Thursday, January 31, 2008

M.C. No. 04 on hold

Announcement from the Embassy:

Please be informed that the Philippine Embassy is holding in abeyance implementation of M. C. No. 04 (Series of 2007) re Guidelines on the Direct Hiring of Filipino workers until further notice.

For more details go here (Source):

Official Link:

1. The condition of being temporarily set aside; suspension: held the plan in abeyance.
2. Law A condition of undetermined ownership, as of an estate that has not yet been assigned.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Warning to all ASPIRING OFW

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has issued stricter rules on direct hiring of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

The rules, which have taken effect since January 15, allow direct hiring of OFWs by foreign employers only upon approval by the Labor Secretary.

The hiring will be subject to screening of employers and employment contract verification by the Labor Attaché or the Philippine Embassy.

Direct hiring may be allowed only for members of the diplomatic corps and of international organizations, government officials of ministerial level, and employers hiring on one-time or trial basis. The number of employees to be hired directly shall not exceed 5.

Employers will also comply with stricter documentation and processing requirements which include the posting a US$5,000 repatriation bond per employee to guarantee the return of the worker or of his remains, in the event of death. They are also required to post a US$3,000 performance bond per employee to guarantee payment of the employee’s salary for the duration of the employment contract. The bonds should be secured from local bonding companies.

They will also provide the employees with health and medical insurance.

Employers who do not want to comply with the bonding and insurance requirements or with the standard employment contract will not be allowed to hire OFWs directly.

They, however, may hire via licensed placement agencies which are willing to assume responsibilities over the employees, including payment of salaries and other employment benefits.

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion, also concurrent POEA Board Chairman, said the adoption of a stricter policy on direct hires is aimed at strengthening the protection of the OFWs.

OFWs with employment contracts and work visas issued after January 15 will be covered by the new guidelines. The new guidelines for direct hiring are posted at the POEA website (



Tougher rules for Filipino professionals working overseas

MANILA - TOUGHER rules have been implemented for Filipinos offered work overseas in a move which could affect professionals working in Singapore.
Under the new regulations, Filipinos who have found jobs overseas by themselves - rather than through government-licensed recruitment agencies - have to get clearance from the authorities in the Philippines before they can go.

What is more, their overseas employers need to get permission to hire them from the labour attaches of the Philippine embassies in their countries.

Employers also need to post bonds totalling US$8,000 (S$11,500) to guarantee salary payments and to cover the cost of sending home the body of an employee in the event of his death.

Filipinos already working overseas are not affected by the new rules, which took effect on Jan15.

The regulations add a second layer of red tape to already bureaucratic procedures for those who want to work overseas.

Even before the new rules, all Filipinos heading overseas to work - either as direct hires or via licensed recruitment agencies - had to register with the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) before leaving.

This will not change.

Workers given the go-ahead to take up overseas posts will still have to register with the POEA - a process often involving long waits and red tape which rankles many of the highly-skilled Filipino professionals, such as academics, corporate executives and scientists, who find themselves a new post abroad.

Filipino nurses working in Singapore would likely be recruited through accredited agencies and not affected by the rules.

In the case of Filipino domestic workers in Singapore, many have, for a long time now, been able to circumvent the POEA registration procedures by arriving as tourists and finding employment through local recruitment agencies. The new rules are unlikely to change that situation.

Though the new rules prescribe no penalties, direct hires who do not have clearance now run the risk - as do all so-called 'undocumented' Filipinos heading overseas to work - of being caught by airport immigration officials and not allowed to leave the country until their paperwork is in order.

A check with Philippine embassy officials in Singapore and other agencies drew a blank on the new rules and how it affected Filipinos in Singapore.


Official Link of the memorandum

Petition Link

Related Links

Friday, January 25, 2008

Workplace Rants Jan 25, 2008

I know, i know everybody has their own issues. I just want to let my steam off or shake the stress off my mind even just a little bit. Overall i know I'm quite independent in terms of work. As much as possible i don't want to bother or disrupt others just to ask questions. That's why most of the time i use e-mail. I'll itemize all my newbie questions then send to your e-mail and wait for you to reply back whenever you feel comfortable replying. But i guess some seniors are just to busy answering their newly hired contract staff. Well how the hell i am supposed to do my job if i have no idea what I'm doing. Let's give an example:

I work in the IT department of a Bank. Here they got lots of process and security protocols. If you need to request or do something you need to fill up the forms. Other departments will process those forms. It's like Bureaucracy, really. My team handles different projects. If your supervisor asks you to help him prepare some forms for a particular project what will be your response? Honestly...really? I bet you won't be typing away and submitting the form, right? My response is pretty obvious and here are them:

1. What and where can i get the form
2. If to be submitted via e-mail what's the e-mail address. If hardcopy needs to be submitted where and to whom should i submit it
3. What should be the contents of the form or at least give me a sample or a similar previously submitted form

Pretty reasonable, ey? Here's the dialogue.
If i have any questions, i'll just come to you, ok?

His response, mumbling while walking away,
Don't come to me...don't come to me lah

Go figure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

First Hawker Dinner

Hawker -

We are having problems with our gas range which prompted us to eat our dinner outside instead. My Wife and met in front of Novena Church after work. I forgot to take note of the name. It's directly in front of Novena Church located on the right of Cheers convenience store in front of the bus stop. We went to Cheers first since our housemate asked me to buy a prepaid card for her. In the counter i asked the Auntie
Do you have HOT 20?
She doesn't respond and gives me a WTF-are-you-talking-about? look. So i repeat myself and still she didn't understood me. Then my Wife comes to the rescue and said
Top up hot 20?
Finally the Auntie nods. Auntie told me that i just need to say either "top up" or "top up 20" next time. I just laughed at myself. The prepaid card name is HOT20 in bold text in front of the card itself so i assume that i should use that name in purchasing the card, right? No, they wan't the "top up" instead. I guess it's a little bit easier to pronounce and understood "top up" compared to "HOT 20"...sheeshhh.

Anyways back to the Hawker dining experience. I'm really not sure if it can be considered as a Hawker although it looks like one. We checked the menu and if i remember correctly it was divided into categories. Vegetables, Beef, Pork, Chicken, Noodles, Drinks, etc. They also have deer meat. I forgot the term they use in calling deer meat. Since it looks like a hawker i was expecting the price to be in the range of S$3.50 to S$6.00 but to my surprise the cheapest meal cost around S$5.00 (Small). They also have waitresses that take down orders. Their meals comes in 3 sizes or quantities, Small Medium and i guess Large. We chose Pork Rib King (S$5, S$8, S$16) and Crab Meat Fried Rice (S$5, S$8, S$16). We opt for the medium size. For us that's quite expensive already. We seldom shell out more than S$6.00 meal/person. My Wife brought our drink in Cheers while i ordered. I almost did not understood the waitress since i'm still having a hard time diciphering their chinese accent. She asked me
For 1 person?
and i answered
No, for two
After a couple of minutes she placed the plates, 2 wet tissues in a pack and placed the utensils on top of the packs. I said to myself "What the hell?" since the spoon and fork slid down to the table surface. She could have just placed those on top of the plates instead. I'm not that whiny so i just got my tissue paper that i took with me and wiped the utensils along with the plates since it's still a little wet. A copy of the order slip is placed on a small bottle in our table. Then after eating you need to bring that slip in front of the counter to pay. I guess that's their system. Another couple of minutes our order arrives. Of course i don't have a picture of the meals because i only decided to post this experience on the blog late at night. The Pork Rib King almost looks like sweet and sour pork with sesame seeds and strips of green vegetable garnishing. It also has a small fake rose bud but i don't know if it's edible or not since it looks like made out of styrofoam. The meal is good for 2 - 3 persons. The Medium Crab Meat Fried Rice is huge. The platter can at least feed 3-4 person. They also served free bowl of hot soup with chopped spring onions. At first i thought this was another one of the tasteless free soups that some of the stalls in food junctions gives but this one tastes good to me. Finally a free soup with attitude! We didn't got to finish it all so i asked the waitress to pack it for take away. By the way they use "take away" instead of "take out" in the Philippines. I went to pay at the counter and i saw the Aunties punching in two 8.50 and another .40 but i let it slide since i tought it's just tax and i don't really want to complain since i'll just probably have a hard time understanding her. I gave the receipt to my Wife and she told me that the wet tissues are 50 cents each so i guess the tax is 40 cents. Total damage? S$17.40!! Just like eating in a restaurant. Aside from the place, the Food is ok. I even ate the left over crab meat fried rice during lunch time today. The left over pork rib king is for dinner later.

Tips for the newbie

Ask a friend
- Ask a friend who has had some Hawker experience for recommended Hawker stalls and food. Sometimes doing trial-and-error is frustrating specially when you're hungry.

- Observe the eating crowd and look for the popular stall. Chances are its good there.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Working Tips based on my own methods of handling work

- Do not be overwhelmed
Sometimes when tasks are given to us and loads of information are poured like we can digest every information we tend to get overwhelmed which is a normal reaction. You need to train yourselves in reacting differently. Tell yourself if a task or project is given to you you will automatically think "Do not be overwhelmed." Take the information and categorize or organize it first. "Divide and Conquer!" as they say. It's just like memorizing an 11-digit number. You divide the numbers to whatever you are comfortable in memorizing it. e.g. Which is easier to digest? 09191231131 or 0919-123-1131

- Organize Documentation
Before i often forgot the importance of organizing documents. When the time comes to extract a particular information or do a knowledge-transfer i am left lost with all the filenames in a single folder. Do not be lazy in renaming your files and folders consistently since this will save you a lot of time in the near future.

- Compile questions before asking
Be considerate to your collegues or supervisor. Compile all the questions that pops up in your head. Place it in a spreadsheet. Try answering those questions by yourself first. It's a good thing that i'm a bit shy in approaching my collegues whenever i want to ask questions so i am left with only myself to rely on. Until the answer comes upon me then i realized that most of the questions are can be answered by myself by digging and truly understanding the related documents given to me. Of course this will depend on your schedule. If you have tight schedules then you might not have the luxury of finding the answers for yourself.

- Visualize
To be able to comprehend faster you need to put yourself in that particular situation. This is specially useful in learning processes. Imagine yourself doing the process.

- Take a breather once in a while
If you feel strain building up or stuck get up from you chair and walk for a while. Strike a conversation, peak in the window, stretch your arms and legs, take a couple of deep breaths, cover your eyes with your palm for a couple of minutes, drink water until you feel revitalised and can get back to work.

- Take pride and joy with your work
If you are the type that "hates" your job but you have no choice since you have to provide for your family then hating your job more won't really help. Try looking for the positive side and concentrate on them instead. Post an encouraging note in front of your workstation or wherever that you think you most likely see so that you won't forget. You will feel much more relieved and proud on yourself if you take more pride and joy in what you do.

- Have a stress reliever
I've read somewhere that daily exercise is a great stress reliever. Make it a habit. If you really don't have the time then constantly walk. You'll live much longer to enjoy life. Buy a punching bag, play a video game, watch comedy when you get home, write a blog, whatever releases your stress (provided it's legal of course).

- Smile
Brings your mood up and somebody else too.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Our First Notebook

We bought it on a sunday morning (Jan. 6, 2007 ). My wife and I planned to go to Funan to just browse for notebook promotions and inquire the price of Sony Ericsson k550i which is a gift for her sister.

We were planning to buy a notebook on Mar. 6 - 9 during the anticipated PC Show of 2008 in Suntec. However i told her that if we can find a good deal that fits our budget and specifications then we'll grab it.

I've done my research since this is a big investment for us. For me shelving S$1,700 or more is no joke. Here are some links that proved very useful.

This link really helped me deciding what type of notebook should i buy:

Based on the link I've decided on the things that i am looking for in a notebook:
- Our notebook should be a desktop replacement meaning it will spend most of it's time in the house so weight is not an issue

- Processor should be Intel Core 2 Duo minimum 1.8 GHz.
Why Intel? Because i have good desktop PC experience with Intel processors.
Why 1.8 GHz minimum? Because i want my notebook to last for a couple of years. This means that it needs to support applications and games within that duration.
Also it's acceptable on my budget. Not too old and not too new.

- RAM should be 2 GB since we will be using vista.

- Video Card should be either Nvidia or ATI Radeon. No integrated graphics accelerator for me. No work and no play... we'll you catch my drift.

- Minimum of 14.1" screen since i love to watch movies. Again this size is what fits in my budget.

- Integrated Camera would be a nice-to-have but not critical since we constantly chat with our family back in the Philippines. Less clutter.

- Integrated WiFi of course since i don't want to purchase it separately. And i think current notebooks nowadays always comes with a WiFi.

- Vista OS. I specially don't like to purchase this one separately also.

- Should look good but reliable.

- HP, ASUS or Fujitsu brands. This are according to numerous forums, reviews, tech-savvy friends advice and personal choice.

Back in Funan we came across 3 possible choices that within our budget. Here are the specs:

Fujitsu Lifebook



Upon deliberating with my wife a couple of minutes we decided for this one:

Box inclusions:
- ASUS optical mouse
- ASUS carrying case
- ASUS cable tie
- Drivers, Recovery DCD, Nero Installation CD
- User Guides, Quick Installation Guide, Battery Notice
- Telephone Cable

Now why ASUS? Here's why:

I've known ASUS during my desktop days to provide quality products that lasts years (4 - 6 yrs depending on usage and care).

Nothing beats 2 years international warranty although the 1 year warranty has been voided. I informed the salesman that they should remove or update their brochures since this will be misleading to the untrained eye. His answer is that they only use the old brochures for the notebook specs. well i didn't argue anymore since i saw that one and didn't matter to me anyways.

Another Plus factor for the store is the freebies they gave us:
- LCD screen Cleaning Kit
- Cooling pad with cool design
- 20L Cooler and Warmer

At first they gave us an optical mouse instead of the LCD Screen Cleaning Kit. But when the salesman opened the box a carrying case and an optical mouse (ASUS) is already included. I thought "Sean" the salesman will not exhange the freebies but he proved us wrong. He gave us the LCD Screen Cleaning Kit instead. As he handed it to us he said
Here's your freebie just as promised.

The Cooler and Warmer have a different story on how we acquired it. It started with a curiosity. My Wife asked me
What do you think that image in the box is?
I answered
Maybe it's a cabinet for plates or something.
But in the picture we can see that there's a temperature gauge so to make sure and to feed our curiosity i asked Sean what is that product. And he said it's a cooler.

One of the salesman heard me asked and he blurted out
Do you want one?
I asked
Is it for free?
He said
Yes, Sean can you get the stroller.
Our parents taught us not to say no to grace so we graciously accepted it (grin). Deep inside I'm laughing my heart out. The salesman told us that they are giving those coolers away as a freebie for another product.

We had such a nice first-time-purchase experience.

TIPS for Notebook Hunting
- Look at the specs carefully. You have to know the differences between models. Some of the specs that might caught you unguarded that i've seen in the posters, flyers and brochures:
e.g. Core Duo
Duo Core
Core 2 Duo or Core2Duo
As you can see you might mistake the Core Duo as Core 2 Duo at first glance.

- Useful Freebies

- If Sean is right, buy on a Sunday morning. Salespersons gets grumpy in the afternoon according to him and that lessens your chance on getting cool freebies.

Also he said that according to Chinese custom the first customer on a Sunday is considered as a good omen or good luck so they splurge the freebies on the first potential buyer.

- Do your homework or at least know what's your main purpose of buying a notebook (See link above for the article) before going to stores since most of the time they get tired of explaining every model specs but in the end the customer is still clueless about what they want.

I know it's their job to inform and "sell" but a little consideration won't hurt and it will save you time and money and shield yourself of getting "dupped".

- Do a search online for tips, pricing, promotions, recommended notebook models, etc.

- Ask a knowledgeable friend. If you have a Notebook technician friend the better. If not, a friend with first-hand experience on different brands or one brand that your aiming for will do.