Note (Mar 12, 2010) – According to one of our readers: this NBI IN QUIAPO-CARRIEDO IS NOW CLOSED. The new one is on the 5th floor of Victory Mall in Monumento. Thanks girlmace for the tip.
Last Friday, I went to the NBI office in Carriedo to get an NBI clearance. This is a document which certifies that you do not have a criminal record, or if you have the misfortune of sharing a name with somebody who has, then it certifies that you are not that person (hopefully).
Now the last time I got an NBI clearance was 15 years ago, and all I have are dreadful memories of half-a-day of lining up, in the pre-cellphone days of having to wait and doing absolutely nothing, and having to come back one week later to claim the document.
Not wanting to go through it again, I somehow managed to evade eventual requirements of submitting an NBI clearance every time I move to a new company. However, this being a requirement for an upcoming trip to Belgium, I had no choice but to get a new one. A simple renewal would not be possible because of the length of time since my last clearance.
So off I went to Carriedo, expecting the worst. Time in – 9:00 am, time out – 9:25 am. I had prepared for a half-day of waiting, but came out in 25 minutes, carrying my freshly printed clearance, complete with picture. Yes, if you go there early, you could get your clearance in that amount of time or less.
First task was to look for parking. I did manage to find one in the area below the Quiapo bridge, with parking attendants carrying official parking tickets, at 30 pesos per car. Next step, look for the NBI office in Carriedo. Having been to Carriedo before, I trudged through the Friday crowd of church-goers, ignoring the calls of herbal vendors selling their herbs (I probably looked like their typical male customer judging on the insistence of their calls). Fortunately, I immediately saw a bright yellow sign indicating the NBI Carriedo Clearance Office.
The office itself was on the 3rd and 4th floor of a rundown building, passing through two floors of cellphone accessories vendors. Directional signs make it easy to get to the NBI office, but you can also follow the path of vendors selling black ballpens at 10 pesos each. I was amused to hear a recording playing again and again, blurting something like “bili na kayo ng black ballpen, kelengan black ballpen ang gamit sa NBI clearance…” As you shall see later, this is the first of a series of (subtle) attempts to make money off you. So first lesson, bring a black ballpen (not sure if it really has to be black, but mine was black anyway, so..)
A long line greeted me at the entrance. This was to pay a so-called facilities fee for the upkeep of the place, the air-conditioning, etc. At 20 pesos, it seemed a reasonable amount. The line was quick; I gave the money and made sure to keep the receipt.
Next step, get a form from the information counter. Then line up immediately on any of the lines for payment. It does not matter whether it is for a new clearance or renewal. You can fill up the form while lining up. The amount to be paid will depend on the purpose, whether travel or employment. In my case, which was travel, I was assessed 115 pesos. Again, make sure to keep your receipt.
Next, go up the 4th floor for the data check. Here the clerk simply checks completeness of your form. In my case, i was told to complete the entry I had filled up under Purpose: from “TRAVEL” to “TRAVEL ABROAD”. Well, no arguing that; I suppose the additional word really mattered.
After this is the actual database check where your name is entered in the database and checked for any matches. Fortunately I had none, so off I go up another floor.
Next step is the fingerprinting. This has got to be the most interesting part. Each finger is pressed on an rectangular ink pad, the clerk expertly guiding your fingers from the pad to the application form, transforming your initial awkwardness to dexterity once you get the hang of it. He gives each one a small pack afterwards, containing an alcohol-soaked paper towel, effective in completely removing the ink from your fingers, in the process discretely advising you to drop 4 pesos on his desk for this service. A really good idea since the previous option as I remembered it was to wipe it off a rag or something. Later, I found another clerk selling it for 2 pesos. That got me thinking: this means that the first guy must be making 3 pesos for every pack; multiply that by 500 persons per day, that’s 1, 500 pesos per day, 7,500 pesos per week, 30,000 pesos per month. Talk about the fortune at the bottom of the pyramid.
Next step, taking your photo. This is really quite fast: the clerk motions you to stare at the web camera, and off you go to the last step to get your clearance. Just present your receipt (never misplace your receipts!) and presto, your clearance is printed right there and then in front of you.
So there you go, getting an NBI clearance wasn’t the unpleasant experience I was dreading it to be, but rather a refreshing experience which proves that the government offices can deliver good services if they really want to.