actually, i intentionally put that to dismiss some people’s perception (including myself). it was pretty awesome and fast! well, from my experience today, at least. 🙂
i applied for a passport way back in 2008 and got my Machine Readable Passport for my training in India. it was very stressful because i was pressed for time. i never applied for a passport before because i never thought i’d need it. the ‘express’ processing then was 12 working days! so i actually missed the first day of the workshop i was attending because i had to apply for the visa afterwards and wait for that. hays…
anyway, after almost 5 years, i need to renew it for another workshop but it’s on October. my passport is only valid until march 2013 — within the 3 months validity required by the embassy for visa application but 2 months short of the validity required by most airlines. after advising with colleagues, i decided to schedule my renewal. i applied online for the schedule and i chose the earliest possible time i.e. today at 7:30 AM.
after a night of thinking, i decided to risk it and go through the visa application with my old passport. the following morning, i tried to cancel my appointment but the system wouldn’t allow me because it was already within 5 working days! and now, i’m really thankful that they have this system in-place that forced me to go today. 🙂 heehee…
i woke up 5:30 AM today in a rush so i could leave by 6 to hail a cab going there. by 6:10 i was on a cab going to DFA along Macapagal Blvd. near SM Mall of Asia. the cab took the longer but apparently more traffic-free route along EDSA and was in the DFA at around 6:35 AM — way earlier than the 7:00 AM they advised in the appointment schedule. and that’s a good thing! 🙂 manong driver dropped me off at the gas station because cabs weren’t allowed to pick-up and drop-off passengers around the gates of the DFA.
manong guard standing by the gate 3 entrance checked my bag and appointment/application form indicating my schedule at the top and let me in and pointed me to the checking station. 3 PC terminals were being manned and i was politely greeted by a lady on PC#2. her face betrayed the sweet greeting… maybe because she was sleepy? but it was a good start. (at least hindi ka sinisigawan o sinesermunan gaya sa PRC.) she pointed me to the waiting/processing area where another guard inspected my bag and form and let me sit on the benches. it was comfortable enough since you’re not standing up while waiting. the industrial fan was already operating in anticipation, perhaps, of the hotter noon to afternoon time and when more people will be coming in.
i think there was no more than 20 people in the waiting area when i got in. i think ate pointed me to the #2 processing area where the line was shorter. in just about 15 minutes, the room was filled with applicants who set their appointments for 7:30. soon, an employee in a cream polo-barong and a goatee started to describe the process, requirements, etc.
around 7:40 a man stood up and asked, in a loud voice, asking when the counters will be opened… when the DFA staff replied, “maya-maya lang po. antayin lang po naten,” respectfully. the man wearing a green striped polo replied back, “sabi niyo 7:00 AM andito dapat kami. on-time kami nandito. we followed your rules. dapat kayo rin.” or something to that effect. and he kept insisting that we start already. he even knocked on the employees assigned to the counters asking, “diba 7:30 dapat kayo nag-o-open? eh 15 mins na diba? bakit yung kabila nagpa-process na?” just as he was asking, the ladies on the other side of the counters rolled her window open and transactions began.
na-share ko lang yun kasi nakaka-inis minsan mga tao. yes, they should open on time because we follow the rules they gave. pero if you heard how he said his complaints, it wasn’t really respectful at all. hindi ka makiki-sympathize sa kaniya because even if he was right, there was so much condescension in how he spoke and treated the DFA staff. pwede namang, “Ser, baka pwede na naten simulan yung processing. madami-dami kami rito eh.” or something like that. hay…
back to my kwento: i have to say that my passport processing was really really fast and hassle-free! people were polite and most of them were in a good mood and smiling! it really pays to be early. 🙂
7:45 – counters open
7:50 – at the counter, processing/cancellation of old passport
7:57 – payment (Php 1,200.00 for ‘express’, Php 950.00 for ‘regular’)
7:58 – get number for picture
8:24 – picture/encoding
8:28 – LBC (for passport delivery)
8:31 – done!
i was lucky that there wasn’t any queue when i was paying. just like the first queue for the appointment, in a matter of minutes, what was empty became almost instantly a long snaking queue! i was number 31 (for picture-taking) and the guy who sat beside me was number 70 already and it was just 10 minutes of waiting! i thought to myself, had i arrived 10 minutes later than i did, maybe i could still be there until 9 or 10 AM just because i was waiting for my turn on the cashier and picture taking! 🙂
so what did i learn?
1. it really pays to be an early bird. good thing i’m a morning person and find waking up early not as difficult as some people. if you can, get the 7:30 AM appointment.
2. be quick. if i walked to the cashier like i was a float in the Rose Parade, it could easily translate to 10 mins of waiting.
3. come prepared. bring a pen and your documents photocopied already. and check if your documents are valid! apparently, though government-issued, NBI Clearances and Postal IDs are NOT accepted. good thing i was just for renewal, they only needed my old passport.
4. be polite! there’s so much hate in the world already. huwag ka na dumagdag. smile! and don’t forget the big C – courtesy.
now, i’m just waiting for my new passport to arrive. had it delivered via LBC na. i think it would cost me more than the Php 120.00 i paid if i had to go back there just to claim it. 🙂 how convenient! so to DFA and this new system, great job!