Travel Clearance for Minors: A Guide

Maiicha-TravelCertifcate

Obtaining a travel clearance for minors is definitely an easy, breezy task—no formal interviews, scheduled appointments, or daunting questions necessary.

If you’re under 18 years old by the time of your travel departure and not traveling with either of your parents, then you would need to secure one at a DSWD regional office. Their offices are scattered all over the different regions of the Philippines, and all you need to do is go to one within the proximity of your place.

Personally, I obtained mine at the DSWD Regional Office IV-A, located on Alabang-Zapote Road, which was literally an overpass away from Alabang Town Center. The office was modern and newly renovated. It was airconditioned as well, so it was pretty much a comfortable wait, having seated on the maroon benches for a couple of hours (fret not, it doesn’t need to take that long!), but more on that in a few.

Requirements

The following is the list of requirements needed for minors traveling with a person other than their parents or legal guardian, as stated on the DSWD’s FAQ page:

  • Accomplished application form (downloadable from DSWD’s website)
  • Birth Certificate (PHOTOCOPY)
  • Written parental consent
  • Parents’ Marriage Certificate (PHOTOCOPY) or Certificate of Legal Guardianship of the minor for solo parents
  • Two colored passport size photos (taken in the last six months)
  • Passport of traveling companion (PHOTOCOPY)

For other requirements of specific cases, here is the link.

According to DSWD’s official website, those required to secure a travel clearance are:

  • A minor traveling alone to another country
  • A minor traveling to a another country accompanied by a person other than his/her parents

If you need concrete situations whether or not a minor traveling is eligible for such, let me share mine. I had to get a travel clearance for minors during a trip to Korea way back summer 2013. Neither of my parents accompanied me during the trip, and I traveled with my older brother who turned legal that same year. But since I was 16 years old back then, I was clearly still a minor, so I needed one.

In two months, I’ll be turning 18 years old, and will be a legal citizen of the country. This August, I obtained a travel clearance for a trip to Singapore in the same month  (it’s an all-girls trip, with my grandmother, aunts, and gal cousins joining—my mom not included). As of the date of my trip, I would still be 17 years old; therefore a minor. Even if no longer being a minor is barely a few months away from my scheduled trip, I still needed to obtain one. Maybe that’s quite unlucky and a waste of funds and time on my part, considering I’m turning 18 soon, but that’s how it goes.

The bottom line is: whether a baby is nine months old or a highschooler is 15 years old, and is traveling abroad without any of his/her parents, then a travel clearance for minors is needed. Simple as that. Regardless if your travel companion is an immediate relative other than your parents (say your grandma or sibling) or someone who is above 18 years old, and you’re still under 18, then you’d need to obtain one.

As mentioned earlier, no appointments are needed. DSWD offices are open on weekdays during office hours. The travel clearance is ₱300 for a validity of one year; ₱600, two years.

Procedure, in a nutshell:

  1. Sign the logbook at the entrance.
  2. Get the queued number and wait to be called.
  3. Submit all requirements to the officer in the assessment area. With the given form and the requirements, pay at the cashier’s office.
  4. Give the requirements back to the officer. Get the travel clearance at the releasing area.

Speaking from experience, obtaining one is not as ‘uncertain’ or risky as applying for a travel visa for a certain country, so there really is nothing much to worry about. I believe that it is unlikely for one to be denied of a travel clearance for minors (extreme cases can be doubtful, but with that, I’m not very sure).

Honestly, I also think it’s funny that actual documents related to the minor’s trip are not needed. What’s your proof that you’re leaving the country if you aren’t required to present a copy of your plane ticket or passport in the first place? Right? Haha. Anyhow, some tips:

The travel clearance is not given immediately, so you’d have to wait for the releasing time. The office opens in the morning, but the releasing time for travel clearances is still at a later hour, during noontime or early afternoon. If you plan to obtain it on the same day, then going around early morning would be a good idea; otherwise, if you go around late afternoon, it will be given the next day. Do give allowance for long lines and the like!

Bring a photocopied valid ID of your parent/s. This wasn’t stated on the website, but I was asked for one as I handed my papers and forms. An SSS ID, TIN or passport copy would do. It was a good thing I had one with me!

It’s a no-show procedure, so the minor involved doesn’t need to be present. Quite an opposite situation for me though. I originally intended to do it alone, but was accompanied in the end (which was good, because if not then I wouldn’t know where to get a copy of my parent’s ID!). The social worker will ask super simple, yes-no questions just to see if you’re aware. Questions like how is the kid related to the traveling companion (when it’s clearly stated on the application form) and have you obtained a travel clearance in the past aren’t anything intimidating, so you know it’s an easy, no-brainer procedure—guaranteed!

(written in August 2014)

Year-ender: 2014

I often forget how incredible, significant, and fateful the past year had been. I always swore 2014 will be my year (as annoying and overused that phrase was, and still is), and this is how I felt even before the year actually started. I knew I was bidding the longest chapter of my life goodbye, setting foot on new adventures, transitioning into the phase of adulthood—things just felt so right and everything seemed to fall into place, finally. Maybe this is the year I’ve been praying for and waiting for so long, I tell myself.

But that one thing I was looking forward to all these years—is the same thing that has kept me miserable during the latter part of 2014 (the -ber months, go figure). There are decisions I’ve made, well-thought through or on a whim, that still trouble me even up this very second; so many what ifs and whys that cross my mind. It is rather painful to talk about; however, I believe that the emptiness and gloom that certain days may have caused can never supersede a year’s most wondrous happenings.

And with that, here are some of the wondrous happenings that made up the past year:

Visited the dreamland.

The land of milk tea, the songs and shows I call familiar, Mandarin Chinese—Taiwan is the place I call my dreamland, after all. Such a timely trip that happened days after graduating from high school and months before turning 18 years old—talk about a grad gift and debut rolled into one—which makes it extra memorable. Ever grateful to our nicest, most gracious hosts, Ate Joanna and her husband, for welcoming us into their lovely apartment during the first half of our trip! I love Taiwan. Always have, always will.

Excited is an understatement. Months prior to the trip, I remember endlessly scouring through blogs for suggestions on what to eat and where to go, with the aim of having a perfect itinerary (I was going to the dream destination, must not put any second to waste!). I listed even the littlest of details, from train stations to alight at to survival travel apps to download. Finally, things were settled weeks before departure, and I was contented with and even quite proud of the itinerary I had come up with. As stated on my journal, Jiufen on Day 2, Longshan Temple and CKS Memorial Hall on the third day, Shida as the last stop before departure to the airport. Perfect!

And the funny thing is, none of that happened. Not that I mean that they didn’t happen on the day they were assigned on, but they just didn’t happen. At all. Because, apparently, something much bigger was bound to happen, and it was when I…

20150131-1

Saw my idol live and up close.

This is easily the biggest surprise that’s happened to me—ever! I don’t know how this story is believable at the least because it’s as if some kind of twisted fate decided to play on me during this particular time and it’s like one of those rare, genuine moments spurred by happiness where you tell yourself, “I can’t believe this is happening.” Thing is, I was able to attend a meet-and-greet of my favorite C-pop singer while I was in Taiwan. It was an event that was announced days before our trip, so imagine how coincidental that was. Having booked the trip in December of the preceding year, I could not even fathom how it fell right on our trip! And it was not just any singer whom I only know one or two songs of, whose name I often come across—it was an artist whose songs I sing the lyrics to, whose music accompanies me in my daily commutes, whom I call my ultimate idol.

This is why our trip to Taiwan didn’t go as things were planned. It’s still something I kick myself for, because of multiple destinations on the itinerary unseen; things on the bucket list still waiting to be fulfilled. But in the end, I got to fulfill a lifelong dream. With the time it takes to get to Taiwan, almost quicker than a terrible traffic jam, I’m always meaning to give it another go!

Talk about something totally unexpected and unplanned. As I wrote on an older post, maybe it’s luck, maybe it’s fate, but seeing Khalil Fong live was a dream. come. true.

20150131-3

Explored a bit more of the world.

Truth be told, I never would have even imagined that I would be able to travel again after Taiwan. Taiwan was the country set for 2014, no more, no less. Another surprise hit me again, having been given the opportunity to visit the United States last summer. Always thankful and grateful. And again, I never expected how much I would enjoy our stay there, with me who is farthest from being a ‘Western’ person and all that. I’m happy that quite a lot of places were squeezed in during a rather quick stay. It’s such a happening place where good vibes just surround you wherever you go. With the warmth and hospitality our relatives and family friends have shared with us throughout our stay, a country a thousand miles away easily still feels like home. I’ve grown to love the States and it’s a country I see myself going back to (definitely easier said than done; we’ll see how saving will go!).

And then there was the yolo-worthy jaunt to Singapore which happened during the first few weeks of university! I’m not one to skip school just because because it’s really not me—I may have taken that statement back when I agreed to go. But if you ask me, it’s not something I’m willing to do again (here’s to hoping I don’t take it back again, haha). Luckily though, I only missed a day of school (as opposed to supposedly two days) and it was of a non-credit subject. Yolo gone right, I say.

While I don’t think I’ll be able to go out of the country anytime soon, I don’t feel the slightest bit of disappointment. I’d like to think bigger things are in store, and other things can wait. Hoping that the adventures I’ve always wanted to have in the Philippines turn into actual photographs and stories this year.

20150131-2

Got a spot in an international video contest.

How this came to be was quite accidental and the most random thing ever, and it’s something I owe to this blog. I published a guide on how to get Korean tourist visas for students a long time ago. It garnered quite a few comments a year after, with people presumably my age asking for help on the requirements. Checking if the info I had written was still up-to date, I clicked the links written on the post, which led me to the embassy’s official website. There was a pop-up window minimized all the while, and only realized it when I exited all my window’s tabs. What’s this? I asked myself. It was about a video contest sponsored by the Korean government and Arirang TV, of all things! I was excited as I could relate, and immediately thought of submitting an entry. Storytelling and video-editing on the theme, To me, Korea is—count me in.

In September, I received an e-mail stating that I had won an award for my submission! What I felt was beyond shock and surprise, because of the submissions close to 800 entries. Wouldn’t have thought they’d consider some random girl’s annoying gabbing and blabbing, haha. But really, it’s such a humbling feeling. All the winners were also invited to the awards ceremony in Seoul last October, ah! I didn’t think it was necessary for me to go though, as I was one of the many who won the consolation prize anyway (of course, I would have loved to experience it, but priorities). It was broadcasted on Arirang TV (starts at 16:28).

Just today I received my prize and certificate (delayed, but still so thankful) and would love to write all about this soon (hoping school doesn’t get in the way…). I’m rather embarrassed to have my video posted up on here because to be honest, my work still makes me cringe even up to this day, haha. But if anyone’s interested, it’s very easy to find, I promise—just dig in deeper into this blog. It can be seen somewhere.

20150131-4

One word: college.

I now know the feeling of failing an exam in the first semester of college, having a terrible day because of a bad commute, wading in the waters of Taft River. I also now know the feeling of waking up to a day of school without being bothered and disturbed by many different things, being yourself and who you really are, and being injected with positivity and optimism. But here’s something I’ll be brutally honest about: college really wasn’t what I was expecting it to be, but I’m praying, just praying, that tomorrow will be a better day.

Dreaming of a life I can’t have, realizing when reality is bigger than dreams…

I’ve been in a rut lately (I mean, I always have). I try, I try so hard, only to be taken aback and pushed away.

It’s been a struggle. I still don’t understand. I’m just so lost. alone. Trying to figure out my way, when I don’t even know where I’m heading to.

When will I ever not feel this way?

Hi, hello! I’m alive.

Can’t believe that I’m actually able to write on this space again, which is something I’ve been itching to do these past months. All the 600-word paragraphs I have been writing are nothing but essays on worldly issues, independent films, sociopolitical development… maybe interesting, maybe boring. I have been waiting for this day, and I am relieved that day is, well, today.

It’s been too long; so many things have happened. I don’t even know what to say anymore.

I just want to write, and it feels good to be doing this again.

Travel Tales: Singapore

 

Singapore was amazing in all ways possible! It definitely exceeded all expectations, from the destinations to even the warmth of its people. I’ve never been in a place where things were just so calm and chill, and the vibes it exuded, I’ve never felt elsewhere. It’s easily one of the coolest I’ve been to.

Unbelievable how people say Singapore is so small, everything on the island can be done in a day. Well, that’s the biggest lie in the world! It may be one of the smallest in the continent, but it is truly bursting with so many things to do. Every little corner has an interesting find, and whether you’re on top of the grandest skyscraper or lost in a spot tucked away in a side alley, there will always be something new and different waiting to be done, tasted, or seen.

And the funny truth is… I never thought I’d fall in love with this country.

Hello from Singapore

Greetings from the Lion City!

Alright, I’ll be honest here… my first few hours in this country didn’t go very well, which all started with the airport. It’s a story meant for another entry, but in a nutshell, we had a terrible encounter with the immigration which left us to lose practically a day’s worth of itinerary. Well, not the nicest first impression.

But things happen, but dwelling on them won’t really do anything. This is something I did not realize until someone told me otherwise, and now I can say that this trip has been a really pleasant one that I no longer remember what happened on Day 1. Singapore’s awesomeness definitely made up for it, and wow, how beautiful is this place is, really. Singapore is such an artsy country bursting with color and vibrance, from the little corners of its side alleys to the countless towering skyscrapers, and everything (I mean everything) is just so picturesque that there is nothing I could not take a snapshot of. Things are just so perfect and pretty here. It’s amazing how buildings here can pull off even the oddest combination of colors and shades.

I’ve never been on a trip abroad that actually happened within a particular school year, so I’m missing a few of my classes. I wasn’t too keen on pursuing this trip because I really, really didn’t want to miss school, especially now that I’m barely only on my third week of university! I never even did this in high school, what more in college? Choosing a trip over school stuff is definitely one of the most daunting decisions I’ve ever made. But as I always say, I’d do anything to explore and go on a new adventure. Well, traveling is the best kind of education one can receive, haha. You can say that I followed what my heart said, but then, it’s something I don’t regret.

I’m with my relatives to celebrate a milestone in my grandma’s life, her birthday! It was a trip I didn’t know was actually happening, so until now I’m still in a mild state of shock. Nevertheless, I’m grateful and thankful to have an opportunity of exploring a bit more of the world.

I actually only have a few hours left in this country and the thought of having to leave is something I really dread… I don’t want to be back to reality just yet.

 

DSC07492 DSC07510 DSC07780

Into the new world

This 127-day summer is on its end. I’ll be slipping into a new set of uniform consisting of casual clothes, making my way through the unfamiliar halls of a building I’ve yet to enter in a few. Years and years I have yearned for this chapter in my life to finally unfold, and now that it’s only a sleep(less) night away, I can only wish for so much. I’m quite ecstatic, really.

It’s a plethora of feelings, as I would say. Maybe it’s now the perfect time to be myself, and that is, to be who I really am, or to be who I am supposed to be. Unafraid. Secure. Certain.

Summer ’14 was nothing short of amazing. It’s not going to be easy leaving the summer I will be forever grateful to and for; one that has nurtured my senses and greatly fostered my growth as an individual. Learnings irreplaceable, experiences unforgettable. It was a indeed a summer of coincidences, with one unexpected event that just led to something else and then to something even better, sometimes even worse.

Setting foot on the land of my dreams, meeting great and wonderful people here and there, catching up, up close and inches away from the person I call my biggest inspiration in life, exploring a bit more of the world, learning and improving, leaving a print of footmarks in the unlikeliest of places, getting pushed out of the corners of my comfort bubble… I am humbled and fulfilled. These past four months left me dull and hanging, yet at the same time, gave me a list of adventures I never thought I’d encounter. Definitely, it wasn’t all perfect, and whether I regret certain things or not is moot. I’ve come a long way. It was a very lengthy wait, but all in all, I am thankful.

There were a few points on the bucket list I’d never expect to cross out and memories I never thought I’d possibly make… at least not anytime soon, but I’m truly happy. And with a whole new set I’ve yet to meet, here’s to hoping a whole lot more.