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8/03/2008

My DFA Adventure

Cassie's passport is expiring on February 2009. I read DFA's website and found out that I can have the passport renewed if: 1) expired and 2) will be expiring the next year.

In short, Cassie is qualified and she doesn't have to be physically present because she is 6 years old. They require personal appearance for only 9 years and above. It states that , in case of a minor, the application shall be processed by either one of the parents of the applicant.

So I filled up the computer generated form - available online pdf format, and signed for an appointment via internet.

The day after, I received an email from the DFA, confirming my appointment and all I have to do is print out the confirmation letter and present it to the guards at DFA.

Confident as I was, I went to DFA with my brother, who also is renewing his passport. Our appointment states: 1pm, proceed to Gate 2.

Going to Gate 2 is not easy... We had to go thru lots of by-standers and fixers, trying to catch our attention and making us believe that we are not doing the right thing. But I was very sure of what I was doing, we headed off. As soon as I reached the guard, there were no queues at all. He asked for my appointment letter, and checked my application form and pictures, he said, "ok, kumpleto ito", so I was allowed to enter the bldg.

We entered a big airconditioned room and saw this in front of me: 1:22pm


and behind me:



Behind me were I think about 60 seated people on queue. There were 5 windows addressed to attend to these people, and I belonged to this group, (sigh). We were all holding the same forms, with appointment numbers, and were expecting to have our final steps to have our passports renewed.

I was relieved to find out that I belonged to the group with lesser queue because the people on the first picture were those who were asked to come back a couple of times and had to present more documents to have their passports processed. Ang dami palang walang passport sa Pilipinas...

This is from where I was seating, waiting for my turn. Not bad at all...



At 1:50, my brother was done with the First Step. I wasn't. (Another story) The processor gave him a receipt, and told him to pay for it at the Auditorium.

This is the Auditorium:




We were shocked when we saw this. But the guard led us to the "payment" booth, which is at the far end of the room. There were no queues. We paid for his passport, P750.00 for expedited or express - 13 working days (that's expedited already)...

After the payment, he was seated at the last row. This last step is the "Encoding". Wherein they get the fingerprints and signatures, for the final printing of the passports. There were about 30 computers and encoders in this room and I noticed that the waiting is not that long... At least people were all seated comfortably in an airconditioned room.

I left my brother in the auditorium to have my own journey...
And this is the "other" story...

At the first step, I was asked by the processor to present my passport because I am the accompanying person of the minor applicant. And since I am stupid, I didn't bring mine.

I called up all my friends who has "contacts" with the DFA and they were all out of reach. Until I finally got hold of Kulasann, who has a cousin who works at the DFA and she said I could ask anyone around and they would lead me to where her cousin works. So I did. His name is MM. I asked all the guards where his office is, and they all told me to go to the Main Lobby, and proceed to the basement. The Main bldg. is in Roxas Blvd., I was in Libertad. I wanted to cry... But I was quite determined to finish the task in one day, I went to see MM. Going to his office was quite challenging because I had to deal with very difficult guards. I had to project like a "VIP" so as not to be treated the way they treat applicants. It's sad because the guards were very arrogant. Good thing they fell off my stance... Times like these, my acting skills are excellent!

I finally saw MM. He was kind, accommodating, but a little unaware of how passports were issued in their department. It is because he is the head of the Transportation Division and he is not into Passports. I told him what my problem was, and he said, I'll try to help you but it's out of my hands, but still, I'll try. He did... But, no can do... He said - "Go back to the processor and beg. She will talk to her Supervisor and maybe they'll make arrangements on how to accommodate you without showing your passport."

Much to my dismay, I had no choice but to beg. I had to fall in line again to be entertained by the processor. When it was my turn, I had these built-in "have mercy" face. She then made me talk to her supervisor, Mr. MC, and I was accommodated in no time! He signed my application form, and told me to give it back to the Processor, pay for the passport, and go back to him without lining up again... My "have mercy" face worked!!!

Mr. MC endorsed me to an encoder and was acted upon instantly. I thanked him and he gave me a very sincere "you're welcome" smile.

We went to the basketball court to have our passports picked up by the courier service so we don't have to come back to DFA and claim them.
We paid P100.00 to LBC.

By 3:30pm, we were done... And I had blisters on both of my big toes...

1 comment:

Sienna said...

Jin! Grabe to! I remember when I had to get all my papers together for migrating to the US. As in grabe. Reading your post brought back all the horrible red tape we went through (and all the people we paid siempre.) I remember staying in line at the embassy starting from 7 am till 5 p.m.