The Visa Collector

A blog about travelling with a Filipino passport, and life overseas

Tag Archives: Filipino

About the Philippine travel tax and terminal fee


The Philippine Airlines website presents the following information the travel tax on their FAQ. Sadly, the link on this page that is supposed to take you to a government site for more information leads to a site that has been suspended.


How much is the Philippine Travel Tax?

For adult passengers, the travel tax is PHP1,620 (Business and Economy class) and PHP810 for children (2-11 years).

I bought my ticket from your website. Is travel tax already included in the total amount paid? No. Philippine Travel Tax is not included in the total fare quoted online. For international journeys, Philippine travel tax, if applicable, shall be collected by the Philippine Tourism Authority at Philippine Airports.

Travel tax shall be levied on (a) all citizens of the Philippines; (b) permanent resident aliens; and (c) non-immigrant aliens who have stayed in the Philippines for more than one (1) year, who are leaving the country.

If you are exempted from paying the Philippine Travel Tax or entitled to a reduced travel tax, please secure applicable certificates such as follows, from Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), Department of Tourism (DOT) before making reservations:

Tax Exemption Certificate (TEC) if you are exempted from paying the Philippine Travel Tax

Reduced Travel Tax Certificate (RTTC) if you are qualified for a reduced Philippine Travel Tax and

Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) if you are an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW)

How much airport terminal fee will I pay for my flight?

Airport terminal fees are PHP550 (effective 01Feb12) for international departures and PHP200 for local/domestic departures. These fees will be collected at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Centennial Terminal 2).

For AirPhil Express code-shared flights, PHP200 per passenger will be collected at the NAIA Terminal 3.

Filed under Airports
Jun 3, 2012

Rethinking the terminal fee at Philippine airports


If there is anything about going home to the Philippines that I really really hate, it’s dealing with the cash-only terminal fees at the airport.

The first time I ran into this was on my first return trip to Taiwan in 2000. The explanation they gave me for the fee was that since my ticket was purchased outside the Philippines, it did not include the terminal fee in the ticket price. So I had to fork out the funds myself — on the spot.

Over the years, I had learned to deal with this gargantuan incovenience by making sure I always had the required amount with me long before I got to the airport. But on my last visit to the Philippines after a lengthy hiatus, my initial calculations proved insufficient. The fees had gone up significantly, and I had to go through the expletive riddled experience of finding out that there were no ATMs past the secure zone of the security area . . .

. . . and that I had to exit the building . . . find an ATM . . . and then re- enter the security inspection line.

I typically arrive well ahead of my flight, so getting in the first time was a breeze. Not so after the trip to the ATM. By the time I returned to the security line it had grown to a very long slithering snake.

Virtually every foreigner I know who visits the Philippines for the first time, and who unfortunately didn’t have a friend or family member who was familiar with this procedural frakas, goes through the same W-T-F experience that I went through above.

This problem doesn’t kill anyone. Nobody gets hurt by this inconvenience (at least as far as I know. Has a drunk tourist ever let fists fly because of this?). But I maintain that it is still something that needs to be looked at. Here are some reasons off the top of my head:

It is counter-productive tourism to promotion efforts. This blatant display of inefficiency is the last thing tourists see as they leave the country. What do you think they will tell their peers about their experience? The Department of Tourism promotions budget for 2012 is P250M wouldn’t it be a shame for all that money to only bring in one-time-only visitors who don’t come back?

Delicadeza. Wikipilipinas describes this word as: “a sense of propriety refers to sensitivity regarding the limits of proper behavior or ethics in a situation. Filipinos try to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”

I don’t know about you, but I feel mooched when I pay with these fees. It doesn’t matter how polite the people at the fee collectors are, these feel like superfluous fees because its just doesn’t make sense to collect them separately from the ticket . . . and in cash no less. No credit or debit cards allowed. Given how cash transactions are associated with efforts to avoid scrutiny . . . it just leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

This problem has been around for over a decade now. If a problem this simple can’t be addressed . . . how much more with even more complicated problems?

It’s time to speak up about this. Join the Facebook group below . . . tell your friends . . . and have your voices heard by the people in-charge who appear to be asleep at the switch:

Rethink the terminal fee at Philippine airports

Photos from NAIA Terminal 2, December 2010

Filed under Airports, Impressions
Jun 2, 2012

Rene Rose Island Cuisine


Part of this article has also been posted on

This is Clarita’s Filipino Cuisine . . . with better ambiance.

The must haves are all there: Inihaw na (grilled) Pork, Pork Adobo, Beef steak, Lechon Kawali (deep fried pork) and Bangus. From a pure flavor standpoint the average Pinoy palette would be happy with either restaurant. Their hits and misses are complimentary. Personally I like Clarita’s Adobo and Beef steak better. However, this place’s Inihaw and Lechon Kawali balance things out.

But one area where this place definitely has Clarita beat is the dining area. Its brighter, clearly given more thought, and lacks the annoying TV with cheezy noon-time shows. If you were to introduce a non-Filipino to common-Pinoy food, you’d probably make a better impression with Rene Rose. In the summer, the air-conditioning at Rene Rose definitely helps.

View Larger Map

Filed under Filipino Food
Sep 3, 2010

A Taiwanese question about Jollibee in the US


Late last year, a friend from our Taipei office emailed me a question about Jollibee. He was working on his MBA and for some reason, he was working on a case study that involved this Filipino food chain. He asked about its popularity on the US west coast, if their target market was more Filipino that American, and whether or not the chain made changes to adapt to the local market.

His questions were interesting for a number of reasons. First, I’m still getting over Jollibee-deprivation. It’s easy to take Jollibee for granted when your in the Philippines, where practically every mall has one. But spend three and a half years in Taiwan, where it doesn’t exist despite the legions of OFWs on the island, and you learn to appreciate it really fast. I’d already been in the US 5 years by then, and I visit a Jollibee at least once a month . . . but I’m still getting over the prolonged separation from the crispy greaseless chicken and palabok.

Second, was the timing of the email. As I started writing my reply, I realized that it had been a while since I wrote just for fun. After weeks of poring over debug logs and flowcharts, it was time for a break.

That email, and the resulting response, planted the seeds for this blog.

My response is shown below (tweeked slightly to eliminate typos and improve the flow). Happy reading.

Here in Northern California, Jollibee is definitely popular. In the past two years alone, they opened two new branches. One in the largest mall in the region, the “Great Mall of the Bay Area” in Milpitas, and another in San Francisco. I have not been to a Jollibee in Southern California, but given that the concentration of Filipinos there is actually greater than up here, I would imagine that it is a big hit there as well.

It has the exact same look, feel, and offerings as a regular Jollibee that you would find anywhere in the Philippines – perhaps with the exception of the following:

• Accepts credit cards for payment (I called this an American adaptation in the original email. Only to find that this had become true in the Philippines as well, thanks to Banco De Oro and their card machines)
• Self-service for drinks (another common practice in American fast food chains)
• Clean-as-you-go for the tables instead of having a server clean up tables for you

It is definitely targeted at Filipinos, and arguably capitalizes on the fact that food is a well established cure for homesickness (heck, my wife ended up learning to cook while we were in Taiwan because of it). Close your eyes and the sounds and smells in a Jollibee restaurant will transport you back to the Philippines.

Unlike other minority-inspired chains like Baja Fresh, El Polo Loco (Mexican), and Panda Express (Chinese), which deliberately cater to what Westerners think are Mexican and Chinese food, Jollibee remained true to the food that generations of my countrymen grew up with and have come to love. The menu remains unchanged, and has not been adjusted to suit the local palette. There is, however, a caveat to that fidelity to the chain’s Filipino roots.

One important Filipino quality that Jollibee captures is the Filipino’s underlying aspiration to be anything else other than Filipino. Its default look and feel in the Philippines has always been Western. The founders of Jollibee reportedly sought to emulate McDonald’s in their restaurants. When the first Jollibee opened in my hometown in the late 80s, the line to the restaurant went around a reasonably sized city block. People lined up for almost an hour just to experience my hometown’s first western-inspired fastfood restaurant: organized, hygienic, very well lit, and colorful.

Most of us think of Jollibee as McDonalds with better tasting food. We like strong flavors. Jollibee delivers; McDonald’s doesn’t in most of our minds. But we appreciated that it had a McDonald’s-like ambiance.

Although Jollibee is a Filipino icon, it’s really a restaurant that pre-embraced a Western — particularly American — way of doing things. So it’s a chain that really doesn’t need to adapt to America, because it was already designed to bring America to the common Filipino from the start.

Filed under Filipino Food
Jun 24, 2010

Visa wait-times


Travel shows give viewers the impression that the world is borderless. Every place . . . accessible with a simple call to a travel agent. The only thing holding you back procrastination or the “newness” of the travel destination. Alas, such care-free flexibility is not assured for the visa-collector. We have the visa application process to think about.

When thinking about travel, keep in mind that we are on our own when it comes to visas. We are ultimately responsible for finding out if we need travel documents to go to, or even just pass through, a country or not. A travel agent — depending on his or her experience — may be able to help, but cannot guarantee anything. Given the unpredictability of changes to visa requirements that may be imposed on the different visa-collecting nationalities, it would be unreasonable to expect the agent to be up-to-date on all possible developments. Online travel sites offer even less help. If you want immigration-hassle free travel, take charge and do you own homework.

As you match prime-travel dates with vacation time, consider how long it would take to find out if we are actually granted entry or not. I learned this the hard way when I started processing a European vacation between two other overseas business trips that were only two weeks apart. It was a really bad move, since I had to leave my passport with the embassy throughout the application process. Although things eventually worked out, having to choose between a trip that had already been booked and ensuring continued employment was not pleasant.

Visa wait-times vary greatly. They depend on the country, and even upon the specific embassy. The type of visa also has a bearing on this as well. Tourism is an encouraged activity, so these visas are comparatively easier to come by. Business visas require your company to vouch for you, but otherwise proceed like most Tourist visas. Immigrant visas . . . are complicated, take much longer, and deserve their own discussion. Here, lets focus on less-than-30-day travel.

Embassy work-schedules also have to be factored into the equation. Different embassies only accept visa applications at certain times of the day. In some cases, on specific days in the week. The photo on the left shows a sample.

Embassy Websites are a god-send. You no longer need to wait in a phone cue, or worse a physical cue at the embassy, to get a list of travel requirements. Just look for the Website of the consulate that has jurisdiction over your location (if there are multiple consulates in your country of residence), and look for the Visa section. Voila!!!

These sites often give information about visa processing lead times. The US embassy is particularly good about this. Others, on the other hand, do not. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and may actually indicate very short wait times. When I processed a multiple-entry Mexican business visa earlier this year, I needed to come in once to have my papers checked, and then set a later appointment for the actual attachment of the visa — while I waited, and watched. Combined time for both visits: less than an hour.

Regardless of what’s posted on the site, giving yourself more than 30-days of processing time can’t hurt. Otherwise, when internal processing issues — that are not related to you — happen, guess who has to live with the consequences?

Jun 8, 2010