Note to other would-be OFWs: I will not answer questions about POEA processing on this blog – I am not an information center. What I write here is from my own experience, and I probably won’t know the answers you need anyway. Keep googling till you find what you need, and best of luck to you.
I was prepared for the worst when I went to the POEA today to have my overseas employment certificate processed, so I was actually quite pleasantly pleased with what went down today. I arrived at around 10:45 and had to xerox a few things (you need photocopies of your passport – just the page with your face and details on it, visa, contract, and medical exam; I forgot to xerox my visa, haha, minor item!). I was done in less than an hour. Well, I was done for Day 1, at least. I thought I’d have to stay there till this afternoon, since I had to pick up my working visa from the embassy first.
While it looks chaotic in there, the reason why people say “Be prepared for a long wait,” is because the processing people really look at everyone’s papers and they really take their time to talk to them and see that you get the protection you’re paying for. The young lady who attended to me was cheerful and gracious (there were others who were more masungit), despite her having to reply the same things to the same inane questions over and over. When she looked at my documents yesterday – I went sans visa to ask if my emailed contract was okay or did I need one airmailed to me – she joked that I was going where Chichay was (I’m guessing Chichay is the telenovela belle du jour and not the TV harpy from back in my childhood) and said that I may need a supporting document that I was qualified as a university lecturer just so that they have something to defend me with if my employers turn on me, however unlikely the possibility. What struck me was how she didn’t need to emphasize that this was for my protection, and yet, it made perfect sense. They weren’t just milking us OFWs for all we were worth (although it still pains me to pay 8 grand just to be allowed out of the country).
Anyway, in the end, it wasn’t really a long wait for me, but I have to come back tomorrow (Day 2: the PDOS seminar) and again when I have a signed document from my employer promising that they will indeed do so and so (pay for my airfare, etc) for Day 3: payments and certificate releasing. I expected I would be coming back several days and this seemed to piss other people off (“Pero galing pa akong Nueva Ecija, ma’m!”), but since I was expecting that and had made arrangements, I’m happy to go back.
Expectations are manageable, after all. I read somewhere that if all your papers are in order, you won’t have nothing to worry about. So, you know, get your papers in order. Best advice ever.