Government Agency

Philpost/Bureau of Customs Service Experience

9/23/2013 07:04:00 AM




Recently, I purchased prescription glasses online through Firmoo as recommended by a good friend. I am not new with online shopping, however it is my first time ordering from an international seller/website and having the item delivered here in the Philippines. My friend received her package at her doorstep without any problems, but it was different in my case. I finalized and confirmed my order last August 13, and was expecting my package to be delivered in a week or two via EMS. Instead of prescription glasses, I got a piece of card saying that I had to pick up the items as it was subject for Customs review. 

Almost all packages coming in to the Philippines, regardless of courier, is subject for Customs review. And so I was warned of the possible horror I might experience.  I live in Pasig and work at BGC. The Philpost office in Pasay is definitely out of my way.



I left BGC around 0730A, and arrived at my destination around 0800A. Cab fare was a little over Php170. First stop was the EMS window delivery unit in this building.


I was happy to see a few people waiting for their turn.


Everyone has to get a number through this window.


I was glad to be #10.


After waiting for less than 10 minutes, they gave me back the notice card with the number 14 written at the top left corner.




I honestly thought it was that easy. Turns out I would have to go to the next building where the Bureau of Customs Office was located.


I presented a valid ID and patiently waited for my turn together with these people and those who are sitting at my side of the waiting area. It was 0830AM. I looked around and counted, there were definitely more than 14 people around. Some of them were return claimants. Good thing I arrived early because I knew the returnees were prioritized.
 


Here's a Customs Officer in action.




Notice the piles of abandoned packages. I wonder what they would do to these items?


There was no airconditioning in the main area. Not to mention the possibility of a ceiling falling down on you.


An employee carefully slashed the top of my package. It was resealed as soon as the Customs officer finished examining the items. And then I was asked to sign the package as proof that I was present during inspection.


I waited for a while before being finally called to approach a desk, where the customs officer manually computed taxes I had to settle.


It was a good thing I used the tax calculator before hand. Click here to calculate yours. Click here to see the tax computation formula.

Cost of Goods: $38.75
Freight Cost: $18.75
Exchange Rate: Php43.764 (at the time of screen capture)
Total Duties and Taxes:  Php318.70
Customs Documentary Stamp: Php265
Import Processing Fee: Php250
Total: Php833.70


I actually payed for Php1,023 which was not very far from what the tax calculator had originally computed. Perhaps "Rate of Duty" and "Customs Duty" were the additional fees?

"Rate of Duty" depends on the product you purchased. I was told by the Customs Officer that Shoes, Clothing, Bags, and Gadgets are the chart toppers.

This was the first paperwork the Customs officer filled up.


Then he transferred everything he just wrote on the other sheet of paper to this statement.


After which I headed to the cashier (which thankfully was an air-conditioned room although located inside a small cramped-up area) and got a printed receipt.


Before claiming my package, I had to drop by the first desk again and was asked to pay Php50. I had no idea what it was for. At this point I was too tired I didn't bother asking.

I was lucky that the Customs Officer I dealt with was a very nice man. He was quite surprised  I didn't ask for a discount. At that point I didn't bother bargaining. I just wanted get it over and done with so that I could go home.

I checked out just a few minutes before 1100A. I was 14th in line but I spent almost 3 hours in queue. I can't help but cringe thinking that there were a couple of foreigners picking up packages. I saw them shaking their heads out of dismay. Way to go on making an impression Bureau of Customs!

Image courtesy of http://www.ebay.com/itm/6-Natural-Rubber-Finger-Protectors-/290823289848

Almost all of the employees in the office are wearing rubber thingys like these. I knew for a fact that their hands are already pasmado - having to manually write the whole day every single day is definitely taking a toll on their hands and fingers. No wonder majority of them are hot-headed, especially in the afternoon.


I paid almost Php4000 - that includes the frames, the lenses, shipping fees, and taxes.  Not that much savings, I know. And going through such an ordeal for two pairs of prescription glasses was definitely not worth it... Or at least I thought so until I finally got to see the items I purchased. Mom and I were very happy with our new frames!

I'm sure there is a way to automate this whole process. A software program may be a big investment, but it will definitely increase productivity, lessen corruption (hopefully), and decrease a claimant's transaction time. Someone in the government should look into this.

Just imagine the billions of Pesos Napoles took from us - that money could have been used to improve Government Services such as this.

Other things you need to know:
  • The EMS Customs office is open Mondays to Fridays from 0800A-0500P, but has a cut-off of 0400P.
  • If you want to go home early and not spend the whole day waiting in line - be there EARLY.
  • Consider bringing a relative who is a Senior Citizen, and have them transact in your behalf. Senior Citizens are given priority.
  • Be nice and courteous to everyone you are dealing with - this will somehow ensure you get fair treatment.
  • Be honest about the products you bought - giving the Customs Officer a run around or bogus stories may just increase your chances of paying higher as they may take advantage if they see an opportunity to do so.
 

TV

Survivor: Blood vs Water

9/23/2013 06:13:00 AM

Image courtesy of http://survivor.wikia.com/wiki/File:Survivor_27_Palaui_Blood_vs_Water.png

If you are a fan of Survivor like I am, then you surely wouldn't want to miss the 27th season of this hit reality TV series. It features returning castaways and their family members competing against each other. Like the previous two seasons, Survivor: Blood vs Water was filmed here in the Philippines from May 2013 to June 2013, only this time at Palaui Island Cagayan.

Image courtesy of http://survivoroz.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/survivor-blood-vs-water-cast-reveal/

Tribe names are in Tagalog: "Galang" and "Tadhana", which mean "Respect" and "Destiny" respectively. Here are the tribe's buffs neatly colored in yellow and red.

Brad Culpepper
Image courtesy of http://www.buddytv.com/brad-culpepper/photos/brad-culpepper-photos-67657.aspx


Hayden Moss
Image courtesy of http://bigbrothernetwork.com/big-brother-12-hayden-moss-discusses-his-win-kristen-and-brenchel/

The cast includes former NFL player Brad Culpepper, competing with his wife and Survivor: One World castaway Monica, and Big Brother 12 winner Hayden Moss, playing with his girlfriend Kat Edorsson, also from Survivor: One World. Moss is also a former Big Brother house guest.

RC Saint-Amour
Image courtesy of http://thewiseguise.com/2012/09/survivor-philippines-fantasy-draft/roberta-rc-saint-amour/

Survivor: Philippines castaway Roberta "RC" Saint-Amour and her father, Craig, were originally cast and traveled to the Philippines with the other participants, but were pulled out a day before filming began due to Craig having high blood pressure. They were replaced by Candice Cody (from Survivor: Cook Islands and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains) and her husband, John.

Being Filipino, I am definitely honored that the producers chose the Philippines (for the third time in a row) as the location for this top rated TV series. S25 Survivor Philippines and S26 Survivor Caramoan were both filmed at Caramoan, Camarines Sur from March 18, 2012 to April 25, 2012 and  May 21, 2012 to June 28, 2012 respectively.

For Sky Cable subscribers, Survivor: Blood vs Water airs at Jack TV Thursdays 0200P Via Satellite with a primetime telecast at 0900P. You can also catch replays during Sunday, from 1200N to 0200PM. The first hour is a replay of the previous week's episode while the second hour is a replay of the current episode.

Click here to view information about all 20 castaways (Photo and Info Credits to http://xfinity.comcast.net)

 Name: Tyson Apostol
Age: 34
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Rachel’s boyfriend
Previous Seasons: “Survivor: Tocantins” – second jury member and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” – sixth person voted out.

Name: Rachel Foulger
Age: 33
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Tyson’s girlfriend


Name: Rupert Boneham
Age: 49
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Laura’s Husband
Previous Seasons: “Survivor: Pearl Islands – second jury member, “Survivor: All Stars” – sixth jury member, won $1 million fan favorite vote,  and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” – seventh jury member.

Name:  Laura Boneham
Age: 44
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Rupert’s Wife

 Name: Aras Baskauskas
Age: 31
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Vytas’ Brother
Previous Season: The winner of “Survivor: Panama – Exile Island.”

 Name: Vytas Baskauskas
Age: 33
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Aras’ Brother

Name: Gervase Peterson
Age: 43
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Marissa’s Uncle
Previous Season: “Survivor: Borneo” – third jury member

 Name: Marissa Peterson
Age: 21
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Gervase’s Niece

Name: Kat Edorsson
Age: 23
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Hayden’s Girlfriend
Previous Season: “Survivor: One World” – sixth jury member

Name: Hayden Moss
Age: 26
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Kat’s Boyfriend

Name: Candice Cody (formerly Candice Woodcock)
Age: 30
Relationship to Significant Castaway: John’s Wife
Previous Seasons: “Survivor: Cook Islands” – fifth jury member and “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villians” – fifth jury member


Name: John Cody
Age: 30
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Candice’s Husband

Name: Laura Morett
Age: 43
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Ciera’s Mother
Previous Season: “Survivor: Samoa” – third jury member

Name: Ciera Eastin
Age: 24
Relationship to Significant Castaway:  Laura’s Daughter

Name:  Monica Culpepper
Age: 42
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Brad’s Wife
Previous Season: “Survivor: One World” – fifth person eliminated

Name: Brad Culpepper
Age: 44
Relationship to Significant Castaway:  Monica’s Husband

Name: Colton Cumbie
Age: 22
Relationship to Significant Castaway:  Caleb’s FiancĂ©
Previous Season:  “Survivor: One World” – medically evacuated on day sixteen due to illness.

Name:  Caleb Bankston
Age: 26
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Colton’s FiancĂ©

Name: Tina Wesson
Age: 52
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Katie’s Mother
Previous Season: Winner of “Survivor: The Australian Outback” and “Survivor: All Stars” – first player eliminated.

Name: Katie Collins
Age: 25
Relationship to Significant Castaway: Tina’s Daughter

Who do you think will be this season's Sole Survivor?

Food Review

Food Review: Big Guys Pizza

9/23/2013 03:48:00 AM


It was a Friday. The mood at work was light. Everyone was getting ready for the weekend. My colleagues wanted to eat pizza, so we ordered one box. I didn't think a box of pizza would fill up a team of more than 10 people. I was wrong.


Luigi, our newest teammate, took this picture. Look at how big that box is. YES, you read it right. The pie is 36 inches.


I said to myself "it's just the box." I was wrong. Again. Just imagine if the pie was sliced in the traditional way - I bet a lot of people will have a hard time finishing one slice.

Taste: 3 out of 5 stars
Honestly, it was a little bit mediocre. I didn't expect it to be "delicious" but I somehow hoped that it would have a competitive taste. It came in 4 flavors but they tasted almost the same. There were a lot of toppings, however I cannot distinguish what I was eating except for the pineapple. And the crust? Too thin for my liking.

Value:  4 out of 5 stars
For Php1498 + Php100 delivery charge, it can satisfy 10-15 heads. If you plan on having a small gathering and just ordering food to save time on cooking and preparation, this is a definite go-to.

Their cash only payment method definitely decreases their range of possible corporate consumers due to the fact that most companies prefer using corporate cards for purchases. But they are  relatively new in the market, so I'm pretty sure the company will eventually have other payment methods available soon.

Delivery hour is until 1am I believe, unlike other famous pizza parlors - which is great for late night parties, midnight snacks, and graveyard shifters.
 
Like their Facebook page here.

Beauty

Product Review: GirlStuff Nail Polish in Machiatto

9/16/2013 05:12:00 AM


A few weeks back mom and I purchased 4 different colors of nail polish from a small kiosk in SM Megamall we accidentally stumbled upon. The wide variety of colors were to die for.

Today I used the color Machiatto. It is probably their version of what other brands would call "Touch of Tan." If you just look at the product in the bottle, it actually seems like a darker shade of the said tone, however after application it kind of has a slight hint of pink. Or maybe I'm just color blind.


Initially I liked the bottle's shape because it stacks well together and that saves a lot of space. However I just realized that warming up the polish inside by rubbing the bottle between your palms is virtually impossible. The product is not very hard to work with, and dries off quickly which I think is great. It also doesn't leave that awful scent of chemicals unlike other nail polishes do.

Besides basic colors, girlstuff nail polishes are also available in metallic, glittery, and washable versions. What's great about the brand is that it's perfect for little girls because it's free from 3 chemicals commonly found in other nail products. Check here to view color swatches and other details of the product.

I didn't use my matte top coat since it was my first time to try this shade but I bet it would also look gorgeous in matte. Click here to view details of a cheap matte top coat that is under Php50.

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