I got so excited for my holiday vacay in the Philippines that I totally forgot my OEC. Overseas Employment Certificate or OEC is what every OFW need to show to the immigration officer when they leave the country as proof of their employment overseas.
I only remembered it when I was having my Christmas dinner with friends and asked if I can get the OEC at the airport but I learned that if I will be exceeding for 5 days stay in the Philippines, I would be left with no choice but to get it from POEA. I only had less than two weeks, so I left my hometown for a day earlier just to process the requirement. My first time there and my first work to do for the year.
So I was there at 8:30 in the morning. As I entered the gate, I saw our kababayans piled up to this guy who gives the Balik-Manggagawa forms. After getting my own form, I entered the lobby of the Blas F. Ople Building and I was surprised with the huge crowd - busy with their own businesses. I did not want to panic. I went to see a table where I can fill up my form. I asked the assistance officer with things I am not cleared of. There were security guards who assisted us to the entrance of the hall where to process the OEC. While there was another one who announces the queue number so I went to ask him how the queueing works, he pointed the number marked on top of the form in my hand. I was in #907. They were still calling for #700 and below.
While I was waiting in the lobby, I was able to visit the Pagibig Center to ask if I would be required of such payments and if so, should I be able to process it from there. (Actually, the Pagibig forms are given together with the Balik-Manggagawa forms). The lady told me, I should have at least a month payment and if I wanted to pay it from there, this payment would just be deducted from the total payment when I get the OEC inside the hall. So I did.
When I finished, I went straight to the security guard and asked what number is being called already. Finally, I was able to enter the hall only to see another big crowd, waiting for their numbers to be shown on the screen. I was telling myself, 'I am gonna be stuck in here for a long time, seriously.' The place was like Divisoria. I heard a lot of our kababayans complain, that the current process is not that good compared to the previous. They were saying that before, there was only one queue in getting the OEC and less hours of processing. As for me, good thing, I was able to connect to their wifi while waiting for my turn.
The first process is Verification. There are about 17 windows upfront but some are closed, who supposedly are making sure the forms are filled up correctly with OFW supporting documents. The second process is to go to OWWA window for Assessment. This is where they compute how much you will pay. And lastly, is Payment. I paid for total amount of Php 1,200 for more than 4 hours of processing.
NOTE TO SELF: I should have never forgotten my OEC that I got from the embassy.
And so when I heard the news that the new chief of POEA is eyeing for an Online OEC Processing, my reaction was parang WOW lang kagaya neto >> BIG WORD. I mean, seriously, processing of documents for more than four hours is not getting any way better. This Online OEC for Balik Manggagawa would really be of great help and this better be good.