Applying for a Home Loan in the Philippines

The biggest questions that I asked myself when I was looking for a condominium are; where should I apply for a home loan? Which bank will approve my home loan application? Which has the fastest home loan approval process? Is it going to be difficult? Or should I opt for in-house financing instead?

I went for bank financing, and at that time I had over four months to get a bank’s approval.
The realities started to sink in when I got my first rejection, it was from PSBank. PSBank was my first bank of choice because my friend who also applied to them a few months earlier got approved. I, on the other hand, never heard from them.

After two weeks, I anxiously submitted my application to China Bank upon the suggestion of my agent. I received a call after a few days for the usual verification process. Over a week later, the lady called me back and dropped the bomb – my loan application was denied because of an unsettled credit card debt with HSBC. I discussed this in this article:

How I Settled My Credit Card Debt

My biggest fear just came back to haunt me again. My agent was now asking me to call HSBC but I refused. I insisted that HSBC will no longer entertain me, and if they do, I might need to go through all the legal stuff which I was not prepared to do. The third rejection is from Metrobank, and next was UCPB. Both banks never get in touched with me; I imagined them literally throwing my application forms in the trash.

Four rejections in a row. That was my life already telling me to pay attention; it has almost gotten me into depression.

So which banks eventually approved my home loan application? And how fast?

First, I am giving a special mention to BPI.

My agent, being so patient urged me to try one more bank. He said he knows someone from the bank who could help. I started to not believe him anymore as that has been his usual line since we started. I completed the paperworks anyway, and he submitted them to BPI.

BPI called me and my brother (who is my co-borrower) after three days. The next week, they came back and advised me to get a Letter of Full Payment from HSBC. This is the bank clearance that I was talking about in this article:

How to Get a Bank Clearance for your Credit Card

That gave me the strength to ask; will my application be approved if I submit a clearance? The answer from the other line was a positive YES! And so days later, I decided to make that call. And the rest is history.

BPI eventually accepted my application but the total approved amount is less than what I needed. It turns out that they did not include my sister as a co-borrower, and me and my brother’s combined salary only qualify for a certain loan amount. To be fair with BPI, they kept my application active for at least a month and was regularly contacting me if I wanted to proceed.

UnionBank to the rescue!

With my permission, my ever persistent agent filled-out the UnionBank application forms himself and submitted them to UnionBank. He has copies of all my supporting documents so he did not even have to meet me at that point.

Their process is quite traditional. On the first week, an agent actually visited me at my apartment and conducted a C.I. and background investigation. Someone also went to our hometown in the far-flung province, and looked for my brother at our Municipal Hall where he works. My sister who is working abroad also had to give her employer’s email address for further checking. Overall, it was lots of work but quite fun. After all that we’ve been through, we readily complied to all their requirements.

On the third week, I finally received the best news I would hear that year.

Overall, UnionBank was quite strict but after having been denied by four banks, I did not feel being subjected to a long process anymore. My home loan was booked after two months, and before 2016 ended, I made my first monthly payment.

You might wonder, why didn’t I try BDO? For some reason, I did not think that BDO will approve my application. It was probably due to the quite strict and long process that I went through when I applied for a checking account with them a year earlier. I maybe wrong though, anyone who have positive experiences with BDO in terms of loans? Or do you have a similar story? Feel free to share by leaving a comment below.

How to Get a Pag-IBIG MID Number?

You will need your Membership Identification Number or MID when making transactions with Pag-IBIG. If you do not have an MID number yet, follow the steps below to obtain one. You can get it in less than 15 minutes.

1. Visit https://www.pagibigfundservices.com/ and click on “Membership Registration”.

2. On the next page, click Continue.

3. Enter your complete name, date of birth, and the code on the box then click Proceed.

4. Fill-out the form completely. The form has eight (8) tabs, you cannot proceed to the next tab without finishing the previous one.

5. Double check all the information that you entered before clicking Submit. Make sure that the mobile number and email address that you used are active.

6. Upon submission, you will receive a text message confirming your registration along with your Registration Tracking Number (RTN). This will be a temporary number that you can use while waiting for your MID number.

7. You may need to wait for two days before doing the following to retrieve your MID number:

Send a text message in this format:
IDSTAT<space>[RTN]<space>[BirthDate in MM/DD/YYYY format]
Example: IDSTAT 987654321091 09/20/1995

Send to:
GLOBE and TM: 0917 888 4363
SMART, TALK N TEXT, and SUN: 0918 8984363

To avoid any issues, send this text message using the number that you entered in the registration form. 

Related posts:
PAG-IBIG Home Loans: What is the Maximum Loan Amount?

The MID number is required when you need to get a Pag-IBIG ID or loyalty card, and when applying for Pag-IBIG salary and home loans.

Do You Have an MRI for Your Home Loan?

I was checking my loan amortization yesterday when I noticed the “MRI Premium” beside fire insurance. I’m sure the bank representative discussed this when I was signing my loan documents, but with hundreds of papers to be signed, I could no longer remember what this is (it took me an hour to sign all the documents!). All along, I thought fire insurance and MRI are one and the same. Obviously, I was wrong.
So what is a Mortgage Redemption Insurance or MRI?

It is basically a form of life insurance, or we could say, an insurance for our home loan. This means that in the event the borrower dies, the remaining balance of the loan will be taken care of by the insurance company (because it is insured). So the family of the borrower won’t have to worry about choosing to pay for the remaining balance, or have the property foreclosed.

Do we really need an MRI? 

Upon learning what an MRI is for, I felt better now that this is included in the monthly amortization of my home loan. Just like fire insurance, MRI is an inclusion to home loans from most (if not all) banks in the Philippines. If you do not have a life insurance, an MRI would be a good alternative.



But what if you have a life insurance, can you use that to replace an MRI?

PhilLife Financial discussed this in this article:

http://phillife.com.ph/how-to-avoid-paying-premiums-for-mortgage-redemption-insurance/

To quote a portion of their article;

“If you have an existing life insurance plan, you can negotiate with your bank by telling them that instead of the MRI, you would rather assign the bank as your beneficiary, allotting a portion of the sum assured to cover the amount you owe.

For instance, if you have an insurance plan worth P2 million, and the amount you owe the bank is, say, P800,000, you can ask your life insurance provider to assign P800,000 in favor of the bank. You can present this to your bank as proof that they will still get the money you owe in case something happens to you.”

I do have a life insurance with SunLife, but I haven’t really considered talking to my bank regarding this. I assume that they would not accept this option, since the MRI is a mandatory inclusion to the home loan.

Are you also paying for an MRI? How much?

How Much is Fire Insurance in the Philippines?

Do you have fire insurance for your condo?
How much are you paying for fire insurance?

My co-worker was asking me these questions yesterday. I remember about fire insurance being mentioned by my agent when I signed the loan documents at UnionBank last year. However, I forgot the exact figures; I took this is a reminder to check on my monthly amortization schedule again.
There you go. So, 
I am paying Php4,332.49 a year for fire insurance to Mapfre Insular. They are tied with UnionBank, and the fire insurance is mandatory which is added to my monthly amortization. I never really heard anyone talking about fire insurance before. And now that I think about it, isn’t earthquake insurance a more appropriate offering for condo owners in Metro Manila?

Do you also have a fire insurance for your property here in the Philippines? Share us your story by leaving a comment below.


Anyway, while looking at my loan amortization schedule, the MRI Premium caught my attention. I am going to talk about MRI in my next post.

The New Amore Visa Prepaid Card from BPI

So I just received an email advisory from BPI that they are replacing the My ePrepaid Mastercard with Amore Visa Prepaid Card. I actually have seen this product in their website before, so they may have just added additional features before relaunching it.

Here’s the advisory that was emailed to My ePrepaid Mastercard users:

The Amore Visa Prepaid comes in 2 variants:

  1. The payWave card allows for contactless transactions — tap, swipe and dip in POS terminals in stores worldwide. You can use this card to shop online as well.
  2. The beepTM card has 2 wallets: The Visa wallet allows you to shop in stores worldwide and online, and the beepTMwallet allows you to use MRT, LRT, NLEX, SCTEX, P2P and BGC buses with easy loading features.

You can also enjoy the following privileges:

  • Exclusive perks at Ayala Malls
    • Access to Ayala Malls lounge
    • 5% off movie tickets in Ayala Cinemas
    • Invitations to cardholder events like concerts, movie screenings and Ayala Malls sale events
  • Lower fee with longer validity period
    • P200 for payWave and P250 for beepTM
    • Validity of up to 4 years.
  • Rewards on your everyday spend through the new AmoRewards Program 

Click here to apply for an Amore Visa Prepaid Card.

So what will happen to the old My ePrepaid card? If your My ePrepaid Card is not expiring within 2017, you may still continue to use and enjoy the benefits of your existing card. However, if you want to renew in the future, the Amore Visa Prepaid Card will be your option.

How to Pass a US Visa Interview in the Philippines

I am applying for a B1 US visa for the fourth time, and although I got approved on my second and third attempts, I still feel nervous for this one.

Tip Number 1: be very honest with your answers in the DS-160!

I was denied on my first try because based from the feedback, I was just on my second month with my company at that time. Two years later, I applied again and was given a B1 visa which was valid for three months. Unfortunately, I was not able to use it because the meetings that I was supposed to attend in the US got cancelled. In 2015, I once again found myself lining up along Roxas Boulevard for another B1 visa. It was approved, and although it didn’t come with the 10-year validity that I was hoping, it was more than enough to be grateful for. I was admitted in the US for a two-week business trip. That was my first international travel, and I felt privileged that it happened in the United States!

This time, I’m ready for my fourth visit to the US Embassy in Manila in the span of five years. Knowing how unpredictable the process is, I still am not assured of another B1 visa.

UPDATE: I got my third B1 visa. Amused that I still am not eligible for a 10-year visa.

So, how do you pass a visa interview?

You may have already read other articles about this and found out that there really is no concrete or sure-way hit to get a visa. The following are the usual tips, along with my personal comments about them:

1. A good balance in your savings/bank account – in all four occasions, I’ve been advised to bring a copy of my bank account statement. However, in my three interviews, they never bothered looking at those documents. The case may be different if it were for a tourist visa application.

UPDATE: I did not bring a bank account statement during my most recent interview.

2. Your properties – such as a car, house and lot, or land titles. I was also never asked about these by any of the consular officers who interviewed me.

UPDATE: I brought with me a photocopy and the original copy of my condominium CTS (contract to sell) in my last interview, but the consul did not ask for it.

3. International travel history – this is one of the questions during my first and second visa interviews. At that time, I have never been out of the country so the answer was a direct “no”. Does it count? It didn’t seem so for a B1 visa. But it definitely strengthens your profile especially if you are applying for a tourist visa.

UPDATE: This was one of the questions to me again this time.

4. Employment – I was denied in 2012 supposedly because I was not a regular employee in my company yet. But it is interesting to note that a co-worker was given a 10-year multiple entry visa despite having been in the company for only over a month. He is also single and at that time has never traveled abroad. This also happened to several female colleagues with a comparable profile who applied in 2010. So this should give hope to those who have similar background. Nonetheless, years of employment in the same company obviously gives you an edge. Your company’s record and reputation is also a factor.
5. Letter of guarantee (LOG) – in relation to number 4, the LOG is the single most important document that you should bring with you to the interview for a B1 visa. In this letter, your company declares that it holds responsibility of you and any untoward activity that you may do in the US should you be allowed to enter. So if your company has a history of sending employees to the US who never came back (read: TNT), that may affect your chances.

UPDATE: In all my four personal appearances, this is the ONLY document that I was asked to submit while inside the embassy.

6. Civil status – they say, the chances of getting approved are higher if you are married with kids. Well, I am single with no kids.

UPDATE: Consistent to my previous applications, this is again one of the questions in my recent interview.

7. Other public records – I don’t really know much about this, but I guess a pending case in court may affect your chances of getting a visa too.

8. A pending petition. My co-worker was denied twice – first when she applied for a tourist visa, and second for a B1 visa. We suspect that her pending petition is the reason. But this may not be the same for everyone.

So what documents should you bring to the interview?

I’d say, ALL available documents. You’ll never know which one they will need, and it is always best to be ready. Keep them handy but do not give them to the consular officer unless he or she asks for it. Do not even suggest that you have those documents with you! Just relax, and enjoy the experience regardless of the turnout. Approved or not, there’s always a lesson to be learned.


Here are the questions that the officer asked me during the visa interview, and my answers. It was quite long compared to the previous ones which didn’t last longer than 3 minutes.

Consul: Good morning!
Me: Good morning! (I gave him my old and new passports, and LOG)
Consul: Why do you want to go to the US?
Me: Well, I was invited to attend meetings and trainings.
Consul: How long?
Me: One week.
Consul: So you’ve been to the US before?
Me: Yes?
Consul: That was in March 2015, what did you do there?
Me: I also attended a training.
Consul: A training for two weeks?
Me: Yes.
Consul: So who’s inviting you this time?
Me: (mentioned the name of our company)
Consul: They’ll be hosting you?
Me: Yes.
Consul: What makes this visit different from the last time? (I feel like this is the clinching question, which I was quite prepared to answer. However, my nerves made me quickly jump from my first point to the next.)
Me: Before, I attended a sales training with a group of sales persons from the US. It was more of  a technical training; it was held in Minnesota. This time, I will be attending meetings with my counterparts in Colorado, and they are also bringing in our colleagues from Costa Rica (I mumbled about “planning” at the end. I was not satisfied with my answer; that was a missed opportunity knowing that there was more to discuss).

Anyway, for first time B1 visa applicants, you might be asked about why you need to fly to the US to attend meetings when you can just do conference calls and web meetings.

Consul: Aside from that trip to the US, have you been to other countries?
Me: I was in Hong Kong in 2016.
Consul: Are you married?
Me: No.
Consul: Have kids?
Me: No.

I thought that ends the interview but he seem to have spotted something on his monitor, and asked:

Consul: Have you been to Canada?
Me: I applied for a visa for Canada in 2015. (I immediately realized that my “record” is showing him my tourist visa application for Canada. It was denied but I didn’t go there anymore assuming that he already knows. He, in return, did not ask if it was approved or denied).
Consul: (While typing) Your visa is approved. You will receive it in 3-5 business days.
Me: Thank you!
Consul: Enjoy your trip.
Me: Thank you!

I just arrived from my trip to the US, and decided to update this post. My ultimate tip? Be VERY HONEST on the information that you declare on your DS-160. I actually think that I was denied the first time not because I was a new employee in our company but because I initially selected “no” to the question about having a relative in the US. I had to change my DS-160 when I realized the error, and that might have raised a red flag. During this recent interview, I did not think twice about mentioning my visa application for Canada when he asked if I have been there. It would have been more convenient to just say “no”, but I thought telling him directly that I actually applied conveys the message that I have all the right intentions.

On all four appearances, I felt that they already knew all about my background before I even got there. The interview is just a formality, and to test your honesty. So don’t lie!

I wish you the best of luck on your visa application!

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.

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.


Related post: New Authentication Process: Red Ribbon versus Apostille

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.

Related post: New Authentication Process: Red Ribbon versus Apostille