three (3) months before your planned travel. Note that this visa is valid in all Schengen States for a stay of up to 90 days within a six-month period for a visit, tourism or business.

How do I apply for Schengen visa?

All state members follow a standard procedure in processing visa application. VISA applicants have the option to apply directly to the Consulate Office or Embassy of these states in the country but they would need to schedule an appointment first through calling their hotline or sending them an e-mail. Customer Service Agents are available daily, Mondays thru Saturdays from 8am to 6pm except public holidays.

Hotline: +632 789 4904

  • For PLDT/Smart/Touchcard Subscribers 1 (909) 101- 3333
  • For Globe/Innove/Touchmobile Subscribers 1 (900) 101- 3333
  • For Bayantel Subscribers 1 (903) 101- 3333
  • 1 909 1014545 (PLDT only through landline or SMART mobile phone)
  • 1 903 1014545 (Bayantel only through landline)
  • 1 900 1014545 (Globe through landline and GLOBE mobile phone)
Hotline: (0063-2) 892-4531

How much is the Schengen Visa fee?

The visa-processing fee is 60 euros which is approximately 3,600 pesos . Children ages between 6-11 years old pay 35 euros (2,100 pesos) while children below 6 are free of charge. The fee is non-refundable even if application is unsuccessful. Payments are made at the Embassy/Consulate when submitting your application and you need to have exact change.

What are the requirements in applying Schengen visa?

1. Signed and filled up Schengen Visa application form with photo attached, plus 1 additional photo.

Photo Specification

Taken against a light grey or cream background;
Clear and of good quality;
Printed on normal photographic paper;
45 mm high x 35 mm wide in size
Taken with nothing covering the face, without sunglasses or tinted spectacles, or a head covering unless worn for religious or medical reasons. The subject should have their mouth closed (no grinning, frowning or raised eyebrows) and the applicant should be facing forwarding, looking straight ahead.

2. Valid passport with 3 months validity from the end of visa duration. Photo copy of valid and former visas, if any.

3. Cover letter explaining the purpose of your trip and detailed itinerary. If you don’t have this, you have to write one on the spot before they will accept your requirements.

4. Details of your trip

Round trip ticket reservation. Reservations only.
Itinerary of the whole duration including departure and arrival dates.
Accommodations – hotel vouchers, seriously.

If you are going stay with a French resident: “Attestation d’accueil” (delivered by the City hall where the host is residing – the original must be presented) + copy of that host’s national ID or residence permit (if citizen of a country outside the EU)

Round trip flight booking (please do not purchase your ticket unless your visa is granted; you can get a flight itinerary from most travel agencies for visa purposes)

For family visit, proof of relationship with the host (birth certificate, marriage certificate…)
The attestation d’accueil is a form needed to be presented to the City Hall with the following documents:

  • la carte nationale d’identité ou le passeport, ou la carte de résidence
  • livret de famille de l’hébergeant
  • justificatifs de domicile (EDF-GDF, facture Télécom, facture Eau)
  • titre de propriété (taxe foncière) ou de location (taxe d’habitation)
  • contrat de bail ou descriptif du logement
  • 2 derniers bulletins de salaires ou justificatifs divers de ressources mensuelles (retraite, CAF)
  • dernier avis d’imposition ou de non imposition
  • noms, prénoms de l’étranger, date et lieu de naissance, adresse exacte, n° du passeport et sa copie, copie du document justifiant le lien de parenté s’il y a lieu
  • attestation d’assurance médicale de l’hôte
  • un timbre spécifique dit « timbre OMI » d’un montant de 15 euros, il sera demandé à l’issue d’une réponse favorable. Disponible dans les perceptions et chez les buralistes.(Attention : il faut autant de timbres que de personnes accueillies sauf s’il s’agit de l’accueil d’une même famille avec des enfants mineurs).

5. Proof of employment

Certificate of employment stating monthly salary and approved leave of absence.
If self employed, official business registration for current and previous year.

6. Proof of Income

Income Tax Return
Recent Bank Certification
Photocopy of the last 3 months statement of Account of the same bank account.
If someone other than yourself is paying for the the trip, then submit financial document of the sponsor instead.

7. Identity / Marital Status:

Photocopy of First page of Passport and all relevant obtained visas
Authenticated birth certificate from NSO. If married, bring photocopy of your marriage contract.

8. Travel insurance that covers the entire duration of your intended stay with minimum coverage EUR 30,000. The medical policies must state the following points :

Medical attention and treatment will be given in case of illness or accident
The injured or ill traveller can be transported home for treatment + body repatriation in case of death
The insurance coverage is a least 30 000 euros (50 000 US dollars)
The insurance must be valid for all 25 Schengen member states which should be listed on the policy
The insurance company must be re-insured, the name of the re-insurer and his TOLL FREE phone number must be listed on the policy
The policy must allow CASHLESS SETTLEMENTS of claims. The name of the company in charge of such settlements and their toll free number must be clearly stated on the policy.

Here is a list of Accredited Travel Insurance Company in the Philippines.

  • ACE Insurance Philippines
  • Chartis Philippines Insurance, Inc.
  • Assist-Card
  • Blue Cross
  • BPI – MS Insurance Corporation
  • Fortune General Ins. Corp
  • MAA Insurance
  • Malayan Inssurance Company, Inc.
  • MAPFRE Insular Insurance Corporation
  • Paramount Life and General Insurance Co
  • PNB General Insurers Co., Inc.
  • Standard Insurance Co.
  • UCPB General Insurance Co. Inc.
  • WorldWide Travel Insurance Plans
  • Everest International Group Administrators Inc.
  • Federal Phoenix Assurance Co., Inc.

How long does it take for Schengen Visa to be released?

After submitting your documents to the Embassy/Consulate office, you will be given a reference number. Visa processing can be as fast as 5 days but usually takes 3 weeks or 15 working days.

Hope this article helped you. Do you have a question about Schengen Visa application? Feel free to leave a comment and we'll try to respond as soon as we can. Good Luck on your European tour!!!

Funny and Strange Names of Barangays, Towns and Cities in the Philippines

During our school days, we were usually asked about the historical stories behind the names of the places we live in. Philippines, for example, came from the fact the our islands were once ruled by Spain and was derived from the name of their King Philip II. Most of the name of Filipino places have a strong connection to foreign men and/or countries who were relevant to our history.

Most of them have Spanish origin like Buendia, Magallanes, Hermosa, Mercedes, Roxas, Puerto Princesa, Castilla and a lot more. Also, as a result of American ruling in the country, we had English names too. From roads like Taft Avenue, Shaw Boulevard and Mckinley Road, to district and province names like Camp John Hay, Brookespoint in Palawan, Eastwood City, Rockwell Center and Forbes Park, Adams in Ilocos Norte, Turtle Islands in Tawi-tawi, Jones in Isabela, and New Washington in Aklan. I haven't heard yet of places which sounds Japanese except for Naga City in Bicol region which actually came from the existence of narra trees in that area.

We also do have places with native origin, like Balanga, Butuan, Dapitan, Malolos, Mandaluyong, Malaybalay, Pagadian, Panabo and etc. In these native names of places in Philippines, you would find weird, strange and funny ones which would make you wonder how and why these places were called that way. I for one is interested to know the etymological stories behind these names. Do you know the origin of these names, feel free to comment and share them below:

Here is the list of barangays, towns, and cities with funny names. If you know other places, which you think should be here, do not hesitate to comment below and I will check and add them in the list:

  • Kalye Buntisan which is right after Pogi Street in Bocaue, Bulacan
  • Barangay Kapukian and Barangay Cantutang in Leyte
  • Barangay Maipis which is next to Barangay Bangag in Camiguin
  • Pulong Ebak next to Pasong Kabayo
  • Towns of Anos and Bayog in Laguna, so when asked where Bayog is: "Paglagpas mo sa Anos, makikita mo na ang Bayog."
  • Barangay Inoman and Barangay Malasin in Pozorrubio, Pangasinan

  • Gubat in Sorsogon, so when asked, "Taga san ka?" the people here responds with, "taga-Gubat"
  • There's a jeepney going to Bigte in SM Fairviewm so the barker shouts,"Bigte, bigte, Sinong magbi-Bigte dyan?"
  • Sisters Mary Convent, Barangay Pulong Diablo in Antipolo, Rizal
  • Mababang Paaralan ng Mataas in Albay
  • Barangay Hindi in Albay. So they have, "Hindi Elementary School", "Hindi Barangay Hall", "Hindi Health Center"

  • Puerto Libog in Paranaque
  • Barangay Tampalpuke in Lucena
  • Barangay Mapuke in Tarlac
  • Barrio Makeke in Batangas
  • Barangay Pulong Kiki in Aurora
  • Barangay Bayag Kabayo
  • Barangay Tulo in Calamba
  • Barangay Titi-on in Palauig, Zambales
  • Barangay Tinitian in Palawan
  • Barrio Latiti in Lucban, Quezon
  • Pantihan Street in Panghulo, Malabon
  • Barangay Walang Balahibo Ibaba in Batangas
  • Dara Bulbul in Tarlac
  • Sexmoan in Pampanga
  • Kanto Tinio in Commonwealth, Quezon City
  • Barangay Ticol in Bisa, Sorsogon
  • Barangay Masuso in Pandi, Bulacan

  • Macho Drive in Pacita, Laguna
  • Calle Pogi in Daet, Camarines Sur
  • Pogi Street in Bocaue, Bulacan

  • Lasingan in Quirino
  • Barangay Inuman in Antipolo so they have this school:
  • Lamayan Street in Sta. Ana, Manila
  • Barangay Katamblingan in Infanta

  • Barangay Maestrangkikay in Nueva Ecija
  • Barangay Bading in Guagua
  • Barangay Kabantutan in Malate
  • SM has always been in San Narciso Quezon, SM as in Sapang Matae


Inuman Elementary School Suso Elementary School

Tinitian Elementary SchoolCantutang Primary School

ECE Board Exam? What's Life After It?

If it's easy, it's not ECE. Yes, Electronics Engineering (previously Electronics and Communications Engineering) is one of the hardest engineering degree in the Philippines. I, personally, have taken this course for five years in one of the universities in the north and have passed through challenges drawing blood, sweat, and tears. Most of my friends might not believe me, but YES, I confess and admit that this course is tough and a bit complicated. Many ECE students and graduates would agree to my thought that sometimes it really is hard to fully appreciate things which we do not see or feel. Electromagnetic waves, flow of electrons in diode and transistor, these are just few examples of the things we studied and knew by heart yet we didn't see or even feel. Enough of this, I just really wanted to prove that I was once a full blooded ECE student who went through the same things an ordinary ECE student have experienced.

I don't know which kind of air I breathe today, but I just felt so inspired to write reflections about those days, before and after the exam. Four years ago, I was one of those graduates who attended review, refresher, and coaching (the most important of all) courses in review centers in Manila. To name a few, Excel, PERCDC, Edge, Powerful, ERA, these were the institutions (I've just known that there is TOP now) we have back then (based on my personal experience and my friends' insights about the review program, I would recommend the first three). In that period, I LITERALLY HAVE READ A LOT! Though, I also ended up memorizing those multiple choice type questions, and the Q&A slides presented during the coaching sessions. That was what I basically did to prepare for the board exam and get the precious license card we all have dreamt to put in our wallets. I PASSED! Most of my classmates and friends did too, but the sad thing was there were those who didn't. You might have felt awkward in greeting them the first time you see them personally, or have found it hard to find the best words to use when you chat with them on facebook.

Well that's the reality, not everyone will pass the exam at the same time. Unless, the HONORABLE Board of Examinees are so generous that they would let everyone in the same batch to pass. (See passing rate trend) This is barely possible though so let us just face it. Whether you have a license or not, there is this BIG WORLD with full of opportunities waiting for you. License is actually a plus factor when you are applying for your first job. Well, it somehow brings a sense of pride not only to you but also to your family. I, personally, have used my license and the ratings I had in choosing the job I want. I am not sure if it applies to everyone or just me that owning a license makes you a bit choosy to jobs. I am LICENSED so why would I enter this kind of job? Why would I accept that amount of salary? Did you also have these thoughts? I did and I was wrong.

I just realized that life after board exam or even graduation is about FINDING what you WANT and if you are adventurous or still a bit confused you can do this with EXPERIMENTING and EXPLORING. But always remember to take an avenue where you think you will enjoy and get inspired. There is a broad range of careers which you can choose from as an ECE graduate. You can enter telecommunications, electronics, IT, broadcasting, manufacturing, navigation, etc. You can also start a business of your own or continue your formal studies. There really are many field and companies which you can enter. In which field do you want to develop your skills? Are you an adaptable person or you are looking for a company culture which you think you will fit in and enjoy? I would say, that salary would be the last factor you should consider when you are looking for your first job. You are searching for your stepping stone, as they say, you are just starting to build a strong foundation. I know a lot of people who entered a high paying job at first but eventually quit to go to a job with lower salary. They just wanted a job which they will enjoy doing, they wanted a job where they will grow. I am not telling you not to accept jobs with good pay but consider first the career which you really wanted to pursue.  Imagine it, working in things which you enjoy, discovering new things about yourself. Wouldn't these help you grow? Try to find a career which makes you happy. And surely, MONEY will come soon.

EXPERIMENTING and EXPLORING. These are easy yet risky. By doing these, you might either land a career where you will excel, build relationship, and develop yourself. On the other hand, you might find issues in the culture, stability of and your personal development in the first companies you will be in. "I just don't think I can fit in this team culture, I even do not appreciate their values and goals", "Politics is everywhere","I am not sure about the future of this company", "I can't apply my skills here, I might need to find a job where I will be able to show off my special skills, knowledge or expertise". These are the common lines you can hear in every  company. Wherever you go, you might hear or even utter them. It is normal to hat e your job for weeks or months. You can quit your job when the going gets tough. But even if you extremely hate your job, you can do some things to make u for it. Make the most out of it. You can ask to change your job description, transfer to a different team or department and work with new people. You have the right to discuss all of these to your managers. Tell them how your work conditions are. Remember, it's also hard to find a new job in a different company. So why not find it in the same company you are in. Aside from the fact that it's easier, it will be faster for you to adapt. Doing these will also contribute to your learnings. Don't be afraid to learn something new. You need them to reach the top. You might also reach the point where moving from team to team within the same company isn't helpful because the things you want for yourself isn't there. This is the time when you need to shift your gear.

These few thoughts are too general that you can apply them even if your not an ECE. I just want to emphasize personal development which I believe is the most important. Aside from becoming more effective, it brings a sense of satisfaction in the current career you are in.

Isa na namang Pinay ang Aangat Ang Buhay, Is that what you think about Filipinas in a relationship with foreigners?

Philippines has been considered as one of the countries where most beautiful women reside. Last year (2013), the world has seen how talented and beautiful Filipinas are after winning the titles in major international beauty pageants. Their natural elegance, strong qualities and character make them very attractive not only to fellow Filipino men but also to foreigners around the world.

Pinays in a relationship with or married to foreigners are now very common in the country. Their numbers are increasing especially now that internet and social media is becoming accessible to everyone. Yahoo mail or messenger, facebook and skype are just one of the common internet channels used by Filipinas living in Philippines to meet men from other countries.

Filipinas and foreigners

Aside from finding a person they can be with to build a family , many Filipino women finds marrying a foreigner a way to get out of poverty. That's the common thinking of every Filipino. White men are rich. So everytime you see them with their partners in malls, public transpos, tourist places, or even in your neighborhood you might have these words running out in your mind, "Isa na namang pinay ang aangat ang buhay". (Another life of a Filipina will get well off). To be honest, I had these words coming out directly from my mouth when I was in the Philippines. I was thinking that these women are lucky. Having exotic beauty as their capital, they are able to enjoy the wealth of these foreign men, getting the foreign citizenship, living the happy ever after life of a princess or queen.

Last year, I flew to Ireland and met Filipinas who are married or in a relationship with Irish and other white men. Some of them met their partners through internet when they were in Philippines, while others knew their other half while working in Ireland. I have learned and realized a lot after getting to know these people, their lives and their relationships.

Cinderella's rags to riches story of Filipinas in a relationship meeting a foreigner really exists. But this is a rare case. Most Filipinas still have to work to live after marrying foreigners. This is the reality. Not all foreigners are actually rich in their country. They don't all work in the office. Some of them have to work outside in a lower type of jobs.  The foreign husbands' salary is most of the time not their wives' money. They own it. So their Filipino wives' have to find a job to share with house rent, utilities and food. They can't touch their husband's money and give it to the families they left in the Philippines. They still have to work hard, like a typical overseas filipino worker, to earn and feed their parents and siblings.

Having known this, I believed that we should not underestimate these Pinays who have chosen foreign men instead of fellow Pinoys. Yes, all they wanted is to have a better life. They are intelligent enough to use the opportunity of meeting foreigners in finding a well off life. But more than these, they are courageous, they are brave to leave the country and their families, and to have a relationship with a man raised in another culture who might misunderstood and abuse them. We should respect and understand them. Remember that most of them are not living a fairy tale. They are living in a real world like us.

TheSummitExpress Logo Making Contest, one of the fastest growing news blogs in the country recently announced a logo making contest, envisioning to improve the performance and brand of the site.

Logo Making Contest

The proposed logo for TheSummitExpress represents the simple and minimalist appeal of social media with the desired professional image of the news portal.

Color: The creator used white, gray, black and shades of blue for the favicon and backdrop. These colors are carefully selected and balanced such that it will fit the overall look and template of the site while maintaining its professional design.

Favicon: The minimalist-type favicon displays the main initials of the site, S (summit) and E (express) , both represented by the shape formed by three bars. Overlaid in these bars, are transparent curves which do not only add gloss to the icon but also represent “express” and “impeccable” news conveyance. The lowest bar is partnered with a sharp pointed tail, which aids in crafting the overall stylish and sensible look of dialogue or expression in the logo.

Font: The font style and colors used for the title are intended to be simple to maintain the professional image of the site. Each character are made to appear chiseled and sharpened to derive a superior and reputable appeal.

Banner: is one of the fastest growing news blogs in the Philippines. It has maintained a consistent high rank in Google search engine. As it continues to grow, the creator sees it to extend to as many places in the planet as possible.

UPDATE: This logo won the said competition and is now being used by TheSummitExpress in its blogging site and social media pages like twitter and facebook.

Do you like this logo and banner? We are pleased to hear from you, leave us your comments and suggestions.

How to Apply for BPI 24/7 Online Banking Service

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) recently launched its online banking service.  This service called BPI 24/7 Banking Service will allow clients to perform banking transactions anytime, anywhere.

This new banking service proves BPI's commitment in bringing convenience to its loyal clients. BPI 24/7 Banking is opened for clients to perform their transactions as fast, secure, and easy as possible for them to have time for other important activities. The time saved from traveling to a bank branch or payment center can instead be precious time spent with friends or loved ones. 

Here are the simple steps you can follow to enroll or apply in BPI's online banking service:

1. Visit the website of BPI,
2. Under the Online Banking Login portion located on the upper right portion of the site, click "Enroll Now" to register your BPI Savings Deposit or Credit account in BPI Express online.
3. A new window will appear, asking the type of account you will enroll in the service:
  • ATM-based BPI, BPI Family Savings, or BPI Direct deposit account - clients with ATM-based accounts
  •   Passbook-based BPI or BPI Family Savings deposit account  - clients with Passbook-based accounts 
  •   BPI Europe account  - clients with BPI Europe accounts 
  •   Enroll a BPI Credit Card account - clients with BPI Credit Card 
4. After selecting the account type, you will be directed to page asking whether you are located within or outside the Philippines. Clients within the country need to visit any BPI Express Teller ATM within 20 days to activate their enrollement. While those outside the Philippines need to print sign and mail the accomplished application form to complete their enrollment

5. Then, you will be directed to Internet Banking Service Agreement. Read the terms and conditions carefully and select "I Agree" or "I Disagree".

For clients outside the country, complete the express online registration form. Upon completion, tick the checkbox below to agree on the terms and conditions then click "Submit".