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People in line along Ortigas Avenue waiting shed.

I went to the NBI Clearance Satellite office at Robinsons Galleria yesterday, April 16, 2012. Knowing it’s a Monday, I expected a lot of people to come. I also read from other blogs that people flock the entrance as early as 5:30am. Prior to my venture, I already read a lot of stories about applying for an NBI Clearance. I found out that they have a new system since they didn’t decide to renew their contract with their previous contractor. Some say it’s a more efficient process. But others would still say that it is better to revert to the old process. The last time I renewed my NBI clearance was two years ago at SM Megamall. I remembered back then that it was quite a breeze getting my clearance. Add the fact that you’ll line up in an air-conditioned mall with nice ambiance. I think I just finished the whole process in 2 hours or so. It’s relatively fast I tell you.

Going back to my story, I woke up as early as 2:30am to get there the earliest I can. I was there at the EDSA entrance of Robinsons at around 5:00am. And it’s true that there are already swarms of people in the area at that time. I started asking people where’s the line and what time will it start. I read from another blog that they will give out numbers and they will only accommodate the first 500 applicants for that day. So it’s really advisable to be there as early as 5:00am. Some would say 4:00am but what the heck, are you gonna kill me? Anyway, some guy told me that they do not give out numbers anymore and the service would start as soon as the mall opens. An enforcer also advised us to stay somewhere first because there’s no guarantee that the numbers and forms will be given out. Rest assured that the line would start at around 9:30am. It seemed like I can’t do anything at that time so I went to my office first to drop some stuff.

I went back at around 6:00am and asked the guard if they we’re already giving out numbers. The guard replied, ‘Ay wala na pong number. Pumila na lang po kayo dyan tawid po kayo (while pointing to the people in line).’ I can’t remember the exact words but I was kinda pissed off when he answered me. It was rude! I saw this line of people in the waiting shed along Ortigas Avenue and found the end of the line. The line was not that long. I think I can make it to the first 100. So I’ve waited in line for almost three hours inhaling Metro Manila’s polluted air. Buses and jeepneys keep on coming and the Filipino workforce slowly becomes alive. It’s good that I brought a book with me to pass some time. I finished reading the book but lo and behold, I haven’t took a step further to the whole application process. I’m getting kinda impatient thinking of the time wasted and the loads of stuff that I still need to do after getting my clearance.

At around 9:00am, the line is already 3 times longer. I also noticed that I’m not in the first 100 anymore. Go figure. The next scene might shock you. When the guard is leading the line to the entrance of the mall near Chowking, some people started climbing over the railings and the line was gone! Basically, the people who were last in line flocked at the entrance and the guards weren’t able to do anything. People keep on flocking at the entrance hoping that they would be the first in line or at least get near to the entrance where the application forms will be given. It was really crazy! No system! The guards are rude! I think the scene wouldn’t be like that if they continued with the numbering system. In that way, people will have an option to return at a later time and not wait there for nothing.

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Application form with number.

So I was really pissed off but I can’t do anything. The people behind the original line created a new line since the end of the line is nearer to the entrance. I then lined up and just waited for the forms to be given. I thought I won’t make it to the first 200 but thankfully, I got number 187. Whew! The next step is to fill out the form and wait for the mall to open.

The NBI office is located in the lower ground floor, east wing of the mall. The hardest part is waiting. So everyone’s seated on the stairs fronting the Robinsons Land office. Some NBI employee is calling out the numbers by batch. To make the long story short. I’ve waited for another 2 hours before I reach Step 1. They have this small room where the applicants can seat before they can proceed to the counters. I keep on asking the guard there what’s the next step and what number is being called and he’s always rude in his reply. Really rude! He doesn’t even answer my questions directly.

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People waiting on the stairs.

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Another batch of people waiting to be given forms.

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At the counters.

At around 1:00pm (I’m very hungry during that time), numbers 181 to 190 were called to proceed to Step 1: Payment (at last!). I paid PhP115 and presented 2 valid ID’s (Yes, 2 valid government-issued ID’s). The one who checks the form and receives the payment is another rude person. She asked me ‘College graduate ba?‘ in which I answered yes and she replied ‘o college graduate ilagay mo dyan. Baka lagyan ko yan ng undergraduate eh!‘ and I think a lot of people heard it. The tone is like she’s telling the whole world that I’m wrong in any way. I just wrote ‘College’ in the Highest Educational Attainment Field. I know I was wrong but she could have told me to just write college graduate and not say anything else. After Step 1, we were asked to go back inside the waiting room and wait for our batch to be called again for Step 2: Encoding. (It was just unfair seeing those people who were at the end of the original line get their clearances and you’re like 50 or 100 people behind. Ang sarap lang punitin! 1…2…3… breathe… Chill.) I’ve waited for an hour or so for this step. There is only one rude encoder doing the job so it made things very slow. I really can feel my tummy and my feet giving up. At last I made it and proceeded to Step 3: Biometrics. Actually, after Step 2, everything will just be a breeze. I think the person getting the fingerprint scans and the taking the picture is the nicest person there since he can only give a poker face no matter what is happening. So I only have to wait for my name to be called after the biometrics. I was kinda anxious after Step 3 since I’m not really sure if I can get my clearance right away. I might have a ‘hit’ and it would take at most 2 weeks (according to some blog) before I can take hold of my clearance plus some interview and all that jazz. (I actually had a hit when I got my first NBI clearance from way way back. I experienced going to the old Carriedo NBI office to clear my name. Thankfully, I was cleared of any record.) But I heard the angels sang Hallelujah when my name was called. At last, I got a copy of my NBI Clearance after more than 8 hours.

It was a tiring, frustrating, yet unique experience. I just appreciate how people help each other, make new friends, and crack some jokes even if they’re pissed off. I don’t want to blame the government nor the rude employees for letting me experience this terrible thing. Imagine, if only the line remained intact and people didn’t go over the railings to get an easy shot, the process might have been quicker and less frustrating. I think being organized would come first from us. Discipline is the key. Considering the country’s situation now, the government can only do so much to give the things that we need. We should learn how to be disciplined in every step of the way and act like you are leading this nation. Respect the law and work with diligence and integrity. I think it’s still a long way to go for the Filipinos but it is not impossible.

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