Originally posted on: ‘2010-01-18 02:39:57’, ‘2010-01-17 18:39:57’
‘You know that point where you’re about ready to give up? It could be that horrendous term paper, a 10-kilometer marathon, or a really big fight. It seems there are so many odds against you, and it would e so much easier to give up. I felt like that when I was trying to fix my birth certificate.
As you can see, the list of requirements is about a mile long. But I figured, it’s just tedious, but I can do it. Maybe I could spend a day or two gathering all the documents, and be ready for the initial assessment and interview the next day, or even Monday. A terse but helpful lady at the LCRO Table of Requirements¬†pointed me to step 1, where I could fill up a form to request for the latest certified/local copies of Mom’s and my birth certificates. I filled up and submitted the request, and they told me to go to the next room and wait.
Apparently, all the miserable people, ehem, I mean, applicants, had to wait in this large room, and you had to wait for ¬†your name to be called over a sound system. Your request would be handed to you, and you would be directed to an available City Hall employee at the counters, who would tell you what to do next.
I made a mistake with my first attempt, and wrote my mother’s full name on the request for my birth certificate.¬†Since the error was with her name to begin with, naturally they didn’t find the original/local copy of my birth certificate. It was at this point that the clerk told me I would have to go to the hospital where I was born, and ask the clerk there for a copy. I nodded politely, thanked her, and left the waiting room. Then I walked to the corridor near the LCRO Table of Requirements, called Oneal, and promptly started crying. “They couldn’t find my birth certificate *sniff* and now they said *heave* I have to go *sniff sniff* to Mary Chiles! *cough* How the hell am I supposed to know where the hell that is! *sob* I don’t know how to get there!” Around me other applicants were walking, staring, looking at their own impossible lists.
Oneal did his best to reassure me that we could find the hospital, things would work out, we would find all the documents and make the correction and it would be fine. I’m sure he felt very helpless, sitting in the office while I was in the dusty, decrepit concrete jungle that is Manila City Hall, battling my way through the red tape.
When I put the phone down, I realized my mistake, and decided to try again. I got two more forms, and filled up one with all the same information that was on my actual birth certificate. I also filled out a request for a copy of my mom’s birth certificate. But by this time it was almost noon, and I feared I would have to wait an hour or two while the city hall¬†employees went on their lunch breaks. To my surprise, a very enthusiastic man at the waiting room counters explained over the PA system that they would not close for lunch, that they would have lunch in shifts, and that they would still process the requests. Despite the fact that the city hall manangs were grumpy, it cheered me up a tad that this nice old man was trying to keep our hopes up.
Eventually my turn came, and thankfully it was a success. Another terse lady called me over, made some notes on my request forms, and told me to walk to the next building, pay the fees and submit the payment stub at Step 2. With a lighter heart I walked out of the LCRO (damn accursed place) and towards the Taxpayers Lounge. I was but a few feet from the lounge when I was accosted by a nice man, who asked where I was going.
I thought he was a city hall employee, since the other hallways seemed to have other staff whose sole duty was to direct people towards the right office. I said I was going to the Taxpayers Lounge, and he asked what my problem was. So I explained that I was having my birth certificate corrected, and he exclaimed that it was a long and arduous process that would take at least six months. But not to worry! He had a solution, and he beckoned me to follow him to an office on the second floor, and the problem would be fixed in a week.
Gladly I went with him, and on the second floor he led me down the row of councilors’ offices. We stopped outside one, and he introduced me to this fat, middle-aged woman sitting by the window, talking to another fat, middle-aged woman. He explained my problem, and told me that this woman (I forget her name) could help me. So I sat beside her, and explained my problem in greater detail. I thought we would enter the councilor’s office and talk there, but the woman seemed perfectly content to hold office by the window. She said if I went the LCRO way, it would take months and months, plus a court hearing, to change my birth certificate. ¬†If I did it her way, she would just write out a court order stating that I had submitted the petition for the correction three months ago, and my birth certificate was now fixed. It would only take a week, and P2,500.
It was while she was explaining the process to me that I noticed she wore no ID, and seemed to have worn a groove in the seat because she was just so comfortable there. She must have noticed the decline in my enthusiasm, because she said it could be done for only P1,000, but it would take two weeks. It was at this point that I realized: I was actually talking to a fixer! Preparing for this wedding certainly opens doors to totally new experiences.
When she was done explaining, I said I would have to think about it. She gave me her number, which I dutifully wrote down, and I said I would call her once I had the money. As soon as I was out of her line of sight, I ran downstairs and made a beeline for the Taxpayers Lounge, eager to avoid any other nice old men who would try to offer me the easy way out. Once I was in line to pay the fee, I called Oneal and told him about the whole debacle.
When I got off the phone with Oneal, the pregnant woman in front of me told me she had actually done exactly as Fixer Woman had said, but through a lawyer or something who actually worked at City Hall and was a family friend, someone her family knew and trusted. I think I just politely said I didn’t know anyone at city hall, so I’d just have to stick it out. I paid my fees, went back to the LCRO, submitted my payment stub, and was told to come back on Monday to claim the birth certificates.
By this time it was past 1:00, and there was nothing more I could do at City Hall. I trudged to SM Manila, found myself some food–which I couldn’t even finish–and called Oneal for another update. Notice, by the way, that the day had been spent trying to obtain only items 1 and 2 from Manila City Hall. The other seven are another story.’