Monday, May 28, 2012

Manila Immigration Tips

Even the most ardent lover of the Philippines can become frustrated when confronted with some government bureaucracy or agency that seems nearly insane. LTO can do it. Customs of course. But the grand daddy of controlled chaos and confusion is the Immigration office in Manila.
Everything from student visas, visa extensions and resident visa business is conducted in this building.
We recently had occasion to spend four entertaining, agonizing, irritating, hours in that asylum. It rivals airports for people watching. Mideastern students, Israeli rabbis, Indian traders, Mexican nuns, ancient men with very young girls. A gigantic melting pot.
There are multiple numbered windows to visit, copies to be made, things to sign, more windows and more copies. Fortunately there are two functioning copy machines near by.
Here are some tips on dealing with the Manila immigration office:
- Be the first one through the door. They open at 7:30 AM.
- Go on a mid-week day. Wednesday is ideal. Never go on Monday.
- Wear pants and shoes. No shorts or flip-flops.
- A wife or girlfriend who is Filipina can ease some tensions. Be patient. Keep your voice down and sarcasm to yourself. Have a newspaper, magazine or book in hand for waiting periods.
To travel we discovered a convenient, cheap way to get to Immigration from Olongapo. A 4 AM Victory Liner cost P202 and arrives at Caloocan at 6 AM. From there the LRT costs P15 pesos and you get off at Central Station. A two block walk gets you through the immigration doors at opening.
Good luck. Life in the PI sure is fun!

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