25 Feb2011


My passport is expiring in 6 months so I figured it was finally time to get a new one. Excited that we finally have these new “e-passports” that are machine readable and which bring us up to “world standard” and shall facilitate processing when visiting foreign lands, I started the process some 3+ weeks ago. I turned to our travel agent to arrange the passport renewal. As with all applicants, they applied for a date for a “personal appearance or appointment” at the spanking new DFA Consular Office that processes passports located at the reclaimed area beside S&R in Baclaran. I was given a date 3 weeks later, and today, I showed up at 7:20am for an 8:00am appointment. I was met by the travel agent’s representative, given the completed and checked forms, deposit slips to show previous payment, and brought to Gate 1, where all applicants assisted by agencies line up. Here’s the first tip. Use a respectable and trustworthy travel agent that does this regularly. The lines at Gate 1 were significantly shorter than going at this yourself through the other gates. The agent simply gets you to the right door and leaves you to wait your turn while comfortably seated until the processing windows open for business at 7:30am. What follows next can only be described as a uniquely Pinoy (or simply third-world?) bureaucratic government office game of musical chairs. If filmed at fast speed for youtube, it could have been called “How to clean your waiting chairs by having hundreds of clothed butts wiping them throughout the day…”

Are Filipinos so undisciplined that we cannot simply hold a line based on chronological arrival? No? Then are we so stupid and offensive that we cannot be simply given a number when we enter the room and respond when that number is called, in chronological order? No? Why does a numbered system work at foreign embassies and consular offices, but not at our own? Why must we be herded like carabaos (I realize they are actually rarely herded, these beasts) and forced to get into strict snaking seated lines, only to have so many exceptions as to make one wonder if we are intellectually impaired to begin with? Are we genetically line impaired as well?

And why, oh why, must the lines at such government offices require “shepherds” or “humanherds” that direct you like traffic enforcers (who may have never driven a vehicle) to comply with the “you must wipe each and every seat with your clean pants” syndrome? Better yet, humanherds who utter totally inappropriate and unprofessional (if comical, that does certainly lighten the mood) comments said out loud like “paki usog lang ho, PHP8 lang tayo ngayon, kung pwede, tag-dalawang tao sa isang silya kasi napupuno na…” or loosely translated “can you please squeeze in, like a PHP8 fare (on a jeepney I gather), if possible fit two people of each seat because we are getting rather full”… egads! Thank goodness I have been on a diet, or I wouldn’t be able to share seats with the lady to my left or the nervous gentleman to my right. Good thing Pinoys are generally so meticulous about personal hygiene, so we could inevitably take whiffs of each others shampoo, soap, cologne or other personal care products while trying to maintain our dignity and cool air of nonchalance, despite the “PHP8” conditions.

Before I get to the meat of this rant, let me first say that I have taken queuing theory at some point in my schooling, and worked as a strategy consultant that occasionally did work for humongous banks with branch banks that involved a whole lot of lining up, so I do have some background in this area. I personally get annoyed when I see immigration lines, supermarket lines, payment center lines, etc. that are simply poorly designed, despite the multitude of knowledge, experience and expertise on the simple matter of managing lines. So the bottom line is, if reasonably planned, these absurd bureaucratic lines can be mitigated, avoided, managed far better than they appear to be in many cases in the Philippines. But regardless of WHERE you ARE on the planet, the one thing that messes with a system is when someone CUTS the line. It causes all manner of havoc, and it should be avoided at all costs. LINE CUTTERS are a PET PEEVE of mine.

So I am obediently waiting my turn, having wiped some 15 chairs so far with another 25 chairs to go before I have my turn at the window, when a well known television personality appears at the door and takes a seat. To his credit, the travel agent who accompanied him to the door does NOT seek special treatment. Celebrity himself sits and did NOT appear to seek special treatment. He should have been about 30 chairs behind me in line. But as soon as one or two of the humanherds noticed his presence, they immediately beckoned to him and told him to head straight to the window directly in front of me while I sat obediently in line. The attendant behind the window even loudly requested that he be the one to process the celebrity. He chatted with the guy about his show, and he was allowed to cut the line by about 45 seats. This was done in broad daylight, right in front of all of us waiting. The humanherd gave no explanation except assuming an air of smugness as the gatekeeper supreme who deemed it appropriate to let the celebrity through, no sirens at all. The celebrity was then whisked through the process and was in and out of the passport office in 20 minutes as opposed to my say 55-60 minutes.

I will say that after the celebrity jump, the humanherds then started picking out pregnant mothers, applicants with babies and elderly people out of the line to process them faster. I suspect no one else, myself included, had a problem with this. This is generally thought to be a courtesy accorded those who are burdened or handicapped somehow, but I had no idea the Philippines had included television celebrities in the list of handicapped, pregnant, with young child or elderly group. As a stark contrast to the unfolding incident, a humanherder pointed to an elderly man with much gray hair, and told him to jump line. He refused, saying he was with his family, and was content to wait in line just like everyone else. Now that’s the way to do it.

So what’s the problem?
(1) This is a government office with a charter to serve the people, under a new government that says that is a priority.
(2) Lining up and taking turns is a recognized system globally that is generally considered to be fair and efficient.
(3) Gatekeepers at government offices I am sure do NOT have in their job descriptions the right to change the rules willy nilly.
(4) While the celebrity did not seek special treatment, he didn’t TURN IT DOWN either. He had a great opportunity to display a wonderful sense of delicadeza, refuse the jump in line and follow the rules so that not only would his image be burnished, he would not annoy everyone else in line and would put the humanherder in his proper place, but he chose not to.
(5) No one, including myself, complained for fear that our own passports would be lost in the aftermath. In markets, groceries, shops or other such situations, I always call a line cutter a line cutter, and insist they move to the back of the line.
(6) If I took a photo of this guy’s rear end, barely ensconced in ill fitting skinny jeans and wickedly fashionable (yikes?) half booties and published it here or in any other form of media, he would not only be embarrassed but he would bring shame by association to the President who so publicly states the “common person” is his boss, and that no privileges such as sirens and ultimately idiotic and seemingly harmless line cutting would be tolerated from government employees, family and friends. There were enough people in that room (well over 50) who directly witnessed this incident. And frankly, it is totally irrelevant who the celebrity is, it the principle of right vs. wrong that matters. It is simply wrong to CUT INTO THE LINE.

So who is to blame? In my opinion, the filipino people are the first to blame. We have become so accepting of this type of behavior that we condone it to the point where many think it is simply not wrong. We don’t speak up when someone cuts the line, suffering in silence or worse yet, not feeling wronged at all. The most obvious person to blame in this instance is the humanherd, who in front of hundreds of people, decides to accord preferential treatment to someone who simply does not deserve it. He is NOT entitled to it in any way, shape or form. What possible logical explanation would the humanherd have for his decision to allow a cut in line? Could the celebrity have been a pregnant tansvestite and I not notice it? Was he breastfeeding a young adoptee under his long sleeved shirt? Did he just look younger than his age due to facelifts and diamond peels and he is, in fact, over 60 or 65 years of age? As for the celebrity, while he may not have sought special treatment, he didn’t turn it down either. Boo to that! A higher standard should and does apply to people of greater visibility and in the limelight. If he just thought of himself as an ordinary citizen, cognizant of other humans in the room, he would have waited. Not only would he get brownie points, he would have simply done the right thing. Sometimes appearances do matter as well.

I was amused many months ago when I wrote a post (on poverty I think, or some other politically related topic or poll) and I got a notice by email that the Malacanang Press Office was following me on Twitter. I rarely tweet, but I will certainly tweet about this post. The purpose? To remind government officials, people in “powerful positions” or with “influence” or celebrities that you need to think about your actions, lest a little teeny tiny ridiculous slip up like this one gets splashed on the internet or goes viral, and the notoriety is just not worth the 35 minutes saved by cutting the line. :)

Don’t even TRY to guess who the person was. Do not make the mistake of casting aspersions on the wrong individual. I know who he is, so do the others who were present at that office. The name is irrelevant, but the incident is certainly not. I will delete any names suggested in comments, so don’t do it. Thanks.



  1. joy says:

    Shame shame shame on the celebrity ….. I totally agree that he/she/it should have queued up like the rest … =(

    Feb 25, 2011 | 11:50 am


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  3. onlysecond says:

    Buti you kept your cool. Line cutting is a HUGE peeve of mine and in the past I’ve called out people for doing so. If I had been there, I would’ve done it too. I would’ve called out the processing person for that unnecessary preferential treatment.

    Then again, given that complaining about that processing person could’ve cost me my passport being renewed–he could, after all, do something behind-the-scenes to delay the renewal–I’m also not sure how to handle a situation like that properly.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 11:56 am

  4. MrsKookie says:

    this post is timely given that its EDSA anniversary today… Just shows that there are still ordinary Filipinos cannot even follow basic rules and propriety. Such basic things can make our country better. I hate line cutters and i always blame the ones in charge of the lines as to why they allow such things….. What happened was just so wrong.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 12:10 pm

  5. Didi says:

    If I were you, I would have called their attention its NOT fair at all!! I would have called them on it immediately – as I always do when someone cuts in line!!

    Who is this celebrity anyway?? Publish his name para people will know!!

    Feb 25, 2011 | 12:13 pm

  6. Patricia says:

    Hear hear!

    I’ve always been annoyed at line cutters, and I don’t hesitate to call them out on it. What I can’t really understand is, sometimes even the line cutters THEMSELVES become angry when you call them out on it! What the hell?! YOU cut the line, and YOU are angry?

    There was this particular incident that I cannot forget, where I was in line for the turnstiles in the MRT. There was this obviously not pregnant, not old, not infirm female who almost cut the line in front of me. I am used to this tactic, so I know how to move to make sure I end up -in front- of the line cutters. I gave her a glare (“irap”) as I passed her. I did not say a word, just that glare, to let her know what I thought of her line cutting. And she kept muttering loudly, “Ay okaaaaay..” “Duuuuh” repeatedly. I ignored her, but it made me boiling mad!

    Feb 25, 2011 | 12:16 pm

  7. Eden says:

    Celebrities seem to have their own set of rules… that is all over the earth. Here in the US, there are the Lindsay Lohans and the Paris Hiltons who can do whatever they want and not be subjected to consequences that the masses will be. In Italy their own prime minister seem to commit whatever he wants to do as well… It is a matter of fact, although we should not be readily accepting of it.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 12:18 pm

  8. natie says:

    ssooo annoying—i don’t mind extremely long lines as long as it’s orderly…that celebrity should experience the Nazis at the NJ Motor Vehicles—they’d put him “in line” right away….

    Feb 25, 2011 | 12:19 pm

  9. Kai says:

    You are so right in saying we are to blame. But it is so not you not to speak up while it happened.

    Even in ladies rooms, supposedly “ladies” cut the line. This issue persists because we tolerate it. In foreign countries it doesn’t happen because nobody allows it to happen. While we, well Filipinos are very kind and accommodating, and allow considerable space for not strictly adhering to rules. In deference to our fellow human beings, even if it’s not right.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 12:34 pm

  10. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    Playing the other side of the coin, maybe the humanherders (ha!) didn’t want to cause commotion with the midst of a celebrity among the waiting and figured best to rush the celebrity along. Filipinos seem to be celebrity or idol crazy. Look at the new found fame of the Filipino soccer players and their hoardes of homrmonally crazed teenie fans.

    That said, common sense and a lack of practice with etiquette, manners and protocols seem to be the bane among Filipinos.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 12:34 pm

  11. MrsA says:

    There is something very demeaning about ‘human herding’ as you put it, that it’s surprising that we all have come to an acceptance of it. It is done in many government offices like the lto, the munisipyo etc and it makes me wonder why we think that this is the best way in establishing Order and control in queueing. To make matters worse, the people tasked to guide the people have an odd sense of power and would loudly state stupid things for the sheer joy of feeling superior. ‘Sana po may dala kayong payong kase pag umulan at umalis kayo sa linya, pipila kayo ulit sa dulo’ he said when I was at the old dfa basketball court area a few months ago and the rain was about to pour. By ‘dulo’ he meant the street corner many meters away, by ‘kayo’ he meant over 700 of us who has been standing in line since 6am, waiting for the counters to open by 8am. To this he adds:’dapat naman kase pinaghahandaan ninyo to’. Who would have guessed that the process would begin literally in an eskinita- with no roof over our head, right outside a basketball court where we will be asked to stand in line rain or shine? Have they not heard of the number or some other appointment system?

    Sadly, we have been conditioned to accept this. We treat our people like we do not have the ability to think or develop discipline or follow rules that’s why many of us don’t.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 1:06 pm

  12. cess says:

    MM, i have been a long-time follower of your blog. I have been in the same position as you just three weeks ago and our patience was severely tested by our experience with the DFA. One thing is for sure, the DFA “upgrading” to a new building and computerized system sucks big time. Before, i was able to get my passport after three days! Now, it takes three months!!!! It takes on average 1-2 months to get an appointment schedule for application, and then it would take you ONE MONTH to get your passport afterwards AND they now require a much higher fee than before for their horrendous service.

    We (my parents and I) had a 1:30 pm appointment, we were there by 1pm as required. After the preliminary checks done, we were allowed in and then began the idiotic “musical chairs” designed by who knows who (aren’t there time and efficiency consultants for this?) where every 5 persons moving, we were asked to stand up, walk 1-3 meters, then sit down again at whatever chair we stop on next. As this was in the afternoon already, we were there for about 1 hour before our turn came at the window for the review of the requirements. While i was seated, i can view that there were persons in line ahead of me that had 2pm appointments. Why the need for a 30minute interval for appointments when this wasn’t followed pala and bahala na rin who comes in first, they will be herded in this single line, no matter what? Then, like you there was this “line conductor” who let someone cut in the middle of the line surreptitiously during one of the “Stand up, walk, sit down” bending exercises. Why not just give a number and let the persons waiting sit down in peace and with their dignities in tact? Was this too high -tech for the DFA and beyond the budget?
    After this, i thought, ok, at least it took only about one hour. Little did i know that the bigger horror was waiting for us upstairs.
    We were told to go up to pay and for the biometrics. While we were on our way up, we were already met by a huge group of people waiting outside the corridors. I wondered what they were doing there but proceeded to the cashier. The line was not long, but there were A LOT of people around!!! We paid Php1,200 each for our “RUSH” passports that would take 2 WEEKS to process (as opposed to regular at Php950 at 4 weeks to process). Note that before it was just around P750 for a rush passport, and took only three days. After paying we were told to go to a line with a guy in front, who turned out to be a guard whose task is to give a number stub and tell each person to go back “after 2 hours” since the line for the biometrics/picture is very long. This was the time that it dawned on me that all those people are waiting to be called, my gosh!!! We were number 2872-74 (i think), and to just stare at the blank wall or people-stare for 2 hours was not our idea of fun. Thank goodness there was S&R beside the DFA, so decided to just do our grocery and eat for the 2 hours we needed to kill (We ended up spending more because of the passport with the trip to S&R). By 4:30, we went back as advised, expecting that the number would be near our numbers already. No such luck! The number of persons waiting seems to be undiminished, those with nowhere to go were forced to wait. It was only 2400s that are being called, still 400 persons to go????!!!!! We were looking at the numbers flashing and it is moving at a snails pace,with only a handful changing numbers. My mom was already so irritated by the process that she asked to see the person in charge to air our displeasure at their system, especially since i had a 6pm meeting on that day with a client scheduled that day. Hers was another long story on bureaucracy (i just stayed on my seat, which was the only vacant seat because it was right right below a dripping aircon, great!!! i was waiting and being dripped on every 30 seconds). When she arrived almost an hour later, she told us that after complaining and being done the run-around for a time, she was then told that we can opt to reschedule the biometrics the next day and proceed to window __, but when she asked where that person in the window was, nobody was there, nobody knows where he is or why. When after much persistence, she was able to talk to the director in charge of the whole mess, and she was faced with a young bureaucrat (my mom said maybe in her twenties), who was not unapologetic in any manner. She told us that they were always there until 8 or 9 until everyone was finished, and were paid overtime only until 7. If we had problems, we should air it to the higher ups. She also told my mom that if we wanted special treatment we should have done this and that (i can’t remember her point at this time, maybe because we complained, we asked for special treatment). My mom replied that we were not rich, but “isang kahig isang tuka” and were not asking for special treatment but we have 6pm appointment and its nearing that time with no sign that we will be finished. The response: “WHY DID I SCHEDULE A 6 PM APPOINTMENT WHEN I KNEW I WILL BE AT DFA THAT DAY?”!!!!! This is really unprofessional of them.
    First, the appointment was for 1:30-2:00pm and to be there by 1pm. We complied with this. Why didn’t they set an appointment that said 1:30-7:00pm or 8:00 om so i would know it would take that long. How was i supposed to know that they extend regularly beyond the office hours of 5:00pm????? It was not my fault that they were inefficient, but i had to cancel my meeting anyway because it was impossible for me to make it at that point.
    You know, i don’t know if its coincidence but after my mom returned, the numbers at the monitor changed fast and more booths were already changing numbers. I was in and out of the booth in 3-5 minutes. I didn’t care how i looked at the photo at that point. There were around 70-80 booths at the DFA for biometrics, which would have been enough to accommodate 3,500 persons within office hours (12 persons/hour x 8 hours x 80=7,680). I saw persons holding No. 3,500 stub, i don’t know when the poor girl will be called, but this means they process around this many persons per day.
    Thank you for sharing this experience, it brought to mind my own, which i said i will share in FB but i got too busy. i really don’t know how and why we as a people have to go through and have to suffer this inefficiency.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 1:13 pm

  13. Carol says:

    This is such a shame. The reason why the queue system is inefficient is because it is left in the hands of incompetent line minders who do not know how to manage lines and they just need to be given jobs. A lot of these people are in a lot of government offices involved in processing licenses and documents. As you said, a simple number queueing system (which is adopted in almost all places) would have been a more systematic way to go. You must have exercised a lot of self control in this situation – I would not have let this pass by asking in a calm but steady voice, why he is letting the celebrity jump in line? That would at least keep everybody in the line and put thye pressure on the line minder and the celebrity who will be cutting the line. If he does not listen, I will ask for the supervisor. As you said, most Filipinos get too used to this behavior and we should not condone it. This is a shame that our DFA continues this practice. I and my family members are due to replace our passports, too, and I dread the thought that I will be subjected to this incompetence in the DFA.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 1:18 pm

  14. Marketman says:

    Carol et al. Surprisingly, the new consular building is big, airy, modern and well airconditioned. The system overall appears to be better than before, with total turnaround time using an agency being 1 hour or so. Lots of people there are doing their jobs and doing them reasonably well. But a bad egg or two always mars the experience.

    Plus this sign when you enter: “Due to technical adjustments, all passports will take 25 working days to process, your understanding is appreciated.” Ridiculous, now that it is fully computerized, photos digitized and data stored on computers, it now takes 3 WEEKS LONGER to get a new passport than it did under the manual system. How absurd is that?

    As for my not saying anything. I bite my lip in situations where the person I am about to castigate can and may do something that will derail the reason I am in the office to begin with. In this case, they would know exactly who I am, and they would have my passport. If they decided to do ill, and my passport disappeared, I would be up sh@t’s creek, so to speak. However, once I do get my passport back, I will probably send a letter to the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, the new guy who was once Ambassador to the U.S., and should be fairly cognizant that this type of behavior is unacceptable. The other place I bite my lip is when enterring immigration or customs into any foreign country. Trust me, a subsequent strip search as a result of a sassy if legitimate and true comment, can be uncomfortable. :)

    Feb 25, 2011 | 1:28 pm

  15. Marichu says:

    Aha! I knew I’m not the only one who thinks waiting in line is NOT idiotic. My mother is amused whenever I wait for my turn. This also goes on in airports where they call particular zones. The ticket handler repeats the zone/seat info at least 2 times, but somehow people don’t care to listen. And then I watch, in secret glee, as the ticket handler announces in a loud voice to the cutting passenger that, “Ma’am/Sir, please wait until your number is called.” *smile*

    Feb 25, 2011 | 1:35 pm

  16. malen says:

    I renewed my passport last year by myself and without the assistance of any agent. I arrived at the DFA at 8:30am. Initially, i was overwhelmed by the sea of people and the chaos but surprise, surprise, my transaction was done by 12. No unpleasant incident whatsoever.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 2:15 pm

  17. joyce says:

    cutting in line irks me too! i always make sure that i dont jump the line at offices and other public facilities by looking around and asking people where the line is.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 2:19 pm

  18. GayeN says:

    I’ve had a lot of experience with “line cutters” esp. when I was still commuting to/from the office, some act as if they reserved a space next to their kakilala or friends. Others, simply cut the line acting innocent, stupid more likely. Some people in line beckon their friends who are at the back. Nakakainis!

    It was a good thing I had my passport renewed last year in the old DFA passport processing office, it took only 30mins – from the time I gave the requirements to the photo capture/signature capture. :))

    Feb 25, 2011 | 2:20 pm

  19. peanut says:

    I do believe that it is the Filipinos who are to blame….they are so scared of bureaucrats.Why didn’t someone stand up and ask why that person was moved up the line?

    Feb 25, 2011 | 2:34 pm

  20. denise says:

    hi MM..hear hear!

    the worst line-cutting tactic i’ve seen was while in line for a taxi (taxi queues here in dubai are legendary) at a mall, and this caucasian girl faked a faint!!! and i knew it was fake because i was standing beside her (the line was about 4 lines deep that snaked along the side of the mall) and she was laughing a few seconds before that, and it wasn’t a seizure (been around people who had epilepsy to know the difference), and she was holding back her laughter the whole time…it was soo irritating!!! and even the other people in the line was a bit pissed and was smirking at her tactic as she and her family where herded by mall security to a taxi right away.

    peanut..you have to learn to fight your battles, as what MM commented, there are certain places where you have to bite your tongue until you have the upperhand, in this case, until MM gets back his passport :)

    Feb 25, 2011 | 2:58 pm

  21. Cecile says:

    YES! AT LAST may nag-discuss na! Sana may mga taga-DFA at iba pang government agency na makabasa at makagawa ng kaukulang hakbang na tutugon sa mga concerns na nabanggit dito. Ang hindi pagpila ay isa sa mga nagpapakunot sa aking noo tuwing ako ay nasa mga pampublikong lugar. Nalulungkot at nagngangalit ang aking kalooban sa tuwing may mga taong hindi marunong pumila o mag-practice ng delicadeza. Mga taong alam mong nakapag-aral naman pero ni ang simpleng pumila ay hindi magawa. Ang isa pa kasing nakakasira ng araw ay ang mga taong nagpapasingit sa kanilang mga kaibigan o kakilala. Ayoko sa mga hindi marunong magpahalaga sa hirap ng iba (kahit waiting in line lang) kaya kahit ako ay nagdadalantao noon, pumipila ako kahit pinapauna na ng ibang nasa pila.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 3:01 pm

  22. Mimi says:

    First time I took a jeepney ride it cost 50 cents! Last time I went on one it was Php3? My gosh Php8! I was going to renew my passport in Manila while on vacation for 4 weeks, but could not get an online appointment. So my passport is now expired, and am dreading the ‘pila’ as my friend had hers and her son’s passport renewed here, they got them after 8 weeks. But her son’s name was misspelled, so they had to wait again!

    Feb 25, 2011 | 4:04 pm

  23. ariel says:

    Normally, rants turn me off, but on this one I wholeheartedly agree. It would be best to reveal that tv celeb as well as spotlight this bad behavioral defect of Filipinos.

    That judge in Lindsay Lohan’s case was straightforward: “I do not care who you are, we’ve never met before, and you will be spending time in jail. (for shoplifting) ”

    How I wish Filipinos were like that.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 4:06 pm

  24. K says:

    I dread renewing my passport, and I must say I’m kinda envious of the senior citizens (and minors), at least they can walk in (with a companion) without a prior appointment and get their papers processed quickly. If you invest Php120 in getting your passport delivered by a courier service, be sure to follow up within 3 days after the date your passport gets released –my mom’s passport was almost in limbo and I had to call the DFA and LBC to follow up. Thankfully, mom got her passport within the day I did the follow-up. :D

    Feb 25, 2011 | 5:02 pm

  25. anna says:

    Hi MM,
    You’re lucky, at least now the airconditioning is working and they actually have seats while you wait. My husband and son renewed their passports when the building was fairly new, and had to stand the whole time! My son swore he would never go back to that place.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 5:52 pm

  26. rocky says:

    It was May 2010 when we applied for our passports. We got a 6.30am (or was it 7.00am) appointment. It was okay; we were done after an hour, after doing our share of cleaning the seats with our pants. What slowed me down was the biometrics – I didn’t know that you had to take off your contact lens. And the restroom was a bit of a walk from the second floor to the ground floor entrance. And it’s a good thing that I always bring my eyeglasses in case I need to take off my contact lens. I had our family’s passports delivered to the office na lang – I don’t want to go back there – ang daming tao kasi.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 5:57 pm

  27. Cris says:

    Wala ng pag-asa ang bayang ito, kahit naman sa SSS ganyan din, musical chairs at mga humanherders. Tsk tsk tsk, what a shame.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 6:29 pm

  28. Tuesdayy says:

    I sympathize with you and other passport applicants in the Philippines, MM. But let me tell you one good story about Philippine passport applications. Here in Thailand, the Philippine Embassy conducts Consular Missions wherein they go to cities/towns outside of Bangkok where there are Filipino communities in need of consular services. I have experience with organizing such missions in partnership with the Philippine Embassy and our kababayans really benefit from this service. This eliminates the need to go to Bangkok to have their applications processed, big savings on time and money especially since most applicants are working full time. The last time we had a Consular Mission here in 2010, our association even facilitated the collection of completed passports from Bangkok and our members were able to receive them right here in our city, no hassle, no problem. Consular Missions like these are held usually once a year, and services other than passport processing are also available. I guess we are very fortunate here. And by the way, I have never ever witnessed any of our members/applicants cutting through the queue; they are really disciplined and cooperative.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 6:34 pm

  29. michelle o says:

    This reminds me of the time I went to get my new passport. I was there for three hours and the aircondition or fan wasn’t working. It was truly a shock to my senses. The room was crowded and hot. It smelled like sweat and urine. We kept having to move down a seat while this annoying guy wearing pointy white shoes kept “screaming” at us with a microphone. Telling the crowd that if we dripped sweat on our documents and the ink ran we would be sent to the back of the line. Needless to say, my mother who is a foreigner, and has never been to the DFA back side (where the Filipinos cue like carabaos) was shocked. When I finally got to my window, my pictures were apparently in-correct. So it was time to cue again. I paid to have the seriously ugliest passport picture in my life. Sadly the new passport is stapled to my previous one. It reminds me of one of those ‘whatever happened to….’ photos where the subject of the photo looks like they fell off the wagon. Ugh. I can’t wait to run out of pages (as I did with my previous one) but the thought of this process is too painful. Dreadful. Dreadful. Dreadful. It is so third world. I wish we could treat our own citizens with a lot more decorum and respect then this.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 9:10 pm

  30. Jerome says:

    I totally agree with you, Marketman. Lining up is not the problem. It is the lack of consistent respect for it by Filipinos that makes it a bad experience.

    What a coincidence, I was also at the DFA passport office with my family. I think you actually had a better time than us. We arrived at 130pm for a 230pm appointment. At first, we were pleasantly surprised that we were entertained immediately despite the clear warning in the DFA website that we would only be entertained 30 minutes before the actual appointment. We were allowed to go to the “courtesy lane” because of my 2-year old baby. But there ends our luck. That guard giving out numbers before your turn in the camera told us to have lunch first (but of course we already had) because he said it may take 2 hours more of waiting. The number he pulled out from the machine was about 200 more than what’s being served. When I asked if it would take that long even in the courtesy lane, he suddenly produced a new and much lower number which was apparently pulled from the machine some time before! My puzzled look must have been noticed by a DFA employee who showed us to the assigned lanes for those with babies, senior citizens and disabled persons. We were supposed to be the next family assigned to one of the special lanes when we reached it, but guess what? We actually finished the whole thing just before 3pm. So it took us almost one and a half hours from entry to exit. I am sure those without the same excuse as I had (my 2-year old) took much longer. But I have to admit that the new passport office makes waiting more bearable than before.

    You could have been luckier at that early slot.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 9:12 pm

  31. Lannie says:

    MM, same is true of NAIA! Seven years ago, I could say that NAIA was better than the Indian intl airport in terms of facilities AND how people get in line and so on. But I was in India again a year ago and was surprised to see the improvements and the changes in the lines at Customs to facilitate orderly processing! It truly made me sad to realize that hardly anything (if any) has been done to improve NAIA in terms of facilities and orderliness in the past decade :(

    “The other place I bite my lip is when enterring immigration or customs into any foreign country.”
    A couple of years ago, going to HK, the customs official stared at me hard and asked “You know speak English?” In my head, I said “yes, better than you” but I just smiled, bit my tongue and said “yes” :)

    Feb 25, 2011 | 9:23 pm

  32. millet says:

    people who jump the line are my favorite pet peeve, but people who let others jump the line tops the list hands down! jumping the line is one of the things i almost never let pass – whether in the grocery, voting and everywhere else. a light tap and a scolding usually does it, except for some particularly thick-skinned individuals.

    i was seething as i read your post (first time it ever happened to me while reading this site). quadruple fishpans each for that DFA guy and that celebrity!

    Feb 25, 2011 | 10:06 pm

  33. odie says:

    I hope these rants reach the right people who has the power to improve the situation at the DFA :(

    Feb 25, 2011 | 10:38 pm

  34. kim e says:

    i hate linecutters too. especially those who are so noisy and bring a whole herd with them. and when i commute, i observe that most people don’t generally give way to pregnant women, or those with kids, older people. it is more often you see that they even give way to sexy, attractive ladies.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 10:52 pm

  35. tonceq says:

    Pretty “typical” thing to happen in any Filipino setting with lines involved (government lines, comfort room lines, cinema lines, lines to jeep or any form of public transportation, tan lines… :)). Long lines really aren’t a problem (though it could have been managed better as you’ve said) if only everyone had the DECENCY to WAIT PROPERLY! I don’t find it surprising that our government system is the way it is (*cough… corrupt… cough* though not all) if the basic citizens themselves cannot observe basic rules and decorum.

    BTW MM, I hope you don’t kick me out of the comments section (I keep bringing up corrections) but after your “what’s the problem” enumeration, the next paragraph has the word pregnant tansvestite which might mean “transvestite”? really sorry and very timely post! :)

    Feb 25, 2011 | 11:38 pm

  36. mariquettesf says:

    i agree that this issue is a constant problem in our nation. pero, this is not unique to us only. may mas malala pa sa ating mga pilipino.

    Feb 25, 2011 | 11:48 pm

  37. calorie-shmalorie says:

    Now i’m really dreading going to the DFA for my passport renewal. We had a relatively breezy experience when I accompanied my dad early last year when the appointment system was new. We were done in less than 2 hours. I would’ve thought they’ve improved and streamlined the process. Sad to learn it has gotten worse.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 12:21 am

  38. GJO says:

    Here in the UK known as the nation who queue’s, falling in line is an inherent trait even if there are just 2 persons in the shop people queue, even young kids know how to queue may be it’s a trait that needs to be taught at an early age. Everywhere people queue that is why everytime i go back to the Phils. i always go ballistic even in the toilets it seems that we pinoys do not know how to be considerate to others who are there before us. And one more thing people do not hold doors to those who follows them, and my hate peeve is you seldom hear people say thank you and please , I also made this observation in a plane full of Filipinos you do not hear the words “No thank you or Yes please. But if you take the Pinoy out of the Philippines you’ve never met a wonderful and lovely race but when we are home in the Phils. we behave differently why is that. ( Just an observation)


    Feb 26, 2011 | 12:53 am

  39. Sonia says:

    I have forwarded the link to this post to my husband’s cousin who is with the DFA. It would be better though if you go ahead with your plan to write to the Secretary. I do not work for the government but my husband does and my parents are both government retirees. I am fully aware of how bad the condition of the whole system is, top to bottom, but that we pay these people to deliver the government’s services to us notwithstanding, I think we also have a responsibility to help bring about some changes. While there is no guarantee that writing the Secretary will correct matters in any way, if we all do this:
    ” (5) No one, including myself, complained for fear that our own passports would be lost in the aftermath. In markets, groceries, shops or other such situations, I always call a line cutter a line cutter, and insist they move to the back of the line.” the system will be as you found it.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 1:26 am

  40. shalimar says:

    i tried to renew mine at Florida and they gave me so much hassles so I waited till I get back to Greece… haba din pila but I waited ;-) though I was offered to have mine done first before the rest but I refused!

    Feb 26, 2011 | 2:26 am

  41. Aileen says:

    The last time I experienced obvious line-cutting was when I brought my toddler son into the restroom of the old domestic airport while waiting to board a flight to Bohol. I was so thankful to be at the head of the line so my son could do his “business” when this young lady casually walked up to enter the newly vacated stall. SOOO, I thought it completely appropriate to follow her INTO the stall since I was rightfully next anyway. She couldn’t do much of anything as I worked around her, taking my little boy’s underwear and propping him up onto the toilet. How’s that for invasion of personal space!

    Feb 26, 2011 | 3:14 am

  42. jdc8888 says:

    This is not “daan na matuwid” may shortcut pala.. you have to have a status..

    Feb 26, 2011 | 3:23 am

  43. izang says:

    I have a scheduled renewal on march 24. This post is a very timely warning.

    Just wanted to share, that before I finally got a scheduled appointment, I had been trying to access their site for the past four months. Did all the online application, answered all the questionnaires, but when I get to part of the date when I will be interviewed, there was this message “Sorry, etc..etc..” I thought I was doing something wrong with my application. Initially, I was trying again in the following days but I was getting the same message. So, I left it until two weeks ago. It seems they were “upgrading” their system again. One thing I noticed, previously, when filling up the application for my children who are 7 yrs and 1 yr old respectively, upon writing their birth date, the tab for the employment information is disabled (of course, they wouldn’t be working at this age right?). When I filled up the online information, I noticed there were more tabs to fill. That was ok. I proceeded and typed my son’s birth date. The tab for the employment information came up and it was not disabled, this seems odd but i continued. Did my daughter’s application and the same thing happened. I can’t seem to find the logic of filling up employment information for minor’s but just thought it was ridiculous. I was wondering who designed the website? Because, if I have six kids, then I will be doing it six times?? I just thought it wasn’t right and a waste of time. Did anyone have the same experience?

    Anyway, thanks for cess’ comment above, I will remember to bring my S&R card so we can stay there in case.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 3:24 am

  44. sunflowii says:

    MM, I think the deeper issue is the flagrant discrimination that is acceptable in the Philippines. just because this celebrity came in the public servant that was the humanherd should not have taken upon himself that it was his duty to expedite the celebrity’s process. but don’t we have that special case/they’re better mentality in other situations? job ads in my new-grad days always had ‘only graduates of UP/Ateneo/DLSU may apply’. is it still the case? why does it persist? why is it even allowed? why doesn’t someone make a big stink out of it because it is discrimination?
    and in the same breath, if there was any sense of SHAME in people with regards to getting ahead through any means, this would not be an issue since people would self-police themselves. it’s not that they’re incapable of knowing what’s shameful and what’s not. when they stop on north american soil somehow they know how to behave. ;)

    Feb 26, 2011 | 4:01 am

  45. josephine says:

    How many commenting on this site have dual nationality and therefore have experience of renewing an “other” passport and what that entails? It would be interesting to know (don’t you think,MM?). I can renew my “other” passport by downloading a personalised form on the internet, already printed with my personal details, and by submitting this and recent photos, have a new passport available in 10 working days. No lines! As for the line jumping, I returned home last July and in the immigration line at NAIA, several people were picked out of the line and literally just taken past the controls and out the back. I don’t know who they were, not recognisable faces! but I had an idea they were plotting something because as soon as the plane landed they were on their cellphones talking to someone about “sundo”. As a Balikbayan I don’t find any of this surprising but the foreigners might have…

    In other countries of course there are special throughfares for diplomats and other accredited people, but not for a bunch of folks who just seemed like yuppies returning from a holiday in Europe…

    We need to respect the rights of all citizens in the Philippines as equals, vastly improve the way our civil service works but above all its governance and refuse to be treated as victims or sheep!

    Feb 26, 2011 | 4:16 am

  46. charlie says:

    I was in a restaurant in resort world a few weeks ago while visiting in Manila. We were at a restaurant and waiting for our table to be set up. We had a reservation and were 10 minutes early for our table. The guest host pointed to a table that was being set up and said that it should be available soon. Well a celebrity just walked in with her entourage and requested for a table. I heard her say ” puede ba next available na open may schedule akong hinahabol”. They were immediately seated by the guest host to the table that she mentioned to me. The guest host approach me and said sorry sir puede ba ho 45minutes wait wala na kaming big table. I was furious I requested for the manager spoke my mind then we left the premises. I know events like this happen everywhere around the world but I do not think it is done blatantly by star struck folks for a celebrity. This lady celebrity knew the scene that she caused but was never bothered by her actions.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 4:43 am

  47. Janette says:

    Well..it also happens here in Spain. Most especially in supermarkets. Those who usually do this are “marujas” or elderly people who cut the line and pretend that nobody noticed what they’ve done. I don’t want to blame anybody but, I guess Filipinos have inherited this “disgusting” trait from “this” previous colonist.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 4:56 am

  48. linda says:

    I have read somewhere that in France it’s just “normal” to jump the queue.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 6:44 am

  49. EbbaBlue says:

    My american hubby is is a 6 footer. He went with me to Pinas 2 yrs ago and… men his first word even at the airport here in Houston is – “Pinoys still the same – always singit-singit”. Anywhere that there is a line, (especially in Phils), lagi nga naman may nag-ka-cut in sa kanya. He has been in the Navy stationed in Pinas before (’78-79), and he comments that he is not that tall, but somehow, he will be waiting in line patiently or he will be opening a door entrance to a shop, suddenly a Pinas will be rushing infront of him. Why oh why, he said – is he invicible or what? And then he accepted that is the way we are (including me at times). And so at the plane, when we were landing at NAIA – he told me to sit down and wait till everybody has gone out, and then we could go and leave the plane.. Hahhaa, I did what he told me to.. and coming to the baggage claim area… hahahhaha…. another story.

    But you are right ..at government offices.. where there are “herdsmen” …celebrities are given the no. 1 ticket. Dito nga nag-dual citizen ako given by the Filipino embassy, ay sus… with numbers and appointment na… eh may lusutan pa rin. Most American-Pinoys complained, but those overseas workers visa holders – they just kept mum…tanggap na nila.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 7:22 am

  50. lola vi says:

    Count me in na isa sa gustong magreklamo sa pangit na sistemang iyan ng gobyerno natin. I just hope somebody from the government read your blog. Thank you for this comment.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 12:22 pm

  51. Vanessa says:

    Even sa line ng hospital pinapauna celebrities. My officemate just had this experience in Makati Med – she was in a long line for an OB check-up then a celebrity arrives pinauna sa kanilang lahat. hay :(

    Feb 26, 2011 | 2:16 pm

  52. Really Amazing says:

    Hi MM!

    First of all, I would like to disagree that Filipinos do not whine. They do, BUT they don not put it into action. I would assume this is so because 1) They don’t know who is the customer service representative of the government. Really, if you knew and you write them a letter, would they really respond? Maybe they would if you had a big name like a celebrity, a politician or a well-known tycoon. 2) We Filipinos are afraid to step up and take responsibility of our actions–magrereklamo ka, pero what are our plans of action for making it okay? What possible suggestions could be materialized to make things better?

    Actually, I had a great time processing my passport, but that was years ago. I opted to process it myself, no travel agent. Just me. I booked the whole day for the DFA processing. What made it easier is that I brought food, a book to read (which I finished) and a very patient perspective. It’ll take a long time before we become more efficient.

    I commend the “people herders” for doing what they do, but their uncouth mouth is brought about the need of attention (sino nga ba papansin sa kanila?) and a lack of education in their part (feeling siguro nila lahat ng taong nakapila roon ay ka-wavelength nila). There should really be a Good Manners and Right Conduct course given to the government employees. They should treat all people equal and comment when it is between life and death.

    But really, it all boils down to education.

    Thank you for posting this MM, I hope our government agencies are reading this :)

    Feb 26, 2011 | 2:26 pm

  53. Marichu says:

    Can I also rant here about taxi fares at NAIA and NAIA in general?
    Christmas season, I arrive at NAIA (not the PAL terminal). My taxi from airport to a home in Paranaque is P300. I understand that’s double the price, but whatever. Then my mother comes in after a couple of days. She arrives in the PAL terminal. Taxi is $20 to the same Paranaque residence. Yes, dollars. I know it’s Christmas, but that kills the spirit.
    Also, baggage claim at NAIA, I can understand tipping the people who help with the luggages (they are heavy!). But why do they ask for tips when they’re just checking my baggage claim tag? And I get funny looks when I pass customs without giving a little something.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 2:31 pm

  54. Mimi says:

    Josephine, France: my kids do not hold Philippine passports and their renewal is a breeze! All can be done online as well. You get a notice in the post after 3 working days to collect the passport. The passport collection is personal appearance (or with authorisation), but with an e-appointment merely takes less than 15 minutes. How I wish the Philippine passport system can someday be like this!

    Feb 26, 2011 | 2:54 pm

  55. robin says:

    as ofws, we go through the same ordeal – queueing endlessly, being the butt of jokes of “herders”, etc. at poea, every time we get our balik-manggawa overseas employment certificate clearance na parang the only benefit for us is exemption from paying the terminal fee of 750 pesos. compare this to the cash outlay of 25$ as owwa membership registration fee every two years, plus 900 pesos annually for philhealth coverage and 100 pesos annually for poea administrative/processing fee.

    years back, i went through a similar nightmare of being “herded” at nbi to get my clearance.

    i join many in the hope that in the not-so-distant future, things will be a “breeze”.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 5:46 pm

  56. apple says:

    Jumping the line, specially if you are a public figure, is as arrogant as declaring to anyone in that room that my time is more important than yours.

    Feb 26, 2011 | 11:33 pm

  57. Laura says:

    I feel the need to say that it makes me proud to witness how they handle it in Marikina where the system seems to be working right. I was at the municipal building in January at the peak of the property tax paying season. They have the electronic numbering device there (not sure what they’re called exactly) and as we entered, we were immediately instructed to get a number. There were many windows as well (more than 10) attending to the taxpayers. There were so many people waiting but it didn’t take long to get done with our business. I commend the government and the people of Marikina for working hand in hand to achieve discipline and order. It’s just sad that some government agencies haven’t improved their services yet and continue to function as if it they’re trapped in another time sometime in the 50’s. I’ve been to LTO offices where they still use manual typewriters :-)

    Feb 27, 2011 | 6:02 am

  58. May says:

    I just renewed my passport, thank God DFA now has an office here in Palawan. Maayos naman yung system nila dito, siguro dahil sa konti ng tao nahihiya yung mga singit-singit. Kudos to the old guy who refused to jump the queue, that is what the celebrity should have done.

    Feb 27, 2011 | 7:17 am

  59. RV Escatron says:

    sa isang dfa regional office, when i got my passport in 2008, before the counter opened for business at 8am, the head of office there did a rather loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong lecture about how we automatically become the country’s ambassador. inside my head, i was like DUHHH! i’ve learned that in civics class in grade school! that, aside from the usual wipe-20-chairs-before-we-process-your-application!

    Feb 27, 2011 | 11:22 am

  60. GabbyD says:

    there is a number system, but for upstairs.

    the first floor is only for checking if ur documents are all valid. it probably costs alot to install 2 number queues. also, there are alot of people downstairs so its important to keep the lines moving using ushers.

    Feb 27, 2011 | 12:30 pm

  61. Marketman says:

    GabbyD, I went upstairs too to have my photo, fingerprints, etc. taken. We had NO numbers there either. Instead, a group of 20 of us was led up by a humanherder outside the building, through the lobby and up the escalators, bypassing the folks doing it without an agency assisting. Cost of number queues? Please, the numbering machine can’t possibly cost more than PHP10,000 and monthly paper costs over PHP10,000, considering that they process hundreds or thousands of passports every day and charge nearly PHP1,000 each… What about the salaries of the 8-15 human herders they employ (4 on the shift in the agency section alone), at say PHP12,000 each fully loaded expense, that would be PHP180,000 right there, far more than any numbering system…

    Feb 27, 2011 | 12:47 pm

  62. lorna says:

    i know the the ordeal of getting a passport /renewal at DFA there in the phils. hence i always have my passport renewed at the philippine embassy here in doha, qatar. nosebleed talaga ang aabutin mo sa DFA manila.

    Feb 27, 2011 | 12:55 pm

  63. Dragon says:

    Haaayyy! Dem were d days when I had strong DFA connects that I did not even have to pay or queue for my passport.

    I renewed my Philippine passport here in Melbourne. Previous to that I had to renew in Bangkok where it was easy! To have availed of the e-passport here, it took 3 months for me to get my passport as the Melbourne consular representative had to send it to Canberra, who in turn, had to (diplomatically) post it to Manila. So for 3 months, you pray you would not have a need for a passport…

    Feb 27, 2011 | 2:15 pm

  64. Lilbeth says:

    I just renewed my passport at the Philippine Consulate here in Los Angeles and there are numbers. Can’t understand why they can do it here and not in Manila. BTW, it makes me sick to the stomach that the celebrity did not turn down the special treatment. I once read an article about then President Cory Aquino lining up at a restaurant and where she refused to be given special treatment..bless her heart!

    Feb 27, 2011 | 3:05 pm

  65. investmentwanker says:

    FINALLY. Was wondering if I was the only SANE one in pinoy cyberforums about the new DFA system. In one forum particulary, the lot of them raved on how efficient the application system was and how “easy” it was to do. I must’ve gone to the wrong building because it took me two days to go through the line and get my picture taken with the biometrics. nakakaasar pagsasabihan ka pang sumiksik sa isang upuan with another person. I felt sorry for the woman beside me, I’m as big boned as you can get.

    Feb 27, 2011 | 6:44 pm

  66. giancarlo says:

    I feel for you sir. I tend to make myself herd on situations that I feel people are not being decent, like line cutting. It just seems to me that people look at me differently meaning I get stares from people that I interpret as a sign of disapproval due to making a fuss about simple things. Though I understand the sentiment of not making little things into big problems. I understand but I do not agree. If we are to succeed in making a better 100 years or more for the next generation it starts by people starting to be more decent and courageous about doing the right thing.


    Feb 27, 2011 | 9:49 pm

  67. KUMAGCOW says:

    Been there myself and went to that horrendous line. came it at 130 and went out of that building at 7PM… imagine that…

    Feb 28, 2011 | 2:46 am

  68. acid says:

    “but I had no idea the Philippines had included television celebrities in the list of handicapped, pregnant, with young child or elderly group.”

    well, most of them are mentally challenged anyway…

    Feb 28, 2011 | 8:57 am

  69. mojito drinker says:

    hi mm that sucks. renewed my passport more than six months ago sans travel agency. while there were the usual bureaucratic pains, i was in and out in about an hour. i got the first appointment at 7:30am and despite the long lines, things moved rather quickly.

    can’t stand poorly managed lines either. i’m happy they finally figured out how to do the immigration (departing the country) queue at naia1 (i.e. one long queue instead of multiple small queues). it seems more fair. wish they would do that at other terminals and at the arrival counters. i mean, how expensive are the flexible barriers (the kind they have in banks and check-in counters) anyway?

    Feb 28, 2011 | 11:53 am

  70. peanut says:

    What I don’t understand is WHY ARE WE FILIPINOS MEAN TO EACH OTHER yet we fall over ourselves to accomodate froeigners?In this same vein,why can’t we be more disciplined and await our turn?

    Feb 28, 2011 | 12:16 pm

  71. GabbyD says:

    thats odd. when i renewed, it was a relative breeze. the first floor had massive crowds, and i appreciated the ushers’ help to organize the lines. the second floor had a number queue system also.

    Feb 28, 2011 | 12:32 pm

  72. fried-neurons says:

    Kainis talaga ang line cutters.

    One thing that I don’t understand, though, is why the government even makes people line up at offices just to renew a passport. Why can’t renewals be done by mail / courier?

    Feb 28, 2011 | 1:39 pm

  73. Blackwidow says:

    We renewed our passport last December, thinking that with the schedule given each applicant (an interval of 20 minutes per), it would be a breeze.

    How naive I was. We finished the whole pocedure at 8 in the evening, having lined up at 130 in the afternoon as per our confirmed schedule.

    The procedure of registering and getting the schedule on-line are exercises in futility.

    Hayy, Pilipinas!

    Feb 28, 2011 | 2:07 pm

  74. Blackwidow says:

    Dear MM,

    For easier navigation, can you place on top the latest comments so that the readers will not scroll all the way down of the page? Thanks.

    Feb 28, 2011 | 2:08 pm

  75. Marketman says:

    Blackwidow, to be honest, that would take some technical capability that I am not capable of (the template for this site was customized and maintained by a techie guy)… and I think would look somewhat backwards since it is chronologically more common to have the first comment at the top and the last one at the bottom… I am not sure I have run into a comment section with it as you describe, do you have another blog in mind that you can point me to so I can see it in practice? Is it really so hard to scroll?

    Feb 28, 2011 | 3:04 pm

  76. MParedes says:


    My first reaction after reading your blog was: why didn’t he call the attention of the herder and the stupid celebrity? Having read your reply to a comment, I now think you did the right thing as pinoy government workers can be really vengeful and they can make your life hell.

    In any case, I am imploring you to please, as soon as you get your passport, lodge a complaint with the new DFA Secretary and name the celebrity. He needs to know that what he did was wrong. He should have taken the high road and refused the special treatment. He needs to be shamed. The herder and the DFA employee who processed his application should be shamed. Please post your complaint letter here and your readers will forward it to as many peeople as humanly possible. That will get the attention of the DFA Secretary and will force him to do something about it. We need to end this crazy and unacceptable practice, not only at the DFA but in all ogvernment offices, as well. Enough. Please.

    Mar 1, 2011 | 3:40 am

  77. Marketfan says:

    What are the chances that “that celebrity” pays his taxes correctly? Why the special treatment? We’re still so far from the “daang matuwid”.

    Mar 1, 2011 | 12:36 pm

  78. Hohum says:

    Walang pagbabago. Most government agencies are manned by morons.

    Mar 1, 2011 | 1:55 pm

  79. mama mia says:

    Kung sino ang nag volunteer or nag magaling na magbigay sa “TV Personality” ng slot sa may unahan ng line, sya ang dapat pumalit sa may hulihan – I will tell it to them.

    Mar 1, 2011 | 2:26 pm

  80. jakbkk says:

    PLEASE oh pretty major major PLEASE don’t come to China or risk killing yourself in exasperation at the QUEUING DISCIPLINE(?!!!!)/LOGIC(????!!!) of the locals!!! even along the roads, there is no such respect for man and machine!!!! come at your own risk!!!!

    Mar 1, 2011 | 3:20 pm

  81. Barcelona 101 says:

    In reference to Janette’s comment that this was inherited from Spain, the Philippines being a Spanish colony, I think it’s always very easy to blame others and use this as a scapegoat. I too live in Spain and get that impression – everywhere, people will try to take advantage. But more than this being solely a Spain thing and therefore a Philippines thing, its a worldwide “attitude”. WE as filipinos should get our act together and make a conscious effort to be decent, educated people and not go by who you know… Case in point : Why do filipinos follow traffic regulations in Subic ? Its no longer an American military base … if we wanted to I believe it can be done… But let’s not complain if we don’t do anything about it. and more importantly let’s not blame others for our own faults.

    Mar 1, 2011 | 7:55 pm

  82. quiapo says:

    Queue jumpers have an inappropriate sense of entitlement. For the system to work, we must all believe we are all equal, and deserve equal treatment, and that this is the common ethos in society.
    I have lived mainly in the UK and Australia most of my life, and queue jumping is so rare, that it only happens inadvertently such as around a crowded shop counter without a numbering system and then the public provides the necessary correction.
    I cannot imagine a society without orderly queues.

    Mar 2, 2011 | 3:30 am

  83. Larees says:

    and THAT (your post above) is the reason why I loathe going/dealing with the PH govt and its agencies. You should try to go to PRC sometime, it’s crazy there too.

    Mar 2, 2011 | 3:26 pm

  84. sabrina says:

    The new and “world-class” passport system is horrible. My passport renewal took 2 months to complete because the first two appointments I had, they conveniently “lost” my appointment. I had all the papers you need for the renewal (with the appointment date clearly stated) but since I had “no appointment”, I couldn’t go in. *pounds head*

    When I finally got in, it took 2 hours to finish the process, I had an 8am appointment. I can only imagine how long it would take if you had a later appointment. You’d be stuck there all day probably.

    It’s worse if you have it done overseas, it takes approx. 2 months (which was my case, I should have done it in Canada na!) because they have to send everything back to Manila for processing pa. How silly and impractical.

    I heard that the Alabang passport office is much better and quicker. Worth the hassle of going to Alabang daw.

    Mar 2, 2011 | 10:02 pm

  85. doris says:

    i experienced the “musical chairs” too back in 2009 when i renewed my passport at DFA Manila but luckily everyone behaved that time so no untoward incident happened. i also accompanied my husband to KL last week to renew his passport and the experience was something i hope the DFA can learn from. everything was so smooth and fast. it only took us at most 2 hours and he already had his new passport. they are using the number system with many counters to assist you. but to describe it all, they were just so EFFICIENT!

    Mar 3, 2011 | 7:43 pm

  86. JC Po says:

    Just curious — did anyone among those in line at the time actually complain out loud?

    I think this is a common thing among us Pinoys — that at the time a ‘deed-crime’ is being committed, no one bothers to say anything at all. The crowd usually waits for the guts of the one “taga-talak” to air their grievances; usually though, no one wants to be the spokesperson of the irate group.

    Mar 5, 2011 | 9:10 pm

  87. Mari says:

    hello marketman, i need to get my passport renewed in time for a trip in april. called up my agent, and they said they don’t handle renewals anymore. if it’s not much trouble, can you or anyone reading this refer me to one within metro manila that does?

    thank you so much!

    Mar 8, 2011 | 4:55 pm

  88. chanel says:

    Called the attention of a consular officer on this:

    The musical chairs – We used to have a queuing system for this but it proved too slow.
    (Maybe people are leaving the building and have to called 3x before moving on to the next number. Calling 3x is already taking too much time).
    The herders are there for a reason. To expedite the process.
    The waiting period is long. It is not because the system is inefficient. It is because the number of passport applicants is simply too many and we have too few personnel in proportion (not to mention machines).

    My say:

    No other consular office in the world processes 5000 passports a day. The consular office of the DFA operates for half the budget of Malaysia that processes only 30 passports a day. And the machines! The French providers could only design a machine that can process 3000 a day and that’s the best provider that the DFA could get already. The machine gets a regular machine overload, of course, it was not designed for the load that it gets.

    Pag pasensyahan na ang consular staff na masusungit. Ikaw ba naman ang dumugin ng 5000 katao araw araw. Saan ka nakakita ng trabahong ganyan sa sweldong 10,000 pesos a month? AT ang trabaho ay hanggang 9 ng gabi.

    Lahat yata ng Pilipino gustong lumabas ng bansa, kaya ganyan kadami ang sineserbisyuhan araw araw. Dito lang yan sa Pilipinas. Sa ibang bansa, hanggang 1 pm lang bukas ang consular nila para makapag papassport ka.

    Ang itinaas ng bayad mula 750 to 950/1200 ay hindi naman para sa serbisyo. Walang kahit singko sa itinaas ng bayad ang napunta sa pagbabayad ng bagong building, ng facilities, ng mga tao. Napunta lahat sa security features na nilagay sa bagong passport. Kung tinaasan pa kahit ng piso ang bayad para yung piso napunta sa serbisyo, magrarally na naman ang Migrante.

    Hindi siguro dapat sisihin ang DFA lang. Ang 5000 + na taong dumudumog sa DFA araw araw, ang kawalan ng budget, ang buong pamahalaan, ang mentalidad, ang kultura, ang buong sistema. Ang DFA, ginagawa na ang lahat ng makakaya. Sweldong 10,000/month, 8 am to 9 pm na trabaho, kaya mo?

    Mar 9, 2011 | 6:35 pm

  89. Marketman says:

    chanel, sorry, but if I can be brutally blunt, your comment is just plain STUPID and NAIVE. It only bolsters the popular and majority view that something is deathly wrong with our approach, attitude and provision of government services.

    1. First of all, you FAIL to address the most important and glaring point, that of the celebrity being allowed to cut line. This was WRONG. It was encouraged by a CONSULAR employee. It was condoned by OTHER EMPLOYEES. And it set a simply bad example for hundreds of people to see. There is NO EXCUSE for that behavior. None. Not low pay, not low recognition, not low education, not a lack of intelligence. It was just plain and simply, WRONG. That was the main thrust of the blog, and you IGNORED it.

    2. Musical chairs. There is such a science as queueing theory. I didn’t invent it. And it works in many places around the world and in the Philippines as well. No need to keep shuffling between seats, treated like children. If you had a numbering system and people left the building when their number comes up, then they get another number. It’s quite simple. You DON’T need to call a number, just flash it on a screen with an automated voice if you like.

    3. Herders are there to expedite a process? Baloney. The only thing the herders did on the morning I was there was point out which window to go to. I think most applicants can figure that out for themselves, you give them too little credit. And if there were NO HERDERS, there would be no one to AID the CELEBRITY in cutting the line. That is the MOST visible thing they did at the DFA that morning I was there.

    4. The waiting period of several hours there is due to an inefficient process, not only the masses of applicants. If the system took into account the projected workflows, you would not have to wait as long as you do today. Furthermore, if a MANUAL system just months ago resulted in a week’s wait for your passport, but an AUTOMATED system now results in a four week wait, where is the LOGIC in that? Duh. Furthermore, why have people BOOK APPOINTMENTS with specific times a MONTH in advance if you can’t handle the number of people who are allowed to book the appointments? Double duh.

    5. Categorically stating that no other consular office in the world handles 5,000 passport applications a day means you have absolute knowledge of all consular offices on the planet. Don’t you think it is HIGHLY LIKELY that consular offices in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc. actually handle far more than 5,000 passports a day? I would bet they do. And I only base that on the obvious link of population and migration patterns.

    6. The machines. Let’s blame the French shall we??? HOW ABSURD IS THAT??? If it was reasonably expected that the office would be processing 5,000 passports a day, then why BUY a system that only has a capacity of 3,000 passports a day. I was a strategy consultant by training, and that spurious, unintelligent excuse is LAUGHABLE. What about blaming the FILIPINO who agreed to buy a system that couldn’t meet the expected needs??? Was he forced to buy the system? Did they not think to buy two systems instead of one? And why buy a system at all if the MANUAL SYSTEM in place before was far more productive and FASTER? Absurd logic, with a defense such as this one, it’s no wonder we have national issues…

    7. As for “masungit” consular officials, I did not say that at all. I did not experience masungit officials, I only experienced ones that blatantly allowed a celebrity to cut line. Other commenters may have mentioned this, but low salaries are NOT ever an excuse for surly behavior. If they don’t like their job, they should seek another one. By that same line of logic, all public school teachers should be masungit due to low pay, all salespeople in malls should be masungit due to even lower pay, and yet all types of surveys say Filipinos are amongst the happiest people of the planet… Go figure that.

    8. As for consular offices in other Philippine embassies or consulates around the world, there is NO LOGICAL reason to have shortened hours. It doesn’t serve their constituencies adequately. Why shouldn’t consular offices be open the whole time an embassy is open. And here your number logic falls flat… if readers are to be believed, several Philippine consulates use a “NUMBERING SYSTEM” abroad. So why would it work there, but not in our own country? Why would Philippine airlines use a numbering system in their major reservations offices? Why do the LTO offices process thousands of applications for driver’s licenses daily without having to resort to herders, seat-cleaning processes, etc.?

    9. I have no problem with high fees, as long as there is SERVICE.

    10. Of course the DFA is to blame. They are the lead agency in the process of getting the passports. You cannot blame citizens for wanting a passport and hoping to get it in a reasonable amount of time in a reasonably acceptable process. The government is there to SERVE and it is its duty to serve as well as it can given the constraints. But if given a new office, new airconditioners, new systems that rely heavily on automation, but the SERVICE OUTPUT is a passport that takes 3-4x longer than it did with the old building, and less computers, how ridiculous is that? The DFA has the ability to control the process, the system, the flow of work, etc. HENCE, it receives the BRUNT of the criticism. If the DFA made it clear that they would NOT tolerate line cutting of any kind, then you wouldn’t expect it to happen so blatantly.

    11. And as for your challenge of whether I would work for PHP10,000 at the DFA, I wouldn’t. I would be smart enough to find other employment that would yield for me a better living. But that’s missing the point almost altogether. There are MANY government employees who provide reasonable service for little pay (teachers foremost among them), money is NOT the main driving force. If the people you describe were capable, why don’t they look for other jobs that pay more?

    AS FOR THE KEY QUESTION OF WHETHER THE DFA COULD DO A BETTER JOB, I THINK THE OBVIOUS ANSWER AND FELT BY MANY READERS IS THAT IT DEFINITELY COULD. Making excuses like volume of applications, a screwed up French system that a Filipino chose to buy and implement despite insufficient capacity, low salaries, etc. is just a pathetic line of logic. Filipinos working abroad produce such an incredible flow of income and foreign exchange for the country, so much so that without it we would be wallowing at the bottom of the group of Third World countries, that it BEHOOVES the government and the DFA to at least have a decent, timely, easy and fair system for the provision of Philippine passports. IT IS A SHAME YOU DO NOT SEE IT THIS WAY.

    Mar 9, 2011 | 7:59 pm

  90. chanel says:


    1. You’re right, I did not address the celebrity cutting the line, wala kasing issue dun. It is undeniably wrong.

    2. You chose the travel-agency assisted system. There used to be a number system there too, just like in the main floor where the walk-ins go. It didn’t work there. It works for the main floor – in the processing and enrollment section (read a comment here where author said his application was a breeze), but it doesn’t in the travel-agency assisted section. – I pressed my friend from consular about this – he said it just didn’t work. ^^ times daw silang nagmeeting with travel agencies about this, pinag-usapan pinag-isipan at yun ang naisip na pinakamabilis na paraan. Maybe you should advise DFA about the qeueing theory.

    3. The herders – Baloney? That’s your opinion. The guys at consular have theirs too. I suspect the travel agencies put them there coz there is certainly no budget in the DFA for them. Why don’t we think of it this way? It’s a way to combat poverty. Binibigyan sila ng hanapbuhay; kesa maging fixers or pickpockets sa crowd.

    4. Manual vs. automatic – If I didn’t know any better, I would also think the way you think. DFA can issue a manual passport in 30 minutes. Maiuuwi mo na siya. Kaso hindi mo na siya magagamit ang manual passport because of ICAO Regulations. In the ideal world, dapat mas mabilis ang automated, it really boggles the mind otherwise! But in the real world, THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT CAN ONLY AFFORD LIMITED NUMBER OF MACHINES, WHICH MACHINES ARE STILL SUBJECT OF A COURT CASE AND HALF OF THEM ARE NOT YET PAID SINCE DELIVERY TWO YEARS AGO. Booking people? Because the DFA wants to accommodate the OFW clamoring to go out of the country who would otherwise miss their employment. Kung hindi ipipilit ng DFA na i-stretch yung system, 8 months in advance ang booking para makapagpapassport.

    5. Only the Philippine DFA handles 5,000 passports a day. Categorically said. The DFA has the tables – comparisons on how many apps all MFA/DFA handles a day, how much is the cost of the passport, what is the budget of each consular office. You don’t have to go into population and migration patterns.

    6. Are we blaming the French? Surely not. There was a bidding process for those machines. Phil embassies all over the world invited and negotiated with companies which could provide the best specs. The French could provide the best – 3,000 passports a day. We are only talking about quality. The budget had to be fought for. It is still being fought. Kung hindi ipinaglalaban ang budget, 1000 passports a day lang ang kakayanin.

    7. It was another comment author who implied masungit. Well totoo naman, nasungitan na rin ako when I accompanied my mom to renew her passport. Public school teachers? Their rooms are their own kingdoms, walang crown na naghaharass sa kanila every minute. SM sales ladies? Ang sarap ng trabaho nila compared sa consular staff ha? At mas mataas ang sweldo nila than many consular people. But thats beside the point. I know there are also COS workers in consular, those who get your biometrics – who are paid much higher. Kung maghahanap ng ibang trabaho ang mga taga DFA, sino nalang ang magsisilbi sa taong bayan bilang kawani ng pamahalaan? Sabi mo, hindi ikaw. Government employee din ako. I am doing my Master of Laws and I can surely get a job which would pay 4x what I got from government. May mga tao talagang gustong maglingkod sa bayan, kahit mas malaki kikitain bilang OFW. Isa na ang mga taga DFA. I am not defending masungit, inuunawa ko lang sila. At nung sinungitan ako, ni-remind ko lang yung tao, nagsorry naman.

    8. Shortened time – not Phil embassies and consulate. It’s the consulates of other countries. Where I am now, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar closes at 2 pm. Australia, South Africa, US, UK closes at 1. Spain and Canada closes at 2.30. Egypt closes at 2.30. The Phil Embassy closes at 5.30

    9. “The DFA has the ability to control the process, the system, the flow of work, etc. HENCE, it receives the BRUNT of the criticism.” – Alas, only the last sentence is true.

    The DFA could DEFINITELY do a better job. But as it is, the DFA is already doing way beyond what can be reasonably expected of it, considering the resources that is allotted to it. You have studied qeueing theory. You should share your knowledge to DFA (but for free, I guess coz it has no budget for consultants). I have studied government, many governments. I can distinguish theory from reality. Between the two of us, I’m sure I am not the more naive. I just have a different way of looking at things, and I do not agree that it is shameful that I do not see things your way.

    As I have said, I am not defending the DFA. Ikaw, passport lang ang problema mo. Mas marami akong reklamo sa DFA. May mga bagay lang na wala talaga tayong magagawa, kailangang intindihin dahil hindi tayo America. Pero doon sa pagpapauna sa mga celebrity, I think hindi na mauulit yun, may circular na. And thank you for that.

    Mar 10, 2011 | 5:21 pm

  91. sven says:

    not to fuel the flames further. but it isn’t what you are doing akin to a (internet) celebrity ranting for a bad service and getting priority fix slip because of your fame (i.e., your wide blog audience)? you have unwittingly condoned a (rotten) system that prioritizes celebrities, cult personalities and prima donnas.

    Mar 20, 2011 | 11:30 pm

  92. MP says:

    Chanel, your reasoning does not have any logic to it. No rhyme, no reason. We deserve good service from our government. No excuses, no alibis.

    May 2, 2011 | 4:53 am

  93. Controversy says:

    Chanel, I found your comments not only naive but bordering on stupid, as well. Your defense of DFA was off tangent. The bottomline is: DFA issued a memo for staff to stop giving special treatment to “VIPs” (you said so yourself) so instead of ranting senselessly, shouldn’t you be more thankful to MM for raising an isssue that at some point in our lives we’ve experienced?

    May 2, 2011 | 5:01 am


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