The Visa Collector

A blog about travelling with a Filipino passport, and life overseas

Archives for Philippine Consulates

Passport @ Mall PH


Looks like the Department of Foreign Affairs is looking for ways to improve their services. Passport processing at the mall. Great idea. With both the Gaisano and Robinsons groups taking part, that means that this won’t be just a Metro Manila-only offering.

Need passport? Go to the mall
By Tina G. Santos
Philippine Daily Inquirer
5:51 am | Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Filipinos planning to go abroad may soon apply for passports at malls.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday announced that it will soon start moving its regional consular offices to shopping malls around the country in a bid to improve passport services, and save the government millions of pesos as well.

“With this move, the DFA is taking a big leap forward as it can now more effectively deliver consular services to the public in modern, more applicant-friendly settings at very little cost to the government,” DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a statement.

He said he expects to begin transferring the first of nine regional and extension offices to some of the country’s leading malls that are covered under Private-Public Partnership arrangements before the end of the year.

“This is expected to save the government over P250 million in the next 10 years,” he added.

The DFA has entered into Memorandums of Agreement with the Gokongwei-owned Robinsons Land Corporation and the Gaisano-owned Pacific Mall Corporation for the transfer and hosting of an initial six of the 18 existing DFA regional consular and extension offices and two new regional offices.

. . .

Nov 6, 2011

Green to brown: New passport arrived


Finally got my replacement passport last Friday. I’m all set till 2016.

Unlike the good old days of the plain green passport, which you turned in for renewal in the morning and then picked up in the afternoon after lunch, the new brown passport with embedded electronics takes weeks. The standard timetable, as per the embassy claim stub, is set at “approximately” six weeks. In my case, it took 54 working days (August 3 to October 14). So if you know you have a trip planned, best to process your passport renewal well in advance.

Emergency extensions of passports, however, are possible. When my wife had to fly to the Philippines for a medical emergency early this year, and her passport was set to expire while she was out of the US, the embassy stamped a temporary extension on her passport so that she could travel while the renewal was being processed. This apparently isn’t a privilege that is given automatically. When I tried applying for a similar extension in the middle of this year, because I suspected that I would have to travel for business before my new passport could arrive, I was turned down. Reportedly, to qualify for an emergency I had to already have a flight scheduled. They also required me to have an affidavit explaining the nature of my travel.

The embassy staff didn’t really say so, but from the looks of it, there may have been people who were abusing the extension process. So now they have to clamp down on everyone. Bummer.

The new passport is great!!! The identity page isn’t protected by a brittle piece of lamination that seemed vulnerable to cracking if some immigration officer decided to twist it the wrong way (which happened to a friend . . . twice). Now it’s flexible, with a number of attractive-looking security features. Hold it against the light at different angles and you’ll see a variety of not-so-obvious marks.

At the back, it had the usual next-of-kin information in case something happens to you while travelling. It still asks for name, address, and telephone number. I would have thought that a 21st century passport would ask for an email address, but it didn’t. I put my wife’s email address anyway since it is arguably the most portable of our communication options.

Other than that trivial detail, I really like this passport. This 44-page booklet so beautiful, its almost a shame to use it. It’s a silly sentiment really given that’s what this $60 travel instrument is for, to filled with stamps and stickers. I guess it’s just the collector in me.

Happily, the first visa I’ll be working to put on it is also one of the nicer ones out there: a Canadian visa. A colorfully fitting start to an all-new visa collection.

Oct 16, 2011

Voluntary evacuation of Filipinos from Libya


Its the Visacollector’s nightmare: having your host country fall apart around you. Today, that country is Libya — a country to which I have never been, situated in a region that remains on my long list of unvisited places.

View Larger Map

This north African trouble-spot has become the latest Arab nation to experience the uncertainty brought about by poplular unrest, not unlike “People Power” in recent Philippine history. But unlike our leaders who restrained their troops, the powers in this country unleashed them. (See here: Bloodbath in Libya)

In response to this development, the Philippine embassy has raised its alert level for the country to “Level 3 – voluntary repatriation”, and has setup a 24-hour hotline for Filipinos in the country who require assistance and wish to leave: 834-4580

The DFA reports that there are roughly 30,000 Filipinos in Libya. The bulk found in Tripoli and Benghazi and Al-Baida, with the rest scattered throughout the country. How many more undocumented Filipinos exist in the country is unclear.

Additional details available on the DFA Website: Repatriation

Feb 23, 2011

Philippine Consulate: San Francisco, CA


The Philippine consulate consulate in San Francisco CA is a pleasant place to renew travel papers, certify documents, and other similar transactions. It’s is neat and organized. The consulate occupies space at the Philippine Center along Sutter St. within which a variety of establishments address a variety of Filipino concerns, from travel to sending money home. A nice one-stop-shop. The consulate is on the 6th floor.

Unlike other embassies, which can be found in the hilly residential parts of the city, the Philippine Consulate is situated in a commercial area. Street parking, therefore is a valid option, but more often than not is unavailable. Embassy staff recommend the following parking lots listed in the picture on the left.

Personally, I favor the Sutter-Stockton Garage. Its within a stone’s throw from the Philippine Center and is not claustrophobic.

Each time we visit this consulate, which is typically a year or so apart, we always notice improvements to their service offerings. We processed my wife’s passport extension (more about why on another post) yesterday, and changes were readily apparent. The following sign greets when you step out of the elevator.

These weren’t there the other year. The overall layout had changed, and there were more desks for various consulate services, from passport renewal to processing of notarized documents.

Convenience was a focal point of many improvements. There is now an ATM in the waiting room, which particularly useful given that they neither accept personal checks nor credit/debit cards for their services. For those who neglect to bring copies of key documents, citizens can avail of a self-service photocopier for $0.25 per copy. This used to be situated at a rather odd location outside the main waiting area. These days these machine are now situated in the waiting area.

Now that my wife’s passport renewal has been processed, I probably won’t be back till I apply for an ePassport next year. Looking forward to next year’s surprises.

To the folks at the San Francisco Consulate: “Keep up the good work”.

Feb 9, 2011

MECO: Pinoy “embassy” in Taiwan


Manila Economic Cooperation Office (MECO) stands in as the Philippine embassy in Taiwan. It can be found on the 4th floor of a building with a Metrobank branch, on the corner of Tun Hwa N Rd. and Chung Hsiao East Rd Section 4. Here, you can renew your passport and send money home all in one trip.

Sep 21, 2010

Philippine Embassy: Vatican


This was one of many surprises in our trip to Italy this year: The Philippine embassy to the Vatican. Its situated where a lot of organized Vatican tours start (at least the ones organized by Trafalgar), so you can’t miss it.

Jun 20, 2010