September 29, 2011
DFA Consular Office
Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard corner Bradco Street.
The cab come to a stop.
I look out the window and I see a lot of people milling around.
I psyched myself up by saying “It’s now or never!”
I faced the cab driver and paid him. Yes, with a hefty tip.
I go down and proceeded to the nearest gate.
Gate number 3.
I was about to ask the security personnel about where I should when a sign on the gate said “For those who have an internet appointment they should enter through gate number 2.”
With the heels of my leather shoes clicking on the pavement, I proceeded to search for the said gate.
After locating gate number 2, I looked down at my watch. It’s 1:oo pm and my schedule is at 2 pm. Should I cross the street and grab something to eat at McDonald’s?
“I am physically required to be at here by 1:30 pm. I have less than 30 minutes to spare!”, a debate ensues in my brain.
I decided against it and entered. It’s always better to be early than late. Besides, I don’t like eating in a hurry.
I now face the security guard while he checks my appointment “print out” that was emailed to me on the 8 days prior when I set my appointment. He then points me to a table where my appointment was to be verified.
After the verification officer pointed a laser gun at my paper, I had to ask him where to go next. “The first door on the right.” was all he said.
I proceeded and was blocked by a security guard. He checks my print out and says (in Tagalog) ” You’re due at 2pm. Go and take a seat first by the waiting area on the benches marked 2 PM.”
I look over to where he pointed.
There, seated under a tarpaulin tent was a long line of people sitting ; waiting for their appointment.
I let out a deep sigh and proceeded to find my place in line.
The waiting game has begun.
If you are a Filipino citizen, I’m sure you have already known for quite some time that the Department Of Foreign Affairs has “updated” the Passport application and renewal system. All you have to do is book online at http://www.passport.com.ph/ or call The DFA Passport Appointment System Hotline at telephone number 737-100 to book a date.
Here are my tips on how to survive a grueling day having your passport renewed:
1. Just make sure to bring the necessary documents that you were told to bring and make sure to PHOTOCOPY them before you get there. I have seen so many people lose their queue because they had to rush to the photocopy area to have some of their documents copied. The line is just as long!
2. Be physically present at the DFA consular office 30 minutes prior to your set time. Once your schedule has been set they will tell you this.
3. You are not allowed to bring any beverage or food inside the consular office. Make sure you had something to eat before going! Make sure you’ve peed or pooped! Make things easier for you.
4. Be observant. Read all the signs that you see. Ask the security personnel if you are in doubt, DO NOT ASK YOUR FELLOW APPOINTEES! They know not what they tell you and they are only there for themselves.
When I was looking for a seat under that hot tarpaulin tent, I didn’t know that there was a line. I sat down on an empty seat. I got a lot of heat from some women who said that I was inserting into the line. Here’s what I said, “Pardon Me. I didn’t know there was a line. At this point I don’t give a shit where the line starts and ends. There was no need to be bitchy about it. Please proceed to the door if you want to go ahead and wait there” I stood up, put my tan leather bag over my arms and proceeded to the benches marked 3 pm. There I relaxed and continued observing people while no one was violating my air space.
5. The line will be non-existent once you proceed to the payment area . You get divided and mixed up on your way to the second floor after your documents and passport has been checked by the documents verification officer on the first floor. There are three cashiers and one line. Its Php 1200 for an expedited passport service (10 days) and Php 950 for regular passport service.
Once it’s your turn, The security personnel will tell you guys to stand up and proceed to the STEP 1 windows on the first floor. It’s still quite orderly UNTIL you are to proceed to the second floor for the STEP 2 of the process. Payment of passport.
My passport has just been cancelled and the guy asks me, “Would you like to have your passport process expedited?”
“YES!” was my all out reply.
After watching him repeatedly stamp various things on my documents, he gives me my papers and tells me to proceed to the cashier on the second floor. upon exiting the building, I asked the security personnel where to proceed. He told me to go to the third door all the way at the end.
I stood in line upon finding the door that would lead me to the cashier. Then this young lad stepped in front of me.
“There’s a line.” I said.
He looks at me and goes, “I know and I was behind this guy in front of me the entire time.” He stands there while my patience starts to simmer. He then starts talking to the girls behind me. I knew what they were trying to do.
With my patience running thin, I turned to the girl behind me and said, “Would you like to stay in front of me even if I was here first?”
“We were together the entire time.” was all she said.
“At this point I don’t give a shit who’s with who. I was here first.”
Just about then, the security personnel let us all in.
6. If you see people falling in line and being all chummy and saying things “We’ve been together the entire time.”; DO NOT FALL IN LINE WITH THEM. They are people who are being handled by travel agencies. Once you get to the second floor, go straight to the main entrance and proceed to the cashier for your payment. If you follow their line, you will end up sitting outside waiting for their other companions to catch up.
7. After paying proceed to Step 3, The Encoding and Photo Capture Area, which is like “12 inches away” from the cashier. This is the point where everyone will end up. It doesn’t matter if you set your appointment via the phone, the internet or through an agency. You have to get a number and wait for it to be called.
When I got my number, I started looking around looking for the electronic board to see what number was being called. To my horror, I saw the number 3109 flashing.
I looked around and realized that there are more than 80 encoders. This will definitely take a while.
8. Bring a book. It will keep you company when you have to wait for 400 people to be served before you.
9. You can pay for your passport delivery service at this point. It’s only Php 120.