Dec 26, 2010

Passport 101 for Dummies (like me)

International travel has never been in my mind, much more the application of a passport. But my recent embrace to travelling dictated a need for one.

I have been known, or I always expect difficulties when it involves my birth certificate. Six years ago, I have these nightmares of attending court sessions just to correct a few entries in that document.

Last year, I tried to set an appointment via the DFA's Online Passport Appointment System. The date given to me fell on a weekday and I was reluctant to take leave from work. Manya Na habit, I know. So that was a chance foregone.

Fastforward 2010, I am browsing pictures of friends who visited foreign lands. At the same time there are lots of tempting seatsale. Plus, the call of mountaineering. This passport matter has to be resolved this year once and for all.

I visited the DFA website often to slowly digest the procedures. I set an appointment for myself and my mother who wants to renew her expired passport. She got an earlier appointment than mine, while I got a December 16 appointment.

A major reason behind why I always delay applying for a passport is my fear of encountering complications when it comes to my requirements. Since I have that newly acquired resolve, I armed myself with every possible document that I can provide them when needed. Had they asked for more documents I am afraid I cannot provide them with any and it will be a culdesac situation.

I arrived in DFA Aseana around fifteen past 3pm, an hour earlier than my appointment. Since they only let inside those with appointments within 30 minutes, I decided to have a stroll and explore the area (parang nasa bundok lang). I found an S&R store behind the office building, and went inside to take a snack. Which is I am thankful that I did because I have no idea it would take me a bit more than four hours to complete the entire process.

pizza love

I ordered New York Style's Garlic Cheese Pizza (php89). I didn;t expect it to be quite a mouthful, but I still managed to devour it to the last morsel. Glad I didn't order the apple pie I have been eyeing when I got inside the store. 

After (over)eating, I went back to the DFA building to get inside.  First, you need to wait outside the main building, in a line while sitting on plastic benches. Ooooppss... I forgot to have my papers verified so I entrusted my seat to another and had my papers checked on the DFA database. Afterwhich I went back to my seat.

long wait

The wait was a bit long, but it is well organized so it is tolerable. Plus that it is late in the afternoon so no more scorching heat for me. After about 20 minutes of wait, we were finally ushered inside the main building.

still on queue

Inside there are still lots of passport applicants on queue. This is the first step, the Documents Verification. The verifiers will check your documents like the application form and the valid IDs. Then they will decide if you are eligible to be processed. This streamlining will eliminate waste of time when people pay then found that they don't have the necessary documents. 

empty chair

I am one of the few who were on the last of the line. Seeing the long queu in front of me, I can also see the few more hours that I will need to complete this whole application process. Upon reaching the counters, I saw that one verifier was being harsh to an applicant. When assigned with a counter number, I saw in the next counter an applicant was being scrutinized for her documents submitted. When it was my turn, I was a bit surprised at how courteous the verifier was, and how she asked me no questions on my complicated situation, me having a foreign sounding name which requires a lot of documents like parent's marriage certificate and proof that I am a Filipino citizen, and how my name was misspelled in the birth certificate and all. All the complications that was holding me back previously, was now zapped in an instant??? Can it just go away like that, people ignoring it? Well I'll be damned. This is just my luckiest day. Plus I was complimented for having organized all my requirements with proper labelling, hehehe. Must be the clothes I wore, I went there wearing my office attire and the verifier read out loud my job position. It is not much, just enough to solicite politeness and courteousy on her part.

pray be seated...

I was instructed to pay at the cashier on the second floor, and have my details encoded and picture taken. After paying at the cashier, I proceeded to the courier services because I opted for my passport to be delivered. Then I got a number for the waitinglist of applicants to be processed. 

my digits

I waited more than 2 hours as there are more than 500 applicants ahead of me. I stared blankly on the computer screen announcing the numbers for processing, and regretted at the same time that I haven't brought a book with me. The next best thing was the ebook stored in my cellphone, the ever so unfinished "Lolita" by Nabokov. I passed time trying to read it. 

When it was my turn, they made me remove my colored contact lens! I wore blue that time and asked them jokingly to put in my details that I am blue-eyed.

I finished around 8pm. I asked around on how to get to EDSA northbound. Afterwhich I decided to have dinner on Robinsons Pioneer with my fave Mongolian in mind. At the bus I decided to try the cafe that I was eyeing for quite some time now. This is for reward for overcoming a task that I keep on delaying.

it's Thursday so there's Banchetto

Tokyo cafe at last!

You can read my Tokyo Cafe experience here.

1. Be there an hour before your appointment.
2. Don't bring any food. It is not allowed inside and will be confiscated upon entrance. Eat first before going inside.
3. Don't forget to have your papers verified first before queueing.
4. Be extra polite to the people inside.
5. Get a number first upon arrival at the second floor, before paying the cashier and proceeding with the courier.
6. Don't wear colored lenses.
7. Bring enough money.
8. Bring a pen.
9. Most important of all.... choose the earliest appointment possible. In my case, the 500+ applicants were accumulation of earlier appointments.

No comments:

Post a Comment