A smiling photo at Meguro River to make it seem like I have my shit together.

I can’t believe I’m saying this- but I really thought I had it all figured out. I had a notebook where I wrote specific goals and timelines written down. Throughout the years, the goals and timelines have changed, but, despite the changes, I always had the mindset that everything would go my way; exactly how I planned it.

I thought people who didn’t plan for their future were naive. I wondered how people could be okay with “going with the flow” and not being in a rush- like I was. I wondered how people could keep it together if things didn’t go their way.

Turns out I was the naive one this whole time.

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How to get your Passport Renewed at DFA Cebu (as of September 20, 2016)

This is how I got my passport renewed yesterday at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – Cebu Office in under 10 minutes (I’m not even joking!). I was super impressed with how fast it was. Of course, the time it takes for your renewal would vary, but it went super smoothly for me because my OC self made it a point to come early and prepared.

I’m mainly going to talk about my experience of renewing my passport, but if it’s your first time to apply for a passport, the process is the same (only the requirements are different). Just make sure to have all the requirements ready and I’m sure it’ll be just as fast.

Before I went through the amazingly speedy process, I had to learn and figure out how to do all this stuff the hard way (lol). I mean, it wasn’t that difficult, it was just a hassle. I tried to look up several blog posts about how everyone got their passports renewed at DFA Cebu, and almost every post said it was fine to walk-in at 3:00PM instead of lining up at 2:00AM just to get a priority number. I went to the DFA Office at the 4th floor of Pacific Mall in Mandaue last week, and the security guard just handed me this piece of paper:

A complete list of ALL the basic requirements and a summary of the Passport Application Process- everything you need to know.

He said that the DFA no longer accepts walk-ins, and that I needed to set an appointment online. I was devastated; I wasted almost two hours in traffic just to be sent away with nothing!

But I wasn’t really sent away with nothing. I learned that the DFA decided to take a step forward and do things in a more orderly way, which is how things should’ve been from the start. Everything you need to know is on this paper.

Just to make it even easier for you (and so you don’t have to waste two hours in traffic), I’ve made a slightly more detailed guide of how I did it. I hope this helps!


Before everything else, set an online appointment.

How to Set an Online Appointment

STEP 1 of 8: Go to: and start an individual or group appointment. I’ll be demonstrating how an individual appointment goes:


STEP 2 of 8: Fill in the Site Location. Since I had my passport renewed at DFA Cebu, this is what mine looked like:


STEP 3 of 8: Choose an Appointment Date and Time. You might have to do this weeks or days prior to find a time slot that is available/or to pick a time slot freely.


STEP 4 of 8: Fill in your personal information.


STEP 5 of 8: Fill in your Application Information. Again, since I was only getting a renewal, this is what it will look like:


STEP 6 of 8: Fill in your Contact Information.


After clicking Next, it will take a little more time to load (or maybe it was just my internet connection), and it will redirect you to a page where you need to confirm all the details you’ve inputted. After confirming, check your e-mail.

STEP 7 of 8: Confirm your appointment date and time.

You will receive two (2)  E-mail Confirmation Notifications.

The first will look like this:


You have to confirm your appointment time and date by clicking the link contained in the e-mail. When you click the link, it will ask you for your Appointment Code and the e-mail you used.

Note that the e-mail emphasizes that you must confirm within 120 hours, otherwise your appointment will automatically be cancelled.

After confirming your appointment time and date, you should receive a second confirmation email, which will look something like this:


The second e-mail is just a reiteration of your details, but now you can also click the link to download your Passport Application Form.

STEP 8 of 8: Print out your Passport Application Form on an A4-sized paper and bring it with you along with your other requirements on your scheduled appointment date and time.

The Passport Application Form should contain three (3) pages:

  1. Important Remindersimportant-reminders
  2. Passport Application Form (with your appointment details on the top left)

    Passport Application Form (this is what mine looked like except I just edited out my details)
  3. List of Requirements for Passport Applicants (for both new applicants and for those renewing)screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-1-08-05-pm

What to bring and prepare prior to arriving at DFA for a Passport Renewal:

  1. Your expiring/expired passport.
  2. One (1) pictured valid ID (in my case, I brought my driver’s license; see a list of acceptable valid IDs on the last page of your Passport Application Form or on the picture of the paper handed to me by the security guard, which I put at the beginning of this post).
  3. A photocopy of page 2 and 3 and the last two pages of your expiring/expired passport like this:

    Hiding my 17-year-old nene face and some details for security (lol)
  4. A photocopy of the front and back of your pictured valid ID.
  5. Have a pen ready.

When you arrive at DFA on your scheduled appointment date and time:

  1. Be there 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time.
  2. Have your Passport Application Form ready to show to the security guard before you enter. He will check to confirm your appointment details on the top left.
  3. Make sure you have your old passport and a valid ID on-hand, as well as their respective photocopies.
  4. Go up to the security guard at the entrance and show him your Passport Application Form. My scheduled appointment was at 11:30AM, but I was already at the DFA entrance at around 10:50-ish AM. I went and asked the guard if I should wait for 11:30AM, but he let me in right away.

What to do after the guard lets you in:

STEP 1 of 3: Checking of requirements

  1. Another guard will meet you inside and ask if you have your Passport and Valid ID photocopies with you. If you have them ready, he will direct you to a counter and ask you to sign a waiver on a small sheet of paper.
    • The waiver is just so you understand that after a successful application/renewal process, the delivery of your new passport may be delayed and the DFA will not be responsible for travel issues you may procure due to the delay; so, make sure to settle your passport BEFORE buying tickets for international flights!
  2. The officer at the first counter will take your Application Form, the waiver, your old passport and valid ID, and their respective photocopies. He/she will then ask you what type of processing you would like to avail of, which is either:
    • Regular processing – after twenty (20) working days
    • Express processing – after ten (10) working days
  3. The officer will also ask you to fill out a log (just your name, birthday, and if your purpose was for a passport renewal or a new application).
  4. The officer will then staple all of your documents together (for passport renewal applicants, the officer will punch your old passport to signify that it’s expired and can no longer be used, or ask you to bring it with you when you pick up your new passport if it is not yet expired) and ask you to proceed to the Cashier for payment. This all happened very quickly!

STEP 2 of 3: Payment at the Cashier

  1. When you get to the cashier, hand in all of your stapled documents and prepare to pay the processing fee. It would help you finish faster if you bring the exact amount:
    • Regular processing fee – P950.00
    • Express processing fee – P1,200.00
  2. After payment, you will be issued a receipt. Do not lose this receipt!

STEP 3 of 3: Have your photo taken and confirm your passport details

  1. There will be another security guard who will direct you to another counter (the last step!), where you will have your passport photo taken by an officer.
  2. After you have your photo taken, the officer will have your fingerprints scanned and ask you to e-sign your new passport on a signature pad/tablet thing (I don’t know what it’s called lol).
  3. The officer will ask you to look at a screen to confirm your name spelling, birthday, etc.
  4. Make sure it’s all correct. The officer warned me that any corrections after receiving your new passport will require you to go through the entire process again (and pay again!)
  5. Once it’s all confirmed, the officer will stamp your receipt with the tentative date at the bottom (as I highlighted below) of when you can pick-up your new passport:


So, yes. That’s it!

I might edit this post to tell you all how I picked up my passport (since I’m still picking it up on October 4th). I was told I don’t need to set an appointment time to pick up the passport and just walk-in. I would only need to bring my expiring passport as well as this receipt.

There you have it- a hopefully detailed and helpful account of how I entered DFA at around 11:00AM, followed the process, and got out by 11:09AM. I got my passport renewed in under (but almost) ten minutes! I am not even joking. I kept checking my phone clock because I didn’t think it’d be so fast. I wouldn’t dedicate an entire blog post for this if I weren’t so satisfied or surprised. Good job, DFA!

Good luck, and I hope this helps!

I’m not meant

I'm Not Meant

I wrote “I’m not meant” back in the olden days when my handwriting was horrible, grammar was questionable, and margins were unimaginable. I found this while I was cleaning and packing all my stuff in boxes, along with other, more embarrassing (yet somehow artistic) write-ups from the mind of my child self. It reads:

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Everyone’s a writer

Processed with VSCO with a7 preset

I have a lot of frustrations sourced from the internet. Many of those frustrations are because of data caps (brought to us straight from hell) and the sad joke that is our internet “speed” in this country (because most of the time it isn’t speedy at all). But a lot of those frustrations come from- dare I say it- election posts on social media.

I’m not going to bring up the argument that “I’m a Political Science graduate/an intellectual and you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about/you don’t know shit!” because that’s an ad hominem argument and *gasp* there are both Political Science graduates and intellectuals out there who just really don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about, even when it isn’t about the elections. I don’t claim to know what the hell I’m talking about all the time either, because I don’t have that much confidence in my rudimentary brain.

I don’t even claim to care about the elections a tad bit more than everyone else already does, because I’m not afraid to admit that I’m shallow. If I ever became Senator (not that I plan on running), I’d prioritize getting this country a fast, stable and consistent internet connection over pretending I can fully understand politics or the Philippine economy.

I am not even hating on the magic of social media. It is undeniably today’s most convenient way to spread information like wildfire. This is sweet and realtime information about your private life (a.k.a. what you had for dinner), but most importantly, information about relevant social issues. It’s great. A lot of us, including myself, learn a lot from social media. A lot of us, including myself through this blogpost, use social media as an avenue to freely express our thoughts without limit.

But that’s my concern here. Freedom is prone to abuse, and because of the convenience of social media, I think there is a very thin line between freely expressing our thoughts, and freely misinforming the rest of the world through unvalidated data or misleading marketing tactics. Well, at least for all these election posts. I mentioned that I will not be making any ad hominem arguments. I will, however, stick to my belief that research means everything. I am completely against any misleading post because of fabricated information, or because of information that was misunderstood. I am against every manifestation of the “freedom of speech” just for the sake of throwing words around in search of validation from others. I am against every post based on raw opinion and zero research, speaking in a tone as if they were undebatable facts. I am against every person claiming to be exercising their “freedom of speech” not because I don’t agree with them, but because their claims have no factual nor logical basis.

Before someone throws a hardbound 1987 Philippine Constitution or the Bill of Rights at me, I still value free speech! Indeed, in the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, nor do I expect myself to agree with others all the time. The one thing that just really bothers me about this whole election theatric is the lack of proper understanding of crucial issues. People share their thoughts on these issues which are supposed to be respected as opinions, but are then fought and argued over as facts. There is a huge difference.

Our opinions are protected, there is no doubt about that! But there needs to be a borderline when these opinions are bragged, screamed and disputed as facts. There needs to be a major shift from classifying intelligence based on preferred candidates to classifying intelligence based on understanding and knowledge of socio-economic and political issues, and being able to apply that when choosing who to vote for.

I don’t care who you’re voting for as President, or Vice-President (frankly, I care more about who our Senators should be). I respect your choice, and I don’t intend on forcing you to swallow my views. To me, the entire social media scene regarding elections this year paints a picture of a noisy marketplace, or an overcrowded restaurant on weekends. There’s loud music playing in the background, and it’s too noisy to hear what the person in the next table is saying, and you’re speaking in a loud voice just so your friend can hear you. Everyone is basically screaming. What difference does it make to scream your opinion in all this noise? Eventually, you and your screaming opinion will fade out in the background, and be but a part of a composition of noise. It’s unpleasant. It’s hard to understand.

Of course, the easiest counterpoint to this imagery is again, the freedom of speech. The concept that we have to get rid of a “Why bother?” mindset, and we should just say everything we think in all the noise. At least there’s a chance someone will be enlightened. Someone might change their minds when they see my post. There’s a possibility that someone will finally realize how stupid they’ve been acting. And yes, it can be applicable! That is one of the essences of free speech. It is a right that protects our autonomy as individuals, our preferences, our opinions. It gives us a chance to be heard. However, that opportunity to be heard is not the same as an opportunity to have our opinions accepted wholly or appreciated as the only correct opinion there is. It’s an opinion, and opinions are never “correct” or “wrong” in the first place. That’s why it’s an opinion. That makes all the difference.

I can’t help but mention a cliché detail; think about every person who sacrificed their lives for our freedom to express our thoughts. Think about how the victims of Martial Law died for the opportunities and the power we so easily abuse through our fingertips, in the process of losing their tongues, their hands, or their careers. Journalists were persecuted because they were investigative. Because they did their research. Because they were not afraid to question inconsistencies. Because they were critical. Because they wanted to know the truth, and they wanted others to know it as well.

What if you were killed for a Facebook status? Or a Tweet? We were given the freedom to express our beliefs without restraint- whether we do so carelessly or through deliberation and careful thought. Shouldn’t we all feel a sort of responsibility on our part? People died to afford us the freedom of speech. Shouldn’t we be cautious? Shouldn’t we use this right with responsibility, and consider this freedom in high regard? Shouldn’t we make sure we’re saying the right things in the appropriate context? Shouldn’t we be searching for a basis for every claim? Every argument? Every accusation?

In the end, the candidate with the most votes wins, and whether we like that person or not, we will be bound by that person’s victory in the essence of a “democracy” we all declare to fight for. We have every right to be able to influence others to make intelligent choices. So, I don’t question a person’s efforts to change someone else’s views, because you may do so as you please. Regardless of who you are supporting, I don’t question your choice if it is well-founded. I respect your choice and your opinion. However, I question your choice if your only source of information is Facebook- and you continue to advocate for something you know nothing about. I will question your choice if you made no extra effort to validate your claims, or if you cannot question a claim yourself. I will question your choice if you read information in the lens of bias. I will question your choice if you accept information selectively. I will question your choice if your views are based on the opinion of others- because opinions are not facts.

What then is the scope of the freedom of speech? When can we say that it is abused? When can we say that it should be protected? Who knows, anyway? Is it rare these days to get into an educational discussion with someone and do so with an open mind? Is it common etiquette to insult, ridicule and humiliate? Is it unusual to question and think critically? Is it unthinkable and unacceptable to have isolate beliefs from the dernier cri?

In all this frustration, I sincerely hope we all learn to shut the fuck up whenever we’re unsure (or at least when we pretend to be sure) and learn to do our goddamn research. Honestly, I haven’t been actively promoting any candidate. I don’t want to shove who I’m voting for in your faces just to prove that I did my research. I don’t want to scream from the top of my lungs about who I’m voting for to prove that I’m smarter than every person on the bandwagon. I don’t intend to engage in lengthy debates in a comments section to make a point to someone who never intended to listen or understand. I don’t consider myself as a better person because of who I’m voting for. I’m just a writer, and I’m frustrated because everyone’s a “writer” now regardless of fact or opinion. I’m irritated and annoyed.

Words are power. What do you use them for?


Whenever I talk about my favorite travel experiences, I always go back to how I enjoyed getting lost and figuring out train routes in Japan. The only kanji I’m confident with reading are the names of stations around central Tokyo. But unlike getting lost and feeling amused at the littlest things I run into- from free tissues handed out like flyers to escalator etiquette- law school is a whole other feat.

And in law school, it’s safe to say that I don’t exactly enjoy feeling lost.
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In Japanese, the character for the number 9 is written as 「九」and is read as “kyu” or “ku”. The latter way of reading it is the primary reason why the number 9 isn’t considered a lucky number in Japan because the character for the number 9 read as “ku” is also how the character「苦」(ku) is read, which could fluctuate among the meanings of pain, anguish, suffering, distress, anxiety, worry, trouble, difficulty, or hardship.

Although not surprising, after 9 years, that’s a spot-on definition of how I feel today. But just for today.

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My third debut anniversary

Living up to my self-imposed tradition of getting a new dress for my birthday every year.
Because I stopped aging when I turned eighteen. Just kidding- I’m twenty-one! Unlike the previous years, I now accept a plain “Happy Birthday” greeting instead of a “Happy Debut Anniversary” one. I have embraced my old age.

I turned 21 two weeks ago. On the day of my  birthday, I adopted the official hashtag: #birthdaybitaw because I slept in, read zero cases, skipped my Constitutional Law class, saw the premiere for Attack on Titan, and had Japanese food for dinner. Why? Because #birthdaybitaw. If my teachers can skip class, so can I!

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