Edmund and I went to the French Embassy last October 1 to renew our Schengen Visa.
Our personal interview was scheduled at 8 am. We left the house at 6:45 am.
Our early morning conversation while sitting in the traffic was about the senators with plunder cases, Malampaya Gas Fund, and where our taxes go. How the government should safeguard our hard earned money. Sana naman hindi malihis ang issue.
Traffic was not bad at all. We arrived in Buendia at 7:15 am. Edmund bought Starbucks coffee.
Edmund—— “Gusto mong magcoffee?”
Me———- “Tatlumpung taon na nating magkakilala, nalimutan mo hindi ako nagka-kafe”.
Me———- “Tart, I need to eat something, baka mahimatay ako sa gutom”.
Edmund—— “Eh di kumain ka, hayun bumili ka…”
The liaison officer checked if our visa requirements were in order.
I brought our old passports spanning two decades. Your old passports would make your visa applications easier.
It’s been a while since I last renewed my Schengen visa.
They’ve been in this office on the 16th floor of Pacific Star building in Buendia a long time.
I noticed some things have changed.
One, Our appointment was booked on line and as early as end of September. Meaning- you need to apply for a visa ideally at least 45 days in advance, unless you are travelling in a package tour. In this case, the travel agencies have some leeway and would not need that many days. But still, the earlier, the better.
Two, We had to wait in the basement parking to get a number, while inhaling the fumes from every car that entered the garage. Meaning- bring an oxygen or a fumes mask.
At 7 am, I was grumpy kaya medyo maarte, I refused to sit on these benches.
Four, there’s a police officer stationed at the embassy’s entrance. Siguro for added security. Meaning– behave. Wag magpa cool.
Five, there’s a speakerphone in every cubicle, allowing each and every person in the room to hear the on-going interviews between the consuls and the visa applicants. There were 5 cubicles. And it’s a small room, maybe 40 square meters. Meaning— be aware that everything you say could be heard by a lot of people.
Consul- #2———- “Whe’re you going?”
Male Applicant—— “Fahris”.
Consul #5———- “What do you do?”
Female applicant—- “Fine, okay”.
Consul #5———- “I asked you- what do you do?”
Female applicant didn’t reply.
Consul#5———– “You don’t understand English?”
Ang tanong ko anong trabaho mo”.
(Marunong pala syang magTagalog.)
Female applicant ——- “secretary”
Consul——————– “How long have you been a secretary?
Female App————– “ahhh… 1997″
Consul——————-“Who do you work as a secretary for?”
Female app, no answer.
Consul—— “Who is your boss?”
(Ladies, pls remember the name of your boss.)
Consul——————-“-How much is your salary?”
Female app————– “One five”
Consul——————- “Your salary in one month?”
The questions could be incriminating for every one to hear.
Consul #5—– How are you related?
Chinese Guy— She’s my girlfriend.
Can you imagine? Paano kung magkulasisi sila?)
Consul————- “What’s your business?”
Filipino man—- “I have a piggery”.
(Long time ago, there was a family of 3 who was denied US Visas kasi that’s the business they claimed they had. No problem in having a piggery. My father’s business when I was little was also a piggery.
Just be sure that if the consul asks how many pigs do you have eh you would be able to answer. Please don’t answer “ten inahins”. Dagdagan mo ng konti.
Consul————- “How much do you earn from that business?”
(From the piggery)
Filipino man (no answer)
Consul————- “Where is your ITR?”
Man—————- “I don’t have”.
Out of the three persons that were asked about their income, lahat yun walang ITR.
Imagine if there’s a BIR guy there also applying for a visa?
Consul————- What business do you have?
(This was her first question. She always presumed that the applicant owned a business)
Her next question was how much do you earn?
Me————— ” Naku tart, tinatanong lahat ng how much do you earn?
Me————– “Eh pano kung wala naming maraming pera?”
Edmund——- “Problema ba yun, di I – exaggerate”.
Me————- “Wag, malalaman nila na hindi tutoo”.
Me————- “Basta, pag tinanong tayo, tart, sabihin natin “Just enough to pay for our travel”.
I find that question difficult to answer in public. Kasi if your income is low, you wouldn’t want to broadcast it kasi nakakahiya, they might say “how can you afford to go to Fahris?”
Paglabas mo, baka lahat nakatingin sa yo. “Si Ate wala naman palang pera gustong pumunta sa E-fel to-wer”. Excuse me, maraming peso fer.
If you would exaggerate your income naman, mahirap din yun, mahuli ka pa na nagsisinungaling, ma deny ka pa. If your income is indeed high, hindi rin dapat ipina-pangalandakan. Holdupper hello? Mangungutang hi!