Going to Manila, beneath the warm and tropical Philippine sky! First I hired a van and driver, the reason for that is, my last trip to the “City” my car was damaged by a group of nefarious street kids, for reasons only they would know. With a hired van and driver I don’t care if they steal the seats out of it, I’ll take a Victory Liner home.
You would think that would be an easy straight forth endeavor, but neigh no so. 1130 in the morning before the trip, I went to the rental office to pick up the Van. The lady I’d spoke with last week was not there and a young man stepped in, and the very first thing out of his mouth was “Please Wait!” He then got on the phone and started questioning me with a third party on the other end of the line. First it was about identification, I showed my passports, I-card, Philippine Drivers License, and my Retired Military ID. Then I was hit with those dreaded words “Please Wait” again and I asked what am I waiting for?
The lady I had spoke to last week, was using the young man as a delaying tactic as she was still at home, and one hour away. Oh and also they didn’t have a Van that satisfied Manila’s Color Code of that day. Which by the way was, the last number on the tag could not be a 5 or a 6, and it’s called a color code vice the number code which it really is. Hey Paul, how’s your trip going so far? Oh and BTW; we found a van and driver at the forth place we visited after I walked out of the first place. I’ll bet you think I make this stuff up?
The van will come to the house at 0400 in the twilight hours just before dawn. Why so early I asked, we’re only going to Manila? Now they were forced to tell me the real reason and the blinders are removed at last. This was to be a multitasking trip, as it seems that my daughter and her new husband Cecil have an appointment at the U.S. Embassy at 0830 that same morning. My I-Card renewal is not the real reason for this trip. I was not surprised!
0700 I enter the Immigration Building in Mega Manila and the confusion begins. Remember I first need to get all the stamps moved from my expired passport to my brand new slick one. I was then told; “Please wait!”
At Window 2, I receive a list of the six hurtles I must accomplish before my task is complete. Number one being depart the building and procure a notarized letter for RE-STAMPING OF PASSPORTS, that’s a simple walk to the lawyer sitting and working out of the trunk of his car under the shade of a tree, and for the paltry sum of P 300 he’ll type it up on his certified “Circa1925 Royal Typewriter” he sits clacking away at seven words a minute my request and produces a stained with dabs of whiteout and duly notarized letter.
Next task is to find the guy with the Xerox machine and get copious copies of everything you have with you, plus most pages of my old and new passport just for luck.
Next proceeded with my vast pile of photocopies to window 12 to request a Derogatory Stamp on the letter that was typed under that tree outside and begin the waiting. It is now 08300 and someone has slowed down the clock to where you can feel your life oozing out of each pore on your body, and then I’m told; “Please Wait!” Many tick tocks on the clock later I’m sent to room 312 which also has a window, as they never want you to be able to put your hands on their people.
Here I must get a copy of my Last Visa stamp which they store in this vast room full of file boxes. Please Wait! I am now so close to my goal, for you see if I can get this done and back to window 2, by NOON, then, for the small sum of P 1,500.00 I can purchase the Double Express Premium Package and there will only be 2 to 4 hours left and my quest will be over. (Plan on the 4 hour side of the plan)
I have it all or so I think, and have but one place left to go and I can make that noon deadline, and it’s only 1030 in the morning now. I go swiftly to room 308 to receive my Summary of Arrival jobber do and the man there informed me, “Please Wait!” And that I must go back to window 12 (The land where time forgot) and request a Derogatory Stamp from my last arrival in the Philippines. Again; “Please Wait!”
Why this was not on my checklist “PAUL, Get VISA And Arrival stamp at the same time” I’ll never know, but the word derogatory was dancing around my brain, but I bit my tongue and did not utter a sound. I received what I needed from the dreaded Window 12 and ran back to room 308 with what I thought was all I needed and being that it was now 1130 I could make that noon deadline. I felt like Don Quixote tilting my lance at windmills, yet completing my quest and all before NOON.
I did, and was back to Window 2 with all my paperworks in my hot little hand. Gadzookes, I’d made it, I could now purchase the Double Express Premium Package and be out of there by COB (Close of Business) The young lady whom I handed my package to, looked it over quickly and said; “You’re done sir, you may go to the I-card section and apply!”
Off I went, the birds were singing and all was in place in God’s heaven! The cloud of doubt descended the needle was drug across the record with a loud scratching sound, and then it occurred to me that “I’d paid no money yet!” There is no way on the Lords Green Earth I could be through, without the Philippine’s having received its pound of flesh.
I was right, the next guy at Window 2 (Avoid the girl) sent me to window 9 to un-ass the cash. Back like a rocket to window 2 with 7 minutes to spare on that NOON deadline. “Holy Crap1” I shouted; then the young man smiled and told me to go to lunch and be back at 1230.
So with cockiness’ in my heart and a swagger in my walk I went to lunch. Upon my return I was informed that the “High Person” who had to review and sign my package was out of the building and not expected to return, as he was at an emergency meeting. (Read, lunch and cocktails with hot chicks)
Did I lose it? Hell no! I just scratched my head and asked the guy (Randy BTW) if I could come back next week and finish it up? His classic answer, “Yes Mr. Thompson, after all you did avail of the Double Express Premium Package!” (There are no refunds I found out)
If I couldn’t find the humor in that, then it was time to head to the Airport, I went home and had a SMB instead, and laughed while telling my friends about my trip to Mega Manila Oh the lunch was great!
So now I go back next Wednesday for phase two, if you really, really want to hear about it, please let me know in the comment section.
While I was walking from the Immigration building with my wife to our rented van, a taxi pulled up. When this European Gnome, who was with his granddaughter (Or I hope she was) jumped in front of me and put his arm across my chest to block me from the cab that we didn’t even want.
I reached out and grabbed his collar and pulled him back towards me, and told him, “Pal, I’ve been inside that building for over seven hours, do you really want to plays with me?” In the meantime a Pinoy took the cab. As I walked away he looked at his paramour and mumbled; “That’s why I don’t like Americans” My heart was broken!