1. Get an appointment through the DFA website. By doing this, you skip step 1 which is to wait in (a looooooooooooooong) line in a very humid basketball court to have your documents assessed. I'm so glad I did this! And I encourage everyone to do too...or else you might lose 2 hours in hell. (not kidding)
2. Complete all documents before coming. You need a completed application form which you can download and print from here, 3 I.D. photos in royal blue background (They are stricter now. You can't wear jewelry, headbands or even smile in the shot!), old passport, and what not. Make sure you have extra copies of your passport, ACR (alien certificate of recognition)- if you weren't born in the Phils., birth certificate and driver's license. Don't forget your ballpen!
3. Always ask questions. In the Philippine government offices, signages are either too small to be read or not there at all...resulting in confusion. I felt like a headless chicken in their flawed system. I even got lost and lined up in step no 1 (that humid basketball court) when I should've gone straight to the last step (the air-conditioned but still warm auditorium). It will save you time to ask the guard where to go.
4. Look your best. Why should you? Well, decent clothing, make-up and charm can really take you places. I noticed that because I looked more err...professional than the people next to me, the officers respected and responded to me. In 2 occasions, I did not have to go back in line (when I had to have some documents copied so tip#2 is very important!!!)
5. An extra person helps. They usually do not allow any other person to go with the applicant but since I argued that I was a breastfeeding mom and I needed a helper to carry my son while I do my business, the guard let her in. I didn't know my help would come in handy when she would line up for me in the next line while I was still paying or keeping Santi sane.
6. Bring baon in the bag. Expect to be there the whole day if you didn't get an appointment or half a day if you did. It was so smart of me to bring my brand spankin' new and beautiful SIGG bottle filled with agua from mi casa. This kept me hydrated. (I bought this from the Pulse Yoga Discovery Weekend at 10% off the retail price. It was on promo that day so it was good enough reason for another impulse purchase!) My help always brings crackers with her so, that helped too, when Santi got hungry.
7. That's entertainment! The long lines are a b!tch. A book or magazine may also help make time fly. If you are with child, please do not forget to bring his/her toy. He/she might die or boredom or kill you with kulitness. I got my share of Santi freak outs today in the auditorium. I saw people giving us the 'pity look' and even heard some whispers 'dapat paunahin na sila...kawawa naman'. But no, that didn't work. hehe.
See that?! This is only 1/4 of people in line for that final step (encoding after payment) in the auditorium. There in the middle is my all-around help, (my life saver!), Creslyn.
8. Passport delivery rocks. Yup, at the very end you have the option to have your passport delivered to your house for P100 through Air21 or LBC. My gosh take that option, it's worth the money! You wouldn't want to go back on the release date to line up AGAIN just to pick up your passport.
Haaaaaaaaay. Thank heavens it's over! I won't be going back in 5 years! (that is when our passport expires).