A New Family Member :)

Finally.

After 10 years.

I have a dog.

Well, technically we, me and my husband have a dog :). Isn’t that exciting? I’ve always wanted to have a dog but when I was living in Manila, living with friends in an apartment or condominium didn’t allow it to happen. It’s either dogs were not allowed or in many of the cases living friends who don’t like dogs made it impossible.

Meet Muta – his a Cavoodle, crossbreed  dog of a Poodle and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

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How to survive in Oz

It’s like “Survivor” reality show.

It’s a continent and a country at the same time.

australia

Well the first sentence was an exaggeration. Australia is a big country, with 7,617,930 square kilometres of landmass compared to Philippines which is 300,000 square kilometres. It is 25 times bigger than the three major islands of the Philippines. I’ll share a few things I’ve learned and discovered in the land down under.

I’ve been in Queensland for a year and have experienced the four seasons already. Unlike Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania where you get snow during winter, Sunshine state – as it’s popularly called doesn’t get one. Being used to only two seasons, it was the first thing I got myself struggling with for a few months. Summer starts from December to February and boy it does get really hot, scorching hot. It different in the Philippines where it’s “maalinsangan”, it feels more like the sun is so near that when you get out during these days, it burns the skin. Temperature can get up to 36 deg.Celsius up to 40 deg.Celsius during the day. Then by March to May, Autumn comes which is a prelude to winter. I enjoy this time of the year as leaves turn to bright orange like sunset color ’til they fall off the ground. It’s lovely walking and biking around, during this time. After that, you might want to get ready for a fridge like temperature. Well, it’s not that bad really, you just need to be ready for changes every day or every couple of days. It could be a good winter chill then the next day it could be a terrible temperature. As a Pinay, I am not used to checking the weather daily. I think it’s helpful to do that when you will be in Oz for the rest of your life. I still need to do regularly by the way and I need to remind myself of doing it all the time. Spring is great, the word itself need not a whole description. You just enjoy ’til you get the next season 🙂

Apart for the four seasons, it is a country where people use their own car anywhere they go if they can. In the city I live in, people rarely use public transport. It might be different on the bigger cities or business areas like Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne or Sydney. Some cities have a lot of buses and trains that are available. It’s a lot less crowded and minimal traffic congestion than Manila. Public transports have schedules so you need to look at the timetable and get there on time to catch a ride. It will be good to learn how to drive. But before you can do that you need to get familiar with the road rules. They have different rules and you need to pass an exam about the road rules before you can get your learners. After getting your learners you need to go to through Provisional Licence before your real driver’s license.

Are fond of street food?

Sorry to say the Australia is strict with their food safety regulations. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a  stall  selling your favourite grilled barbecue or kikiam. You need to go to a shop like 7-eleven or a fast food chain to grab a quick bite. Speaking of food, there’s a lot of restaurants in Australia that offers different kinds of cuisine, Indian, Mediterranean, Chinese, Thai, American you name it, they have it. You’ll never go hungry. It also has it’s own original Aussie food like meat pies, it’s a pie the size of your palm with  minced beef, mushroom, cheese, onion and gravy. Pavlova a meringue, soft and light on the inside topped with cream and fruits like strawberries and kiwi. Australia’s famous barbecue – lamb, pork and sausages grilled on a huge oven like bbq oven. This country also has a number of delicious chocolates – Tim Tam, Cadbury, Pods..yummy

bbq

Australia has a lot of beautiful sights, parks, gardens, animals, beaches and zoo. There are countless of activities and places to visit. They have the iconic Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Bondi Beach, Uluru, Alice Springs, Great Barrier Reef, Great Ocean Road and many more. There’s always something to do and somewhere to go to in one state or territory.

Now let’s go to Aussie slangs.

Have you heard of this? Yes, like any other language they also have their own way of communicating effectively with their mates. Check this link to get a view of what I’m talking about:   Aussie slangs.

  Don’t worry you’ll learn in time, on your own pace.

For someone who is travelling or about to spend the rest of their lives in a different country it’s about right to learn or read about all these things for easy transition. Being on a different country is great however you need to be flexible enough to know the country, culture and the people. You might be used to slurping your drink where you came from while it’s considered rude in Australia , these things can be avoided with a little effort to know the country you want to visit, travel to or migrating to.

    A little research and you’ll go a long way 🙂

Cheers to finding your way to survive in the Land Down Under!

 

 

 

 

references:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etiquette_in_Australia_and_New_Zealand
photos: https://www.australianexplorer.com/slang/phrases.htm

 

My relationship with Australia

I think I might start to write something about how my journey began…I don’t know how to call it but looking back, I felt like it was all connected. Everything just fits in together…why I ended up here in Australia.

It was 2010 or 2011 when I started searching for pursuing another course in college – I’ve always wanted to contribute to my country and to my fellow Filipinos hence my eagerness to be a part of the education system in the Philippines. This desire was due to my experience of what school is like in my country – I was lucky enough to have been able to finish my first course through a scholarship grant and it was not an easy journey. Have I not succeeded in passing the exam, it will be a real struggle to get funds to continue studying in a university. I wanted education to be accessible to those who want it.

I was on vacation and spending Christmas holidays in the province when I started searching for scholarships, online education, schools that offer night classes etc. I was determined to finish a degree in education, work for the government – in the education field then get a scholarship from Australia. I saw in one of my research that Australia gives scholarship to those who want to pursue higher education, as long as the scholar will work for the government in his own country in the chosen field of study eg. education. So since then Australia has been on my diary, list and plans.

But it didn’t stop there. Before having that long term goal of getting a scholarship from AusAid, I have been working in a BPO since 2009, my first account was on a graveyard shift. It was a blessing in disguise that after 2 months, the account was closed and we were advised by the company that we will be transferred to a different account. I didn’t have any idea what will happen next. We were asked to take an exam about computers, modem, etc. then that was it. I didn’t have a job for a week. Then after that I received  a call from HR that I will start on a new account – Bigpond Technical Support .

That’s  a bit of how I started getting to know Australia.

How to Apply Australian Fiance Visa online

sZHello beshies 🙂

I will give you below details for Fiance Visa (Prospective Marriage Visa) application. My ex-boyfriend, now my husband and I applied for Fiance Visa first before we applied for my Sponsored Tourist Visa.

We did this because I was working in Manila and he lives and works in Oz. We can’t just get married in Australia without a plan and preparation. While our Fiance visa application was in progress, we applied for a tourist visa on August 2015, so I can visit him in Australia for a few weeks while waiting for the PMV to be approved. Luckily, the tourist visa granted was multiple entry, with 3months stay per visit. After my 10day visit last September 2016, we decided I can use the maximum 3months stay so I went back to the Philippines after 10days, prepared my resignation letter then rendered 30days as stated in my work contract. We we’re blessed to have the PMV approved after 6 months.

After my 3months stay in Australia, from November 2015 to January 2016, I received an visa grant email from immigration on February 2016. I know there are easier ways to get married in Australia or in the Philippines. We chose this way, because we thought it’s the best course to go through in our situation.

What is Fiance Visa? this visa will allow you to marry your Australian partner in Australia or in any country when the visa is approved. You need to get married after entry to Australia and before the visa expires ( 9 months).  The price of subclass 300 at the moment is 6,850 AUD.

So, here’s what’s needed to do the application online – Prospective Marriage Visa subclass 300.

  • Create your immi account. Just type immi account australia in google 🙂
  • Application will be offshore which means you need to be in your country, in this case – Philippines when the visa is granted.
  • Time frame – 9 months to one year. If there are other documents / additional medical needed it might be more than a year.

For the documents:

  • Document of relationship – you need to prepare two documents that will state the details your relationship with your fiance; one from you and one from your fiance. How you met, date of engagement, things you did together, communication while apart, travels together, status of relationship, plans of wedding and plans after marriage.
  • Other proof of relationship – these are evidences of the things you claim on your letter about your relationship. Photos of travel together. Photos with family and friends. Screenshot of communication in facebook messenger, skype calls, messages, viedocalls. Proof of gifts given to each other. Receipts with your name together.
  • Proof of plans to get married – receipt of wedding ring, engagement ring. Engagement photos if there are any. Church reservations etc.
  • Social proof of relationship – common facebook friends. Invitation to a gathering that include both of your names. Photos of gathering with friends.
  • 2 or more statutory declaration Form 888. This must be completed by Australian citizens who can attest to your relationship.

Proof of Identification – applicant and your fiance:

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport bio page
  • Other identification – SSS, drivers license, Medicare or Philhealth
  • 2 recent passport-sized photo

take note that these documents (ID) need to be notarized in the Philippines or for Australian documents (fiance doc) – needs to be verified by Justice of Peace.

Others:

  • Medical / Health requirement for the applicant – immigration in Manila will send you an email when to do your medical so it’s important you check your email regularly. You will undergo medical examination, chest x-ray and HIV test. Once you are given HAP ID, you need to print the HAP ID form. Go to the accredited clinic to complete medical. They will tell you if everything is good or if you need to get additional tests. The clinic will forward the result to immigration – get the clinic number and verify after 2-4 days that they have forwarded result. Check the accredited clinics.
  • NBI for the applicant
  • wait for your case officer to ask for your Cenomar. When you receive the email asking for Cenomar, apply online for the cenomar and select Deliver the document to Australian Embassy. Once this is done, don’t forget to click the button in the online immigration account – document has been supplied.

**for the HAP ID, i didn’t receive an email after 2 months of application – so I  clicked the generate HAP ID button in my immi account, printed the HAP ID confirmation then I emailed immigration Manila to let them know that I haven’t received any info about when to get medical. They then advised me to get my medical done as HAP ID has been generated. Immigration says to wait for their advise to get a medical – but it has been two months or so and no advise was given so I clicked the generate HAP ID. I think it worked for me. So just wait for 3  weeks or a month  but if they haven’t given you details for your medical. You can do what I did 🙂

You don’t have to upload all documents at once. You can complete the whole thing in a week. You can start uploading after the visa is paid for.

* You can always send email or ask enquiry to immigration through email. They respond within a week. Make sure all documents are complete.

Hope this helps.

If you have any inquiry let me know 🙂

Craving: Street Food

Isaw. Fishball. Siomai. Halo-Halo. Biko. Puto. Suman. Green mangoes with sauteed shrimp paste and because Christmas is just around the corner, the purple rice cake with coconut shavings, sugar and cheese cooked in a tiny cylindrical container over fire…puto bumbong, so tempted to have it… but not here in Australia.

filipino-street-food

One thing I missed the most is the Filipino Street food.

Living in a country where thousands of vendors flock every corner of the street, it is far cry from the highly organised roads in Oz. Philippines, a group of island or an archipelago has a lot of influence from a couple of countries that invaded it hundreds of years ago. Spaniards, Chinese, Japanese and Americans contributed to this wide array of food we prepare, from the way it’s cooked to the ingredients we put in; but Filipinos are creative and resourceful. Pinoys found the most bizarre parts of chicken and pigs useful. The head, intestines, ears, and even feet of a chicken can be thrown in the grill and sold at the streets. And yes, I enjoyed eating these stuff. Who wouldn’t like to eat the grilled crunchy pig’s ears? And the mouth watering taste of  duck’s fertilised egg…yummy!!

Spending my 28 years in the Philippines, street food has been a part of my DNA. I enjoy eating isaw with my friends and had grown up with afternoon snack which I buy at my grandmother’s store out in the streets. There’s boiled sweet corn, rice cakes and halo-halo during summer. Meryenda or afternoon tea/snacks is part of a Pinoy meal. Children from school come home with meryenda or just buy some as they walk pass the street vendors on their way home. Easy food – cheap and yummy.

With that culture I grew up with, I still cook meryenda / street food here in Australia, though it’difficult to buy chicken feet at the grocery. And there’s no market or palengke here. They have occasional weekend market that sells all veggies and asian veggies, but hardly or not the things we see in our palengke. Australia has strict rules in food preparation and consumption, and street food is not in their culture either.

I guess, I’m just craving puto bumbong at the moment.

 

Things to Remember in Applying Tourist Visa

The tourist visa (TV) saga continues; I have a lot of people asking about how to get their TV applications approved. Well, their are a lot of factors:

VisaGrant

  • 100% proof you are a genuine tourist – that means having strong ties to go back to your own country.   This applies to solo travelers and those applying with sponsors & it includes:
  1. Assets – bank account, savings, insurance policies, time deposits, land titles, car registrations etc. Have bank documents signed by the bank manager and others notarized.  Immigration needs to know if you have enough funds for your travel. For sponsored applicants, they need to make sure the sponsor is financially capable.
  2. Work – yes! this helps too. You need to get a Certificate of employment and payslips to be included on your application.
  3. Family – include photos of your family and photos with sponsor.
  • Cover Letter and Statutory Declaration – Australian Immigration does not require interview, the decision is based on the papers and documents you provide.
  1. Write a cover letter which states your relationship with the sponsor (if your have sponsor of your travel), state a story of how you met, how is the relationship going, reasons for travelling and your reasons to go back. It’s important that you create a truthful and clear story about your motives in going to Australia.
  2. Statutory Declaration – your sponsor can write a stat dec indicating his sponsorship of your travel. The form can be searched / downloaded from google,  ag.gov.au/…/CommonwealthStatutorydeclarationform.PDF.
  • Itinerary – include a rough plan of your visit. Create a table of dates and where to while in Australia.
  • Proof of relationship – this applies to the applicants with sponsors, get a screenshot of your communications (email, viber, skype, facebook). A photo in skype or facetime is valuable. Make sure these documents show that you have constant chat with your sponsor.

Those are the top things to include on your application. Please don’t forget  proof of Identification and travel documents; you and your sponsor (if need be) must include all necessary papers; below documents need to be notarized:

  • Birth certificate
  • Passport

How about those who haven’t met their sponsors yet in person?

I’ve read a lot of successful stories of visa grants where both parties haven’t met yet. Rule of the thumb – be truthful in your application as genuine tourist who will abide with the visa.

Good luck to all 🙂

Happy Independence Day, Philippines!

When you are away from home, the best way to celebrate Philippine Independence Day is through Barrio Fiesta in Brisbane. The festival is held every year to celebrate our freedom, but also to feel closer to home as you meet fellow kababayans and eat a lot of Filipino food.

Barrio Fiesta

I have been in Australia for more than six months and ohh boy, do I feel homesick at times specially on some occasions.  The  ways Pinoys, make every celebration like a feast. I miss the heaps of  food on the table, the never ending visitors coming in and out of your home and of course videoke. The closest I can be Pinoy again is being invited to a birthday party or christening by the Filipinas I met in Australia.

So when my husband said there will be a Filipino Festival that held this week, I felt excited. We went to Rocklea Showgrounds yesterday. Brisbane is an hour and a half away from home, so we drove early morning,  8:00 am to the venue. We got there on time to attend the mass. Part of readings were from Luke 7: 44-50;

44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, butshe has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among[a] themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Yes, our Creator forgives our sins, without reservations if we repent with all our hearts.

It was a great day that started with God’s message.

After that, the smell of food being cooked around the grounds were hard to resist; we roamed around to check what food to eat. My eyes were full, so were my senses of smell. Gosh, it was a feast! There were more than 25 stalls of food, from the usual street food of the Philippines to the sumptuous menu you prepare during fiestas.

We tried sisig and longganisa with rice for AUS 8. Hmmm, yummy, the first bite brought me home. Then we craved for more, salivating while we were doing the rounds of choosing what was next. I saw a few holding bowls of food, scooping warm and aromatic food. Wow! Arroz caldo, I grabbed my husband and told him, it’s a must try; and it did not fail, arroz caldo never fails.

There was so much I wanted to eat that day, kare-kare, menudo, dinuguan, bopis, barbeque, empanada, turon, banana-q and kamote-q; it was  a tough choice lol! 🙂 My husband, Stephen, saw his favourite Ilocos Empanada and without batting an eyelash bought one for us to share. Ube cake and cassava were mouth watering, I was never a fan of Ube cake, until I tasted the one we bought in the fiesta.

After all the eating spree, we watched the kids dance tinikling, sang our National Anthem – Lupang Hinirang and also Australia’s Advance Australia Fair.

Tickets were sold for Entry at AUD 5 per adult and AUD 5 for parking. All visitors have the chance to win one of the two International  Return Airfare to Philippines sponsored by PAL.  The food were amazing, though they are a bit pricey; we shared all the food we bought to have more variety.

It was a great experience!  Will definitely come back 🙂

*photo from brisbane.barriofiesta.org/bfb2016