What is the “balance from previous billing” in your Meralco Bill?



I moved-in to my new place in April, and from May to December, my electric bill always comes with an amount under theBalance from Previous Billing box. This is despite the fact that I have been paying the total amount due in FULL since my first billing. The “balance” has always been less than 10 pesos so it never really bothered me. But since we are now on the topic of saving money, I finally decided to contact Meralco.

How do you contact Meralco? For a lazy guy like me, I chose the easiest way. Twitter:

Per Meralco’s advice, these are withholding taxes from the previous tenant. There was never a previous tenant in my unit, so I guess those are taxes earned from when SMDC installed electrical lines?

This also still doesn’t explain why these “balances” continued to appear in my bills until December despite having been paying everything in full and on time since May. This message thread will surely continue in January if I see yet another “balance”.

To be fair with their social media representative/s, they are very polite and accommodating. I’ve had previous inquiries with them so we were already following each other (you will need to follow each other’s account in order to send private messages on Twitter).

I’ll definitely keep an eye on the “balance from previous billing” box in my next bill. Next update: January 2018.

January 2018 Update: Consistent to what I’ve been receiving in the past 7 months, another P7.76 was added to my December 2018 bill. After several DM exchanges with MERALCO, it looks like there had been an error at their end. They promised to deduct this from my next billing:February 2018 Update: The amount under “balance from previous billing” has eventually been removed from my latest bill.

How Did I Learn About OEC Processing?

I learned it the hard way. Very hard, but amusing way!

Late in 2016, we started processing my brother’s papers for his employment in Canada. It took us around six months to prepare all the requirements including his passport. We submitted the documents via the MyCIC website in April 2017, I did everything online.

Everything happened so fast – medical exam, submission of passport, and claiming of visa. It all happened in less than two months. We never seek assistance from an agency nor asked help from a third party, a move that we later on regret not doing. We have the visa, we thought that’s all we need. In June 2017, we immediately booked his flight and he’s set to leave in three weeks.

NAIA Terminal 1

His flight schedule is 9AM, so we left Quezon City at 4AM. On our way to the airport, I had this strange feeling that something is not quite right. I just still couldn’t believe that it happened so fast, that it is even possible to do it that quick. When we passed by the POEA office in Ortigas, I had this deep sigh of relief thinking that we didn’t have to go through all the process inside that building. I would often see long lines there in the past and it surely looks depressing.

We got at the airport two hours too early. We didn’t let him in until 7AM, just enough time for checkin. My sister and I proceeded to the waiting area inside the terminal and decided to wait until his plane takes off.

15 minutes later, my phone started ringing. My brother was calling and I knew that something was wrong.

Imagine our horror when we learned that airport staff were looking for a document called OEC! We were in shock!


We did try our best to possibly get him through to no avail, but we stayed calm and present. It took awhile for everything to sink in but we knew we have to keep moving. We gathered all the information we needed and left the airport. That was my longest EDSA trip ever!

We spent the next five weeks literally running around Metro Manila to process his OEC. Although we knew we can’t relax until he actually makes it to Canada, we were laughing at the whole experience all throughout. We complied with all the rules of DOLE and POEA, two agencies that I wish I will never have to deal with ever again.

He finally took his flight in August 2017 and landed in Vancouver safely. It’s been four months (as of this writing) and I still couldn’t believe that this happened to us, and how we actually managed the whole thing. I am proud to say that we dealt with it peacefully. It was quite an experience, but definitely something that I do not wish anyone to go through!

So if you are leaving the country as an OFW for the first time, make sure that you have an OEC prior to booking your plane ticket. You may proceed to POEA directly for inquiries, or look for an agency that could help. Make sure that the agency is legit, visit http://poea.gov.ph/cgi-bin/aglist.asp for the list of POEA-accredited agencies.

Where to Find the List of POEA Blacklisted Recruitment Agencies and Illegal Recruiters

POEA just created an online page where the list of blacklisted recruitment agencies and illegal recruiters are published. The list will contain the blacklisted names of:

  • Individual persons and entities
  • Philippine recruitment/manning agencies with the name of its corporate officers, executive officers, and employees, of known;
  • Foreign placement agencies with the name of its corporate officers, executive officers and employees, if known; and
  • Direct Employers.

As of this writing, the site is still on its testing phase, but should be populated with information very soon. To view the list, go to http://tipblacklist.poea.gov.ph/ or click on the image below.


What is the Overseas Filipino Bank or OFB?

The Overseas Filipino Bank (OFB) is a policy bank dedicated to provide financial products and services tailored to the requirement of overseas Filipinos and their beneficiaries.

Per the advisory posted by the Department of Finance on their Facebook page:

“Beginning next year (2018), OFWs and foreign-based Filipinos would be able to make use of the Overseas Filipino Bank (OFB). The OFB is focused on delivering quality and efficient foreign remittance services to our Filipinos abroad.

The LandBank and the Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) are also exploring ways of mobilizing the savings of overseas-based Filipinos for them to invest in the country’s capital markets.”

For future updates, you can follow Department of Finance on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DOFPH/

Where can OFWs find OFB officers? They will be deployed in Philippine Embassies with high concentration of overseas Filipinos.

Below are the key features of OFB:

Image courtesy of the Department of Finance Facebook page.



 

Online: List of Direct Hires with DOLE Clearances or OEC

If you are a direct hired OFW, and recently applied for an OEC, you can check if your name is already on the list of those whose clearances were approved. This list is available online. Go to the POEA website via the below link:

http://www.poea.gov.ph/hswclearance/hsws.html
 

Note: These Notice Numbers get updated regularly and will definitely change every time you visit.

The page will show you the main directory of Notices, each number representing a group or batch of applicants with approved OECs. These Notices will open as a pdf file, and also include an instruction on how to claim your OEC.

Click on each of the Notices to find your name, you can make the indicated date as a reference. For example, if you applied in September or early October 2017, your name would probably be under Notice No. 336 if your clearance is approved:

Under this notice, the clearances were received by POEA from DOLE in October 30, 2017.

If your name is not on any of the lists and you want to check the status of your OEC application, you can contact POEA directly at 722-11-44 or 722-11-55.

How to Get an NSO Birth Certificate or Marriage Certificate Online

Did you know that this system has been in place since around 2012? I have been their regular “customer” since I discovered this process four years ago and was able to obtain birth certificates for myself, my siblings, and my parents. Last year, I also requested for my sister’s marriage certificate and I received it in three days!


Here’s quick run down of what you need to know about this online transaction:
– NSO delivers within the Philippines only, via Air21.
– Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates and Death Certificates: Php 350.00 per copy (inclusive of processing and delivery).
– CENOMARs or Certificate of No Marriage: Php 450.00 per copy (inclusive of processing and delivery).

You do not need to go to an NSO branch anymore, and endure the long lines and hours of waiting time. Here’s how to get your NSO certificates online:

1. Go to https://nsohelpline.ph/order-now
2. Select the type of certificate that you want to order:
– Birth Certificate
– Marriage Certificate
– Death Certificate
– Certificate if Singleness (CENOMAR)

3. Next, you will be asked what you need the certificate for. Just select whichever is applicable for you.



4. Fill out the application form. Make sure to be very accurate as any incorrect information may cause delays in the processing of your document. This is the form that you will need to complete if you are requesting for a birth certificate:


5. You will be getting an Order Confirmation towards the end, along with your reference number.


6. A text message will also be sent to the number that you provided. Additionally, you will be receiving an email with instructions on how to proceed with your payment. Payment can be done through different channels. Personally, I went to Bayad Center for most of my past transactions.

7. To check the status of your order, you can go back to the NSO Helpline website (https://nsohelpline.com/), and click on the Status button at the top. Enter your reference number in the box and click Submit.

8. Processing and delivery takes 3-4 days after you made the payment. In the event of unsuccessful delivery, you may follow-up your request through (02) 737-1112.

Since 2013, I have requested six certificates through this online ordering channel, the latest being in July of this year. I haven’t experienced any delays so far. I’d say it is very effective and extremely convenient!


DOLE Suspends Processing of OEC from November 13 to December 1, 2017

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

For the second time this year, DOLE suspends the issuance of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) for OFWs for 15 days. This will start from November 13, 2017 to December 1, 2017 and covers new applicants only.

Screenshot from ABS-CBN News’ Twitter account

“Balik Manggagawa” or OFWs who are on vacation are not affected by the suspension.

Screenshot from ABS-CBN News’ Twitter account

Here’s the official statement from DOLE:

SSS Online Account: How to Register?

1. Go to the SSS official website at https://www.sss.gov.ph. It is recommended that you use the latest version of Internet Explorer (IE) as some features may not work in other browsers.

2. From the login page, look for and click on the “Click Here” button below the “Not yet registered in My.SSS?” callout.
3.
You will be asked to select one information from among those that you provided when you registered to SSS. Make sure to choose the information that you remember, such as the mobile number that you used when you registered.

4. On the next page, fill out the form with your personal information.
5. At the bottom of the form, enter the information that you selected from the previous page, if you selected Mobile Number, you will get this field:

Likewise, the fields for the other options look like these:

Savings Account Number / Citibank Cash Card / UBP Quick Card / UMID – ATM Saving Account
UMID CARD
Employer ID Number / Household Employer ID Number
Payment Reference Number / SBR No. / Payment Receipt Transaction Number

(NOTE: as mentioned above, you will only need to select one. I used mobile number for this example as that is the easiest to remember.)

6. Lastly, enter the auto-generated code in the box, check the Terms of Service acceptance, and click Submit.
You will get this message after clicking “Submit”:If you will not receive the email in 30 minutes, it may take up to 24 hours. In the email, you will be provided a link to activate your account. Make sure to use the recommended version or the latest version of IE to open the link. Upon activation, you will be asked to assign a password for your account.

After logging in, it may take sometime for your SSS details to be displayed under the E-Services tab. All information sometimes appear as “null” at first. Don’t worry, they will auto-populate after a few minutes.

The online account is very useful for online transactions (of course). From there, you can view your SSS profile, employment and contribution history, details of your existing loan if there are any, or even to actually apply for a loan. You can find the instructions on how to apply for an SSS loan online in this article:

How to Apply for an SSS Loan Online


Buying a Condominium in the Philippines: In-House or Bank Financing?

In one of my previous posts, I talked about my experience in applying for a home loan to several banks in the Philippines. If you are deciding whether to go for in-house instead, here are some fast facts about these two home financing options.

In-House
– Shorter loan duration, normally 5-10 years
– Higher interest rates compared to banks, basically due to the short loan terms
– High approval rate
– Less paperworks and requirements

Bank Financing
– Longer loan terms, between 10-25 years
– Lower interest rates, each bank offers different rates, and may change every 3-5 years
– Approval depends on your capacity to pay, and credit history
– More paperworks and requirements

If you have the money, I would recommend going for in-house financing. You can’t get rid of the paperworks, but it is a lot lesser compared to when you apply for a home loan in a bank. While the terms are shorter, and interest rates are a bit higher, it would still be more practical in the long run.

Related Articles:
All the Costs You Need to Know When Buying a Condo
Buying a Condo Unit: What You Need to Know
Condo Living: Expectation vs Reality

Get a home loan from a bank if your priority is the lower monthly amortization. You may also find a bank that offers home loan promos such as rebates or low interest rates when you apply during a certain period of the year.

I went for bank financing because SMDC is not very keen at accepting in-house financing applications. They were not very enthusiastic about it when I inquired, almost discouraging me not to continue. Nonetheless, the chances of getting approved is high, at least according to the agents that I spoke with.

Are you also looking at these two home buying options? Which one are you more inclined to get?

How to Get a Health Certificate or Health Clearance from your City Hall

Did you know that you could get your pre-employment medical exam from your city hall? That is right, at least for most, if not all cities in Metro Manila.

From my two employments in the past ten years, I did both of my medical exams in a private medical clinic and were paid by the company. However, if you need a medical clearance and your would-be employer directed you to the city hall, you may find these information helpful.

Requirements

Make sure that you bring at least one valid ID (NBI clearance would do), and a cedula from your Barangay. You can get a cedula right at the city hall but often more expensive. In Pasig for example, it would cost you 180 pesos.

Nature of Work

You will be asked to declare the use or purpose of the certificate, and for non-food handlers or food servers, you will only need to comply with the basic procedures:

1. X-Ray – Php120.00
2. Drug Test – Php150.00
3. Photo Capture
for the Health Certificate – Php70.00

Payment

A receipt will be issued to you upon payment. Below is a breakdown of fees (from Pasig) as of October 2017. More or less this would be the same in most Metro Manila cities. 
Results

Health certificate/ID.

Overall, you may spend a good three to four hours inside the city hall for all the procedures. Results are normally released after a day. It could be longer for those whose jobs fall under the food industry. You will be issued with a Health Certificate in the form of an ID card.