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Getting Philippines Visa

The way visitor's or tourists visas work is straightforward. You simply arrive without an entry visa. You automatically get a visa free, stamped in your passport to stay for 21 days at the entry gate at the airport. Extend that one for another 38 days (59 days total) at the Bureau of Immigration before it expires is you are going to stay more than 21 days.

If you want to stay long term, up to two years you can. Just extend again before it runs out, 2 months at a time up to 24 months total. From month 16 to 22, your request for extension is passed to Manila, but appears to be routine. You make it at any Bureau of Immigration offices in most major cities in the Philippines.

After two years, you must leave the country and return any time you like, even the next day or same day if you are in Hong Kong or Thailand and get a flight back the same day. Then when you arrive, you start the process all over again. You can stay for a lifetime doing this or at least until you are too old to take a plan out.

Then it is hard to get rid of you even if they wanted to. If you are not a bad boy, they have no reason to want you to go anyway. We've heard of no one being denied re-entry for no reason. Some have not heard of anyone being denied for any reason, including Don Herrington the owner of Living in the Philippines Website. But we guess surely some have been denied reentry, but even those are probably let through after some investigation. The Philippines actively seeks visitors to the point of requiring no visa to enter, rare for any country indeed.

Ron with edits by Don

Keeping Official Receipts -- Important Reminder

Keep all Official Receipts for payments to everyone, especially the Bureau of Immigration. They may see a required stamp so you assume they will understand you paid the bill. But the only way they know you paid for sure and that the payment is in the government coffers is if you have an Official Receipt to show you paid. All transactions, certainly with the any branch of Philippine Government at any level, be sure to keep you official receipt. If they don't give you one, demand one. If you don't have one they money may not go to what you paid it for and you, not them, can pay a heavy fine and have a lot o headaches in the future.

Don A. Herrington 2009

Visas and Raymond's Fast Food: Detainment for Passport Violation

What I used to do when on a tight budget and had a lot more time than money was something someone very creative and thrifty a "cheap Charlie, foreigner taught me, perfectly legal it seemed and may be.

If I did not want to go back the next day or two or maybe four in those days, nor did I want to pay the express lane fee, I would just leave my passport and all papers with Immigration and come back in two months and pick it up. Of course it was ready by then. After I picked it up, I went through the renewal process again. Then I left it with them again for two more months.

There is one problem with this. According to Philippine Law, a foreigner must carry their passport on their person at all times. A receipt from the Bureau of Immigration is not enough to satisfy that requirement. But no one I know carries their passport with them all the time. I carry a *copy* of my passport, the first two pages, laminated and in my wallet. But even that does not meet the requirement of that law, as I read it, a law rarely enforced as far as I know. I know this was the law at that time. I was shown the Law.

Why? Because I was involved in a mass sweep in Manila when all foreigners in Ermita on the streets and in the bars in the area of P. Del Pilar, one night during Mayor Lim's "clean up of the city campaign.” And many Filipinos too, were picked up and detained, suspected prostitutes their "managers," and even children, gay men, pregnant women, business men on their way home from what ever.

I had violated no law except not having the passport on my person. But I was taken with the rest of the foreigners and Filipinos who were picked up in that area to the NBI's gym and held overnight. We were taken in large busses with NBI personnel aboard, handguns drawn as though they were ready to shoot to kill if one of us jumped out the window, all broken and jammed, impossible to open so not even an option. They did not look like a friendly bunch, no "Filipino smile."

All foreigners with passports on their person were let go immediately after their arrival at the gym when they were asked to produce them. Others who did not and I were detained overnight. Some of them and I had put my passport in Immigration for renewal that day and had the receipt for it. I showed the receipt to them. They showed me the Law. After we were in custody they started smiling again, became regular Filipinos, proud of the job they had done. They did do a good job, hurt no one.

The next morning, after a reasonably nice breakfast provided by the NBI, The others and I were taken to Immigration, picked up our passports with the visa stamp already in them, and released. None of us were booked or charged of anything, as far as I know. I know I was not.

Like the fool I was, I went back directly back to Ermita to Raymond's Fast Foods where they got me. And had a beer or four with the others picked up from there and discussed the exciting night. We knew this was all for show but a serious warning, probably not to be repeated.

Of course Raymond's and all the bars, including the girly bars, bikini bars, were still open at 9am. The NBI didn't close the bars, just pick up customers in them and in the area on the streets. In those days bars in Ermita were open 24 hours a day. They called them "day and night clubs." All but Raymond's had doors, usually closed with hawker outside.

Raymond's Fast Foods, was wide open front not even a wall: No front a 12 foot entrance way to the thin unpainted plywood unpadded unstable round board mounted on two inch pipes, around the bar. Why have a front if you never close? My favorite stool was on the sidewalk not exactly inside the bar but I guess more in and out. But from where I sat I could reach out and touch the Jeepneys as they went by and smell the smoke especially when there was too much traffic to move, most of the time. There were no dancers or GRO's in Raymond's. It was just a joint where a lot of foreigners gathered to drink, eat and complain about what a terrible country this is, how horrible the people are and how much better is was in their country. They even complained about the high prices in Raymond's. But they never mention why they wanted to stay here the rest of their lives. There were some strange ducks in that place and I guess I was one of them. But I loved the Country. I just kept my mouth shut. And I kept trying to figure out what their problem was. I never did.

If you are a "cheap Charlie,"like I felt I had to be in those days, you went to Raymond's, beer 6 pesos, a half liter bottle of Rhum P12 Cokes for P5. Something that resembled a hamburger was P8 or so. There was other Filipino food even cheaper, fried lumpia, and other delights. Cheap Charlie's got their visa once every two months and went to Raymond's for refreshment, entertainment and conversation, such as it was. There were no drugs at Raymond's as far as I know. There was not a shabu/speed problem here at that time. It existed, I know, but was not common like today. Today I am sure Raymond's would be a shabu haven. But about Raymond's you could never be sure about anything except you better keep you wallet in your front pocket and not leave any change on the bar.

Today I understand "cheap Charlies" go to sari sari stores, some open all night. I have been known to do that too. You can meet some nice people there and some not as nice, just as at Raymond's. You can find similar comfortable seating. But unlike Raymond's I have never seen a sari sari store or any bar with a one juke box on one side of it and one on the other side, facing one another, only 12 feet apart playing different songs at the same time like some surreal competition for no prize. The disco "music," was a real experience, a strange kind of stereo, incomprehensible sounds pounding your ears. They were both turned to the most popular volume level here, the maximum. At the time we all said, "If this place goes, there will never be another Raymond's." I think we were right.

At the time I thought it was a great life, or at least a very different one from any I have ever known. And I have few regrets. I did some things I would not do today and some I am ashamed of. But I had too much Rhum to be sure I did them. But I had to learn the hard way, like a lot of confused newcomers. But my liver is still intact and my life is moderated to a much more mature level. And I see the world through different eyes, older and I hope maybe just little bit wiser. If so maybe I owe some of it to Raymond's and learning about how some foreigners live and love it here in the Philippines, while they hate it. I decided not to follow that path to destruction. There are many better ways to live and be much happier.

There are a million or more stories to tell about Raymond's Fast Foods. If you are lucky I will not bother with you again under the guise of giving you visa information. But I do love to write about, Raymond's an aberration, as unlike to appear again as the Tyrannosaurus rex.

Don Herrington, 02-01-05

PRA and PRI

Over the past 20 years, PRA registered only 12,500 retirees, while Malaysia and Thailand each exceeded that number in only one year. Two reasons have been given for this.

The first is that PRA has not been given the importance and support necessary to fulfill its potential. Now that retirement has become a presidential flagship program, this issue is being addressed.

The second reason is that the private sector retirement industry players have never coordinated on this. PRI, a non-stock non-profit corporation, now unites registered operators of retirement facilities, leisure and resort destinations, condominium and housing developers, hospitals, health insurance, transport and travel services, care giving training schools, HMOs, financial institutions, tourism advocates, brokers, builders, health and wellness organizations, and other service providers nationwide, under one organization.

In the housing industry, among the key movers behind the PRI formation are the Zobel de Ayalas, Gotianums, Gokongweis, Sys, and Tans.

Other Players

When talking of retirement, a "retirement village" comes to mind. This is where an enclave of houses and buildings are constructed with support facilities, such as swimming pools, gymnasiums, walking trails, spas, and other amenities. Chinese-Filipino tycoons and big developers may play a significant role in this.

But according to PRI vice chairman Francisco Colayco, the majority of retirees in developed countries live in much less integrated arrangements, such as small buildings and residential houses.

PRA chairman Aglipay relates his own brother's experience in the United States. Though an engineer, Joven Aglipay studied care giving and started with two retirees in his own home. He now has two more homes with four retirees each.

I saw one such home in Las Vegas. It housed four retirees each paying $3,500, for a monthly total of $14,000, or approximately P750,000. Like all other registered nursing homes, it follows strict standards set by the US government to ensure the quality of service.

For the facilities here to be globally competitive, the PRI, together with PRA, will ensure that these same standards are implemented.

In fact, we expect our retirement offerings to be superior to others because of the Filipino's caring, compassionate, and professional attitude. We are known in almost every part of the world for this, and no other nationality comes close to us.

Examples of this compassion and professionalism are the maid who put herself in front of a speeding car and was killed trying to protect the child under her care in Hong Kong, and the practice of many Middle East executives who entrust their house keys only to their Filipino employees.

The Filipino Farmer

Aglipay said that his vision was for a teacher to augment his or her income by taking care of one or two foreign retirees in his or her home. The retirees will likewise benefit, not only from lower costs, but also from the compassionate care they would receive from their Filipino hosts -- something the retirees might not get in their home countries.

For a successful retirement industry, two areas that require strict global compliance are health care services and the diet. It is in the diet area where farmers play an important role. They can provide the high quality food needed by the retirees.

In addition, model farmers can likewise house retirees. There are many retiree farmers in developed countries looking for retirement destinations. These farmers prefer a farming environment. They can also live more productive and fulfilling lives by sharing their agricultural technology and expertise with Filipino farmers.

The Alyansa Agrikultura [Agricultural Alliance] has recommended creating a special window to attract foreign farmer retirees.

This and other opportunities will be discussed in a PRI-PRA Retirement Industry and Investment Summit to be held on July 3 at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel. For more information, please call Ethel Ruffa at: +632 8481412 to 16, extension 119.

The author is Agriwatch chairman; former Cabinet secretary for Presidential Flagship Programs and Projects, former undersecretary of agriculture, and former undersecretary of trade and industry.

Copyright 2006 Inquirer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

COMMENTARY

The program will also reverse the prevailing migration trend, allowing many Filipino health workers to come home or stay put.

But what does this have to do with the Filipino farmer?

Proper Dress for Immigration Comment from List Guest

They don't like sleeveless shirts or tank tops. Also, the reasoning for all this might be mentioned. It's an issue of proper respect to them. This is something we foreigners, myself included, don't seem realize immediately or appreciate. After you've been in the country for a while though, you begin to see the "whys" of certain things. I had an outfit always ready in my closet just for the bi-monthly trip. I just sit inside in the air-con and snicker to myself when I see guys roll in dressed inappropriately. I'm laughing partly at myself when I look back at my first time there.

Do not wear short and slippers to the Immigration Bureau. They will not let you in.

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