So here’s the thing: in order to properly carry out my communing with nature, exploring the world mantra for 2013, I have to renew my passport. My passport has been expired for quite some time, and because we never really made plans to travel I never really saw the need to renew it.
So I set up my appointment to this morning at 7:30 in the morning through their online appointment system. It took me a while to find an open schedule. I think DFA only opens the slots for the next ten days. Anyway, I got that schedule and I had my youngest brother tag along with me. This is his first application.
We woke up late and oh my god did we rush. You have to be at the DFA at least 30 minutes before your appointment time. They have a list of required documents here. Tip 1: Do not forget to photocopy every single one of the required documents. There’s xerox service near the entrance but it charges P3.00 for every copy. That’s too much.
For the fun of it, I decided to time the entire process. Note however that I did not factor in the verification portion. So the time starts from after they checked out the application form’s completeness.
They started calling out the people from the 7:30am appointment about 12 minutes ago. It was weird because they have these huge lounge seats and they keep saying, “Upong jeep lang, hindi eroplano.” It’s so weird that people are so crass in this place, given that there are “Service with a smile” posters everywhere.
The lady behind the counter quickly breezed over my old passport and counter-checked the input data from the application form. Tip 2: If your old passport still has that plastic cover, ditch it. They take it out and throw it back to you… as politely as they can. They’ll punch holes in them and that’s that. Then you’ll go up to the cashier to pay.
What’s sad though is the male employees are just ushering everyone in a yelling manner. Like people can’t understand them if they didn’t have that harried tone. It was a lot of unnecessary negative energy early in the morning.
Tip 3: Bring the exact amount you intend to pay — regular processing is P950, expedited is P1,200. They do not accept any other form of payment but cash. Actually, that part is the saddest for me. I think I’m 43rd in line but when I got to the cashier, her register is already brimming with bills.
I honestly believe it’s time for the government to accept cards. Debit, prepaid or credit, they should open more channels and alternatives for the public to pay. And I’m not just saying this because our department’s mandate is to activate electronic payment in government. I’m saying this because of the actual convenience. When it was my turn, the cashier got the receipt, got my cash, counted my cash, confirmed receipt of cash, reprinted the receipt, arranged the cash, and gave back my copy of the receipt. If they had accepted cards, that could’ve easily been tap and go, or swipe and go. Easy peasy right?
I got the next number, encoding and enrollment. It was a good wait, not really much of a hassle. The space was well ventilated and even though the pews were a little intimately arranged, the cue was fast. The personnel obviously had gotten this down to a routine. They work fast.
Tip 5: Do not wear contact lenses, colored or not. According to my encoder, some lenses — even though they’re clear ones — reflect back a hint of light. Should this occur, I would have to come back and have my picture taken again. Remove all earrings, wear minimal makeup, make sure your bangs are off your eyebrows and smile with no teeth. Hahaha. I honestly believe I looked like a Ma Mon Luk siopao in my passport photo, but the encoder did her job fast, efficiently and was even able to sustain a good amount of small talk.
I finished right on the dot, one hour. It was pretty quick. This is definitely something you can do for your lunch hour. I don’t know though if it’s because I took the early appointment or if this is really how they operate. If not, please do let me know.
Plus sides:The area was well ventilated. You won’t break a sweat, hence higher probability of taking a good passport photo.
The steps are clearly outlined. Actually, they don’t need the ushers. They’re the only ones making the noises and the somewhat rude callouts.
The staff works fast and efficiently. I wish though that they made more eye contact or broke a smile every now and then. The only smile I got was from the encoder and the 2Go guy.
I really hate those ushers.
I really wish they smiled a lot as they say in the posters. I wanted to point out that the smile can break the monotony of their doings. Eh.
Cash only payment. Good luck to the cashier at the end of the day. I can only imagine the horror of bundling money, stacking coins, separating mutilated and fit bills, and worse dealing with shortages.
So there you have it. My day at the DFA Consular Affairs Office in Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard, Pasay City (or is it Paranaque?). Their performance is quite well, so I hope this encourages you to interact with your government offices more. Hopefully, most offices are this efficient.
Now… how do I suggest online payment to these guys? Hmmmm…