How to Submit an Online Legal Query to DOLE

Contacting the DOLE hotline at 1349 is the faster and easier way to get an advice about concerns related to your job or employer. As an alternative, you can also submit your complaint using their online contact form which can be accessed at https://www.dole.gov.ph/queries/submit.

The form is very straightforward. Simply enter your contact information and the description of your concern, then submit.:

You will receive a response via email in 3-5 working days. While the content is mostly general, it may include an information which is helpful. Below is an example of an email response received from DOLE through their online legal query form:

How to Contact the POEA Legal Assistance Online

POEA has just launched a legal assistance contact page on their website. If you need legal advice related to your job abroad, or if you know an OFW who needs legal assistance, the said contact page may help. You can find this at http://legalassistance.poea.gov.ph/main/legalcounseling.

The page will ask you to fill-out this form:

Make sure that all the information you entered are correct and up to date as you may be contacted via phone or email. Upon submission, you will be provided with a Reference number.

How do you check the status of the complaint or case that you submitted? In the same page, click on the Check Status button and submit:

Enter your Reference Number, and answer the Validation question.

If you need further assistance, you can contact the POEA hotlines at 722-11-44 or 722-11-55.

10 Years of Blogging Mistakes to Avoid

Experience is the best teacher, they say. My ten years as a blogger taught me a lot but I failed to recognize that until recently. I wasn’t paying attention. I knew I have to keep learning but I was too lazy, and a lot of things were holding me back. So after a decade, I still haven’t made an impact in the blogging community. With the right mindset and strategy, some were able to find success from blogging within a year or two, and here I am just starting, again.

Shirt by: www.milastolemyheart.com

I made this list to hopefully help other bloggers who are going through the same phase, or for aspiring bloggers who want to avoid the same mistakes that I made. Here are my 10 mistakes to avoid when blogging, all of which have happened to me in the past 10 years:

1. Blogging for Monetary Reasons

While this may have enticed you to start, don’t fall into the trap of building a blog and expecting to earn money right away. Yes, you can earn money from blogging, but not after a lot of hard work, dedication and focus. For some, the monetary gains start to happen after six months to a year, or years. And this is not to disappoint you, but it may not even come at all.

The truth is, if you want to monetize your blog, you have to offer something extra to your readers. You receive what you give, so be mindful of what you are giving. Focus on the value of what you are offering, people acknowledge that when they see it. You may have at some point shared some articles, videos or links on social media about things that you find relevant. You may have liked and followed pages on Facebook which are not celebrity-owned. You did that because you saw something that it is of value to you, got inspired, amused, or touched.

So if you are not receiving enough from your blog, you may not be giving enough.

2. No Clear Purpose

I started this blog after establishing its purpose, the purpose why I am blogging, and why this niche. I aim to share, with hopes that what I am sharing would be of use to others. It is important that there is a reason behind the blog, not just the blogging.

Ask yourself, what is my blog’s purpose? What are my intentions? I have talked about this briefly in a previous post:

How to Be a Part-Time Blogger

3. Not Having a Niche

If you know the purpose, it becomes easier to pick a niche (although finding a niche could still be daunting). A niche determines the overall content of your blog. Unless your blog is your online journal and is exclusive to your selected readers, you will end up writing about anything and everything when without a niche. I have also discussed this in a separate post which you may find helpful:

How to Find a Niche for Your Blog

Keep in mind that your purpose and intentions could help you determine a niche. What are your intentions?

4. Not Understanding SEO and Other Related Tools

I intentionally used the phrase “layman’s terms” in this blog’s tagline for obvious reasons. I hate technical terms, and “SEO” and “Google Analytics” are one of the many jargons that I avoided for years. I failed simply because I chose to not understand things which I find complicated. Wrong.

Make sure to learn these as you start creating your blog. There are lots of free online references available, use them. You don’t have to be an expert on this subject, again unless you intend to be one. While I still am unable to articulate SEO or Google Analytics in a way that I could make them a topic for a blog post, I now get the idea. Gaining knowledge about these tools helps, don’t be afraid to explore them, and use them!

5. Not Having a Domain

My fellow bloggers have been convincing me to to get my own domain since 2008. I did not listen to them. At that time, I didn’t have any plans to monetize my blog so I thought purchasing a domain and getting it hosted are money wasted. The thing is, you do not really need your own domain in order to monetize your blog. A .blogspot.com blog would do.

Why do you need a domain then? It simply is more appealing, it looks and sounds more professional. And if you have been blogging before, getting your own domain is a milestone. It is taking your blogging to the next level. If this is your first time to blog, number six is for you.

6. Having a Domain Too Soon

If you are new to the world of blogging, buying a domain may not be a very good idea yet. You may need to explore and experience things that goes around the Blogosphere first; I highly recommend a .blogspot.com blog. Not only that it is easier to manage, but Google loves it!

Back in 2015, I closed my old domain and started a new one. I had a plan I was very excited about so I purchased a domain right away. Only three articles later, the excitement started to fade away. I stopped posting after five months, and just like that, I threw away a year of domain and hosting subscriptions! This is the reason why it took me two years to decide to start again. I’ve learned my lesson, and that is one of my inspirations to come up with this list.

7. Not Networking Enough

Yes, you do really need to be “open-minded” about this. A blog is still a social media, and just like Facebook, you need to have friends in order to have an active timeline. I had over fifty solid connections in the Blogosphere eight years ago, and I regret the fact that the connection was not sustained and I stopped making more.



Network by visiting other people’s blogs. Leave comments, and ensure that these are genuine comments because a seasoned blogger is good at spotting spam and pushy comments. Be professional, you will need to establish a good reputation in order to gain other blogger’s trust. This takes time so be patient, which leads us to number eight:

8. Being Impatient

Indeed, patience is a virtue. It’s good to let go of all the expectations first. Instead, keep building your blog with quality posts as the priority. Your posts are your foundation. Build your foundation in the first three to six months, make it deep. So deep that it will be strong enough to handle success!

I am impatient myself, I use to want to publish three to five times a week that I ended up posting random articles in my old blogs. I sacrificed the quality, I had no clear intentions other than to post something, just anything. Well, I know now that that is not how it works. Always prioritize quality over quantity.

9. Not Being Unique

When I learned about “niche”, I started looking at other people’s blogs with the intention to copy what they are doing and expect to be as successful. Another mistake. In order to stand out, you have to be different. Be inspired and learn from someone you look up to but don’t be a copycat.

Do not overthink! While it’s true that all topics are (maybe) taken, there will always be something you can offer that others can’t. You can write about a similar topic and add your personal “touches” to it. We may have related experiences, but no two experiences are exactly the same. This is one way of taking advantage of your individuality.

And lastly,

10. Thinking That Blogging is Dead

Never. Blogging is still at its peak. Blogging in the Philippines is still very active. Vlogs will not kill blogs. I’d say blogs are here to stay and will continue to dominate search engines. Visit the website of any company you know, and there will always be a link for “blog” or “news” in their main page. That is how they survive online, more than just selling their products or services.

For us bloggers, our blog in itself is our product. Keep on writing and sharing. It’s true that there are lots of negative impressions about blogging and bloggers. Do not focus on those. Instead, aspire to be one of the bloggers who spread positive impressions (and earn those page impressions)!

I wish you the best of luck on your blogging. Be an inspiration!

Cheers!!!

Blogging in the Philippines

Is blogging still a thing in the Philippines?

It used to be just an online journal for many. My first encounter of a blog was through Friendster when it introduced blogging as one of its features back in its heyday. It was around 2003 or 2004, and I didn’t even know what a blog was. All I know is that it needs me to write, and I find that exciting.

I got introduced to WordPress and Blogger in 2007, and I chose the latter as it was simpler and was a popular choice for beginners. I believe that blogging in the Philippines reached its peaked around these years. There was this sense of community amongst Bloggers and everyone was actually connecting with everybody. We were each other’s audience, visiting each other’s blog and leaving comments along with our “x-links” requests.



Before we knew it, blog monetization has become a thing. Everyone started signing up for Adsense, and were publishing paid posts. If PPP, PayU2Blog, and Blogsvertise sound familiar to you, it means you have been in the Blogosphere for at least a decade!

But all these paid posts started disappearing during the 2008 economic crisis. And in 2009, almost everyone has migrated to Twitter and Facebook, and coined the term microblogging.

The simple hobbyist had a choice to either leave or adapt to the changes. One could bring their articles to Facebook or maintain their blog and earn from it. For most new bloggers, and still surviving old bloggers, their reason to stay is monetary. Needless to say, the new generation of Bloggers gave this online platform a new name.

So, is blogging still a thing in the Philippines? The answer is a resounding YES! Regardless of your view about it, blogs will continue to dominate your search engines. In fact, the Philippine Blogosphere is enjoying its millions of potential audiences, most of which are very active and more importantly, scattered all over the globe. There’s no denying that the Filipino online presence is very strong that not only local bloggers are taking advantage of it, foreign bloggers (who are mostly vloggers) have started to take notice too!

If you are interested to build a blog, today is the best day to start! You may find the below posts helpful:

How to be a Part-Time Blogger?
How to Find a Niche for Your Blog?

Cheers!

What is a Consularized Special Power of Attorney




I encountered this while processing my home loan documents with UnionBank. Since my sister (who is my co-borrower) is working in Canada, I needed to sign all the bank documents in her behalf (unless she actually wants to fly back here in Manila). As a requirement, we had to submit a Consularized Special Power of Attorney.

Unlike a regular Special Power of Attorney (SPA) where you only need a lawyer to notarize the papers, the Consularized SPA needs to be brought to the Philippine Embassy in the country where the person involved is located. For our case, my sister went to the Philippine Embassy in Vancouver. The process is quick and she was able to obtain the consularized SPA the same day. The SPA itself doesn’t need to be notarized, the officers inside the embassy will simply sign on it as witnesses, and is provided with a cover page with the consul’s signature and a red ribbon:

So, what do you need to bring when processing a Consularized Special Power of Attorney?

1. The SPA form itself. It doesn’t have to be notarized (rules may be different in other Philippine Embassies).

2. Your passport, and depending on rules of the Philippine Embassy in the country where you reside, you may need to bring an ID and additional documents. It is advisable that you call them first beforehand. You can go to ph.embassyinformation.com to lookup for contact information of Philippine Embassies worldwide.

Get Help From The Credit Card Association of the Philippines – CCAP

Photo Credit: CCAP

Still wondering how to settle your credit card debt with your bank or banks? If you have more than one credit card and you want to consolidate your payments, you may need the help of the Credit Card Association of the Philippines (CCAP). Watch the video below for more information:

IDRPAre you financially distressed and buried in credit card debt due to the factors beyond your control? We’re here to help! The Credit Card Association of the Philippines, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and participating banks launched the Interbank Debt Relief Program. Watch this video to learn more about the program.

Posted by Credit Card Association of the Philippines – CCAP on Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Basically, this Debt Relief Program allows credit card users to sustain paying the account and prevent further delinquency. “To enroll in the program, CCAP will review the debtor’s financial capacity. The repayment period is up to 10 years for “severe cases indebtedness” with a low rate of 1.5 percent per month or lower depending on the profile of the customer, debt to income ratio and completion of documents required for the program.  The participating banks may also have the option to disapprove application for customers who misused and abused the credit facility granted by the banks, said CCAP.

Based on a statement, CCAP said that as part of the guidelines of the program, all existing credit cards of the customer will have to be blocked or cancelled upon enrolment of the accounts to the program.

Rebates and rewards earned will also be forfeited. “Additionally, customers cannot apply for new credit facility with the participating banks while the accounts under the IDRP are not yet fully settled.” – Source: http://www.ccap.net.ph/?p=632

CCAP presently includes as members Asia United Bank, Bank of Commerce, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Citibank, China Banking Corp., Eastwest Banking Corp., Equicom Savings Bank, HSBC, Maybank, Metrobank Card Corp., Philippine National Bank, RCBC Bankard, SB Cards Corp., Standard Chartered Bank, and Union Bank of the Philippines.

What is the first step? Call your bank and ask them about IDRP!

To learn more, you may visit the CCAP at their Facebook page and website:
Facebook Page: https://web.facebook.com/CreditCardAssocPH/
Website: http://www.ccap.net.ph

Finding the Exact Location of Golden Horizon Placement Agency

While processing his OEC, my brother and I have been going back and forth to Golden Horizon Agency in Novaliches this past few weeks. We were there five times, and for our first two trips, our Grab and Uber drivers were able to find the exact location. For our succeeding trips however, Waze is sending us to this location:

The above, as shown in Google Maps is incorrect. The correct location of Golden Horizon is:

Golden Horizon Placement Agency Inc., Quirino Highway, Novaliches, Quezon City

It is just along Quirino Highway, fronting a vacant lot and is a few meters away from a Shell gas station. If you are coming from Commonwealth, turn left from from the LTO building, you will pass by a footbridge and the office shouldn’t be far from there.

Screenshot from Google Maps.

How to Get an OEC for Direct Hires

Update: POEA resumes processing of OECs, as of December 4, 2017.

However, of November 2016, direct hiring of Filipino workers by a foreign employer is no longer allowed by the Philippine Government. You will need to seek the assistance of a POEA-accredited agency to process your Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC, unless you qualify under the below exemptions. Per the advisory released by POEA:

POEA officer-in-charge Aristodes R. Ruaro said that effective November 3, 2016, the POEA is strictly observing the full implementation of the policy on direct hires as mandated by the 2016 Revised Rules and Regulations on the Recruitment and Employment of OFWs as follows:

SECTION 123. Ban on Direct Hires. – No employer shall directly hire an Overseas Filipino Worker for overseas employment.

SECTION 124. Exemption from the Ban on Direct Hiring. – The following are exempted from the ban on direct hiring:

a. Members of the diplomatic corps;
b. International organizations;
c. Heads of state and government officials with the rank of at least deputy minister; or
d. Other employers as may be allowed by the Secretary of Labor and Employment, such as:

     1. Those provided in (a), (b) and (c) who bear a lesser rank, if endorsed by the POLO, or Head of Mission in the absence of the POLO;

     2. Professionals and skilled workers with duly executed/ authenticated contracts containing terms and conditions over and above the standards set by the POEA. The number of professional and skilled Overseas Filipino Workers hired for the first time by the employer shall not exceed five (5).  For the purpose of determining the number, workers hired as a group shall be counted as one;

     3. Workers hired by a relative/family member who is a permanent resident of the host country.”

This means that if you do not qualify under any of the above conditions, you may need to seek the assistance of an agency to process your Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC. This way, the employment will no longer be technically considered as direct-hiring since it will go through an agency.

Bring your complete documents to an agency so that they can discuss the process with you. Depending on the circumstances of your application, the processing may take as short as two weeks, or up to three months.

Make sure that the agency is accredited. For the complete list of POEA-certified agencies, visit http://poea.gov.ph/cgi-bin/aglist.asp.



How to Get an OFW ID

The OFW ID is supposed to replace the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) which serves as a legal exit paper for Filipinos who are working abroad. Based from the POEA’s press release in June, the OFW ID is meant to be implemented mid-July 2017. It turns out that the agency is not yet fully prepared with the process, and as of August 2017, the latest advisory as published in the POEA website is:


PAGLILINAW TUNGKOL SA OFW ID 

• Hindi pa po nagbibigay ng OFW ID sa ngayon. Hindi pa po tapos ang guidelines tungkol dito
• Habang wala pa ang ID, sa bmonline.ph pa rin po ang exemption o appointment para sa OEC ng mga balik-manggagawa
• Hintayin po ang mga susunod na announcement para sa tamang proseso ng pagkuha ng ID ng mga OFW

UPDATE: The OFW ID is now available, and can be obtained online. Simply login to https://idole.dole.gov.ph/ and follow the steps from the website.

 



How Credit Card Debt Collectors Find Your New Contact Information

I use to frequent online forums for topics concerning unpaid credit credit card debts. I was having the same dilemma back then, and because this is not commonly being discussed face to face, I understand why a lot of us resort to online message boards to talk about it. What I observed from reading everyone else’s stories is that, a lot of people are surprised at how these debt collectors found them when they already changed their numbers, and have moved to different locations. The answers are simple, and they’re mostly in the internet.

1. Social Media. It is very easy to find someone on social media. Just type in a old friend or acquaintance’s name on Facebook’s search bar and there’s a high chance that you will find them. You can even use phone numbers to look them up. If they used that number to create their account, their profile will appear on the search results. It may not be as easy to do this on Twitter or Instagram where most users prefer a handle or nickname.
2. Google. Try googling your name, and your social media profiles, old and new, active or not, are likely to be shown. If you passed a board or licensure exam, you will see your name on various lists published by the PRC, some blogs, and other major publications. Try searching for your old numbers and anything that was posted online that has your number on it can also be found.

3. So you changed jobs, or even moved overseas. But debt collectors were able to track you and even calling you via IDD. They may have seen your new job title or location which you posted in your Facebook or LinkedIn profiles. You may choose to turn your Facebook’s privacy settings to maximum, but doing so with LinkedIn defeats the purpose (of having a LinkedIn profile).

4. Bank Records. If you recently applied for a salary loan, personal loan, car loan, or home loan, and was lucky enough to get approved, you must be aware that your credit record is accessible to all banks. As this is a new transaction, it surely has your new contact details. Your credit card issuer may have passed these information to the credit card debt collectors.

It is difficult to keep your privacy in this digital age. You’ll be surprised to discover that your personal information is everywhere. While most of these can be hidden (at least from debt collectors), your credit record and contact details that go with it are being shared by all banks. Therefore, I will keep recommending that you settle your debt with your bank like what I did. CLICK HERE to find out how I got cleared from HSBC. Trust me, it is liberating!