The Reddest Tape

by sumpteretc

If you don’t want to read my rant about third world bureaucracy, this would be an excellent time to navigate away from this page.

We made a trip to Manila on Monday to pick up our I-Cards. We had perfectly serviceable ACRs (Alien Certificates of Registration) but the Philippine government decided we need an ID card too (although they seem to go back and forth on that). We had been to Manila over a month ago, paid our fees and did all the paperwork. The I-cards were supposed to be finished in two weeks. So, we pull up to immigration on Monday, and I walk in with my little claim stubs.

The guard stops me at the front desk and tells me I can’t come in because I’m wearing shorts. It’s 90 degrees out. I’m wearing shorts, and I packed a pair of shorts. I go back out to the car and send Tiffany in with the claim stubs. She went to the line; there were 2 people in front of her. At least 30 minutes later, she made it to the front of the line. The lady at the desk said, “Did you pull your papers yet?” Tiff said, “I don’t know.” The lady left for about 10 minutes. She came back and gave Tiff back all the forms and receipts we had turned in a month ago and sent her to the third floor of the next building.

Tiff waited in a short line there, got to the front and handed them her forms. They said their computer was down, so they couldn’t check the status of the forms, but she could just hand them in and they would call her name when they were ready. She sat for a while; after a few minutes, they started calling names. Tiffany could see our pictures on the computer, and then they called her up and told her to turn in the stubs, which the lady in the first building had kept.

So Tiff went back to the first building and waited in line again. The guy in front of her took about 10 minutes. The lady gave her the stubs and Tiff went back to the other building.

Once she had her stubs, her forms were signed by the big boss man and she was sent to another table. The man there told her our papers were approved and we could come back on Friday to pick up our I-cards! Tiff explained we were from the provinces and needed them by Tuesday. He said, “I don’t know; I’ll check with the chief. Are you a missionary? etc.” Finally, we were told to come back at 10:00 on Tuesday for the 11:00 printing of I-cards, just bringing the stub.

10:00 the next morning, we were at immigration. First building, wait in line, lady looks it up in the computer, says we’re not approved. Second building, wait in line, sent to another desk, “you’re approved; go see Esther.” Wander around, looking for Esther. Told to redo everything we already did the day before. They look around for the forms, finally deciding they’re locked in somebody’s desk who will be there at 2:00.

2:00 we return to immigration. Second building, Esther’s desk. They look us up in the computer–ready to print. First building, wait in line for a long time. “They’re ready to print. Madam, I’m sorry but our printer is [unintelligible]. We can’t print right now.” Come back Thursday!