Saturday, November 20, 2010

Anxious but Looking Forward to 2011

I wonder if you people know of any other person who plans their 2011 in November of 2010.  I guess I am one of the few I know of.  I got my 2011 planner and have already penciled out some plans for February 2011.  The most significant of this plan is my husband going back to the U.S. to take care of some things and one of those things include the Affidavit of Support.

We finally figured out what to do next (on or own, no U.S. immigration lawyer) after a phone call to the National Visa Center, which incidentally you cannot get them on the regular office hours. (U.S time that is).  They are as busy as hell! :p  We did however get to them one morning in the Philippines when we just got up and decided to try our luck calling them.

At this point, I am collating all the information on what documents we would need for the AOS, and whether or not we would meet the 125% poverty threshold  or we need to get joint sponsors. I have kind of casually tried to add up the figures in my head and it looks like we will be able to make it.  I just need to get the updated papers on the 401 (k) and the private retirement and I would have a more concrete idea on whether we can make it.

I already got the requirements for the renewal of my husband's ACR, having just fulfilled the first week requirement on the publication.  The total cost for the publication (for two successive Mondays to qualify for the two-week publication requirement) was P876.40. I didn't pay a single thing for the police report (take note of this if you ever need a police report from your local police station) and I didn't pay a single thing for the notarization of the Affidavit of Loss (it's usually between P50 to P100) as I had it notarized by a friend (thank God for friends who are notary publics). :) I do, however, owe her dinner one time.

We plan to visit the Veteran's Affair clinic before the month ends to get a new I.D. and to file the renewal for the ACR at the Bureau of Immigration.  I am persistent to have his ACR card renewed for two reasons: (1) for the possible new ACR card next year when his 13 (a) probationary visa expires; and (2) it has the ECC (emigration clearance certificate) in it, something he needs for his flight back to the U.S.  I want him to be ready with his Veteran's Affairs card before he leaves so that he can just fly in to the U.S. and have his health concerns addressed as soon as he lands.

I am still working on his "To-Do List" there and the timeline involved to finish everything so that he can be either back in time for the filing of a 13 (a) permanent visa OR my going to the U.S., whichever comes first.  At this point, even in my vacillation on going there, I am just leaving it up to God. My one concern is really to be where it would be best for my husband and his health.

It is hard to tell for sure what is best for us, I can only hope that whatever we choose to do that the Lord will help us along the way.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Is Food Expensive In Metro Manila?

A few days ago, my husband and I got into this discussion while doing our nightly walk around the condominium compound.  We were on the discussion on why he thinks we are better off going back (to him) and just plainly going TO America for me (remember that I have never been there).   He said that the cost of living over here is expensive, using as an indicator the cost of food.  He says, over there, there are coupons that could save us so much money in buying food and that, among other things, over there fresh milk is in abundance, unlike over here where the fresh milk don't even taste anything like the ones over there.  I remind him that the only reason the food seems to cost more over here is that we are buying products average filipinos do not even consider "necessary".  Average filipinos don't even buy fresh milk, most make do with instant milk.

On the other hand, I actually think we have enough food for just a two-person household.  Our monthly grocery bill is at P8,000, while my mother and brother's grocery food bill is just half that of ours -- theirs is P4,000 a month.  Of course he makes a point about how we have healthier meals.  Although I also remind him, we waste food much more. :p  We have things in our refrigerator that has been there for months, while theirs run out every month. :p

We buy our groceries alternately from two stores - SM Hypermarket at SM The Block and Landmark at Trinoma.  Our average weekly grocery bill is at P2000, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Here is an example of prices at Landmark Trinoma as of November 3, 2010:

Rebisco 360G (wheat crackers) 63.10
SABA 425 G (canned mackerel) 41.30
SABA Pink Salmon 58.70
Ocean's Best (canned tuna) 29.85
Meadow's Fresh Milk (buy one take one) 114
Skippy (peanut butter- no fat) 144.90
Rejoice Shampoo (360 ml) 149.40
Listerine Mint (250) 133.15
Coke Light 48
Fried Chicken 155.60
Chicken Wings 106.60
Fresh Slice Mushroom 110
Tarragon 13
Gardenia Whole Wheat Bun 45
San Remo Spinach Fettucine 81.65
Cream Cheese 101.60
Hi-Fiber Wheat Bread 67

I didn't include the produce (vegetable and fruits) which we usually spend from between P300 to P500 a week's worth.  It's healthy, I admit though. :) But only if we get to eat it before they spoil.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cost of Being Cheap

I have to confess, I am kuripot. It is the Ilocano in me that makes me stingy with money. Also, I have known how it is to be hungry and needy at one point in my life. Life has been kinder to me since then but it has certainly made  me more prudent with money.  My Asawa always says I have only one criteria when buying/considering anything -- PRICE!  It is funny but partly true.

So why am I talking about this now? Well, because there was a lesson I learned just a weeks ago when my husband and I visited the doctor.  Since I had been worried sick about his diverticulitis, I have decided that the best place to go is what most people perceive to be the best hospital this side of Metro Manila -- St. Luke's Hospital in Quezon City.

We went to Dr. Conrado De Castro and he prescribed Ciprofloxacin and Flagyl.  Apparently, the earlier doctor prescribed the wrong medicine, an antibiotic not specifically meant to address diverticulitis! You can say nonetheless that we were disappointed.  Considering the earlier doctor was also a gastroenterologist, it is a bit disappointing to think she didn't know what should have been a basic prescription for a basic ailment.

So, even though the colonoscopy from the said clinic/medical center is cheaper, we are thinking of two options 1) getting a colonoscopy from St. Luke's or 2) going to the U.S. for a colonoscopy from VA health facilities (my Asawa has a service-connected disability of 20%).

When we asked the doctor, however, how much a colonoscopy package would cost (doctor's fee and use of hospital facilities), he said that they have a package that covers not only colonoscopy but other procedures.  They are a bit pricey and at present not within our price range, but in 1 to 2 months, I think we can afford it.  As long as my husband's condition does not worsen within that time, we can consider getting a colonoscopy (plus other procedures) from St. Luke's.

We are particularly interested in the Cancer Screening Package for 60 year old and above.  The break down of procedure is as follows:


  • Blood Chemistry (CHEM 1)
    • Glucose (FBS)
    • Creatinine
    • Uric Acid
    • Cholesterol
    • Urea Nitrogen (BUN)
    • Triglycerides
    • HDL
    • LDL/VLDL
    • SGPT/ALT
    • Alkaline Phosphatase
    • Total Bilirubin
    • Total Protein (A/G Ratio)
    • Creatinine Phosphokinase
    • SGOT/AST
    • LDH
  • Alpha Fetoprotein
  • Cancer Antigen 125 (for female only)
  • Carcino Embryonic Antigen
  • Carbohydrate Antigen 19-9
  • PSA (for male only)
  • HPV-DNA Test (for Female Only)
  • Pap Smear (for Female Only
  • Fecal Occult Blood Qualitative
  • Chest X-ray (PA)
  • Mammography
  • Breast Ultrasound
  • Gall Bladder
  • Liver
  • Kidney
  • Pancreas
  • Spleen
  • Prostate (for Male Only)
  • Colonoscopy
Inclusive of Professional Fees
(Net of Senior Citizen's Discount)
Male                 44,700
Female              49,400