phone

Indonesian Immigration

“Kapuso Mo Jessica Soho” was being shown on GMA PinoyTV (a Filipino Television station) while I was busy fiddling my phone. I was barely looking on the screen and half listening when one of their segment caught my attention.

It’s about a Filipina who was suspected as a drug mule and was held by the Indonesian immigration for several hours. That brought back a somewhat similar (but not quite) incident that happened to me when I went to Batam, Indonesia to accompany my brother’s family for a day tour.

The Indonesian immigration official thought that I was using the trip as a form of exit in order to get my passport stamped with another month to stay in Singapore. He led me to an office for an “interrogation” in which I calmly explained that legally, I’m allowed to stay in Singapore for a maximum of one-month after the cancellation of my work pass.

I further mentioned that I’m going back to the Philippines in three weeks time, showed my flight itinerary, and the cancellation of my work pass. Unfortunately, I don’t have the letter that states that I can stay in Singapore for one-month.

As a result, the immigration officer was eyeing me like I’ve done something horrible and I felt like he’s silently telling me that I’m a threat to the national security. Ok, I was paranoid… but that’s how I felt when he was looking at me. The little tigress in me wanted to scratch his face and scamper away. However, my Philippine passport reminded me not to act like a neanderthal… hence, I controlled my boiling temper and met his eyes with a cool and composed aura.

passport

I informed the officer that I need to hustle because my relatives were waiting for me and I don’t want to be the cause of delay of our one-day package tour. To speed up the process, I seek permission to use their internet connection so that I can show the information (found in the Ministry of Manpower website)  needed to clear the air. Sadly, the internet connection sucks to the highest level! 😦

The immigration officer can’t seem to stand my incessant query as to why they don’t have internet connection so he referred me to another immigration officer. The second immigration officer led me outside and apologized for the poor “nonexistent” Internet connection. I looked at him with “it’s absolutely bizarre!” plastered on my face.

We went outside to check if the signal is better. Using his blackberry, we were able to find a hotspot but the speed was terribly sloooooow. After half an hour, I was still stuck in the Immigration area and by then, the tour guide appeared. I explained the situation and expressed my exasperation about the Internet connection in that port. The immigration officer seemed to take it as a cue and went to look for a computer with a “stable” connection. After 15 minutes, he led me to a different office and told me to use the laptop that he borrowed.

In less than two minutes, I showed the Ministry of Manpower website and the section which states that I can stay in Singapore for 30-days. The first officer had a serious look on his face while stamping and returning my passport. I was grinning mischievously and triumphantly while I took back my passport. Thank goodness the issue was handled in a mature fashion otherwise I could have been deported if I allowed the barbaric side of me to control the situation. Ha!

james

James is my 6-year old adorable and quickwitted nephew who taught me how to play beyblade, Wii, and Xbox. He also wanted to teach me how to play Bakugan but I kept giving excuses. :p

james & pinky

In any case, below are some of his cute funny moments:

Credit Card
James: Mom, can I borrow your credit card?
Mom: Why James? What do you need it for?
James: I want to buy toys for free.
Mom: What do you mean for free?
James: Because if you use a credit card, you don’t spend money. You just swipe the card! You should use it more often Mom.

Can you believe it? He already had that concept at such a young age. omg!
Note: It was later on explained to him that the credit card is paid through the bank.

Phone
James: Hey Tita, why are you always using your phone?
Tita (TheCuriousMe): Because you’re always using my laptop James. I’m using my phone to surf the internet, chat, browse facebook, listen to music, watch videos, and write articles for my site.
James: Is it a phone laptop?
Me (TheCuriousMe): Yes James.

James stopped talking and was in deep thought for a moment. Then he suddenly grab his Nintendo DS and dash off to the bathroom. Maybe to internalize how “phone laptop” works. I’m sure he will figure it out when he’s few years older.

School
Me: James, will you be in Grade 5 next school year?
James: No, I will be in Grade 2.
(Note: He’s currently in Grade 1.)

Me: How come? Can’t you choose? What if you want to be in Grade 6?
James: That can’t be. I need to pass through grade by grade.
(Note: His expression is really serious and he sounds like we are discussing a very crucial topic)

I just smiled. Another lesson from James eh? To sum it up, we can never climb Mount Everest in just one day. We can never move a mountain with one push. There’s no shortcut. It should be taken one step at a time. Aja!

Moreover, one thing that he can’t live without is Pinky! It’s a pink stuff toy that was bought before he was born. His Mom thought she will give birth to a baby girl but it turned out that it’s a boy! Sans James and Pinky are like twins, simply inseparable!

That’s my nephew, James. Isn’t he adorable?

budget

It was definitely the lowest point in my life when I went to Singapore (see related article o.f.w. journey (part 1 of 2) and o.f.w. journey (part 2 of 2)). During that time, I was under emotional turmoil, physically dead beat, mentally exhausted, spiritually down, and financially unstable.

Prayers helped me a great deal to be optimistic about life even though I was in crisis and in a tight budget. During my first 6-months in Singapore, I painstakingly jot down ALL my daily expenses in order to control my cash flow. I created my own template in Microsoft Excel and categorized each expenses.  It helped me monitor my expenses on groceries, transportation, phone bill, rent, internet, cable, electricity, and water.

At that time, I lived in cash and NETS (payment via the ATM card) basis. I’m the kind of person who lives within my means and habitually think twice before buying things. I routinely ponder if it’s a necessity or a luxury. One more thing, I opted not to use my  credit card otherwise I will be a dead meat!

I used to buy fish, chicken and vegetables and normally cooked Filipino food like paksiw, sinigang, tinola, adobo, torta, fried fish or chicken, boiled vegetables, etc. I mixed and matched whatever I have in my stocks just to have a variation.

The funny thing was, I customarily count the fish or chicken and divide it by 3 or 5. In that way, I can have fish or chicken for three days or five days. Of course, vegetables will be my dish in between those days. Healthy food is a must because it’s expensive to get sick. I do have noodles and canned goods in my stock but it’s for contingency measure only.

My housemates treated me well and always made it a point to lighten up my mood. Furthermore, they used to invite me to dine out especially during Friday’s and Saturday’s.  That’s big savings for me! 😀

When I received my first paycheck, I treated them to a delectable seafood delight at BeiSheng. We had mouth-watering chili crab and other seafood delicacies. It was absolutely delicious! I will never forget the taste. Yum yum!

Ahhh… those were the pathetic days. Nah… Let me correct that, those were the TOUGH days. Now, I learned how to save MORE for the rainy days. Not much but enough to support myself even if I don’t work for a couple of months. Whoa! That reminded me to “refill” my rainy days budget. It’s nearly empty. I don’t want to be a bummer.

Let’s all save for the rainy days! Yipeeey!  On second thought, let’s all build a pipeline to achieve financial freedom. Wheeeeeeeeeeeey! Aja!

pretty

TheSoulfulVixen and I were talking a few days ago about one of her favorite television show called Outsourced. I gamely viewed the links she gave me thinking that it’s just a common comedy flick that we normally see on the tube… You know… the usual boring ones… :p Surprisingly, the show proved to be totally hilarious!

That brought me down towards the memory lane and made me remember two similar scenarios in my previous work.

Setting: I was seated next to Jay, one of my colleagues, when I heard him raise his voice while talking on the phone.

Below were the two scenarios that transpired:

Scenario 1:
Jay called the office in Hyderabad, India to discuss some business related issues.
He caught my attention when he slightly raised his voice and he suddenly used Indian accent while conversing with the Indian fellow on the other line. I was doing my best to suppress a loud laugh while staring at him. He did it in a very suave manner that he sounded like an Indian. Whoa! Jay’s absolutely amazing!

After the call, I asked what prompted him to do that and Jay said he was somewhat offended when the guy from India told him that he cannot understand him because his (Jay’s) accent was so thick. Thus, Jay mimicked him instead of getting mad at the Indian guy and certainly, the conversation went smoothly.

Smart move Jay!

Just a thought… if the Indian guy thinks that Jay’s accent was so thick, how does he describe his own accent then? Oppsie! No pun intended!  

Scenario 2:
Jay transferred a call to Hyderabad, India. Of course, whether in a personal or a business call, It’s the protocol to know the name of the person that you are speaking with.

The conversation went like this:

Pretty:  Thank you for calling, my name is Pretty. How may I help you today?
Jay:         Hi, I’m Jay from _______. Sorry, your name again?
Pretty:  Hi Jay, my name is Pretty.
Jay:         Sorry, can you spell it for me?
Pretty:  P for Panama
R for Rome
E for England
T for Thailand
T for Thailand
Y for Yuguslavia

Jay:        Oh! Are you Pretty?
Pretty:  Yes Jay, I’m Pretty.
——————————–

hiding my laughter…:p

I was laughing so hard while listening to their conversation.
I still burst into soft giggle whenever I remember the above scenarios. Ha!

Way to go Jay! Aja!

o.f.w. journey (part 2 of 2)

And the story continues…
(lost? check out first o.f.w. journey (part 1 of 2) to be on track.:) )

Before I went to Singapore, I was advised by James Lee to first apply for an Employment Pass Eligibility Certificate (EPEC) so that I will be allowed to stay there for one  year. However, my EPEC application was rejected. 😦

Nevertheless, that did not deter me from flying to Singapore. :p The one month visit pass that was given to me (plus another month extension which is of course subject for approval) needs to be maximized. Stretching my limited budget which can only last for 1.5 months or maximum of two months was also a big challenge.

At that time, I was aiming to clinch a job during my first week of stay but sadly, it did not happen. One acquaintance even mentioned that I will not be able to find work there at all! Deep in my heart I felt like I hit the rock bottom but I just ignored her.

When I did not receive any calls for interview after five days, I was upset. I kept thinking that maybe there’s something wrong with my qualifications or skill set. I was already thinking of my plan B, plan C, plan D, and plan E at that time.

Out of frustration, I opened up this “tiny” problem with my friend, TheSoulfulVixen,  when I was chatting with her via yahoo messenger (YM). And she suggested that I need to totally revise my resume. Ha!  On the 6th day, I did a complete revamp of my resume. Whoa! I never thought that editing a resume was so intricate and chews a lot of time!

And guess what? On the 10th day, while I was out gallivanting, I received a call. It was a phone interview and then she asked me to go for a personal interview the next day. I was so excited and absolutely nervous!

The funny thing was, I did not take down the address properly. Good thing, I was able to come across the address via yellowpages.com. Thanks to Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the World Wide Web.   Joan (James Lee’s sister) and Jessie (Joan;s’ boyfriend) accompanied me to check out the location of the company so that I won’t get lost. I felt really special because they were so nice to me even though they don’t really know me that well.

After a restful sleep and before going to the interview location, I prayed intently. And in order to calm my nerves, I watched “Achmed the Dead Terrorist” in youtube and listened to jazz music.

The gruelling interview lasted for more than one hour and I was grilled to the maximum level. One dilemma that I faced was on how to assimilate the words that the interviewer was saying. Maybe I just got used to the American “twang” from my previous job. -_-

Nonetheless, I felt that I was able to answer the questions in a confident manner while the butterflies in my stomach were doing somersaults. The interviewer advised that I will be informed via email if I will be shortlisted for the third interview the next day.

Lunch time during the next day, I was feeling jittery. I haven’t received any email. It later dawned on me that I was not chosen. I was awfully disappointed but life must go on so I started sending again my resume online.

While doing a non-stop job search, I received a call at 3 p.m. from the interviewer. She’s asking why I was not there for the third interview. I told her that I did not receive any email. We talked for a moment and we agreed to re-schedule the third inteview that same day at 5 p.m…

To cut the story short (which is now very long O_O), I got the job offer on that day (12th day of my stay in Singapore). Ooopzie! I can’t work yet though. The next step? The company needs to apply for my work pass at the Ministry of Manpower (Note: Even if I found the job, I need to get the work pass in order for me to legally work and stay there.).

The application can be done manually (30 days processing) or online (7 days processing). The company opt to do it manually since it’s their first time to employ a foreigner. The processing  took nearly 30 days! All the same, I was grateful because my work pass was approved.

As I look back, being down and weeping like crazy almost everyday does not give you the license to give up and do the easy way out.That was absolutely a big no no for me. The following kept me going:

  • prayers (including the prayers from my family and friends – thank you so much! 😀 )
  • watching Jeff Dunham’s “Achmed the Dead Terrorist” in YouTube (it never fails to tickle my funny bones. )
  • watching Coffee Prince in crunchyroll
  • watching Eat Bulaga (yes, we do have PinoyTV channel :D)
  • chatting with my friends and relatives via Yahoo Messenger
  • receiving text messages from my friends and relatives

Rough roads are part of life… We just need to learn how to bounce back instead of drowning in self pity and blaming others for whatever happened in our lives.

Take every single day as a blessing and a journey to a new beginning… Aja!

TIPS:
Sites where to find a job in Singapore: