Category Archives: United Kingdom of Great Britain

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?

Premierminister Margaret Thatcher hat gestorben

Naaahhh… that is “Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died.”

Pardon mein Deutsch, however, even though I used German for the title itself, Frau Thatcher is actually a Briton.

She died of a stroke at the age of 87.


abcnews.go.com

She pioneered on what it is called as “Thatcherism,” which is a form of neoliberalism that supports the workforce. She is also known as the “Iron Lady” of British politics due to her conservative-authoritarian political beliefs.

After all, I’d say that she was the older version of Frau. Dr. Angela Merkel. Die Kanzlerin, on the other hand, is the “Iron Lady” of German politics, known for her strong-willed personality and charisma.

From gma.yahoo.com:

She pushed for privatization, lower taxes, and deregulation. And she sought to keep Britain from surrendering any of its sovereignty to the European Union.

Exactly, as it is. Her style of governing the British economy at her time is often viewed as “Reaganomics” in the United States of America. No other Iron Lady would do that like her. After all, she nailed it!

CGMA should have been like (the former) PM Thatcher, yet the former is actually more self-important and an exploiter compared to the latter, who is authoritarian, yet managed to bring Britain’s glory and had a great relationship with former US President Ronald Reagan and former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev (dudes, it’s GOR-ba-CHAWFF). She was also known to be anti-communist like former Polish president Lech “Weinachtsmann” Walesa.

If the UK had her as a strong-willed leader, Germany also has their very own Frau Dr. Merkel who is even more strong-willed but remains low-key.

PS: She’s the “Daw Suu” of Europe.

Pitcairn Islands: The Beauty in Isolation

If I were to be asked, I’d love to live in an isolated area… somewhere far away from civilization. When I found out about the Pitcairn Islands, I was hoping if I would survive there…


urbantitan.com|Flag of the Pitcairn Islands

Its capital is no other than Adamstown, oh yes, it’s the capital and the only village in the territory itself. Believe it or not, its population is roughly 48. Imagine that. You basically know one another in just a single speck of land (it’s actually four islands, including the uninhibited Oeno, Henderson and Ducie) and that’s it.

The main island, known as Pitcairn alone, well… it has a hospital, post office, police station, prison, school, church and a convenience store. It has all the most basic of all amenities everyone could imagine.

It has only has harbor, known as the Bounty. It has NO airport (take note: It’s too difficult to build an airstrip in Pitcairn alone, although Henderson island was taken into consideration) — you have to go to Mangareva in order to access Pitcairn (yes, from your country, you go to NZ, then Mangareva) if you want an airfare via NZ.


Courtesy of paulandruthontherock.blogspot.com|Pulau School, the only school in Pitcairn Island.


Courtesy of young.pn|This is the Big Flower, I think. Dunno if this is an inn or a hotel, but never mind.


Courtesy of paulandruthontherock.blogspot.com|Pitcairn’s Heath Center and Hospital

Check out for more informative accounts HERE.

In fact, the Pitcairn islands, aside from being one of the most isolated areas in the world, happens to be the most underrated, in terms of exposure. Surely, you have Tristan da Cunha and Socotra as other examples of isolated places, however, Pitcairn Island is so far the most intriguing and the most mysterious of them all.


panoramio.com|St. Paul’s Pool, a natural site in Pitcairn.

I’d say that, I’d create a book about the Pitcairn islands one day. Also, I’d like to document all my adventures there, and yeah, will encourage everyone to err… stay here! Haha!

Well, if I have the money, I’ll certainly visit that place.

Why I regard Björk as one of the best singers in town

Bjork is one of the raspy-voiced singers with exceptional talent — she does not only sing, but also, she could also imagine something really exceptional — unlike other singers, she could actually sing about nature, politics, aside from simple love songs; an she could pull that off. You cannot imagine Lady GaGa or maybe Ke$ha doing the same thing.


Singing Oceania in Icelandic


Bjork in Atta Raddir, an Icelandic TV show


Bjork expresses her love for country — Icelandic pride!

Bjork moved from her native Iceland to the United Kingdom to pursue a solo career after she became part of the Sugarcubes. One reason why I admire Bjork in some way. She really made Iceland placed on the map — just like these artists/celebrities:

Charlize Theron – South Africa
Amuro Namie – Okinawa, Japan
Regina Spektor – Russia
Heidi Klum – GermanySophia Loren – Italy
Marion Cotillard – France
Kylie Minogue, Nicole Kidman, Hemsworth Brothers, Miranda Kerr – Australia
Pierce Brosnan – Ireland
Natalie Portman – Israel
Greta Garbo – Sweden
Audrey Hepburn, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Robert Pattinson, Alex Pettyfer, Orlando Bloom – UK
Famke Janssen – The Netherlands
Milla Jovovich – Ukraine
Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz – Spain
Salma Hayek – Mexico
Shakira – Colombia

Other artists:

Asia Argento – Italy
Audrey Tautou – France
Franka Potente – Germany
Ivana Baquero – Spain

The Uniqueness of Bjork Gudmundsdottir

Bjork is very unique. Call her “weird,” but she’s not as mainstream-ish weird like Lady GaGa, or maybe retro-cutesy like Katy Perry, or maybe trashy-punkish like Ke$ha. Bjork is an experimental singer — she is a definition of an artist.

Right, Justin Bieber?

When she sings, she talks about nature (Oceania, Biophilia songs, Nattura), politics (Declare Independence) and patriotism (Joga). Also, she also does storytelling (Bachelorette, Isobel).

Now what’s even very special about her is that, her weird costumes and out-of-this-world music videos (mostly directed by Michel Gondry) really make her stand out, and imagine that the Japanese really loved her so much that she’s hailed there (you know naman, Japanese people embrace weirdness).

Also, you won’t question it if Bjork wins an award due to her uniqueness — no other artist could pull off the avant-garde style that Bjork has.

When I was in high school, I would usually defy the social norm of worshipping mainstream popular music by rather leaning onto Bjork, Chick Corea and Yoko Kanno. Amy Winehouse is also included. Yeah, I really do not like mainstream music after all, except when you listen to Lady Gaga or maybe Japanese composers like Junichi Nakatsuru (the real legend!).

Unfortunately, Bjork is not that popular in the Philippines. Her target is usually countries that have first-world standards — countries that do not simply lean onto pop music alone. Singers alongside her only target first-world countries which is really even sad because third-world countries cannot even at least, try to understand her a bit. They would rant out and think that “No, this is not music! These are all… messy.” If you think that Bjork is nothing, why can’t you ask music critics? After all, they could really choose Bjork over Willie Revillame.


Cross-over between weird and mainstream

Overall, I think that Bjork is really fantastica!

Well, it makes me want to tackle about Icelandic culture.

My Reaction about Bjork’s Biophilia Album


Credits from resistconformity.com

This is the album where most of her songs are partially recorded in iPad. Alright, please don’t take this personally but I know there are some Bjork fans who are waiting for her new album, Biophilia.

She may be underrated in the Philippines, but her most famous songs during her time are really awesome! Yep, I really love her style of music, but Biophilia really… didn’t impress me at all. The lyrics are quite descriptive and yes, it was predictable. Unlike her songs “Bachelorette,” “Joga,” “Oceania,” “Declare Independence,” “Isobel,” etc., they were as cool as how most Scandinavian artists promote their own music. But now, this album didn’t impress me at all. I don’t know why, but I think it’s way far from artistic, or maybe her own unique style is fading out. But the music of Cosmogony’s okay, good.

I love Bjork when it comes to her own unique style. Compared to Lady GaGa, parang lagi siyang bihis na hindi parang naka-bikini lagi. That’s how I love Bjork in terms of costume. Not revealing at all, actually.

Bjork’s unique beauty isn’t about the face value. She doesn’t age, actually. Whatever you see her on TV, she still doesn’t change, until now. Actually, I want her to collaborate with Amy Winehouse before since when I was in sophomore high school, they were both my idols in music and yes, they both live in London. Sayang talaga. They would’ve been a good collaboration since Bjork is an experimental singer while Amy Winehouse is more of jazz, soul and R&B. It would’ve been much better if Bjork did have a collaboration with Amy Winehouse.

Yes, if you think ‘di sila bagay, take note: Their voices are unique. No one could ever have a natural voice like Amy Winehouse nor the powerful vocals of Bjork. Eh, kung ngayon lang siguro na puro sigaw lang si Bjork, kung dati ok pa ‘yun. Yep, I think Bjork’s singing style is starting to fade. I didn’t like the album, actually. 😦

Johnny English: Reborn

SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this if you don’t want to be diagnosed with hydrocephalus. It’s much better if you rather not read this movie review AT ALL.

I watched the movie in SM The Block. Guess what? The first Johnny English was better. I don’t really know why, but the plot is rather killing only one villain rather than ALL those villains. I was so disappointed of the outcome of the film is because, Rowan Atkinson is already old. Well, in my case, that’s my point of view.

Plot:

Johnny English was on Tibet… for training. As the movie runs through, there are three men who were part of the vortex who plotted to kill the president of Mozambique. It may be Johnny English or Simon Ambrose who are involved in the case. Well, that’s all I could think of.

Critique:

I wonder if he’s gonna be knighted once more if he doesn’t use his brain if that old woman is some sorta villain, or someone else. I really didn’t like the plot is because, it was really less than I expected. I think the first one did impress me is because it’s all about the country of Johnny English as he captures a Frenchman who is gonna seize the throne from the queen.

I would give the rating a 3, over 5.