September 07, 2009

Living in queues

THE next time a foreigner asks me what life is like in the Philippines, I will say it’s all about lines. And not just one line, it’s two, three, four lines, in succession and people not being sure about being in the right queue. And don’t forget the windows, too! So many windows to go to, without proper signs to guide the people if they’re lining up at the correct window.

Yes, folks, this piece may not be about relationships, but it is “something about life” in the Philippines, where our day isn’t complete unless we’re standing and queuing for something.

If I sound a tad bitchier than usual, it’s because this morning I decided to do my patriotic duty and went to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to register as a voter. I wasn’t able to vote in the last two elections because of work and so my name has been purged from the voters’ list. That’s what the Comelec staff told me, anyway. Of course, one of my friends later informed me her brother had been dead for years and yet his name still keeps popping up on the voters’ list in their barangay. (Click Something Like Life for the rest.)

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Madali lang magpa-rehistro, says Comelec commissioner Sarmiento in his PSA. As these photos will prove, it isn't so. A friend of mine who recently registered in the very same district said his ordeal took five hours.

(The first queue to the Comelec window where you have to submit your photocopied IDs. Another line to left is where they release the voter's registration form. There's another queue to the window in an adjacent building, offering photocopying services at P4 for double-sided paper. Buti pa yung sa photocopying, there's a clear sign what service is offered there. At the Comelec local office, you basically just have to ask the other people in the line what they're lining up for so you'll know if you're in the correct queue.)

(People filling up their registration forms, in triplicate pls.)

(Another queue before entering our Comelec District office.)

(The crowd inside the Comelec office itself where an applicant's biometrics are taken.)

(You put your right hand in, you put right hand out...Mama's fingerprints are digitally captured, after which, her photo was taken. The last step is affixing one's thumbprints on the paper registration form.)

To be fair, there are some areas in Metro Manila where the registration is fast. I suppose it depends on the management of Comelec supervisors of their respective districts. My niece who is a new voter, for instance, took only 30 minutes to register. The Comelec district office in their city set up a satellite office in her subdivision's clubhouse and brought w/ them four computers to take the registrants' biometrics. I don't know how large her municipality is, but I would assume Quezon City, which has a denser population among the cities of Metro Manila, deserve more computers to aid in the registration of its voters right? Needless to say, those computers better be working. Erg.

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