The Accidental Tourist: Passport Renewal Vacations?

For the past few months, complaints about the difficulty of securing an online appointment for passports have been appearing in my timeline. At first, I would only simply my roll my eyes at the expected inefficiency of the government until I realized that my own passport was up for renewal that I started wailing along with the rest of the country.

Image Source: PhilStar
With fear and trembling, I went online and sure enough, the complaints were not an exaggeration. All slots for the next three months were filled up at all sites including those outside Metro Manila. I logged on for days to no avail except for the achievement of memorizing all the DFA offices in the country. I became so desperate that I secured the help of a travel agency that was going to charge me for its effort but, alas, it, too, had no better luck until four weeks of clicking and clicking, I finally found a slot---in Legazpi.

“Are you nuts?!” my friends yelled.

Yup, as well as desperate and feeling a lot frustrated and righteously indignant as I booked my ticket and hotel which cost around PhP15,000.

legazpi hotels
Misibis Bay Resort / Image Source: Agoda

Sure, a bus was available for a lot less but I didn’t relish the thought of riding for hours and hours, sharing a mini-toilet with strangers. I could also have spared myself a hotel expense if I fly in and out the same day but the sense of a new experience appealed to the traveler in me. I consoled myself at the thought of exploring Legazpi for the second time and of the promised adventure of traveling to a place where nobody knows your name. I didn’t even bother looking for someone to come with me as I am used to traveling alone and Legazpi hardly appears in crime news.

Image Source: Out of Town Blog
“You’ll be bored out of your mind staying there for three days!” warned a friend who has been to the place several times. I braced myself for the fruition of his words but the wanderlust angel had other plans for me.

Image Source: WonderMondo
As soon as I reached my hotel which was five minutes from the airport, I immediately booked myself a half-day city tour with a taxi driver who was known to the staff. He took me to the usual attractions like the Casagwa Ruins, Lignon Hill Nature Park, Daraga Church, and Sumlang Lake. He also became my intrepid photographer that my friends took notice how beautiful the shots were.

The following day was my appointment at DFA located at Pacific Mall which was a five-minute tricycle ride from my hotel. I arrived an hour in advance and found myself first in line. Some fifteen minutes later, the queue had started to snake. At exactly two, the guard started checking if our names appeared on the appointment list and a few minutes later, we were allowed entry to go through the five basic steps:

Step 1:   Submit the duly filled-up online application form and a photocopy of my passport information page and valid ID.

Step 2: Wait for our names to be called to see if our documents are in order. The time in-between the two steps took at least 30 minutes.

Step 3: Pay at the cashier.

Step 4: Have our photo taken.

Step 5: (Optional) Pay for the courier service as I do not wish to return to pick up my passport.

The entire process was orderly, only ruined by the long waiting game but at least the place was air-conditioned and there were also enough seats for everyone.

The following day, I took a morning tour to Misibis Eco Energy Park (about an hour from my hotel) and was very impressed at how beautiful and clean the place was. Very selfie-satisfying, too.

Friends still laugh when they hear about my experience, or for some people, my ordeal. They certainly have a point but given that I enjoyed the sites made the inconvenience all worth it especially given how inexpensive the attractions were. Except for the private tour, all the places had an entrance fee not higher than PhP50.00. But, DFA, don’t think that after ten years, I want to go outside Metro Manila again! I expect to be reimbursed next time!


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