Applying for a Korean Visa

South Korea has been a popular travel destination for Filipinos nowadays. Fans of Korean dramas flock there to visit the filming locations and try out the foods seen in dramas and there are some fans of K-pop who go there to watch concerts and music shows and go to places where they might see their oppas and unnies like in celebrity-owned cafes, restaurants or clubs. There are also some Filipinos who just want to try and experience the cold for a change since Philippines is a tropical country where it’s “summer” all-year round.


Unfortunately, Filipinos must have a Korean visa to be able to set foot on Korean soil. Over the years, the visa policy has been changed, making it easier for tourists to visit their country for travel. It is Korea’s strategy to attract more tourists and boost the country’s tourism. As long as you have all the required documents, the process is fast and easy.

As part of the prize I got from winning the Korean speech contest, I will be going to Korea for a week and attend a short course at Kyunghee University. My friends who have been to Korea told me to apply for my visa at least a month before your scheduled travel date. A couple of weeks ago, I started gathering the requirements. I sent an email to KCC requesting for the letter that I need to submit to the embassy. My mom and sister also prepared their own documents because they are going with me to Korea.

Having all the requirements prepared, we headed to the Korean embassy yesterday to submit our documents. I was really nervous so I checked the documents before leaving the house. I even thoroughly scanned the application forms a couple of times, making sure that everything has been filled up. I was worried on the way there because I was wearing a pair of sandals but I was relieved to see a woman standing outside the embassy wearing flip flops.

Upon entering the building, I was surprised to see that there were already a lot of people waiting for their numbers to be called and there was line to have your documents checked before submitting it to the consul. Using of phones and taking of pictures aren’t allowed so I don’t have pictures to show what it was like inside the building.

Before lining up, I made sure everything was arranged according to the order written on the list then we sat down after having our documents checked and waited for our number to be called. Seeing that there were a lot of people, I was worried that we might have to wait for a long time before our turn comes but it was surprisingly fast. Before I knew it, our number was called and we went to window 1. The lady scanned through our documents and returned the things that weren’t needed (it doesn’t hurt to be over prepared lol). She looked at my letter from KCC and asked if we were traveling as a family and I said yes then she gave us a piece of paper to be presented when we come back to claim our passports. The process was fast and we were out of the building in less than 30 minutes. To say that I was impressed is an understatement.

I wish it was that fast in BIR too. Ehem! Ehem! *grins*

We have to wait for at least 5 working days to claim our passports. I’m hoping and praying that my mom, sister and I will each get an approved Korean visa. *crosses fingers*

Anyway, here are some things that people might find useful.

Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Republic of the Philippines
Address: 122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City 1634, Philippines
Tel: (63-2) 856-9210, Fax: (63-2) 856-9008 | Hours of Operation: 08:30 ~ 17:00 (Mon-Fri)

Visa Applications: 08:30 AM – 11:00 AM
Claiming of Passports: 01:30 PM – 4:00 PM

For first time applicants: 5 working days
For frequent travelers: 3-4 working days

For the complete list of requirements, click on this link –> Korean Visa Requirements.

— You can download it from the website of the embassy.
— I’m not sure if it’s required but I saw “210mm×297mm [백상지 80g/㎡(재활용품)” written on the bottom right of the application form so I decided to use A4-sized 80 gsm or substance 24 paper just to be sure coz you never know.
— Fill it up and make sure there are no erasures. Put n/a instead of leaving a field blank.


— Make sure your passport is valid for more than 6 months. If not, better renew it first before applying for a passport.
— If you don’t have a passport yet, prepare the documents and go to the DFA office in your city.
— In some cities, the DFA office doesn’t accept walk-in applicants (unless you’re a senior citizen, below 1 year old, person with disability or an overseas Filipino worker). You have to call the DFA office to set an appointment first. Some offices get a lot of applicants that sometimes you have to wait a month or two just to be able to set an appointment.
— If you are in a rush and you can’t schedule an appointment because there is no open slot, go to a travel agency. You will have to pay more but it will be faster.
— Bring your old passport as well just in case they ask to see it. You never know.
— Photocopy the bio page. Make sure it’s clear and details can be read easily.

— You can request these documents from your bank for a minimal fee. I got mine at BDO and I paid P100 each for the bank certificate and the bank statement.
— Make sure all the necessary details are on the certificate and statement and make sure they are correct. The certificate given to me had a lot of mistakes or lack a few details that were needed so I had it corrected and I didn’t leave the branch until I was sure that everything was fixed.

— There is no rule on how much money you should have in your bank account but just make sure that it is more than the budget you stated in the application form.
— Do not withdraw your money before your visa has been issued.
— I’m not sure if they have a dress code but please come in proper attire. No slippers, “pekpek” shorts, spaghetti strap tank tops etc. You are going to an office so wrap yourself up in decent clothing. A mentor told me that there are consuls who also observe and evaluate you based on your appearance and behavior as well.
— Make sure you have all the requirements and arrange them according to the order in the list. If you have other documents that you think is important and they might ask to see such as old passports, just bring it with you and prepare a photocopy of it.
— Check the official website for announcements.
— For BDO Gold and Elite, BPI Gold Master, SkyMiles Platinum Master, Amore Visa Platinum and Gold BPI Express Teller Debit cardholders, there is an ongoing promo that if you apply with your card, you will get a multiple entry visa for 3-5 years, depending on what card you have. Also, if you have any of the cards mentioned, you are exempted from submitting a bank certificate and ITR. *Eligible applicants are not automatically issued a multiple entry visa. Issuance of visa whether single or multiple entry is subject for approval of the consul in-charge.

Good luck in applying for a Korean visa. Just an additional note before I end this post. If you don’t have a Korean visa but still want to go to Korea, you can go to Jeju Island. It’s just as awesome as Seoul, probably even better if you’re the type of traveler who wants a vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Thanks for reading and I hope you find it useful. If you have any questions, you can reach me through the Contact page or leave a comment below. Just a little reminder though, I do not work for the embassy so I may not have answers to all the questions. ^^;;

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KCC’s 2016 Korean Speech Contest

As I have mentioned in my previous post, I went to Cebu to compete in the semi-finals of the 2016 Korean Speech Contest hosted by the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines and I got 1st place which automatically made me the representative for Cebu (even though I’m from Tacloban) to compete in the grand finals in Ateneo de Manila University.

On the day of the competition, I was nervous but I didn’t know whether it was because I was about to ride the plane to Manila or because of the competition itself. My near death experience in the plane in 2009 still scares me at times whenever I’m about to ride a plane. But I arrived safely and I was way less scared and more relaxed than my flight last year. I’m still trying to get used to it.

The KCC van was already there waiting for me and the other regional contestants. I was the first one to arrive so I was asked to wait for the others inside the van. The contestant from Davao arrived together with her mom. Imagine the surprise on my face when she said she was 14 years old. She speaks better than I do. I write better than I can speak. The contestant from Iloilo got lost and due to time constraints, we couldn’t wait for him so he was instructed to get a cab and meet us at the hotel. We had to pick up one more contestant before heading to the hotel so we dropped by a mall where the contestant from Pampanga and his family were waiting for us. The van was already crowded by then.

After checking in and dropping our bags at the hotel, we went to have lunch at Jollibee before heading to the contest venue. I couldn’t eat properly. It was a challenge to swallow my food when I was trembling.

I was excited to see Ateneo. I planned to walk around before the contest and take a few pictures but it was raining when we arrived and the place was huge, I didn’t want to risk getting lost so I didn’t get to take photos.

Once inside the hall, my hands and feet were ice cold. I could already feel the anxiety building up inside of me. I was greeted by Director Oh who recognized me for joining last year’s speech contest. We were then asked to sit according to sequence. They have already decided on the order and I was the 4th one to deliver my speech.

I was planning to wear a hanbok so I brought one with me but seeing that none of the other contestants were wearing a hanbok, I decided to present in my dress. I was worried that the hanbok would make me feel more uncomfortable delivering a speech in it.

Moments before the program started, I couldn’t help but call my sister to ask if I could have one more of the anti-histamine capsule to help me relax because my heart was pounding like crazy. But she didn’t allow me because I already had one before I got on the plane. So I just endured it.

When it was my turn to deliver my speech, I felt pressured when the MC introduced me as last year’s 3rd place winner because I was worried that it would make people expect more from me. Before standing in front of the everyone, I took my glasses off, thinking that not being able to clearly see the look on the judges face would help keep me calm or at least not make me even more panicked than I already was.


I stood in front of everyone and began my speech. I was surprised how not being able to see them clearly made me deliver my speech in the pace that I wanted, slow and dramatic. But unlike other contestants, I couldn’t walk around comfortably and make hand gestures because I was shaking. I even held the microphone with two hands and I gripped it very tightly. I stood there awkwardly as I delivered my speech. As I got to the end of it, I turned around to quickly put my glasses back on for the interview.


I was asked if I have been to Korea, if I had considered going to Korea for medical treatment, and if I had plans on going to Korea. And my answers were:

1. No, I haven’t been to Korea.
2. Yes, because Commander Lee told me to try to go to Korea to get treatment.
3. Yes, if I would be given the chance to go to Korea, I would. (They laughed because it was like I’m implying to make me win so I can go there. Believe me or not, that was not my intention. Lol.)

After delivering my speech and the interview, I went back to my seat and I just buried my face in my palms because even though I did better than last year, I was still not satisfied with my performance. But I just heaved a sigh of relief because it was over and I was already telling myself to accept whatever the result is. Yeah, I was already accepting my defeat, seeing how the others performed well and according to how they were coached.


When everyone got their chance to deliver their speeches, we were all asked to line up in front to get our KCC gift bags. A very little part of me was still hoping to get the 2nd or 3rd place. But when other contestants were announced as 2nd and 3rd place winners, I already began to think of a way to break the bad news to my parents. They’ve been very supportive of me and I could already hear them say “It’s okay, dear. You did our best.”


The MC, who was trying to prolong the suspense, asked the audience who they think would be this year’s grand prize winner. I was teasing the contestant from Davao to treat us. I was already congratulating her. Someone from the audience yelled “Tacloban!”. I was surprised because I wasn’t expecting someone, especially a person I don’t know, to cheer for me.


“Our 2016 Korean Speech contest came all the way from…”

Okay. All the way from… which only meant one thing. The winner lives in a place farthest from Manila and that place is Davao. Okay.

“All the way from TACLOBAN!”

What? What?? WHAT???

I had a Pia Wurtzbach moment, ladies and gentlmen.


I couldn’t believe I won and the contestants standing beside me gave me a little push because I froze in my spot, looking at everyone with a blank expression. While everyone took several photos, I couldn’t help but ask Director Oh (who stood beside me after giving the trophy) if it was a hidden camera prank. I was actually waiting for the MC to say that there has been a mistake but it didn’t happen. I felt like an instant celebrity as people took turns to have a photo with me. It’s kinda sad that I had no photo of me delivering my speech or getting the award so I just grabbed whatever photo was uploaded on Facebook.


The president of Philippine International College offered me to go to their school and someone from Ateneo asked for my contact information because they were interested on making a short film about my life. I was like… Wow.

As soon as we got inside the van, I called my dad to let him know that I won.

Me: Pa..
Dad: Anak, what happened? How was the contest?
Me: It was okay. I won.
Dad: Really? You won? What place did you get?
Me: I got the 1st place, pa.
Dad: That’s good. 1st place, right? Congratulations, anak. We are proud of you and we love you very much. We can’t wait to see you when you come back.
Me: Thanks, pa. I love you. Bye.
Dad: Okay, anak. Take care! We love you.

I wanted to cry but… there were so many people in the van. My parents couldn’t make it to the contest because they were busy with the campaign for the upcoming elections.

I stayed up all night that night because I still couldn’t believe what just happened and I was trying to relive the moments in my mind. When I’m at an event or just hanging out with friends, I usually post a status or a photo on Facebook as soon as possible but this time, I didn’t post anything about it until the next day, when KCC announced it on their Facebook page and my friends were already sharing the KCC’s post and tagging me with a short congratulatory message. Before then, I couldn’t bring myself to post anything about the contest because I was still in the process of convincing myself that it was not a dream. It took hours to sink in.

All of my friends were congratulating me through comments, private messages, statuses and some even called me. They knew how long I’ve waited for the chance to go to Korea and this is the chance that I’ve been waiting for.

Someone’s going to Korea in September. Thank you, Daddy God, for giving me this unexpected blessing. I was only asking to be able to set foot in Ateneo and maybe grab the 2nd or 3rd place but You have given me way more than what I asked for. You are amazing and I will never stop giving praise to You. Thank you for this new adventure I’m about to take in a few months.

Here are some articles about the contest:





Photos were grabbed from Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines fanpage

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Memories in Cebu

People my age have already been to other cities and even countries with their friends or on their own. I have always envied them for being able to travel as often as they want to with their peers. Since I have a heart condition, I was never allowed to travel far without a parent or a sibling or a close relative to accompany me.

I have had made plans to travel with some friends but all of them have been cancelled either because of lack of funds, conflict in schedule or I was too chicken scared of asking my parents for permission because I already know that they would say no. I understand why. Of course, even I wouldn’t allow my sick child to wander in far places knowing they could get sick or faint or something while on travel and what would hurt most is that I wouldn’t be there to help my child when it happens. So yeah, I completely understand them that’s why every time I get invited to travel to some place, I automatically reject the invite because I was considering the feelings of my parents.

I thought I’d never get to experience what it’s like to go on a travel with just a friend. No parent or sibling or relative. But there was this Korean speech contest I wanted to join and the semi-finals was in Cebu. I wanted to join the contest not because of the prize which was a free trip to South Korea with a 30,000 pesos cash and a 5-day language course in Kyung Hee University (경희대학교). I joined it because I was hoping to set foot in Ateneo on the finals.

On the night when I asked permission from my parents, my dad was a little drunk then. I have joined the said contest last year and managed to grab the 3rd place so there was a high chance he would let me go…. if I had a blood relative to go with me but the problem is I had no one except a close friend. With a soft voice, I asked him if I could go to Cebu to compete in the semi-finals with my friend. I held my breath as I waited for him to say no followed by a very long lecture but surprisingly, he said yes and even offered to shoulder the expenses. I was like… Wow. I certainly did not expect that.

And so off I went to tell my friend of the good news. I went to a travelling agency to book our tickets. It was my first time to book my travel tickets so I felt like a responsible adult that time. (I’m pretty immature for my age. *nods*)

I couldn’t sleep a wink the night before. I was so excited to go on a new adventure but I was also feeling nervous because of the responsibilities that came with it. Since I have no blood relative with me, I would have full responsibility of myself. I was so worried something might happen and they blame me or my friend and would never allow me to go next time.

I left the house early and went to pick my friend up so we could go to the terminal together. We got on a van and traveled for 2 and a half hours to Ormoc where we will ride a boat to Cebu. My friend is a year younger than me but it felt like I was a minor who had no idea about things. She was teasing me for being too excited. I was trying to hide it but she could tell because I was talking too much. I have this tendency to talk too much, sometimes in a high pitch voice, when I’m excited.

Upon arriving in Cebu, we went straight to her place. It was a 2-bedroom condo and I liked my entire stay there. We dropped our bags and went to the mall to have lunch and buy groceries because there was no food in the condo.

With my cute and cuddly date, Mr. Teddy. ♡

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Then we went to Coffee Prince, a coffee shop owned by a Korean and most likely was inspired by the Korean drama “Coffee Prince”. Since I’m not allowed to have anything that has coffee in it, I went for the strawberry smoothie. By then, it was 3:00PM and I was trying my best to fight sleep off.

삼겹살!! ♡

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For dinner, we went to a Korean restaurant called Pearl. It was just a few meters away from Coffee Prince. We had samgyupsal (삼겹살), cold noodles (냉면), tofu stew (두부찌개) and a bunch of side dishes. Then we went home and I fell asleep while we were talking. Haha!

The next day, we went to Emporium Cebu, a shop that sells stuff by different online shops. It took me an hour to decide which of the wallets they had should I buy. Then we went to Ayala for lunch. We had lunch at a restaurant called Brique. We had pasta and their serving was big, we could barely finish our food. The taste was okay, nothing out of the ordinary.

Before heading home, we dropped by a Korean grocery store where I bought some of my favorite Korean snacks. Then we ate Korean ice cream while waiting for rush hour to end. Just as before we were about to leave, I got a call from my Korean friend who went from Tacloban to the airport in Cebu to get on his plane to Korea. But he missed it and he needed a place to stay so my friend offered to let him stay in her place.

When he arrived at the condo, I burst into laughter seeing his outfit. Usually, he gets all dressed up like some kpop idol flaunting their airport fashion but this time around, he was wearing a baseball cap, a short-sleeved polo shirt, a jogging pants and…. a pair of slipper. Not the flip flops that you normally see on magazines but a simple white slipper, the cheap ones people normally use at home.

He invited us to go out for dinner and some drinks. It was my first time to taste soju. I was forced. Haha! I took the shot glass filled with soju and dipped my tongue (like a dog would) in soju and I just shivered. It was too bitter and strong and I’ve only had a lick of it. He then poured it in my glass of beer. I don’t normally get tipsy with just one glass of beer but a glass of beer mixed with soju made my walks unstable.

When we got home, he asked me what I was planning to wear for the competition and I said I’ll just wear a shirt and a pair of pants. And he said no. He checked my bag if I had other clothes and he choose a dress but I told him I already wore it in the last year’s competition and he said it’s alright so I ended up wearing the dress he chose.

The next day, it was the day of the competition. My Korean friend left already since he didn’t want to miss his flight again. I went to the contest venue with my friend. I was the first to arrive so I was able to rehearse in front of the stage since there was no one except me and my friend and some staff. There were only 5 contestants but 2 didn’t make it. I was the first to deliver my speech. I was shaking and I was so nervous that I had a long pause because I was trying to remember the next line. I was able to recover and end the speech well though. But the 2nd contestant delivered her speech a little better than I did with mine so I was worried I’d lose to her. In the end, I was announced as the winner. I was so happy because I’d be able to go to Ateneo de Manila University for the finals.

After the competition, we went to the mall for some…. SHOPPING! I didn’t buy a lot. Haven’t had chance to take a photo of what I bought but I bought a white lacy top, a pair of black sandals (my friend got the same sandals but in white), some products from Etude.

I was craving for 떡볶이.

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A day before I had to go back, I spent the day with a friend from Cebu. She went to my place where we talked about our lives. I prepared jjamppong and we ate it while she waited for a friend’s text. They were supposed to meet up but her friend cancelled so we ended up going to Ayala to have milktea and Korean food. We ate at this place called K-Pub, a Korean restaurant with huge screens playing K-pop videos. We had yangnyeom chicken (양념 치킨) and ddeokbokki (떡볶이).

The next day, my friend had to stay for one more day so I had to go back alone. I was a bit scared to go home on my own but the experience wasn’t as scary as I had it expected it to be. It was actually quite fine being alone.

It was really fun travelling with a friend. I hope to visit Cebu again with her. It was really fun and I hope we get to visit the beaches in Cebu because I heard good things about them. Well, I have to save up for it first. Until the next adventure. Thanks for reading.

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