6:06 am Back @ the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to pick up my new passport. The line here at releasing isn’t as long as the one at application and seems to be more optimistic. There are no chairs. There’s three lines here, one for releasing, another for authentication, a 3rd for MalacaÃ±ang specials, people off to the great wide somewhere with the unknown blessing of the Pinoy taxpayer.
6:22 am. l notice the same phenomenon of a week ago–that the line behind me has become as long as the one in front of me.
6:26 am. The Malacañang line inches through gate 3, leaving us mere mortals behind to wait a bit more.
6:32 am The Canada-bound woman with the little girl from last week arrives, surveys the releasing line and greets me as she recognizes me. She still has her little girl with her.
6:35 am The for authentication line starts moving through gate 3.
6:37 am Our line starts moving through gate 3, into the releasing area. Here there are benches, and the drone of the centralized airconditioning system drowns out the various conversations behind me, except the voice of the woman with the little girl, who is seated a bench to the right behind me. Without really trying to listen I hear the words gastos, visa, babalik pa kami pagkatapos nun, magpa medical ka nalang.
I suppose it takes the tedium out of waiting, these one-time conversations with strangers, but a conversation with a stranger can get out of control, perhaps because of the fact that you know you are never going to see that person again so you tell him/her things you normally wouldnt tell your own best friend.
7:06 am The lack of sleep threatens to catch up on me, and I start wishing for hot tapsilog, which of course is impossible in here, where there are signs admonishing the intake of food and drink.
7:14 am We are herded into the passport releasing area. 10 widows marked by the letters of the alphabet. a dfa employee goes up front and briefs us on the procedure of passport releasing. I hand my receipt over to the window marked G, which I share with E, F, and H. I sit down and wait.
7:33 am After less than 5 minutes of sitting at releasing I am now sitting at Greenwich at the corner of Harrison and Libertad. Eating breakfast alone, as Sam is not with me today. I will be going straight to the office after this, to give my passport details to Jo, our bright and perky admin assistant, who cannot book my flight without my passport number and a scanned image of the first page of my passport.
I wonder what fixers at the DFA are for, once I realize that it took less than an hour from the time the line actually started moving to the time I checked my passport for spelling errors and such. If anything what people need in the way of fixing is for someone to stand in line for them, similar to the old women we pay to pray and dance “Pit Senyor” for us at the Basilica del Santo Niño. But then, not standing in line defeats the small triumph of finally getting what you came for. And such small accomplishments are what remain to brighten up an otherwise dull working day.