Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Payment, A Theft, and an Update

This is the time of the year (January through March) when permanent residents in the Philippines are required to trek to the Bureau of Immigration and file an annual report. This is basically the payment of our visa extension fee, which is PhP310 per person (plus a PhP200 per month penalty for every month missed after that window). When you consider the large number of aliens residing here, it's no surprise that this is a lucrative source of income for the Philippine government.

As I stated in the original post of this blog, the main office for the Bureau of Immigration which is located in the Intramuros district of Manila is not a pleasant place to visit both in terms of the environment and the amount of time that it can take just to accomplish the simplest task there. But there are signs that the BI is becoming a bit more customer service oriented. Their website has a lot of good information, that can save you a trip or even a phone call to their office. It even has downloadable forms. More importantly, the BI now has satellite offices scattered around Metro-Manila including Makati City, ParaƱaque City, and Caloocan City (as well as numerous subports throughout the country). Of course this make it more convenient to complete such matters as the annual report filing.

So today for the first time I completed this chore at one of these locations, specifically the one in Makati City (This branch is in the Board of Investments Building on Buendia Ave [north side of the streed]) aboout 1/2 kilometer past EDSA). I arrived there around 7:45 a.m. expecting to find a large crowd already waiting for service, even though the doors don't officially open until 8:00. This is usually the case at the main BI office. To my surprise I was the only applicant there, and I was processed immediately even though it was not yet 8am. The whole procedure took about 15 minutes and would have taken even less time but for the fact that I was filing in behalf of my wife as well. (Such proxy filings are permitted only for applicants over 65.)

The trip itself, however, was not without incident. A gym bag that I was carrying on my shoulder was lost or swiped in the surging crush of passengers where I was caught up while boarding the MRT commuter train en route to Makati City. Fortunately, the lost contents were just an umbrella and a paperback novel (not to mention the bag itself). In the three and half years that I've been in the Philippines this is the first time that I've experienced such an incident. Ironically, at the time I was focusing on protecting my pocket from being picked such that I forgot about the bag. Also I had taken the book along because I thought I would have a long wait at the BI(!) Even though I was the victim, I still felt like such an ass for being careless. As I mentioned in my original blog entry, theft and snatchings of this nature are very common in Metro-Manila. So it's essential to be vigilant no matter what possessions you're carrying or how your carrying them .


Here's an update regarding the Philippine SRRV (Special Resident Retiree's Visa). In my original post for this blog, I stated that an investment of $50,000 USD is required to participate in this program. At the time I was unaware that this amount applies only to those applicants who are ages 35—49. For those who are 50 or older, it's only $20,000. Please visit the Philippine Retirement Authority website for more information. It tells you just about anything that you need to know about this visa.
I would like to offer special props to fellow Philippines retiree Barry Ruth who read "Your Guide to Living In The Philippines" and brought me up to speed about the SRRV age-based investment amount differences along with other pertinent details . Click here to visit Barry's excellent website, which is also about living in the Philippines.


Kevin V. said...

I am sorry for your "bag misadventure", but your post is very interesting... I was told by the B.I. in Manila that the yearly report could not be done in the Makati satellite office (I live like 3 minutes from that office, so it kinda annoyed me to get that answer...)
But I guess I will go there on Monday to do my little legal business.

dannybuntu said...

Tip from a Filipino:

1. if you really want to ride the sardine can called the MRT, I suggest you use a backpack and turn it into a frontpack.

2. If you are going to use the MRT everyday, I suggest you just replace your cellphone with a cheap model (you could get a cellphone for P500 nowadays)

3. Try to dress like the locals.

4. Do not stand out.

5. Be aware of your surroundings.

6. Like you said, bring along a companion.

I feel bad, when "good visitors" here in the Philippines get victimized by those thugs. There was a time when this country was hospitable.