Category: Facts For You


What Is A Balikbayan Box?

What is a balikbayan box? Why did it become a symbol for OFWS? A balikbayan box (literally, “Repatriate box”) is a ubiquitous, corrugated box containing any number of items sent by an overseas Filipino to Philippines. Balikbayan derives from two words “balik” (means return) and “bayan” (means town or country). Balikbayan box is simply a box full of packaged goods that a Filipino eagerly awaits from family members, relatives or friends living overseas. Though often shipped by freight forwarders specializing in balikbayan boxes by sea, such boxes can also be brought by Filipinos returning to the Philippines by air after working for several years in other countries. According to reports, approximately 300,000 balikbayan boxes are sent to the Philippines every year from the United States alone. Some people refer to these boxes as Care Box, Filipino Samsonite, Stateside, and Imported Box to name a few.

Aside from the regular remittances sent by OFWS to their loved ones in Philippines, there’s a large number of Filipinos sending huge boxes of assorted things to their families regularly. Anything can go inside the box such as clothes & shoes, toilietries, canned & preserved foods, toys, and household items. The list is actually endless. Anything that will fit in the box will do as long that the item is unperishable and can withstand the long journey. Most of all, the box should contain non-Filipino brands, items which are not available in Philippines, or things which are very expensive if purchased in the Philippines. In some cases, OFWs will also send things which are given away or discarded by their employers abroad but can be very useful in their own homes back in Philippines, or they will also send things which they no longer use. These things are collected over a couple of months by the OFWs and once they have enough stuff they start packing the accumulated items in a cargo box ready to be shipped to Philippines. The goal of the balikbayan box is not to waste space. Fill the gaps with smaller items such as soap and canned foods. When they go for vacation to Philippines, they also bring the accumulated goods with them in the box instead of using very expensive bags and suitcases. Thus the name balikbayan box came to be, the most awaited packaged by their kins in Philippines. Often than not, some people are more excited to see what is in the box rather than the person who brings or sends the imported goods to them.

The balikbayan box arose in the 1980s with the law enacted by former Philippine President Marcos causing a resurgence of Filipinos working overseas. The Philippine Bureau of Customs Circular allowed tax-free entry of personal goods in the country from Filipinos overseas, thus more and more Filipinos send boxes of goods home regularly. Since the concept of packaged goods became popular, lots of cargo companies have started serving the OFWS worldwide by providing them more convenience, more options, and more services. Balikbayan box or BB has attracted millions of OFWs around the world because of it’s economic value. The concept of the BB is to allow an overseas worker to send bargained, branded, or imported goods to Philippines in bulk at an affordable price, to send anything which are not readily available in the Philippine market, and will enable an OFW to introduce new foods & foreign products to their loved ones free of tax. Items that should not be sent through balikbayan boxes include currencies, checks, money orders, jewelries, firearms, ammunitions, explosives, prohibited drugs, pornographic materials, gambling cards, toy guns and pirated products.

For shipment, balikbayan boxes are cheaper, weight is irrelevant, and you will pay a fixed shipping amount according to size of the box. The only con is it will take around 4-8 weeks before the cargo reaches Manila and will take more time if it has to go to provinces. Sometimes, the boxes are also opened, damaged, and some items are stolen along the way. Not too much worry about the freight cost though, provided you can stuff the box as much as you can and as much as the box can accommodate. Sizes can vary from small, regular, medium, and jumbo boxes. Bulilit box (tiny box) was also introduced for smaller cargos.

The balixbayan box became a symbol for OFWS and all Filipinos around the world. It became their trademark. It shows the love, thoughtfulness, and generousity of OFWs because no matter how difficult their situations are abroad, they still manage to shop and collect items to surprise their kins back home. They want to share their blessings to their relatives eventhough they have nothing left for themselves. In Philippines, it is undeniable that not all Filipinos have the privilege to travel abroad. They do not have the capability to buy those items. The goods and gifts from relatives abroad are signs of giving back to them and remembering them. Those gestures are highly appreciated, not because of the value of goods itself, but the thoughtfulness of the person really counts the most. At times, they become the envy of their neighbors because the imported goods also denotes their improved status quo in their local community.

For elders, those imported “pasalubongs” or gifts from abroad will be used only during special occassions or displayed in locked shelves and will remain untouched through-out the years. For the OFWS, once they have sent the overstuffed box to Philippines, it is time to start filling up another balikbayan box with all their love and care, trying to fill up that “corrugated box” with things according to the wish list sent by their childern, spouses, and loved ones from Philippines.

 

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Are you hunting a job abroad? Are you willing to give up anything to work outside your home country? If yes, then you are not alone. Millions of people around the world aspire to migrate and work in different countries othen than their own to earn big so that they can support their families back home. This is the current scenario in Philippines. Millions of Filipinos desire to work abroad because of poverty, small income generated from their current job, employment instability, and lack of job opportunities especially for the new graduates. Mostly, young Filipinos either land up in the contractual job, on-the-job-training without pay for a year, they endure job-hopping from one company to another trying to find the right one, or end up wasting their time till the opportunity comes which will take months, and at times, years before they could get a decent job. Thus, the only option is to search for work outside the country.

At present, the most popular destination countries for Filipinos are UAE, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, USA, Qatar, Malaysia, UK, and Canada. For the nurses, the most popular destination countries are Saudi Arabia, USA, and UK because they are in great demand, while majority of Filipino managers, office workers, & domestic helpers either go to UAE, Hong Kong, Singapore, & Malaysia. In UAE & Qatar most Filipinos flock because of the tremendous job opportunites in the sales, f&b, & hotel industry sector. There’s a booming demand for expatriate office workers and business support functions, IT, and also engineering, while construction workers are in great demand in the middle east. Taiwan and Korea are destination countries for factory workers and technicians.

If you wish to get hired you can apply through Philippines Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) licensed recruitment agencies, in both local and foreign firms. Learn the terms and conditions of the employer, and avoid scams by not paying any fee to any person or agency unless the working visa is in your hand and you have signed the employment contract. Below are the list of requirements from the applicant, but may need more as requested by the recruiting firm, and the expenses shall be borne by the OFW applicant.

• Passport
• NBI/Police/Barangay Clearance
• Authentication of School Documents
• Birth Certificate
• Medicare
• Trade Test, if necessary
• Immunization as required by host country
• Medical Examination fees

If you get hired directly without the aid of any agency, or you were able to secure an employment contract through referral, or have directly applied to the company, you still need to process the passport, work visa or work permit, employment contract verified or authenticated by the Philippine embassy or Philippine consulate in the country of your destination. You are also required to undergo a medical examination by a DOH-accredited clinic or hospital and a pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS).

How To Avoid Illegal Recruiters & Scammers

Plenty of Filipinos have been victimized by illegal recruiters in the past and lost a lot of money in the process, sold their sole property, incurred huge loans because they fall into the sweet promises and lured by the prospect of non-existing jobs abroad. Avoid being a victim by checking out the list of ways to identify scams and how to spot one:

1. Illegal recruiters don’t have a permanent office address.
2. Agencies that demand advanced payment.
3. Illegal firms would ask an applicant to call a third party number. Be wary.
4. Ask for references, if the agency could not disclose any information then be suspicious.
5. Check the reliability of the recruiting firm if too many complaints happened in the past.
6. Avoid firms that operate solely via telephone or mail.
7. Find out how long the employment company has been in business.
8. Get all promises in writing.
9. Research any information the firm provides to you before you make a commitment.
10. Ask if you will be eligible for a refund.
11. Never send cash in the mail, and be extremely cautious with firms that require a money order. This could indicate that the firm is attempting to avoid a traceable record of its transactions.
12. Do not hesitate to ask questions. You have a right to know what services to expect and the costs involved.
13. Keep a copy of all agreements you sign, as well as copies of checks you forward to the company.
14. Do not give your credit card or bank account number to telephone solicitors.
15. Do not be fooled by official-sounding names. Many scam artists operate under names that sound like those of long-standing, reputable firms.

Although the process of obtaining a job abroad takes a lot of sacrifices, patience, a lot of guts and prayers, in the end the rewards are really great once you are settled in the new country. The OFWS around the globe is estimated to be at around 12.5million and the remittances made these people into Philippines has really improved the lives of their loved ones back home. The OFWs also helped to boost the Philippines economy. Imagine the balikbayan boxes sent by these OFWS to their families every other month. There are Filipinos in every country, and chances are, there are Filipinos traveling in every known sea. If you wish to be one of them, to be called as global pinoy, overseas filipino worker (OFW), bagong bayani – then prepare yourself physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Once you are out of the country there is no turning back…

 

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K+12 Education System Introduced In Philippines

In 2011, the Department of Education has introduced the K+12 education system in Philippines.  K+12 is the sum of primary and secondary education.  The first phase of the implementation will start this school year 2012.  Universal kindergarten will be finally offered, and will be a part of the compulsory system.  Philippines will now follow the international education standard as practiced by all nations.  The K+12 system basically includes the Universal kindergarten, 6 years of elementary, 4 years of junior high school with an additional 2 years for senior high school.  In short, it is 10 years + 2 years of basic education before going to college.  It seeks to provide a quality 12-year basic education program that each Filipino is entitled to, but more importantly to enhance the basic education curriculum.  At present, the Philippines is the only country in Asia, and among the three remaining countries in the world, that uses a 10-year basic education cycle.

The Role of OFW Parents in Children’s Education

Millions of OFW parents work in different countries across the globe for the purpose of sustaining the entire family in Philippines. They want to give their children in Philippines a better life and quality education which some parents themselves were deprived of in their childhoods. They work hard and accept odd jobs to gain extra income because there is a need to send money to Philippines each month. The most difficult part is enrollment time, wherein parents have to shell out more cash for school fees and expenses, plus the daily “baon” or pocket money for their kids to go to school. OFWs spend a lot on their children’s education because it’s the only thing that they can give to their progeny. They work abroad so that each school year, they can send their kids to a good school, buy them nice bags, good shoes & uniforms. Most of the time, the children are left alone under the care of their relatives for the entire year, studying on their own, because their parents are far away. Some Filipino parents come home only once a year; others after two years or at the end of their contracts abroad.

The Pros & Cons of K+12

The new education system will have a deep impact into the lives of students, teachers, to the schools, and most of all to the nations’s unsung heroes – the OFWS.  Since the education system in Philippines has been added with 2 years, OFW parents will have to work extra years abroad to pay for their kid’s educational fees.  They need to extend two years more before they could actually start saving money for their retirement.  They have to sacrifice more years before they could see their children graduate.  They have to wait longer before they can retire and go back to Philippines.  For the students,  however, the K+12 will be of help as the additional 2 years in High School will allow them to master their chosen fields.  Those extra years will enable them to be at par with other nationalities especially when they go and find work abroad someday.  They will be more equipped and highly qualified, and more competitive, thus giving them the advantage of earning high salaries when they join the work force later on.

However, the positive result of the K+12 program will only take effect if the government will give it’s full support in the implementation of this new system. The teachers and the schools should be ready to take on this new challenge, and the students should study hard till they graduate and get jobs, so that they can help their family someday, especially those whose parents are among the hardworking OFWs around the world.

 

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If you desire to visit the country, or you are a Kabayan reading this article, here’s some amazing facts about Philippines which you ought to know, or perhaps to refresh your memory on how awesome the country is. Philippines, also known as Pearl of the Orient Seas, is located in the Asian Continent, between South China Sea and Philippines Sea. It is a sovereign country which is composed of 7,107 islands, however, only approximately 1,000 of its islands are populated. Countries near Philippines include Taiwan, Brunei, Hong Kong, Malaysia & Macao. Most Filipinos live on or near the coast where they can easily supplement their diet from hundreds of species of fish found in the Philippines seas. The Philippines’ group of islands are divided into three groups- Luzon, Visayas, & Mindanao. With an estimated population of about 94million people, the Philippines is the world’s 12th most populous country. Manila is the capital of the country and is the most populous of the twelve defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines and the 11th most populous in the world.

Believe it or not, the country’s coastline is the 5th longest in the world. The Galathea Depth in the Philippine Trench is the deepest point in the country and the third deepest in the world. Situated on the western fringes of the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines also experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity which is quite normal and never felt. There are many active volcanoes such as the Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano. Mount Mayon is an active volcano and has the world’s most perfectly-shaped cone. Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, mineral deposits are abundant. The country is estimated to have the second-largest gold deposits after South Africa and one of the largest copper deposits in the world. The Philippines is also the world’s second-biggest geothermal producer behind the United States.

Around 1,100 land vertebrate species can be found in the Philippines including over 100 mammal species and 170 bird species not thought to exist elsewhere. The Philippines lacks large predators (such as lions and tigers), with the exception of pythons, cobras, and birds of prey known as the Philippine eagle, which is also the national bird. Other native animals include the palm civet cat, the dugong, and the Philippine tarsier of Bohol. There are 13,500 plant species found in the country of which 3,200 are unique only to the islands. There are 2,400 fish species and over 500 species of corals in the marine life. Apo Reef is the country’s largest contiguous coral reef system and the second-largest in the world. The world’s rarest and most expensive seashell, the “Conus Gloriamaris” is among the 12,000 species of seashells found in the Philippines. Around 488 coral species out of the known 500 coral species worldwide are found in the country, awesome isn’t it?

As an archipelago, inter-island travel via watercraft is often necessary. There are various passenger ships available all over the country, while you can also opt for the plane. Inland transportation vary and there are many ways to get around, especially in urban areas. Buses, jeepneys, taxis, and motorized tricycles are commonly available. Trains like MRT, LRT, and PNR are also availabale in Manila. The Philippines has a sophisticated cellular phone industry and a high concentration of users. Text messaging is a popular form of communication. In 2007, the nation sent an average of one billion SMS messages per day. It is also estimated that around 24 million Filipinos are already penetrated by internet and social networking is the main activity plus video downloads.

When it comes to food, you need a lot of guts to eat Filipino food. I’m not talking about traditonal food, which is always non-veg… a big no-no for vegans! The country is very rich in strange, weird, & bizarre foods and they are not only considered exotic but also considered as local delicacies. You will find exotic foods like Balut (Boiled Unhatched Egg), Bagoong (Mashed Prawn Paste), dinuguan (blood/ black pudding curry ), grilled chicken feet, fried Insects such as crickets and grasshopers, grilled rats, frogs, snakes, bats, and snails. On the otherhand, there are exotic fruits like rambutan, lanzones, durian, balimbing, kaimito, and santol and so on… So how much do you know about Philippines?

 

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Holy Week in Philippines

The last week of Lent is known as Holy Week. It is a significant religious festival in the Philippines. In this predominantly Roman Catholic country, Holy Week is known as Semana Santa, Mahál na Araw, or Cuaresma. Beginning Maundy Thursday, businesses in the Philippines either shut down operations until Black Saturday or have later opening and earlier closing times. Work is suspended in government offices and private businesses nationwide. Most stores are closed and most people in the cities head to the provinces for the long Easter weekend. Local televisions and radio stations close down out of respect, or have limited broadcasting hours during the week, and those that do operate replace normal programming with special religious content and news coverage of religious ceremonies, or prayers, and biblical programs. The Church keeps the day solemn by not tolling the church bells, and no mass will be celebrated. Pilgrims visit famous religious places as well.

There is one tradition in the Philippines which is very spectacular during Holy week. You have to see it to believe it. It gets a mixed attention all over, some find it good, others find it a taboo. It is the traditional Nailing on the Cross (some people are tied-up by a rope on the cross instead of using nails for safety purposes). Mostly men, will be nailed to a cross to honor the crucifixion of Christ. Some do this for re-enactment purposes, some people do this to atone for there sins. Others do this as their pledge to God for keeping them safe from harm. Those who believe that they need atonement for their sins, need repentance and forgiveness voluntarily offer themselves to suffer, to carry the cross, and to be nailed on the cross. Some believers opt to carry the cross during Black Friday, others chose to whip themselves during the procession until they bleed, with thorny crowns on their head.

Starting the day of Lent, Filipinos abstain from rich foods and meat products. In some places, all animal products are strictly forbidden, while others will permit fish, eggs, and still others eat only bread. In some cases, believers abstained from food for an entire day; others took only one meal each day. Some people opt to stop their gambling habits, or give up some bad habits like drinking and smoking during the lenten season. Fasting is observed for a period of 40 days, beginning on Ash Wednesday, and ends on Good Saturday. However, the main practice is to fast, abstain from worldly things and luxuries, sacrifice, repent, and renewal or strengthening of Catholic faith during the season.

Lent is a moveable feast which means the date changes from year to year. In 2012, Lent season started on 22nd February and Easter Sunday (8th April 2012) is the culmination day. Most Filipinos go for a long week vacation, go to their home provinces, and travel to different places in Philippines to observe the Cenaculo, Penitencia, Pabasa, Salubong, and other activities to commemorate the season. Famous places in Philippines to visit during Holy Week are Angono, Arrevalo, Iloilo, Baliuag, BantayanIsland, Guagua, Pampanga, Makati, Marinduque, Meycauayan, Paete, Paete, Santa Rita, Pampanga, San Pablo City, Sasmuan, & Vigan.

Easter morning (Sunday) is marked with joyous celebration “Pasko ng Muling Pagkabuhay” or the Pasch of the Resurrection) the first being the dawn “Salubong”, wherein large statues of Jesus and Mary are brought in procession together to meet, imagining the first reunion of Jesus and his mother Mary after Jesus’ Resurrection. This is followed by the joyous Easter Mass. During Easter, people celebrate by preparing a feast, they celebrate it outdoors, cook traditional food, while others go to beach resorts and celebrate easter as it is the end of fasting and penitence.

No matter what, Filipinos’ observance of Holy Week is really unique because it combines religious devotion with superstitions and even pagan practices, a truly phenomenal tradition which is practiced every year and being passed on from one generation to the next, a truly distinct legacy. Here are some superstitious beliefs during Holy Week which are still being “observed”, if not, feared or still believed to exist in Philippines.

1. Don’t make noise during holy week, loud music is forbidden, shows disrespect to God.
2. Avoid using sharp object as wounds tend to heal very slow, or not at all because God is dead.
3. Don’t take a shower on Black Friday especially at 3pm.
4. Healers, magical spirits, mediums, bad elements, monsters, witches are very powerful during the week, or they acquire power during Holy week.
5. Amulets, charms, magical stones and potions are powerful or very effective on Black Friday.

 

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To some, it was absurdly stupid, to those who are in love, thanks a lot to that short, fat and cute cuddly Cupid. In Philippines, Filipinos are always romantic at heart, and it is a trend to openly celebrate February 14 as the Day of Hearts. It is not an official holiday but people consider it as a Special Day for everyone. Each year Valentines Day is celebrated, not as part of the religious belief but due to its popularity, influences from the west and nationwide media participation. Being open-minded and willing to embrace the latest trend, February 14 of each year becomes a phenomenon. Young and old at heart celebrate by giving something to the most special person in their lives. That special person can be the fiancee, spouse, children, best friend, or even pets. The most romantic part is when couples choose to marry on this date. In fact, two thousand couples got married in Philippines on February 14, 2012.

Valentines day is always associated with the image of cupid, hearts, flowers, chocolates, greeting cards, stuffed toys, and heart shaped balloons. And to those who are single, they also celebrated it by organizing blind dates and going out with close friends who are either single, or to those who have no “dates” in that particular day. TV programs, movies, and even radio stations go along with the theme to capture the spirit of Valentines day. Schools in Philippines also organize Valentines Balls and parties for their students. Shopping malls are filled with valentine offers and discounts for the entire month of February, riding on the popularity of the occassion. Hotels and restaurants are always fully booked & crowded, as people tend to go out and celebrate. It is a truly special day for Filipinos.

In US, Americans celebrate February 14 in various ways. Just like in Philippines, it has become a largely commercialized phenomenon. Department stores and shopping malls stock Valentine’s Day-themed stuffed toys, food and snacks, gifts, greeting cards, and many other products to capitalize on the holiday’s popularity. Popular Valentine’s Day gifts include cards, chocolate candies, flowers, jewelry, and other tokens of affection. Many make handmade gifts for their friends, families, or significant others to express their affections. Teenagers and adults often look for dates or go out as a couple to celebrate it, just like the way Filipinos do. Outings can range from a dinner and a movie to weekend vacations at resorts or in nearby cities. Adults may also hold private parties or attend public parties to celebrate with large groups of friends on this occasion. Other people tend to create crazy and out-of-this-world ideas on how to make the day unique and memorable.

According to NRF survey conducted in US on January 4 to 11, 2012 and polled from 9,317 consumers, men were expected to spend $168.74 on clothing, jewelry, greeting cards and more this year — almost twice as much as women who spend an average of $85.76. The breakdown on products includes: $1.8 billion on flowers, $1.5 billion on candy, $1.4 billion on clothing and $1.1 billion on gift cards. Besides the flowers and chocolate, 70 million Americans prefered to dine out for Valentine’s Day. Daily ‘valentines day’-related searches have increased 35 percent over last year, according to Google. Among the top searches are valentines day meals and DIY valentines gifts.

Did you know?

1. One billion valentines are sent each year worldwide, making it the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas. Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.
2. Teachers receive the most valentines, followed by kids, mothers, wives and sweethearts.
3. Hallmark produced its first valentine in 1913.
4. 15 percent of U.S. women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day.
5. The Catholic Church struck St. Valentine’s Day from its official calendar in 1969.

 

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As a foreigner with a Filipina Fiancee and you have chosen Philippines as your wedding venue then you have made a wise choice because marrying in the Philippines is a very good idea indeed. Aside from the hospitality traits of the people, you will also enjoy a lavish and grand celebration even on a small budget, you will meet the entire community of your partner, plus you will find plenty of honeymoon places among the Philippines’ thousands of beautiful islands. However, you must also learn the wedding customs, rituals, traditions, and even the superstitious beliefs which comes along with the Filipino wedding, albeit the fact that you have to process plenty of legal documents, permits, and proofs as to your sincere intention of getting married to a Kabayan.

Rituals Before The Wedding

Marriage Proposal – The guy must ask the girl for marriage. Without the words “Will You Marry Me”, marriage won’t happen. A Filipina won’t show her eagerness to get married, it shows the conservative side which is typical among the Filipina ladies.

The Engagement Ring – The guy must prepare the engagement ring during the proposal, the most special part of the event. The ring symbolizes the man’s intention to marry the lady.

Meet The Folks – Traditionally, the groom’s family will go to the bride’s house with some sort of gifts. This is quite an awkward scenario wherein the folks will try to get to know each other, plan the big event, and decide on the date of the wedding.

Serve the Soon -to be -In-Laws – It is an old tradition that the future groom will serve, or do some simple errands for the in laws (although this is no longer practiced except in some rural areas)

Bachelorette Party – this is a send-off party for the lady about to get married and is attended by close friends and relatives. It’s like saying goodbye to spinsterhood. (nowadays, the groom has a stag party too)

Superstitious Beliefs (Folklore)

1. Brides shouldn’t try on her wedding dress before the wedding day or it will not push through.
2. The groom must arrive at the church before the bride to avoid bad luck.
3. Soon-to-weds are said to be accident-prone especially as their altar date draws near; thus, they must avoid traveling and taking long drives before their wedding day.
4. The groom who sits down before his bride does during the wedding ceremony will be‘under-the –saya’(henpecked husband).
5. A downpour during the wedding brings prosperity and marital bliss!
6. If the flame dies out on one of the wedding candles, it means the spouse, on whose side the unlit candle belongs to will die ahead of the other. Dropping the wedding ring, the veil or a coin in the arrhae during the ceremony spells unhappiness for the couple.
7. The bride should ‘accidentally’ step on the groom’s foot while walking towards the altar if she wants him to agree with her every whim.

Wedding Entourage

  • The Bride- wedding dress is made of white, specially made for the bride)
  • The Groom -traditional Barong Tagalog is the outfit for the groom (nowadays men prefer the suit or tuxedo)
  • Priest or any authorized person – the person who will conduct or officiate the ceremony
  • The Parents of the Groom and Bride– must be present and take charge with guests, the father’s bride will hand-over his daughter to the groom who is waiting at the altar.
  • Maid of Honor – the right hand woman of the Bride
  • Bridesmaid – she is a sister, or a very close friend; her friendship and support of the marriage is meaningful.
  • Best Man – relative, best friend or brother of the groom, righ hand of the groom.
  • Groom’s Men – they help the groom accomplish his tasks
  • Flower Girls – little girls to carry flower baskets and throw flowers on the isles when the bride comes
  • Ring Bearer- usually a small boy to carry the wedding ring to the altar (nowadays, pets are also in)
  • Coin Bearer – a boy or girl carrying the arrhae (coins)
  • Wedding Sponsors-matron sponsor, secondary sponsors – to assist during the ceremony
  • GodMothers and Godfathers- act as witnesses, and also sign the marriage contract

During the ceremony

The ceremony usually takes an hour. It starts upon the arrival of the bride who comes last to the wedding venue while the groom and the guests are patiently waiting. During the ceremony, a traditional Filipino wedding is not complete without the buoquet and flowers, lighting of the candle, exchange of the arrhaes, putting of veil, putting of wedding cord, wedding ring, and ultimately the wedding kiss. The marriage ceremony usually happens in the church, or otherwise can be done anywhere, depending on the approved venue. The traditional color is always white for the bride, and barong tagalog for the groom.

After The Ceremony

It is a customary ritual to release a pair of dove after the ceremony. Then people would throw rice to the newly weds as a symbol of goodluck. After the ceremony there is a reception party for the guests. In rural areas the reception usually is at the bride’s place where everybody gather and wish the new couple a long and happy marriage life. People from nearby and far away places would come, and the party can go on all night coupled with hard drinks and dance. A good sound system is required during the party. A grand Cake cutting ceremony is the main highlight at the reception. Then there goes the tossing of buoquet by the bride to all single ladies who gather around, everyone aiming to catch the most coveted prize. It is believed that whoever catches the buoquet will be married next (superstitious belief applied to all single ladies). Then there’s the garter tossed by the groom, whoever catches it will put the garter on the bride’s thigh… the fun, the party have just started.

During the wedding dance it is a tradition that guests would pin money bills to the clothes of the bride and groom, it is called the Money dance. People would pin paper bills to the couple as a wedding gift. Usually, people would pin the money bill to their kin (whether it is groom or bride). The more relatives you have, the more chances of getting money bills, or vice versa. The usual food at banquets are non-veg such as pork and beef menus and lots of sweets. Colas, beer, and other hard drinks are always available. The usual Filipino guests will be at around 300 to a thousand, even the uninvited are present, plus their children, relatives of relatives to the 3rd degree, neighbors, and others would come out of sheer curiosity. Expect plenty of people during the wedding. Just like the saying goes… if you marry a Filipino you marry the entire barrio or community. Expect the unexpected when it comes to a Filipino wedding, and also ensure that there is plenty of food and drinks reserved for the late comers and gate crashers, as Filipinos are fun-loving and love to party till whole night through.

So, if you’re a foreigner and planning to get hitched in the Philippines, ensure that you know all the customs and traditions to make your bride happy. Make sure that you play by her rules, learn to say Yes to all her whims, and be rest assured that everything will go on smoothly. This is the Filipino way of saying “I Do”.

 

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Millions of people have dreams to work and live permanently and legally in US and they need the Green Card to have a legal resident status. Green cards are hard to get and are wanted by many people all over the world. The process of securing a permanent resident card can be very confusing. There are so many forms involved and so many ways to get a green card, and at times very frustrating. Worse, any mistakes made on the green card application forms can delay your green card application, or end up your desire to live the American dream.

What is a green card?

A Green Card is a United States Permanent Resident Card, formerly Alien Registration Card or Alien Registration Receipt Card, is an identification card attesting to the permanent resident status of an alien in the United States. It is known informally as a green card because it had been green in color from 1946 until 1964, and it has reverted to that color since May 2010. A green card is a document showing evidence of your lawful permanent resident status in the United States. When you become a permanent resident, you receive a green card. The green card is similar in size and shape to a credit card. Newer green cards are machine-readable. The face of a green card shows information such as name, alien registration number, country of birth, birth date, resident date, fingerprint and photo. A green card proves that the permanent resident has been granted benefits, including permission to live and work in the USA. The Green Card does not affect your present citizenship status. You might apply for citizenship after holding Green card status for a certain period of time. The cardholder must meet certain conditions and must file timely green card renewals in order to continue his or her permanent residency status. Otherwise, the green cardholder can be removed from the USA.

If you are a permanent resident age 18 or older, you are required to have a valid green card in your possession at all times. Current green cards are valid for 10 years, or 2 years in the case of a conditional resident, and must be renewed before the card expires.. Once you are issued a green card, it’s wise to understand how to protect this important document. It’s important to play by the rules in order to keep it. There are two primary ways that green card holders can get in trouble. They are: By leaving the U.S. for extended periods of time, and by violating the law. The best way to protect your green card is to obey all U.S. laws and file for U.S. citizenship as soon as you are eligible.
There are two methods of obtaining a green card: adjustment of status for people who are already in the United States, and consular processing for individuals who are outside the U.S. and must go through visa interviews at U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad.
All green card applicants are required to attend an interview. An interview is an important part of the entire green card process and therefore, green card applicants must be prepared for it, stay calm, dress neatly and professionally, and bring all the updated paperworks and documents during the interview.

Five main ways to obtain a green card :
 Green card through employer (Employment based green card)
 Investment
 Family based green card (Sponsored by family member who lives in USA)
 Green card lottery
 Green card through asylum & refugee status

 

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What is Christmas to OFWS?

December is definitely the best month of the year for Filipinos around the world. This is the time of the year where families gather, reunite, and of course… to enjoy christmas with their loved ones. Spending the whole month with family, vacation trips, or going home to their native places to celebrate the season. Putting up christmas trees, giving presents, preparing special food…what could bring more fun and delight than eating puto bumbong with dinuguan, hot chocolate and bibingka, simbang gabi, christmas carols, receiving gifts, gift shopping, exchanging gifts and unendless christmas parties to attend to for the entire month? Surely, Christmas is a long and wonderful religious event to enjoy and celebrate every year.

What does Christmas mean for the family members of OFWs? For them, December is the month of receiving gifts. The expectations center around big and luxurious things, trendy and latest gadgets and other monetary allowances during this holiday season. The gift package they receive, called a balikbayan box, is usually filled with imported stuff which can include anything from cell phones to canned food and clothes. The delight in the eyes of the little kids when they are gifted this package finally on Christmas day is worth a lifetime. Even the mothers have their share of happiness when their far-away husband sends them a token of love.

Christmas can also become a little lonely for OFWs who are outside the country and could not go home. For some, it may even mean working even on Christmas eve or New Year for the extra bonus or income that they get in this period. But all this adds towards making the Christmas extra special for their families back home.

OFWs do celebrate Christmas the Filipino way as much as they could. The holiday season is usually spent with their roommates, their colleagues, and with those people around them. They try to bring the Philippine tradition wherever they are in the world by having Christmas parties and organizing fun activities, exchanging gifts, preparing traditional Filipino food, caroling and gather on this special occasion no matter where they are. May this festive season bring happiness and peace to all the people working far away from home, especially to those who strive hard to support their beloved families back in Philippines.

 

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In United States, Halloween is now the second most popular holiday (after Christmas) for decorating. The sale of candy and costumes is extremely common during the holiday, which is marketed to children and adults alike. Halloween is an annual holiday observed on October 31, which includes trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving jack-o’-lanterns, bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films. Trick-or-treating may often end by early evening, but the nightlife thrives in many urban areas. Halloween costume parties provide an opportunity for adults to gather and socialize. Urban bars are frequented by people wearing Halloween masks and weird or scary costumes. Many bars and restaurants hold costume contests to attract customers. Haunted houses are also popular in some areas. Those living in the country hold Halloween parties, often with bonfires, with the celebrants passing between them. The parties usually involve traditional games like bobbing for apples, searching for candy, haunted hayrides often accompanied by scary stories, and costumed people hiding in the dark to jump out and scare the riders, and treats like a bag of candy and/or homemade treats. Scary movies may also be viewed. New York City hosts the United States’ largest Halloween celebration, known as The Village Halloween Parade. The evening parade now attracts over two million spectators and participants, as well as roughly four million television viewers annually.

In Philippines, halloween is not a public holiday and not celebrated in a nationwide scale. It just precedes  All Souls Day and All Saints Day (Nov.1 & 2) which is a Filipino tradition. It is not surprising that Filipinos adapted the Haloween tradition (from the west of course), and celebrate it as well. A lot of people go home to their respective home province as early as October of each year to prepare for the solemn Holiday known as Undas or All Souls Day and All Saints Day. Due to the strong Catholic background, Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 are spent remembering the dead loved ones and these dates will usually find them in one place only: the cemetery or the memorial park. This is a hub on how the Filipinos celebrate their Halloween. No, they don’t celebrate it with pumpkins or trick-or-treats. They celebrate it through candles, flowers, prayers, and of course, food and a visit to the cemetery. People from the capital and other places in the Philippines go back to their hometowns to visit their dead loved ones. During these days, airports are packed, so are the ships and the buses. For Filipinos, spending Halloween in the cemeteries is a fun event. It’s like a mini-reunion for families and friends alike, a chance to have fellowship with those people that they see only once a year (only on Nov. 1 and 2 of each year). Tents, shelters, chairs and tables are set up in front of the grave sites to provide a place where the family and their visitors can stay and talk. Radios, mp3s, CD players, musical instruments, karaoke and the like are present to provide music, singing and entertainment. Board games, playing cards, play stations are present. Best of all, food and drinks are overflowing during this time, with families bringing in baskets of food and drinks to share with other members of their families and their visitors. Usually, people stay whole night in the memorial park and party till dawn. There you go- Filipino Style Halloween!Due to the prevalence of Western media in the Philippines, the celebration of Halloween on October 31, particularly the custom of dressing in costume and trick-or-treating, began in pockets of Metro Manila and other urban and suburban areas. Its popularity has steadily risen over the decades. Nowadays, Costumed Halloween parties are popular among the younger generations. Much like in U.S. cities, certain neighborhoods in urban areas have organized trick-or-treating events annually. A lot of shopping malls also are decorated with Halloween themed decorations and have organized related events including trick-or-treating for children. Halloween decorations and costumes are now widely available. Halloween and horror-themed marketing, films, and TV shows are commonplace starting as early as October of each year.

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