Sabar (Indonesian for patience) is part of the OEC survival kit for Filipinos on holiday in the Philippines and needing an exit clearance to return back to the place of employment. On the upside, for those residing in the Quezon City area, Trinoma has a satellite office that issues an OEC. It’s located at the basement of Trinoma – walk past Starbucks and Tour les Jour, and you know you’re in the right place when you see rows of chair, arranged by the mall security guard, lined up outside this “store”.
Bear these points in mind for your OEC survival, so as not to tax your sabar so much and make you vacation-mode spirit disappear completely.
- Although office hours are said to be from 9am to 6pm, truth of the matter is the office can open a little later than that depending on what time the employees arrive. One time the cashier arrived 20+ minutes late hence there was a backlog in the payment of OEC-related matters. The ones vetting your documents (e.g. passport, employment contract, and OEC application form) arrive on the dot and they take several minutes to settle down and be ready to serve the taong-bayan.
- Don’t make any appointments until you’ve secured your OEC clearance. The thought of missing your appointment only adds to the stress, making you edgy and cranky.
- The line is still bearable when you arrive at Trinoma between 730am and 8am. It starts to snake around past 8, and the office is filled to the rafters shortly before nine.
- On an upbeat note, the guard at the entrance of the office assures walk-in OEC applicants that there is no jumping of the queue because he issues a number that is called by the people behind the counter. Be sure to show the guard your passport and he will hand you an application form. However, do note that online OEC applicants, who already have a pre-appointment time and arrive at the office on the set time, will be inserted in the queue and bypass the walk-in applicant who arrives much earlier. The same goes for senior citizens who are also walk-in applicants.
- Be prepared.
- Have your documents photocopied before you head down to Trinoma. The nearest photocopier centre is at National Bookstore but it doesn’t open until 10am. If you can’t wait, you have to go across the street for your photocopy needs.
- Have your previous OEC permit on hand. It helps to speed up the process.
- Have an extra pen on hand – there are no extra pens to be handed out in the office. You can take a chance with the fellow OEC seeker but they might not have one to spare.
- Have your wits about you. Listen for your number to be called – if you miss that you will have to hope that the security guard squeezes you in the line and ignore the indignant remarks from the other applicants.
- Put on your best smile, as a surly approach will not make your time at the office smooth. If you start feeling cantankerous because of what you perceived as slow service, inhale then exhale repeatedly.
- The Trinoma office doesn’t process the OEC permits of drivers, priests, and domestic helpers. They have to proceed to the main POEA office at the corner of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue.
- It is good to have a companion with you for whatever support you need although they sit out of the main office, as only OEC applicants are allowed inside. For example, if you need to go to the loo, you have someone to save your spot in the queue. Or if you’re very hungry, someone can go quickly to Starbucks and Tour les Jour (they’re open that early) for coffee and a bun.
Remember, sabar, best smile, and complete documents will make your OEC application smoother and very much less nerve-racking.