As mentioned in my previous post, I had scheduled an appointment with the DFA for my passport renewal. My current passport expires next year but since I still have the green one and bearing my maiden name, I opted for early renewal–first, to change my surname and second, to change my green passport to brown — the machine readable kind.
I love my old passport cos it’s witness to all my travels. I love how it is encased in a plastic Winnie the Pooh passport protector which never fails to elicit dirty looks from immigration wherever I go. I love that I looked like an overcooked siopao on my first passport, and that no thanks to the wizardry of the photo company for photoshop–my eyes on my passport picture doesn’t look the same.
Getting your passport before requires a trip to the DFA Building in Roxas Bldv., and surviving the onslaught of fixers and touts littering the narrow strip leading to the passport application center. The recent modernization of DFA has allowed for the successful transfer of all consular operations on the new building located at Macapagal Boulevard.
This for me, is a good move, on the part of the DFA. The thing is, the old passport building in Roxas Blvd., is along the area where hundreds of good-for-nothing touts who will try to lure the unsuspecting and the *ehem* tatange-tangeng first time applicants. I can’t imagine how these people even had the gall to feed their kids using the money they ripped off from other people. I know someone who was charged 200 bucks just for a copy of the application form which was FREE, in the first place! People like these–those who prey–on other people’s vulnerability should be shot to death in Luneta, I kid you not.
The transfer of the Consular Offices in Macapagal Avenue has significantly reduced–if not, removed the problem of fixers and losers who prey on the uninformed.
So, what’s the PROs of getting your passport at the new Consular Office:
1. The technology! The machine counters here are CLEAN, and in the BEST WORKING CONDITION!
This is the authentication area where I spent the best years of my freaking life. Kidding aside, this is where you’ll be marooned for a very long time–so bring a book, magazine, iPod or anything that will help you pass time. When I arrived, they were calling for number 1050–I was holding 1208. It took me 2 hours and 30 minutes just to get out of this place. But it didn’t bother me cos the line and number calling was going on efficiently. And except for the part where a passport applicant was making a scene on the transaction window next to mine (waaaaaaht! yu kol dis serbis?! yur system is not maganda! panget sistema nyo! process my application eben ip I dont hab an ID!), I was all good.
Checked the CR also when I was still waiting for my number to be called–guess what? It’s FREAKING Clean! And there’s a cleaning lady manning the toilet. And oh, I caught a glimpse of the men’s CR–it was clean too!
I hope it stays this way cos the problem sometimes is not the people who maintain the facilities but the people who use them. I don’t know why some Pinoys insist on being slobs. But this is usually the reason why our facilities doesn’t stay clean and well-maintained.
2. After your documents have been authenticated, you can now proceed to the 2nd floor where you will pay in the cashier and have your picture and thumb mark taken. You can now see for yourself if you look stupid on your passport photo as the screen is facing you during the process.
I also love the fact that there are a lot of places designated for the elderly, pregnant and disabled. The new office today has given these people priority and utmost assistance. I think having this feature is cool. It shows that DFA people have high regard for the old. The elderly (and even senior citizens) doesn’t even have to line up to get their picture and thumb mark taken. An assistant helps them get slots.
For once, I am impressed with a government office! After my traumatic encounter with the hell hole officially known as NAIA Terminal 1, I have come to be wary of any building that bears the name of the local government.
Now, if only DFA can do something about the long wait (it took me 3 and 1/2 hours; before it was just 1 1/2 hours–tops), then the new Consular Offices is something worth being proud for!