Surviving Passport Renewal

I’ve still got 10 months left on my current green passport but decided to renew it anyway just to be safe as I will be traveling in December to January and don’t want to encounter any hassles when I enter a country in January with exactly 6 months validity on my passport.

I was warned by Julie and Jeannette of the horribly long line and wait for the processing so I came armed with a bottle of water (which went unnoticed by security), some snacks (again unnoticed by security), a magazine, and my Ipod.

Traffic at EDSA was really bad and it took me all of 2 hours and a half to get to the new DFA Consular Office along Macapagal Ave which was right on the route of the MIA-611 bus.  Got off the bus and headed straight to the gas station beside it as I really needed to pee badly.

Large canvass tents had been set-up outside where you wait at the area assigned to your schedule, in my case, 10:30am. There was a huge crowd but everything seemed orderly as security guards helped keep everyone in place.  What is it about public buildings that serve citizens’ needs that don’t seem to be built functionally?  This was a new building and the people in charge of it should have known by now that there would be huge volumes of people filling it.  Shouldn’t they have put a really large holding area inside rather than set-up those tents outside where it’s steaming hot and humid?  Surprisingly, everyone seemed to be well-behaved without the usual shoving, pushing, and line-cutting even when the queue started and everyone transferred from one seat to another which really was such a primitive way of forming a queue.  The DFA should invest in an electronic queuing system so everyone can just wait for their number rather than playing musical chairs.

There were only about five windows processing the documents which made for a sloooooowwww and long wait.  It did not help that the guy seated next to me kept on shaking his leg and running an update now on then on the queue (in Filipino), “The line is so long….  why is it slow…. we’re almost there… ”  I wanted to tell him that craning his neck and talking to himself will absolutely not do the line any good and he will be better off playing some game on his mobile phone.

By the time I got to a window, I had choreographed 3 Zumba songs, scored about a thousand points at Word Mole,  eaten half of my cheese-stick, and was ready to faint with hunger. It took less then five minutes for my documents to be processed as I was just renewing my passport.  Others, particularly first-time passport applicants, weren’t so fast.  Others had to present several documents with the DFA officers asking them a lot of questions, one guy on the window beside me was told that he needed to show at least two documents on the list given him, and so forth.

Everything was quicker after that.  I paid the Php 950 at the cashier on the second floor then had my photograph and signature taken then paid for the Php 120 delivery fee— all done in about thirty minutes!

Back at the ground floor, it took about 20 minutes to get Rhoda’s passport at the releasing section.

The procedure is actually really quick and uncomplicated.  What really took long was the document processing.  They should have more windows open considering that the processing isn’t as quick as one would hope it to be, especially with first-time applicants.

It was past 1pm by the time I left the DFA office and headed to MOA for a really late lunch.

May I Suggest:

1.  A bigger INDOOR space where people could wait comfortably.  Yeah, a passport seems to be privilege rather than a right, but could we at least have a little dignity and peace while we await that privilege?

2.  More windows servicing the document processing.  This is the cause of that really long wait.

3.  An electronic queuing system so we don’t have to play musical chairs.  We can just sit in an air-conditioned place and wait for our number to flash on the electronic board.

Categories: THICK THOUGHTS, THIS CITY CALLED HOME | Leave a comment

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