I wrote about a lot of firsts happening in the past year. I forgot to write about a few experiences including one that had me writing successive posts in tribute to a friend lost. It was indeed an eventful year and I just wanted to recap a few other firsts and then some other experiences last 2014.
A few months after moving to our new home, our beloved Labrador Retriever Troy was diagnosed with cancer. We had to monitor his condition and for two and a half months we had our weekly visits to the vet for his blood work and medication. We ruled out going to a high end clinic and relied on our vet and the UP Vet Hospital to administer the tests and medication. Troy was ruled out of a certain viral infection but was positive for another that probably affected his immune system and weakened him a lot. We spent a lot of sleepless nights before he given steroids and pain killers to ease his condition. He passed away last August as we said tearful goodbyes before he was put to sleep by his vets who were also teary eyed during the procedure. Prior to his passing and to ease the pain of the loss we had adopted a puppy, a Golden Retriever whom we named Mocha but also call Mokey. She is now almost full-grown but still very much a puppy at heart.
|Our Mocha enjoying the morning sun|
We had to attend to several government transactions last year including those that required us going to city hall to have our homes appraised for real estate taxes. I say "homes" because I was referring to both our old and new houses. The Clairvoyant had attended to the payments for 2014 and those were made at the temporary site at the provincial capitol. The payments for 2015 had to be made at the newly renovated Antipolo City Hall and we did it in mid December to avail of the incentive of a 20% discount on property taxes for people paying before 2015. It was a bit chaotic when we arrived (a lot of other people were thinking about the same incentive and flocked to city hall) but things eventually calmed down and with a system in place it was smooth sailing for our payment.
Earlier in December, I had to book an appointment with the Department of Foreign Affairs to renew my passport. Fortunately, their system was one of the more efficient ones in government and their satellite offices allowed people to go to a more convenient venue for consular services. It was my first time to renew my passport in one of these satellite offices and it took me under 3 hours including and mostly due to the long queues because of additional people who came in after missing their appointments the previous 2 days because of foul weather (There was a typhoon early in the week and government offices were closed.). The DFA did their part in releasing my passport a week before Christmas (I paid extra for the rush.) but it was the courier service who failed to deliver my passport before the Christmas break. Tracking my passport online, I was angry about the report that the package could not be delivered because of "incorrect address" and "no one in office." These were flimsy excuses for a major courier company especially after they sent me messages on two occasions asking for directions to my office, which I promptly replied to and with details. I ended up getting my passport after Christmas and just before the New Year break.
We always hear and read about horror stories involving services rendered by government and private entities. There are just too many and these happen to often to a lot of people despite the availability of tools such as IT to make things more efficient. The Clairvoyant had the misfortune of experiencing one of the still inefficient transactions - getting a clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). A lot of people have to go through this as a requirement for job applications, visa applications and other matters requiring the NBI Clearance. Yet, despite their efforts for electronic transactions, their system still falls short of the efficiency required for such an important requirement for employment, travel and other matters. Clearly, they need to double their efforts as the procedure and the queues for NBI Clearance has become a poster image for government inefficiency notwithstanding the kilometer-long queues for the EDSA-MRT.
We look forward to a lot of things, mostly improvements to basic services that government and private entities owe to people. We do pay for these with our taxes and the fees that we agreed to based on services they have promised to deliver. More often these are expensive fees and thus we expect to get the most out of the hard-earned cash that we turn over as payment to these services. That is only right and fair and what many of us have seen as being delivered with efficiency in other countries. Having lived in Japan and Singapore, we have seen how services can be rendered efficiently and effectively and how such delivery enhances the quality of life in those countries. We are hopeful that we can get that high quality of services from bot government and private companies who are in-charge of utilities and other services.