I've just been through passport hell. Normally I don't like to trash the Philippine government; they have enough problems as it is without their own citizens ridiculing them. But hey, that's what a democracy is, right? We have the right to express our opinion, and after Monday's fiasco, boy do I have to vent!! Why does applying for a passport have to be so convoluted? The whole process seems riddled with inefficiencies, redundancies and miles of red tape.
1) Take those passport photos. It's bad enough that they have to be this weird size (1.77" x 1.35"). But why do we have to be wearing a shirt with collar and sleeves?
2) What's with all this inane data you need to fill out on the forms? Why do they need to know:
* The name and address of the attending physician at the applicant's birth.
* The civil status of the father and mother of the applicant.
* The religion of the father and mother of the applicant.
3) Why does the consulate need three copies of everything? Birth certificates, marriage certificates, passport data page, you name it -- I need to provide the original and three photocopies. Why do three different departments need this information? Haven't they heard of computers and centralized data?
4) Why do I need to fill in the Report of Birth by hand -- three times?? Why not make 3 copies and I can sign each one?
5) Why require notarized signatures if I'm applying in person??
6) The passport info page on the website and the passport forms have different requirements: one says I need a notarized Consent to Travel Form, one doesn't mention it at all.
In any case, I had no choice. I spent the whole of Sunday gathering documents and filling in forms. On Monday, we left home at 8:30AM so I could swing by the notary and make the 1 million photocopies required by the application. Sorting out which copies go where for 4 people took almost 1 hour! We rushed to San Francisco so we could submit the application and hopefully get there first and maybe even get the passports by the end of the day.
And after all that, guess what? The consulate was closed for Ninoy Aquino day. Apparently they announced on August 4 that the consulate would be closed on Aug. 20, Monday, instead of Aug. 21, Tuesday (the actual holiday). Just my luck that I had checked the consulate website in July to make sure of the consulate's office hours, so I knew nothing about this closure.
After biting my lip so I wouldn't swear in front of the kids, I did the only thing I could: took them into Starbucks for a chocolate milk and some chocolate-covered graham crackers. That's our beloved Banana Republic, whattayagonnado?