Saturday, November 20, 2010

DFA - Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippines - a horror story. dahil sa holiday?

First of all, i acknowledge other peoples' ease with their passport renewal.  I also acknowledge that our DFA is doing their best to make things simpler for everybody.  I also applaud our DFA for coming up with an online appointment system with a very clear and easy to navigate website specific to passport application. And the fact a site was put up solely for passports (application, renewal, and loss of) rather than having it in some big ass pile with the rest of the DFA's services.

Super panalo din ang mga guard and security at the scene for being very professional with handling the crowd and handling us very well in making our queues / pila / line.  I also acknowledge that the Benj and I are merely victims of really a bad succession of circumstances.

for those who had a breeze with their passport renewal, kudos to you. then, see, kayo yun, good for you, and this is my horror story.  So i begin.

At first our appointments were done for us online for us by a friend, who was trying to meet a deadline for us because on a whim the Benj and I wanted to join the family at HK this passed Halloween. 
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that is how the online application will look like, this application is just for an appointment.  it's VERY EASY and very straightforward.  after all your information is filled out you are then allowed to pick out a date.  but the date is set by the site depending on what dates are already open.  ibig sabihin pagpuno na yung susunod na lingo o bwan yung susunod na bwan na yung may mga slot na bukas.  the interval for the 'appointment' is 30mins.  
so our appointments were set.
BUT 
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HERE'S WHAT I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WAS MY MISTAKE.  WE THOUGHT WE HAD OUR APPOINTMENT SET ALREADY UNTIL THE NIGHT BEFORE WHEN WE COULDN'T PRINT OUR APPLICATION FORM.
so i overlooked and thought that having gone through the filling out of the online form was enough to secure a slot to be seen at the DFA.  but nope, so please remember to check your email RIGHT AWAY and click the link sent to open up this file 

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which reveals the second page and shows you what you filled out on the site.  print this on long bond or legal sized bond paper AND REMEMBER NOT TO SIGN THE APPLICATION FORM UNTIL YOU ARE TOLD TO DO SO AT YOUR APPOINTMENT AT THE DFA.

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meaning this, yesterday, was our second try on this whole passport renewal thing.  tas get this, ang hirap magkasunod na magapply sa online for appointment.  the website will say another person has filed for an appointment with the same ip address.  i guess it's their way to give chance to others, but that's bullshit, pano kung magasawa ang magpapa-appointment and so baka ma miss pa yung slot ng same time nung isa because of that safeguard?

that bar code on the upper right hand corner of the form is actually there for a reason, the dfa's front desk has an infra red reader and checks you out and from there you are allowed to queue up. here:
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and kinda look like this 
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BUT THIS WEEK:
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November 16 was a National Holiday.
HAY, so the 3000++ people they handled daily had to be moved to the rest of the days of the week.  same time.  in short yung mga dapat na asikasuhin nung tuesday, eh na urong ang mga appointment nila dahil holiday.

our appointment was set for 2PM.  we were there, by 1:15pm.  and well, the people set for 12:30 were still queued outside.  in fairness there are benches under canvass canopies and there are industrial fans for the people already outside.  YAN ANG OVERFLOW FROM LAST TUESDAY'S HOLIDAY.  that overflowed to wednesday, that overflowed to thursday and so on.

we finally got in, by 3:30!  i was stupid enough not to have noticed they also need the back page of the passport and had the Benj run over the photocopying machine. ang sabi naman kasi front page and all the pages with the stamps from the countries you went to. nope, they left those pages out. PERO PHOTOCOPY NYO NA RIN.

AFTER STEP 1, bad trip, it was every man for himself! going to step 2 to pay on the 2nd floor.  wth!  wala na yung 'maayos na pila'  for payment, tas unahan na to get encoded, meaning fingerprinted and have your picture taken.

so fine, there were about 500 people ahead of us, the GUARD TOLD US TO EAT FIRST.  so we got back after an hour.  there were still 400 people ahead of us, ANOTHER GUARD TOLD US TO GO AWAY FOR ABOUT ANOTHER HOUR. so fine we did.  

and get this WE MISSED OUR EFFING QUEUE!!! so yet another guard told us to go to a kind lady and do the pinoy way, MAKIUSAP. 
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so wtf? anong ginagawa ni lee min ho dito sa kwentong ito?  well thanks to the Etude House, who gave me a folder with this beautiful boy's face, where i kept the Benj's and my files.  so the girl at the counter smiled and giggled, 'sige na nga, para lang kay lee min ho  (oh alright, only for the sake of lee min ho, i'll process you [even if it's no longer your turn]).  OH MY GOD I WAS FLOORED!  so albeit tired, there's a giggle thru my non smiling passport mugshot.

here's the thing, ISA PA ITO.  dhl got one copy of our payment for the passport renewal because i wanted NEVER TO GO BACK THERE and just have the sucker delivered at home.  AND then the kind lady who liked min ho took the other copy of our renewal payment receipt.  so now, the only proof of our horrific (yes horrific bec we had some miscommunication scheduling issues at the pgh, which of course takes precedence) VERY LONG DAY at the DFA.

i'm pretty sure these kinds of events will get repeated anytime there's a sudden proclamation for a holiday.  so this is the DFA, what about the SSS or any other public office that requires long queues???

thru this tough day, i thank my very patient husband who stuck by me and found a way not to have let this day gone to waste (and went to pgh where he needed to do something).  i thank the online system for being very simple to use.  i thank the security guards for being awesome at the front queues.  i thank, life, coffee and tea across the street for having internet and odd nachos na masarap.  i thank lee min ho and his popularity at natuwa ang taga biometric / pic taking namin instead na mahassle sya na sumingit kami when we missed our turn.
lastly, i thank my sister in law for giving us a ride home.


Addendum: por Dios guys, wear a collared shirt, kahit yung polo shirt (yeah the same type worn in polo games).  women can wear stuff without a collar according to this website.

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