New PICQS Membership Domain

The Philippine Institute of Certified Quantity Surveyors (PICQS) has launch its new membership domain. The new domain allows the members to update its own personal details, upload a profile photo, update his completed cpd and structured trainings, renew the membership status by paying online the membership dues, download and print the digital membership ID, among other things.

To access the membership page and payment of membership dues, please follow the procedures below:

1.Click this link:

2. The link will take you to the Log in page as shown below:

Member’s Log-in Page

3. Fill in your username and password.

4. If you lost or forgot your password, click the “Lost your password?” button, which will take you to the screen shown below:

Lost your password?

5. Fill in your email address and click “Get New Password” button. You should receive an email message from admin@members.picqs similar to the message shown below :

Sample email message for resetting of password

6. Click the link provided in the email and create a new password.

7. Go back to the log-in page and enter your username/email and password.

8. Members are encouraged to fill-in/update the Members Details by clicking the “Settings”.

Fill-in the Member’s Details through the “Settings” tab

9. You may generate your membership dues by clicking the “Trainings” tab then click the icon of your Membership Level as shown below:

Click the icon of your Membership Level

10. For detailed instructions on how to pay online, please click the link below:

11. Once you have successfully completed the payment through paypal you will receive a 17-digit Transaction Reference Number as shown below:

Keep your Transaction Number for verification purposes.

12. To get a copy of your updated Membership ID, go to “Downloads” tab and print your valid digital PICQS Membership ID as shown below:

Download a copy of your digital Membership ID

13. For any other queries, please email

Astoria Palawan


Astoria Palawan is the second Astoria Property that we have visited among the six luxurious properties of Astoria Hotels and Resorts and so far, this property is my favorite. We were able to book two units of 1BR for three nights during off-peak season in September 2017.

The 56-square meter one-bedroom suite is very spacious and elegant. It has an ensuite living room and bedroom. It can accommodate four (4) adults and two (2) kids). Astoria Palawan is an advocate of responsible tourism and is proud to be one of Puerto Princesa’s greenest, most eco-friendly and sustainable resorts. The staff are also very friendly and accommodating.

When we visited on year 2017, the resort 39-meter infinity pool, karaoke and game rooms, and newly-built one-hectare Palawan Waterpark. Recently, I have heard that they have additional pool and the waterpark is now completely operational.


Astoria Palawan has 40 spacious private suites housed inside 13 leaf-inspired, wood-cabin villas as well as an annex building with 34 spacious rooms. The hotel’s rustic charm is highlighted in the way it is designed around the contour of the island so it is said that guests are guaranteed a tropical getaway of their lifetime.


If you wish to explore Palawan and experience having a great stay at Astoria Palawan, I am offering you our Astoria Holiday entitlement with the following discounts from the posted rates in Astoria Palawan website. The VIP accommodation package is also available upon request.

Length of Stay Discount
2 nights 15%
3 to 4 nights 20%
5 to 7 nights 25%

You may check the room rate of 1 BR Suite from Astoria Palawan website in the following link and apply the offered discounts above.  Rates may vary depending on your preferred dates.

Astoria Palawan website

If you find the discounted rates as a great deal, you may send your preferred dates to me for checking of availability from the reservation department. Once the availability of room is confirmed, you have to settle your payment directly to me for booking confirmation. I will then send your booking confirmation for presentation to the hotel reception when you arrived at the resort.

Updated: 22 December 2019

Daily Writing Exercise

Yesterday, I gave my students in HNC in QS a daily writing exercise to improve their writing skills. The instruction is for them to write any random thoughts for at least 10 minutes a day everyday up to the end of the semester. They have to post their writings to the class yahoo group.

While I am reading each post from the students, I got inspired with their stories. I noticed how some students struggle to write anything or even start to put their thoughts into words. However, it is obvious that there are students who are passionate in writing their feelings. Their stories inspired me to also write my own daily thoughts.  I realized it was already a long six years since I had my last post in this blog.

The main purpose of the daily writing exercise is to improve the smooth flow of thoughts in their minds and for them to learn how to express what they feel or think through writing.  I remember that it is one of the reasons why created this blog about seven years ago. Aside from being bored at that time maybe.

Starting today, I will also try my best to post my daily write ups here in parallel with the writing exercise of my students, which would conclude in the last week of April As what I have told to my students, communication whether through speaking or writing is not an inborn talent but a skill that can be develop through consistent practice.

I would admit that I was not really good in communication however, I am continuously helping myself to improve this skill.  I believed that good communication is one of the key to success in life and career. I have already proven the results of this improvements to my career and to our life.

Although, being good in English language is a great qualification to succeed, communication is not all about language.  It is about the ability to express yourself.

This is all for now and I will conclude with a quote that “Writing works like a muscle. The more you work it, the better you get at it.” Goodnight!

St. Paul’s Metropolitan Cathedral

St. Paul’s Cathedral is located in Vigan, Ilocos Norte. It is also known as Metropolitan Cathedral or Vigan Cathedral.  It was said to be the first Vigan Cathedral, which 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 OWWA and OEC application in Doha, Qatar

The membership to Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA) is mandatory for all Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who are then issued an Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) prior to departure from the Philippines. The OEC is worth Php100 if you acquire it from the Philippines or Qar9 if you pay at Philippine Overseas Labour Office (POLO) in Doha, Qatar. The membership/renewal fee for OWWA in Doha, Qatar is Qar93 with a validity of two years. The OWWA membership fee in the Philippines is set at USD25 or its Pesos equivalent. Yes, it is set in a dollar currency instead of our own currency. As of this writing the Peso equivalent at OWWA website is PHP 1,310.25 = $25 for April 2019.

In Qatar, Filipino working ladies under husband/father/family visa sponsorship, with or without labor card/permit as long as they can comply with the following requirements, may also apply for OWWA membership and secure an OEC. This would then exempt them from paying the Philippine Travel Tax, which is PHP1,620.00 (approximately $35.00) and the NAIA Airport Terminal Fee of PHP750.00 (approximately $17.00) every time they depart from the Philippines after vacation.

REQUIREMENTS for OWWA membership

  1. 2 copies of employment contract subject for verification process (according to POLO Doha website, any proof of employment such as certificate of employment, company ID, pay slip, etc. may also be accepted)
  2. 2 copies of valid passport (including original for presentation)
  3. 2 copies of Qatar ID (pataka)
  4. 2 copies of Sponsor’s Qatar ID – applicable for Household Services Worker (HSW) only
  5. accomplished OWWA Membership Form
  6. physical appearance (representative is not allowed)
  7. approximately Qar150 (Contract verifictaion-Qar40, OWWA-Qar93, OEC-Qar9)

PROCEDURE for Contract Verification:

POLO has an appointment system for verification of individual employment contracts of OFWs in Doha Qatar, which can be found in this LINK. The link provides the following procedure:

STEP 1 Please visit the POLO website at and click on Services and click on Appointment Online Booking. Fill-up the Electronic Application Form. Choose selected Date and Time for appointment with POLO. Confirmation will be sent to your email.

STEP 2 Print email confirmation of Appointment Booking and bring printout on the assigned date and time with the following Requirements to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) at this address: 20th Floor, Al-Jazeera Tower, Conference Center Street, Doha (Tower is beside the Ministry of Culture and Sports Bldg. across Shangri-La Hotel City Center). Only those with appointment for the day will be accommodated.

Requirement for Household Service Workers (HSWs)

  • Submit original HSW Employment Contract (employer should sign on all pages)
  • Two (2) copies of each document:
  • QID of employer (front and back)
  • QID of worker (front and back)
  • Passport copy of worker
  • Life and personal accident insurance of the worker issued by any insurance company in Qatar. Legal basis: Refer to Section10 of the model employment contract for household service workers (HSW)
  • Qatar Government issued Health Card

Note: For HSWs who arrived in Qatar under tourist, family or business visa/or for HSWs whose company work visa was transferred to domestic worker visa/or for HSWs who transferred to another employer, please prepare your AFFIDAVIT stating the circumstances of change of visa status or change of employer.

Requirements for Skilled, Professional and Other Company Workers

  • Submit original signed Employment Contract with attestation/stamp by the Ministry of Labor
  • Two (2) copies of each document:
  • QID of worker (front and back)
  • Passport copy of worker

Note: For OFWs who arrived in Qatar under tourist, family or business visa/or for OFWs who transferred to another employer, please prepare your AFFIDAVIT stating the circumstances of change of visa status or change of employer.

STEP 3 Upon reaching the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), fall in line at the Reception Desk, get your Number, and wait for your number to be called.

STEP 4 Payment of FEES. Verification of contract: QR 40.00


After contract verification and payment of OWWA membership, you may now pay the OEC fees.  However, you must have a separate online appoint for OEC, which can be acquired in this Balik Manggagawa (BM Online) website. The OEC exemption can also be acquired in the same link.

Note: OWWA Membership is valid for two (2) years but OEC is only valid for 60 days from the date you acquire it.  Your travel date back to Doha must be within 60 days (counting start from the date of your OEC payment) or check the validity date written on your OEC receipt, if you paid it manually at POLO office. 

POLO OWWA Regular Office Hours: 

Sunday to Thursday

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 is at 20th Floor, Al-Jazeera Tower, Conference Center Street, Doha (Tower is beside the Ministry of Culture and Sports Bldg. across Shangri-La Hotel City Center).


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.