Category: How To

how to ride the PNR

Trainspotting in Manila: How to Ride the PNR

If you’re planning to visit Manila anytime soon, brace yourself: you’re in for a hellish, inconvenient commute. In Manila, getting anywhere can be a piece of work. The travel time from NAIA, the international airport in Pasay City in Luzon, to Quezon City, where I live, usually takes two to three hours. It doesn’t help that we have a poorly organized public transportation system. The routes of the buses and jeepneys (which are smaller buses) can be intimidating and confusing to first-timers in the city.
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Taipei skyline

How to Apply for a Taiwan Visa with a Philippine Passport

UPDATE: In April 2017, Taiwan relaxed its visa policies for Brunei, Thai, and Filipino citizens. Please visit the TECO website for the latest news.

Getting a Taiwan visa can be daunting if you don’t know where to start. If you’re planning to fly to Taipei anytime soon, you need to secure either a visa or a travel authorization certificate. Fortunately, the application process for getting these documents is simple enough.

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The new e-passport: what you need to know

Last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced that a more secure electronic passport will be available in April 2016. Nothing makes my heart beat faster than good design, so I am very excited about this new and improved document.

Before you chuck your passport out the window to get a new one (don’t do that), read on to learn more about the updated version that will be rolled out by the government soon.

What It Looks Like

We all know that the current passport is drab and unassuming. The new design, however, contains illustrations that speak to the country’s history and biodiversity. These include Bicol’s Mayon Volcano, Metro Manila’s skyline, and Ifugao’s world-famous rice terraces, among others. It also contains words from the National Anthem and the preamble of the 1987 Constitution.

Philippine passport 2016
Photo credit: ABS-CBN Online News
Philippine passport 2016
Photo credit: ABS-CBN Online News

Improved Security Features

Aside from being pretty, the unique illustrations on the visa pages are actually an added security feature: these images are created using a process called intaglio printing, making it almost impossible to replicate. This is also the process used in printing banknotes.

In addition to these illustrations, the new e-passport will feature see-through holograms (or images visible at a certain angle), a microchip containing important details about the traveler’s identity, printed information visible only under UV light, watermark, and pages perforated with a unique document number (much like the old one).

Watch TFC’s interview with Ambassador Libran Cabactulan on the new e-passport’s features:

How to Get the New Passport

If your passport will expire anytime soon (like me), you’re in luck. By April, we’ll have the upgraded version of the Philippine passport. But if you just renewed yours, you’ll have to wait for five more years until it expires before you can get the new one.

For more information on how to obtain a Philippine passport, log on to the DFA’s web page for passport applications.

(UPDATE: It seems like the launch of the new passport was delayed. According to Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, the printing of new passports starts on August 16.)


Kalinga (Part 2 of 2) – How to Get to Buscalan, Tinglayan

April 2014 – I have to admit that getting to Buscalan, Tinglayan is both exhausting and dangerous. There are many roads that lead to the Cordilleras but only one highway traverses the town of Tinglayan. Since we went there during the Holy Week, and I was too stupid not to reserve any bus tickets, we had no choice but to make cutting trips. Anyway, based on what I’ve read from some blogs, there are several ways to get to Tinglayan. Here are some of the routes you can take to get to Buscalan.

how to get to Buscalan

  • Manila – Tabuk – Tinglayan (~15 hr)

This is the easiest way to reach the town nestled under the shadow of the Sleeping Beauty. There are Victory Liner buses from Kamias Station (920-7396) that can get you all the way to Tabuk, Kalinga (~12 hr, PhP 580 ). Once in Bulanao, Tabuk, ask where the jeeps to Tinglayan are (~3 hr, ~PhP 110).

As an alternative to the Manila – Tabuk bus, you can ride a bus to Tuguegarao (~12 hr, PhP 600) and from there, ride a van to Tabuk (~2 hr, PhP 85). The van terminal is beside Brickstone Mall, which is near the Victory terminal. I wouldn’t advise taking this particular route, though, because why would you?! It will take forever (or about 17 hr)!

  • Manila – Baguio – Bontoc – Tinglayan (~15 hr)

I think this route is the most energy-consuming among the three, but I think it’s more enjoyable than the other two. This was the route that we picked because it was the only option left for us. From Manila, there are several bus liners travelling to Baguio (e.g., Victory Liner, Dagupan Lines, and Genesis) with several terminals in Cubao and Pasay. The fare costs around PhP 450; travel time, around 6 hours. In Baguio, ride a cab to the D’Rising Sun terminal (just tell the cab driver to take you to the Slaughter House, or explain that you want to go to Bontoc). The first trip to Bontoc leaves at 5:30 AM (~6 hr, ~PhP 220; student fare PhP 175). There’s another bus line plying the same route (GL Lizardo) but I’m not sure where their terminal is. For first-time travelers to the Cordilleras, note that this ride can be a bit bumpy and nauseating because there will be endless twists and turns along the Halsema Highway (or the Baguio – Bontoc road).

The Tinglayan jeepney terminal in Bontoc is located beside the campus of Mountain Province State Polytechnic College, which is right across the corner where the Baguio – Bontoc bus stops. The first trip leaves at 1 PM (I’m not sure if this is always the case, though). The fare is PhP 100; travel time, about 3 hours. Be prepared to go on topload (i.e., ride on top of the jeep) in case there are many passengers.

Actually, there’s a bus from Quezon City that will take you directly to Bontoc – Cable Tours – but I’m not sure if it’s still operational after LTFRB suspended 1o of its units earlier this year.

  • Manila – Banaue – Bontoc – Tinglayan (~15 hr)

    The Ohayami bus line (09175617344), whose terminal is somewhere along Lacson Avenue in Sampaloc, has regular trips to Banaue, Ifugao (~9 hr, ~PhP 450). (The other one is Florida Liner. I don’t think they have the license to operate anymore.) Once in Banaue, you can ride a jeep to Bontoc (~3 hr, ~PhP 200).

There is no 3G coverage in Kalinga at all, although there are splotches of GSM-covered areas (Globe) so your boss can still probably call you there. Smart is unavailable in this area. If you plan to visit the other barrios of Butbut and Ngibat, don’t forget to bring water and sunblock.

As you may have already read elsewhere, it would also be great if you could bring some matches and over-the-counter medicine for the elderly and some candies for the children in Buscalan. It’s not required, but they will appreciate the gesture. If you’re planning to stay the night in one of the houses there, bring some food to share with your host family.

Do tell me about your trip in the comments section! 🙂