Category Archives: North America

Best and Worst Passports to Have

Best Passports   Worst Passports

It is not surprising that Germany, Japan and of course the United States would be on the top list.

Sadly, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, Brunei and Malaysia didn’t make it to the top 20 best passports list, but that’s alright, for as long as they could access at least Canada, NZ, UK and the Schengen Area without visa restrictions.

No passport is perfect, since countries like Japan and the United States have burdens to get a visa to Brazil or even Russia, which is actually something that South Korean passports are blessed with: Visa-free travel to Russia and Brazil.

But then again, why is South Korea not even on the Top 20 list?

Hmmm… I don’t think pre-arrival visa to China should be a hindrance, but I think Koreans from the ROK are very lucky to have a passport that could send them to a lot of countries without a visa. Also, they’re part of the visa waiver to Australia and the United States, therefore it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Also, South Korea finally allowed multiple citizenship… but quota-based. However, they should adopt the “Ritenshon Shonin” in order for everyone to still have Korean citizenship in all aspects (so to speak, native South Koreans could still have Korean citizenship and American citizenship if they’re born in the US, and Koreans who were born in South Korea but naturalized in another country could still retain their Korean citizenship, and half-Koreans who are dual citizens since birth could still retain their citizenship no matter the cost will be–for as long as they’ll apply for permission to retain their Korean citizenship).

Also, if you’re a South Korean citizen, you could go to South America visa-free/visa-on-arrival, which American and Japanese passport holders don’t have (they both need visa to enter Brazil in advance).

Well, the only downside is that, South Korean passport holders cannot enter North Korea at all, since both countries are still enemies. South Koreans don’t really like going to North Korea at all, and they’re fine with it–as a matter of fact, many North Koreans who escape their own country fly to South Korea for good. Obviously, South Korea offers greener pastures and better quality of life, as opposed to North Korea.

By essence, South Korea officially recognizes North Koreans as South Korean citizens. If North Koreans escape from their home country successfully via the indirect route, this means that they become South Koreans for good. It’s a good thing that the ROK government resurrected its peace talk plans towards North Korea.

South Korea not making it to the top list… why?

South Korea is actually a latecomer when it comes to being one of the richest and the most developed countries in the world. It is one of the Asian Tigers, alongside Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Well, these Asian Tigers of course, has this freedom to travel without a visa. I really dunno why Brunei isn’t included in the Asian Tigers to make it five… hmmm…

Well, I just hope that South Korea will still develop its bilateral relations with other states so that South Koreans would travel up to 170+ countries without a visa. Speaking of which, it is possible that South Korea might as well continue its peace talks with North Korea so that South Korean citizens won’t feel tension with its rival state.

Other countries with travel freedom (but did not make it on the top list)

Australia, Greece and Iceland are the Western countries (though Australia is geographically a South-east country with a Westernized culture) that didn’t make it to the top list. It is surprising for Australia since its neighbor New Zealand surpassed it by making it to the Top 20. Other countries like what I have mentioned before (Malaysia, South Korea, Brunei, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore) also have this travel freedom reward.

To make the list… (check this list out if you want)

[Just remember, they’re not actually in order… hehehe]

1.) Liechtenstein – It didn’t make to the top list, but it still had the 100+ visa-free access.
2.) Israel – Though the Arab League is technically an avid “hater” of this country, this country rather is more rewarded than the Arab League states, in terms of travel freedom–it can access Japan, South Korea and the Schengen Area
3.) Mauritius – Surprisingly, this little island country in the southern part of Africa within the Indian Ocean allows its citizens to travel to the Schengen Area and Japan without a visa.
4.) Barbados – Same with Mauritius.
5.) Mexico – Same with Mauritius and Barbados, but what these three have in common is that their passports aren’t biometric (AWWWWWW…).
6.) Brazil – Though Brazilians need to enter Japan with a visa in advance, it could enter the Schengen area without a visa.
7.) Argentina – Same with Brazil, but its citizens could enter Japan without a visa.
8.) Chile – Same with Argentina, I think.
9.) Czech Republic – Of course, it’s part of the Schengen Area.
10.) Cyprus – Cyprus is fairly European, so to speak. And YES, it’s part of the EU.

So far, I base these things on how they could access the following territories (not necessarily ALL of them):

1.) European Union and the Schengen Area – Of course, to be fair this will include the United Kingdom and Ireland, and also non-EU member states such as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland (EFTA members, if not EU, lol). Eastern Europe is included if you’re talking about EU member states haha.
2.) South America – Visa-free access to South America is actually not-so bad after all, but once a country is rewarded visa-free access to ALL South American countries without a visa, this would mean that they have the same level as the Pope (well, almost).
3.) OECD member states (namely Japan and Israel) – If you’re one of the countries that could enter Japan and Israel without a visa (all of them), then you must be lucky.
4.) Countries with the most lenient visa policies (Philippines, Ecuador, Malaysia, Haiti, South Korea) – Well, Haiti seems to have the most lenient visa policy in the world, which will put Ecuador second to the list, and I’ll make a separate article about this one). Meanwhile, South Korea has eased their visa policies towards other countries (the Philippines is NOT lucky to be one of the countries that could access South Korea without a tourist visa, prolly due to the “Tago ng Tago/TNT” controversy–but when it comes to Israel, Filipino citizens could enter Israel without a visa at all), but there are some countries that need a visa to enter the Land of the Morning Calm.
5.) South Africa (and the rest of its neighbors) and the United Arab Emirates – Same thing with #3. No need to explain further.

Well, access to Vietnam, China, North America and Russia aren’t counted at all since it would be unfair to some countries included in the list. Remember, it’s actually very difficult to get a visa going to Vietnam (sources say), China (it’s easier getting a Chinese visa if you’re a Filipino citizen and China only allows 6 countries to enter its territory without a visa), North America (some countries need to access Canada with a visa, except if you’re coming from the EU/Schengen Area or a developed country in general; and the United States’s visa policies are much stricter compared to China) and Russia (ahhh… sources say it’s very difficult to obtain a Russian visa, but it still depends upon the country you’re coming from).

Worst Passports: Why Worst!?

It’s actually FAIR and JUST that China did not make it to the Top 20 WORST Passports list, even though it’s quite infuriating to possess a Chinese passport (just ask those Filipino-Chinese friends of yours who are not yet officially Filipino citizens, or their parents who are not yet Filipino citizens)–well, the reason why I’m saying this is because China, even though its citizens need to apply for visa to Ecuador and the Philippines, did not make it to the top 20 worst passports list is because at least it still has the “worth” in it. However, what makes it something not to be proud of is the controversial inclusion of its “disputed” territories which is of course possessions of Vietnam, Philippines and India. Also, China isn’t having a formal war with the United States compared to most Arab and Muslim states such as Afghanistan, Iraq… and you know the rest.

These countries actually restrict foreigners from entering their territories without a visa mainly because of the war that’s happening in their territory. I bet, countries that are actually having internal conflict cannot actually concentrate on bilateral agreements due to the fact that unending wars are still on-going. No wonder, South Korea actually didn’t allow its own citizens to enter these countries. The Philippines actually did this as well, to Filipinos who actually want to enter Iraq despite its status.

Well, these countries are actually having wars and conflicts, therefore the result: They can only access no more than 41 countries without a visa, which is actually more infuriating compared to possessing a Chinese passport.

Why is China not included in the list!?

I hate to say this, but even though China did not make it to the top list, other countries impose visa towards China is because there are a lot of illegal immigrants from China, despite its growing economy. Ecuador and the Philippines are imposing visas towards Chinese citizens due to the fact that everywhere, you see a Chinese person. Prolly at the end of the day, Filipinos might be the second largest ethnic diaspora next to China, or even surpassing them (unless the 1987 Constitution is burned to the pits of hell, haha).

Also, China imposes visa to other countries, which is actually more frustrating. Only six countries could enter China without a visa (Brunei, Japan, Singapore and Mauritius), but Wikipedia stated seven countries (Gawd, when will I stop relying too much on Wikipedia!?). Only diplomatic and official passport holders have the privilege to enter China without a visa, which is again, frustrating for ordinary passport holders.

Indicators of having a “good ordinary passport”:

1.) If a certain country has good diplomatic relations with other countries.
2.) Lesser numbers of an ethnic diaspora.
3.) Less people who overstay.
4.) Less people who stay illegally in a foreign country.
5.) Countries that have no internal conflict.

I actually do not buy the fact that the smaller and the richer the country, the more you could travel without a visa. Well, Barbados and Mauritius might not be as rich as the OECD founding members, but speaking of internal events in a country, it should be something that adheres with international standards.

What makes a good passport?


Visa requirements for British citizens


Visa requirements for Japanese citizens


Visa requirements for U.S. American citizens


Visa requirements for South Korean citizens

I have noticed that if you come from a developed country, you usually get lots of benefits if you are a citizen of the countries I have mentioned above. However, being a rich/not-so-rich but not-too-poor country doesn’t really mean you could already travel without any visa. I’ll show you more examples:


Visa requirements for Filipino citizens

Side Note: Even though South Korea has a lenient visa policy, the Philippines, however, isn’t included in its list in the countries that do not need visa to enter its territory without the visa, probably due to Filipinos “overstaying.” After all, I still consider a trip to South Korea a privilege.

And here’s the worst part…


Visa requirements for Chinese (mainland) citizens

This map shows that owning a Vietnamese or Iranian passport is even more valuable than owning a Chinese passport (most countries offer visa-on-arrival travel for Chinese citizens, only a few are willing to offer totally visa-free travel for Chinese citizens). Ah, the horrors of having 1 billion people residing in one big country… and overseas. But don’t worry, the mainland Chinese government is doing efforts to sign mutual visa-free agreement with other countries. Well, Filipino government officials should warn China that it should stop bullying the Philippines so that Chinese citizens could travel to the Philippines without any visa… like let’s say, for 14 days only.

Here, even though China is wealthier than the Philippines, Filipino citizens (like me) could travel without any visa in 58 countries. In the Philippines, you need to get a visa before travelling to other countries such as Japan, the US, China, Australia and of course, South Korea. As a matter of fact, only the privileged ones could afford getting visas.

Diplomatic Relations Matter


Visa requirements for Israeli citizens

If you happen to be an Israeli citizen… I have to warn you guys that there are some countries that despise your country. Hmmm… well, not saying that it is oppressive to be an Israeli citizen, but other countries view it as “occupied Palestine” since these countries that have an obsessive form of hate towards Israel are mostly pro-Palestine. It’s not the fault of Israeli citizens that some countries despise them, but the Israeli government is actually being oppressive towards Palestinians. I hate to say this, but if the Jews should have their own country, they should have been friendlier towards Palestine and Palestinians rather than oppressing them. Until now, there are some non-Arab people that has a negative view on Israel.

Though holding an Israeli passport has an oppressive side, lemme tell you that you have the opportunity of visiting most of South America, Japan and the EU/EFTA/Schengen Area at the same time–which means that holding an Israeli passport is similar to holding a Hong Kong and Macanese passport. Some Israelis might accept this fact, but some think that there should something be done in order to allow Israeli citizens to travel these states.

It’s a good thing that there are countries that simply impose visa rules towards other countries, rather than rejecting their passports. It means that they maintain good relations with one another, even though they bully other countries. For instance, China and the Philippines. Even though the Chinese government despises PNoy, they still welcome ordinary Filipino citizens to enter their country (provided that visas are already in Philippine passports). There is no such thing as “obsessive hatred” against each other, despite the territorial dispute controversy between China vs. its neighbors.

No wonder, I still look up to China despite being a bully country. Well, the reasons why the Philippines has good ties with other states and nations is because the Marcoses and former President Gloria M. Arroyo made efforts to make friends with different world leaders. Look at PGMA, even though she broke her promise with former US President George W. Bush, the USA and the Philippines are still allies. The yellow oligarchs cannot actually do that–you have to say something GOOD about the country and not bully the Philippines just to get close to them.

Best Passports have good diplomatic ties with other countries as great powers

Most countries in Europe and North America have the best passports mainly because they have the most stable form of government and has the power to exercise their policies to influence everyone. No wonder, many Filipino citizens opt to be dual citizens to travel without any restrictions. They may use their Philippine passport to travel towards the rest of Southeast Asia, but they’ll need their other passport to travel to Europe.

Worst Passports actually do not offer security and safety for tourists

Well, not all countries aren’t too dangerous for the traveller, but you see, political turmoil actually is a distraction to allow their citizens to enjoy visa-free travel. However, there are countries that really impose visas to almost every country in the world, that’s why in return, countries who suffer on their visa policies have their revenge (lol).

Conclusion

I have a question for you, guys. If you happen to be a dual citizen and your other country requires you to choose just one citizenship at the legal age, will you accept this fact or not? Why or why not?

Criteria:

1.) One citizenship of yours allows you to travel in 170+ countries yet requires you to choose one citizenship while the other allows dual citizenship but only lets you travel to just 60+ and below countries. (Or the other way around)

2.) If you actually need to apply for permission to retain your other citizenship to remain dual?

Origa’s Impressive Performance in Boston

Well, if you’re an anime fan, you might as well be familiar with Yoko Kanno–she’s anime’s top composer and of course, musician behind all these anime OST. She’s one of the reasons why I still love everything Japanese–but one of her singers captured my eye, and that is no other than Origa.

Yep, that’s right. Origa is one of Yoko Kanno’s partners in crime who has been contributing to anime for so many years and yet she is still EPIC!

First time hearing Origa speak in English! However… it’s a good thing she could still remember the songs that she popularized!

Another angle of the performance.

Her voice is still ethereal… and powerful at the same time! LOVE HURRRRR FOREVAH!

A rare music video of Origa’s Polyushko Polye

I cannot believe that Origa also has a music video of her songs… but yeah. It’s too rare after all.

STILL cannot believe that I’m still a fan of hers up to now. ;D

My condolences go to the Sandy Hook massacre victims


dailymail.co.uk/Reuters|President Barack Obama mourning for the deaths of the victims.

Another school shooting massacre is at it again. Well, this is much worse than that of Virginia Tech and Columbine massacre, because it involves mostly children.


telegraph.co.uk/ABC News|20-year old Adam Lanza is the identified gunman.

Seriously, carrying of firearms should be illegal already, except if you’re a policeman or something. It is really dangerous if you are like, opening fire on schools, I dunno with churches.

One thing I’d like to tell everyone: Safety cannot be maintained at 100%. Almost everything is dangerous and at the same time, unexpected.

I’d say that the USA is not as almost-perfect as Australia or Scandinavia. My condolences go to the grieving families.

Gadget dilemma and sales shenanigans in the Sinosphere!

If you’re going to shop in countries like Hong Kong or maybe Singapore, you’d rather do a lot of research regarding shopping tips FIRST before you ask the best and the most reputable shops there.

According to Roland Lim:

Avoid shops that have “Tax Free” sign prominently displayed outside or inside the shop. Another trait of these shops is that, most of them have famous brand names like “Canon”, “Nikon” or “Sony” prominently displayed in large signs outside the shop. However, you will be hard press to actually find the name of the shop anywhere. Legitimate and reputable shop would clearly display the actual name of the shop on the sign outside, not just Canon, Nikon or Sony or whatever famous brand. Most of these shops are found along Nathan Road at Tsim Sha Tsui area. These shops are usually scammers, where “bait and switch” is common . They usually have lots of sales person inside a smallish shop. The ratio of salespersons to shop floor area/clients would be far to high to be profitable if these were legitimate honest shops. There is no sales tax or duty in Hong Kong except hard liquor and tobacco anyway. The “Tax Free” sign is basically just a trap to attract unsuspecting tourist. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!


hkphotoworkshop.com|Don’t be too deceived on these lenses. Eye-candy, isn’t it? (Film cameras included!)


tvxb.com|If you’re going to Tsim Sha Tsui, this is the best shop, and so far the most reputable.


pentaxforums.com|Look what we got here! Wonder if this shop is reputable or not.


travelpod.com|Thanks jbilocca for the photo. I think this shop seems familiar to me.

Yes, I have ranted endlessly about this worst, traumatic experience ever. However, back in PH, I think it’s better to shop in your home country unless the product is not available in your region. If you’re going to ask me about shopping in the Philippines, the most reputable shop would be Infomax (TriNoma and SM Annex). Infomax is the elite version of Hidalgo (haha, never been there) since compare their prices to that of the brochure. If you’re going to analyze brochure prices, Infomax prices are quite lower, but not going to be dramatically cheap (LOL!).

Luckily, I am not alone in terms of sales dilemma in the Sinosphere.

So yeah, going to another sensitive topic again. It’s like asking Koreans or let’s say, mentioning anything “Japanese” or “Japan” with it (peace out!).

Apparently, Roland Lim’s advice doesn’t only apply for Hong Kong and Singapore wanderers. Maybe if you’re going to a shop that practices for-profit tactics, don’t ever come close to those. I’m warning you, don’t be to kiss-arse this time!

Several experiences with sellers who fool around:

acecardenas said:

I was at HK last June 11-14, 2010. I did a canvass around Tsim Sha Tsui area and found this store selling a very cheap Canon 10-22mm at HKD 3,500. I tested it and it has a flare when shooting it with lights. I tried shooting and shooting until they discourage me to buy canon 10-22 mm. The seller said efs lenses are made in Taiwan. I was not expecting that statement and then he elaborated and recommended the new Sigma 10-24 f3.5. However, the guy seem to know that I am fix with 10-22 so he suggested that he can get the Japan 10-22mm. I waited and tested the lens and it works so well, so good. So I ask him if its the same price. He said Japan is expensive HKD 5,600. So I haggle it down to HKD 5,000. In the end I was upset and did not buy and the guy keeps on shouting at me “p**t** in*”. To make the long story short HKD 3,500 was really a bait and a fake one.

BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE! BAD EXPERIENCE IN HONGKONG!

I hope you don’t mind me posting this.

Good thing nag-walk out ka dude! Gusto ko talaga gawin ‘yan! Promise!

To those who do not know yet, I should have not bought anything in Singapore. Yeah, I’d rather be empty-handed than end up with something I really do not like. HAHA, eh asa ka naman kung may kasama kang sipsip sa mga ganung tao! (Oh no!)

Okay, so what if something is Made in Japan and the EF-S is made in Taiwan? To make the story short, WE DON’T GIVE A FUCK about the country of manufacture. We don’t care at all, and I have tested the Sigma, pero nag-give up lang talaga ako kasi mataas talaga ang standards ko. This is the trait that even demure people won’t ever learn or develop.

Bait and Switch Tactic: So that’s why it’s better to go on a shopping spree in the USA

Article

It doesn’t only happen in Hong Kong, actually, and in Singapore. In every part of the Sinosphere, this bait-and-switch tactic is almost everywhere. If this happens to you, I advise, you’d rather walk out than end up for something you really don’t like at the first place.

At least, if you’re going to shop in the US, it would be more beneficial since people there are really very frank. Also, there are a lot of Filipinos there so you won’t get out of place (OP). An Austrian deviant *spike83 stated that he’d like to purchase his 5D Mark III in the US because of very high prices in his native country, but his only concern is the warranty (I know right?).

Again, if you’re going to the United States to go on a shopping spree, make sure that the place you’re going is definitely tax-free (please enlighten me American people!).

Wonder why I am telling you that the US is the best place? Okay, here’s the thing. If you’re going to buy in Japan, yes, it is granted that gadgets are cheaper there, however, you’ll only have two language options (English and Nihongo), especially if you’re a Canonican. Canon’s marketing strategy is very regionalistic, so you’d rather opt for the US instead.

Not to generalize the Sinosphere but…


cgena.com|Infomax — best shop ever.


letteshaven.blogspot.com|The cleaner environment of Infomax — LOVE IT!

I’ll make a separate article about Infomax. I really do recommend this shop to those who are not fans or haters of Hidalgo, Quiapo. Nyahahahah!

Angelina Jolie’s secret to skinniness: Diet pills!


from PerezHilton.com|Buttless Angie has boobs which doesn’t suit her frame anymore.

Now I know your dirty little secret you fish-lipped walking bamboo!

Yes, you were naturally slim, but now you’re just making it worse! You make yourself weird and the wild child in you reflects on your face: Fish lips, real blonde hair covered with dye, etc. well…

Lawl, 93 pounds for a 5’8″ figure? Sounds ridiculous. Better get your flat ass workin’.

Angelina Jolie, Angelina (Lou Bega mode)

Born in June 4, 1975 in Los Angeles, Angelina Jolie (Angelina Jolie Voight at birth) is the daughter of the late Marcheline Bertrand, an Illinois native, and veteran actor Jon Voight. She is the youngest of two siblings, as her brother is James Haven.

She is 5’8″, shoe size is 9 (US Female) and she’s left-handed.

Loves tattoos.

Is a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Obviously, she’s a humanitarian.

She was romantically linked with Johnny Lee Miller, Billy Bob Thornton and finally, with Brad Pitt.

Her kids are: Maddox Chivan (Rath Vibol), Zahara Marley (Tena Adam), Shiloh-Nouvel, Pax Thien (Pham Quang Sang) and twins Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline. Maddox is Cambodian, Zee is Ethiopian, Pax is Vietnamese. These kids were adopted from their respective home countries. Meanwhile, biological kids like Shiloh was born in Namibia while the twins were born in France.

Everyone’s comments

A.) She’s a saint.

Saint!? LAWL if she were a saint, why did she have this past life as someone who was dark, and who was doing all shit that no one wants to do, eh? Angelina may seem to be a hypocrite, but she never ever was fake-ass.

B.) She’s an overrated homewrecker.

Overrated? Yeah. I would believe so. Homewrecker? To be honest, it was Brad who made the decision that he’ll separate with his ex-wife Jennifer Aniston, ‘coz Jen didn’t want to have kids. Angelina had no choice but to accept Brad’s offer.

Any future for Angelina?

She’s now a producer and a director. Well, let’s see what she’s got there.

Steve Jobs passed away at the age of 56

What will be the future of Apple, Inc. without Steve Jobs as the creative genius behind the success of everyone’s favorite iPod, iPhone and Macs?

Steve Jobs peacefully passed away at the age of 56, due to a rare form pancreatic cancer.

One time, when I was inside the classroom, I heard a classmate wondering if Steve Jobs is gone. I didn’t believe that at first, thinking that it is only some prediction. Well, as soon as I went back to where I’m based, I looked at the Internet, and since I’m a Mac user, it is natural that the Apple website will appear. As soon as the website appeared, a picture of Steve Jobs was there, and two years. True, that is. He’s gone.

Everyone has lost a creative genius, an idol that everyone really admired for his good works in Apple as the CEO. That’s right. He was a really inspiring dude who, although didn’t have hardware or software training, did everything to please everyone with all those innovations.

He is everyone’s loss, actually. Even those who do not own a Mac, or at least own an iPod is mourning and sending condolences to his friends, family and of course, those who knew him very well.

He’s not only the founder and CEO of Apple, Inc., but he also co-founded Pixar.

Who is/was he, anyway?

Steve Jobs is born in of course, in the United States, but he is half-Syrian. He doesn’t actually talk about his personal life that much, but he was given up for adoption and he didn’t recognized his daughter (who was born out of wedlock) Lisa until the right time came. According to gma.yahoo.com (Good Morning America @ Yahoo.com), he is energetic and lively until he was diagnosed of pancreatic cancer.

Like Bill Gates, he didn’t finish college. He even delivered his speech about his experience when he dropped out from college.

He was the greatest reinventor, but truth is, he’ll always be recalled as an innovator.

He is one of the most famous people I knew who died this year, 2011.

Apple after Jobs’ passing

What would be the future of Apple without the physical presence of Jobs?

His legacy will still remain embedded in Apple. The iPhone 4S was the last gift that he gave to Apple fans. Hmm… that new cool thing is like, a sign that he’ll be gone soon. Well, I’ll talk about, “The Greatest Signs before Loss.”

Of course, those who work in Apple will never fail him. Everyone trusts them, although there would be no cool guy who’ll guide them. It’ll take time for them to move on from his passing, alright.