Friday, January 09, 2009

Some observations about my day at the DF@

1) Yesterday I had another appointment to get my passport renewed.

2) Getting up at 5 am on a chilly, rainy morning isn't pleasant for someone who likes to sleep in.

3) Thank the heavens for good taxi drivers who know shortcuts to get to our destination. He had the foresight to avoid morning traffic on Edsa and took us through the narrow roads of Caloocan all the way to the Pier area and miraculously emerged on Roxas Boulevard.

4) Due to abovementioned taxi driver, I was at the DF@ a tad early for my 9am appointment.

5) The email confirming my appointment time and date said to proceed directly to Gate 2 at 9am.

6) By 8:45am I was already seated on one of those benches along with a massive sea of people from all spectrum of society awaiting my turn to get my papers verified and evaluated.

7) When it was my turn the lady at Counter 12 told me I needed to go to the basketball court, counter B to have my papers verified. Then return to Gate 2!

8) If that is the case, shouldn't the email specifically state that I should proceed to Counter B instead of Gate 2? Ugh!

9) By then it was raining heavily but it was just across Gate 2 so I made a mad dash towards the basketball court to queue in front of Counter B.

10) The lady at Counter B takes a look at my papers and tells me I should go to Gate 2. What???!! I lashed out at her that I was instructed by lady in Counter 12 to have my papers verified at Counter B.

11) She keys in my details on the computer and stamps my picture then tells me to go to Gate 3.

12> Instead I return to Gate 2 and wait YET again at Counter 12 where a whole bunch of people were ahead of me now.

13) Some DF@ official sees my email and tells me I should queue at any of the counters 1 - 4 for appointment applicants.

14) Fine by me since the lines are shorter there.

15) At Counter 4, this time a guy upon checking my documents tell me I should go to Counter B first. Once again I lashed out that I just came from Counter B for Pete's sake! So I didn't budge.

16) He processed my papers. I noticed that he took the original copy of my NSO authenticated Marriage Certificate and stapled it along with my other documents. Good thing I requested for 2 copies from the NSO.

17) I told him I wanted my passport released after 7 working days, he issues a receipt and tells me to proceed to the Auditorium for the payment and the encoding step.

18) There are several signs leading to the Auditorium so you won't get lost.

19) First you go to the back of the auditorium to pay P500 for 14 working days or P750 for 7 working days.

20) Then you line up at the end of a very very long queue where at any point in time you need to get up, sit down on a chair and repeat the process several times as you inch your way to the front.

21) You sit and observe the surroundings, the other applicants, eavesdrop on some conversations as you can hear your stomach grumbling. You fidget with your documents, you try not to spill out the contents of your huge bag as you search for that last piece of Strepsils.

22) Once you are in front of the encoder, you need to open your eyes wide and check if she has filled in your details correctly. You sign here and there. Then get up with a piece of paper and you get up on stage.

23) Yes it is actually a stage! There are two authoritative guys in barong who tell you to stick your left and right thumbs on a ink pad and get your fingerprint on that final document.

24) There are no wet tissues or napkins of any kind on that stage so you end your passport application sojourn with black ink on both of your thumbs. Nice going!

25) The stress, the fatigue and the hunger from the almost 2 hours ordeal all faded away when I saw the smile on my husband's face. He insisted on accompanying me on his only day off and poor thing had to stand in the rain. Hopefully he won't have to endure 2 hours when he applies for his own passport, next week. Being a government employee, he can avail of the courtesy lane.

Some tips if you are going to apply for a passport or have your passport renewed:
1. Proceed directly to the entrance. Do not entertain any of the barrage of fixers outside who hound you endlessly.

2. Be sure you have all the correct documents. Photocopy every singe I.D that was issued to you in your lifetime.

3. Never trust the information on their official website. Call their hot line several times and specifically ask what are the requirements. For instance, the need for a NBI clearance isn't stated on their website but when I called their hot line I was told that first time applicants need one.

4. Wear comfortable shoes that can withstand long lines, heavy downpour and slippery surfaces due to wet floors. I made the mistake of wearing my wedges to look more 'presentable' and ended up with wet feet.

5. Do bring a small umbrella which you can use to protect you from the harsh rays of the sun or that sudden heavy rainfall.

6. Do not listen to people seated beside you asking if you have a photocopy of any i.d.! You will just end up panicking that you weren't able to photocopy your voters i.d. To be safe, follow my tip # 2.

7. You are not allowed to bring anyone with you unless that person is also going to apply for a passport. Your companion will have to wait outside the allowed areas.

8. You can have your passport delivered to your residence or office through a number of messenger services. They can be found at the basketball court across Gate 2.

9. Be very very very patient!

10. Keep a positive attitude unless provoked by unreasonable counter staff!

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