One year in Japan– Let’s roll back the clock, shall we? Part 2 – Yokohama

So I finally met up with my cousin and her family. Her husband is half Japanese/Filipino so he can speak fluent Japanese, English and Tagalog. He’s a silent type of guy but he likes anime as well so I often talk to him about it. I finally got to see my niece! She’s so cute and she’s a ballerina to boot, so whenever we would stop and wait for a bus/train/taxi/whatever, she would start pointing her toes and practicing her dance moves. Haha!

In the pictures below, you can constantly see us wearing/holding white surgical masks. When I first arrived in Japan, I thought it was really scary– like some sort of plague. When I asked my cousin about it, she said that some people have pollen allergy, like her, so they have to wear masks every spring. Of course, she said, if they were sick it was just good manners (This was the first time I would hear about this manā or ‘manner‘ in Japan; I’ll elaborate on this one soon.) to wear masks to prevent the spread of the sickness. And if  you’re scared of catching a cold then some people would wear one as well. Recently though I heard some younger people would wear them just because it’s comforting to hide behind the mask. I myself have worn them on such occasions.

cousin and me

My cousin and my niece– she was actually making a funny face but I had to censor it hahaha!

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My niece

I arrived at a pretty awkward time because my cousin was actually moving to Tokyo in 2 days so we were quite busy cleaning and packing everything for the big move. I started playing with her son, who was 2 years old, and he was so energetic and cute I was exhausted by the end of the day. At around 3pm, my niece came back from school, and we went to her ballet studio to say goodbye to her teachers and classmates.

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My niece at one of her recitals

After she introduced me to her teachers, she suddenly started crying. I tried comforting her but her teachers and her classmates started crying too. They hugged my niece and gave her presents and encouragement. We left the ballet studio soon after and she started cheering up. She pointed out some buildings and some places that she thought I would be interested in. We arrived back at the apartment and my cousin and my nephew had dressed up and told us we will go around Minato Mirai so I can have a look around.

After that we went home and waited for my cousin-in-law and we watched a movie while we ate shabu-shabu. My stomach was so full I felt so sleepy but Haru, my cousin’s 2 year old, kept playing with me and wouldn’t let me sleep. I finally put on some of his favorite disney shows on his i-pad and watched it together on my futon. When my niece and nephew fell asleep, my cousin and I talked about news back home and some family drama that I’m definitely not getting into now, but it made for a pretty interesting topic. I woke up the next day feeling awesome. I was going to meet my friend in Akabane and she promised we would go around Akihabara that day.

OK, I’m off to sleep! I’m actually setting this to go live tomorrow when I go back to work.

One year in Japan– Let’s roll back the clock, shall we? Part 1

So, I haven’t been able to post updates since stepping into this magical land. Now that I’m home sick with the flu, what better way to kill time than to update an unattended blog. LOL.

Anyhow, a lot of things happened, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

I left my house feeling pretty excited but at the same time I had this feeling like I was about to vomit and just call it a day and go back home. But with my 2 suitcases, 1 duffel bag and a (very heavy) laptop bag, I made my way to Japan.

On the plane, I started thinking about the people I left behind. How much I was gonna miss them and when would we ever see each other again.. I mean, I used to just text them to “Let’s meet up!” and after a few hours I’d get to see them.

Dinner with friends before I left for Europe last 2012

Dinner with friends before I left for Europe last 2012

In any case, I finally arrived at Narita.

I quickly checked if my phone’s roaming had worked but I was disappointed to see that there was no signal bar on the screen. I was quickly shuffled into a big room with aisles and aisles of people lining up at the immigration windows. I tried to line up where I should but the man guarding the line told me, in Japanese, to fill out the form. I quickly filled it out and showed it to him and he let me pass. At the window, they asked for my passport. They took my finger print and my picture. After a minute they handed me a card which I figured out was my Residence card (Alien Card). I made my way down to the luggage pick up area and finally found my bags. Once I passed through customs, I searched for my cousin, who was supposed to pick me up. I saw a masked man wave at me, and I recognized that he was my cousin.

We greeted each other awkwardly, since it has been a couple of years since we met and we were quite far apart in age. He led me to the trains and tried to check which one we have to ride. Just to make sure, he talked to the man at the ticket gates and asked in Japanese whether it was the correct route. He confirmed it and so off we were to wait.

Was really tired from the trip so sorry for the bleh face

Was really tired from the trip so sorry for the bleh face

Anyway when the train arrived, we talked a lot about how it was to work in Japan. He told me all about his experiences and also gave me advice on what to do and what not to do…which I was surprised, quite a lot. I started to feel nervous but it was quickly replaced by excitement as our train slowed to a stop and we arrived in…. Saitama.

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My cousin carrying some of my bags

So basically, the plan was that I was going to stay at my cousin’s in Yokohama, but I got out of the airport quite late because of the immigration procedures so he said I can stay with him in Saitama for the night and the next day he would bring me to Yokohama where his sister lived.

By this time I was completely buzzed by the fact that I was in Japan. I FINALLY ARRIVED. It was a little late but I finally realized it. Heck, even sometimes I forget that I’m here and I still feel like it’s a dream.

Ok. I’ll stop here for today but hopefully I can continue updating this blog. Fingers crossed.

Exit Permit: Not the nightmare I thought it would be

POEA – Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)

Overseas Employment Certificate

Overseas Employment Certificate

Now this is where it gets tricky my fellow Filipinos, you have to go to POEA to submit all of your documents and hopefully get the OEC in just a couple of days.

I’m only going to talk about the procedures for DIRECT HIRES/NAME HIRES so please do not ask me about others because I don’t have first-hand information regarding those and it will be irresponsible for me to answer them if I myself have not gone through them.

Here are the requirements you will need:

1.) Employment Contract (For Skilled and Professional Workers) **PLEASE READ NOTE BELOW REQUIREMENTS

For low-level workers, your contract must be verified by POLO or authenticated by the Philippine embassy/consulate.

2.) Valid Visa/entry/work permit/no objection certificate (NOC) or equivalent document

3.)Valid Passport

4.) Valid Medical Certificate from DOH-accredited medical clinic (There is an updated list at POEA so just take a look.)

5.) One 2×2 picture for the medical certificate

6.) Pre-departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) certificate from POEA

ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTS:

For Canada bound workers: Labor Market Opinion Confirmation

For USA bound workers: Labor Condition Application

Fees:

US $100.00 (Php equivalent) – POEA Processing Fee
US $ 25.00  (Php equivalent) – OWWA Membership contribution (valid for 2 years)
Php  1200.00 – Philhealth-Medicate (1 year)
Php   100.00 – Pag-ibig membership (I didn’t have one when I applied so I paid for this, I’m not sure if you still have to pay if you already have Pag-ibig memberhsip.)

Okay. So, before you even head over to POEA, make sure you have everything.

**If it is not specified in your contract that your employer will repatriate your remains when you die, POEA will require you to have your employer sign an employer compliance form (though you can submit a scanned one) so I suggest you ask them to include that beforehand so you don’t have to go back and forth.

As for the medical exam, there are several clinics near POEA so I suggest going there after submitting your documents for evaluation.

ALSO one more important thing. MAKE SURE you have the company profile of your employer. They don’t include this in the official requirements but they do ask for it and you won’t be able to complete your application without it. I had to email my employer an hour before POEA closed, asking to send my the company profile asap…which is not really good for your nerves haha! It was a good thing my employer was able read my email immediately and was able to send me the company profile.

Anyway I was able to catch up before they closed and got my OEC. The whole process took me 2 business days. You can probably finish everything in 1 day if you have all the requirements and if you were able to attend the PDOS seminar in the afternoon. For Europe/North America I think the seminar usually starts at 8am and for Asia, 1pm.

When you arrive at the airport, make sure you head over to the OFW counter and get your OEC validated. You are now exempted from travel tax and terminal fees at the airport. 8D