Red tape. Inefficiency. Long queues. These terms come to mind whenever I need to go to government offices to process something. I dreaded those places. I don’t actually mind falling in line and waiting because my alma mater (PUP – Pila Uli, Pila) has prepared me for such. It’s shelling out extra money that I don’t like. However, my recent experience has changed how I see the bureaucracy.
You see, I was at the Department of Foreign Affairs last week for my passport application. I was actually supposed to be there a month earlier, but I found out that the National Statistics Office had no copy of my birth certificate (that’s another story), so I had my appointment rescheduled. A few days before my appointment, a Facebook friend was complaining about the application process at DFA. His exact words were, “DFA sucks!” Well, this didn’t make me excited, but it made me realize that I really needed to go there as early as I could. (Read the rest of my adventure after the jump.)
|Image is from this site.|
Using DFA’s online passport appointment system, I was able to secure a schedule last Friday at 9:30 a.m. I had to be at the Aseana office 30 minutes before my appointment according to the reminders given, but I went there at 8:00 a.m. After showing my application form, I was asked to stay in the waiting area. At around 8:30, a DFA personnel prepped us applicants on the process. Some had to leave the line because they had no photocopies of their requirements, so I had the opportunity to move forward. Hehe.
Before 9:00 a.m., I was already inside one of the rooms for the first step, where this DFA guy checked if my requirements were complete. This, waiting included, took only about 15 minutes.
Then, I had to go to the second floor for my payment. I paid 950php for regular processing, which means that I would get my passport after 25 days. I had the option to pay 1100php to have my passport ready in two weeks, but because I will not be going out of the country anytime soon, I didn’t take it. That was the second step, and it took less than 5 minutes.
The third step took the longest time. My queue number was 1455. DFA officers (I think there are a hundred of them) were serving applicant number 1300-something. I thought I had to wait for half an hour, but I was surprised that my number was flashed on the monitor after only 15 minutes. In this process, a DFA personnel encoded my personal details on the system, making sure that everything is accurate. Then, he took my photo for my passport. The guy had trouble tilting my head for the camera. He must not have realized that I have an asymmetrical face. Hehe. I was with him for about 10 minutes. Then, I was done with everything. I left the building before 10 a.m. That was so much earlier than I expected! I was even able to come to work in the afternoon. It saved me from filing another vacation leave. :)
For an additional fee of 120php, I could have had my passport delivered, but being a cheapskate, I skipped it. Now, however, I realized that I will have to spend more when I return to DFA to get my passport when it’s ready. :(
I am still not a fan of the bureaucracy, but this experience made me realize that there is hope. Thus, for the Department of Foreign Affairs and its passport application system, this is what I have to say: KUDOS!