St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral in Vigan, Ilocos Norte is also known as Metropolitan Cathedral or Vigan Cathedral.  The first Vigan Cathedral was ordered and built in 1574 by Juan de Salcedo.  The current church was constructed in 1790 and was finished in 1800.

It is located in front of Plaza Salcedo and  across the street on its right side is the Plaza Burgos and the famous Vigan Empanadahan.

It is surrounded with historical private and public buildings like Vigan Diocesan Seminary, Archbishop Palace where the Archbishop resides, Father Jose Burgos Residence, Vigan Municipal Hall and Provincial Capitol


Cathedral’s view from Plaza Salcedo


Facade View - "the facade features Chinese lion dog ornaments and above the main doorway is an alcove depicting the conversion of St. Paul"

Facade View – “the facade features Chinese lion dog ornaments and above the main doorway is an alcove depicting the conversion of St. Paul”


Cathedral's Bell Tower located across the street at Plaza Burgos

Cathedral’s Bell Tower located across the street at Plaza Burgos


Interior View - Baroque architectural design that has been modified by Ilocanos to strengthen the structure against earthquakes, now known as "Earthquake Baroque Design"

Interior View – Baroque architectural design that has been modified by Ilocanos to strengthen the structure against earthquakes, now known as “Earthquake Baroque Design”




How to Determine the Right Investment (My Toastmasters Speech Project No. 2)


This is a script for my Project Speech No. 2 that I delivered on December 6, 2013 at Al Liwan Suites during the fourth regular meeting of PICE-Qatar Toastmasters Club. This time, I was not able to use the Word of the Day and I exceeded with the time limit of seven minutes.  However, our General Evaluator of the day mentioned that I accomplished the objective of this speech which is to Organize your Speech.

How to Determine the Right Investment

Money is hard to earn and easy to lose, guard yours with care.

Mr. Toastmaster of the Day, fellow toastmasters and honored guests, a pleasant afternoon!

Am I right to say that we are all here in Qatar to work hard for money?

Is there anyone here who came here in Qatar not because of earning money?

But why do we need money?

The most common reasons for us are to fund the education of our children, to buy our own house, to buy a new car, to fund a dream vacation like a Europe tour or a Carribean cruise.  What else? To buy a luxury items, gold, diamonds or a latest gadget.

With all of these expensive dreams, have you ever thought of saving some of your money for your retirement? 

With the high cost of everyday expenses, it is so difficult to save right?

That is why we want to keep our savings in an investment that could beat inflation and boost the return of our savings.

With lots of offers and opportunities, it is very difficult to know which investment is the best.

Today I will discuss to you how to properly analyze the best investment opportunities.

I will tell you four criteria to consider and you will know what questions to ask, what things to look out for and things to avoid completely.

The first of these criteria is

  1. Security – we should know what is the level of security of this investment, meaning we want to know how safe our money will be if we invest in a particular investment specially if you have a small portfolio size.  We should be aware how much risk is involved in an investment.  A savings and time deposit are considerably safe investments while mutual fund and stocks have a higher risk involve.  But if you will invest your money in a stock market and the market falls down do you think you could still sleep soundly at night?
  2. Liquidity – It refers to how much access do you have on your money when you did the investment? If you will buy a piece of land as an investment with a forecast that it will increase in value.  Can you immediately sell this piece of land when you realized that something goes wrong in your investment?  Or you will be force to sell it a discount?  Savings accounts and time deposits are generally liquid because it can be withdrawn anytime.  You can easily sell your stocks at the current market rate but how much was it when you bought the shares? That is liquidity.
  3. Velocity – How fast can you take your money back with its earnings so that you can put that money to a new investment and acquire more assets that can produce more cashflow and achieve financial freedom faster.
  4. Profitability – meaning we want to know what is the projected return of investment over the period of time.  How much we are expected to earn, when we are expected to earn it and how soon we ware we able to get that money.

So that is how simple it is and as a quick review, the first criteria is to determine the security of that investment, meaning how safe is that money.  The second is to determine the liquidity meaning how much access to we have to it.  The third is velocity meaning we need to determine how quick we can get that money back.  And lastly, we want to determine the profitability meaning we want to know how much we are expecting to earn from that investment.

I hope this would help you in determining the right investment when an opportunity comes.

Back to you, Mr. Toastmaster!

Why am I here? (My Toastmaster’s Ice Breaker Speech)


Below is a script of my first Toastmaster’s Speech delivered on October 11, 2013 at Oryx Rotana Hotel during the first regular meeting of PICE-Qatar Toastmasters Club.  In Toastmasters, the first speech project is  called an Ice Breaker.  It has an objective of introducing yourself to the group and conquering your fear of speaking in front of an audience.  And yes, I successfully did it with a copy of my script in the lectern and within the time limit allowed. 🙂

Why am I here?

Mr. Toastmaster of the Day, fellow toastmasters and honored guests, a pleasant afternoon!

Before I prepared my speech, I did a scrupulous (it was the word of the day during the meeting, so I inserted it before I did the speech) research about the origin of Ice Breaker and I found out that in 17th century in the UK, there is an Ice Breaker ship.  During winter, the sea water often freezes.  So, before a ship could travel down to the trading port, a special ship called Ice Breaker went into the iced water to literally break the ice.  Hence an ice breaker is needed for them to get down to business.  Nowadays, ice breaker is a term use to establish a relaxed relationship in socially awkward situations.

Having said that and before I literally freeze here in front of you, I am here now to kick off my Toastmaster’s journey.

I am Asuncion Lopez and everyone calls me Azon for short.  I was born in the simple province of Bulacan.  I graduated with a Civil Engineering degree but my work experiences diverted me to Quantity Surveying career.

It was never part of my dream to live and work out of our country.  However, because my husband got a good job opportunity here in Qatar, it took a year for me to come up with a decision of joining him here in 2010.  After another year I realized that coming back and forth the Philippines every other month with my son staying in the Philippines and my husband here in Qatar is not a very wise situation, so in 2011 we also decided to bring our son here with us.

After another year had passed and I again realized that I am already getting bored in Qatar for being a stay at home mom, doing the laundry, cooking and cleaning the house everyday.  I was already tired of playing Farmville, chatting with all my facebook friends around the world.  Therefore, I decided to get a job and on January 2012 I started working again as a Quantity Surveyor.  This time, it was no longer in the busy streets of Ayala Avenue in Makati but in the desert land of the State of Qatar.

In last quarter of 2012, I started my studies on Adaptation Course through distance learning in my preparation for assessment of professional competence next year that would lead me to be a member of Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in UK.

The first time I heard about Toastmasters was only early this year when Filcom International made a very short presentation in our QS organization because having a good presentation skill is also important to pass the assessment of RICS.  I immediately became interested with Toastmaster however, our organization was not very eager to organize a Toastmaster club.

Toastmasters had crossed my way again when Filcom International made a Demo meeting for PICE at FCC where I was one of the attendees.  I believe being a Toastmaster is really part of my destiny.

Now, I am here as a member and Club Secretary of PICE Qatar Toastmasters Club accepting the challenges to overcome my fear in public speaking and further develop my skills in communication and leadership.


DFA Authentication of Documents

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Office of Consular Affairs-Authentication Division is pleased to announce that the following types of documents can now be accepted in all DFA Satellite Consular Offices (DFA-NCR East/SM Megamall and DFA­ NCR West/SM Manila) effective 01 JULY 2013:

1) NBI Clearance

2) Police Clearance*

3) Barangay Certification w/ Mayor Certification*

4) NSO issued documents in security paper including CENOMAR

5) Affidavits of Employment, Trainings/Seminars, and Baptism/Confirmation w/ Regional Trial Court (RTC) Certification

6) Other Notarized Documents (SPA, Affidavit of Support and Guarantee, Consent, etc.) with RTC Certification

7) Medical Certifications authenticated by DOH

8) PRC Documents

9) LTO License Certification (issued by LTO main office only)

10) Foreign Documents authenticated by the Philippine/Consulate or documents authenticated by Foreign Embassies/Consulates based in the Philippines

11) School Records (TOR, Diploma, Form 137, etc) w/ CHED, TESDA, or DEP-Ed Certificate of Authentication and Verification (CAV)

12) School Records with CAV issued by State Colleges and Universities

In addition, regardless of affinity, an applicant may send an authorized representative to apply on his behalf. Authorized Representative must have a valid ID and has to present a signed authorization letter or SPA from the applicant, a photocopy of applicant’s ID bearing his signature, and a photocopy of the authorized representative’s ID.


1. *Issued within Metro Manila only.

2. In case the document needs further verification, the applicant is advised to file at Authentication Division, Aseana Building, corner Bradco Ave., Macapagal Blvd., Parañaque City. 3. Liaison Officers of Recruitment Agencies are not allowed to transact authentication services at any Satellite Consular Office (SCO).

Reference: DFA Website


Procedure for OEC application in Doha, Qatar

This OEC application procedure also applies for working ladies under husband/father/family visa sponsorship, with or without labor card/permit


  1. 2 copies of employment contract
  2. 2 copies of passport
  3. 2 copies of visa stamp or Qatar ID (pataka)
  4. 2 copies of Sponsor’s Qatar ID – applicable for Household Services Worker (HSW) only
  5. Original Passport
  6. at least 160 QR


1.  Original Passport

2.  If you have new passport just bring the old passport for reference of your OEC stamp.

3. The Payment is 9 QR if your OEC is still valid.

4. PAYMENT FOR Pag-ibig Fund membership/premium (minimum premium QAR10 for 1 month)

PROCEDURE (for new applicants):

STEP 1: Present your original passport in the Reception Table. The Reception lady will give you the required forms to fill up, list of requirements and will direct you with the rooms assignments and procedure.

STEP 2: Proceed to “Room 1” for Contract verification. Get you queue number and wait for your turn. Prepare the Items 1 to 3 (and Item 4 as applicable) from the list above.  You will have to pay QAR40 as Verification Fee of the Contract.

STEP 3: Proceed to Room at 2nd Floor for OWWA membership. They will give you a form to fill up and submit. Then, you have to pay QAR93 for OWWA Membership Fee.

STEP 4: You have to submit the filled-up form provided at the Reception table from Step 1 with your original passport for OEC application. The OEC Fee is QAR9 (you may want to bring an exact amount as sometimes they don’t give change for QR10).

STEP 5: (Proceed to Ground Floor – SSS/Pag-ibig Office) Fill up a Pag-ibig Membership Application/Verification Form. If you do not know your membership ID Number, they will check for your Pag-ibig Number online. Then, you will be required to pay a minimum one quarter (3 months premium (QR30).  You may opt to pay a higher premium amount if you want or pay  for a whole year premium (minimum of QAR120 for 12 months).

Note: OWWA Membership is valid for 2 years but OEC is valid only for 60 days.  Your travel date back to Doha must be within 60 days (counting start from the date of your OEC application) or check the validity date written on your OEC. 



8:30 AM to 12:00 NN

1:30 PM  to 4:00 PM 

(Ramadan Timings 8:00am to 2:00pm)

New Location of POLO/OWWA Office

1622261_526528960794179_2022600515_n 1654185_10202073762779320_1176072274_n

Application Procedure for Labor Card/Permit of Husband Sponsors

Labor card or labor permit is being issued by labour department for all working women who are on family (father/husband) sponsorship.
It is mandatory by Qatar Labour Law of 2005 to have such permit for working women or otherwise it may lead to DEPORTATION &/or paying Qrs. 45,000/- riyals fine as per the said law articles.


  1. NOC from your husband/father that they allow you to work (must be in arabic). State your and your father/husband QID No., company name and position.
  2. Police Clearance Certificate – Get an NBI Clearance, have it stamped in Philippine Embassy and attested by MOFA. (for more detailed procedure on NBI Clearance Application, please click here)
  3. Your passport copy with valid RP
  4. Copy of educational certificates, translated to arabic and officially stamped by the Philippine Embassy, translated copy must be stamped by Ministry of Trade, then all to be stamped by MOFA. A copy of the medical license for doctors and nurses.
  5. Copy of current sponsor’s ID card (your husband or father)
  6. Previous permit (if any)
  7. Copy of Resignation Letter from previous employer (if previously issued a labor permit)
  8. A copy of the attested employment contract (with English and Arabic translation)
  9. Copy of corporate identity card or CR (to be provided by your employer)
  10. Personal photograph (2 pcs passport size ID picture)
  11. Fee – QAR560

Normally, we just have to provide the above documents to the employer and they do the rest.

However, if you will do it by yourself, you have to get a letter from your employer addressed to Labor Department stating that you are employed by them. Then, you have to go first to the Labor Office near Andalus Petrol Station. They will give you a set of forms. Take the whole set and go to CEID and get yourself finger printed.

Once that is done and you collect your reports after a week from CEID, go back to Labor and submit the set. You will get your Labor card on payment of Qrs 560.

Labor Card / Permit is valid for 1 year only and can be renewed every year.