Thursday, November 8, 2007


KALIBO. 7:30 A.M. Having breakfast with my Technical Supervisor, Daryle, at the Inn's cafe. We're talking about ghosts and spirits - poor choice of topic over breakfast, I know, but we kind of realized we shared similar or related haunting experiences last night at the room that we stayed in. (Will tell you more about these experiences in a separate post.)

This morning, we're taking a short break from the Boracay stories so I could share with you first my experience last week at the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) in Manila.

I went to re-apply for my passport and thought of saving extra by not having a travel agency do it for me. So I set a date and braved the commute and the long lines that I would expect to face there.

But nothing prepared me for this.

It seemed to me like the whole nation decided to go on an exodus to flee the oppressive Egyptians. It felt like I was face to face with the mass of humanity.

It was terrible. The line snaked for what seemed like a kilometer within the basketball court of this government office. But I said to myself, I need this, and fell in line with the rest of the world. This line was 2 and a half hours long.

And that was only the first part of the whole process. Outside the gate of the main building, there was another line. It took about 30 minutes to get inside.

When I got in, I realized this was going to take a little less longer than the first one. There were about 25 windows servicing all the applications, as opposed to the 6 or so at the basketball court. The room was air-conditioned, so it was a little more comfortable for everyone.

I thought to myself, this will be over soon.

I was only about 3 or 4 persons away from getting the 2nd part of the application (there were 4) out of the way.

Or so I thought. When I got to the window, the lady told me I was in the wrong line and had to go down to the other end of the room to have my application pre-processed.

I first applied for a passport in 2005 but was not able to immediately claim it. It turns out the DFA destroys unclaimed passports to keep them from being used for other purposes by other individuals. It made sense to me when I was first told about it. But at this point - at this precise moment - it made no difference to me. It meant I had to line up... again!

No choice. I had to respect the applicants who had lined up at these windows (the right ones) before me. It took another hour.

Outside there was another line. (Surprise, surprise!) It lead to the auditorium, where the last 2 parts of the application were going to happen.

As expected, the mass of humanity that welcomed me at the basketball court was there to greet me again. But somehow, the whole scene looked different.

Maybe because they - all of us - knew we were nearing the end of suffering.

Or maybe it was the nicely done, high-ceiling, well ventilated, air-conditioned auditorium. Or the fact that everyone in the hall, including me, realized we were all getting closer and closer to our much-sought-after exile out of the country.

And so we waited. And waited. And waited. And after another hour and a half, I got through the whole process. All in all, it took about 5 and a half hours. I was on my way home a little before 5pm.

Next week, my passport will be delivered, and I will begin another journey. I am taking one big step into the unknown. And I can't say I am not excited.

In a few weeks, who knows, I might get to see the same mass of humanity lining up before me at the airport. Whether we care to admit it or not, a mass exodus is happening before our eyes.

And I am not about to get left behind.


  1. Me pagka-sadista ka rin ano? NOTHING short of a life and death situation would MAKE me queue up in that place. Bayad kung bayad, that's what money is for!

  2. hahaha! you're right, millette. well, i didn't really know it was going to be that bad. but hey, you live you learn. hehehe.


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The Chronicler's Creed

Where there's water and sun, where there are friends to see or new people to meet, where there's something new to learn, experience, or do, where there's life, there I will be.


Y fue a esa edad... Llegó la poesía
a buscarme. No sé, no sé de dónde
salió, de invierno o río.
No sé cómo ni cuándo,
no, no eran voces, no eran
palabras, ni silencio,
pero desde una calle me llamaba,
desde las ramas de la noche,
de pronto entre los otros,
entre fuegos violentos
o regresando solo,
allí estaba sin rostro
y me tocaba.

And it was at that age... Poetry arrived
in search of me. I do not know, I do not know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I do not know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, nor silence,
but from a street I was summoned,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among violent fires
or returning alone,
there I was without a face
and it touched me.

- An excerpt from LA POESÍA (Poetry) by Pablo Neruda