Braving Manila - Tips for Probinsyanos going to Manila

Most people feel that moving to Manila (to study or work) is overwhelming... for good reasons. To a probinsyano, the word Manila means skyscrapers, job opportunities, fast paced life, confusing transport systems, pollution, garbage, smog, traffic, high cost of living, and crimes. All these can make a person who lives outside of Manila dizzy. Aside from the stresses of big city life, there is the whole preparation for the big transition. I myself am planning to move to Manila (to work) in a couple of days. I was looking for an article on the Internet for tips for people who are going to move to Manila, and I found none. And so I thought of writing this article.

Here now, are tips for the probinsyano who is planning to go to Manila (for work).

1. Buy your ticket a month in advance. Scout the websites of established airlines (Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines, and Philippine Airlines) and major sea transport companies (like Super Ferry, Sulpicio Lines, and Negros Navigation) for promos. Usually a promo ticket sells only for a short period of time. The travel date is also for only a certain period. For this, you need to plan your travel date a month ahead of the travel date itself.

My friend one day told me about the promo that Super Ferry has. They were offering sea travel to Manila for only 799 pesos. The day I learned about it was already the last day of the promo. Worst was that when I got there to purchase my ticket, their systems were offline. Fortunately for me the promo was extended. And so I got to purchase my ticket after all. However, be wary of promos. Even though they advertised a 799 price for the ticket, the actual price was around 900 pesos. So before you go to the ticket outlet, call them and ask for the actual price. You should also ask whether 'they are online or not.' The reason by the way why I chose to travel by ship is the fact that I wanted to enjoy the travel. When you go by plane, you wouldn't see anything. When you go by ship, however, you get to walk around, do some sight seeing. You even have bars, cafes, restaurants, fast foods, and other amenities in the ship. Yes, I know I'm not going to Manila for a vacation, but at least enjoy the travel.

2. Prepare all the documents that you would need. Three weeks before your travel date, try to get all the necessary papers which you would need for work.

A. Authenticated and original birth certificate - Your authenticated birth certificate will be needed to get an SSS number.

B. SSS Number - Just go to the nearest SSS branch. It's free.

C. NBI Clearance - This is a major requirement for working anywhere. Try getting this while you're not yet in Manila because if you're going to apply for an NBI clearance in Manila, you'll be stuck in a very long line.

D. Police Clearance - This isn't a major requirement, but try getting it anyway just to be sure.

E. TIN Number - This is needed by all employers (unless they work underground).

Applying for these documents should take you more or less one and a half week. The golden rule is going to the government agency in charge of releasing these papers before 8 AM. Also, be careful of fixers. They aren't to be trusted.

3. Check your bank account balance. See if you have enough amount to cover for rent, food, and transportation. These are three things which you would primarily spend for once in Manila. Most units offer free electricity and water. Typically, you would need around 5000 per month.

4. A week and a half before your travel date, begin packing up. Bring three bags, two as cargo, and one as a carry on bag. In one bag (cargo), place all your plates, utensils, toiletries, documents, etc. In the other, place all your clothes. In the carry-on bag, place your personal belongings such as your wallet, cell phone, and things that you would need for the travel. It's good practice to make a checklist of everything that you would be bringing.

5. A day or two before your travel, make a list of all telephone numbers and addresses which you would need once in Manila.

6. A day before, have a send off party with your friends. Go to church. Recheck if everything (in your checklist) is in your bags.

Bon Voyage!