There are specific immigration concerns for minors traveling to the Philippines.
The Philippines recognizes the family as a basic unit of society and emphasizes on family unity. Also, the country has strict child trafficking, smuggling, children protection laws. So Philippine immigration law dictates that children under 15 years of age, unaccompanied by or not coming to a parent shall not be allowed to enter the country, except that such children shall be admitted in the discretion of the Commissioner of Immigration, if otherwise admissible (PIA of 1940). The prevailing practice is that children under 15 years of age who are NOT accompanied by a parent shall NOT be allowed to enter the Philippines.
However, the same law authorizes the Commissioner of Immigration to allow the entry of unaccompanied minors (minors not traveling with a parent) on his discretion upon application of a WAIVER OF EXCLUSION GROUND (WEG). The guardian of the minor may apply for this waiver of exclusion ground in the latter’s behalf. This is the process where an applicant pleads the Commissioner of Immigration that the unaccompanied minor be allowed to enter the Philippines even though he/she is not traveling with a parent.
If a child has a different name from that of the parents, prove that you are the parent/s of the child by bringing a family registry and/or birth certificate and/or adoption papers or any other document which, to your mind, will prove to the immigration officer that you are the parent/s of the minor.
WEG applications may be lodged upon arrival at the airports. It will require the passport of the minor, the passport of the guardian, application form, and a PhP 3,120.oo application fee.
The Philippine ACR I-Card or the Alien Certificate of Registration Identification Card is the ATM card-size identification card for aliens who are required by law to register (see: http://immigration.gov.ph/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=114&Itemid=61). It contains all documentary requirements of an alien in the Philippines. It is somehow like the USA’s green card, Canada’s permanent resident card, Italy’s Soggiorno card, or Spain’s Permiso card. However, it does not contain the visa. As a rule, Philippine visas are stamped on a passport visa page or pasted, if a sticker. The I-Card only complements the visa. It is NOT the visa. The I-Card’s MAXIMUM validity, unless otherwise indicated, is 5 YEARS from the date of issuance. So, if your ACR I-Card was issued sometime in year 2006 it is most probably already expired even if it does not specify a date on the VALID UNTIL portion of the card.
If your I-Card is expiring, or is already expired, you MUST apply for renewal of card. If it is lost or damaged, apply for re-issuance of card. This will save you the inconvenience of being denied admission to the Philippines during arrival or disallowed to leave the country on departure. Usually, the validity of the I-Card is consistent with the validity of the visa. Its validity is always within, never beyond, the validity of the visa.
When you are coming to the Philippines with a permanent resident or non-immigrant visa and your I-Card is expired you may be excluded or denied entry depending on the assessment of Philippine immigration officers upon your application for entry on arrival. If you have a valid visa however, you may be allowed to enter the Philippines but ONLY as a tourist/visitor and not as a permanent or resident visa holder. So, even if you have a valid resident visa or immigrant or non-immigrant visa but your I-Card is expired or is not presented, you will be accepted to the Philippines only as a tourist with a limited number of days of allowed stay. During such allowed stay you must be able to apply for the re-issuance or renewal of your I-Card. You must also apply for a change of status from that of a tourist/visitor to your status based on your valid visa.
When an I-Card holder is departing the Philippines, he must secure an emigration clearance certificate (ECC) and re-entry permit (RP). Every departure requires an ECC. RP is valid either for 6 months or 1 year. Both documents are automated and incorporated into the I-Card. Subject to payment of required fees (PhP 2880.00 for those with no RP yet or PhP2170 for those with valid RP), you may secure both documents at the airports prior to departure. Always take note of the validity of your re-entry permit. You may not be allowed entry, upon return, when your re-entry permit is expired.
CAVEAT: Holders of expired ACR I-Cards will NOT be allowed to depart the country because you cannot be issued an ECC and RP. Most probably, your I-Card is expired because your visa is expired. So if your visa is expired and you plan on leaving the country before the visa renewal is approved, you must apply for a grace period. The grace period is the period in which you will be allowed to enjoy your visa status while your visa renewal is on process. If your grace period is expired, your visa renewal is pending at immigration office, your I-Card is expired, and you are planning to leave the country, apply for another grace period. Without the I-Card and without the visa, you will not be allowed to depart the country so that you can comply with your immigration documentary requirements.
Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar is a growing city. There are a lot of construction activities. New roads are being built. A number of public infrastructure are also being planned. In a few years, Ulaabaatar will look totally different.
The city square is particularly charming. Surrounded by Soviet-style architecture, the new government building sits imposing before old and new structures. At the middle of the building is a huge Genghis Khan statue as seen in the collage above. At the center of the square is another important monument, that of Damdin Sukhbaatar, after whom the square was named. Just beside the square is the Central Tower.
On Central Tower’s second floor is a restaurant called The Square Grill Pub which serves really good Mongolian food. If it’s Mongolian food, there’s bound to be meat, a lot of meat. Seriously. Beef and lamb are staple in Mongolian dinner. Served in large chunks with the bones, they are best liked when grilled. The serving size is a big surprise. But what’s a lot more surprising are the stones that come with the meat. It was said that the stones were part of the grilling process.
What’s with the stones? The stones are picked up while hot and are passed from one hand to the other. One stone for each diner. It is customary. It is said that the heat and healing properties of the stones improve circulation.
At the penthouse of Central Tower is another restaurant called Monet, after Claude Monet the French impressionist painter. Monet, obviously is a French restaurant. It’s interior is classy and contemporary. It has a wide selection of wines. Being a restaurant at the heart of Mongolia, they must serve meat. Very good meat.
Monet’s New Zealand lamb chops is served with sidings and sauce. It is heavenly. The kind of food that makes a diner say, “I should have met you before or I wonder how I survived without you.” Right. That’s an exaggeration. But the point is there. The lamb chops in Monet are really good. If you don’t believe, go there. It would only take you around 10 hours flying time from Manila to Beijing to Ulaanbaatar. Filipinos don’t need visas to Mongolia but need transit visas through China.
Caveat: don’t try driving in Ulaanbaatar. Traffic and traffic discipline from drivers and pedestrians alike are not as good as their meat.
Gratitude to friend Urga for showing Mongolia’s culinary tricks. Urga is a Mongolian who sounds like an American. She is the nicest socialite in Ulanbaataar. It was a luck that she happens to know every somebody in Mongolia.