List of Philippine Holidays 2017

List of Philippine Holidays 2017 | SGMT

Time to start planning your travels next year!

Here’s the list of regular holidays and special non-working days for 2017, as decreed in Proclamation No. 50, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last August 16 and released by Malacañang today, August 18. The special holidays for the observance of Eid’l Fitr and Eid’l Adha will be announced as soon as the official dates of these celebrations are set based on the Islamic calendar. Long weekends in 2017 are in red.

January 1, 2017 (Sunday) – New Year’s Day (Regular Holiday)

January 28, 2017 (Saturday) – Chinese New Year (Special Non-Working Day)

February 25, 2017 (Saturday) – EDSA Revolution Anniversary (Special Non-Working Day)

April 9, 2017 (Sunday) – Araw ng Kagitingan (Regular Holiday)

April 13, 2017 (Thursday) – Maundy Thursday (Regular Holiday)

April 14, 2017 (Friday) – Good Friday (Regular Holiday)

April 15, 2017 (Saturday) – Black Saturday (Special Non-Working Day)

May 1, 2017 (Monday) – Labor Day (Regular Holiday)

June 12, 2017 (Monday) – Independence Day (Regular Holiday)

August 21, 2017 (Monday) – Ninoy Aquino Day (Special Non-Working Day)

August 28, 2017 (Monday) – National Heroes Day (Regular Holiday)

October 31, 2017 (Tuesday) – Additional Special (Non-Working) Day

November 1, 2017 (Wednesday) – All Saints Day (Special Non-Working Day)

November 30, 2017 (Thursday) – Bonifacio Day (Regular Holiday)

December 25, 2017 (Monday) – Christmas Day (Regular Holiday)

December 30, 2017 (Saturday) – Rizal Day (Regular Holiday)

December 31, 2017 (Sunday) – Last day of the year (Special Non-Working Day)

As you can see, we have 4 long weekends next year, not counting Holy Week and Christmas. Start planning and budgeting! 🙂

(And if you’re wondering, the beach in that picture above is Nacpan Beach in El Nido, Palawan. Batanes, pictured below, would be the perfect place to visit in the May/June long weekend. See: 7 things you should know before planning your trip to Batanes.)

SGMT_Batanes_Basco Lighthouse_1200x600


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Anti-Offloading Tips from an Immigration Officer

Anti-Offloading Tips from an Immigration Officer | SGMT —
Plus guidance straight from the Bureau of Immigration and the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT).

I recently had the chance to put a few questions to an Immigration officer and he kindly agreed to give me a few tips for travelers who might be nervous about getting offloaded. (I promised him I would keep his identity confidential, even though he didn’t really require this as a condition to answering my questions, and I also assured him he didn’t have to reveal any “trade secrets” from the Bureau of Immigration.) Please take note that these tips are for legit tourists, particularly first time travelers who might understandably be worried about the possibility of being offloaded. If you’re reading this so you can find out how to fool the Immigration officer at NAIA, I urge you to please, please reconsider your plans. You may have good intentions — maybe you just want to work so you can send your kids to school and get your family out of poverty — but the risks can be very high. It might be your family who will end up having to sell everything to save you, so please think about it.

Required Documents: The Basics

First of all, if you haven’t read “Pinoy Abroad: List of Documents Required by Immigration for International Travel” please do so right now. (The link will open in a separate tab so you don’t have to leave this page.) That article will give you a list of documents you have to bring when you travel — the basic requirements, the additional documents that may be required if the Immigration officer has doubts about you, the requirements if someone else is paying for your trip, and the list of people who need a DSWD travel clearance or a Travel Authority. If you want to be really prepared — to the point of being over-prepared sometimes — you’ll find even more tips here: “Offloading, required documents, and other Immigration FAQs.”

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An Immigration Officer’s Tips

Here’s the gist of what the immigration officer said when I asked him for tips for first time travelers:
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Pinoy Abroad: List of Documents Required by Immigration for International Travel

SGMT | List of Documents Required by Immigration — 
In 2014, I wrote a post titled “What Filipinos Need to Know About Traveling Abroad: Guidelines from the Bureau of Immigration” and since then, I’ve had a lot of people writing to me and asking for advice on how to “pass” the Immigration screening. Two years have gone by since that article first came out so I thought I’d create this updated list of documents that travelers may be required to show at the Immigration counter.

What documents are required for ALL Filipinos who are traveling abroad as tourists?

  1. Passport issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) – must be unexpired with at least 6 months remaining validity*
  2. Visa – if required at the final destination
  3. Return ticket

*I emailed Immigration some time ago and they verified that the passport must be valid for 6 months from the date of departure.

The visa must be unexpired.

You must have a ticket for your flight back to the Philippines. A few people have asked if return tickets are still needed if, for example, they plan to go backpacking around Southeast Asia and don’t want to set their schedule in stone. I asked an Immigration officer about this and, yes, you still need a return ticket. This is because the country you are heading to — and most other countries — will almost certainly require tourists to present a return/onward ticket upon arrival, as proof that you don’t intend to stay in their country illegally or for longer than you’re permitted. Without a return/onward ticket, you could be sent back to the Philippines.

  • If you really intend to go on a trip without making specific plans for return, I suggest you set an estimated date of return and: (a) buy a ticket back to the Philippines from a budget airline, so it won’t hurt your pocket too much if you decide not to use it, OR (b) buy a ticket from an airline that will let you change travel dates. This strategy might cost you a bit more but that’s better than being sent back — prudence is cheaper than regret.
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Filipinos can now get their passport validity extended for free — DFA

19 August 2015 – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) offers to applicants for passport renewals in the Philippines and abroad the extension of the validity of their passports (for 1 to 2 years) free of charge (gratis).

Extensions shall be processed and released within the same day.

Passport extensions for all shall be available only until the end of this year.

Source: DFA Offers Extension of Passport Validity Free of Charge


Traveling abroad? Read these articles:

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Do it.

Rappler offloading article screenshot

An article I wrote for Rappler about how to minimize one’s chances of being offloaded by the Bureau of Immigration was published just yesterday and I think it’s worth bringing up a few points:

  • I think we can all agree that the system at the Bureau of Immigration needs improvement. As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m no fan of the Immigration people and their profiling methods. As a 5’1″ brown-skinned girl with a relatively high-risk profession, I’ve had my share of raised eyebrows and skeptical tones, and that pisses me off. I hate that you have to prove your innocence instead of them having to prove your guilt. I can rant with the best of ’em, but I choose not to, for the simple reason that it usually doesn’t help. Change the system, yes, by all means! No one is stopping you. But I refuse to be uselessly negative; change is unlikely to be brought about by people rabidly spewing inane analogies and shortsighted generalities from the comforts of their keyboards.
  • There are a lot of issues here than just the right to travel. Even in the event that someone manages to weed out all the corrupt Immigration officials, there is still human trafficking, drug trafficking, and poverty to contend with. There’s no denying that a lot of people do go abroad with less than pure motives. I don’t blame them — most of them do it to feed their families — but that doesn’t make it any less of a problem. I’m sure that anyone who steps forward with a foolproof way — actually, not even a foolproof way, but even just a better way — to combat human/drug trafficking without subjecting innocent passengers to undue burden would be hailed as a hero.
  • One thing people always complain about when they get offloaded is that they didn’t know that they should have brought all those extra documents. I strongly believe the Bureau of Immigration should do a better job of educating people. It’s a real problem but a solvable one, so I went ahead and did something about it.
  • Rappler accepts contributions from everyone —  you can email your articles to Stop saying I should do this and I should do that. If you feel so strongly about it, stop yapping about what other people should do and do it yourself. I will be the first to stand up and clap.

In the meantime, I would rather make a little progress and help a few people, than make a lot of noise and accomplish nothing.

© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.

Thrifty eating: How to save on food while traveling


“Where to eat” is one of the last things I research for a trip, if at all. I usually eat wherever I happen to be at mealtime as that just makes sense to me time-wise. Plus, it seems to me an exercise in heartbreak to hunt down the area’s most raved-about restaurants only to realize I can’t afford anything on the menu. Living as I do in the Philippines — and in a university area, in particular, where the peso equivalent of 2 euros can get you a good 3-dish meal, plus rice and drinks — the cost of food is one of the hardest things to swallow when I travel, particularly in Europe.

The first time I found myself in Europe, my sister and I ate sandwiches ALL. THE. TIME. They were cheap and often big enough to split between the two of us. In the Philippines, rice is king, and anything with bread is usually just considered a snack, but in pricey Paris, sandwich jambon et fromage…good enough.


I wouldn’t recommend that strategy now — eating sandwiches can get old fast, trust me — but here’s what I usually do now to save money on food:

  • Book a hotel with free breakfast. Nothing makes me happier than starting the day with a breakfast buffet but even just a slice or two of bread and ham will do the trick. As much as possible I try to book accommodations that include breakfast in their daily rate so I don’t have to pay for it out of pocket. Some hotels even serve breakfast up to 10:30 AM so breakfast can actually double as lunch.
  • Bring food from home. Nothing that will replace an actual meal, but I usually bring:
    • Packets of instant soup — for when I get hungry at the hotel. Campbell’s Mushroom Cheese with Croutons is my favorite.
    • Crackers and/or candy — for when I’m on the road and everything is expensive. Crackers or candy will stave off hunger long enough for me to find a more affordable place to eat.
  • McDonald’s meals and other fast food, while not exactly the healthiest things out there, tend to be cheaper than restaurant fare. I just think: a couple of burgers won’t kill me but starvation will. 🙂
    • Keep in mind that in many places around the world, you’re expected to clear your own table after eating. To be safe, keep an eye on the locals and do what they do.
  • Prix fixe meals — “fixed price” meals that cost 12-15 euros and include 2-4 dishes — are usually cheaper than ordering a multi-course meal ala carte. I go for these meals when I’m really hungry or when I want to sample the local cuisine.
    • Prix fixe meals are usually cheaper at lunch than at dinner.
    • Servings tend to be big (by Asian standards, anyway) so when I’m with my sister or a female friend, and we’re not that hungry, we sometimes split prix fixe meals.
    • Although prix fixe meals are generally acknowledged to be a [relatively] cheap option, a single pasta dish will often be even cheaper and the serving big enough not to need a main course.
  • And my new favorite thrifty eating strategy: buying bread, cold cuts and drinks from the supermarket and making a picnic out of it. It rarely totals over 10 euros and is good enough for two!

Food_Yellow (Turmeric) Rice

How do you save on food when you travel? Or is food something you willingly spend a lot on? I’d love to know what you think.

Thrifty eating: How to save on food while traveling” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.


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How to get a Schengen visa through Norway’s Visa Application Center in Cebu

Filipinos planning  to travel to Norway, Estonia, Finland, Iceland and Sweden can apply for a Schengen visa at the Norway Visa Application Center in Cebu starting May 7, 2015.

Quick facts and links:

  • Address:
    Norway Visa Application Centre – Cebu
    Unit 503, 5th Floor, Keppel Center, Samar Loop cor. Cardinal Rosales Ave.
    Cebu Business Park, Cebu City 6000
  • “Please be advised that visa applicants can walk in/go directly to the Centre in Cebu and submit their application after they have registered their application in the Application Portal. There is no need to book for an appointment before applicants can proceed.”
  • Visa Fee: PHP 1,233 (Source: VFS)
  • Process: How to Apply
  • Requirements: Norway | Estonia | Finland | Iceland | Sweden

When I have more time I will update this post with detailed information; in the meantime, I hope this helps.

(Yay! More options!) happy dance

How to get a Schengen visa through Norway’s Visa Application Center in Cebu” was created by LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. Special thanks to Analyn for the heads up. 🙂


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