Life's Lessons In Adventures And Misadventures As Seen Through The Eyes Of A Semi-Rambling Aspiring Savant!

Friday, November 05, 2004

License Express!

Who says that the renewal process of driver’s licenses here in ‘Pinas is as slow as a snail? I do…that is, until I got the surprise of my lifetime yesterday when I had mine renewed. Here’s my recount:

As I stepped out of the cab right in front of the Land Transportation Office’s (LTO) – Capitolyo branch, my cautious eye immediately caught sight of the numerous men standing right outside the darkly-tinted office building…hmm…Fixers. Definitely gotta stay away from them. I’ve been warned by a colleague of mine that they are usually up to no good….either they charge you an unreasonable amount for a speedy processing of your affairs, trick you with a fake license, or both. Knowing this, I quickly marched up the front steps leading to the office’s main entrance completely ignoring all the “psst…Miss, new license or renewal?” questions flung my way. As I reached the entrance, I overheard some fixers commenting “Sayang, ganda niyo pa naman sana, pero suplada!” Oh, how I felt the urge to glance back and glare at them, but rationality kept me from doing just that.

Inside the dimly lit LTO office (prolly because I arrived during lunch break), I was surprised to see admin assistants & officers up and about. One lady assistant immediately approached me and asked what my purpose is, to which I warily replied “License Renewal”. She then directed me to the front desk where I was asked by a cheery “Manong” of an officer whether I have any necessary changes to my personal & that of my license’s info. I replied with a curt “None” and he then explained that all I needed to do was to proceed to their Drug Testing Center & their Health Center for exams. I was initially hesitant since I remembered that I had filled up some forms during my 1st renewal 3 years ago. As it turns out, form fill-ups are no longer necessary (except when there’s any change to one’s personal or license information) as the licensing computer systems have already been completely & properly implemented over a year ago. Well, that’s good! At least I don’t have to spend 5 or more minutes filling up multiple pages of information sheets.

Since I didn’t know where the drug testing center is, I took advantage of asking cheery “Manong” the details of how am supposed to get there. I was more than shocked when he offered to accompany me to it personally. I declined graciously but he was insistent and persuaded me with “Naku, Iha, dapat lang na samahan kita dahil baka naman kulitin ka ng mga fixers sa labas. E, pansinin ka pa man din!” Hmmm…good idea!

As it turns out, the drug testing center was over to the back and side of the office where a number of fixers are making ‘tambay’. Boy, was I glad now that cheery “Manong” went with me. We entered the air-conditioned testing center and he proceeded to instruct the guys there to take care of me while I was filling up a form & tendering my payment, then, he went on his way back to his post over at the main building. While the personnel was checking my form & payment, a petite girl named Emilou came to me and handed me a vial for me to contain my body fluids for testing. When I was done, I gave the vial back to her and she proceeded into her small lab to generate the results. Since there were a couple of others there, no seats were available for me, so I had no choice but to stand and wait for my results. That was when Personnel Jun saw me and he immediately asked his colleague Mark to bring me a chair. I was like ‘Ok, How come the other girls standing & waiting for their results weren’t offered one? What’s so special with me?’ Hmmm….it must be something I’m wearing today…anyways, Jun & Mark kept me company while I was waiting for my results. They even kid me that I look like singer Rachel Ann Go. Well, prolly because we’re both of Chinese descent & that we both have the chinky mestiza features.

I got my results from Emilou shortly after 10 minutes. Clear, no indication that I am a drug dependent. Now all I have to do is to go to the Health Center for my medical. I sweetly asked Emilou where it was and she gave me a couple of directions. Of course, knowing me, I got confused with the directions and had this “blank” stare when asked whether I got all the directions clear. Upon seeing my “blank” stare, Emilou gave a hearty laugh and asked Mark to accompany me to the health center. It was raining that time (and no, am not wearing light-colored outfits today) and since I didn’t bring an umbrella along with me, Mark took one of theirs and shared it with me. Naks, may taga-payong pa ko ngayon. Divang diva! Upon reaching the health center, Mark arranged for my test with a female doc and I was ushered in almost instantly. The checkup was relatively simple as it didn’t take more than 10mins. After paying my dues and getting my certificate, Mark then guided me back to the main office for document processing and picture-taking. We had quite a chat on our trudge back to the office & I remembered telling him how shocked I was about the massive improvement in the LTO processing.

Back at the office, the line was like a meter long. I unabashedly gave out a loud sigh and thought I’d probably be stuck here on this line for 2 hours or so. Luckily, the line was moving relatively fast against my expectation. Wow, major improvement from way back where you have to wait sooo long before moving an inch! A few minutes passed and I saw Mark again as he motioned for me to drop the line & go to window 3. I shook my head in opposition & replied “ Ok lang, mabilis naman gumalaw ang linya e.” Of course, I don’t want to cause a stir among the people falling in line right? Good girl huh? =) But another surprise followed when my name was literally called out from the speaker system “Ms. Jasmin Chan, please proceed to the admin office.” I was like “Huh? What for?” but I followed the order nevertheless. As it turns out, Mark & cheery “Manong” arranged for that speaker system thing so that I’d no longer have to wait my turn amongst the testosterone-filled room. I was literally ushered in to the restricted admin office where my pic was taken & my license given to me in just 10 minutes. License Express!

What have I done to deserve this special treatment, I wonder? What do you guys think? guess is prolly, women have a partial advantage over men in these circumstances. We just give our genuine smiles and men instinctively can’t help but notice and offer us assistance (whether we word it out or not). Of course, it does pay if you wear something sexy to go along with it! Haha! But seriously, my heartfelt thanks to Emilou & Jun for keeping me company; to Mark who literally became my “alalay” & who offered his assistance even when I didn’t request for it; of course to cheery “Manong” of the licensing department who made me feel as if I am ROYALTY; and to all the licensing team of LTO-Capitolyo branch, I salute you all for shortening the license renewal processing time (in general) to 1 hour (in my case, to a little bit over 30mins only) and for truly being helpful and accommodating….even without receiving any kickbacks and all! Gracias!


  • At 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I never thought that there'd be any answer to the long-winded drivers license renewal process there in 'Pinas. So I was quite shocked to learn of its vast improvement. From what I can recall, we usually have to stand in line for 2 or more hours to get our pictures taken and then have to wait for 3 or more months before we finally get to see our licenses. ----Jeff

  • At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ei Jaz, Marco here. I beg to disagree with those who said that you look like Rachel Ann Go...they should see your college grad pic! I guess you know who am referring to right? Kris Aquino! HAHA!


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Jaz/Female. Lives in Philippines/Manila/Pasay City, speaks Chinese and English.
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Philippines, Manila, Pasay City, Chinese, English, Jaz, Female.