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. Work Records

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!

On Unpaid Credit Card Debt

May nakukulong ba dahil sa di nabarayang credit card? You may have chanced upon this hot topic at Pinoy Exchange already, and I assume that this is also the reason why you are reading this article. Did you stop paying your credit card? Have you been getting emails, letters, and calls lately? Did someone already threaten you with an arrest warrant, court battle, and had people with “police escorts” knocking on your door? Did you receive a “subpoena”? Those are all from third-party collectors, they are agents from a credit collecting agency where your “debt” was sold.

Related topic:
What I Did to Save Money and Settle my Credit Card Debt

Based from my experience, your bank will try to reach out to you for payment for at least a month. If you fail to pay or if they can no longer contact you (because you are no longer answering their calls or emails), they will pass or “sell” your account information to a third-party collector and let them take over.

I have received the same “last and final demand” emails for years.

I have received calls and emails from at least three “law firms” in the span of six years. It looks like banks actually forward your information to different collectors (unless, these collectors are moving to different addresses and change their company names every two years or so). Whoever gets to convince you to pay, gets the commission. That’s the only time that the threats will stop.

Should you pay these third-party collectors? I have a friend who did because he got so worried when they were able to trace his address and actually went to their house. He agreed to pay, and they promised him a clearance that never arrived. He eventually got a clearance when he learned that I was able to get mine. Now, you may also go ahead and pay those collectors but calling your bank directly is a better option. CLICK HERE for information on how to get a credit card clearance. 

I don’t know of anyone who got arrested or who was denied of an NBI clearance due to an unpaid credit card.



What to do next? You may choose to ignore the calls and emails while earning enough money to pay your debt. Or if you have the money, I recommend that you call your bank and transact with them directly. I don’t know about other banks, but HSBC was very accommodating when I contacted them.

Good luck!

How to Find a Niche for Your Blog

If you asked me this when I started blogging ten years ago, I wouldn’t know the answer. My blogs have always been categorized as “personal”, and having a niche never crossed my mind.

I started to consider putting up a niche blog when I learned about monetization. After all, who wouldn’t want to earn some extra cash from blogging? Everyone would be creating a blog and are making money out of it, if only the ways are easy! However, it requires a lot more than just a skill in writing and website developing.



Having a niche is one of the ways to attract an audience to your blog. An audience translates to traffic, and traffic (if high enough) may translate to profit. But with thousands or probably millions of blogs out there, finding a niche has become so difficult. All the major themes are taken and mostly so saturated.

Hence, this is an opportunity to get creative. In short, stop finding that niche, create it!

Enjoy the things you love, write about them later.

Start with your hobbies.

Avoid going “general”, break it down and go deeper to a more specific topic. I first decided to take photography as a niche. I was actively doing portrait and wedding photography at that time so I thought I should focus on those. However, I came across a major obstacle and that is not being able to translate my works into words. I ended up building an online photography portfolio and not a blog. So make sure that you decide on a topic which you know you could go on talking about for a long time, articles after articles.

Patronize your local businesses. They are always unique, literally makes for a unique content.

 

Go local.

My old blogspot blog is still up and although I don’t update it anymore, I still get views on posts where I talked about something local, like local resorts and transient houses (back when Airbnb is probably not even an idea yet). So in connection to your topic, you can share activities that are being held around your area which are related to it. If your theme is food, talk about the delicacies and the best restaurants in your town or city. Do not aspire to go national (or global) just yet. Focus on what you have around you, and be the online expert about them.

Beyond the horizon, are new beginnings, and endless possibilities.

 

Share your passion.

Some bloggers were just sharing their experiences when they started, and their blogs took off without even them knowing it. There’s just so much love and dedication when the subject is something you are very passionate about, and sharing it could be as rewarding. Talk about your passion, spread that positive energy, you will never know how much people you could inspire.

The big question now is, do you actually need a niche?

The answer depends on why you want to have one in the first place. If you want to make money blogging, then having a niche would be a great idea.

However, is the niche you are chosing profitable?

Not all blog niches are profitable. Profitable niches need traffic, and if in order to get traffic, your topics should revolve around things that people are Googling for.

In general, a good niche is that which provides solution. If people need something and they’re able to find that in your page, they will keep coming. And the chances for them to share your content is high.

So, go create your niche. Do not overthink. Keep it simple. Ask yourself why. Why this topic? Why do I want to do it? The answer to the “why?’ is the real intention behind your blogging. Make sure that that intention is positive and filled with love. That is the secret.

How to be a Part-Time Blogger?

Or how to earn from blogging part-time, you may ask. After all, who wouldn’t want to make money out of their favorite past time? A lot of bloggers are doing it as a hobby. Those who do it full-time make it as an income-generating activity. And a lot of them started doing it part-time, like me.



I still am a part-time blogger. I have a day job and I write and publish articles during my free time, which is often illusive. I can’t even blog full time during weekends because I am likely to spend Saturdays and Sundays in bed! But I still get to publish posts at least three times a week. How do I stay motivated? I follow a few rules. Read on.

There’s something about cafes. Why not coffee for a topic?

Blog when you can. For me, a lot of topics and ideas normally come when I am about to go to bed, so whenever my brain brings me an interesting topic, I would turn my laptop on and start writing. I don’t necessarily have to finish the article in that moment. I would just keep writing until I run out of words and stop right there. Instead of getting frustrated from being unable to finish the article, I would simply stop and spend my time proofreading my work, and publish when it is ready. It may take days or weeks, it doesn’t matter. What is important is that these topics are not forgotten.

It’s like being hungry, with ideas.

It is a hobby. At least at first, while you are not yet decided or ready to turn it into a full time business. Treat it as it is – just a hobby. This way, you only do it when you really want to. But just like any hobby, it doesn’t mean that you don’t take it seriously. You set aside time and effort for it. After all, hobbies are suppose to keep you entertained and happy. Your blog should give you that same vibe.

Make it a passion and keep it that way, you should be passionate at what you are doing. When you are, it will reflect on your content and your readers could see and feel that. Your posts are your investments and the higher the quality, the higher the returns. Cliche as it is, focus on the quality of your content. Good things will follow.

And don’t forget to take a sweet break.

These are not only applicable to part-time bloggers, but to everyone who wants to join the Blogosphere. I would say, begin with a clear purpose. If you are serious about monetizing your blog or make money out of it, you should know why you are doing it. Start by knowing your purpose as a blogger and how you are going to use this platform. Unfortunately, making money is not a purpose I would advise anyone to start from. Go deeper. Ask yourself – what kind of energy are you going to put out there in the world wide web through your blog? Are you going to spread love and positivity? What would you contribute? What is your message?

If you are a new blogger or if you have been here for awhile and want to start over, coming up with a clear purpose could be a very good way to start, again. Happy blogging!

Top 5 Best Food Delivery Services in Metro Manila

I still remember the first time I ordered food from the internet. It was late 2010 and McDonald’s online delivery site has just been launched in the Philippines. One time, I decided to give it a try out of curiosity and I was quite amazed that my food actually arrived. Since then, I have been a regular customer to fastfoods which have online ordering sites. I find this a lot more convenient compared to placing orders over the phone.

A few years later, we are now able to order through their apps. Here are my favorite online food delivery services here in Metro Manila.

5. Jollibee
Web: Yes
App: No

Jollibee followed McDo’s example later in 2011. My first try with them was not successful. I waited for almost an hour and when no one was calling to confirm my order, I decided to go to the nearest branch instead. You could tell I was craving for a Chicken Joy at that time. I was already at the store by the counter when a representative called me. Of course, I had to cancel my “online” order. To my surprised, they blocked my email address so I never get to order from them again until a few years later using a new email.

Nonetheless, I am still giving Jollibee a spot on my best list due to recent positive experiences.

4. Shakey’s
Web: Yes
App: Yes

I never had an issue with Shakey’s deliveries whether I am at home or at the office. I am giving them a higher rating than Jollibee because they have an app, and it is working. I still wonder why I never got myself a Shakey’s card though. 

3. Pizza Hut
Web: Yes
App:
No

For some reason, Pizza Hut doesn’t have an app yet. But their service is quite impressive. A few months ago, my co-worker pre-ordered a pizza for his birthday. It didn’t arrive as scheduled so he called their hotline to follow up. They admitted it was their fault and had the food delivered for free!

2. Yellow CabWeb: Yes
App: No

While the waiting time is close to an hour, I like the fact that my pizza is always fresh and hot! I’ve had my orders delivered to different locations without problems – home, office, hotels. I can’t get enough of their Manhattan Meatlovers!

1. McDonald’sWeb: Yes
App: Yes

So what sets McDonald’s apart from the others? I’d say they have a seamless ordering process. First they confirm your order in a very timely manner, via sms and email. Second, they call you right away if say the store serving your area has ran out of cheese powders for your Shake-Shake fries, and then offer alternatives. Third, orders always arrive no longer than 30 minutes. Lastly, they respond to comments or complaints via emails sent through their online contact form. I have been their regular “online” customer since 2010!

And I am not surprised these are all fast foods! I tried those “healthy meal” delivery restaurants two years ago but their service is terrible, not to mention too expensive. Leave a comment if you share the same sentiments. Cheers!


How to Know if You Have an Existing SSS Loan

Whether you are wondering if you still have a loan balance or just want to find out if you can now renew your loan, calling SSS to verify or visiting one of their branches would be the best options. But if you have an online account, these information are just a few clicks away. If you do not have an online account yet, go to https://www.sss.gov.ph/ and register. Make sure that you are registering as a “Member” not as an “Employer. Also, use the latest version of Internet Explorer as some of the website functions do not work with other browsers.

Upon logging in, click on “E-SERVICES” and select “Apply for Salary Loan”. If you have an existing loan, the following message will appear:

From here, you can also check your loan balance and other details such as when the loan was submitted, your monthly amortization and the like. If you go to “Inquiry” you will find your profile details, and you can get a complete view of your total contribution along with your monthly premiums.




How to Apply for an SSS Loan Online

Applying for an SSS loan has been made easier as it can now be done online. Normally, the process involves submitting the loan application form to the HR coordinator in your company, and you will be notified when the check arrives.



Now, you don’t need to fill-out forms. You simply login to your online SSS account and submit the application from there. If you do not have an online account yet, you may create one by going to https://www.sss.gov.ph/. They recommend that you use the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE) as some items may not display on other browsers.

NOTE: The salary loan submitted online by an employed member will be directed to the employer’s My.SSS account for certification, hence, the employer should also have an SSS Web account.

To apply for an SSS loan online, you may find these instructions helpful:

1. Login to your account. Make sure that you are logging in as Member, not as an Employer.

2. Click on “E-SERVICES” and select “Apply for Salary Loan“.

3. Type-in the required information and submit. Your company HR will receive a notice about your submission and upon their validation, SSS will then complete your loan application. In my case, I received the check after three days. Fast and convenient!

Related posts:
SSS Online Account: How to Register?
How to Know if You Have an Existing SSS Loan

Here are the eligibility requirements as posted in the SSS website:

  1. All currently employed, currently contributing self-employed or voluntary member.
    • For a one-month loan, the member-borrower must have thirty six (36) posted monthly contributions, six (6) of which should be within the last twelve (12) months prior to the month of filing of application.
    • For a two-month loan, the member-borrower must have seventy two (72) posted monthly contributions, six (6) of which should be within the last twelve (12) months prior to the month of filing of application.
  2. The member-borrower whose employer must be updated in the payment of contributions.
  3. The member-borrower has not been granted final benefit, i.e., total permanent disability, retirement and death
  4. The member-borrower must be under sixty-five (65) years of age at the time of application
  5. The member-borrower has not been disqualified due to fraud committed against the SSS.

How much is the loanable amount from SSS?

  1. A one-month salary loan is equivalent to the average of the member-borrower’s latest posted 12 Monthly Salary Credits (MSCs), or amount applied for, whichever is lower.
  2. A two-month salary loan is equivalent to twice the average of the member-borrower’s latest posted 12 MSCs, rounded to the next higher monthly salary credit, or amount applied for, whichever is lower.
  3. The net amount of the loan shall be the difference between the approved loan amount and all outstanding balance of short-term member loans.



Cebu Pacific GetGo Debit Card by UnionBank Review

When my home loan from UnionBank was approved, I was required to open a savings account with them. My monthly amortization payment is to be automatically debited from the account; I thought this is more convenient instead of issuing checks, post dated or not.



At that time, they have just launched a new product called the Cebu Pacific GetGo Debit Card by UnionBank which the bank representative suggested. Instead of a savings account that requires an initial deposit and a maintaining balance of Php50,000, this option has no maintaining balance. This product is also tied-up with Cebu Pacific, so every point you earn from using the card automatically goes to your Cebu Pacific GetGo account.
Basically, you will get two cards – the Cebu Pacific GetGo card, and the UnionBank GetGo debit card itself. I am not really monitoring my GetGo points, but after over six months, I only earned 93 points. I’m guessing, auto-debit transactions are not counted.

Personally, I am only using the debit card for its initially intended purpose, but I just recently added it as a payment option to my Uber and Grab bookings.

Fast facts about the UnionBank GetGo Debit Card:

  • No maintaining balance, no initial deposit.
  • Unlike the BPI debit card which is only valid for two years, this one is valid for five years. There is an annual fee of Php500, I have yet to find out if this can be waived as my card is just 8 month olds (I will update this post by the end of 2017).
  • Your points are converted to Cebu Pacific GetGo points (Php88=1point).

On how to apply or to know more about this product, visit https://getgo.unionbankph.com.

BPI Prepaid Credit Card Review



UPDATE: The My ePrepaid Card is now being replaced with the Amore Visa Prepaid Card. CLICK HERE for more information.

I first started using a BPI ePrepaid Credit Card in 2011. I have renewed it three times since then and only stopped using it when I got a secured credit card from Security Bank.

A prepaid credit card is like a debit card that can also function as a credit card (confusing, eh?). Physically, the card will have either a Visa or MasterCard logo on it. You can use it for online payments, and can be swiped at a cashier without the need to enter a pin. It doesn’t have a pre-determined credit limit. From the word prepaid, the card is “reloadable” and the amount you can spend will basically depend on your remaining account balance.
Some fast facts about the BPI ePrepaid Credit Card:

  • No maintaining balance.
  • Maximum load amount is Php100,000.
  • The card is valid for two years, with a renewal fee of Php500.
  • Can be used wherever MasterCard is accepted.
  • Any remaining balance must be consumed as the card cannot be used to withdraw money from an ATM.
  • Application and renewal can be done at any branch.


Prepaid credit cards are very useful for online shopping. Personally, I used my BPI prepaid card to book hotels, bus, and plane tickets. And since I have an existing BPI savings account, reloading was also convenient as it can be done through online and mobile banking. From time to time, you will also receive promotional emails for some perks or discounts at participating establishments, such as the one below:

My only issue? The Php500 renewal fee cannot be waived, and while you can accomplish a renewal request online, you still need to bring the paperworks to a BPI branch. Big turn-off to some of us who dread long lines.

To know more about this product, visit https://www.bpiexpressonline.com/p/1/105/my-e-prepaid.