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2019 BTS Summer Package Vol. 5 (Korea Version)

3.27.2020

Paul Immigrations Reviews | Applying for Singapore PR.

It was way back in 2006 when I first traveled to Singapore. Together with my Mum and my brother, we went all the way to the Lion City to visit my younger sister, who was working as an intern at the Arena Country Club at that time.

Fourteen years ago, this island country had a smaller airport and popular tourist spots such as Universal Studios and the Marina Bay Floating Platform were still non-existent. Nevertheless, the country's impeccable cleanliness, efficient transport system, and highly-urbanized business district left a lasting impression on my brother and I. Even more so with my sister, who was able to experience the beauty and the fast-paced lifestyle of the country far longer than any of us, having stayed there for almost six months.
Singapore, 2006.
My brother and I at Sentosa.
Our first family trip to Singapore, August 2006.
We made a vow to return there in the future, which my brother and sister did. They each made trips to the Lion City last year, together with their own families.
My sister and her husband, Jesser at the Merlion in Sentosa.
My sister at Universal Studios Singapore.
My brother's family at Universal Studios Singapore.
My niece, with the Merlion in the background.
As for me, I had long been dreaming to go back to this lovely island country - not as a tourist, but as Permanent Resident.

And why not? After all, Singapore is one of the best places to live in Asia and one of the most family-friendly countries in the continent. Aside from its robust economy and pro-active government, this country is known throughout the world for its systematic and highly-advanced health care system, while its strong and coherent education system has earned the applause (and envy) of many countries, including the West. Sounds like the perfect place to raise my eleven-year-old Science nerd/Math geek, don't you agree?
Singapore is family-friendly!
Who Can Apply for Permanent Residency?
So how do we turn this dream-slash-plan of immigrating a reality?
First, we need to know what it takes to become a Permanent Resident. Those who are eligible to apply for Permanent Residency are the following:
  • Spouse of a Singapore citizen (SC) or Singapore Permanent Resident (PR)
  • Unmarried child, less than 21 years of age, born within the context of legal marriage to, or have been adopted by an SC or PR
  • Aged parent of a SC
  • Holder of an Employment Pass (foreign professionals in Singapore who work in a managerial, executive, or specialized job)
  • Holder of an S Pass (mid-level skilled staff working in Singapore with relevant qualifications and work experience)
  • Student studying in Singapore
  • Foreign investor in Singapore
If you fall under any of these categories, then that means you have a shot at becoming a Permanent Resident.

How to Apply for Permanent Residency?
Now the real challenge is actually applying for it. Submitting the requirements seems easy because everything can be done online through the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) website. However, gathering all the necessary documents can be a handful, and thoughts of "Is my application up to par?" or "Am I doing the right thing?" can definitely cause a lot of stress. Even more taxing is the long wait, as the processing time for submissions usually takes four months to half a year, depending on your status and submitted documents.

Sounds intimidating, right? The whole process can be very daunting, especially if you're doing this for the first time. However, if you seek help from an immigration consultant, you'll be able to understand the process better and go about it with ease.
Paul Immigrations office at Suntec Tower Two.
Paul Immigrations Reviews
I have recently been acquainted with Paul Immigrations, an immigration consultancy firm that specializes in Permanent Residency applications. They take pride in being the best consultancy firm in Singapore with more than 15,000 satisfied clients and a high success rate that remains constant over the years.

With Paul Immigrations' team of experts, the seemingly complicated process of getting your Permanent Residency will be simplified into these six steps:

Step 1: Phone Interview
An Immigration Consultant (IC) will conduct the first round of interview through a scheduled phone call. The interview will determine if the prospective client is eligible to apply for Permanent Residency in Singapore.

The IC will check the type of work pass (i.e. S Pass or Employment Pass) that you have, your family ties with any Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident, or if you have any pending submissions with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority.

In addition, the IC will conduct a profile assessment based on your age, salary, and length of stay in Singapore, among other things.

Step 2: In-person Appointment
After the phone interview, the Immigration Consultant will schedule an in-person appointment to confirm the applicant's work pass and further explain the entire application process to the applicant.

The IC will also review the applicant's profile to gauge the success of  the PR application. Factors such as education, skill set, and the current political/economic situation in Singapore will be taken into consideration, and these will all be assessed and explained during the consultation.
The posh receiving area of Paul Immigrations.
Step 3: Preparing the Documents
The next step is to prepare the following documents:
  • Audited form submission (also known as Form 4A)
  • Correct compulsory documents (required by the ICA)
  • Essential additional documents (e.g. documents that prove your community involvement, charity work, and the like)
These documents shall be submitted to the Immigration Specialist (IS), who will be guiding you every step of the way. The IS will inspect your documents and check if they meet the criteria as stated by the ICA.

Step 4: Completing the Paperwork
Once you've handed in all the necessary documents, the Immigration Specialist will then finish the rest of the paperwork. The IS will complete the application form based on the documents you submitted, and will craft a personalized cover letter that will highlight your strengths and accomplishments, and will emphasize your commitment to the Singaporean community and the country as a whole.

Step 5: Submission of Application
After the cover letter has been completed and all the necessary documents have been compiled, the Immigration Specialist will then submit everything online at the ICA website. The application can be submitted remotely by the IS, or you can schedule a meeting with the specialist who will then assist you with the online submission. In addition, the applicant needs to pay a non-refundable processing fee amounting to S$100.

Step 6: Waiting for the Results
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore scrutinizes each and every PR application they receive. It usually takes four to six months for the results to come out, and the IS who submitted your documents and accomplished your paperwork will inform you whether or not you are approved.

If your application is successful, you will need to pay the following fees to kick start your Permanent Residency:
  • S$20 for Entry Permit (for PR applications submitted from 18 December 2017 onwards)
  • S$50 for a 5-year Re-Entry Permit
  • S$50 for Identity Card
  • S$30 per Entry Visa (foreigners requiring a visa)
It's never a walk in the park to immigrate to another country, but availing the services of a competent and reliable immigration consultancy firm such as Paul Immigrations can make a world of difference. It's like taking away half of the burden, and having a mentor watch over you and help you achieve your goal.

Of course, this all comes with a fee, but I would much rather seek the help of professionals and increase my chance of approval than take a stab in the dark and do everything on my own.


3.23.2020

How To Improve Positive Energy With Aromatherapy.

We live in a society that’s so used to taking medication for any problem, that we forgot to heal ourselves using old, holistic methods that are less toxic for our organisms. Of course, holistic methods can’t help us when we face some serious issues, but they can help us relax, unwind and have better mental health.

One of the best healing elements of holistic therapy is aromatherapy. You can perform it at home, and enjoy all the power that essential oils can have to learn more about essential oils and their benefits. They can boost your energy levels, help you sleep better and alleviate all sorts of issues. The best part is that you don’t have to do anything except relax and breathe. How simple is that?
Photo credit: silviarita on Pixabay.
 Essential oils are full of wonderful smells that improve our physical and mental state in different ways. But, if you have never used essential oils before, you will benefit from learning about them first and then using them.

The oils you will use will depend on what you need. Here are some uses and oils that can help.

Energy-boosting oils
Rosemary is something that’s probably a permanent occurrence in your kitchen. You use it for all sorts of foods, from soup to meat. However, it’s also an essential oil which can offer you plenty of benefits as an aromatherapy tool. You can learn more about it here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/rosemary-oil-benefits

This specific essential oil has effects on your mood. It can stimulate you and wake you up, make you more alert and upbeat. It’s a wonderful blend of scents that are beneficial for your focus too and that can help your brain function properly.
Photo credit: Rodrigo Munoz on Pixabay.
So, if you are feeling down, rosemary essential oil in your favorite diffuser is probably one of the best options to bring you back to your normal state and refresh your mood.

Of course, that’s not all. Rosemary oil is great at boosting your immunity, helping with fatigue, stress, anxiety and all sorts of things.

In fact, it’s so good for you that researchers have studied it and found that five minutes of inhaling rosemary essential oil smell can reduce stress-related hormones and bring you back to your balanced state. To use rosemary oil, just pour it into your diffuser - click here to learn more about diffusers - and enjoy it.

There are many other energy-boosting oils that can help you. Here are some of them:
  • Lemon, Grapefruit and other citrus oils for their invigorating effects
  • Tea tree, eucalyptus, spearmint, lemongrass, and cedarwood because they can help you be more alert
  • Mix any of these oils with citronella, sage or basil
Photo credit: Monfocus on Pixabay.
When it comes to invigorating effects, you can’t miss lemon and tangerine, as well as other citrus fruit oils. They are not just delicious food, they are also extremely beneficial for your mental state.

Tangerine, for instance, smells sweet and refreshing. It’s very intense and brings a whole host of benefits that can help you build energy. Lemon is very similar, and it’s beneficial for use in the morning or after a long day at work when you feel too tired to do anything.

Both are excellent at boosting your metabolism and support your digestion. As you may know, lemon and other citrus fruits are often used in beauty products and this is done specifically because they help with the detox of the skin and the body. They can clear your mind, help your general health and make your immune system stronger.

These citrus oils are just perfect for boosting your mood and creativity. So, when you feel down, it’s a good idea to use them as a way to make your day better. This list includes grapefruit or orange as well. You can mix them together with other citrus fruit oils, bergamot, spearmint and so on.

Another excellent example of pick-me-up essential oils is basil. It smells very fresh and intense but offers even more benefits. It’s antibacterial and it can help you when you catch a cold or a virus.

It’s important to know that this is also one of the preferred herbs in kitchens across the globe and some cultures even tie this plant to deities. It can boost your metabolism and reduce infections and inflammation.

As an herb, basil can be found in many dishes in many cuisines around the world. It’s a flavorful herb that doesn’t just add dimension to a dish, but also helps improve digestion, support liver function, reduce inflammation, and even fight infections.

3.20.2020

Tips on How To Have Fun on Your Next Family Vacation.

Everyone loves to go on vacation, but sometimes the trip can be stressful. You want everyone to have fun, you want it to be memorable, and you want everything to go smoothly. Creating an agenda where there are enough adult activities to keep the adults happy and enough kid activities to keep the kids happy isn’t easy. Here are a few tips that might help tip the balance in your favor and make your next trip a smashing success.

Brainstorm as a Group 
One way to make everyone happy is to make everyone feel like they had a part in the decision-making process. Get the whole family together at the table and brainstorm a list of places to go and things to do. This ensures that everyone gets to have their say about what they want to do and things they’d rather not do. Just don’t forget to buy some travel insurance at a place like Instainsure. This will make everything less stressful.
My Love from the Star (2013)
Take Turns Planning
One fun thing to do is to designate one day per person and have them be in charge of planning that entire day. Letting one of your kids plan the activities for the whole day, including meals, can be very empowering and a good life lesson about responsibility. It also guarantees that they will get to do at least some of the things they want to do on the trip.


Surprise Them All 
Are you already a planning genius? Then why not make the trip destination a complete surprise? If you can manage it, a mystery trip can be a lot of fun, as long as you are certain that everyone will like what you have planned.
Photo credit: Joongang Daily.

Unplug a Little
Everyone is so dependent on technology these days; it might be fun to collectively disconnect from the internet for a day (or more) and plan a day of activities where you don’t need your phones or tablets. Plan a nature hike, or a day at the waterpark, or an activity-filled picnic. Years ago, people survived without being constantly plugged-in to technology, you can do it for a day and see what it was like.
Photo credit: Help Guide.
Do Some Good
Something sure to be memorable is to plan some volunteer work on your trip. Planning a trip around volunteer work will be a great life lesson for your kids. It will also give them a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction knowing that they made a real impact on the lives of other people.

Instead of planning your next vacation around a tourist trap, get the whole family involved and plan it together. Not only will it be more fun, but it will be less stressful for you. You deserve a good time too!


3.17.2020

5 Questions to Ask Your Jewelers When Shopping for Bridal Jewelry.

Shopping for your bridal jewelry is one of the most important items on a bride’s checklist. It is the final touch that adds a much-needed sparkle to the entire ensemble. Of course, you want your jewels to last a lifetime - or maybe even longer. There are a lot of things to consider. You want something flattering but do not overshadow your dress. It has to fit your personality too. You would not want something colorful if you are a bit of a minimalist. To find your perfect match, you need to choose the right jeweler.

If you are a bit clueless, I hope this will help. Ring shopping is kind of like looking for the right apartment. There are questions you ask your realtor before signing that lease. This one is different though. Buying jewelry is an important investment. We are not just talking about money here. There is also some emotional investment involved.

Unless you have loads of cash, you would want to be practical. You want to be able to wear your ring every day and not regret your decision. So here are some of the questions you should be asking your jeweler:
Look: Yoon Se Ri's ring on Crash Landing on You.
What looks good for any dress?
The goal is to buy jewelry for your wedding dress. But of course, you will be using it well after the festivities are over. You may want to shop for your shoes and wedding dress first and see how the ring or earrings will compliment your entire look. Then, ask your jeweler if the ring is also great for date nights, dinner parties and other memorable occasions. Check out this article which gives a few more things to consider.

What’s good for my skin tone?
There is no solid rule but considering your skin tone is a good starting point in choosing your jewelry. Some skin tones look good with gold or silver. Some look better with platinum. The same thing applies to the color of the gemstones. Jewelers usually provide excellent recommendations.
Son Ye Jin looks fab in just about anything. :)
What are the 4Cs?
This question is the most important because it dictates the price of your jewelry. Jewelry comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. For diamonds, in particular, you need to look at the four C’s: Cut, clarity, color, and carat. The Guardian published an article on the four C’s.

Diamond cuts vary and some jewelers have their own signature cut. There are over 15 cuts to consider.

Color is an interesting thing to consider. Find the color that matches your personality and also tells how rare a diamond is.

Clarity refers to how flawless the diamond is. There is a clarity rating per diamond. The higher the clarity rating, the better.

Carat dictates the worth of your jewelry. Celebrities often show off how many carats their diamonds have. It gives people a rough estimate of how much they spent on their jewels.
A work of art.
 How can I modify this in the future?
The famous line says, “Diamonds are forever”. That is true but the design of your jewelry does not have to stay the same. There are some people who also buy jewelry as an investment that they can sell in the future. Others prefer to keep their jewelry and modify them to make them look brand new. Engagement rings can be turned into something else. Remember that scene in Sex and The City when Charlotte York went to a jewelry store to see what she can turn her wedding ring into. The jeweler suggested a “floating diamond necklace” or a pair of earrings. This is a good way to preserve the sentimental value of your jewels and at the same time getting a new accessory.

Make sure it's the real deal.
Is this a real diamond?
Now, don’t be shocked. This is a valid question. Here’s why. The Federal Trade Commission warned that some jewelers are not being truthful about where they source their jewels. In case you are not aware, there are many jewelry stores that sell diamonds that are grown in laboratories. Their sparkle may be similar but they are less valuable than mined diamonds.

Make sure you don’t fall into these marketing traps. There is no harm in asking where the diamonds are sourced from. Stones are traceable and trusted jewelers provide documents to prove where they got them. Stay away from sketchy online sellers too.

Now that you know what to ask your jeweler, it’s time to look for the perfect store. Make sure you read online reviews such as this whiteflash diamondcuts.com review. This site provides valuable insights on the quality that the jewelry provider sells. They also include articles on the different cuts of diamonds and even reviews on jewelry insurance providers. Now go get that diamond of your dreams!

3.14.2020

Foodie Goodie | Samuel's Plate Gastropub.

A few weeks back, I blogged about how Mum celebrated her birthday (in advance) with the kids of St. Martin de Porres Kids' Home, a charitable institution that houses abandoned/street children. Mum chose to do a bit of charity work instead of throwing a party or a beach trip, and my siblings and I were more than willing to join her in her cause.

Of course, my siblings and I wouldn't let her birthday pass without a get-together. And so, on her actual birthday, we took Mum out for dinner at Samuel's Plate Gastropub, one of the fancier dining places here in San Pablo City.
The birthday girl and the grandkids at Samuel's Plate Gastropub.
Established in 2016, Samuel's Plate is the first of its kind not just in San Pablo City, but in the entire province of Laguna. The gastropub is located at Brgy. San Roque - a three-storey brick building with a rustic design and a country-style vibe. The ground floor is the pub where you can sit down and have a snack while sipping on some cocktails, while the second floor is the main restaurant, ideal for dining with a large group. The third floor, on the other hand, serves as a function hall for parties, weddings, and the like.
Samuel's Place Package Deals.
Samuel's Plate has a menu so diverse and interesting that makes you want to try everything. Thankfully, they offer Package Deals that make this task of choosing what to order and what to eat simpler and less complicated. Each package has a combination of Filipino and Western dishes, with drinks and dessert to boot. We ordered package C and E, because we wanted to try as many dishes in one sitting, haha!

Here's a closer look at the dishes included in the two package deals, plus the Mushroom Soup that Mum had as her appetizer:
Mozarella Croquettes - potato croquettes stuffed with cheese and comes with three different dips.
Love this appetizer! Crunchy on the outside and cheesy on the inside!
Cream of Mushroom Soup - creamy and flavored just right. Does not taste like the instant/canned kind.
Smoked Ribs - fall-off-the-bone goodness, smoked and seasoned to perfection.
Definitely the best ribs in town! 
Crispy Kare-kare - another must-try dish!
The savory sauce and crispy lechon kawali is a perfect combination.
Alfredo - Yue loved this so much, he pretty much ate everything.
Bicol Express Curry - not as spicy as I would have wanted my Bicol Express to be,
but yummy nonetheless. 
Chicken Sisig - Mum's not a fan of sisig, but surprisingly she loved this one A LOT!
Sinigang na Salmon - sour, and I like it like that. ;)
Ube Stuffed Suman - I'm not fond of plain ol' suman,
but stuffed with ube inside and drizzled with latik, well that's a totally different story.
Chocolate cake - moist and chocolatey, but not overly sweet. 
Oh, and they even gave Mum another slice of cake, on the house, because it's her birthday. They also serve coffee, which tastes better than overpriced ones from branded coffee shops. No kidding!
Mum's birthday cake courtesy of Samuel's Plate.
They even sang a birthday song for her! :)
Cappucinno to cap the night.
Dining at Samuel's Plate was truly a gastronomic experience. Their food doesn't come cheap, I must admit, but you definitely get your money's worth in terms of taste, ambiance, and service.
Happy 57th birthday, Mum! :)
We're certainly coming back to this restaurant to celebrate the next family occasion. Yue's graduation, perhaps? Hopefully, this COVID-19 situation gets better so that the graduation ceremonies will push through and Mum can come home again to celebrate with us.

3.07.2020

Foodie Goodie | Sarang Mart Korean Grocery.

If there's one thing I truly, madly, deeply, miss about Korea (aside from my husband, the temperate climate, and the super fast internet speed), it's the food. I usually order Korean food stuff online, but today, in this hot and humid weather, I suddenly craved for Korean ice cream. Of course, I can't order that online. Good thing there's a newly-opened Korean grocery smack dab in the middle of the city, located five minutes away from where we live.
Annyeong, Sarang! :)
Sarang Mart Korean Grocery recently opened their second branch in San Pablo City, right across the Human Heart Nature Concept Store in Barleta Street. Their first branch has been operational since 2016, but not many people know of this gem since it's located in the outskirts of San Pablo City.
This new branch is a lot more accessible, and if you'll be visiting for the first time, the location is very easy to find as it's near the San Pablo City Cathedral.

 If you're a fan of Korean snacks, love stocking up on Korean condiments, or simply in the mood for some Korean ice cream, Sarang Mart is the place to be. They pretty much have everything in stock - ramyeon of all brands and varieties, ice cream of all kinds, dipping sauces in different sizes, and Pepero and Binggrae Milk in different flavors.
Jin Ramen on sale. 
Samyang and Chapaguri, as seen on the Oscar winning movie, Parasite.
Yue's all-time favorite Nongshim ramyeon.
Gochujang, Doenjang, Ssamjang.
Cledor goodies.
My all-time favorite Bungeoppang ice cream.
Classic Melona.
Pepero flavors (OMG the Nude Cream Cheese is the bomb)!
They also have frozen food products like eomuk (fish cake) and mandu (dumplings), and fermented food products like kimchi and danmuji (pickled radish). They even have enoki mushrooms, which are quite difficult to come by in supermarkets here in San Pablo, as well as king oyster mushrooms.
Eomuk - perfect for cold, blustery days.
Photo credit; Sarang Mart Facebook page.
Photo credit: Sarang Mart Facebook page.
In the mood for samgyup? Sarang Mart has authentic Pork Samgyupsal and Beef Bulgogi which you can grill in the comforts of your home. If you don't have your own grill pan yet, Sarang Mart has you covered as well! They have grill pans for sale, as well as the ramyeon cooking pots (you know, the gold tin ones) that you see in Kdramas.
Beef Bulgogi and Pork Samgyupsal.
I hope they'll have Oreo O's in stock next time I visit. Yue has been asking for his favorite cereal for God knows how long, but I don't have the time to go all the way to S&R just for that. Also, this COVID-19 scare is deterring me from traveling outside the city and making me want to stay home most of the time.

On that note, I wish you're all safe and sickness-free wherever you are. Stay healthy, and always keep your hands clean! :)

Sarang Mart Korean Grocery
Barleta Street. cor. Gen. Malvar Street,
San Pablo City