I might as well sum it up in three words: THE HUNGER GAMES.
Oh yes, dear readers, as previously mentioned: BYOB (Bring Your Own Baon), which means baon of water, food and lots and lots of patience. I’ve been itching to blog our experience (we applied as a family) before we even entered the premises of DFA Aseana.
12:30 NN: We arrived at DFA Aseana located at DFA Consular Office: ASEANA Business Park, Bradco Avenue corner Macapagal Boulevard, Paranaque City. It’s near Mall of Asia and a little bit far from Solaire. You can either commute or get a taxi or drive your way to the site. We drove there and parked at the parking space beside the site. It’s Php 30/3 hours and additional Php 5.00 for an hour. We paid Php 50 because we were there for 7 hours, as our renewal took us 4.5 hours to complete.
We got off the car and saw so many people waiting outside Gate 1. I went up to the guard near the entrance and showed him our forms. As our appointment was 2:30 PM, the guard informed me that we need to get back by 1:30 PM to be able to get in.
1:45 PM: We went back and while I was walking to ask Manong Guard if we can come in, he shouted: “O, mga 1:00 pa lang ang papapasukin! Tapos mga 1:30 sunod!” As he said this, I had to force myself out of the crowd. It’s already 1:45 PM and all the 1:00 PM people haven’t been ushered inside? What about us 2:30 PM people? Jeez. Minutes passed and another wave of people came rushing that made the already crowded entrance swell. Hot weather + Crowded place = Not a good combination. And apparently, the entrance is also the exit. Para tuloy kaming mga sardinas. I even shouted “Tabi po tayo dyan!” so the other people can exit the crowd.
2:00 PM: People were now confused and irritated because no one was informing them on what batch is being accommodated. No megaphones or signboards were used to inform us if they are accepting 2:00 or 2:30 PM batches. Remember the email sent to you and the reminder form when you printed out your e-mail? It said: “BE THERE IN 30 MINUTES BEFORE YOUR APPOINTMENT.” Well, that’s NOT TRUE. It was 2:00 PM and the guards won’t let us in. Sana hindi na lang nila nilalagay na kailangang 30 minutes nandun na sa venue.
2:30 PM: Dad told me to hold him so he won’t fall. I suddenly got worried about my dad, because he can’t be in crowded places due to his condition. As we kept waiting under the heat of the sun, I noticed that other people who had appointment times later than ours were able to get in because they had children with them. And I told my mom that maybe Dad can get out of this crowd using his PWD card (Person With Disability). Dad wasn’t looking really good at that point so we really needed to get him inside. My mom then went to one of the guards at the entrance and showed him Dad’s PWD. According to her, here’s what happened:
Mom: Sir, baka pwede pong paunahin yung asawa ko? Hindi po siya pwedeng magtagal ng ganito karaming tao. Ito po yung PWD card niya. Nakafamily appointment ho kasi kami.
Guard: Government ID ba yan?
Mom: Opo. PWD.
Guard: Patingin nga po. *looks at the card, confused* Government ba talaga to?
Mom: *now irritated* Government ID ho yan, Government issued ID ng Persons With Disability. Galing sa DSWD.
Guard: Ano po ba to? Issued ng government?
Mom: Oo nga po. DSWD nga. Hindi mo ba alam ang DSWD?
Guard: Ahh. Nasaan po siya? Sige po.
Lady Guard: *biglang sumingit* Yung may PWD card lang po pwedeng pumasok.
Dad and me hurriedly went to the entrance. Dad got his PWD while.. hinarang ako ni Lady Guard. What the hell.
Lady Guard: Pumila ka dun.
Me: Eh anak po ako ng Daddy kong may PWD at nakafamily appointment kami. *sabay tanggal ng harang niya*
Lady Guard: Siya lang pwedeng makapasok, kayong dalawa *turns to me and my mom* dito lang sa labas. Hindi kayo pwede pang pumasok.
Mom: Ah ganun ba? So kapag may nangyari sa asawa ko, pananagutan mo? Hindi ba kayo nakakaintindi ng PWD?
To cut it short, Kuya Guard got our forms and checked them and let us in.
2:35 PM: We went to the Verification area (in front of the washrooms) and officials checked and marked our papers. We were then ushered to seat here:
2: 39 – 3: 14 PM: Waited and waited and waited until we were ushered to sit on another set of benches (2nd stop.) While we were waiting, an official had this megaphone (O, meron na man pala kayong megaphone eh) and announced the steps for passport renewal, application and etc. Here, he mentioned that WE CAN SIGN THE FORMS ALREADY. I even asked him and showed him the email stating the instruction re: signing the form. He told me that WE CAN DISREGARD THE E-MAIL INSTRUCTION AND SIGN THE FORMS before processing. Okaaaaaay. Gulo lang ha.
3:14 – 3:25 PM: Waited and waited and waited until we were ushered to sit on another set of benches. This time, near the building entrance (3rd stop.)
3:25 PM: Finally! We entered the building and since the ground floor was too full of people, we were told to go up the 2nd floor for the processing. We were standing at first and was only able to sit down by 3:48 PM.
3:48 – 5:30 PM: 1 hour and 45 minutes of waiting. Like seriously? When we first arrived at the 2nd floor, 6 officials were there to process the papers. As we waited, the number of officials processing the papers left one by one until there were only 3 of them left! No wonder that we waited for sooooo long. Jeez. At this point, people were hungry, sleepy, tired, etc. A couple of people joked, “O, Kuya, baka pwede namang libreng tubig na maiinom dyan para masaya?” or “Bakit paunti ng paunti mga taong nagpprocess nyan? Aabutin ba kami ng hatinggabi nito?”
5:30 PM: Finally, I got my turn to be processed. Since I had a 2008 passport, the only requirements needed was the printed form and the photocopied first and last pages of the old passport. To my surprise, the processing only took a few minutes (even if the guy who was processing my papers was talking on his phone about finances not related to his job).
5:35 PM: Payment at the cashier. Php 950 for regular processing (20 working days), Php 1,200 for express processing (10 working days) per person. Since we applied as a family, my Dad paid for me and my mom.
5:40 PM: Dad then got the queue number for Encoding/Enrollment.
5:40 PM – 7:00 PM: Waited for our queue number to be flashed on the screen. The numbers that were on the screen were # 2100+ and we were # 3210. The Hunger Games Climax. Seriously, we were so hungry! Good thing there were drinks and snacks for sale at the photocopy center near Gate 1 entrance. We ate our snacks while waiting.
7:00 PM: Our turn for Encoding/Enrollment! We only had 1 queue number since we applied as a family. :) What happens during Encoding/Enrollment? Official tells you to remove any contact lens/jewelries/earrings. He/she then scans your forms and types in your information as you check them on the screen. Make sure you double check your details! You then have your picture taken (no smiles or teeth showing), sign on the Bamboo pad for your electronic signature and have your right and left thumbs captured. He/she prints out the pink form and you sign on the box on the lower right. Use a real ballpen, not the Bamboo pen!
7:05 PM: As you exit, the Delivery area is just outside. Pay Php 120 for each person. Have your receipts processed by one of the counters beside where you paid your delivery fee. Ours got processed by WWW Express and handed us our waybills. Since we got the express processing, our passports will be delivered the day after the release.
7:10 PM: WHOLE PROCESS FINALLY DONE!
It wasn’t what I expected, really. Even their What to Expect content on their website doesn’t even come close to what we experienced there. So here’s a couple of suggestions that I think (and hope) would expedite the process:
1. Sa labas pa lang, gumamit na ng megaphone or sign board or white board para alam ng mga tao kung anong batch na ang pinapapasok. Para na rin maiwasan ang siksikan ng mga tao sa labas. Mahirap ang pumunta sa entrance tapos saka pa lang malalaman na hindi pa pala pwede tapos makikisingit ka para makalabas sa dami ng taong nakapila.
2. Walang pila. Walang maayos na pila. Bakit? Kasi walang nag-aayos. Ang mga guards nasa may entrance lang. Taga-harang. Kaya dumadami ang mga tao nang dahil rin sa confusion kung anong batch na ba ang pinapapasok.
3. Huwag na sanang ilagay sa e-mail o website ang “You must be at the DFA Consular Office 30 minutes before your scheduled time. Early/Late comers will not be entertained.” dahil hindi naman talaga totoo. 2:30 PM ang appointment namin, andun na kami ng 2:00 PM at hindi pa rin pinapapasok. Anyare? Akala ko ba sabi niyo 30 minutes before?
4. Huwag ring ilagay sa email ang “Please do not sign the application form. You need to sign it with the presence of a DFA officer in the processing window.” dahil sinasabi naman sa loob na mag-sign na agad para mabilis ang proseso.
5. Huwag ring ilagay sa email ang “If you arrive late, you will need to secure another appointment for another day.” dahil ang daming late appointments! Tapos pinapasingit niyo na lang? Sana kung may ganyan kayong sinasabi sa email, sundan niyo.
6. Pakituruan ang mga guards sa iba’t ibang klaseng government IDs at kung anong mga ibig sabihin ng mga ito. :)
7. Kung magkakaroon ng extension area for processing sa 2nd floor, sana kumpleto rin ang mga officials na nagpprocess, katulad ng nasa 1st floor para mapabilis ang proseso. Kung magpapalitan, sana may dumadating na kapalit, hindi yung tatlo na lang ang maiiwan para magprocess ng 50+ na naghihintay.
That’s it, pansit! Good luck to others who will have their passports renewed at DFA Aseana! Don’t forget, BYOB! :)