I am now officially eligible to apply for British citizenship…but I am a proud carrier of a Philippine passport. I am planning on applying for UK citizenship though, if only for the ease that it presents when I do intend to travel to parts unknown because apparently you get visa-free access to 173 countries with a UK passport! Not that I’m a traveler but it would be good to take be able to take advantage of travel deals, to have the convenience of going on a mini-break to almost anywhere, if and when I can.
But until then, I shall have to renew my Philippine passport every 5 years.
I went to London today to renew my Philippine passport because my passport expires in June this year. I came armed with my tablet so that I could read my ebooks or work on work emails while I waited. Because there would be a wait. One thing that hasn’t changed much is the waiting in line in Philippine government institutions. The Philippine embassy in London isn’t any different. But as soon as I stepped through the double doors of the Philippine embassy in London on Suffolk Street it felt like being back home. You could hear conversations in Filipino and for some reason there was an aroma of steamed rice wafting all over the embassy!
I like to come prepared and I like to make sure that I prepare for every possibility (or at least, I like to think so!). Before I left for the embassy, I made sure I read and reread the instructions for passport renewal. Also, if you are applying to renew your passport, if you can, I suggest you print a copy of the application forms because, whilst there are forms that you can fill out at the embassy, it makes things move along quicker if you have all your forms filled out, your money ready, and your passport and other supporting documents available and in order according to the numbering on the forms.
You get to the embassy and take a name from the number thingmebob and wait for your number to be called. It was a bit of a wait because not everyone came with the right documents, or they didn’t have photos or they didn’t fill out the forms right, or they didn’t have the right forms. I guess, after filling out forms for my UK residency (there were pages and pages) I learned to prepare and pay attention to detail. Am not trying to say anything bad about my countrymen at all. I’m sure anyone who worked in an environment where I worked would make sure all the boxes that needed ticking would be ticked and all the i’s were dotted and the t’s crossed.
It took all of 5 minutes to submit my documents, get them inspected and me to make the payment. Then I was sent upstairs to wait to get my photo taken. They call you when your passport is ready for pick up so I had the rest of the day to spend in London.
I was horribly hungry so I went to my new favourite place to eat: Tokyo Diner in Chinatown. It’s a brilliant little space on the corner of Newport Street. The food is tasty and authentic and you get a small serving of Japanese rice crackers and bottomless genmaicha (brown rice tea) on the house. They don’t accept tips, by the way and prefer that you pay in cash. (They also give you extra rice if you ask for it…as much rice as you can manage!).
I ordered a tamago don from the lunch specials menu and waited for my food to arrive. And when it did, it was mmmm-mmmm good!
I did my usual people watching and noticed this beautiful and familiar blonde sitting in the corner of the restaurant. I thought she looked like Myanna Buring from Ripper Street and Downton Abbey. At one point, she moved to the table next to me. I noticed her looking at my food and when she ordered, she placed an order for the tamago don lunch special as well! I was certain she was Edna Braithwaite from Downton Abbey. I even did the creepy thing of taking a sneaky snapshot!
I sent her a message on Twitter to ask. And she confirmed that she was indeed Myanna Buring and that I should’ve said hi. Ah well! I didn’t want to interrupt what seemed to be me-time. One never knows whether you can interrupt celebrities these days.
And the celebrity sightings didn’t stop there. After having my late lunch, I headed back to Liverpool Street. I was early but all I had to do was hang around Liverpool Street Station for the direct to Harwich Town train that left 16:44.
I went to WH Smith to get myself a free drink (thank you O2 Priority!) and as I was walking back to the main central area of the station I heard a girl giggle heartily and the sound made me smile so I turned to look at where the sound was coming from. It was from a very pretty Filipina-looking girl in a black turtle neck paired with black palazzo trousers and chatting to someone animatedly on her phone. My jaw dropped. Two celebrity sightings in one day? I had to say hello to a fellow Filipino and one of the prettiest faces in country. So I turned on my heel and went to say hello to Dominique Cojuangco (Gretchen Barretto’s only child). Then I started to doubt myself. I may have just imagined that the girl was who she was. Also, I didn’t really want to act all stalkerish. Everyone deserves their alone time and I thought most celebrities enjoy time where they can be themselves and have time to their thoughts.
I did the usual and sent her a tweet and she did say that it her and I should’ve said hi.