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A few weeks back, third week of May to be more specific, I faced the need of having my passport renewed. One of the required documents before I start working for IBM was a valid (read: not expired) passport since I could be deployed in another country. My passport expired way back in 2007 and I haven’t bothered renewing it.

I immediately researched on-line about the passport renewal procedure and thankfully, I found a way to renew my passport without much hassle. I stumbled upon Philippine Passport Express, a company offering passport application and renewal services. It’s actually more telephone-based than internet-based.

Philippine Passport Express - 567 11 11

I dialed their number (567 11 11) and inquired. The one who received the call was very courteous and helpful, answering every question I asked. She gave me a reference number and told me to submit the requirements at any LBC branch. It would cost P1800 for the service, an amount much higher than what the DFA charges. I find it reasonable though because the only thing an applicant would have to do, aside from paying and sending the documents, is to make an appearance at the DFA office. In short, an applicant needs to go there only once. They will deliver the passport to your home in (at most) 10 days.I went to the LBC branch that is most accessible from our place and submitted the requirements. The process took a while since the staff weren’t that informed about the procedure.

After a few days, a representative of Philippine Passport Express called and gave my schedule. They told me to go to the DFA office on July 14, 2010 — around 2 months after I applied for renewal. Good thing I applied as soon as I found out that I needed one or else I would’ve been scheduled at a later date.

I filed for a leave last July 14 and went to the DFA office for my personal appearance. Getting there was easy, I rode a cab. No, seriously though, it’s near SM Mall of Asia so for those who can go to MOA could probably go there easily. I arrived in Aseana Business Park (where the office is located) at around 11:10AM so I ate lunch first since my schedule was 12:30PM. There are a lot of restaurants near DFA and I chose to eat at Life Coffee & Tea.

Life Coffee & Tea

I ordered their Strawberry Iced Tea and Spicy Chicken with Garlic Pesto Sauce. The food there is on the expensive side and the taste is so-so. The chicken dish was on the salty side though I did love their Iced Tea. I wasn’t able to try their desserts but they sure looked delicious. Total bill? P285. For something I didn’t fully enjoy… ouch. Good thing they had free wi-fi.

Moving on, I went to the DFA office at around 12:00. I looked for Gate 1 since that’s where our handler would meet us. When I found him, he asked for the receipt issued to me when I paid for the renewal at LBC. He looked for my records and gave them to me.

We were told to go inside the (air conditioned) appearance area and wait for our turn to… appear? The queue was quite long but the DFA people were efficient so I waited for only less than an hour. After our ‘appearance’, we were asked to go to another part of the DFA office to have our photos and signatures taken.

Photo and Signature Stations

The line for the photo and signature was long but like I said, the people there were efficient. They will take a photo of you, ask you to sign on their digital tablet, and you’re good to go. When my turn came, I immediately sat on the chair and faced the camera. Excited much? The excitement was short-lived since the girl who was in charge of my papers asked me if the entries (first name, last name, etc.) in my record were correct. She then told me to face the camera. What annoyed me though was that she didn’t count or tell me when to smile – she simply took a photo. The result? I looked stressed out in the photo. And to think that photo will be used for 5 years (length of validity of a passport).

After that – done! All I have to do is wait for my passport. They told me that the passport would be delivered in 10 working days. I’ll update this blog entry once the passport gets delivered.

UPDATE (07-28-2010)

Okay, they didn’t deliver the passport in 10 working days like they promised. False advertising! Oh well, I’ll give them until Friday to deliver my passport, I’m not in a hurry anyway.

UPDATE (07-30-2010)

UGH, still no passport! They called but they said they’d be delivering the passport tomorrow. 10 working days? Phooey.

UPDATE (07-31-2010)

Finally, my passport arrived! LBC delivered it to our house this morning. My sister told me we should travel, but being the poor person that I am, I can’t. Haha! At last I can get my American Express card!