Author: Maria

The Law of Detachment

By definition —

“In detachment lies the wisdom of uncertainty . . . in the wisdom of uncertainty lies the freedom from our past, from the known, which is the prison of past conditioning. And in our willingness to step into the unknown, the field of all possibilities, we surrender ourselves to the creative mind that orchestrates the dance of the universe.”

How I perceive it:

  • Letting go of things not meant for you, for those only meant to teach you about life and about yourself
  • Letting go of things you have absolutely no control over. Those just bring you unnecessary stress.
  • Always believing that Universe is always conspiring with you and gives you what you truly desire

When you start to attach yourself to certain outcomes, disappointment immediately follows. Guaranteed.

Simply hold everyday moments in an open hand and you will see how thoughts, interactions, emotions and ideas easily come and go. And only a few, those that are meant for you, will stay.

How to quickly UNLIKE pages on Facebook

After successfully transferring all my photos from Facebook to Google photos, it’s time to UNLIKE the majority of the pages that I’ve previously LIKED on Facebook. Why am I doing this? Because I want to strip my profile 95% of all content I’ve posted, photos I’ve uploaded, pages liked, etc.

Initially, I thought I would have to visit each page one by one. Considering that I am innately lazy, I tried to find a way to UNLIKE pages at once similar to a ‘select all’ then ‘unlike all’ solution. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything like that but I did find a solution that enabled me to unlike pages one by one but faster.

To quickly unlike pages, here’s how to do it:

On your Facebook account, go to Settings & Privacy then Activity Log.

Facebook Activity Log

Once you’re on Activity Log, scroll down to ‘Connections’ then proceed to Pages, page likes and interests. You will then see all the pages you’ve LIKED over the years, and to start un-liking these pages, simply click the 3 dots and hit ‘UNLIKE’.

It took me approximately an hour to unlike more than a decade’s worth of pages. It would have taken me longer if I had to click on each page so I am relieved that Facebook found a way to make this easier.

Facebook page likes

Medical insurance for Spain non-lucrative visa

If you are thinking of applying for Spain’s non-lucrative visa, a medical/health insurance from an insurance company accredited in Spain is one of the requirements. When searching for medical insurance, the following requirements should be met:

  • Minimum medical coverage of €30,000
  • No deductibles, co-pays, coverage limits or grace periods for certain benefits
  • Include repatriation benefits

Apart from that, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Travel insurance is different, what you need is an actual medical insurance, similar to the health insurance that you have in your own country
  • Medical insurance coverage in Spain normally starts January of the current year until 31st of December
  • If your insurance coverage will start in July, for instance, you only have to pay 6 months worth of insurance premium and renew before the year ends (i.e. if your monthly premium is €75 then you will only have to pay €450 + transaction fees if applicable)
  • Don’t listen to insurance companies when they say that you have to get insured for one year immediately (unless your coverage will start in January)
  • Unless you have a Spanish bank account, monthly payments are not possible so you will have to pay in full either with a credit card or bank transfer
  • Contact several insurance companies and compare premiums. Don’t settle immediately on the first company that will reply to you. And if you must, also read customer reviews. Given that insurance companies rarely get positive reviews, go with the one that has lesser bad reviews.

When I was doing my research, I compared 3 insurance companies and, in the end, I went with ASISA. There are more insurance companies but not all have English speaking sales rep, some would even require a Spanish mobile number and bank account, and a few didn’t respond at all. 

These 3 insurance companies are able to complete the transaction online from enquiry to payment, meet all the requirements, and have a sales rep that speaks English.

1) Sanitas Expat

This is probably the most popular for Spain’s non-lucrative visa applicants because every article I read online is recommending this company. Given all the recommendations, this was the first I sent an enquiry to. They are very responsive and persistent, they always answer questions that I have, and they already have experience processing insurance policies for those applying for Spain resident visas.

2 things I didn’t like about this company: 1) expensive (my premium is €77/month and I will have to pay more if I choose to live in Madrid, Barcelona, or Valencia); 2) they told me that I need to pay for one full year even if I was already applying in July, which means I will have to pay €924+.

The 2nd point, I wasn’t aware until another insurance company informed me. And it was because of the first point that I started looking for alternatives.

2) SegurCaixa Adeslas

Similar to Sanitas Expat, the sales rep from this company was responsive and answered any questions that I had. This was also the cheapest among the 3 insurance companies. They quoted me €604/year which was €300 cheaper than Sanitas Expat. I would have gone with this company for sure but it seemed too good to be true so I started searching for customer reviews about this company. And I’m glad I did because there were too many bad reviews that changed my decision.

3) ASISA

With this company, a sales rep named Jane Priestly was the one who replied to my inquiry and she was also the one who informed me that I don’t need to pay for a full year because, again, all insurance policies in Spain end in December so it didn’t make sense that the first 2 companies were quoting me for a full year.

For the same coverage that the first 2 companies provided, I only need to pay €306.80 + transaction fees (if applicable) for my insurance policy with coverage starting August 1 until December 31, 2021 (€61.36/month)

When you look at it on a monthly premium comparison, SegurCaixa Adeslas is the cheapest but given that they have heaps of bad reviews, I would gladly pay more and go with ASISA.

At the end of the year, you can choose to renew with the same company or choose a different one, perhaps one with a cheaper premium, considering you will already have a Spanish bank account and mobile number when that time comes.

How to download ALL your photos from Facebook

I have been thinking for a while now about deleting my Facebook profile because it’s not serving its purpose anymore and there’s too much noise and clutter coming from it. However, once I delete my profile, I will no longer be able to use my messenger. So what I’ve decided to do is remove all photos, leave all the Facebook groups I’ve joined, and unlike all pages. I want to strip my profile 95% of all content I’ve posted, photos I’ve uploaded, etc.

First hurdle, downloading all my photos. I have uploaded thousands of photos over the years so I thought it would take me forever to download everything. But after a quick search on Google, I have found the perfect solution.

To download all your albums and photos at once, here’s how to do it:

On your Facebook account, go to Settings & Privacy then Settings.

Facebook Profile Settings

Once you’re on Settings, go to Your Facebook Information tab then proceed to ‘Transfer a Copy of Your Information’.

Your Facebook Information

Before you are able to transfer a copy, you will be asked to enter your password again for security purposes.

To start transferring a copy of your information, choose what information you want to transfer, date range, and where you want it transferred. If you have a Gmail account, then you can choose Google photos.

Considering I have tons of photos, the entire process took approximately 8 hours to complete. To see if the transfer was, indeed, successful, I checked my Google photos and I’m happy to report that all my photos were copied without any errors.

Another way to check, go back to ‘Transfer a Copy of Your Information’. You will see at the bottom if the request has been completed (as seen in the screenshot below).

Health Insurance for Freelancers and Remote Workers

If you are a freelancer or a remote worker, then getting your own health insurance is a necessity. Employers from outside the Philippines will rarely offer health insurance benefits so you have no choice but to take care of it on your own or risk not getting any insurance at all.

You might think that health insurance is expensive. Well, it is if you prefer a premium plan that has extensive coverage. But if you don’t always get sick or hospitalised, then health insurance for emergency purposes will do.

In my case, I purchased PhilCare’s ER Shield insurance from Maria Health. It costs 800php, good for one-time use, and coverage is up to 50,000php for emergency purposes. This kind of insurance works for me given that I keep my health top priority. I eat healthy and exercise as often as I can. I also get an annual physical exam to make sure that I’m still in good shape. Another good thing about this prepaid insurance, once you use it, you can buy another one at the same price. Or if you have a shitty health insurance from your company, you can also purchase this and use it as an add-on to your existing HMO. Just think, you will only pay 800php for 50,000php coverage. Not bad, right?

If you are looking for health insurance that has better coverage, you can browse through Maria Health for options. Maria Health has both comprehensive and prepaid plans. You can also go directly to Maximare or Philcare or Medicard.

Getting health insurance is a no-brainer. Don’t wait until it’s too late and you’re stressing about how to pay your medical bills.

Vigan Ilocos Sur Travel Requirements as of July 2021

As we drove up north to go to Pagudpud, we decided to pass through Vigan on our way back to Manila and stay there for a night. Since the travel requirements for Pagudpud were easy to prepare, we thought the same for Vigan but we were dead wrong.

Ilocos Norte and Sur are neighboring provinces so it doesn’t make sense why these 2 have different travel requirements. Nevertheless, we have no choice but to comply or ditch our plans to go to Vigan altogether.

Anyway, the drive from Pagudpud to Vigan took approximately 4 hours. And here are the requirements:

  • RT PCR test result taken in no more than 72 hours from time of entry in Ilocos Sur (saliva RT PCR is acceptable as long as it’s administered by Red Cross) or an Antigen test taken within 24 hours
  • Booking confirmation from one of the accredited travel agencies (this is mandatory even if you are just passing through and not going on tours)
  • Travel pass registration at https://ilocossur.tarana.ph/ 

Since we spent 2 nights in Pagudpud, our RT PCR test results have already elapsed which mean we need to get an antigen test, otherwise, we won’t be allowed to enter Ilocos Sur. Fortunately, there’s a testing facility just 5 minutes away from the Sinait border. An antigen test costs 800php and the results will be released within an hour. Once we got the results, we had to log back in to our Tara Na account, click ‘Apply for a Travel Pass’ and upload the antigen test result together with the booking confirmation and a valid ID. Once we’ve uploaded all the requirements, we have to wait 5-10 mins to see an “APPROVED” tag in our travel pass application. This can all be done through the Tara Na website.

The next hurdle is entering Vigan. You won’t be able to enter Vigan without a DOT accredited tour guide which the travel agency will provide. The tour guide met us at the entrance of Vigan and accompanied us to the City Health Office to log in. You won’t be able to do all this by yourself, you also can’t enter establishments or just walk in Calle Crisologo without a tour guide. Booking a travel agency is a MUST to assist you before, during and after your trip in Vigan. It sounds complicated, which it is, but if you are able to complete the requirements prior to crossing the border from Ilocos Norte to Ilocos Sur or Manila to Ilocos Sur, then it should be less of a hassle.

For our hotel accommodation, we booked directly in Hotel Luna instead of booking through the travel agency because we initially thought that we could bypass the travel agency requirement but we were wrong, obviously. 

As for the cost of the travel agency, we paid 500php for the travel agency’s service fee and 1500php (plus tip) for the tour guide for 2 days. The tour guide was with us 4 hours each day. If you want to hire him for an entire day, the cost will be higher.

When leaving Vigan, we had to pass by the City Health Office again to log out. This process is mandatory and the tour guide will still have to accompany you.

We spent less than 24 hours in Vigan but the travel requirements preparation took more time than in Pagudpud. Unbelievable but that’s the reality of traveling during COVID times.

Remote Work: The Good and The Bad

I have been working remotely for the past 6 years. Prior to that, I have spent a good decade in the corporate world. It was my passion for travel that got me into remote work and since then, I never considered going back to the office. There are definitely pros and cons in doing remote work but, for me personally, the good far outweighs the bad.

Please note that I am writing this from an introvert’s perspective and you will understand why at the end of this post.

The Good

  1. Working remotely means you can work anywhere in the world as long as you have a decent internet connection. That being said, I can go on vacations and bring my work with me. Plus, I don’t have to worry about finishing my paid leave credits because I am working whilst traveling. This, I believe, is the best part of doing remote work.
  2. While people spend 2-3 hours a day in traffic, I spend 0 hours. So that gives me 780 hours (32 days) in a year to spend in whichever way I want to. Also, since I don’t get tired from commuting, it gives me the luxury to do more things — things that I love to do, things that could earn me extra income.
  3. Since I don’t need to spend time in traffic, I get to have more sleep hours. And that is something I would willingly bargain for.
  4. No office politics and drama. This is something I cannot stand when I was still in the corporate world. There’s so much ass kissing and drama that can bring your energy down. When you do remote work, even if you work with a team, there’s much less drama involved.
  5. I get to save money that I would normally spend on clothes and transportation. When you’re in the corporate world, you always have to dress to impress, hence the need to go shopping on a regular basis. But when you’re working remotely, no one would know if you’re still in your pajamas.

The Bad

  1. Lack of human interaction. Because your work is remote, you’d be in front of the laptop most of the time. You will have no colleague beside you to chit chat or have lunch with. With this kind of work, you are pretty much on your own. It can get lonely especially if you are an extrovert or someone who likes to be surrounded by people all the time.
  2. Lack of mentors to inspire and guide you. Being mentored is one of those things that I appreciated when I was in the corporate world. These mentors willingly share their knowledge and wisdom and you can really learn a lot from them. When you do remote work, you rarely have that and your best bet is to be self-taught. So you have to keep yourself motivated to continuously learn about new things and trends. You alone are responsible for your own growth.
  3. Pay could be much lower and benefits offered could be minimal compared to what you would normally get in a corporate setting.
  4. You need to take care of acquiring your own health insurance and filing for your income tax and other government fees. Remote work employers rarely offer these kinds of services to their employees. It’s not much of a big deal but it could cost more to pay for an individual’s health insurance than for a corporate one.
  5. Online jobs are notorious for being unstable. Most of the time, there are no contracts involved so when employers decide to let you go, you can’t do anything about it. But it goes both ways because of thousands of online jobs available, employees can easily find a replacement and quit their jobs without even giving a week’s notice.

As mentioned earlier, this is written from an introvert’s perspective so the lack of human interaction and mentors are something I can easily live with. The ‘lack of’ can be compensated with my passion for continuous learning. I constantly educate myself with new trends and current events.

And because I have been acquiring more skills, skills that are now in-demand, I am getting paid much higher than what I would normally receive in the corporate world. It hasn’t been easy and it took me more than 5 years to get where I am with a lot of hard work and patience.

When a choice is presented, know that there is no such thing as “the grass is greener on the other side” because believe it or not, there will always be a trade-off.

There are no right or wrong choices but remember, your life choices are what make you who you are.

Get freebies and discounts with your vaccination card

It was last June when I got my second dose of COVID vaccine. Given that I will be traveling soon, choosing to get vaccinated was a no-brainer.

As it turns out, getting vaccinated not only prevents you from having severe complications from COVID but you can also enjoy discounts and freebies from restaurants and shops.

Based on personal experience, I have used my vaccination card to get a FREE upsize at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and UCC Cafe. I also enjoyed a 10% discount at Salad Stop for a minimum purchase of 500php.

There are a lot more participating shops to encourage people from getting vaccinated and these deals will last until the end of the year. So don’t think about it anymore. Let’s put an end to this pandemic and get vaccinated sooner than later.

Here’s another tip for you — as soon as you’re done with your second dose, make duplicates of your vaccination card and have them laminated. Use the duplicates when going to shops or restaurants and keep the original copy at home.

Pagudpud Ilocos Norte Travel Requirements as of July 2021

If you are itching to travel locally and thinking where to go, driving up north might be something you can consider. Requirements are not that complicated anymore plus there are less tourists now compared to pre-covid times so you’d be able to enjoy your trip more.

Here are the requirements:

  • RT PCR test result taken in no more than 72 hours from time of entry in Ilocos Norte (saliva RT PCR is acceptable as long as it’s administered by Red Cross)
  • Confirmed booking accommodation from one of the accredited hotel or resorts
  • Booking confirmation from one of the accredited travel agencies in Ilocos Norte (only applicable if you are going on tours)
  • QR code generated from SafePass (location ID will come from your hotel or resort)
  • Travel pass registration at https://ilocosnorte.ph

Where to stay:

Our family stayed at Casa Consuelo, a beachfront resort located near the Blue Lagoon. Saud Beach Resort, known as the Boracay of the North, is also a good option especially if you want easy access to a white sand beach.

What to do or where to go? Here’s a sample itinerary.

On our way up north, we passed through more than 3 checkpoints so always keep your valid IDs, hotel booking confirmation, and RT PCR test results handy. As long as you have complete requirements, you will be able to pass through without a hitch.

Safe travels!

The difference between Freelancing and Remote Work

What is the difference between the two? And which one’s better? Truth be told, there’s no right or wrong answer. This is highly dependent on your personal preferences. Let’s compare!

Remote Work

Because of the pandemic, everyone was introduced to working remotely. When doing remote work, you are still employed by a company or a startup (which could or could not be based in another country). Working remotely also means you work at home or wherever you want, following a certain schedule set by the company.

PROS

  • Stability / Certainty – steady flow of income
  • Your life will still have some structure, especially if you were used to working in the corporate world, so the adjustment phase will not be difficult. Every day, you will still need to report to work, but remotely.
  • Freedom & flexibility to work at home or wherever you please
  • You will have a mentor
  • You won’t have to continuously chase clients
  • You won’t have to spend on marketing to get new clients
  • You will learn new skills as you go along
  • Fixed work schedule and no work on weekends.

CONS

  • Less flexibility when it comes to your time schedule because you will have to follow a work schedule almost always
  • You could be earning less as compared to freelancing but this will only be true if you think you can get new clients consistently with freelancing
  • You will be reporting to an immediate superior, most likely the owner of the startup, and they can be demanding at times
  • When working in a startup, you will most likely work on other tasks or projects.

Freelancing

Similar to remote work, you can also work from home or wherever you want with freelancing. The difference is, freelancing allows you to dictate your own work schedule. Why is that? Because freelance jobs are mostly project-based.

How it works: you seek out clients who are looking for “skill-focused” freelancers based on the project that needs to be done.

PROS

  • Freedom to work at home or wherever you please
  • More flexibility with your time schedule as you work your own hours
  • You can earn more doing freelance work than doing remote work as long as you are consistently getting new clients who are willing to pay your asking rate
  • You will develop an expertise, hopefully something that you really want to do or are passionate about, and that would make your job more fun and exciting
  • There are a lot of jobs available to freelancers. You just have to know what to offer and how to market your skills.

CONS

  • You might have difficulty adjusting to your new lifestyle because most of the time, you will have to be self-motivated to finish your projects at hand and meet your deadlines.
  • Clients can be more demanding (than remote work employers)
  • You will have to learn how to market your skills to get clients and build your portfolio
  • You will have to spend on marketing to get new clients until you reach the point when word of mouth / referrals are bringing you new clients.
  • You will have to compete with a lot of freelancers offering the same skills, and most of the time, at a much lower rate

I have tried both freelancing and remote work, and personally, I prefer remote work because of the stability it provides. Acquiring clients on a regular basis has been stressful for me and to be frank, I have worked with a handful of demanding clients. Currently, I have 2 full-time remote work and my schedule is flexible, so I guess I have the best of both worlds.

On the other hand, I also know a lot of freelancers who are successful in their chosen fields. I believe the most in demand freelancers now are graphic artists, eCommerce web developers, and copywriters.

If you are interested to know how to get started working from home with no experience, here’s a useful guide for your reference. And if you want to enter the world of eCommerce, I created this Amazon VA masterclass, an online course carefully structured for both newbies and experienced remote workers.