The collection of my passport from immigration that I told you of did not get completed last Tuesday. No, having handed it to me and giving me time to check the visa stamp and discovering I had been given three months rather than the requested two, it was sort of snatched back and replaced with a new form that I had to take away with me, complete and return again in a few days. This had to do with the granting of an ID card that I now needed if I was going to be staying awhile.
So Daisy and I returned to the sleazy alley that leads to the dubious-looking immigration office. Somewhere in London, or Victoria BC this alley would be kinda cute with funky, shops, hanging planters with perhaps at the end a tiny coffee shop, crowded but with insufficient bistro tables or seating. This alley however possesses a different kind of charm one that tips the hat to the wanna-be entrepreneur. Thus were we intercepted by seedy-looking gentlemen sporting hand-held trays possessed of Viagra, Cialis and a range of products that, I suspected, may be intended for related uses, the former mentioned being off-prescription and half the price. We are not certain why this alley should prove a preferred sales location unless it has to do with the immigration office being a lure for frustrated white boys far from home with no doctor handy to effect a prescription. I would tarry awhile and peruse this gentleman’s wares but an embarrassed and giggling Daisy yanked my arm from my intrigue. “Not need. Not need.”
Inside the office we took a number and were soon called. The lady goes over the answers to the questions on the form, asks my assurance of their accuracy, discovers they are not all, makes hand written changes then bade me go be seated while I wait for the interview. “What interview?” I ask myself and Daisy when I am seated. She knows no more than I so we wait. It appears the interviewer is likely out at lunch. There is no real interview. What happens is I go into an office staffed by the local boss man and he does what the lady did and goes over my answers to the form’s questions. The lady had been satisfied so you’d think he might be – but no. He finds more errors. “You have children yes”? “Well, actually, yes but they are not minors anymore I won’t be bringing them into the Philippines.” “No matter, no matter,” with arms flapping ,”Must write, must write.” So now my beloved son and daughter are likely on the Philippines ‘most wanted’ list. Eventually after he’d entered all the details of the form onto a computer a little piece of paper certifying the entry was stapled into the back of my passport and handed back to me.
I turn to leave the immigration office and think, wait a minute, what about my ID card?
“Not now, not now, comes from Manila.”
“Oh, how long?”
“Maybe three week.”
“Will I be notified?”
“You check back. You check back”