Although Filipinos are found in 200 countries, the United States remains a land of milk and honey for many of them. Thus, when a news report came out that the State Department announced on Monday of a new policy that could be life changing for Philippine residents, many were happy.
The report said Washington removed the Philippines from the list of nations allowed to enter the U.S. without obtaining a visa. The new policy was supposed to take effect immediately.
The no visa policy, it said, was a reward from Washington because of the flattering results of the 2013 Global Attitudes Project of the Pew Research Center that 85 per cent of Filipinos said they have a favourable view of the U.S.
It said the U.S. would add to the list of 25 countries that do not require a visa from Filipinos, which means they could stay in mainland U.S. for 60 days, thus excluding Alaska.
To prevent the crash of the U.S. embassy phone system, the embassy ask applicants to download a biographical form and submit it to be accompanied by a 2x2 colored selfie photo one week before their scheduled trip to the U.S.
If the story appears to be too good to be true, it's because it is a hoax, a satire made by the satire Philippine news site The Adobo Chronicles whose tagline "The Best Source of Unbelievable News" should be the giveaway not to take seriously what is written on the Web site.
While Filipinos who hope to see snow were dashed, what's real is there's a plan by Japan, which also has snow, to widen its visa-free scheme to citizens of its three neighbours in Asia - Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The plan seeks to make the Land of the Rising Sun a tourist destination for Asian travelers. Expected to be implemented in June 2014, the easing of visa restrictions aims to bring 20 million foreign tourists yearly to Japan.
Tokyo initially eased visa restrictions for Thai and Malaysian tourists in July 2013 which boosted by 61 per cent to 630,000 the number of visitors from the two Asian nations in the second half of 2013, increasing the country's tourists to 10 million for the first time.
The 20 million foreign visitors target of Japan is set for 2020 when Tokyo hosts the Olympic Summer Games.
Japan used to be a favourite destination of Filipino entertainers which spawned a lot of half-Japanese, half-Filipino children called Japinoys.