The World (TRAVEL)

Singapore 2022: First International Travel since the Pandemic Started

Whew! After all the things that happened in the past (almost) three years no thanks to the pandemic, it was a breath of fresh air to finally travel again! 🙂

This trip was actually my fourth visit to the Lion City, which is another term for Singapore (my last was in 2011 — more than a decade already!). Of the 23 countries I’ve been to, Singapore was actually the second country I visited when I was still young (the first was Hong Kong).

If you knew me pre-pandemic and when I was still single, you’d know that I loved (emphasis on the past tense LOL) to travel. But A LOT has changed in both my personal life and “travel” life since then, if I may say.

My last international trip prior to this was in Japan in 2019.

In 2020, I got married in February and gave birth in December (relax, my son was conceived in wedlock — just do the math! haha). And oh, the first lockdown in the Philippines happened the following month after our wedding!

In 2021, I was still adjusting to my new roles as both a wife and a mother, as well as still getting used to the “new normal” — so no, I wasn’t really in the mood to travel.

Fast forward to this year, 2022, well, the world is slowly opening up again as more and more people get vaccinated against COVID-19 and safety measures ease up. And yes, Singapore was probably the first and nearest first-world country to the Philippines that welcomed travelers again. However, traveling isn’t as easy as before because of the additional requirements. Luckily though, when we went to Singapore, COVID-19 tests and quarantine weren’t required anymore (both in Singapore and the Philippines) as long as one already has a booster shot (yes, the primary series or first/second doses aren’t enough). Having said that…

Here are the travel requirements to Singapore, as of this writing:

Of course! No one can travel abroad without this! I’m just including this here because me, my husband, and my son just had our DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) passport renewal/application appointment less than a month before this trip. Despite the odds, we made it! Our passports arrived on time. Haha!

But if you’re Filipino, I suggest you book an earlier appointment at DFA before your trip because their schedule is quite tricky. *hint, hint*

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination (certificate with QR code)
For Filipinos vaccinated in the Philippines, this is what we call the VaxCertPH. If you got vaccinated in another country, that’s okay as long as you can present a vaccination certificate with a QR code (the vaccination card or ID isn’t sufficient).

*Visa (depends on citizenship)
Just like any country, a visa is required *depending on one’s citizenship and/or purpose of travel*. For Filipinos like me, a visa isn’t required to enter Singapore for tourism purposes thanks to the ASEAN agreement. 😉

Airline tickets
Once you have proof of vaccination, you may already book any flight to and from Singapore.

TraceTogether app
This is Singapore’s tool for their contact tracing. You need to download this before you arrive at Singapore, but you can only activate it once you’re cleared by Singapore’s immigration.

Arrival card
This is a digital version already which can be accessed on a website or app (unlike in the old days when they hand out paper copies during the flight). This needs to be submitted as early as three days before your arrival in Singapore.

For more information, you can always check out

Easy peasy, no? However, once you’re in Singapore and you have a toddler in tow — that’s a whole different ball game (I’m speaking from experience! HA HA HA). Let’s just say that you need to think twice if you will travel abroad with a toddler! Or just wait until they get older. 😛

Kidding aside, I’m still grateful I was able to travel with my husband, son, and family. I believe that this was a blessing from God and despite the challenging nature of our trip, I still brought home not just unforgettable memories but also life lessons that will be with me for a lifetime.

Sooo. Where to next? 😀


“And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.”
-Luke 13:29

*FAITH, Down Memory Lane, The World (TRAVEL)

San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy: St. Padre Pio’s Sanctuary

September 23 is the day the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. It was also on this day in 1968 when he joined our Creator and became a more powerful intercessor. 🙂

He’s known more as Padre Pio (and personally, I prefer to call him St. Padre Pio! Hehe!). Two years ago, I had the privilege to visit his resting place in San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy (which was four hours away from Rome by land travel – train-walk- and bus), where his incorruptible body also rests.

I wasn’t able to write about that experience in detail (with the exception of my photo blog – check out “Euro Trip 2018 Highlights: Italy and the Vatican”), but for some special reason, I’ve been called this year to finally recall the details.

As you read on my previous blog entry, I’m currently pregnant and I had a hard time during my first trimester due to nausea/vomiting, etc. It was an excruciating and frustrating time; I even lost around 6 lbs. then because I couldn’t eat and drink properly. During one of those days while I was in bed, I scrolled through the photos on my phone. Then, I saw this:

my “prayer letter” to St. Pio in 2018, written while inside his former tomb

I totally forgot about this “prayer letter” I left in San Giovanni Rotondo when I visited St. Pio‘s place! In 2018, two years before I got married and pregnant (my husband Ish and I weren’t even engaged then), I was already claiming and praying for our “future godly family” and my “healthy and safe future pregnancies and child birth” — like woah! It was like the Holy Spirit gave me a wake-up call and reminded me that everything was, is, and will be fine. As St. Pio used to say, “pray, hope, and don’t worry.” Of course I asked and continues to ask for his intercession, and I’m a witness to how powerful his prayers are.

In James 5:16, it is said, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” Read the last line again, and I can say it very much applies to St. Pio! No wonder he’s a favorite among fellow Catholics! 😉

If you happen to be in Italy, I highly suggest you also pay his place a visit. Here’s how to get there:

“Approximate price” is in Philippine pesos (PHP)

  1. From Rome, go to the Roma Termini train station.
  2. Buy a train ticket going to Foggia (this will be a 3-hour train ride).
  3. Once in Foggia, travel by foot to the Foggia bus station (this will take around 10 minutes).
  4. Buy a bus ticket going to San Giovanni Rotondo.
  5. When you’re on the San Giovanni Rotondo-bound bus, relax for 30 minutes because in no time, you’ll finally arrive at St. Padre Pio‘s sanctuary!

Upon stepping down the bus, you’ll be welcomed by these awesome sites:

the church-shrine of Padre Pio in San Giovanni Rotondo, Foggia, Italy

I went with my two ates! And yes, I miss traveling with them!

the church altar where St. Pio said his last Holy Mass

St. Pio’s confessional box, where he usually already knew the confessor’s sins even before they were spoken

As a bonus, there are also two other important relics inside the church-shrine:

relic of St. Teresa of Calcutta inside St. Pio’s church-shrine

relic of St. John Paul the Great inside St. Pio’s church-shrine

As a devout Filipino Roman Catholic, I remember that whenever a Saint’s relic would be toured in the Philippines, people always flock the place where it’s displayed — even queueing for hours! But in St. Pio‘s church-shrine, there were no long lines! The place was really quiet and sacred, that’s why I really suggest that if you’re already in Italy, take the opportunity to travel to San Giovanni Rotondo. Sure, it may take a whole day in your travel itinerary, but I can assure you that it’s definitely worth it!!! 🙂

St. Pio, pray for us!

St. Pio of Pietrelcina, PRAY FOR US!


SPECIAL FEATURE: The Travelers, The World (TRAVEL)

Featured Traveler: Youmi and GEORGIA

As a continuation of my travel blog project (which started all the way back in 2012, wherein I feature different travelers who have been to unique destinations OR have unique experiences in familiar places), I’m featuring someone who has been to a Eurasian country that has that Eastern European charm without the costly Schengen visa– and- Euro combo needed when one wants to travel to Europe — I’m talking about my friend, Youmi, and her trip to the enchanting country of GEORGIA (not to be confused with the U.S. state). 😉

Youmi in Chicago, Illinois, USA

For those dreaming to travel to Europe, Georgia may not be part of the Schengen states, but it’s a good place to start! It’s a country that’s half Eastern Europe and half Western Asia, making it unique already because you can be in two continents depending on what part you find yourself in. And for Filipinos like me, applying for a Georgian visa is easier than the traditional European Schengen visa because it can be applied online (e-visa) through Very interesting, indeed!

So, let’s get to know more about Youmi, her travel background, and her life-changing trip to Georgia! *hint, hint*

“I started traveling around the Philippines only and I enjoyed it so much, so I thought, ‘What more if I travel to other countries?’ That’s when I tried to go to Hong Kong where the nearest Disneyland is located. After that, traveling to other countries became part of my ‘goals,'” Youmi said when asked how her love for traveling started.

As of this writing, she has been to a total of ten (10) countries outside the Philippines: 🇭🇰🇲🇴🇬🇪🇺🇸🇸🇬🇰🇷🇲🇦🇲🇨🇯🇵🇼🇸 — can you guess what these flags are? 🙂

In Georgia, the major places she visited were Tbilisi, Narikala, Gudauri, and Signagi…

flea market in Tbilisi

Georgian bread worth 1 Lari – the official currency of Georgia (around Php17)

various artworks sold in Narikala

Georgian wood art

free amusement at Mtatsminda Park

Old Tbilisi

Georgian National Museum

inside the Georgian National Museum

Old Tbilisi


Wine World in Signagi

food and drinks at Wine World

Bodbe Monastery in Signagi (the main religion in Georgia is Christianity, under the Georgian Orthodox Church)

snow in Signagi

…her most unforgettable experience, though?

It was in Georgia where Youmi got engaged to the love of her life, James! ❤

Mtatsminda Park – the place where James asked Youmi to be his wife!

Gudauri ski resort (located at the Greater Caucasus Mountain Range) – where Youmi experienced her first now, with her engagement ring to boot!

Youmi and James in Georgia

As someone who has been through that moment” (a.k.a. a marriage proposal) most females dream of, I could imagine how Youmi felt! Each engagement is unique and special, and I pray for a great marriage for these two all the days of their lives — which all started in Georgia! They actually got civilly married there, which required notarization from the Georgian Consulate in Manila in order to be recognized locally… no worries, though. The couple planned a Christian ceremony anyways! Life-changing, no? 😀

What started in Georgia will continue as Youmi lives her life as a wife and mother. She plans to travel to more places, including her dream destination, Iceland (mine, too!), because for her, “Travel is freedom. It is my breather. I travel when I want a reset in all the stresses I have in life. I also travel when I feel that my life is becoming routinary. I travel to live fully, to learn in every place, and to allow the world to shape me in becoming the best person I can truly be.”

Her quick- and-easy travel tips are:

  • Research and plan for your trip
  • Pack less (because less is more!)
  • Get good shoes and walk everywhere if you can
  • Go with no expectations (inconsistencies/surprises are part of the experience)
  • Buy and try new things — something that will make you remember the place

So what are you waiting for? Georgia is a beautiful country and after Youmi‘s sharing, it automatically became part of my “countries I want to travel to” list — I even have a hashtag in mind already: #GeorgetteInGeorgia WAHAHAHAHA! 😛

❤ ❤ ❤

*all photos in this feature are from Youmi herself

For more of my other featured travelers on this blog, click HERE.