Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Monday Best: 2nd day in School

For some reasons, I always dislike Monday. Even when I started to work, Monday is always the rush hour of my week. But yesterday's Monday is different. I was excited and thirsty to learn more german words. I found myself in our classroom an hour earlier than starting time. I eagerly inspect the pictures on the wall and the several maps of Germany inside the classroom. One by one, my classmates arrived. I have  a great time listening to their love stories about their german husband/boyfriend. And was delighted to find out that one of them is heading to the same city where I am heading too. Yey!

 So far, we are 9 now in the batch -- we have a new classmate who just arrived recently: the thorn of the roses -- our only guy in the class.  He was stranded in his town's pier as there was an ongoing strong typhoon over the week end. This is why he didn't get to attend the first day. The good thing about him is that he is a fast learner. Imagine from our first day: 3 hours lesson all jam packed for less than 30 minutes (it serve as a reviewer). So, as much as possible, it is a must to attend each class on time.

This is all for now. Going to review now for tomorrow's rumble! 'Til next time!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Headset for Voice Chats

Learning German is a mixture of fun and difficulty. My Husband-to-be (H2B) wanted to help me train by means of voice chatting. I happily went to the nearest CDR-king, one of the largest gadget store in the Philippines (over 100 branch nationwide) who showcase budget goods that are made in China. How cheap is cheap? I brought my headset there for only 120php. But like any cheap product, you can only expect poor performance. The microphone of the headset stop working after a day. Sure, it has a week warranty -- but you see, to have it exchange ... I needed to fall in line usually taking at least 30 minutes before its your turn. And what can they exchange it for? Of course another 120php worth of headset. So yes, I did not bother went back to have it exchange. This is a good way to burn money?

My H2B ordered me to go shopping (yeah! I like the sound of that! Marrying the right guy huh?) and to find the time to buy a decent headset (there's the catch!). So I head to the mall with my sister's family for some eating and shopping. I actually ask my brother-in-law to shop the headset for me. Being a computer noob, I knew he would find a better choice. I was not mistaken!

He got me a *drum roll* Plantronics Audio 326 from Octogon Computer Superstore.  You can imagine my eyes starts to sparkle when I saw it, esp. when I saw that it was specifically made for music and games, voice talk, video conference and voice recording.Good marketing strategy? It is covered with a 3 months warranty by the Octogon store and another 7 months warranty by the maker itself. And this cost only 895php. Good deal ha?

I tried it and was delighted how clear the sound is. The head set is feather weight and does not strain my ears. So if you are looking for a good headset, the brand Plantronics is something worth checking out!

Friday, May 27, 2011

My first day in School Exp

Today is my first day in school. My sister who is a makeup artist was giving me that "day look" right after lunch. My class schedule begins at 2pm and ends at 5pm. At least the make up session kept me distracted until the driver came in the office to drive and drop me off my school.

The teacher and some of my classmates were already there. The air conditioner is nice against the hot weather outside and the room were sparkling clean. There was a German flag with a seal on the middle displayed near the white board. And a lot of pictures scrapbook styled display on the walls giving the place a roomy feel. The tables were arranged like a letter "U". I was hoping to be able to sit at the middle, but it was already taken. So, I settled down on the corner nearest to the door. I mentally count how many we were -- 6. But one of my classmates inform us as if she read my mind that we are actually 10 people in the batch. It was a good thing I bring along my 'bag hanger' rather than have my bag stuffed behind my back (there's a good tip).

 I came in prepared and arranged my stuffs on my desk:

-- black ballpen
-- red ballpen
-- mechanical pencil
-- eraser
-- notebook

 It was time to start although other classmates have not arrived yet. The teacher, Mrs. Elizabeth Seidenschwarz, then started the lesson by asking us to give her a german word. I suddenly have a mental block and blurted out: "Hallo". The situation is so comical that we all laugh same time. "Come on people ... give me another German word!" she said, "how about 'I love you' in German?" And this is where I redeemed myself: Ich liebe dich! (yey!).

Somewhere in between our lessons, 2 more students arrived. So my last counting is 8.

Anyway, the teacher is really good. We started to talk in german after an hour. My head was spinning with joy and an inner voice was screaming: "oh my God, you guys talking in German na!" Time do fly so fast and by the time I feel thirsty for more: it was time to pack up and go home (what! already???). Our class ended at 5:15pm. Our next meeting is Monday. And I never thought the day come when I wish its already Monday. lol.

Happy weekend!

German School in Cebu

If you read my previous blogs, you would know by now that I went to Cebu City to do my paperworks. Since I am here: I also enrolled myself into a German School: Treffpunkt Deutsch Cebu. This is conveniently located in Foodland Building, Banilad Cebu (just walking distance from the German Embassy Cebu). The building is complete with parking space, security guards and have establishments nearby such as korean hair salon, restaurants, banks, mall, gasoline station just to name a few. If you plan to take public transportation: no problem and abundant taxi and jeepney rides passes by the street. I did say its convenient right?

The rate for the German Class is 25,200php with the following breakdown:
Registration fee          500php
2 books to be used  2,900php
Tuition fee              21,800php

This may sound pricey but worth a shot as the school have a high percentage of its student passing the exam. Goethe Institut Manila rate is around 4,000php cheaper, best take it there if you live in Manila area. But for those people who live in other neighboring provinces (such as myself), this seem to be a good deal in the long run. Consider the expenses of a round plane tickets, food and lodging in Makati (where the school is located which happens to be the business district in Manila -- hint: not cheap!), time stuck in traffic (oh yes, its everyday business there) and so on. So yes, think it over.

Incase you did plan to study in Cebu, but have no place to stay: fear not and the teacher, Mrs. Elizabeth Seidenschwarz of Treffpunkt Deutsch Cebu, can refer you to a boarding house which is only 3-5 minutes by foot going to the school. I was told that its nice there: cheap, clean and safe. There is an internet coffee shop on the ground floor, as well as canteen, study room and big living room on the ground floor for guests. For a room of 4 persons inside: it costs only 1,500php per person plus 1,500php as deposit. The deposit will be given back to you when you leave. I also know that they have private rooms but cost a bit more. Unfortunately, I do not know the exact rate for this kind of room.

Hope it helps!

Start Deustch 1 Examination

Only Goethe Institut Manila is recognized by the German Embassy to conduct the A1 Deutsch Exam. You can check their schedules for Manila and Cebu and will be conducted 2-3 examinees. To register, you will need to bring the following:

1. original and photocopy of your passport
2. passport photo
3. completely filled up Exam Registration Form
4. Examination fee or proof of payment
** According to my teacher, the examination in Cebu will cost around 7,500php. This sound very pricey if you compare this in Manila. This is so because you actually shoulder the air fare of the examiner(s), the place where they will stay and the rental for the conference room during the exam.

Just to give you an overview, these are the categories of the said examination:

I. Written Exam

1. Listening Comprehension
-- you will listen to short texts and should be able to extract relevant informations:
a. everyday conversation
b. public announcements
c. private and official telephone announcements

2. Reading Comprehension
-- you will read short texts and should be able to extract relevant informations:
a. notes or small advertisements
b. information signs
c. posters

3. Writing Comprehension
-- you will be given some pieces of information used to:
a. answer a fill-in-the-blank data forms
b. write a short personal message in forms of email or letter

II. Oral Exam

1. Self-presentation
2. ask for and provide informations
3. ask for favours and respond

The passing grade is 60%

Do you feel the excitement? I feel it too!!! :)

Good luck on your exam!

German Language Required or Not?

As pre-requisite to Marriage Visa and/or Family Reunion Visa: an applicant needs to have an evidence of basic knowledge on the German Language. This simply means that you need to pass a standardized exam which they refer as "Deutsch A1 exam" given by the Goethe Institut Manila. In return for passing, you will be given a certificate: Start Deutsch A1.  The exam schedules are held monthly, although they also offer scheduled examination in Cebu.

For the longest time, I read online debates on whether you need to take the exam or not. It used to be that when you hold at least a 4-years course University or College degree that you get exempted from this requirement. But the global competition grew and now: you need to take and pass that exam whether you are a degree holder or not. This new ruling was published in 2007.

In my humble opinion, learning the language to pass the exam is more of an advantage than an disadvantage. Germany is a solid deutsch speaking country. Even the last rank-and-file employee need to be deustch literate. In fact, you are required by law to take more deutsch language courses upon entering Germany (and before entering, you do need to pass the Deutsch A1 exam first).

Whether you take courses offered by German Language School or opted to do self study is really your decision entirely. I read stories about some who did not take formal training and yet passed the exam. And some, who did took the formal training but needed to take again because did not make it. The bottomline is you need to study.

The knowledge of the German Language will help boost up your self esteem, so yeah: no worries... it's a good thing! Happy learning!!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Culture Shock Germany (Book)

This book by Richard Lord is a MUST read esp. for those who is planning to live in Germany. It gives you a good overview of their culture, belief, basic laws, and glimpse of their everyday life through the view of an expatiate. It also give you insights and tips on what to do on situational blunder and how to cope up with the everyday fast life of the Germans. Best of all, this will help you understand the German traits and maybe help you understand your partner's wellbeing,

This is also an essential book for tourists who are planning to stay in Germany for 2 weeks and so. Or for individuals who are curious about the culture and way of living in Germany.

My copy is a birthday gift actually. I thought it was a good gift. You can get your copy at National Bookstore branches, Power Books and other leading bookstore usually under Travel section. If I am not mistaken, the retail price of this is less than 500php.

Happy Reading!

P.S. Culture Shock is a series of book written by expatiates who first hand observe, explore and enjoy a certain country or culture. There is a Culture Shock Philippines available as well. Maybe a good gift for your love ones. Just an idea. :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Couriers versus Registered Mail

I must admit at the very beginning, I was planning to send all my documents via PhilPost (Philippine Postal Office) with the main reason that its cheaper. The Estimated time of Arrival (ETA) is 3 weeks from the province to Germany. Later on, I opted for courier services even if its x2 in price. One of the nice thing about this is that you can track your documents online. I would say that it was a good move and I did become anxious and jumpy over the documents. Hence, to cope up with the stress, this blog was born!

Anyway, I did hear horror story with Philpost: after a month, the documents still hasn't arrive yet. You can imagine how hopping mad both the involved couple are. Yaiks! I actually don't know how the ending went, or what really happen. But I guess you got my warning. :)

To send documents via courier, they actually differ from country to country and city to city. Just to give you ideas on how much are the rates, I will share to you the 2 courier to whom I canvas with:

1. FedEx Express
- They quoted 2,400php.
- ETA: 1-2 working days from Cebu to Germany
- They provide outer envelope for the documents.

2. OCS (Overseas Courier Service)
- This is my courier of choice.
- I payed 1,850php
- ETA: 3-4 working days from Cebu to Germany
- They did not provide any outer envelope for the documents. I just placed them in a long brown envelope.

I was told that DHL & UPS costs much more. But then, it never hurts to ask than just believe hearsays.

Hope it helps!

Certified German Translator in Cebu

Nothing beats convenience as the German Honorary Consul of Cebu, Dr. Franz Seidenschwarz, is an accredited translator of legal papers. I got my translated documents less than a week. His secretary, Ms. Elena, text me immediately for the pick up of documents.Upon getting it, I took the time in checking if the documents are complete and also, took the time to double check the names on the documents just incase of typographical error.

The translating fee differs from one document to another. It actually depends on 2 things:
1. what kind of document that need to be translated
2. current exchange rate

I actually lost my breakdown copy (my bad!) but what I can tell you is the total amount for the 6 different documents that I had requested to be translated. The documents are:

The total amount for the translation is 5,600php. 

You need to pay this before they can acknowledge and process your request(s).

Hope it helps!

P.S. If you know any other Certified German Translator within Cebu or Manila area, kindly send me a note so I can make a thread about it to help other people. I will acknowledge you for the help. Thanks! :)

Passport Authenticated by the Embassy

How to do it?

1. Have your information side of your Passport (the one where your picture and signature is located) photocopied. Make sure that the copy is clear.
2. Go to the German Embassy and tell them you wanted it authenticated as requested by your partner's Civil Registry.
** You need to go in person.

German Embassy in the Philippines
Currently, there are 2 German Embassy in the Philippines:
1. German Embassy in Manila
2. German Embassy in Cebu

I had my passport authenticated in German Embassy in Cebu. The photocopy I had was not as clear, so they had my passport scanned & printed instead (for free too -- it was nice of them). The Honorary Consul had it stamped and signed for. I got it less than 30 minutes. The passport authentication cost me 310php. But I was told that their standard rate is in euro (sorry, did not get to ask how much exactly) and that they follow the current exchange rate. However, all payments are in pesos. So the fee is more or less around that.

Hope it helps!

Community Tax Certificate

Definition of Term
1. This is a legal identity document in the Philippines issued by the Local Municipalities or Baranggay Office.
2. Is known as the "Cedula". The fee is dependent on your status. I got mine for 65php.
3. "Community Tax Certificate" and "Residence Certificate"is one and the same.

    Do not forget to affixed your right thumb mark and your signature on your cedula.

Affidavits & Authentications Issues

There are 3 common Affidavit that are used for marriage purposes here in the Philippines:
1. Affidavit of Civil Status (singleness)
- written by your parents or close relative.
- basically this is a sworn affidavit testifying that you are single and free from any law to marry your husband-to-be.

2. Affidavit of Parental Advice 
- only needed when you are aged 21- 25 years old. You do not need this if you are older than 25 years old.
- this is a sworn statement from your parents or guardians that you have their blessings to marry your husband-to-be.

3. Affidavit of Parental Consent
- only needed when you are aged 18-20 years old
- this is a sworn statement from your parents or guardians that they know and allow you to marry your husband-to-be.

After obtaining the documents, you have 3 more steps to go:

1. Have the affidavit notorized
- Affidavit documents are just papers unless they are notorized by a lawyer.
- My mom was requested to present an ID containing her picture and signature. She presented her Philippine Passport.
- The lawyer should have it stamped and signed for.
- I forgot how much the fee for this, but I am sure it was around 300php or less.

2. Have the notorized affidavit authenticated by the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
- The Executive Judge will certify that the attorney who have your affidavit notorized is indeed a real Notary Public and is authorized to do so.
- The certificate will have the Executive Judge's signature and will have a seal on it.
- The authentication fee only cost 50php.
- I got it on the same day when I filed it.

3. Bring both documents and the RTC authentication receipt to DFA for Authentication
- DFA stands for Department of Foreign Affair. Their Authentication Certificate is recognized all over the world.
- DFA Authentication and the "Red Ribbon" is one and the same.
- The DFA Authentication Officer will certify that the Executive Judge is appointed and qualified to certify the Notorized Affidavits. The certification is printed on a SECPA where they will affixed a seal and red ribbon with the Authentication Officer's signature on it. Your other documents will serve as attachments.

Since I live in the province, I have the courier DHL authenticated it for me. DHL is the official courier of DFA. They will NOT accept your papers unless its complete. The processing time is around 14 working days. They charge me 325php for the Affidavit of Civil Status inclusive of delivering it to my doorstep.

Hope it helps. Good luck!

Obtaining Birth Cert. & CENOMAR in Philippines

The National Statistics Office (NSO) is the government agency who issues certified copies of civil registry services such as Birth, Marriage and/or Death Certificates. It is the same agency who issues Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR) which is a requirement paper for marriage in the Philippines. It is our version of Singleness or bachelor paper. All these documents are printed in Security Papers (SECPA).

Getting it online
For busy people or people who lives outside the Philippines, you can still get your copies thru online. The rates includes documentary stamp tax and delivery charges: by courier (for anywhere within the Philippines) and by Philpost (registered mail by the post office for outside the country). The rates are as follow:

LOCAL (within the Philippines):
Birth / Marriage / Death :  315php/piece
CENOMAR (singleness): 415php/piece

FOREIGN (outside the Philippines):
Birth / Marriage /Death:  20USD
CENOMAR (singleness): 25USD

For those who are interested and wanted to know more, please visit  e-census.

Getting it at NSO
And for the rest who wanted to do it yourself, here is my experience:

1. Go to NSO and ask the guard for the forms that you needed to fill up. The guard in turn will ask you what kind of documents you need and what is the purpose.
      * Please bring your own ballpen to save yourself the hassle.
      * No worry, they have instruction plaster around the compound.

2. You need to fall in line to the same guard to get your "priority number" before entering the NSO premises. It is a first come first serve basis.

3. Inside, take a seat and wait for your "priority number" to be called by the counter personnel. You will be asked to wait again.

4. The counter personnel will call you by your name and will ask you to proceed to the cashier.
      * Please bring some small bills with you to save you the hassle.

5. After your payment, the cashier will redirect you to the "releasing" section. Wait for them to call your name again.
      * Please keep the receipt on hand and they will staple it to your SECPA certificate.

6. Upon release, check the spelling of the names (esp. the CENOMAR). Inform them at once incase there are mistype on the name.
    If none: Congratulation and you're done!
*** Please note that I was born in Manila but now living in the province. The NSO I visited is my province's branch. ***

For the time table:
I was there 7am, their office opens at 8am, and I had my certificates on hand 8:40am.

For the rates, here is what I paid:
Birth Certificate : 140php/piece
CENOMAR (singleness):  195php/piece

Getting your partner's CENOMAR

Our Philippine law requires that we also present our partner's CENOMAR (on top of the 'Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage' document). We do not need to have authorization letter in claiming CENOMAR, however, NSO be asking some informations about your spouse:

1. Complete name of the person
2. Complete name of the father
3. Complete maiden name of the mother
4. Date of birth
5. Place of birth
6. Complete name and complete address of the  person requesting
7. Number of copies needed
8. Purpose of the certification

* Please be reminded that CENOMAR is only valid for 6 months.
* I was advised before to keep the receipts attached to their respective documents. I am not sure what could possibly happen if you don't, but I did not want to be the one to find out. Hope it helps!

Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage Paper

So you and your partner finally tying the knot, Congratulation! 

Whether you plan to marry here in the Philippines or there in Germany, first thing first: ask your german partner to go to Standesamt. This is their Local Civil Registry Office. They are the one who will provide you a checklist of requirement that you need to provide. The requirements are case-to-case basis and each Standesamt has different requirements. They are the best place to inquire regarding your situation. It's a long to-do list. But take a deep breath and tackle it one document at a time. 

In our case, the first document we tried to complete is his  "Ehefaehigkeitszeugnis" also known as his "Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage"To get this, the Standesamt requires me to provide the following in original copies unless specified:

1. Birth Certificate in SECPA 
2. Cenomar in SECPA (maximum of 6 months from date of issued)
3. Affidavit of Civil Status authenticated by our DFA
4. Community Tax Certificate
5. Copy of your Passport certified by the German Embassy
Note: For 21-25 years old, you are required to provide Affidavit of Parental Advise
          All these paper need to be translated to German by a Certified Translator.

After obtaining all the documents, I send it to him in Germany via courier. I was advised to do this and not by our local post office because the Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) of the documents differs alot. Depending of your courier, it can reach to him by 2-5 days. Post office ETA is 3-4 weeks.

If you ask me, please do the same. If you plan to save the money (price difference of 1,000php or more), this is NOT the way to do it.  At least from my experience, the moment I send it -- I feel anxious on when exactly he will receive it (even if I have the ETA). The mixed emotions have created much stress to me (this is why I decided to create this blog). 

I will be updating my blog from time to time. Please stay tuned!

Click here for the Part 2 of this topic. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Intro -- My First Post

The Purpose

My reason in creating this blog is primarily to vent out my stress. Late last year, my german boyfriend proposed to me. And here I am right now: juggling between my wedding preparations and paperworks battle. Don't get me wrong and I am very happy. It just that the situation calls for a scapegoat to cope. And this is my way of coping.

I am not a lawyer or expert in terms of paper matters. Please read my Disclaimer. I just plan to share my personal experiences in hope along the way I get to gain new friends, share insights or exchange ideas and opinions that may somehow help other people too. The situation seems less scary when you have someone to talk to who also undergo what you are going through. 

The Inspiration

In 2008, there was this Filipina who married a German and who was kind enough to impart her personal experiences with the paperworks online: Pinoy in Germany. It was well detailed and well explained.(Thanks girl!) Her last post is in 2009, but up-to-date, her blog still gain alot of regular visitors. I am one of them.

Again and again, she reminded the readers to check and double check the requirements needed for the paperworks for possible additional requirements or some changes. She is correct and there are some changes, although minor. So, this is my turn to remind you that when you are about to do your own paperworks to check and double check the requirements. And that the best person to ask regarding your special situation is the German Embassy (or the Embassy of your partner's origin).

The Scope and The Limitation

My situation is that I am still in the Philippines. I am not married to my german boyfriend yet (although engaged). I am just beginning to do my paperworks needed in marriage. Our initial plan is to marry first in the Philippines, then later on, have another wedding in Germany. In this way, both sides of the family have the chance to attend our special moments. Both me and my boyfriend are single, older than age 26 and have no children. I can only tell you what I know from my experiences, and can share some unsolicited advices from various people. To reiterate, I am not a lawyer or an expert with these matters. 

The Message

So yes, welcome to my blog. I am just like you who is doing some homework / research on how to be with the man you love who happen to live on a different country. I know how difficult a long distance relationship is, and how difficult to deal with someone who was raised very differently from you. However, I also have an idea how fruitful it can be when it works out. For those who are "been there done that", congratulation! For the curious onlookers, neophyte (just like me) and the likes, all aboard please! 


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