Manila City Hall
Yesterday, (August 1, 2005) I went to the Civil Registry Office at the Manila City Hall to get my birth certificate and have them transmit a copy to the NSO. I arrived at about 10 AM. For someone who had not been to the Manila City Hall before, it was a little confusing. The Civil Registry office was at the back and there were no signs to guide you. Fortunately, the guards and the employees were ready to answer questions from lost souls.
I had to line up just to enter the office, there were so many people that I thought it would take me all day just to get into the office. It took only 30 minutes, after entering the office, we were given an application form. I was applicant number 285. It took another 15 minutes for my number to be called, I wanted the Registry office to transmit my birth certificate to the NSO, appararently, the city incurs additional costs when transmitting birth ceritificates to the NSO, it also takes them longer to process the papers. I would have to go back to the Manila City Hall on August 5 to get my birth certificate.
Caloocan City Land Transportation Office (LTO)
Also yesterday, my sister applied to have her license renewed at the LTO in Caloocan. She had not renewed her license for weveral years so she had to again take the tests. She was accompanied by my mother. They arrive at the LTO before 11 AM and they got the license at about 6 PM. I was amazed at the speed in which the LTO processes licenses, a one day processing of license is quite good considering that my SSS ID has not yet arrived. There were some problems though.
One of which was that my sister was charged 280 pesos for something. She did not know what the 280 pesos was for and she was not inquisitive enough to ask, she innocently thought that the purpose for the 280 pesos would be reflected in the official receipt. Not so, the official receipt did not contain any item for 280 pesos. Maybe somebody out there knows what the 280 pesos was for, please enlighten me naman. The second problem also involved a receipt, this time the non-issuance by the health clinic where her drug tests were conducted, they charged her 250 pesos and did not issue any receipt. My sister deliberately tried not to use "fixers" in her application, and the only advantage that gave her, aside from knowing that she did her civic duty, was aggravation. She was actually thinking of reporting the events to Mike Enriquez.
Maybe if all Filipinos stop using "fixers" not only the ones that are paid, but also the "friends" we know. We would all be agitated enough to actually vote for people who would actually reform things in the bureaucracy.
Even after saying that, I must say that I am pleasantly surprized at the efficiency of the bureacracy both in the National agencies, (NSO, SSS, LTO) and the Local Government Units (Quezon City and Manila City). I would guess the stories about how it has been a disaster for them dealing with government bureaucracy is more the exception rather than the rule. Government bureaucracy works rather efficiently unless it is hit with exceptions (with situations outside of the norm) and then it may become a nightmare.
Something that I am finding increasingly irritating is how people in the bureaucracy seem not to smile. I know they do, because people smile all the time. But the majority of the folks I have encountered manning their posts seem to begrudge people smiles. Maybe its a defence mechanism, maybe when people see someone smile, they take it to mean that he/she is accomodating and they will flock to him/her, giving the person more work and problems than he/she can handle. Even so, I hope government units will encourage their personnel to smile at their clients, it will make for a more inviting and friendly atmosphere. It will make the applicants feel more like favored clients rather than numbers to be disposed of as fast as they possibly can.
I went to the Manila City Hall yesterday (August 5, 2005) to get my birth certificate. It took me less than 5 minutes. The transmittal to the NSO however will take another 2 weeks.