And so…here we are at April 18, 40 days after my entire bag was stolen by three unscrupulous individuals during a dinner date with my husband.
I am glad to report that I got my new passport last Thursday (April 16), two weeks ahead of schedule. Lawyer Anika Fernandez of the Department of Foreign Affairs – Cebu (DFA Cebu) informed me about the good news on Wednesday night. I cannot even begin to describe how grateful I am for the people of DFA Cebu for their assistance as I went through this journey of getting a new passport. I have been with a passport for more than a decade and have been traveling for many years (both alone and accompanied) so it was strange to be without a passport for close to two months.
When your passport is lost or in my case, got stolen (along with so many of your life’s essentials in one bag), you have to wait for a 15-day mandatory clearing period. That means you wait for 15 days just in case some Heaven-sent creature found your passport and return it to you. Or…perhaps one day, that little maroon book appears at your doorstep ready to be stamped again for a destination of your choice. If that does not happen, DFA calls you in to process your application.
I already submitted my paperworks three days after my passport was taken away from me (by, again, those individuals who know nothing about sacrifice and hardwork). So when they called me in to process my passport, I was more than ready to line up and start from scratch.
Applying for a new passport after your previous gem of a book got lost or stolen is like applying for the first time. Check out the list of requirements on DFA’s website. Yes, you need to submit everything on that list. It is a lengthy list but you just have to work your way through that list. It helps if have a scanned copy of your stolen passport’s page where all details (name, birthday, etc.) were printed. I always scan that page so I was able to include it in my dossier. I also keep more than three copies of my birth certificate and marriage certificate at any given time so I did not have to rush to the National Statistics to frantically request for that document printed on security paper.
I paid P1,550.00 and here’s the breakdown: P950 for regular processing fee, plus an additional P250 to expedite the processing ,and another P350 as fee (I’m tempted to call it a penalty fee but I am not really sure if it’s the right term so I’m going to just keep the term inside these parentheses) for a lost/stolen passport.
Heaven forbid that what happened to me happens to you too but just in case the goddess of bad luck managed to sprinkle black dust on your dear life and the casualty is your beloved passport, here is a rundown of steps that you need to do to get your identity back:
1) Inform DFA. Call the number and let them know about your lost/stolen passport. This government office has improved so much since the very first time I got my passport at that old building near Plaza Independencia in downtown Cebu. Atty Anika at the helm of DFA Cebu made the processing more efficient and simpler. You don’t need to give any officer or personnel anything to get ahead. They give priority to senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women and applicants with children.
2) Wait for the 15-day mandatory clearing period for lost/stolen passport. Use that as a time to complete all your requirements. I had all requirements on hand so I was able to submit everything three days after my passport was stolen but I still waited for 15 working days before DFA called me in to process my new passport.
3) Proceed in completing all requirements. I know it’s a lot but you don’t have much of a choice but to submit all those. I submitted the following; (a) NSO-certified birth certificate; (b) voter’s ID (thankfully it wasn’t in the stolen bag. There is a list of valid IDs that you can submit so do check out the DFA website); (c) baptismal certificate (as supporting document); (d) police report (original copy); (e) affidavit of loss (two copies); (f) marriage certificate (since, obviously, I’m married); (g) a certificate from the Commission on Filipino Overseas after attending a guidance and counseling session (which I got in 2013 since I am married to a foreigner and using my married name); and (h) the scanned copy of my lost passport (If you, by any chance, kept a copy of it. You only need that page where you have your photo).
4) Submit everything to the DFA. A helpful tip: don’t go in the morning because everyone goes there in the morning. Do not leave your bed early and line up as early as 4:00 a.m. Please don’t. The entire population is there in the morning. Go in the afternoon when practically, the entire office is almost empty. As long as your requirements are complete, you need not worry about being told to come back for additional paper work. DFA these days is very efficient and applying for a passport will a breeze. Again, don’t go in the mornings or your stuck with a crowd who are usually unhappy because they have skipped breakfast to wait in line.
5) So you’ve submitted everything and was given a date to come back to claim your passport? Then… wait. That’s all you can do. Well, pray and be…patient. Patience is not my strongest point but with what happened, I have learned to breathe and take it all in and then…let go. If you can, stop thinking about it. Because the pain of waiting for a document that you sorely need can cause you a lot of stress. I applied on March 27 and was told to come back on April 29. DFA won’t promise you that they’ll give you your new passport in 10 days but trust in the cosmic power of dear Universe that your passport will be delivered ahead of scheduled date of releasing.
I never imagined myself writing about the process of getting a passport. But the last 40 days taught me about the value of first-hand experiences and the power of blogs in sharing personal journeys and pieces of information in helping people out especially when it comes to processing documents. Many thanks to Atty. Yvonne Epondulan and her assistant, Rachelle for all my affidavits of loss. Apart from DFA, I submitted affidavit to three banks and two embassies/consulates. While they haven’t solved my case, I still extend my gratitude to the Mandaue City Police for the help as I needed that police report to proceed with my application. Thank you to Miss Connie Fernandez, Miss Eileen Mangubat, Atty. Augusto Go, Carmel Matus, Ate Grace Oberes, Ate Anabelle Balanzar for all the help you have extended. My heart is very grateful for having people like you in my life.
I pray that this post will give some glimmer of hope to those whose passports were lost or stolen. I totally feel you, ladies and gentlemen. So here’s my way of helping you out. From someone who once lost her little maroon book.