Friday, August 27, 2010

Point of Entry Experience: LAX

I arrived at the PAL airport four hours before my scheduled flight. My fiancé purchased a one way direct flight for me from MNL to LAX. When I got to the airport, I looked for the kiosk with my flight number but my uncle’s friend came to the rescue and guided me through the process.

1. A man from the airport helped me with the trolley and he put my bags through the x-ray scanner. I didn’t want to carry the bags so he did that for me. I gave him a Php 100.00 tip.

2. I proceeded to the Business Class section and surrendered my luggages which were then weighed. I was asked for my fiancé’s address in the States and was told to pay for the travel tax. He upgraded my seat to business class. I had two pieces of luggage; one weighed 23.5 kilos and 22.7 kilos for the other. The ground stewardess inspected my visa packet for damage.

3. I paid for the travel tax which cost me Php 1,620.

4. I filled up a form for immigration then my uncle’s friend paid for the terminal fee of Php 750.00 on my behalf.

5. The immigration officer looked at my visa and asked me if my fiancé was attractive. He started kidding with me about giving birth to twelve children, 11 children and we finally concurred on 10.5. Hilarious.

6. I had to put my carry on through the x-ray machine again and this time, I removed my sandals.

It all ended there. The total amount of time it took for me was probably around 20 minutes. I went through the makeup section at the passenger’s lounge and quickly spanked my wrist. I said no to make up at least for now. I remained seated at the laptop station for the time being. I sat there with no internet so I decided to write this experience and continue once I arrive at Jordan’s place. What else was there for me to do but observe random people at the airport?

Random Meaningless Sightings:

It made me laugh to see an elderly lady run towards the podium at the boarding section since she had no socks on. That was a lesson learned for me. I had slipper socks in my carry on and since I only wore sandals, I put my socks out for me to wear just in case my turn comes up. Smart, eh? hihi…

Another funny observation was when a Korean girl who spoke little English approached a Caucasian seated at the laptop station. She was pointing at the adapter he was using to charge the laptop. He tried to explain to her that the adapter was his and not the airport’s property. After fifteen minutes of being lost in translation, all she wanted was to borrow the adapter to charge her laptop. She repeatedly said “two minute only!” along with the hand gesture. The man was kind enough to lend it to her and just gave her a quick smile

A few people seated at the laptop station were glancing at each other only to find out that it wasn’t just just me who couldn’t get a signal. That was awkward and funny at the same time. I talked to one of the ground people at the airport and told them about the loss of connection and all he had to say was, “Ay mahirap talaga connection niyan.” So I just shrugged and said thanks.


The food that PAL served was better than I expected. For dinner, I ate chicken with a brown sauce and some vegetables then leche flan for dessert, a cold salad as an appetizer and a bun with butter on the side. For breakfast, a chicken sausage, chicken patty, hash browns, mushrooms, mammon, pineapples and a bun with butter on the side.

I slept for merely three hours since I didn’t want to have jet lag. The plane departed at 10:00 pm and my arrival at LAX was scheduled for 8:00 pm so I made it a point to keep the winks to a minimum. The turbulence on the plane was really bad at the half way point so I couldn’t really sleep. I made a new friend on the plane. The man seated next to me happened to be a Filipino missionary based in San Diego. He was nice enough to guide me on how to correctly fill up the forms and it shocked me that he accompanied me through every step at the airport. One hour towards the end of the flight, the attendants handed out various forms depending on the visa category. I filled up a Customs Declaration Form and an I-94. On the Customs Declaration Form, I rounded off my belongings to $500 and distributed the amount between the clothes and delicacies in my baggages.


When I arrived at LAX, it felt so much like home because there were so many Filipino employees at the airport. There were two people assigned to accommodate the visitors’ lane. One was Filipino and the other was Indian. Everyone who went through the Indian took long and I even saw one who was refused of entry because of his paperwork. I was assigned to the Indian so I greeted him a good evening and handed over my visa packet (This includes the small envelope which contains the photos submitted with the I-129F.), passport, Customs Declaration Form and I-94. He opened the packet and inside it were papers from the Embassy.


-What’s his name?

-What does he do for work?

-What did you use to do for work?

-Where’s your ring?

-What’s your purpose here?

-When do you plan to marry?

-Is your fiancé waiting for you outside?

I was free to go after a few questions. I didn’t have a ring on since Jordan proposed through Skype and he wants to give me a proper proposal once we’re together for long. We’re having a civil wedding first then a second one years from now. The officer then coldly said, “If your fiancé isn’t waiting for you outside then I’ll send you back to the Philippines.”


It took me about thirty minutes because a lot of the luggage weren’t even on the conveyer. I had two pieces of luggage with me and I quickly found the first one. The man I met on the plane, Bernardo was kind enough to gather my bag along with those of the other passengers. There were people who mistook some baggage as their own and left it on the ground. It’s a good thing that one employee who was Filipino approached me and a couple of irate passengers. My bag wasn’t there but rather, it was the last one dropped down to the conveyer.


I went through customs after Bernardo. He was asked about the contents of his bag. He said that he has delicacies with him so he was asked to leave the line and fill up another form. It was my turn to go through the same officer and since I declared delicacies and clothing on the form, he asked me what kind I had. I answered, “I’ve got banana chips and stuff.” He replied, “That’s good enough for me. You can go.” It was as quick as that so I was scouring for Bernardo but he was nowhere to be found. I went up the ramp and once again laid eyes on mi amore! It was the best feeling I’ve ever felt! He was dressed so well and I was so compelled to hug him and of course, I did. At the intersection, I was getting ready to leap towards the street when Jordan pulled me back because unlike the Philippines, you have to press a button on the pole for you to cross. It was so funny!

So yeah, I’m in America with my love. I couldn’t be happier. A void has finally been filled.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My New 'Do

In preparation for a new life ahead of me in the States, I decided to get a makeover. I've had side bangs for the longest time so I went for full bangs to enhance the oval shape of my face. I had with me a photo of Anne Hathaway sporting rainbow bangs from The Devil Wears Prada. Seeing that the texture of my hair is far different from hers, the hairstylist and I agreed on full bangs instead. He quickly concurred when I confessed about not befriending the blow dryer. After staring at it long and hard at the parlor, I realized that the textured fringe brings balance to my face and creates even more of an oval feel to it. I was being a broken record in reminding the hairstylist that I wanted the length of my bangs to be below the eyebrow and just above the eyelid.

I didn't want to walk out of the parlor looking like this:

Lil' Kim, you're a hot tamale but que horror! You're not rocking that mess.

I left the parlor with a smile and new bangs to soften my features.

I attribute my look to Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada.
Sheer happy and elegant.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Personal Items Under $15

Here are some household and clothing steals from various shopping centers from Manila to Baguio, Philippines. Need I say more?

Fedora hat - $1.40

Thai bag - $5.00

Picture frame - $3.19

Coaster set (6pcs) - $5.40

Napkin rings (4 pcs) - $4.40

Marching band jacket -originally $19.50, on sale for $13.50

Thick wrist cuff - $1.08

Thin wrist cuffs - $0.20 each

Blue and yellow flats - $4.30

Conductor inspired hat - $2.60

Pleated mini skirt - $5.40

Colored scarf - $1.23

Plain white scarf - $2.17

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Do You Want Your Own Signature on Blogger?

I've been seeing signatures on various blogs and wondered how I could get a hold of my own. I took it upon myself to scour Google and fortunately came across a site that offered the service.

Here's how I did it!

Go to and click on proceed if you don't wish to register.

Choose from either using a signature creation wizard provided by the website, draw a signature by the use of a mouse or pen tablet and lastly, through the use of a scanned image. (I chose the first method.)

For those who want to use the signature creation wizard:

Step 1: Enter the desired name into the box provided.

Step 2: Select the font.

Step 3: Select the size.

Step 4: Select the color of the signature as well as the background color.

Step 5: Set the slope for the signature.

Step 6: Copy the signature ID or save the page to use the signature in the future.

For those who want to draw their own signatures:

Step 1: Draw your signature on the screen with the use of a mouse or pen tablet.

Step 2: Click start over if you aren't satisfied with it and click create signature once you're done.

Step 3: Your signature will be generated and downloaded to your computer.

Step 4: Upload the banner into your future blog entries.

For those who want to use a scanned image:

Step 1: Upload the scanned signature on a sheet of paper and specify your image. (max: 300kb)

Step 2: Specify the width of your signature or else a default width of 350 will apply.

Step 3: Pay the service fee of either $15.95 for a Quick signature, $15.95 for a Smooth signature or $19.95 for both signatures.

The site provides animated signatures for a cost. If you wish to have a one of a kind signature which moves in real time, you can purchase it by clicking on scanned image.

Yes, I tested all three options in order for me to come up with a guide for my readers. I suggest that you avail of the free services unless you want a note worthy signature.

Toni Tralala will remain my signature for a couple of posts ahead but soon enough, Mrs. Toni Tralala shall emerge. I can't hardly wait!

Have fun with the signatures!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dream Travel Destinations

My fiancé and I share a predilection for culture and travel so I took the liberty of creating a list of places we want to see in the future. I have curtailed our choices to that of which our budget can sustain.

1. Bruny Island, Tasmania – North Bruny and South Bruny are adjoined by a beautiful narrow isthmus and is the home of an iconic Australian lighthouse. The island offers boating and fishing in crystal blue seas.

2. Machu Picchu in Peru – “The Lost City of the Incas” lies on a mountain ridge in the Urubamba Valley. The terraces, llamas, temple and spectacular view are some of the wonderful sites to discover on the mountain.

3. Catacombs of Paris, France – Underneath the City of Romance lies a tunnel which leads to crypts in the renovated section of the Catacombs. Human skulls are embedded on the cavern walls.

4. Santorini Island, Greece – A volcanic land form which slopes downward towards the Aegean Sea nestled by a captivating group of islands.

5.Tokyo, Japan - Beyond the city lights lies an exotic cuisine that will tickle any palate. The city’s best attractions are accessible without ever hailing for public transportation.

6. Huatulco, Mexico - The convergence of a rich culture, white beaches and an extensive shoreline is absolutely perfect for honeymooners.

7. Loquillo Beach, Puerto Rico – One of the most popular public beaches in the San Juan area surrounded by palm trees and refined sand.

8. Fuentes Georginas in Guatemala – Enjoy soothing thermo baths nestled in the vicinity of the Zunil volcano. Immerse yourself in a natural paradise with a tourist center for guests.

9. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Savor the lush music scene, night life, fishing villages and well known beaches conveniently situated in close proximity of the city.

10. Piazza Campidoglio in Italy – Michelangelo’s original design of the square became the center of civic government in the Middle Ages. Witness the exquisite works of art and architecture in the world of ancient Rome.

Now that you've seen mine, where would you like to go?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Babbles in the Bathtub

I was mulling over how to make my blog more personable.

Enter, thought bubble.

A video of moi! :O


I will leave it to your discretion.

Watch the video at your own risk.

. . .

Are you sure?

This is the point of no return!

I didn't mean to damage your cochleae.

Is this the part where I say, "I told you so?"

My voice will reverberate in your minds!

Top 10 Picks on Thursday!

NOTE: My YouTube video is unlisted so you can only access it by directly viewing the clip here or through the links shown at the end of the video. My video and channel will not appear in YouTube's search engine. This way, it's restricted to those who have stumbled across my blog.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tres Tattoos

Body art is art made on, with, or consisting of, the human body. The most common forms of body art are tattoos and body piercings, but other types includescarification, branding, scalpelling, shaping (for example tight-lacing of corsets),full body tattoo and body painting. –Wikipedia

Body modification is frowned upon in society and is a taboo topic in my family. I come from a strict Catholic family; however, my mom has always been aware of me not practicing the religion. I perceive myself to be a spiritual person as opposed to religious. This never posed a problem and I respect those with strong religious beliefs. I have always diverged from the norm and been dubbed as “eccentric” by individuals I’ve come across in the past. Painting runs in my family and though I have no talent in that field, I appreciate all forms of art. I decided to execute my own interpretation of art so I went ahead and designed tattoos for myself. I had a nose piercing in my younger years but due to the restrictions at work, I willingly removed it.

After receiving my first salary in 2008, I took my tattoo design to an artist who did work on a good friend of mine. It was a delayed 21st birthday gift for me. My first tattoo is located on my center of my upper back around the T3 area. It’s a floral design with my birth flowers; jonquil and violet. The stars are a representation of my siblings and mother. The pain was tolerable but the lining stung a bit. After an hour into the process, it began to feel like a massage.

Level of pain: 2/5

Healing period: 1 week

I never realized how addicting tattoos were until a few years later.

The next one was done in the summer of 2010. For my second encounter with ink, I had a simple cursive tattoo marked on my wrist. It’s basically black with a white lining that spells out “destiny”. It felt like I was being repeatedly cut. I’ve always been a staunch believer in destiny as mentioned in a previous post. To me, it’s a reminder of how I should apply actions in order to fulfill my preordained fate.

Level of pain: 3/5

Healing period: 1 ½ weeks

I got another tattoo three months ago. The tattoo extends from my ankle to the toes. The tattoo idea I had in mind was my favorite poem by Emily Dickinson entitled, “I Dwell in Possibility”. I was so uncomfortable with the pain that I had the tattoo artist stop until I gathered my breath. This is by far, the most painful tattoo I’ve gotten. There was a spot on my foot where there was relatively no pain at all. I used to call it a blob of muscle until I discovered the appropriate term for the area. The Extensor Digitorum Brevis Muscle spared me from a few minutes of pain. The rest of the foot area was excruciating.

Level of pain: 5/5

Healing period: 2 ½ weeks

I have a relatively high threshold for pain but despite the number of tattoos I have and considering their locations on my body, I’m not a fan of needles. I am absolutely terrified of them! Like an old saying goes, “No pain, no gain.” I’m happy with the results I got and the healing process for each tattoo differed but they all turned out great so I’ve got no complaints. Remember that there’s no way for you to anticipate the amount of pain you’ll experience so accept that beauty comes with a cost.

Right after getting inked, expect a little soreness. Apply petroleum jelly before and after showering. I chose to apply lotion towards the end of the healing process. Keep the area moisturized especially if it’s around the ankle or any other moving body part in order to avoid damaging the tattoo. Once the healing process begins, the soreness will subside and be replaced by itchiness. The most irritating part comes next, the peeling. This is a crucial stage of the healing so be sure not to pick on it. Treat the tattoo like you would a scab. Let it peel on its own. After all the peeling, be sure to limit sun exposure or at least apply sun block on the precious tattoo in order to preserve the color and quality of your art.

A few rules of thumb to go by in choosing an area to place tattoos:

1. The more nerves, the more pain.

2. It will hurt to get it in erogenous zones such as the inner arms, inner thighs, armpits, ankles, etc. (This includes the kinky parts that I’d rather not mention. mwahaha!)

3. Areas directly over the bone will cause discomfort.

4. The more muscle, the less pain you’ll experience.

5. Go to a reputable tattoo artist for some are heavy handed.

6. Consider your pain threshold because it varies from person to person.

Think twice and hard about getting a tattoo. No, wait! Think it over a gazillion times because tattoo removal hurts much more than having a tattoo done. If you’re interested in getting one in the future, try henna tattoos first and see how that works out for you. One more thing, don’t let your emotions get the best of you so clear your thoughts before you come to a decision. If you’re ready to bear the pain and flaunt the emergence of your novel artwork, visit a tattoo artist and be part of a unique experience.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to Accomplish the DS-156 Form

I've been approached by a couple of Fiancé(e) Visa applicants regarding how to properly fill up a DS-156 form. (Keep in mind that you need two copies!) Those who are applying for non-immigrant visas are required to fill up this particular form. I will parlay my experience in order to provide you with a guide. Please take note that the details you enclose will differ depending on your circumstances. The forms can be filled either online or manually. I personally opted to fill out all the forms manually. (This is specifically for a K-1 Visa)

-Answer the questions appropriately and with all honesty. Be aware that you will suffer the repercussions if you disclose false information.
-Write N/A or NONE if the question is not applicable to you.
-Write legibly and make sure the information will fit in the spaces provided.
-Affix a 2x2 photo on the DS 156 ahead of time. You can either glue or staple it to the form. Make sure that the photo is not less than 6 months old.
-Do not leave anything blank. If you're missing passport information, that won't do any harm since the Embassy has your passport. With everything else, duly fill them out.
-If you decide to fill up the form manually and inadvertently commit minimal errors, superimpose or use whiteout to conceal the mistake/s.

1. Passport Number - List your current passport number. Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six (6) more months.
2. Place of Issuance - Include the city or state/province and country.
3. Issuing Country - The country that you're a citizen of. (i.e. Philippines)
4. Issuance Date - self explanatory (If you surrendered your passport during the medical, you can leave this portion blank like I did.)
5. Expiration Date - self explanatory (If you surrendered your passport during the medical, you can leave this portion blank like I did.)
6. Surname - Also referred to as a last name
7. First and Middle Names - Same as that in the passport and birth certificate
8. Other Surnames Used - Other surnames you may have used in the past like in a prior marriage.
9. Other First and Middle Names Used - Indicate any other aliases that you have used in legal matters.
10. Date of Birth (day-month-year) - self explanatory
11. Place of Birth - Fill in the city or province/state and country
12. Nationality - Filipino
13. Sex - M or F
14. National Identification Number - Put N/A or NONE
15. Home Address - The address you currently reside in.
16. Home Telephone Number; Business Phone Number; Mobile Number; Fax Number; Business Fax Number - If any of these don't apply to you, put N/A or NONE
17. Marital Status - For a K-1 Visa, you must be SINGLE.
18. Spouse's Full Name - self explanatory
19. Spouse's Date of Birth (day-month-year) - self explanatory
20. Name and Address of Present Employer/School - List the present address and name of the employer/school. If it doesn't apply to you, put N/A or NONE.
21. Present Occupation - Indicate your current status. If unemployed, place "unemployed"; If retired, place "retired"; If student; place "student".
22. When Do You Intend to Arrive in the U.S.? - Eyeball your target date. It doesn't have to be definite.
23. Email Address - Write your personal email address and not the petitioner's.
24. At What Address Will You Stay in the U.S.? - Write the address of your petitioner.
25. Name and Telephone Numbers of Person in the U.S. Who You Will be Staying With for Tourism or Business - List your petitioner's information in this section.
26. How Long Do You Intend To Stay in The U.S.? - "Will apply for permanent residence after marriage."
27. What Is The Purpose of Your Trip? - "To marry U.S. citizen fiancé(e)."
28. Who Will Pay For Your Trip? - List down your petitioner's name.
29. Have You Ever Been in The U.S.? - Yes or No. If yes, fill up the space accordingly. Indicate the duration of your trip.
30. Have You Ever Been Issued a U.S. Visa? - Yes or No. If yes, write the details accordingly.
31. Have You Ever Been Refused a U.S. Visa? - Yes or No. If yes, detail the denial despite of the visa category.
32. Do You Intend To Work in The U.S.? - "Will apply for work authorization."
33. Do You Intend To Study in The U.S.? - Considering the visa type, just say NO even if you plan on doing so in the future.
34. Names and Relationships of Persons Traveling With You - If it doesn't apply to you, put N/A or NONE. Otherwise, indicate what is asked. (e.g. Hannah Montana - sister)
35. Has Your U.S. Visa Ever Been Canceled or Revoked? - Yes or No.
36. Has Anyone Ever Filed An Immigrant Visa Petition on Your Behalf? - Yes or No. If yes, indicate who filed an immigrant visa petition for you.
37. Are Any of The Following Persons in The U.S., or Do They Have U.S. Legal Permanent Residence or U.S. Citizenship? - Indicate your fiancé(e)'s name and state that s/he is a U.S. citizen (e.g. Shia LaBeouf - U.S. citizen)
38. IMPORTANT - Check the boxes that are applicable to you. I checked NO to everything.
39. Was This Application Prepared By Another Person on Your Behalf? - Yes or No. If yes, proceed to question 40.
40. Application Prepared By - Name of the person who filled up the application. Write N/A or NONE if it doesn't apply to you.
41. I certify that... - Sign the form even if someone else filled it up on your behalf.

Apply the same rules when filling up the DS 156K and DS 157 forms. I suggest to divide the DS forms into two sets and use a paper clip to bind them.

(1) DS 157, DS 156K, DS 156
(2) DS 157 DS 156 + email confirmation