A package delivery always excites me, I really don’t care how big or small a package was, the thought that someone made an effort to send something makes me happy. So as soon as I got the parcel notice from our usual post man on a Friday, I instantly wished it was a Monday already so I can claim my package because the notice said to claim on Mondays or Wednesday PM only!
Monday came, I still have to do my usual Monday routine, take my daughter to her school and therapy and then back home. I took my parcel notice with me, readied my Php35.00 and a valid ID to claim it.
Off I went to Novaliches Post Office where all parcels from my area of the city are to be claimed. Claiming parcels in this post office wasn’t new to me, I’ve been doing this for so many years now and everything was a breeze.
My usual routine was show my parcel notice to the post office people, wait a few minutes until my name is called, show my ID, have the custom inspector check the package, pay the Php35.00 claim receipt, sign the ledger, leave. That was the usual routine I expected but not today, everything was different.
The area where we claim parcels was transfered to the other side of the building. There was a lady sitting on a desk outside the room where parcels are released, she will get your notice, slip it in a window hole behind her, to another lady sitting on another desk in the room, then another girl will call the claimants name, then another one sitting on another desk will show you your parcel and issue you the receipt for your claim. All these women are Philippine Postal Office employees wearing the same uniform.
When my name was called, I was asked to sit at the chair by the desk of the post office woman number 2 (the woman sitting behind the window inside the room) and had a mini-interview with her.
Post office woman number 2 (pown2): Nag-aaral ka pa ba? (Are you still studying?)
Me: Hindi po. (No)
POWN2: Nagtatrabaho ka na ba? (Are you working?)
Me: Hindi po. (No)
POWN2: Paano ka kumikita? (How do you earn?)
Me: (Stunned with the line of questioning I was given I said I don’t earn in any other way.)
Mind you, POWN2 was not looking at me when we were talking, she was busy tinkering with some papers and some stuff in her desk drawer. She pointed me to the other woman on the other desk, POWN3.
POWN3: (showed me the package and pointed to the declared amount of the “goods”) Iha ang mahal o, ano bang pinaglalagay ng sweatheart mo dito? (Ms. this package is expensive, do you know what your sweatheart sent you?)
Me: Mga dokumento po yan saka may singsing daw at hikaw (Some documents, a ring and earrings)
POWN3: Halika maupo ka, wala pa yung custom eh, lumabas lang. Naku ang mahal ng customs tax na babayaran mo dito. Ang mahal ng laman eh tignan mo o. (Come sit down first, our custom officer is not here yet, he just went out. You know, you’ll be paying a hefty amount of customs tax for this. You package is so expensive, look.)
Me: Trying to act innocently. Naku! Magkano ho kaya? (Oh no! How much do you think I’ll have to pay?)
POWN3: Sa tantya ko mga Php1,200 ay hindi sandali (pretending to look on a chart) mga lagpas Php2,000 yan.
Me: Naku! Ang mahal naman! Bakit ganun. Wala akong perang ganyan. Wala akong pera. San naman ako kukuha ng ganyan kalaking halaga. Ayaw ko na yan. Ibalik nalang ninyo sa nagpadala. (Oh no! That’s so expensive! I don’t have that kind of amount. I don’t have money. Where in the hands of God will I get such huge amount. I don’t want that. Just send it back to the sender.)
I was kinda hysterical in this part as I was very much annoyed since I know the custom tax for this package was already paid for by the sender. Besides, I’ve claimed shoes, books, jewelries, clothes etc. and all I was asked to pay was Php 35.00 by the customs officer. I can’t understand why this package has to be different.
POWN3 was trying to calm me, she was trying to be nice by giving me nice compliments. She even praised my necklace that she said looks expensive. She even know that it was diamonds and some precious stone.
Then she asked me to sit down again and told me she can do me a favor by lowering the customs tax amount I will have to pay. She said she will tell the customs officer that I was her neighbor and we are really close.
POWN3: Upo ka muna. Pwede naman na kalahati nalang ang bayaran mo dito eh. (Please sit down. I can help you pay just half of the tax for this).
Me: Magkano naman yun? (How much is that?) I asked.
POWN3: Php 1,000.00
Me: Ano! Wala akong pera! Kababayad ko lang ng tuition fee ng anak ko. (What! I don’t have money! I just paid my daughters tuition fee.)
POWN3: Sandali. Magkano ba kaya mo? (Wait! How much can you pay?)
POWN3: Masyadong maliit ang mahal nito oh (That’s too small this (package) is expensive) Pointing to the declaration slip.
Me: Naku wala talaga akong pera. (I really don’t have the money)
POWN3: Baka pwede mo nang gawan ng paraan. Humingi ka nalang sa kanya Kahit mga 350 nalang apat kami dito oh. (Can you do something about it. Why don’t you ask money from him (referring to the person who sent the package) We will accept 350 for the four of us here.)
Me: Sandali, lalabas muna ako. (Wait, I’ll go out first)
I left the room. Went to an internet shop near the post office and went online to rant about the annoying incident. I posted at my social network sites namely Facebook and Plurk and sent an email to someone I know from the main of the Philippine Post Office to look into this matter. I was letting-off steam and when I cooled down I went back to the post office.
I waited for a couple of minutes until the 4th woman noticed me and called me in.
POWN3: Akala ko san ka na nagpunta eh. (We thought you were gone.)
Me: Naghanap lang ako ng pera. (I just went to look for money).
I really insisted that I don’t have the money so they can’t milk me any more than I can give them. I think the post office people heard a sound of relief with what I said. So she took my package again and gave it to me. Hand me my receipt bearing Php35.00 in it and made me sign the ledger.
POWN3: Eto oh masyadong highblood. Para ka nang ibon kanina eh. Buti nalang maganda ka. (You’re so impatient. You sounded like a twitting bird earlier. Your lucky you are pretty).
I handed POWN2 a Php100.00 and gave me a Php65.00 change. I said that’s all the money I got. I handed the Php50.00 back to them and told them I’ll keep the Php15.00 for my fare because that’s all the money I got.
POWN3 didn’t saw how much I paid because she was busy with another victim, poor lady who was claiming a huge box so I was able to leave without any more commotion.
Inside, I was partly blaming my boyfriend for the hassle of being so honest with his declaration on the amount of the items he sent. I partly blamed myself for not telling him not to be honest in his declaration in the packing slip.
However, I shouldn’t blame my boyfriend for his honesty because he was doing the right thing. I should blaming the post office people for their corrupt ways.
I wouldn’t mind paying Php2,000.00 if they can issue me a receipt. I could wait for that customs officer and ask him how much does my package really cost and pay the amount that is written on the receipt.
Honesty will get you nowhere in this country with the bureaucracy and the system of corruption embedded in our government system its either you are with them our you are out.
So, to anyone who will be sending packages from abroad to Philippines I suggest that you use private courier services like DHL or FEDEX, every transaction is on paper and there is no question and sometimes if you are a regular customer they will ask you to declare smaller amount ( a little white lie) so you wouldn’t have to pay big.
P.S. This incident is not an isolated case, there are a lot of friends I know who were a victim of this system of corruption in the Philippine Post Office and most of them are not as gutsy as me to haggle at a very low amount.