When I secured a visa from the Philippines, I should have read it better. I thought it was a three-month visa, and it is but not the three months I thought it was. In Japan, a three-month visa is three months in every way. So I assumed the same for my Philippines visa.
I was wrong. Here is the whole Journey about my Philippines visa extension.
Philippines Visa Shock
After my hospital stay, I have been quietly trying to blend in with life in the Philippines. I’m still recovering, so I didn’t think about my visa that much, but since I’ve been living from visa to visa for years, the thought crossed my mind a couple of days ago.
After a closer inspection of the visa, I realized that it’s a 30-day entry visa and a 59 day stay visa. I have five days to renew my visa! A panic set in, and I became vigilant to my situation.
I needed to find, fill out, and print the necessary visa paperwork. Then I needed to find a way to Immigration in Manila while there is a lockdown for Covid. Thankfully the lockdown was now MECQ Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, so a lot of travel has resumed.
Paperwork for Extention
With all of the paperwork required in the past, I was surprised that I needed only two to apply for an extension. The first paper is a personal information page, and the second is an appointment selection.
Finding a Bus to Manila
My wife found an open appointment for 8 AM tomorrow, and there is no other available appointment until June. We’ll hurry and complete the paperwork, then catch a bus early because it’s too short notice for my driver to take us.
After two hours of standing by the roadway watching 30 full busses go by, we gave up and walked home. We really should have given up after 15 minutes because we would have been late for the appointment after that.
I went back to planning because the Manila plan was never going to work. I am running out of time and needed a quick fix before the overstay fee of 500 pesos a day ($10) starts.
Change of Plans
I’m not getting to Manila anytime soon for a renewal visa, so I found a branch that will extend for two months. Angeles, Pampanga is 45 minutes away, and my driver is free to take me.
The immigration branch is in the METRO mall. We arrived at 9 AM, and there was only room for standing because of Covid seating. Other than this, everyone was required to wear a face mask and face shield requirement.
We received a line number from the officer in charge and took a standing spot. One employee was working the one visa extension booth. I was number 23, so my heart sank as they called number 13. I thought to myself that I’d be standing and waiting for hours.
After an hour and one half, the line suddenly jumped from 18 to 21. I wondered if the line would bounce back, but in 20 minutes, I was standing in front of the counter.
I learned that the visa would cost 1,500 pesos ($30), but I needed to buy a mandatory ID card for 6,238 pesos ($130). When I asked what the ID card was for, they didn’t have an answer. It’s most likely a tax on foreigners.
The ID card lasts for a year, so even if you leave the Philippines before the year is up, you still have a shiny worthless card. You’ll use it just as much outside of the Philippines as you will if you stay in the country.
The receptionist told me to come back in two hours to pick it up. The total cost was 7,682 pesos ($160).
I was thinking of Mcdonald’s for lunch, but there was an hour wait for food, and six people were already waiting. I found a Burger King and had my chicken nuggets, fries, and rootbeer float within 15 minutes. It tasted just like in America, and I was happy.
I don’t recommend eating at a Philippines fast food place because the food doesn’t fit the American Palate. The food either has no taste or makes you ill feeling after a few bites.
I would do more research on this, but my stomach couldn’t handle it.
After one and a half hours, I decided to check on my visa. The visa ready to my surprise. I received my passport and visa printout with the receipt. I signed a release and left the mall.
No stamp was on my visa. I only have the paper printout as proof.
I’ll receive my alien card in a month. I’ll never use it for anything, but I’ll have it.
A quick stop at a different S&R in the area was a different experience. Not every S&R has the same store layout. This S&R was almost entirely bulk buying. So I couldn’t buy only one cream cheese. I could only buy a bulk box of 20. Where am I going to refrigerate that?
I picked up a few items, but I was far from getting everything on my list. I now know that I need to keep returning to the first S&R store I went to buy in singles. The customer service was exceptional at this new store, but the product selection is lacking.
Fill it Up
There is no self-service at gas stations in the Philippines. So what do you do when you keep honking, and no attendant shows up for 15 minutes? You wait until they do.
Exiting the station, we saw several gas pump workers just standing in their waiting area. Perhaps they didn’t want to get out into the heat. Not sure, but this is typical of customer service in the Philippines.
I’ve visited the Philippines three times. Once as a tourist and twice living with my end laws. The customer service in tourism is excellent, but customer service throughout the country is almost nonexistent. I’ll continue to collect data and compile it into an article.
It’s funny, though, because when the Filipino is in a different country, they find jobs quickly because of their work ethic and quickness. In their own country, they work like they are in molasses.
Have you extended your visa in the Philippines? Leave a comment in the section below all about it.
Do you have questions about anything in this article? Post your questions in the comment section below.