Three months prior to my personal appearance at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila to renew my passport, I was checking online to see if I can book a schedule. Unfortunately, all schedules were taken from February to end of April 2013. So, the only option I had was to contact a Travel Agency in the Philippines and have them schedule my passport renewal. I don’t know how they did it but I was told my schedule is confirmed. I think they have a connection inside the DFA, if not how would they if the online booking was fully booked?
The travel agency initially charged me PHP4,500.00 (USD $110.00) and it’s about 12-14 processing days which I can’t wait. When I asked if they can expedite the process I was told it will cost me PHP7,000.00 (USD $173.00). The travel Agency staff said that the expediting process will take 8-10 working days from the date the passport renewal was applied. I thought it includes the actual processing and I can avoid the long cue if I hire a travel agency and pay them this ridiculous fee. Darn, I was misled. I still have to fall in line and wait for my turn like a regular applicant. Darn, I deserved to be treated as a VIP! Just kidding!
Kidding aside, the amount I paid the Travel Agency includes a filled application form done by the DFA staff which contains a lot of discrepancies so I had to redo it. Along with the application form it includes a receipt. If you noticed the receipt below it shows PHP950.00 (USD$23.50) only but I was charged eight times than the normal fee. Talking about overpricing!
The above photo was taken discretely when I submitted my application form and Express processing will cost only PHP1,200.00 (USD$28.90) and will be released 12 days from my application date. Sometimes I wonder how much money these sharks make every day.
The above photo was taken when I was seated, it’s the first step to apply or renew your passport. The applicants are comfortably seated but every time an applicant approach the window to submit their application form everyone who are seated and next in line should stand up and transfer to the next seat. I stood up every 2-3 minutes and that was effing annoying. And one of the stupid guards told us applicants “Two applicants should share and seat on one chair!” Can you believe that shit?
The above photo was on the second floor of the DFA and this is where the 2nd, 3rd and final step of the processing. The second step was to pay the application fee at the cashier (in my case the DFA insider paid the PHP950 prior to my appearance) and the third step was to get a cue number for the final processing; i.e. take a photo, electronic signature and verify that all info in the application form in the computer monitor are correct before they finalize the application.
Well, at the final step there were probably 20 cubicles but only less than 10 DFA staff was there. The numbering system was so slow, it took at least 5 minutes per number to move. There were about 200 people ahead of me and I couldn’t wait and would not waste my time to wait for about 2 to 3 hours for my turn. Darn, it was my vacation and I was there wasting time? I searched for a person that I can swap my number with in exchange for a small amount of money. I saw a young guy who looked like a messenger and might agree to swap his number with me. Well, lucky me! He agreed and gave him PHP500 (USD$12.00) bill. I was discreet though and did not ask him loudlyy; I wrote my question on my cellphone and let him read it. He agreed and the swap happened. It only took me 15 minutes and my passport renewal was completed.
It took 12 days for the DFA staff to inform me that my passport was released. After I was informed, I booked my flight to Bangkok, Thailand and drove from Angeles City to Manila just to collect my passport. Darn, did I drive fast? Well, it took less than 2 hours to meet the guy in SM North Edsa. Prior to that, I had to convince that DFA Staff to expedite my passport in exchange I’ll reward him a PHP2,500.00 (USD$60.00) bonus. All in all, I paid PHP10,500.00 (USD$253.00) for my renewal of passport. Costly little booklet, isn’t it?
I know some of you readers might think that I was bribing people to get what I want. Well, here’s my response to that. I only have few days in Philippines, I still have to go to Bangkok and I value my time so dearly. So, I’m sorry but for me Time is Gold.
Happy travel to everyone and I hope you enjoyed what you read today.
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