Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Passport Renewal at DFA Batangas

To wait or just do it -- that was my question a few days ago regarding renewing my passport. My current Philippine passport is about to expire on April 2012, and I only have a month left before its unusable. Let's face it, going to any government agency is a dreading experience. The long lines, the long process, and the "super-singit" VIPs are just few of the reasons why its such a hassle to process papers with any of them.

I've considered going to a travel agency here in Batangas City as what my mom have done. She says they charged her Php 1,900.00 for rush processing. Then they'll schedule appointment. During the appointment date, she was expected to meet up with the travel agent at 5am. Along with 8-10 other clients of the agency, one van drove them to Lucena Consular Office. She says it was quick because they've got agents already waiting for them at the Consular Office and already reserved their queue numbers. However, the problem arose when after 1 month the agency still couldn't release my mom's passport. It was supposedly on "Rush" processing which is 15 days. But they kept on saying the printers broke down and etc. Mom finally got her passport after 2 months. Which is the typical processing time just like any regular processing. What a rip-off!

Anyways, so my best friend, Grace mentioned that Batangas City already have a Regional DFA Consular Office of our own and we should check it out. I was still second-guessing and I googled almost all the blogs on the internet to check if its better to apply here or go to Manila. I was a bit shocked to find out that typical processing time in Manila is 2-3hrs maximum, (that's pretty good in my opinion) unfortunately no one has ever written about the Regional Offices so I was skeptical. 

We left our respective homes early on Tuesday morning, and arrived 8am at the Batangan Plaza. Yes, there were already long lines of people but it was still manageable since it's still early. We have brought our own forms that we have downloaded from the internet the day before, but "Manong" guard said we have to use their own forms so we re-did our application. After we filled-up our forms, we went back to Manong and he directed us to wait in line for "Counter 1" where we submitted our application form and photocopy of our documents. 

REMINDER: Bring as much documents and IDs that you have. Me and Grace basically brought everything we could think of. Old Passports, SSS/GSIS, TIN, School Transcript, Diploma, Birth/Baptismal Certificate, School ID, NBI clearance, etc. It's better to bring them all and be prepared. Also, DO NOT hesitate to photocopy everything! I mean everything. That was my mistake, I forgot to photocopy my TIN since I "thought" SSS would be fine. But they wanted proof of my address in Batangas since I wasn't born there. Another guy also had to go back in line because he was asked to photocopy his Yearbook. Yes, Yearbook! The Xerox/photocopy machine line is longer than "Counter 1". You've been warned.

After I photocopied my TIN, we waited for our name to be called. Step #1 took 15 minutes or so, but the next step took an hour before we got called in. We were called by "Counter 3" where the officer  asked a few questions and asked for photocopies of documents. Then we went to another line for "Counter 4 - Payment". It's Php 1,200.00 for rush (15 days) or P 950.00 for regular (15 days). We just paid for regular since we won't be traveling soon anyway.

After that, we went to another section for the picture-taking and data encoding. Took about 30 minutes or so before we got called in. You only have to show your receipt of payment and they'll encode your information, take your picture, let you double check the data typed and get your signature. That's it! We were done in 2 hours! I could finally pee after waiting for 2 hours. Hahaha! But it was quite fast, I just couldn't find a toilet in their building which sucks. 

We didn't bother getting our passport delivered by a courier, since we live nearby anyway. We could save the P120 delivery fee. 

Over-all, it was surprised how fast it was. I was expecting  that we'll be there until afternoon, or worse -- they'll only give us an appointment for next week. The only thing that I would complain about was how 2 families intercepted me while I was on "Counter 1". I get it, the "family with children" gets priority. But come on, I have to wait for 2 families, (one with 4 children and 2nd family with 2 children) processing their passport. so that's 9 or more passport before me (hello, there's just ONE me). They should have a separate lane for families/senior citizen/special people. Just when I though it's my turn, another family would bump and get ahead of me. That's just not fair. And "manong" guard would just tell me to step back. So just a suggestion, DFA should have a regular lane and another courtesy lane in Counter 1. We also saw some people who's got connections inside, and yes, they were able to finish first before us even if they just arrived. Tsk tsk... I guess that's one thing that'll never get old with Philippine government agencies.

We'll be going back on March 27 to personally pick-up our passport. Or probably call them first to verify and get them before April 27. Till the next adventure, folks!!!

Aim. Experience. Pay It Forward. 




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