The DFA Saga

Anybody had a hard time dealing with DFA? I just did. Remember my post regarding pet peeves a few months ago and I mentioned that one of my pet peeves is dealing with government offices? *Sigh* Let me just recount the events prior to the release of my passport.

When I lost my backpack last March, my passport was in there. Being so preoccupied, I forgot to take it out and secure it at home. So, I lost it, too, and it was never returned. Most likely, it already ended up in the garbage dump somewhere in Tarlac. I secured an affidavit of loss so I can process for a replacement and set an appointment on July 21 (earliest I was able to get when I tried get a schedule in July for a replacement) at DFA Megamall. Here’s what happened:

July 21 11AM:

I went to DFA Megamall and fell in line. It was actually my first time to process my passport at a satellite office.   I was assigned at Window 10 when it was my turn. They have about 12 windows and most of those are open so the processing was fast. The admin checked my documents and when he saw that I was applying for a replacement passport, I was asked to go to the main branch (DFA Aseana) to secure a clearance. And so I took a cab going to the main branch (and it was a good thing because there was no traffic that time) and proceeded to the consular records area. They took my application form, affidavit of loss and photocopy of my lost passport (which I was able to find a copy in the pile of papers in my in/out tray). I was told that there will be a 15-day clearing period (which I find it too long) before they can release my application. I was told to come back on the 5th of August.

And so I waited.

August 5, 1030 AM:

I proceeded to DFA Aseana to get the clearance and my application form. I was then told to proceed to step 2 (which was pay the processing fee). This was where I got confused. I asked the guy at the information desk if I can continue processing my application in DFA Megamall since that was where I started. He said (and in a rude voice), “Dito ka na nga pinapunta kasi may issue passport mo. E d dito mo na iprocess yan.”  (They sent you here because there was an issue with your passport. You should have it processed here.). And so I proceeded to step 2 as was advised.

At the cashier window, there was a note there that instructs people to just give the receipt for payment. I asked the guard about it and I told him that there was no receipt issued yet. He told me to go to the information desk again. This time pointing the one located outside the processing area at the second floor. The lady at the desk was helpful. She said that I should proceed to step 1 for the processing since the only one done is verification. So I asked her if I can proceed with the processing at DFA Megamall since that was where I started and I was thinking it would be more convenient for me to pick up my passport there since it is just a few minutes away from my apartment and from the office. She said yes, I can go back there and there is no need to set another appointment.

Thanking her for her assistance, I went back to DFA Megamall. And it was only 11:30AM.

At DFA Megamall, since I was a returning applicant, I was led to Window 12. They processed my application and told them it will be rush processing (which is only 7 working days compared to regular processing which is 15 working days). I was then advised that the earliest release date is August 14 but to expect 3-5 days delay. No further explanation provided and for some reason, I did not ask. I only asked if it can be released on the 14th due to urgency and I was advised to call first to check. The release date range provided was August 14-22, 2014.

So I proceeded to the cashier to pay for the rush processing fee as well as the lost passport fine, then went to encoding to provide my signature and have my picture taken. Afterwards, I left and went to work. And again, I wait.

In all fairness, the processing in Megamall was quick and easy. Not much people that day, too.

August 14, 1030AM:

I called DFA Megamall. Noone was answering. I searched DFA’s website to check if there are other numbers that I could call. I only found two. I tried both numbers and still,  no one was answering.

By 2PM, I went to the branch and proceeded to Door 5 – the releasing area. I was then told that my passport is still not available and that it was still in queue for printing. I asked what the cause of delay was. The guy said it was technical and that it was already explained when I applied for the passport. I just had to tell him that it was not explained and no reason provided, only that there is a delay. I also asked if there is a way to have it expedited due to urgent need. He said they cannot do anything and that I should follow up on the 22nd. I mean, what?? Seriously? What was the point that I had it processed as express and paid the premium, right?

I told the guy that I will come back the next day, regardless.

August 15, 2PM:

And so I went back. Again, I was told that the status did not change. I asked if there was a way to get it expedited as I am expected to be in Singapore on the week of the 18th for an urgent business need. He said to just follow up on the 22nd.

What is wrong with all these people??!?

As soon as I got to the office, I sent an email to DFA Megamall. I was not exactly expecting a response but I was hoping that it would help in getting my passport released earlier. I got a response the next day (surprisingly) saying that I should follow up in two days’ time.

On another note, another work mate of mine had her passport renewed at the same branch. She followed up on the 14th as well and when she insisted that the need is urgent and that her ticket was already booked, she was told by the admin guy that she should go back on the 18th at 10AM so they can include her name in the list that the messenger will send to Bangko Sentral (where they print passports). I got pissed after knowing that. I was never told that there was a way to get things expedited.

And so I planned to be early on the 18th and insist on getting my passport released immediately.

August 18, 1130AM:

I was not able to get to the branch at 10AM but I went anyway. I saw my work mate there and she told me that her passport will be released that same day but only after a long debate with the OIC of the branch. So I prepared my own argument in case they still didn’t release my passport. Here was how the conversation went:

OIC: Wala pa po yung passport mo. Sa 22 pa po marerelease. (Your passport is still not available. It will be released on the 22nd).

Me: Hindi po ba magagawan ng paraan yan? Urgent na kasi. Kelangan ko na lumipad bukas. (Is there no way to get it released earlier? It is urgent and I need to fly tomorrow).

OIC: Naexplain naman po na meron tayo delay. Nagbigay ba kayo ng proof of urgency nung nagpaprocess kayo? (It was already explained that there are delays. Did you provide proof that there is an urgent need for the passport when you applied?)

Me: (Quite dumbfounded since flight  booking before applying of passport is not advised) Sinabi ko po urgent need. Kaya nga rush processing e, d ba? Kaya nga ako nagbayad ng premium fee. (I told the clerk that it is urgent. I requested for rush processing, didn’t I? That’s why I paid a premium fee for it.)

OIC: Lahat naman po sinasabi urgent. (Everybody says it is urgent).

*And I was like, duh! that’s why they pay extra!*

And so I showed her the email of the initial ticket booking that our Travel Desk sent – flight was dated August 19th. And I also told her about the email response of DFA that I should follow up in two days’ time which was that Monday. And then she went on about the delays and that the release date given is a range and all that.

Then I told her that she already talked to  my work mate and they were able to make a way to get her passport released that day and that the processing dates of both application was only a day apart. I also told her that I was not expecting the passport to be released that day but asked her what assurance she can provide that my passport will be released the next day.

OIC: I guarantee, 100% assurance lalabas po passport mo tomorrow. (I guarantee, 100% assurance that your passport will be released tomorrow). I give you my word.

Me: What time can I expect it?

OIC: *stammering a bit* 5PM

Me: OK. I will follow up again tomorrow and it should be available by then.

And so, I wait again.

August 19, 1030AM:

I woke up late so I opted to call the OIC’s cellphone number which I was able to get from my work mate. LOL! I followed up on the status and she said that it still did not change. What?!?! Again?!?!!

Me: Ma’m, you gave your word that my passport will be released today. That was what you told me yesterday. You gave a 100% assurance when I asked you.

OIC: Ma’am, kahapon po yun. I cannot give the same assurance po ngayon. (Ma’am, that was yesterday. I cannot give the same guaranteed today)

Me: *already starting to fume but held my temper* That is not acceptable. You assured me it will be released today and you gave me your word. I need that passport today. (Yes, I answered her in English. Hahaha!)

OIC: Nagpadala na po kami ng messenger sa BSP (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) para dalhin yung listahan ng mga kailangan lumabas ngayon. (We already sent a messenger to BSP to provide the list of names that need to be released today).

Me: What time can I expect an update?

OIC: Mga 1PM po.

So, again, I went there at 1:30PM. I was told that – again, for the nth time – my passport is not yet printed. I told the guy that I already talked to the OIC earlier today and was told that my passport will be released today. Another lady came and said it will be released by 6PM.

I called around 5:30PM to validate that it will indeed be released. They told me yes. So by 6PM, I was out of the office and on my way back to DFA Megamall. I had to wait until 7:30PM before my passport was released.

And here it is. Finally!

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Here’s the thing. DFA is getting a lot of applications daily and BSP can no longer accommodate the load since it appears that there is a higher demand than their capacity to produce. Why still offer express processing when you cannot meet the lead time? DFA and BSP personnel need to attend trainings on understanding supply chain that’s for sure.

I know I am not the only one with this kind of experience with DFA. I have encountered a few who were complaining because of the delay on the past few days that I have been going back there.

It is tedious and I don’t know if these people know the hassle that people go through with the delays they are causing.

I am so going to ensure my passport is  safe. Trust me, passport processing (regardless if renewal, replacement or new) is such a pain in the butt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#RandomThoughts: Of Gangsters, Long Hair, etc.

As I type this, I am on my way to the mountain city to be with my son for the weekend. In fact, right now, I am just waiting for the bus to leave from a more-than-supposedly-15-minute stopover. I stepped off the bus a few minutes ago to stretch my legs and got back in in less than 5 minutes. And yes, I brought my backpack with me when I got off ealier. I learned my lesson well. :D

Anyway, just before we made a stopover, the movie being played in the bus ended. They showed a local teen flick, “She’s Dating a Gangster”. Geez! Yes, I watched it just because I had nothing better to do with my time. And I am actually deciding if I will disect the film and write down my thoughts about it. Here are a few criticisms that I just couldn’t let go:

- I am guessing that the timeline of the story was probably around mid-90’s (biggest clue would be the beepers). I don’t remember gangsters to be skater boys around those times, though. How in the world did they come up with their gangster perona anyway?

- And since when did you have a “gangster” playing for the varsity team? Not only that, he’s the “star player”, too? If I remember correctly, during the 90’s, students were already stereotyped. You’ve got your nerds, your athletes, the socialites, the artists, the notorious, the outcasts. (There might be other sterotypes but you get my drift). Rarely do those groups connect and totally cross paths apart from being classmates. Blackmailing a person from a different “specie”, aka stereotype, to be a part of a plan to make your ex-gf jealous is quite unheard of. On second thought, since I grew up in a small city, maybe those thing happen in the big city during those days. Who knows?

- School setup in the movie was college, I think. Why did I have a feeling the whole time that they were just in high school? Or am I just really getting old?

- A mother pleading to her daughter’s ex-boyfriend to get back together so that her daughter will live. This part really bothered me. That’s just wrong. I do know that a mother will do everything to make sure her child lives but to plead that an ex-boyfriend – who apparently had moved on with his life – to break off his current relationship to get back together with a dying daughter to make her happy is just plain wrong. I, as a mom, would never force someone to be with my child just to make him happy. You cannot force someone to love you. Plain and simple.

But then, hey, it was just a movie, I know. Still, that part was a sucky twist just to have a dramatic breakup. The writer could have done a bit better than that.

I would have given the movie a good rating if the writer was able to profile the characters based on the actual profiles that they portayed back in the 90’s. But since there seem to be a lack of in depth character profiling, well, what can I say? And don’t get me started with the actors and their acting skills. Haha!

If there’s one thing that I like in the movie, it was the kid’s long hair. What’s the name of that kid that portayed the “gangster”? Yeah, that kid sporting that shoulder-length hair. I liked the hair, not the kid. Let’s make that clear, shall we?

I am such a sucker for guys with long hair. The fascination for it started in high school and I never outgrew it. There’s just something appealing about it, I guess.

Oh and we are back on the road. I wish this trip will go a little bit faster so I can get home to my baby love a little bit earlier.

Going back to guys with long hair. It doesn’t look good to everyone, mind you. Some guys look better with short, cropped hair, some with no hair and a few who could sport long hair really well. And not all guys with long hair are musicians, too. Contrary to popular belief, there are guys who grew their hair long just because they wanted it to. Others do it just because they’re too lazy to get a hair cut. And I’ve met guys with long hair who were more vain than women when it comes to hair care. LOL! You could actually get hair care tips from them. Seriously! :-D

It’s already past 3AM this side of the world. The bus aircon is too cold and I can’t close the one above my seat because it no longer has that flap that closes the vent. Good thing I have a shawl with me that I use as a blanket when I travel and I brought my handy-dandy round pillow. All I nned now is to find a comfortable position to be able to get a few hours’ sleep.

And with that said, I end this post. I am done being peeved with the movie and the lady in front of me who got too excited during the start of the movie that I thought she was going to jump up and down her seat with glee. LOL!

Being a Weekend Mom

Another long day over. And I mean literally long day. I’ve been up since 8AM and was out of the house before 10AM. And I just got home about an hour ago.

Let’s not talk about that, shall we? :D Although I need all the powers that be to intercede in the processing of my passport due to an urgent business need to travel. I need the passport to come out by the 14th of this month. But like I said, that’s not what I really wanted to talk – well, write – about.

Since the start of this year, I have been travelling to the mountain city and back every weekend  (well, for those times that my little boy is staying up there). I think I have been home to the mountain city this year more than I had gone home for the last two years combined. Travelling 6 hours each way every weekend is tiring, to be honest. Given how stressful my job nowadays is (but trust me, even if it is stressful, I still enjoy what I do regardless of all the frustrations), 6-hour long commute is not exactly a walk in the park. Yes, I can take naps during the trip but given the cramped up space, it is not easy finding the most comfortable position to do so. Unless you take the deluxe bus trip which will cost more (and I don’t have the budget for that).

Whenever my son doesn’t have doctors’ appointments scheduled in the big metro, he stays with my family in the mountain city. Every Friday (well, Saturday early morning) right after work, I rush to the bus terminal to catch my scheduled trip. I usually get home at around 6-7AM, depending on how fast the bus goes and the trip that I was able to get. I get to spend my Saturday and Sunday with my little boy. If the weather permits, the two of us usually go to the mall, have snacks (well, coffee), meet a few friends (if I am able to schedule it with them) and window shop. We go home after about a few hours of staying out, take a nap, play, have dinner followed by probably a movie before putting the little boy to sleep.

I usually try to put my little Z to sleep on Sunday nights before I prepare to leave for the big metro. This is because  it is hard to leave the little boy while he is giving you all those sweet and innocent smiles that makes your heart soar to high heavens when he is awake. The smiles that makes me want to just stay and play with the little boy and forget about work.

The very first time that I was leaving my little boy with my Mom was just this January. After the holiday break, I brought the little boy with me to the big metro due to scheduled doctor’s appointment. But after that week, I brought him home and left him to stay with my Mom for a week. I still remember that Sunday night when I didn’t want to let go of my little baby boy. I put him to sleep that night, too, before I left. I almost didn’t want to put him down on the bed, too, because he looked so secured and peaceful sleeping in my arms that night. I was working so hard to hold back my tears when I eventually put him down on the bed, tucked him in and kissed him good night.

When I learned that I was pregnant and I made the decision to become a single Mom, I already accepted the fact that I am going to need my family’s help in raising my little boy since I didn’t want my son to be raised by a nanny. I already accepted the fact that I will become a weekend Mom – meaning, I get to be a full-time Mom to my son during the weekends since I have to work during the week days. I made all those decisions based on logic. And it was logical.

7 months to being a weekend Mom most of the time, I now realize that it is hard. It is a whole lot harder than I imagined. I miss a lot of my son’s firsts in terms of his growth and development and there was even a time that he had to be confined due to diarrhea and I wasn’t there.

From a mother’s perspective, one would say that you should always be there for your kids no matter what. Well, guess what? I haven’t been there during the first time that my son was able to balance himself in a standing position against the wall. I wasn’t there when he had diarrhea and needed to be confined for a few days. I wasn’t there when he first uttered all those syllables that he now loves to say. I wasn’t there for a whole lot of things because I was at work and he was hundreds of miles away from me.

Sometimes, thinking about the things that I missed in his early life makes me feel like I am a bad Mom to my son. It makes me question myself if I really deserve to be his Mom. And it makes me feel really bad to have missed a lot. I ask myself if the sacrifice I am doing is all going to be worth it in the end. To be honest, I don’t have any answer to that. Maybe, maybe not.

I thought that the heavy feeling I feel whenever I leave my son back home will get any easier with time. It doesn’t seem like it. It gets harder every week that I have to leave him. Two days is not enough to make up for the lost time.  Two days is not enough to spend time with a growing little boy compared to five long days spent at work. If only we could reverse it. Riiiiiight… LOL!

Regardless of how tiring the long commute is going home to the mountain city, if that is where my little boy is, then that is where I will spend my weekends. Even if I only have one day to stay with him, I will still go home to my little boy. Forget how tiring the trip is or how little sleep I had, nothing beats the fact that even for just a day, I get to spend it watching my son do his antics, showing off his newly acquired skills, and most definitely, seeing those smiles that can always, always wipe the tiredness and all other negative energy away.

"smile!" :)

“smile!” :)

Trip Down Memory Lane: A year ago…

I should already be sleeping at this hour since I have an early training tomorrow. Note: 9 AM is way too early for me. :P I was already late yesterday for an hour and I don’t want to be late today. After training, I will be going straight to the bus terminal so I can go home to my baby love. I can’t wait for this day to end. It doesn’t matter if my apartment needs cleaning and my hamper is full. I’ll take care of that next week when I come back (yep, good luck to me).

Anyway, yesterday, I was rummaging through my photos (well, what’s left of it) and found my collection of pregnancy photos. I had taken a weekly photo of my tummy when I was pregnant. Around this time last year, I was at around 33-34 weeks. I remember how heavy I’ve felt those times. And I have documented what it felt like to be around 34 weeks pregnant, too. LOL! You can read all about it here.

@33 weeks pregnant

@33 weeks pregnant

@34 weeks pregnant

@34 weeks pregnant

If I felt big and heavy back then, when I see my son now, I think the same thing. He is big and heavy. LOL! It’s taking me a bit more effort to carry him and walk around and I cannot carry him in one arm for a long time already. I always have to carry him with both arms so I can support his weight and make sure that I don’t drop him. Given how active he is becoming, it takes a lot of effort to make sure I don’t drop him, too. :P

In just about barely 4 weeks from now, my son will be turning 1. How time flies. I still remember the first time that I’ve held him in my arms and thinking what a big baby I brought into this world. LOL! You see, about two weeks before I gave birth, I had my final ultrasound. My little Z was estimated to be at about 5.12 lbs (if I remember correctly) that time. So imagine my surprise when I was told that I just gave birth to a 7-lb baby two weeks after. It was a quick and easy delivery, too.

Sometimes I would like time to slow down a bit. I still want to enjoy my little Z as he is – spend more time with him, baby him for a little longer and all that – but there are times as well that I would like time to move a bit faster so that my little boy will already be walking and running around, acting like the very active little big boy that he is. :)

My little baby is about to become a toddler. No matter how old he gets, he will always, always be my baby love. <3

Z at 11 months

Z at 11 months

 

 

Blog Challenge – Day 31: Favorite Hobbies and Way to Spend Down-Time

Here we are, the last challenge. Finally! Haha!

Geez! Given that I was so busy juggling work and mommy life and personal life, I don’t think I have the time for hobbies anymore. When I was a kid though, I like crafts. I do crochet and knitting (which I never really totally got the hang of) but I think most of the time, I was doing cross-stitching. Then some time in college, I got hooked to friendship bracelets. I made a few for my Mom’s Korean students at one time, too. :D

There was a time that I wanted to take up baking as a hobby. I really, really, really wanted to do that when I was young. But we didn’t have an oven so it was out of the question. Until someone gave us an oven toaster and I discovered that I could bake cookies using that. LOL! But that didn’t really last for long. Until now, I make cookies when I am in the mood to do so. But I might be buying my own oven so I can bake pasta. :D

Probably one hobby that I have for the longest time is reading. Since high school, I got hooked to reading pocket books. And since 2008 (I think), I had been buying books from thrift shops. As soon as I get off work in the morning, I would spend my time hanging out at Starbucks watching people while listening to music and sipping my venti cup of frappuccino as I wait for the malls to open. Then I would go straight to Book Sale and hunt for interesting books to read (something light that will take the stress off my mind so I could sleep). I haven’t read a book for about two years now, I think. Since I got pregnant, I had a lot more things to think of and get busy with that I never got the chance to read anything anymore. Most of the reading I did was online journals on pregnancy, infants and babies and mommy blogs. :P

One other hobby that I miss though is writing. Not the kind that I do here in my blog. The creative writing thing. The one where I get to write an emotion out of something that I saw or something that came out of a what-if question. You get my drift. You can check my other blog to know what I am talking about.

I always have a small notebook with me and I ensure that I have a pen handy at all times, too. Before I got pregnant, there were times that I would go have coffee on my own and start writing down what I could think of. Sometimes I write what I feel or think at that moment and sometimes, I write something about a what-if scenario that I have in my head.

Nowadays, I am lucky if I get some time to sit and write down a poem or a prose of that kind. Looks like my head cannot think of anything to write as of yet. Haha!

Given the stressful nature of my life, I am happy to just spend some time (either alone or with a friend) having coffee and watching people walk on by. That’s why I love coffee shops with al fresco dining so I could sit outside and watch people while I drink my coffee, listen to my music and come up with stories of the people walking around or even the ones having coffee at nearby tables. :) I could do this for hours on end. Haha! Well, I used to sit around for about 3 hours on the average and there are times that I get productive and there are times that I just sit and watch and let my mind wander.

I miss doing that. Maybe I should do it again some time.

 

Blog Challenge – Day 30: What’s Something Not Many Know?

Okay, day 30 challenge is being done one day late and I have the perfect reason why it is so. I was having severe migraine attacks yesterday and it was no fun at all. On and off pain I felt so I slept most of the day and night yesterday.

Anyway, I am not really sure if I will answer this question. If I write something down, then that would mean that everybody else will know what not many knew. Get the point?

For so this challenge, I would say that there are a quite a few things that only a handful of people know about me. And there are information about me that not all of my friends know as well. Some may know but others don’t. And there are also information that my family knows but not my friends.

With that said, I think I just failed this challenge because I am not about to reveal something that not many know about me. :)

Letters to my Baby #44: Almost 1…

Dear Baby Love,

Happy 11th month, sweetheart! :D

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This is the third month that I am not there with you to celebrate your milestone. Nevertheless, I never forgot, sweet love. I was thinking about you the whole day and I was so glad that I was able to talk to you through Skype before I went to work. Seeing you smile at me (well, I do hope you were smiling at me, baby love) made my day a lot brighter.

Skype with the little boy

Skype with the little boy

Smile! :D

Smile! :D

For the past 11 months, you have brought so much joy to my life. I have never imagined that my life would be so different from when I was alone. We had gone through a lot of tough times, sweetheart, I know, but we were able to get past them and we are a lot stronger than before. In just 11 months, baby love, you have given me a purpose and that it to be a good Mom to you. I am getting there. :)

Sometimes I would wish that time will slow down a bit because you are growing so fast. Probably before I know it, you are already walking and trying to run away from me, too. :D And I didn’t know that you would be such a bossy little boy at times. :D You even demand to be carried at times, too. You used to wait patiently to be picked up but now, you demand to be picked up and carried. And it seems that you are quite becoming impatient, too. You might yet still be crawling, baby love, but it seems to me that you are already working on standing up on your own. And you do love standing up, too. And you still love jumping. :D

Even if I wish that time would slow down a bit, I couldn’t wait just the same to see you hit a lot more milestones. I am not in a hurry to see you hit those, baby, go take your time. All I want is for you to enjoy this phase of your journey. Don’t worry, I am here for you. As I have mentioned before, I will be your best cheerleader.

In about a month’s time, you are turning 1. It still amazes me how much you’ve grown from that teeny tiny baby you have become on your first month. I don’t know what the next coming year will have in store for us, baby love, and right now, I’d rather not think about it. But if there is one thing I know for sure, regardless of what we will go through, we will go through it together and we will enjoy the ride. For now, let us start planning for your birthday party. :D We will surely have a blast! :D

I love you so much, my baby love. I am so grateful that I have you in my life and I look forward to celebrating a lot more months and years of growth with you.

 

Love,

Mum