e-Passport

In November 2009, Cebu Pacific sold discounted air fares for such low prices that I decided to purchase tickets to Singapore for June 2010 travel even if I hadn’t renewed my passport yet. (Think P1,500 for two, round trip.)

In January, the Department of Foreign Affairs fully launched its e-passport service—a much-needed upgrade to our green passport with the pasted photo and handwritten basic information. Since I have little faith in our government, I decided not to renew my passport so early into the service’s introduction: I was sure it still had kinks to sort out.

In April, when I figured I had a free day that week, I decided to finally set an online appointment at the DFA website. My heart sank when I saw the next available slot that was open: second week of June. Even with rush processing, my passport would be delivered a day late for my flight.

And last week, that’s exactly how it happened: my passport was delivered on release day itself (hurrah for courier service 2GO)…  or a day after my flight left for the lion city, lol. Alanis Morissette can practically add new lyrics to the song, Ironic: “It’s like getting your passport when you’ve already missed your flight.”

* * * *

In a report by Jerrie Abella for GMA News, it said that fixers are still lurking around the newly built DFA passport application center along Macapagal Ave. (Though to be fair, I didn’t spot one while I had my turn there, whereas, in the previous DFA center, fixers were like termites that bullied and harrassed naive-looking applicants.) What’s worse is that they are booking multiple appointment slots, which they in turn sell to applicants who need earlier scheds.

To put an end to this scam the DFA should not allow changes to the information submitted for the slots; and for the applicant, don’t be stupid like me—apply months in advance.

Other than that, the process itself was a breeze. Though I did wait for an hour for my number to be called so I could submit my documents, I was at least seated in an air-conditioned room. And after that, I sped through the rest of the process—payment of fees, picture-taking and courier service—all in less than 10 minutes.

So now, I’m a holder of a much respectable-looking passport (go maroon!) with a photo that I won’t be embarrassed about 😛

* * * *

Oh, and for those who will be using the courtesy lane via your government employee relatives, they must be your parent or wife/husband.

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