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Good news to Balikbayans, OFWs, and tourists!

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is set to implement higher tax exemptions for Balikbayan boxes brought in by Pinoys and tourists, starting December 2016.  As a matter of fact, as early as October 2016, the BOC will no longer impose taxes on hand-carried pasalubong items not exceeding Php 10,000 in total value.  This includes goods bought at outlet stores abroad.

The new policy on the tax exemptions is regulated by the following policies, depending on how long the Balikbayan has stayed abroad:

Years Stayed Abroad

Tax Exemption on Balikbayan Box

6 months to less than 5 years Up to Php 150,000 worth of goods are tax exempted.
5 years to less than 10 years Up to Php 250,000 worth of goods are tax exempted.
10 years and up Up to Php 350,000 worth of goods are tax exempted.
Overseas Filipino Workers Up to Php 150,000 worth of goods are tax exempted.
Tourists Up to Php 150,000 worth of goods are tax exempted, limited to three times a year.

The BOC stressed that boxes must not contain too many items of the same kind as this will be taken to mean that the goods will be sold and are not gifts to families and friends.  This is a warning to everyone not to abuse the tax exemptions on Balikbayan boxes that the government will be implementing soon.

This is indeed going to be one merry homecoming for all our kababayans who will be coming home for Christmas!

Share this to your families and friends!





While Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, it is also considered as the season when traffic is at its worst in Metro Manila.  The ‘ber’ months not only usher in cooler weather, it also seem to double the number of commuters traversing the whole stretch of Edsa looking for great deals at malls and bazaars, rushing to company Christmas parties and family reunions, and driving kids off to their school programs and recitals.  If traffic is bad on a regular working day, it hits a different level of madness when the Christmas season rolls in.

But, there’s hope.

On September 18, 2016, a Senator proposed to have this year’s school Christmas break be declared earlier than usual to help decongest the city’s main thoroughfares from traffic volume.  If kids are kept home during the first weeks of December, school buses and private cars would not need to convey students to schools, thereby, easing traffic in critical areas like the University Belt, Espana, Edsa, and Katipunan.  This will also help shorten the lines of commuters waiting for UV Express vans and buses at pick up points especially during weeknight rush hours.

Parents need not worry about their children missing too many days from school because these can be compensated by extending school days later on.  The government also admonished faculties from giving children too many assignments and projects to work on during the holidays.  The extended break must be spent by the students with their families instead of stressing over schoolwork.

The Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education and the Department of Transportation shall be requested by the Senate to discuss this proposal.

As a parent, teacher, or school administrator, do you agree with this proposal from the government?




Sea-based Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are also encouraged to become Philhealth members or continue their Philhealth contributions even while they are working abroad.  Here are the frequently asked questions of sea-based OFWs regarding Philhealth membership, contributions, and how they can avail of services and benefits.

Q: How do I register as a sea-based OFW Philhealth member?

A: You need to fill out and submit a Philhealth Member Registraton Form to the Human Resource Department of your Manning Agency.  You may also download a copy of the form here (hyperlink PDF copy).

Q: How do I update my personal information?

A: Secure a copy of the Philhealth Member Registration Form (PMRF) (hyperlink PDF copy) and submit accomplished copy to the nearest Philhealth office or email to  Include supporting documents.  Make sure that you signed the PMRF as proof that all submitted information are true and correct.

Q: Can I still continue paying my Philhealth contributions even after my contract has already expired?

A: Yes.  All sea-based OFWs are encouraged to continue paying their Philhealth contributions. This ensures continuous Philhealth coverage of the member and his listed dependents.

After expiration of job contract, the member only needs to update his membership category at Philhealth from Formal Economy to Informal Economy member.  He needs to do this every time his contract expires.  Premium contribution as an Informal Economy member is PHP 600.00 per quarter.

Q: What do I need to submit to avail of the benefits?

A: For confinement in the Philippines, bring the following:

  • Duly accomplished copy of the Philhealth Claim Form 1 (CF 1). If the OFW member is currently on-board a vessel or job contract has not expired yet, the second part of the CF 1 must be signed by the Manning Agency. You may secure a copy of the CF 1 from the hospital.
  • Copy of MDR.
  • Proof of contributions (if not stated in the MDR).

For confinement abroad, submit the following to any Philhealth office in the Philippines within 180 days after member has been discharged from the hospital:

  • Statement of account in English.
  • Copy of medical certificate in English, with clear description of diagnosis, confinement period, and procedures given to the patient.
  • Official receipt of patient’s hospital and physician fees.

Next week, we will feature Philhealth information for Pinoys residing permanently abroad as immigrants and those with dual citizenship.




Philhealth membership is open to all Filipinos in the country and those working abroad.  Recently, automatic membership has been granted to Pinoy senior citizens, a move that delighted our parents.  Lolos and Lolas as they no longer need to pay their Philhealth contributions but are assured of Philhealth assistance when they need medical care.

This article shall focus on all the information that Pinoys need regarding Philhealth membership while they are working abroad as land-based OFWs.  Share this to your family and friends who are Philhealth members or want to become Philhealth members but are residing outside the Philippines.

Q: I forgot my Philhealth number, where can I verify?

A: You can send an email to, include the following information:

  • Last Name
  • First Name
  • Middle Name
  • Birthday

A Philhealth representative will reply to your email with your Philhealth number.

Q: I used to be a Voluntary Member of Philhealth.  I am an OFW now.  What are the documentary requirements I need to submit in order to update my membership category?

A: You need to accomplish a PMRF form and submit this to any Philhealth office with the following documentary attachments:

  • Valid Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC)
  • Valid E-Receipt
  • Valid working visa/re-entry permit
  • Valid job employment contract
  • Valid company ID issued by employer abroad
  • Certificate of Employment for applicable period from employer abroad
  • Cash remittance receipt from member abroad at least 2 months prior to the date of renewal/payment
  • Valid ID/Certificate issued to OFWs in the host country
  • Any other equivalent proof, subject to the approval of the authorized officer.

Q: My foreign employer has granted me an insurance abroad, do I still need to pay for my Philhealth contributions?

A: Yes because Philhealth is mandatory among OFWs.  Through your contributions, you can still avail of Philhealth benefits abroad and also cover your qualified dependents in the Philippines.

Q: Can I still pay my contributions for the months I missed?

A: Yes, Philhealth gives OFWs a 30-day grace period to settle unpaid contributions from the expiry date.

Q: When can I use my Philhealth benefits?

A: If your contributions are updated, you may use your Philhealth benefits within the validity coverage stated in your MDR.

Q: What numbers do I call if I have questions regarding my Philhealth OFW membership?

A: You may call the following numbers:

  • Corporate Action Center: (63) 2 – 4417442
  • OFW Mobile Phone: +63 917 5129149

You may also send an email to: and

Next week, we will post facts for Sea-based OFWs and Filipinos residing abroad.




If you’ve ever passed through Quezon Avenue or any of the Scout streets along Timog Avenue, between the rush hours of 5PM to 9PM, you know how crazy the traffic situation there can get.

If you are coming from the Espana Boulevard areas, you will notice jeepneys and UV Express vehicles racing against each other from Welcome Rotonda to Santo Domingo Church in an attempt to hoard all commuters waiting by the roadside.  Never mind that there are other private vehicles traversing the same road, trying to get home safely and on time.

Traffic starts to build-up at the Pantranco area, particularly by the footbridge where more passengers wait for public conveyance.  Traffic slows down to a crawl until the Delta intersection where vehicles from Panay Avenue, Edsa, and West Avenue meet.  A heavy downpour or defective traffic lights can render this intersection completely idle.  It is also the favorite spot of snatchers and worse, hold-uppers in spite of the presence of a make-shift police station only a few meters away from the road.

The Quezon City government will implement a new traffic scheme in this problematic area beginning tomorrow, September 15, 2016.  The fact that they decided to launch it on a payday (a bi-monthly occasion that is notoriously observed to be a major reason for traffic build-up in Metro Manila) is probably not a coincidence.  Ultimately, the objective is to shorten the travel time from Quezon Avenue to Welcome Rotonda, and back.

So what can commuters and drivers expect from this move?  Here is a list of the streets affected by the re-routing scheme:

Under the new traffic plan, there will be no right turns to:

  • E. Lopez Street corner Samar Avenue and Tomas Morato
  • GMA Network Drive corner Edsa and Samar Avenue
  • Mother Ignacia corner Edsa, Scout Borromeo and Sgt. Esguerra
  • Panay Avenue corner Dr. Garcia St., Roces, Scout Albano, Scout Borromeo, Scout Chuatoco, Scout Magbanua, Scout Reyes, and Timog
  • Scout Albano corner Quezon Avenue
  • Scout Bayoran corner Sgt. Esguerra, Sgt. Tuazon
  • Scout Madrinan corner Scout Tobias, Scout Ybardolaza and Tomas Morato
  • Scout Ybardolaza corner Sgt. Esguerra
  • Sgt. Esguerra corner E. Lopez, Panay Avenue, Scout Borromeo and Timog

There will be no left turns to:

  • E. Lopez corner Sgt. Esguerra
  • Mother Ignacia corner E. Lopez, Samar Avenue, Scout Borromeo, Scout Madrinan, Scout Tobias, and Sgt. Esguerra
  • Panay Avenue corner Dr. Garcia St., Roces Avenue, Scout Borromeo, Scout Chuatoco, Scout Magbanua, Scout Reyes, Scout Santiago, Sgt. Esguerra, and Timog Avenue.
  • Scout Albano corner Panay Avenue
  • Scout Bayoran corner Timog
  • Scout Madrinan corner Scout Torillo and Scout Tuazon
  • Sgt. Esguerra corner Mother Ignacia, Scout Bayoran, Scout Borromeo, Scout Ybardolaza, and Timog.

No Entry at:

  • Scout Tobias coming from Scout Borromeo and Sgt. Esguerra coming the 11th Jamboree.

The existing U-turn slots along Quezon Avenue from West Avenue intersection to Edsa will be closed while the intersection of Quezon Avenue corner Scout Borromeo and West 4th will be opened to traffic.

What do you think of this new approach?




Now, there are only four numbers you need to remember as a Pinoy employee: 1349.  That number connects you to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), anytime of the day or night, for any concerns you may have regarding your employment.  OFWs, on the other hand, may call 800-8888-1349 for toll-free access to the same hotline.

The DOLE hotline is ready to accept callers’ labor-related concerns: from compensation and benefits, to rights and privileges, working conditions, labor relations, and post-employment issues.  Whether they are complaining or submitting a suggestion or proposal, the hotline is open to hear them out and provide assistance, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It may also serve as a help desk for people who wish to report labor-related crimes such as illegal recruitment, child labor, illegitimate contractualization, and poor working conditions.

This is the department’s response to the government’s tall order to eradicate the plight of Filipino workers, here and abroad, starting off with the campaign to abolish contractualization.  Apart from that, the nation is also in anticipation of the Anti-age Discrimination Bill’s enactment into law.  When passed, this will prohibit employers from making the applicant’s age as a qualification for him to be considered for a job position.  The President also promised to remove the “Provincial Salary Rate”, seen as one of the major reasons why people from the provinces flock to Manila, believing they will find better earning opportunities in NCR.

Now that the 1349 labor hotline has been launched, citizens are given a channel to air their grievances, from the convenience and privacy of their homes, with the assurance that it shall be received and reviewed by the DOLE.

No need to wait for Labor Day.




Kasama sa krusada ng Presidente ang gawing madali at simple ang mga government processes para makabawas sa dagdag na gastos ng mga Pinoy.  Bilang pag tugon sa panawagang ito, tinanggal na ang requirement ng Overseaas Employment Certificae (OEC) para sa mga kababayan nating OFW na nagbabakasyon sa bansa at babalik din sa dating employer, sa dating lugar na pinagta-trabahuhan.

Ito ay effective simula unang linggo ng September 2016.

Narito ang mga hakbang para mag qualify ang isang OFW sa OEC Exemption (sa ilalim ng Resolution No. 12 mula sa Governing Board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA):

  1. Mag register sa BM Online Facility bago ang araw ng flight pabalik sa ibang bansa ng OFW.  Libre ang registration.
  2. Ipapadala ng POEA ang impormasyon na makakalap mula sa registration ng OFW sa Bureau of Immigration (BI).  Ito ang gagamitin ng Immigration officer na basehan kung ang manggagawa ay qualified sa exemption.
  3. Kung makikitang hindi ka kwalipikado sa exemption, madi-direct ka sa BM Online Webpage kung saan kailangan mong muling mag register at mag set ng appointment sa POEA.
  4. Kung didiretso ka naman sa BI counter sa airport ngunit hindi ka nakapag register online, papupuntahin ka sa Labor Assistance Counter (LAC) para ma-evaluate.

Tandaan na ang mga kwalipikado lamang sa exemption ay ang mga sumusunod:

  • Mga OFW na pabalik sa dating employer at sa dating lugar ng pinagta-trabahuhan at may existing records sa POEA database.
  • Mga OFW na nabigyan ng trabaho sa pamamagitan ng Government Placement Branch o ng in-house recruitment facility ng POEA.

Kung qualified ka sa OEC exemption, hindi mo na din kailangang magbayad ng travel tax at terminal fee.  Siguraduhin lamang na maipapakita mo ang mga sumusunod na dokumento sa Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) at sa Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA):

  • Valid work visa
  • Work permit
  • Valid employment contract
  • Valid company ID
  • Recent payroll slip
  • Other equivalent documents

Kaya’t maligayang pagbabalik sa bansa at mapayapang byahe pabalik sa inyong mga trabaho, mga bayaning OFW!




The President placed the entire country under a “State of Lawlessness” following the bombing incident in Davao City last weekend.  Under this Presidential declaration, police and military presence are heightened through checkpoints in strategic locations, particularly in city streets and major thoroughfares.

Here are reminders on how drivers must properly respond when asked to stop at a checkpoint.  These are motorists’ rights as published by the Philippine National Police. These are meant to protect drivers from unscrupulous individuals who might take advantage of the government’s measures to keep our streets safe.

Police Checkpoint Guidelines

  1. Checkpoints must   be well-lighted, properly identified and manned by uniformed personnel.
  2. Upon approach, slow down, dim headlights, and turn on cabin lights.
  3. Never step out of the vehicle.
  4. Lock all doors of vehicles during inspection since only visual search is allowed.
  5. Never submit to physical and body search.
  6. Motorists are not required to open their glove compartment, trunk, or bags.
  7. Be courteous but firm in answering, assert your rights, have presence of mind and do not panic.
  8. Keep your driver’s license and car registration handy.
  9. Be ready to use your mobile phones at any time; speed dial emergency numbers.
  10. Report violations immediately.

Share this with your family especially if you have kids who drive their own vehicles.  Always make sure your mobile phone has enough battery and credits so you can call emergency numbers and ask for police assistance.




Private insurance firms allow policy holders to freely choose who among his family members – by consanguinity or affinity – to declare as his dependent or beneficiary.  This may not be true with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or Philhealth as they follow stricter rules in identifying who among the member’s family may be declared as his dependent.

Below are two prevalent questions raised by Philhealth members who would like to make their spouses and live-in partners as their Philhelath dependents.  These information were lifted from the Philhealth’s website:

How can a member declare his spouse whose membership is inactive as a dependent?

The inactive member-spouse must submit the following at any Philhealth Office:

  1. 2 copies of duly accomplished Philhealth Member Registration Form.
  2. Clear copy of PSA Marriage Certificate with registry number (please bring original copy for validation).
  3. Request letter to be declared as legal dependent signed by the inactive/unemployed spouse.

After processing, Philhealth will issue a new (updated) Member Data Record which indicates the name of the spouse (inactive) as legal dependent of the active member.

Can my live-in partner be declared as my legal dependent?  How about our children?

While the live-in partner cannot be declared as a legal dependent (one of the supporting documents required is the marriage certificate), your children can still qualify as dependents.

Simply update your MDR and submit the necessary supporting documents (i.e. PSA Birth Certificates) of your children.

How is updating of membership records done?

Ideally, members should update their MDR when:

  1. They have to shift membership categories (e.g. individually paying to employed);
  2. They get married;
  3. New dependents shall be declared;
  4. Incorrect information in old MDR need to be corrected.

To update your MDR, simply submit an updated PMRF to the nearest Philhealth Office, along with the necessary supporting documents (PSA Marriage Certificate, PSA Birth Certificates, etc.).  You can have copies of your marriage and birth certificates delivered to you by ordering online at

For further questions, you may call the Philhealth customer service hotline at (02) 441 7442 or visit their website at



09 - 06

Last Monday, September 5, 2016, the PNP, in cooperation with the country’s leading telecommunication companies, launched a mobile app called “Itaga Mo Sa Bato”.  It is meant to let subscribers connect to an emergency hotline platform to report an emergency or request for immediate assistance.  This is still in line with President’s 911 and 8888 service hotlines.

How does the app work?

There are two ways to use ‘Itaga Mo Sa Bato’:

  1. Users can send text reports to the Police; this costs P2.50 per text message sent.  Sending complaints through the mobile app is free of charge.  The app runs on mobile data or wifi internet connection.
  2. The app is set for automatic calling to the 911 emergency hotline and users can call the hotline by clicking a particular button.

When an emergency is reported, the following pertinent information are sent to PNP Command Center’s server to help authorities better respond to the call for assistance:

  1. Type of emergency
  2. Name and Address of establishment
  3. Contact number of reporting party
  4. Contact number of nearest police or fire station

The PNP Chief has a special access to the system that allows him to monitor the reports received through the mobile app and if these have been attended to by the concerned personnel.

According to the Police Community Relations Group, the app will be made available to Android and iOS phones in the coming days.  Watch out for it.

Are you excited to download this new app?  Tell us what you think about this new development from our government.




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