Archive for July, 2009

My friend, who is currently based in Dubai, stumbled upon the website of  Visa Governor, a company that promises easy entry to the UK through student visas. At first, we tried to verify the authenticiy of the company. Their website looked “authentic”. They have business addresses in London and supposedly legitimate phone numbers. I tried calling their office from Luton, Bedfordshire but there was no one answering the phone.

I told my friend about it but it did not raise alarm bells in our silly heads. So, she went ahead and sent the money they required for them to mail her all the sponsorship documents that my friend needed like a sponsorship letter, their bank statement, school and work documents, etc – to which I agreed. Their way of doing business, according to how we understood their instructions is like this: they screen each online applicant based on the details the latter gives. Once they are satisfied, they inform the applicant that they are qualified to apply for a student visa.

Then, they ask the applicant to send them 48 sterling pounds for the mailing expenses of the documents the applicant allegedly needs to submit to the British Embassy wherever they are in the world, for visa processing. My friend and I were very excited. Alas! it was not to be that way for long.

When a letter came from Visa Governor, all that my friend saw inside the envelope was a 3-page incomplete bank account statement and nothing else. How in the world will my friend apply for a student visa with that document? She was supposed to apply as a student, with an assured school placement and job placement arranged by this fraudster of a company!

My friend has joined some social networking sites where she exchanged notes with other Visa Governor applicants. So far, none among the Filipinos who applied that she “met” in these sites have been successful with Visa Governor. There are at least two who said they were successful but they did not share how they did it. I think they were just planted there to contradict the complaints, but in reality are not successful applicants.

My dearest friends and kababayans, please be very careful. Even if we say that coming here to the UK through a student visa is very common nowadays, look for the right agency. If you have money, you can even apply by yourself, just look for the right school for you. You will save a lot on agency fees.

By the way, I checked Visa Governor with two business verification sites to check if the addresses in their website (two London addresses were cited there) are actually legitimate. In both instances, the addresses are true and correct but VisaGovernor did not come up as one of the businesses in any of these two addresses.

If Visa Governor turns out to be a legitimate company, then I am prepared to apologize. I would be very happy if they can prove me wrong – by actually making good on their promise to their clients, that they will help and sponsor them to come here.


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I am a vegetarian and has been one for a decade now. Except for taking iron and calcium supplements, vegetarianism is not at all burdensome to me. In fact, I feel that I am healthier, more fit and less prone to sicknesses now that I rely more on plant foods for sustenance. I don’t miss eating my favourite tocino and longanisa and the pork fat in sinigang na baboy.

But the other Sunday, I was so tempted to eat meat that I myself was surprised. And more surprisingly, it is meat that I myself cooked. Yes, you guessed it right, adobo it is!

Adobo is an all-time Filipino favourite. In fact, it is the national dish of the Philippines, and rightly so, because it perfectly represents everything that is Pinoy. From its simple yet savoury flavour to its deceptively unappealing appearance, it is truly Filipino.

For one, it is a dish that evolved in the same manner and at the same pace as the nation itself. It started as a dish that was simply cooked in salt and vinegar. But the influences of the Chinese, Spaniards and Americans all converged to make the Filipino adobo into what it is now.

Even a mile away, when a Filipino smells the distinctive adobo flavour, he would know what it is that tantalizes his nostrils. The unique blend of the meat (pork and/or chicken), soy sauce, vinegar and the spices, creates a scent that evokes the happiest of memories about home and the families we Filipinos in foreign lands left behind.

Tempting, Tantalizing Adobo

Tempting, Tantalizing Adobo

And so that particular Sunday, I cooked adobo for our churchmates – the best yet that I ever cooked of this dish. For more details, you might want to read it in HotMomma. And so it came to pass also that day, that I was tempted, for the first time in 10 years, to eat meat. Maybe because it was adobo.

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