My passport expires on 25 December, 2010, I know the guy in Hawaii who issued that to me, got a real big laugh out of that, but since it was ten years down the road I blew it off.
Here in the Subic Area the Embassy has an outreach Program, and every 90 days they visit to help out us old geezers who don’t like to go to Manila.
Last year when I applied for Social Security, I spent more time eating breakfast than I did applying for the SSA. I was out of the building within 20 minutes after talking to the very helpful lady from the Embassy.
So Friday 3 September I’ll go again and renew my passport, August 24th, I went to town to get new passport photos, thinking to myself that I really don’t need them as they will probably take my picture there with a computer, but why take the chance and miss out, and I need to have a great lunch and do some shopping while in town anyway.
Prior to this year you had to have USD’s to do any business with the U.S. Government, here in the R.P., and according to the notice I received by e-mail, now only Philippines Pesos are accepted. Which is good for me, as I only have pesos, I just don’t have much use for “Bucks” here? Can you believe they send out notices by e-mail? I must be special, or was it that I signed up to receive them. Albeit, most of the notices tell me not to come here as it’s too dangerous, should I tell them I’m here and perfectly safe? They’ll find that out when I go there Friday.
Tuesday Morning I go to the photo store, the same one I went to ten years ago to get photo’s for my Visa to reside here, that day I was told no, as they had no film. I did wonder why they bothered to open. But it’s all digital now so I took a chance. I could have done this at home with my computer, but I had no photo paper, and the other thought was that the Embassy would not like the picture. So I wanted that lunch in town anyway.
Sir you must remove your glasses, I told them that my embassy wanted me to have them on (my first mistake), the last time the request was, that I had to have a shirt with a collar, some local rule I guess.
Young man would you put a copy of my picture on my USB, Oh no sir, that’s not allowed, then it dawned on me that if he did, I’d have no reason to ever come back there. Okay fine, no USB.
Sir, it will take two hours to process your order. I was the only customer there, and his computer was already lit off. Okay I’ll go next door and see if they are any faster. Ten minutes later I left with photos in hand. Nice young man he was!
Nice lunch also, fish & chips (Dorado) with real Malt Vinegar, quite good. Goes very well with a cold SMB, but then doesn’t everything? Now I just wait ‘till Friday morning.
Shower, shave and off to The Grand Leisure Hotel on Subic Freeport, the Embassy always stay at the best hotel, and I want them to. I arrive at 07:45, all paperwork in hand and take a number, run into a few folks I know and spend some time talking and joking. Hey it’s also a social event. Aside from that I did notice that I was one of the younger people there, notwithstanding the 4 dozen children running in all direction at once
Number 37 was my luck of the draw and my place in line, but even then I was done by 10:20 am, not bad and all went smoothly. Well there was one small thing, the pictures I brought, it seems that my eyeglasses were two dark, I guess I should never have purchased those glasses, as they have the photochromic lens. (For those who don’t wear glasses, there the one’s that turn dark in the sun.) The head Embassy guy looked at the pictures and told me he didn’t see a problem, but I could just FedEx, some new ones if they were rejected, and took my phone number and e-mail just in case.
But here’s the part I really liked, they put all your paperwork in an envelope and after you pay the fees, there is a FedEx table and for 350 pesos they send the papers to the Embassy for processing, and it also covers the return delivery of the passport to your door.
But there is always a rub. It has nothing to do with the U.S. Government, and everything to do with the Philippine Government. My old passport holds all my entry visas, and information to back up my ACR or I-Card that allows me to stay here, and in 2012 when I renew my I-Card I must show those visas, how smooth do you think that will go?
What is the chance I can get it done with the same speed and ease as with renewing my passport. Or how do I leave the country when my new passport has no stamps or visas in it. Readers stay tuned, as I feel one heck of an article coming up in the near future. Even though the Embassy will return my old passport, I feel doom and gloom in my future. I choose to reside here, and I’ll need a new adventure by then, which proves, that my glass is half full, I’m just not sure what’s in it.
Addendum: Remember I wrote about Pesos vice USD’s? 60% of the people there Friday, never got the memo. I could have made a killing selling pesos, if I’d brought 50,000 with me!