Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Road to Shanghai

Let me blog a bit about getting a Chinese visa.

It ain't easy, especially considering all the road blocks I encountered. I intended to go on a mere four-day trip, primarily to compete at the 13th Shanghai Ultimate tournament. Some of the requirements for a first-time China tourist:
  • An NBI clearance specifically for travel, made more complicated by the fact that never in my more than eight years of working and traveling was I required to get one. (Go figure.) Tip: Should you need one, go to the NBI office in the afternoon. EVERYBODY goes in the morning.
  • A photocopy of my SSS ID (which I lost, and which would take months to replace) and contributions (which, apparently, SSS doesn't issue. So they gave me a certificate instead).
  • A certificate of bank deposit--which I had to re-submit,to the embassy because my initial submission was from the association where I keep my time deposit, not from a commercial bank. (The Korean embassy seemed to think it was fine, but oh well.)
  • A TIN ID--while trying to get this, I found out that all these years, I was listed as a "professional" and not an "employee," which means that I have "open cases" despite all the damn withholding tax I've been paying for nearly a decade.
  • Additional requirements for me, since they figured out I was a member of the media: letters from me and from my employer stating that I was not going to publish anything about the trip. (Hmm does blogging count?)
And then there was the matter of our passports.

Our rag-tag team made up of players from different Manila teams had submitted our passports, along with our other requirements, to one person (X) who was to take care of visa processing. It was a Saturday at Nuvali, and in the middle of a game, one of my Manila teammates told me, "Someone broke into X's car and took all the passports." Seeing that I wasn't really reacting, she added, "I'm not kidding."

I just shrugged and kept playing, strangely calm. The first thought that had occurred to me was, "If we don't have our passports, we weren't meant to go for some reason." So it was all good. I was at peace with that. I was just bummed that all my three passports--with my still-valid US visa and all my other old visas--were gone.

After the game, I headed to the clubhouse, where I was greeted with, "Anak ka ng swerte!" ("You're a child of good fortune!") My passport was one of just five (out of about 30) that were left behind! I started piecing together what had happened: Thief smashed a window and took X's bag and the paper bag lying beside it. This paper bag had our payments for the visa fees, plus the passports. Passports of those who had additional requirements were set aside and, thus, remained untouched.

And then reality set in. While I was relieved that my passport was safe, I felt really bad for everyone else. What about our grand plans of conquering Shanghai? What about all the fun we were supposed to have as a team? What about everything we'd paid for, all the plans we'd made?

We were thinking of all possible options and connections. We had some semblance of a plan in place (it partly involved DZMM...), but everybody was feeling utterly dejected. A teammate was texting me that night, and I could feel just how low her spirits were. I said a prayer to St. Anthony--whom I grew up thinking was the "saint of lost things"--before going to bed.

The next day, I was on my way home from a lunch event when I received a text message to go online. I logged on and found my entire team in a YM conference. Someone had contacted X's dad saying that they found a bunch of passports at McDonald's Tagaytay! The team was waiting to hear from two people who had volunteered to drive down south to check if the tip was for real.

We waited. And waited. We'd get occasional updates ("Rotonda na"), as one guy was connected to YM through his phone. Until finally...

All the passports were there! The cash was gone, but everything else was in order, albeit slightly crumpled. You could practically hear the collective sigh of relief over YM. And then there were the fearless forecasts: "Champion na 'to!" After all the crap the team had to go through, we were destined to win!

So did we? Will blog again soon.:)


  1. Oh my! What a story! Gosh, super cool na you got your passports back, to be able to attend the games! That happened to a visitor we had in London before... pero they were tourists in London and the paper bag with their passports got stolen sa KFC! Parang, toink!

  2. I'm so happy you guys were able to go tishie :) I've been bullying everyone to go to that MCDO place, eat there just to say thanks...i'm still trying to convince them though...promise...I will go to that MCDO in Tagaytay :) I think it should be blessed! :)

  3. Wow what an experience! I totally get your utter sigh of relief when you found your passport. You wouldn't believe how much you have to go through to get another passport.

    Congrats in advance or congrats na talaga? :D


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