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Written August 24, 2016, NBI Center, Robinsons Galleria Branch

That morning..

The night prior, I prepared myself to sleep early. I didn’t want to be dragged into the day without sufficient sleep. I read a bit of a horror novel and texted Jec good night.

The next day, I woke up at the sound of my alarm. 6 A.M., my screen screamed. Jec also messaged me good morning to remind me of my appointment. I was supposed to get my NBI Clearance at 10 A.M. since it said on the website that branches in malls open at the same time the mall does. Jec convinced me to go earlier. Mom also said I could start preparing. It was only 6:30 A.M. during that time. I said fine and started to prepare. I got my clothes and showered. But my initial plan was to work from 7 up to around 9 A.M. and prepare afterward to go to the mall.

Fast forward to Ortigas Avenue, it took me an hour to travel from Pinaglabanan cor. N. Domingo to Robinsons Galleria. An hour. Unbelievable, but somehow I’m no longer surprised, seeing the countless complaints of my friends on traffic on social media, emphasis on Twitter.

The battle begins 

I didn’t know where to go so I approached a guard and asked where the NBI area is. She said it’ll open at 10 A.M., opposite Jec and my mom’s opinions. Naturally, I was kind of pissed off. It was only 9 A.M. that time and I had an hour to kill. I didn’t have my laptop with me, I was running out of load (phone credit), and I didn’t have 3G on my phone so I couldn’t even check my e-mail, which would have been a very useful bit then. I thought of leaving the place and going home instead, but I thought, I’m already here, I might as well just go ahead with the battle than battle again some other time. It would be just the same.

I was looking around when I saw this signage that says, NBI queue was moved to Second Level Veranda. So I went up and saw some people already sitting, waiting. I asked Jec to check my e-mail for me. I was hoping I could write a bit on my phone while in the line. He gave me the wrong instructions so I just waited. In short, I didn’t have any work done.

I dozed off a bit and was dreaming of that time I wore a regular eyeliner and mascara to school, during which I fell asleep while in transit and my makeup spread around my eyes, making me look like a panda (and I didn’t know until I saw myself in the mirror so I was already walking in public like that for a good 5 minutes), when I heard shuffles and realized that everyone was already racing to the mall entrance.

Entering the mall, finally! 

It was chaos from that point. It was like zombie apocalypse but people killing each other for an NBI Clearance. I could complain about confusing signages but the thing is, there were NO signages. We were all guessing which way to go, and when we got to the area, which was at the farthest end of the floor level, there was a sign where you could get a number but there was also this guy giving numbers in a different area.

My first question here is, what is the point of having a reference number ready if people still need to get a queueing number?

If NBI is going to do that, they should have given the queueing number right before everyone entered the mall, when everyone was still on the veranda. Assign a guard to keep tabs on who arrives next and assign that person a number so they wouldn’t have to kill each other for it.

Another question: Do people actually know that they need to get a queue number?

I don’t think so. Because there are clearly some people here walking around aimlessly and pretty much not knowing what the next step is.

Oh, and if you’re wondering, I’m no. 200, so just my luck. But I’m pretty sure I was one of the first 100 people to arrive in the veranda, or even among the first 50.

Anyway, seeing that I had a lot of time to kill, I went to Mercury Drug to buy a pack of tissue and a bag of biscuits since I haven’t had breakfast yet. Then I went back to the NBI area and amused myself with some Pocket articles. My number was finally called and we had to line up inside this ramped side of the mall, which kind of looks creepy because of the lights. In a science-fiction film, it would probably be where the alien or monster reveals itself. Yes, that thought was inspired by Stranger Things.


As of this writing, 11:54 A.M., my arms are starting to ache, as with the rest of my upper body because I worked on it yesterday in the gym. My back is starting to hurt as well from carrying my bag in front of me (you can’t trust people even if you are already in the mall) and from standing for hours.

As much as I don’t want to absent from work, I have no choice. It’s already nearing noon and I don’t even have a draft for any article. I picture myself rushing to get home after getting my clearance. I’m curious, though: why do I see some people holding a lot of documents? It said on the website that the reference number is enough evidence that you’ve already registered and paid for the fee. I see some holding their old NBI Clearances for renewal and I don’t even know if it’s still material. I didn’t bring mine so I am kinda nervous. I might end up empty-handed after wasting half of my day), and writing as fast as I could to finish at least 2 one-thousand-word articles.

Update as of Sept. 3, You need to bring your old NBI Clearance if your purpose of getting another one is to renew. It said so on the poster plasered in the NBI Center. I didn’t need to bring mine after all since I was getting an NBI Clearance as an SSS requirement. I only presented one I.D. and my reference number from the website. If you want to read a tutorial on how to register or sign up online and have everything ready before you go to any NBI Center, let me know. I’d willingly write it up.

Here’s a major takeaway from my experience:

You will get to where you need to be if you know the right questions to ask and you know what you have (documents, purpose, etc.) since I noticed that some people kept getting confused because they were asking the wrong questions or they weren’t sure what they have done already (filled up a form, paid the fee, got a queueing number, etc.). Do your research before you go to any government office because maybe there’s a faster way to do things. I went to NBI’s website and updated my information there. I paid only via MetrobankDirect and I got the confirmation of payment from NBI in a matter of minutes. I have screenshots of this if you want to know the step-by-step process.

Overall, if there were no line and you’re the only person getting an NBI Clearance, the entire process (granted that you have paid for the fee already and have written down or had a screenshot of your reference number) would only take about 5 minutes. You only need to get your photo taken, your fingerprints scanned, and your NBI Clearance printed. That’s pretty much it. It’s the waiting that sucks. Since I had a lot of time to kill then, I had to be resourceful, and I actually wrote a different blog post on that, but for now, this will do.

If you have any questions regarding the process, ask away and I’ll see if I can answer them. 🙂 But what about you? Have you availed an NBI Clearance before? What was your experience like?

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Bae Milanes

Bae is a 20-something passion blogger from Manila. She likes hoarding hobbies and trying out new stuff, blogging about her mundane adventures, and tweeting about random realizations and musings.
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