I can say I had a good taxpayer experience recently when I renewed my passport. The first relief was that I did not have to go to the passport center in Manila which is far from where I live in Mandaluyong. Now we Mandaluyong residents have a nearby passport center at Building C of the Megamall complex.
The hardest part was figuring out how to get to Building C due to the mysterious traffic patterns in the area. But eventually, I got there, entered the parking lot (P45) and from Lower Ground (LG) I went up on the elevator to the 7th floor which is designated as the Department of Foreign Affairs.
There was a line of citizens walking in to apply for new passports. I was a bit apprehensive when talking to the lady next to me on the line. She told me she had downloaded the form and filled it. And I had done no such thing, just came from my house across EDSA. It was 10:40am.
Then I remembered my travel agent said to look for the Senior Citizen accommodation. I spotted the security guard keeping order and asked him and he instantly took me to a sitting area whereupon equally instantly a DFA person came, gave me an application form and took me behind the counter where I could use a table and fill it. Whereupon, a number was attached to it and I was sent to Authenticating, the room next door with seats and lots of processing windows saying No Noon Break. For Senior Citizens, there were two windows, 2 and 3, for our exclusive use. On an electronic board on the side numbers flashed equivalent to the number given in the passport application. Everyone was quiet and attentive, sitting on wire seats, waiting.
When my number flashed, I went to Window 3, I showed my old passport, my application and two separate ID’s. The latter two were originals with photcopies. But my passport had not been photocopied so the DFA person at Window 3 indicated a photocopier on one side of the room for me to use. There was a line, but instantly the security guard said “Senior Citizen” and I was given priority, had my passport photocopied and paid P6 and returned to Window 3 where I was being awaited. The documents were checked, the originals returned to me including my passport, now with two holes indicating it was expired.
I was asked if I wanted express or regular processing. I chose express for which I paid P1,200 at the Cashier’s window around the corner from the Authenticating Room and from there was sent directly to the next room which was Encoding. That room had a senior citizen window (18) and after a short wait as senior citizens ahead of me were attended to, it was my turn when my number flashed on the electronic board. Here the DFA peron put my vital information from my application form on a monitor and asked me to check if it was correct – spelling, dates, etc. When I confirmed the data, I was asked to sign on an electronic pad, have my two thumbs marked on another electronic pad. Then as a last step, I was asked to look into the camera attached to the monitor sans eyeglasses and jewelry and a photo was taken. When all was done, I was graciously asked if I would accept the photo as it was or did I want another take? I stoically said I would. And so it was done and I was told to return in 8 working days. It was now noon, or one hour and 20 minutes since I got there.
After 8 working days, all I had to do was bring my receipt and proceed to another room, Releasing. Soon my name was called and I had my new passport in hand. That took less than half an hour.
Thank you Department of Foreign Affairs for efficient, fast and gracious service.