Hello Aloha falls!

We have low expectations.
I and my sister arrived fifteen minutes late from the call time of 5:30 AM. The sun has risen but it’s hiding behind the buildings surrounding the meeting place. We were not excited by the thought that our destination is just 30 minutes away from our hometown and to add, the place was never heard before. Packed with our low hopes, we thought we can give it a shot since it will also save us from staycation on the other hand. But we never realized that we’ve already committed mistakes this early.

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Together with our four colleagues, we rode a tricycle from San Jose City, Nueva Ecija going to Carranglan to meet our friend and guide. The concrete road was easy and smooth at first but for the last half, we can hear our vehicle struggling to climb up. This is where I started feeling the cold morning fog suspended in the air and smelling the fresh breeze coming from the trees planted alongside the road. We saw folks outside. Some were doing their everyday chores and some were just enjoying a hot cup of coffee under the shade of a tree. It’s been always a nice scenario to observe the locals and appreciate how their daily lives bring meaning to their current setting.


Pain demands to be felt.
The vehicle halted in front of Sir Oscar’s house. Breakfast was done an hour before we arrived. We shared a brimming casserole of arrozcaldo, a Filipino dish made with rice and other ingredients along with Majoy’s boiled chicken eggs. A few minutes later, we’re off to set our foot to the underrated falls we’ve come to discover.

Turning left at the entrance of the bridge with Aloha Falls signage, took ninja skills to slide down to get to the rocky path we have walked on. We were welcomed by the scorching heat from the sun and the dried mud under our sandals. We could feel our feet aching as we step on the spiky rocks scattered along the way. There’s no way to step on a flat surface since there was none. We never knew that the sun would strike this hot at this early hour. Aware that arriving late was the first mistake, we endured the heat and pain.

Our eyes reached the mountainous horizon as our guide continued walking. We, along with Sir Oscar and my sister, Zyrene walked briskly to reach the mountainside while the four girls were walking and laughing far behind us. We could hear them telling jokes. One even said that we were in a role-playing scenario where the guide and my sister were co-directors and me, carrying my tripod, was a cameraman. They echoed in laughter as we walked through the spiky rocks. Soon, we arrived at the shadier part of the journey. However, the rocks turned to boulders and the mud turned to the river. Plants were scattered in all four, shrubs and trees in various flora.

An hour has passed and we couldn’t see the falls yet. We followed the river against its flow, searching where the water came from. Trees growing alongside the desired path made the journey more exciting as the branches hinder the path. Some shrubs pricked our skins leaving scratches. There were boulders that we climbed and rivers that we crossed making our thighs wet. We never stopped walking as we searched for this hidden treasure. Others jokingly wanted to go back to where we started while our guide pointed to us a false fall, a sewer-like flow of water on the side of the mountain. It was fun as we laughed at our jokes while the birds and insects were seemingly joining us.

The greatest mistake.
A few minutes later, I could hear a loud splash coming from the other side of the corner. We hurriedly jumped into excitement as we were very sure that this is the moment we’ve waited for and I never realized how I mistakenly underestimated this beauty hiding from our province. Hello, Aloha Falls!

I was deeply shocked in amazement by how my eyes could see. I reached for the cold water flowing from the river coming from the falls. There was a cold breeze brushing against my face while I could smell the freshwater. The coldness reached my veins and it flowed through my system. Our hardships were already paid off. How could I not be excited and then underestimated this place, while it took me into another dimension just a few minutes just by looking at it? I felt guilty.
Aloha Falls is embraced by the mountains hiding the spot from the sun. So, bathing would be fun in the morning. The place is perfectly located in the mountain, hiding from the bustle of people, yet remains accessible for those who are hungry for nature appreciation.

Read Also: Top Reasons To Visit The Philippines

Since the place was not familiar to some that even I, a resident of Nueva Ecija for 19 years didn’t know it until just recently, visitors don’t come frequently. When we got there, we found no one except for the biodegradable pieces of food they left.

Sir Oscar, on the other hand, is a resident of Carranglan along with his parents. He said that the falls were wider before, as one could notice a space on the right side. For whatever reasons, however, folks decided to carve the left side lower than the other to create a single stream of water. Then the current washes the tiny rocks along the shore before leaving to the river.

I dipped in reluctantly for I felt the chill in my spine and walked against the pressure. Seven meters away from the shore, I could still feel the pebbly ground against my feet. If I walk further, Sir Oscar warned, I could drown myself by the depth of it added by its pulling pressure. Maybe five meters more, I could reach the opposite side. We’re lucky to arrive at the right season because, during summer, the stream of water isn’t strong enough to boast its majestic fall.


Children used to play there during the olden times even though cliff diving wasn’t mainstream before. They climbed to the top of sturdy rocks and then plunge deep into the water. I climbed on the side, a meter high above the surface and then sat there for a few minutes. Sir Oscar even tried to reminisce about his childhood by climbing high enough but resisted halfway. Instead, he jumped right from the spot he stopped and then yelled his lungs out. We laughed. We ate our packed lunch cooked by my father which is, I would like to emphasize, delicious. Then, we took another dip for the last time. We played as if we’re building a team, even though I only met the four of them just this once.

The sun gained its momentum and ascended above the surrounding mountains. Its rays lightened the place giving another color to the surrounding. We left the falls at 11:30 seemingly untouched by travelers – still flowing proudly.


Nueva Ecija has a lot to offer other than its famous wide plains. Known for its rice plantations extending to the horizons, one could simply be amazed by how some gems are hidden just around the corner. We just have to possess the right curiosity to uncover those treasures

This Travel Story is written by Efraim Mallare. You can follow more of his adventure on Instagram: @picture.fraim . All Photos in this article are from Effreim’s personal archive.

A Chemist fond of doing things not just related to his profession. Loves travelling, photography, mobile games and caffeine. Usually found unbonded (alone) in a chemical laboratory doing chemistry stuff, but his mind is wandering somewhere else. Pet’s cuddle buddy. An introvert playing an extrovert’s game. 

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Applying for a US Visa in Canada

Earlier this week, I went to apply for a U.S visa. Fortunately, I was able to pass the interview and I was approved. As promised, I will be sharing the details as to what I did during my visa interview, what the requirements are in applying for a US visa and some tips that may help you pass the consul interview.

I applied for my visa here in Vancouver, British Columbia. I just moved here as a worker a few weeks back and since it’s my first two weeks in the job, I am not yet that occupied, hence, I decided to apply and book an appointment for my US Visa Interview. Fortunately, I was able to get a spot for my personal interview two weeks after I submitted my DS-160 form online.

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The US Visa is one of the most straight-forward visa application processes ever and also one of the hardest Visas to obtain, especially if you are a holder of a third-world country passport. To be honest with you, this is not my first time to apply for it, I have been denied when I first applied. They didn’t give me a specific reason as to why they have denied why application but they just gave me a general reason that they cannot provide me a visa as of the moment. When I applied, I was residing in the United Arab Emirates, earning a decent amount and have traveled to several countries in Europe already, and I have both a valid Schengen and UK Visa.

Also read: HOW TO APPLY FOR A SCHENGEN VISA FOR PHILIPPINE-PASSPORT HOLDERS.

I guess they just deny people who are young, single and don’t have that much justification of deep-rootedness to his or her country of origin or country of residence. Or maybe if they know that you will re-apply then they will just deny you if you’ve failed to meet their requirements during the interview, but yeah, these are just my theories.

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The difference when I applied for the first time and this time is that they now ask you to provide your social media handles when you’re filling your DS-160 form online. Which I think is great as you can prove that you have been to places if you’re like me who posts a lot of travel photos on my social media.

Steps: There are only three major steps when applying for a US Visa

Complete the DS-160 form

The DS-160 form is basically pretty much about your personal information. Make sure to have all the necessary information ready like your parents’ date of birth, contact person in the States, etc.

You can access the DS-160 form here.

Schedule an appointment online

After completing the DS-160 form, schedule an appointment online through the US government online portal for Canada. Make sure to have your payment method ready, as of the moment they accept payment through bank transfer, credit card or Interac eTransfer.

You can book your appointment through here.

Documents Required:

-Printed Confirmation Page with Eligible Barcode

-Printed Accomplished DS-160 Form

-Passport with more than six-months validity

-1pc 2×2 Photo (If you have used the same photo on the DS-160 form which you have submitted online, they won’t ask for the hardcopy,  they will only ask for a photo if you brought a different one from the ones you’ve submitted) 

-Proof of residence (Work permit, study permit or PR Card)

-Bank Statements and any other documents which you think will help in your application. Please note that a flight ticket is not required, they actually encourage people to obtain the visa first before booking any flights. 

Prepare for the interview

Once you have submitted your DS-160 online and have booked your appointment, prepare for the interview. When I say prepare for the interview, I mean prepare yourself to answer for possible questions that they will be asking like: ‘What is your purpose of visit to the United States?’, ‘Who are you visiting in the United States?’, ‘Why the United States of all countries?’ , ‘What is your job?’, ‘How much are you earning?’ And many more.

On the day of the interview, please note they will not allow any big bags, purse or anything bulky which is not necessary for the interview. Also, mobile phones and other devices which can record or transmit data is prohibited inside the consulate or embassy. So I highly suggest that you go there light, or if you are going with someone, you can leave the things with them while you go for your interview.

During my Interview

Me: Good morning, how are you?
Consul: Not so bad, thanks for asking.
me: that’s great (smiled)
Consul: What is your purpose of visit to the United States?
me: I wanted to visit my friend
Consul: you sure it’s your friend and not your girlfriend?
Me: She is a childhood friend, we grew up together back in the Philippines
Consul: Do you have any Families in the States?
Me: Nah
consul: any families here in Canada?
me: Nah
Consul: how long have you been in your job?
me: several weeks, I started last January
consul: what? You just arrived here?!
me: yeah, but I decided to apply now since It’s not so busy in my job as of the moment because of the season
Consul: (looks at me then looked at the computer while typing a lot)
-brief silence-
Me: Is everything ok?
consul: Show me your permit.
Me: ‘handed my permit over’
Consul: ok I’m approving you, that’s it
Me: thank you, enjoy the rest of your d… (consul left the counter
)

The interview lasted only for less than five minutes but it seemed forever. All throughout the interview, I was just being myself, and yeah, I just spoke to the consul as if he is a good friend.

One thing I always advise people who are going to a visa interview is to be ‘brutally honest’. Once caught lying, they will instantly reject your application and in worst cases, they will ban you from re-applying. If you are true to your intentions, then there is nothing to worry about.

On the day of your interview, you need to dress to impress but not overdress. Though I went on my interview with a basic tee and a jogger and I think I was able to slay it, so, haha. Also, manifest good thoughts, it helps a lot. You know what they say, we get what we attract.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

New to the Blog? Click here to get to know me more!

Siargao, The Best Island In The World And The Best Place To Travel Solo

For my twenty-second birthday, I decided to go on my first solo trip. It was in Siargao, Philippines, dubbed as one of the most beautiful islands in the world. It was one of the most memorable trips I had so far. I was there for 5 days (September 24-28,2019).

Read Also: Top Reasons To Visit The Philippines

Siargao is known for having one of the best surf waves, there are different spots on the island for surfing, thus a lot of people visit the place to just surf (I did try surfing too!). But there’s so much more to it. Imagine an island filled with coconut trees, surrounded by crystal clear waters and offering white beaches.

You can have a lot of activities here, the things I did while in Siargao were went surfing in Pacifico Beach, went island hopping (Daku, Naked, and Guyam Island), visited a lagoon (Sugba Lagoon), visited the tidal pool (Magpupungko Tidal Pool), motorbiked around the island, went on a food trip, catch the sunrise and sunset, just chill on the beachside, and even party all night. It is truly a paradise. And surely won’t disappoint.

Aside from being in one of the best islands and doing such activities, this trip was really memorable because it was the first time I’m traveling alone. Before going on this trip, I needed to gather all the courage because not all can do solo traveling.

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Doing it solo isn’t always easy but there’s this feeling of fulfillment. Also, I tried staying in a hostel. I did stay in two different hostels, where I met people that made my travel experience truly different. My 5-day visit felt too short. I really fell in love with the place and would surely love to go back.

If you’re thinking of going on a solo trip, I want you to go try. You’ll have this different kind of feeling and fulfillment. And also always remember to be a responsible traveler.

This Travel Story is written by Nichole Shayne Buenavente. You can follow more of her adventure on her instagram @sunshaayne

All Photos in this article are from Nichole’s personal archive.

A simple Filipina student based in Ph who loves to travel.

Traveling is one of those things that I treasure. Through traveling, my eyes were opened to more possibilities in life, and through it I’m learning a lot. The experiences I have because of traveling contributes to who I am today.

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Top Reasons to Visit Philippines | Best Places to See | Best Island in the World

The Philippines is an archipelago(an extensive group of islands) divided into three major areas, mainly: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. The Philippines has over 7107 islands, so imagine all the things you can do in this country. 

In this article, I will be discussing about some of the top reasons as  to why you should visit the Philippines NOW! But before that, here are few facts about the Philippines:

-The people in the Philippines are called ‘Filipinos’ and the official Languages in the Philippines are ‘Filipino’ and ‘English’. 

-The Philippines is the second largest archipelago in the world, next to Indonesia. 

-For three-consecutive years, Palawan in the Philippines has bagged the award for being the Best Island in the Whole World, that’s according to Conde Nast Magazine.

-It is my home country! 😀 

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Top Reasons to Visit The Philippines

White Sand Beaches 

-This is something that the Philippines is proud of, having too many white sand beaches. Well, it has 7107 islands in the first place. Palawan, Boracay, Cebu and Siargao are some of the best places in Southern Philippines which offers amazing white-sand beaches. 

Countless Islands to Explore

-The Philippines has over seven thousand one hundred seven islands in total and most of these islands are covered by tropical rain forests. You will basically never run out of things to do in The Philippines, just imagine how much time you’ll be needing to be able to explore all the country’s islands.

Thousand of Waterfalls to Chase

– Aside from having countless Islands and beaches. The Philippines also has a lot of waterfalls. One of the most picturesque waterfalls in the whole world is situated here, the Kawasan Falls in Badian, Cebu. 

Friendly People

-I’m pretty sure you have heard or read tons of foreign visitors praising the Filipino people for their hospitality. It is true, most of the time, We Filipinos aim to make you feel welcome in our country. As a Filipino myself, this is something that I’m proud of.

Scrumptious Local Cuisines

-We Filipinos love to eat, but more importantly, we love to cook as well. I am being objective when I say that the Philippine cuisine is one of the best in the world, otherwise it wouldn’t be featured in a lot of mainstream Food Channels and Magazines. 😀

Did you know that boiled duck embryo is also a very famous cuisine in the Philippines, yeah you read that right ‘boiled duck embryo’. This is a must-try when you’re in the Philippines

It’s cheaper than most countries

-This is one of the main reasons why the Philippines is one of the best places to travel to, your dollar can go a long way! An average meal will only cost you around $1-$2 in some restaurants and an average AirBnB accommodation will only cost you around $20 per night. 

The best Islands in the whole world is in this country! 

For the past years, Palawan has been bagging awards for being the most beautiful island not only in the Philippines but in the whole world! I’ve been to Palawan myself and can testify together with all these other people who have voted this island as the best in the world. Honestly speaking, it is not only the best island in the world but it is indeed one of the most beautiful places here in the planet when it comes to everything.

Recently, Siargao Island also bagged the award for being the most beautiful island in the whole world for this year!

Again, I always tell people to go to these places to see what I’m talking about. 

Top Places to Visit in the Philippines

This is a list of all the places which I always suggest whenever someone asks me as to where the best places to go to in the Philippines are.

El nido, Palawan

I’ve been here many times, and each visit I always feel the same excitement as if it’s my first time visiting the place. During my first visit in El Nido, It felt like I was in another ‘place’, not another country, but another ‘place’, I just can’t describe where that place is because of its extreme beauty, I was struck, it felt like I was in heaven. 

There are like four major island tours in El Nido, mainly Tour A, B, C, and D. Each tour has an itinerary which will bring you to several group of islands. Each tour has a duration of approximately eight hours. So if you want to explore all these beautiful islands, make sure to stay for at least a week in El Nido. 

Coron, Palawan

I’ve only been here once but this is one of the many places in the Philippines which I would like to visit again. Like El Nido, Coron also offers different Island Tours. So make sure to spend at least a week in this place as well. 

The main highlight of Coron is the beautiful Kayangan Lake. The Kayangan lake is dubbed as the cleanest inland body of water in the Philippines. It is also one of the most photographed places in the Philippines. 

Siargao Island

Siargao, a tear-drop shaped island in the province of Surigao del Norte. Famous for its stunning beaches and surfing sites. This island was recently named “The 2019 Best Island in The World” by Conde Nast Traveler. How is that for an award?! It is one of the major surfing capitals in the Philippines as well.

Photo courtesy of: @iamuras
Photo courtesy of: @iamuras

Malapascua Island, Cebu

Malapascua Island is an island located on the Northern Part of Cebu. From Cebu City, you can easily reach this island through a five hour van or bus ride and another hour boat ride. Malapascua is famous for its pristine white beaches as well as a famous place for divers. It is also here where you can witness one beautiful shark specie, the Thresher Shark. Definitely a place to go to when in the Philippines. 

When you’re visiting Malapascua Island, make sure to stay at Malapascua Budget Inn, the best place to stay in the island.  They offer both private rooms and dorms-for those who are traveling on a budget.

Kawasan Falls, Badian, Cebu

Kawasan falls is one of my favorite places here on earth. It is located in Badian which is a small town in the province of Cebu in the southern part of the Philippines. In spite being one of the most famous tourist spots in the Philippines which led it to gain its  name as the most picturesque waterfall in the country and one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, It has become one of my favorites simply because of its magnificent beauty that captivates my soul whenever I visit it. Definitely a playground for travel photographers and film makers.

Exploring Kawasan, a Handy Guide on How to Get There. 

Sagada, Mt. Province

Sagada is basically an option for travelers who loves to hike. This place is famous for it’s waterfalls and caves. One of the highlights of Sagada is the Sumaguing Cave. The Sumaguing Cave is an expansive cave network with ancient stalagmites & steep descents. Definitely a must-visit place for spelunkers.

Aside from waterfalls and caves, Sagada also is one of the coldest town in the Philippines as it has an altitude of 5000 feet above sea level. That’s why it’s one of the most popular destinations for both lower-land populations and foreigners during the summer.  

One thing I want to highlight about Sagada is their yogurt. It’s basically one of the best home-made yogurts I’ve ever tasted! So make sure to try one when you are in Sagada. 

Buscalan Village, Tinglayan, Kalinga

-Buscalan Village is famously know as the home of Kalinga’s Oldest Traditional Tattooist, Whang-od Oggay. 

I remember the first time I visited Buscalan, I was 16 and went there alone! I don’t know what’s gotten into me but it surely was the start of my wanderlust story. Since then, I haven’t kept track as to how many times I’ve been there already. Well, basically, I’ve been captivated by its breathtaking landscapes and its rich culture resulting in many countless returns. Definitely a place that would surely make you wanna’ come back for more. 

Visit Buscalan, A Travel Guide On How To Get There

Have you been to the Philippines? How many of these places have you been? Tell us about your experience through the comment section below!

New to the Blog? Click here to get to know me more! 😀

Exploring Kawasan falls in Cebu

Before relocating in the UAE, I was based in Cebu, the Queen City of the South working as a seller support agent for Amazon.com. So few years back, I think it was during a long-weekend holiday, my co-workers and I decided to head to the South of Cebu out of boredom, -yeah, just decided to head there in the spur of a moment with no particular destination at all. So basically, when we arrived at the bus station, We decided to head to Badian, to visit the famous Kawasan Falls.  

We’ve reached Badian around 4pm and basically it took us around thirty and something minutes before we reached Kawasan Falls. Thank goodness there was still sunlight during that time and the long unexpected journey was worth it upon seeing the sight of the magnificent Kawasan Falls of Badian. 

Exploring Kawasan Falls, a handy guide, click here.

So, first things first, I brought my camera out to capture the beauty of Kawasan Falls. I have been here many times and I still feel amazed whenever I visit. The excitement is still the same, as if it’s my first time visiting the place.

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We spent around an hour taking photos of each other and swimming back and fourth against the current of the waterfall pool. Around seven o’clock in the evening, we headed to Moalboal, a nearby beach to meet other friends who were already there. We spent the night drinking and basically contemplated about our lives. Then we went for a swim, it’s quite nice and fun to swim under the light of a billion stars on that midnight. The next day, we decided to go for another dip before we got ready to head back to the city.

While we were walking by the shore on our way to the carpark, we met some amazing couple from Switzerland and Spain who make handcrafted bracelets which they sell along the shore to fund their travels. We decided to buy some of their items and basically, they gave us a special discount. I hope to see them again somewhere.

It took us another three-hours to journey back to the city, and upon reaching the city, we just exclaimed, ‘back to reality!’.-The curse of travel lol, you will never want to go back to reality.

Back to present time, whenever someone asks me for some suggestions the best places to visit in the Philippines, I would always suggest Cebu alongside with Palawan. The southern and Northern part of Cebu is basically one of the most beautiful parts to explore.

Have you been to Cebu? What do you think of the place? Share it with us through the comment section below.

New to the blog? Find out more about me here. 😀

Buscalan, Then and Now

Buscalan is a small village situated on the mountains of Tinglayan in the province of Kalinga in Northern-Philippines. It is home to the famous traditional tattooist Whang-od Oggay. Buscalan Village is also considered as the last traditional-tattoo haven in the Northern Philippines. Despite the distance and difficulty to reach the place, it doesn’t stop visitors (both local and foreigners) from visiting this village. That’s why sometimes, people’s journey to the village is considered a pilgrimage. 

Whang-od Oggay. Circa 2014

Recently, I went to Buscalan for a visit after three long years. I first visited Buscalan back in 2012, then been going back and forth between 2015 and 2016. Most houses back then were completely made from traditional materials, its foundation and walls are made-up of woods and the roofs are completely made-up of cogon grasses. But now, almost all houses are made from modern materials, like concrete and metals. Most of the houses were also converted to transient homes to accommodate all the people who visit the village. 

Typical Scene in Buscalan, Circa 2012

I also noticed a huge boom in tourism, there were like around thirty people waiting in line to get a tattoo. It’s nice that the village is receiving lots of visitors, however, this gives rise to some problems like problems with waste disposal, etc. I’ve observed that most visitors bring tons of plastic stuff with them and most of the time they just leave most of it in the village and this often leads to all of these plastics being scattered around.

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So basically now, you cannot go to the village without a local-guide which I think is nice since it gives livelihood to some people. You also need to pay a visitor fee of php75 like around 1.5USD when you enter the village, which I think is ok as long as the money collected are being used properly for the development of the village. I still remember before, when villagers invite you over for a coffee whenever you pass by their homes but now you need to pay around 20php for a cup. Well, I think everyone needs to put a price in everything nowadays.

Visitors from other countries smile as they mingle with the locals over some bread and coffee. Buscalan, Circa 2014

One major noticeable change I noticed when I visited Buscalan is the construction of a concrete road towards the village. It’s sti ll on-going, but from the most vehicle-accessible point of the road to the village, it can now be only journeyed for 30 minutes. Many people (mostly people who are not from the village) were against it before, but now I think they’ve realized the importance of it to the villagers, especially to those young students who needed to walk several kilometers on rocky, muddy and narrow paths just to get to school back then. 

Side of the mountain is carved to give way to the construction of the concrete road to the village. Circa 2019

Change is inevitable, especially in this modern world we are in. I don’t know when I will be able to visit Buscalan again, but I’m excited to see what changes will happen till my next visit. 

Have you been to Buscalan? If so, then what are your thoughts and insights on the current situation of the village? Feel free to share them on the comment section below. 

How To Apply For A Schengen Visa for Philippine-passport holders.

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How to apply for a Schengen Visa (Step by Step Procedure, Documents required and Tips on how to successfully obtain a Schengen Visa)

Applying for a visa can be one of the most-tedious task to do, especially with visas for highly-industrialized countries. Aside from the inch-thick documents we need to collect & submit and the time it takes for it to be processed, there is also a certain amount we need to pay. And above all these, there is still no guarantee that our application will be approved.

Anyway, in this article, I’ll be discussing mainly about the different procedures and documents required  in obtaining a Schengen Visa.

First, what is a  Schengen Visa? Well basically, a Schengen visa is a short stay visa allowing its holder to circulate in the Schengen area. The Schengen area covers 26 countries (“Schengen States”) without border controls between them.

Below are the Schengen States:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia,Finland,France,Germany,Greece,Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland

Aside from the Schengen States, you can also use your Schengen visa to visit other countries like:

Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia,Cyprus, Georgia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Turkey

Documents Required:

Fully Completed and Signed Visa Application Form

Cover Letter Stating the purpose of the visit.

Original Passport and passport Info Page Copy

Residence Visa Copy (if you are based abroad)

ID Photos (Bring at least 2 copies)

Roundtrip Flight Ticket Reservation

Travel Insurance

Proof of Accommodation(hotel bookings, etc.)

Proof of Financial Means (latest 6-months bank statement)

Employment Certificate if Employed

Day to day Itinerary

Invitation Letter if you’re invited by Someone from the EU

Affidavit of Support if someone else is paying for your expenses

Enrollment Certificate if you’re a student.

Step by step guide in getting a Schengen Visa

Basically, the first step in getting a Schengen Visa is to choose your main country of travel or the country of which you’ll be spending the most time (if you’re planning to travel to several Schengen States) as this will determine which Visa Application Center you will need to go.

For Schengen Visa Applications, it is mostly handled by VFS GLobal, although there are some countries where the Visa application is handled by the country’s embassy itself, there are also those which are handled by a different agency. So it is important to make sure to decide which country is your main country so you can go to that specific Visa Application Center.

Book an Appointment Online. Well after choosing the country, you should set an appointment where you will submit all your documents for your application. As mentioned on the first step, you should book an appointment based on your main country. In my case, I applied for a Schengen Visa for the Netherlands, and VFS Global handles visa application for the Netherlands, therefore, I booked an appointment on the VFS Global Website.

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I highly suggest that applicants should apply for at least 60-90 days before their intended travel dates to have ample time to fix any problems if there will be any.

On your appointment day at the Visa Application Center, representatives will collect and scan your documents, they will also assess what else may be lacking from all the documents you have submitted. After this, once everything is ok, you will then be called for biometrics collection (fingerprints and photo). Once everything is finished, you will then be given a receipt for you to claim your passport once the result of your application is ready. A tracking number is also written in the receipt for you to be able to track the progress of your application online. You can also opt for an SMS message update with an additional fee.

Processing time takes up to 21 days, so I advice that you only contact the Visa Application Center if you haven’t received any result yet after this timeframe. In my case, I received my passport with a Shengen Visa after 8 days.

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Shengen Visa Fees varies from each country of Application, Since I applied for The Netherlands through VFS GLOBAL in the UAE, then here is the breakdown of all the fees that I paid in the local currency:

99 AED around 26 USD – Appointment fee paid at the VFS Global site

260 AED around 70 USD – Shengen Visa Fee to be paid during the day of application

30 AED around 8 USD – Courier Service (Optional) – the passport will be delivered to your desired address.

I hope you find this article helpful. For questions, feel-free to ask it on the comments below and I will try to answer as soon as I’ll be able to read them.

Thank you for reading!

Exploring Kawasan, a Handy Guide on how to get there.

Kawasan falls is one of my favorite places here on earth. It is located in Badian which is a small town in the province of Cebu in the southern part of the Philippines. In spite being one of the most famous tourist spots in the Philippines which led it to gain its  name as the most picturesque waterfall in the country and one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, It has become one of my favorites simply because of its magnificent beauty that captivates my soul whenever I visit it. Definitely a playground for travel photographers and film makers.

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Although you can visit it anytime of the year, the best months to visit Kawasan Falls is during the dry season which is from Mid-February till May.

How to get there:

There are actually a few ways on how to get there, but I will be discussing here the easiest and cheapest way to get there.

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 1. By Bus(Cebu City to Badian)

From Cebu City, bus departs almost every hour from the Southern Bus terminal, It takes approximately between 3.5- 4 hours ride via bus and costs around $4-$6. Be sure that the bus from Cebu is going to Bato via Barili and not Oslob. But if you’re not pretty sure where to stop, you can always ask the bus conductor to drop you off in front of the Matutinao Church in Badian. And from Matutinao Church, you can journey for around 15-20 minutes walk to the the waterfall following the Kawasan River which trails to the waterfall.

2. By Taxi/ Uber

Taxi/Grab by far is the most convenient way to get there, but also one of the most expensive. So if you intend to go there by Taxi or Grab, make sure to have a few thousand peso bills with you. Like around 5k pesos.

3. Hitchhiking

I think this is the best option for those who are on a really tight budget. Especially if you are journeying from town to town. I tried hitchhiking from Oslob to Badian, it’s not always guaranteed that there will always be someone who will stop and give you a ride, but it surely is worth trying. Not only you make new friends along the process, but you are also able to save some serious amount.

So once you get there, just relax and enjoy, take as much photos as you can and make sure to always look after your belongings to avoid getting stolen from. Be a responsible tourist to help preserve the beauty of Kawasan. 

If you have some questions, feel free to drop a comment!

Visit Buscalan, A Travel Guide On How To Get There

Ever thought of taking a trip to a destination where you can disconnect from the modern world to reconnect with yourself? Or simply just wanting to have a life-changing experience on a budget? Then worry no more, the best destination for you is ‘Buscalan’!

Buscalan is a small village situated on the mountains of Tinglayan in the Province of Kalinga in the Northern part of the Philippines. It is famous for being a ‘tattoo haven’ as well as being the home of the legendary tattooist Whang-od Oggay.

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I remember the first time I visited Buscalan, I was 16 and went there alone! I don’t know what’s gotten into me but it surely is the start of my wanderlust story. Since then, I haven’t kept track as to how many times I’ve been there already. Well, basically, I’ve been captivated by its breathtaking landscapes and its rich culture resulting in my many countless returns. Definitely a place that would surely make you wanna’ come-back for more.  

Apo Whang-od Oggay

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Top Things to do in Buscalan

-Interact with the locals, go around the village and discover their way of life.

-Go and work your way towards the rice terraces early in the morning to watch the sunrise, or in the afternoon to catch the sunset.

-Go and have a dip at their waterfall situated at the base of the mountain just below the village.  

-Try their local coffee, this is a must whenever you visit the village!

-Try their local food, a must if you wanna have an unforgettable experience in Buscalan!

-Get inked by the legendary traditional tattooists of the village!

In this post, I will be sharing some helpful DIY travel tips on how to get there.

The most frequently asked question by every first time traveler is of course, how to get there. Well, there are actually a few ways on how to get there, purely depends on where you will be coming from.

Below are the most commonly taken route:

Manila->Tabuk City->Bugnay, Tinglayan

For this route, take the Victory Liner bus which departs from Victory Sampaloc Terminal in Manila. Buses to Tabuk usually departs during the evening, around 7:00 pm till 9:45pm. The journey roughly takes around 12-14 hours, depends on the traffic. For complete bus schedules and fare, visit the Victory Liner Website. 

Then from Tabuk City, take the mini bus or jeeps going to Bontoc which usually departs from Tabuk City between 4:00am- 8:00am. The journey takes around 3-3.5 hours. Just don’t forget to tell the driver or the conductor to drop you off at ‘Mar-u’ in Bugnay, Tinglayan. Then from ‘Mar-u’, you can ask the locals where the starting point is going to Buscalan and you can then work your way towards the village, either through walking or hiring a motorcycle for php100($2) per way. The walk usually takes around 1.5-2 hours, depends on how fast you are. Motorcycles will drive you all the way to the last vehicle-accessible point in Buscalan then you can work your way towards the village which would take around 30 minutes walking.

Tip: When you ride the jeep/bus going to Bontoc from Tabuk, make sure to ride on top of the jeepney/bus to enjoy an unforgettable experience and a spectacular view!

There is also another way if you want to skip the long bus-ride. You can take a plane from Manila going to Tuguegarao City and from Tuguegarao City, you can ride a van going to Tabuk City and follow the same route as above. But for this option, you need to spend a night in Tabuk City and catch the bus to Bontoc in the morning of the following day.

Manila ->Bontoc Mt. Province->Buscalan

For this route, take the Coda Bus lines which depart from Quezon City, Manila en-route to Sagada, Mountain Province. Just don’t forget to tell the driver or the conductor to drop you off at Bontoc. Journey takes around 9 hours to Bontoc from Manila.

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For Coda Bus Line Schedules and fares, visit their website for the latest fares.

Then from Bontoc, you can then ride the Jeep going to the last vehicle-accessible point in Buscalan and you can then work your way towards the village which would take around 45 to 60-minute walk, depends on how fast you are.

Manila->Baguio City->Bontoc, Mt. Province->Buscalan

This route is the best option if you need or want to have a stop-over at the Summer Capital of the Philippines.  I suggest that if you take this route, then spend at least one night in Baguio then take the buses going to Bontoc either via D’Rising Sun or GL Trans in the morning on the following day.

Buses from Manila to Baguio departs every hour 24/7 via Victory Liner, Genesis, etc. Either from Pasay Bus Terminal, Cubao Bus Terminal or Sampaloc Bus Terminal. Journey from Baguio to Manila takes around 5-6 hours. 

From Baguio City to Bontoc, you can take any of the following below:

D’Rising Sun Buses departs every hour from 5am till 1pm every day from Slaughter House Compound in Magsaysay Avenue, Baguio City.  

GL Lizardo Buses, departs 8AM, 10am and 2:30pm from Dangwa Bus Station at the back of Center Mall in Baguio city.

Journey from Baguio city to Bontoc takes around 6-hours and fares differ from $5-$6 depends on the couch you availed. Then from Bontoc, you can follow the same steps as above.

If you have questions or clarifications, feel free to drop a comment below.

Travel to Buscalan, A DIY Travel Guide On How To Get There

Ever thought of taking a trip to a destination where you can disconnect from the modern world to reconnect with yourself? Or simply just want to have a life-changing experience on a budget? Then worry no more, the best destination for you is ‘Buscalan’!

Buscalan is a small village situated on the mountains of Tinglayan in the Province of Kalinga in the Northern part of the Philippines. It is famous for being a ‘tattoo haven’ as well as being the home of the legendary tattooist

I remember the first time I visited Buscalan, I was 16 and went there alone! I don’t know what’s gotten into me but it surely is the start of my wanderlust story. And since then, I haven’t kept track as to how many times I’ve been there already. Well, basically, I’ve been captivated by its breathtaking landscapes and its rich culture resulting in my many countless returns. Definitely a place that would surely make you wanna’ come-back for more.  

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Top Things to do in Buscalan

-Interact with the locals, go around the village and discover their way of life.

-Go and work your way towards the rice terraces early in the morning to watch the sunrise, or in the afternoon to catch the sunset.

-Go and have a dip at their waterfall situated at the base of the mountain just below the village.  

-Try their local coffee, this is a must whenever you visit the village!

-Try their local food, a must if you wanna have an unforgettable experience in Buscalan!

-Get inked by the legendary traditional tattooists of the village!

In this post, I will be sharing some helpful DIY travel tips on how to get there.

The most frequently asked question by every first time traveler is of course, how to get there. Well, there are actually a few ways on how to get there, purely depends on where you will be coming from.

Below are the most commonly taken route:

Manila->Tabuk City->Bugnay, Tinglayan

For this route, take the Victory Liner bus which departs from Victory Sampaloc Terminal in Manila. Buses to Tabuk usually departs during the evening, around 7:00 pm till 9:45pm. The journey roughly takes around 12-14 hours, depends on the traffic. For complete bus schedules and fare, click here.   

Then from Tabuk City, take the mini buses or jeeps going to Bugnay or Bontoc which usually departs from Tabuk City between 4:00am- 9:00am, they usually park in front of the opposite side of Damagen Gasoline Station in Barangay Bulanao. The journey takes around 3-3.5 hours from Tabuk City to Tinglayan. If you’ve taken the , tell the driver or the conductor to drop you off at ‘Mar-u’ in Bugnay, Tinglayan. Then from ‘Mar-u’, you can ask the locals where the starting point is going to Buscalan and you can then work your way towards the village. The walk usually takes around 1.5-2 hours, depends on how fast you are. Or you can hire a motorcycle for $3 to drive you all the way to the last vehicle-accessible point in Buscalan then you can work your way towards the village which would only take around 45 to 60-minutes walk.

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Tip: When you ride the jeep/bus going to Bontoc or Bugnay from Tabuk, make sure to ride on top of the jeepney/bus to enjoy an unforgettable experience and a spectacular view!

There is also another way if you want to skip the long bus-ride. You can take a plane from Manila going to Tuguegarao City and from Tuguegarao City, you can ride a van going to Tabuk City which will take around an hour journey. You can then follow the same route as above. But for this option, you need to spend a night in Tabuk City and catch the bus to Bontoc in the morning on the following day.

Manila ->Bontoc Mt. Province->Buscalan

For this route, take the Coda Bus lines which depart from Quezon City, Manila en-route to Sagada, Mountain Province. Just don’t forget to tell the driver or the conductor to drop you off at Bontoc. Journey takes around 9 hours to Bontoc from Manila.

For Coda Bus Line Schedules and fares, click here.

Then from Bontoc, you can then ride the Jeep going to the last vehicle-accessible point in Buscalan and you can then work your way towards the village which would take around 45 to 60-minute walk, depends on how fast you are.

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Manila->Baguio City->Bontoc, Mt. Province->Buscalan

This route is the best option if you need or want to have a stop-over at the Summer Capital of the Philippines.  I suggest that if you take this route, then spend at least one night in Baguio then take the buses going to Bontoc either via D’Rising Sun or GL Trans in the morning on the following day.

Buses from Manila to Baguio departs every hour 24/7 via Victory Liner, Genesis, etc. Either from Pasay Bus Terminal, Cubao Bus Terminal or Sampaloc Bus Terminal. Journey from Baguio to Manila takes around 5-6 hours. 

From Baguio City to Bontoc, you can take any of the following below:

D’Rising Sun Buses departs every hour from 5am till 1pm every day from Slaughter House Compound in Magsaysay Avenue, Baguio City.  

GL Lizardo Buses, departs 8AM, 10am and 2:30pm from Dangwa Bus Station at the back of Center Mall in Baguio city.

Journey from Baguio city to Bontoc takes around 6-hours and fares differ from $5-$6 depends on the couch you availed. Then from Bontoc, you can follow the same steps as above.

If you’re arriving from Banaue in Ifugao. You can take a jeepney ride from Banaue to Bontoc which would take around an hour journey, then from Bontoc, you can follow the same steps as above.

If you have questions or clarifications, feel free to drop a comment below.

Photos by Loic Bourgeois Photography, all rights reserved.