I am going to be married this year so my bride to be and I needed to get copies of our birth certificates and certifications of no-previous marriage (CENOMAR) from the National Statistics Office (NSO). Like many Filipinos, I viewed the transactions with government with trepidation. Tales of long lines, rude and unhelpful employees, unnecessary and illogical requirements abound. So I steeled myself to expect a stressful and frustrating day while applying for the above documents.
The National Statistics Office (NSO)
We arrived at the NSO office near Quezon Avenue about 11:40 AM, (Wednesday, July 27, 2005) we were immediately propositioned by people who claim they can “facilitate” the release of our documents. Fortunately, we found out that we needed to apply at the East Avenue office. We boarded an FX taxi, conveniently located next to the NSO and I presume ferries passengers to and from the two NSO offices.
We arrived at the NSO East Avenue office at about 12:45 PM. The entrance was prominently marked. The table where one can get the application forms were easy to see and the application forms themselves were color coded. The queue for the application forms was short and the application forms themselves were easy to fill up.
After filling-up the application, we were ushered to a fenced off area where we were given a number to signify our place in the queue. The first step after that was to another queue where employees of the NSO were checking if the application forms were properly filled-up. We were then directed to pay the application fee. The queue for payment was longer than the previous ones and we had to wait a few minutes before we were able to pay up. The birth certificate will be issued the next day, the CENOMAR , two weeks hence.
The Social Security System (SSS)
The application time for at the NSO was so unexpectedly short that I decided to push my luck and apply for an SSS identification card seeing as I only had to cross the street to get to the SSS. At the SSS information booth, I asked how I could apply for an SSS ID. The person manning the booth gave me an application form and directed me to submit the form at counter 53 in the next building.
The queue at counter 53 was longer than the queues we encountered at the NSO. There were only 2 people manning the counter, one possible reason is that some of the personnel might have been taking their lunch break. Anyway, counter 53 is not the end of the line, counter 53 is where they check whether your application form is complete and correct. After ascertaining this, they direct you to a booth where you are fingerprinted and photographed. The ID is to be sent to me through mail.
The entire application process for an SSS ID took me about an hour, the majority of which I spent waiting in line. Without the line, it would take maybe 15 minutes.
The Quezon City Government
After lunch, we still had a lot of time so we decided to apply for a marriage license at the Quezon City Hall. The Office where we had to apply, the Local Civil Registry Office, is located at the back of the City Hall compound and we got lost trying to find it. Fortunately, the guards were helpful in pointing us to the right direction. At the office, we had to pay an application fee before we were given the application forms. One of the requirements for a marriage license is attendance to a Family Planning seminar conducted by the Health Department of the City government. The person manning the counter directed us to the Health Department so we can attend the one being conducted that day.
We hurried to the Health Department, but as the seminar was supposed to start at 1:00 PM, we were late. I wanted to come back another day but the people conducting the seminar were kind enough to let us stay. They gave us a handwritten certification so that we only needed to present their certification so we can be issued the official one b the department. The seminar ended a little after 4:00 PM. We rushed to reserve a place for the wedding reception and then we headed home.
The next day (July 28, 2005) , while my bride to be was getting our birth certificates at the NSO, she was informed that the Manila City government failed to transmit to the NSO my birth certificate. I now have to go to the Manila City hall to request them to transmit my birth certificate to the NSO. Everything has now stopped until a true copy of my birth certificate is issued.
Abangan and susunod na kabanata.
Update (March 31, 2006)
I edited some sentences for clarity and changed the NSO address which I wrote as Timog avenue to the correct one at East Avenue.